Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery, Saga

The Girl In The Pink Raincoat – Alrene Hughes -5* #Review @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction @alrenehughes #BlogTour #Paperback #Wartime #Romance #WW2 #Manchester #Mystery #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance

In wartime, it takes courage to follow your heart.

Manchester, 1939.

Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie, the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg Raincoats factory.

Gracie is a girl on the factory floor. Jacob is the boss’s charismatic nephew. When they fall in love, it seems as if the whole world is against them – especially Charlie Nuttall, who also works at the factory and has always wanted Gracie for himself.

But worse is to come when Jacob disappears and Gracie is devastated, vowing to find him. Can she solve the mystery of his whereabouts? Gracie will need all her strength and courage to find a happy ending.

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Guest Post – WHY I WRITE WWII NOVELS – Alrene Hughes

I think it was inevitable. If I was going to write a novel, then I would write about the second world war. For a start, my mother, aunts and grandmother had lived through the hardships and dangers of that time. The war had ended only seven years before I was born and, growing up, I somehow absorbed their memories second-hand.

My home city of Belfast in Northern Ireland – an industrial city of shipbuilding, aircraft manufacture and heavy engineering – was crucial to the war effort. Needless to say, it was heavily bombed. Later, when the USA entered the war, it was to Northern Ireland that the GIs came to train before being deployed overseas.

As a child, I knew the gaps between the buildings were bomb sites. Once on a bus going into the city centre with my mother, she pointed out a street where she had seen the dead bodies laid out on the pavement on her way to work after an overnight bombing. But she had happy memories too of her time as a factory girl building Stirling bombers. As a housewife after the war, I remember she wore her factory clothes, trousers and a turban, to clean the house. But the biggest influence in my post-war childhood was the music. 

My mother and aunts had been popular singers, in the style of the Andrews Sisters, and throughout the war, they entertained in the concert and dance halls, as well as the military camps. After my mother died, I found an old scrapbook among her possessions. It contained many concert programmes listing the acts and the Golden Sisters, as they were known, often had the titles of songs they sang next to their billing: Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree; Chattanooga Choo Choo … And then there were all the photos.

I just had to tell their wartime story. The personalities of my mother, aunts and grandmother were etched in my brain, the snippets of wartime memories had been passed on to me and I had the scrapbook. Add to that my research of life in the city and the ideas that flooded my mind and it was enough to turn it into a novel. In the end, their story became a popular WWII family saga, the Martha’s Girls trilogy.

Now I’ve written WWII novels set in Manchester, the city where I’ve lived most of my adult life. It’s a lot like Belfast in some ways: the heavy bombings; the industry; the no-nonsense, resilient people. The women in my new novels The Girl in the Pink Raincoat and The Girl from the Corner Shop, face tragedy and danger, experience love and loss but, throughout, their courage shines through.  

ARC – Paperback- Back Cover

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

My Thoughts…

Gracie is an endearing character, young, naive, but optimistic and full of life, with a smile never far from her face. It is this bubbliness that attracts Jacob, even though he realises that any relationship between them would be fraught with conflict.

The setting and era of this story are vividly portrayed, you can imagine the raincoat factory, the bombsites and the people, as they try to live their lives during wartime. Anyone who has listened to their grandparents and parents stories about ‘the war’, will recognise familiar concepts, and it is this relatability that makes the story so powerful.

The plot is well constructed, with a mystery and romance. The prejudice rife at the time is evident and is an important theme. Wartime romance with a twist. Family drama, strong friendships and a menacing undercurrent of betrayal and obsession, something for everyone in this wartime tale.

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Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast and has lived in Manchester for most of her adult life. She worked for British Telecom and the BBC before training as an English teacher. After teaching for twenty years, she retired and now writes full-time. Facebook

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Extract – The Girl In The Pink Raincoat – Alrene Hughes

Gracie awoke to the sound of crying, and it was a moment before she realised it was coming through the paper-thin walls of the house next door. Then she remembered it was Friday morning and still Doris had not come to terms with her children being evacuated. She lay for a while, watching a shaft of sunlight coming through the gap in the curtains, and when the crying was replaced by the squeals and laughter of excited children, she got up.

By the time the children were ready to walk to school, a crowd had gathered in the street to see them off. Gracie and Sarah stood next to Doris as she held back her tears, hugged her two little girls and told them to be good and to write every week. An older boy, John Harris, took charge and it was clear that the evacuees had been drilled for this moment. At his command, they left their mothers and lined up like little soldiers, with their gas masks and belongings, each with a brown luggage label fastened to their coat. Gracie scanned their faces: some were filled with excitement, others apprehensive; and little Gladys Clark, with no mother to see her off, was sobbing her heart out.

John raised his hand and all eyes turned to him. ‘One … two … three!’ he shouted, and what happened next made the hair stand up on the back of Gracie’s neck – the children began to sing.

‘Farewell to Manchester we’re leaving today,

We need a safe place where we can stay,

Away from the bombs that fall on our heads,

Where we’ll sleep soundly and safe in our beds.’

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Guest post, Holiday Romance, Romantic Comedy

Wedding Bells at Villa Limoncello – Daisy James @canelo_co @daisyjamesbooks #BlogTour #4*#Review #GuestPost #RomCom #MondayBlogs#TuscanTrilogy

When Isabella Jenkins is unceremoniously fired from her fancy London job, she escapes to Tuscany. A few weeks hiding amongst rolling hills and grape vines at Villa Limoncello sounds exactly like the distraction she needs.

But Italy holds emotional memories for Izzy and with a hapless handyman, a matchmaking village matriarch and a gorgeous – if infuriating – local chef named Luca Castelotti, her quiet Italian getaway turns into an unending cacophony of chaos.

Suddenly Izzie finds herself on a mission to pull off the wedding of the century and maybe get her life in order in the process. If only Luca’s gorgeous smile wasn’t such a powerful distraction…

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Guest Post -Daisy James-Wedding Bells at Villa Limoncello

First of all, a huge thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. It’s great to be here to tell you about my brand-new book Wedding Bells at Villa Limoncello.

Anyone who has read one of my books will know that I love writing stories with a strong sense of place and Villa Limoncello series is no exception. I spent an amazing few days in Tuscany last year and loved it so much I just knew I had to write a story that was set there.

I had a fabulous time researching the area around Florence; the art, the history, the culture, the traditions, the scenic towns and villages, the vineyards, but mainly the cuisine! Italy is famous for its fabulous pizzas and pasta dishes, and its amazing wine – think prosecco and Chianti – but it’s also well-known for its delicious desserts from tiramisu to cannoli, from panforte to the many flavours of gelato – blue cheese and walnut flavour anyone?

In Wedding bells at Villa Limoncello, Izzie is asked to organise a film shoot at a care-worn villa in the Tuscan hills where she meets Luca who is a chef at the local trattoria. This gave me the chance to investigate the recipes particular to the area, as well as the passion with which Italians approach every aspect of their food – after all, Italy is where the ‘slow-food’ movement started as a reaction to the creeping invasion of ‘fast food’. I even read about one family who hadn’t spoken to their neighbours for twenty years because they put parsley in their minestrone – there’s passion for you!

As Luca bakes up a storm in the story, I couldn’t include a culinary scene without having taste-tested the recipes myself, so I set about having a go at some of the many desserts that Italy, and especially Tuscany, is famous for. My attempt at ice cream – apricot and amaretto flavour with crushed biscotti went down very well even though it didn’t set properly. I then moved on the baking a batch of ricciarelli which are oval-shaped biscuits made with almonds and dusted in icing sugar – absolutely delicious.

Image Credit –
Daisy James

However, my favourite recipe has to be limoncello tiramisu. It was the perfect dessert for a summer barbeque and I’ve made it many times because it is so easy to make – no baking required!

Here’s Izzie’s recipe:

Izzie’s Limoncello Tiramisu

Ingredients

100g caster sugar

100ml limoncello

Zest & juice of 3 lemons

50ml water

500g mascarpone

500ml double cream

10g icing sugar

100g lemon curd

200g sponge fingers

Method

Place the caster sugar, water and the zest and juice of two lemons into a small pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add half the limoncello and simmer until syrupy. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the mascarpone until smooth, then add the double cream, the remaining limoncello, the zest and juice of the remaining lemon and the lemon curd and stir together.

Carefully soak the sponge fingers with the syrup and placed in the base of a ceramic dish, or individual glass dessert dishes, then spoon over a generous helping of the cream mixture and repeat, finishing off with a sprinkle of finely grated lemon zest and a dusting of finely grated milk chocolate. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. Serve with home-made limoncello cocktails.

Buon Appetitio!

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

My Thoughts…

A lovely sad heroine, who is unable to come to terms with losing her twin, a cast of authentic Italians and a Summery, vivid setting, combine to make this romcom a must-read summer book.

Izzy is an interior designer, but after the untimely loss of her twin, she is full of guilt, grief and greyness. This reflects in all aspects of her life. When fate intervenes with an opportunity to stage a fake wedding in Tuscany, she decides to live a little and grasp the opportunity to put some colour and zest back in her drab life.

I loved that each chapter began with a little phrase and a colour, it set the scene and chartered Izzy’s moods perfectly. The plot is simple and the pacing gently, both fitting in with a lighthearted, but sometimes poignant romantic comedy, set in a place full of colour and visual imagery.

The balance of comedy and romance is perfect, and the setting is full of sunshine, it makes you feel warmer and happier with every chapter. With the added bonus of lovely food and more complications than you could ever imagine, this book would make a great film.
I look forward to the next in the series of the #TuscanTrilogy.

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the northeast of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

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The Bells of Little Woodford – Catherine Jones – 4* #Review #BlogTour @lacekate @HoZ_Books #GuestPost #Extract

The town of Little Woodford seems peaceful and picture-postcard beautiful, with its marketplace, ancient church and immaculate allotments. But behind the tranquil facade, troubles are brewing.

Olivia Lewthwaite, a former town councillor, a pillar of the WI and all-around busybody, has been forced by her husband’s gambling debts to sell their house – her pride and joy. She hates the new estate they’ve moved to and knows she needs to humble herself to apply for a job.

To make matters worse, a thoroughly disagreeable woman has bought Olivia’s beloved Grange and sets about objecting to everything she can, from the ringing of the church bells to the market stall selling organic local meat.

It isn’t long before the town is in turmoil.

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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…

If you love small town values and interactions, ‘The Bells of Little Woodford’, will appeal. The second book in the series, it reads well as a standalone, but it’s such a lovely series, read my review of ‘Little Woodford – The Secrets of a Small Town’ and enjoy this too.

Olivia, is coming to terms with her fall from grace, too involved in everyone else’s business and the town’s many organisations, her own family took second place, and now she has to pick up the pieces.

Losing her home is part of the price she has to pay, but the new owners seem determined to disrupt and dismantle everything important to the town unless someone stops them.

This story has a comforting, realistic ethos, the characters, values and peccadillos of the town, and it’s residents are recognisable and make this an enjoyable book to read. The plot is simple, but it reflects ordinary life in a small town. Coupled with the complex, easy to like or dislike characters this story is a wonderful escape.

Grab yourself a cup of tea, a slice of homemade cake and wallow in the camaraderie, gossip and ordinariness of Little Woodford.

Guest Post – Catherine Jones – The inspiration behind Little Woodford

‘Write what you know’ is the advice people give to authors. That suits me fine as I’m not a fan of doing research – I’d rather just get on with telling the story. Which is why many of my previous books have an army theme as I was in the army myself, I married a soldier and I am the mother of one.  Twenty-five years ago my husband left the forces and we moved to a little middle-England market town, not far from Oxford and where we have lived ever since. I love this town with a passion: it has everything a town could want; three supermarkets, several churches, a weekly market, cricket, tennis and rugby clubs, a bustling high street, a nature reserve, a theatre and seven – yes, seven – pubs! In fact, I love this place so much I’m on the town council. When it was suggested to me I ought to write about the lives of ordinary people and the kind of stuff that goes on behind their front doors – the stuff you might not want your neighbours to know about – I instantly knew exactly where I would set my story. If you know my town, it is pretty recognisable as all the elements are there – with the exception that Little Woodford only has one pub.  Of course, as an author, I have to be immensely careful to make sure that everyone in the book is completely fictitious but that hasn’t stopped many of the locals asking me if this or that character isn’t actually based on X or Y.  The one character that I haven’t been asked about is Olivia Laithwaite, one of the main protagonists; she’s a councillor, rides a bike, is a bit of a busy-body, likes to know what’s going on and has several children. I’m not saying Olivia and I are clones, but there are a lot of people in the town who are!

Extract From The Bells of Little Woodford – Catherine Jones

She waved goodbye to the boys – both engrossed in chatting to their mates in their lines and both oblivious of her farewell – before she made her way out of the playground and began to head down the hill towards the centre of the town and her house. As she turned onto the main road she glanced across it to her friend Olivia’s vast barn conversion. The estate agent’s shingle, hammered into the front lawn, announced that it was ‘sold subject to contract’. Olivia must be moving out soon. Bex paused and thought for a second about the mess her house was in and how she ought to be dealing with that… sod it, the mess could wait. Checking for traffic, she crossed the road then scrunched up the gravel drive. She hadn’t seen Olivia for weeks and she might well want a hand if she was in the middle of packing up. To offer some help was the least Bex could do for her friend – after all, when Bex had been swamped by her own unpacking, and Olivia had been a complete stranger, she’d come to introduce herself to the new arrival in town and ended up spending the evening with Bex, helping to unpack and organise the kitchen. When Bex had first met Olivia she hadn’t been sure she was going to like her. It had been obvious from the start that she was somewhat bossy and opinionated and, with her blonde bob and skirt-blouse-and-court-shoe apparel, she looked every inch the town busybody she so obviously was. But she was a doer and grafter and, even more than that, she was kind. And when Olivia had discovered that her public-school son had a drug habit and her husband had gambled away their life savings, her dignity in the face of such a crisis had been admirable. She was even making the best of having to sell up her ‘forever’ home to stop the family from going bankrupt. Bex was very fond of her.

She rang the doorbell and waited patiently for it to be answered. She was slightly taken aback when it was opened by Olivia’s son, Zac.

‘Hi, Zac – no school?’

‘St Anselm’s doesn’t go back till next week,’ he told her.

Hello, Bex,’ called Olivia from the other side of the monstrous sitting room. She was busy wrapping up an ornament in newspaper. ‘Long time no see. How are you?’ She pushed a stray lock of hair off her face. ‘Zac, be a love and put the kettle on.’

Zac loped off into the kitchen area on the far side of the room, skirting piles of cardboard boxes and a massive roll of bubble wrap.

‘St Anselm’s always gets a bonkers amount of holidays,’ said Olivia. ‘It seems to me that the more you pay for a child’s education, the less time he spends in the classroom.’

‘Quality not quantity,’ contradicted Zac over the gush of the tap as he filled the kettle.

Olivia raised an eyebrow. ‘I don’t think your last year’s exam results back up that argument.’

‘No… well…’ The back of Zac’s neck glowed pink. He flicked the kettle on. ‘I’ll take Oscar out for a walk if you two are going to talk.’ He grabbed his dog’s lead and whistled. Oscar, a black and white border collie, bounded out of his basket and headed for the front door.

When they’d left, Olivia crossed the room herself and got a couple of mugs out of the cupboard.

‘How’s it all going?’ asked Bex, following her.

‘What? The move, paying off Nigel’s debts or Zac’s recovery from drugs?’ Olivia sounded weary.

‘Oh, sweetie…’ Bex gave Olivia a hug. ‘I’m sorry.’

Olivia gave her a thin smile. ‘Don’t be. Honestly, we’re getting there. Zac’s fine – still clean – and I think I should be grateful he’s sowed his wild oats in a safe little place like this and that the guy who supplied him with all the drugs is doing time in nick and out of the picture. Without him around I think the chances of Zac backsliding are pretty slim although I don’t think he will anyway – he’s learned his lesson. I dread to think what would have happened if he’d got addicted at uni where he’d have been just another anonymous junkie student.’

‘True,’ murmured Bex. That’s one way to look at things, she supposed.

‘And Nigel’s debts will be cleared once we’ve got the money for this place and move into our new home.’

‘And that’ll be…?’

‘In a fortnight if all goes according to plan.’

‘Do you know who’s bought this?’

Olivia shook her head. ‘Not a clue – to be honest, I don’t want to know. The estate agent handled all the viewings and Nigel’s dealt with the paperwork. I… I…’ She stopped. ‘I found it all a bit upsetting.’

Bex reached out and squeezed her friend’s arm.

Catherine Jones lives in Thame, where she is an independent Councillor. She is the author of eighteen novels, including the Soldiers’ Wives series, which she wrote under the pseudonym Fiona Field.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Inheritance – Anne Allen – 5* #Review – #TheGuernseyNovels #7 #Mystery #romance #historical #timeslip #intrigue @AnneAllen21

How close were Victor Hugo and his copyist?

1862 Young widow Eugénie is left bereft when her husband dies suddenly and faces an uncertain future in Guernsey. A further tragedy brings her to the attention of Monsieur Victor Hugo, living in exile on the island in his opulent house only yards away from Eugénie’s home. Their meeting changes her life and she becomes his copyist, forming a strong friendship with both Hugo and his mistress, Juliette Drouet.

2012 Doctor Tess Le Prevost, Guernsey-born though now living in Exeter, is shocked to inherit her Great-Aunt’s house on the island. As a child, she was entranced by Doris’s tales of their ancestor, Eugénie, whose house this once was, and who, according to family myth, was particularly close to Hugo. Was he the real father of her child? Tess is keen to find out and returning to the island presents her with the ideal opportunity.

Will she discover the truth about Eugénie and Hugo? A surprise find may hold the answer as Tess embraces new challenges which test her strength – and her heart.

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

My Thoughts…

A delightful mix of contemporary and Victorian life on Guernsey, with colourfully described historical details, and an engaging contemporary story full of romance, friendship and family drama.

Tess unexpectedly inherits an old house on Guernsey where she spent her childhood, Visiting her inheritance, she is drawn to the rundown house and being at a crossroads in her life decides to renovate and make Guernsey her home again.

Characters from previous stories make cameo appearances, but the story is standalone. The story slips between 2012 and Victorian times, told from Tess and Eugenie’s points of view. Both stories are complex and interesting, and there is a historical mystery for Tess to solve.

The story features a real historical figure, although the story is fictional, his presence as a character adds authenticity and depth.

Domestic abuse is a primary theme in this book, and it serves to highlight, its prevalence, and the differences and similarities between contemporary and Victorian women, in abusive relationships.

The storytelling is enthralling, the setting vividly described and the connections between the past and present meaningful. A lovely mix of believable characters and a realistic but hopeful ending make reading ‘The Inheritance’, a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Guest Post – Anne Allen – The Inheritance
Image Credit – Anne Allen – Hauteville Crystal Room

I would like to start by thanking Jane for allowing me space on her lovely blog, to talk about my latest offering in The Guernsey Novels series.

This book marks a slight change of direction for me in that instead of referencing the German Occupation in Guernsey as in my previous books, I go further back in time to the late 19th C and we meet the famous writer, Victor Hugo. It may not be widely known, but he spent fifteen years in Guernsey while in exile from France, having fallen out with Emperor Napoleon III. He arrived, complete with his wife, children, mistress and various other exiles, in October 1855. Hugo had already been kicked out of Jersey, his port of call, for rude comments about Queen Victoria. The Guernsey view was that if Jersey didn’t want him, he must be worth having!

Image Credit – Anne Allen = Hauteville Red Salon

The inspiration behind my book was Hugo’s house, Hauteville House, in St Peter Port. It’s one of a kind – opulent, over the top, full of quirky features like oak panels carved by Hugo himself, and with a rooftop eerie made from steel and glass where he wrote his novels and poems. I have visited it a couple of times, both when I lived there and two years ago when the idea for this book first surfaced. It is exactly how it was in Hugo’s day and his descendants gifted it to France some years ago and a French flag flies outside to proclaim it as French territory. My last visit was just in time as the house has been closed for nearly two years for extensive renovation, re-opening on 7th April just before my book is published.

Hugo finished writing his most famous work here, Les Misérables, as well as several more novels and collections of poetry. In my book, my character, Eugénie, a young French woman living yards away from Hugo, has a life-changing encounter with him and becomes his copyist. No computers or typewriters around then! His mistress, Juliette Drouet, also helped with the copying and the two women became close. Eugénie, recently widowed, has inherited her husband’s family home but has no income and working for Hugo is her salvation. My story is dual-time and the in the modern part, my character, Tess, is a Guernsey-born doctor now living in Devon and she unexpectedly inherits what was Eugénie’s house from her great-aunt in 2012. There has long been a family myth that Hugo and Eugénie were particularly close and that he may have been the father of her child when she remarried. I had to be very careful about this aspect of the story as Hugo’s descendants still have an apartment in Hauteville House and do visit Guernsey regularly. How to avoid upsetting people! Although he was a known womanizer, as far as is known Hugo had no illegitimate children.

The Guernsey Novels – Anne Allen

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, seven having been published. The books form a series, but each one is a standalone story with links to other books and characters. Although not originally planned, Anne is, in effect, writing a saga of Guernsey; featuring numerous characters and stories covering the German Occupation, Victorian Guernsey and the present day. A mix of family drama, mystery and love, the books have a wide appeal to readers of all ages.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Romance

My Husband’sWives- Faith Hogan – 5* #Review #GuestPost @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction @GerHogan #Paperback #BlogTour #Family #Drama #Friendship #Romance

Is it better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved?

Paul Starr, Ireland’s leading cardiologist, has died in a car crash with a pregnant young woman by his side. A woman who is not his wife.

Evie, Grace and Annalise never thought they’d meet, but now they have to uncover the truth of their pasts. And suddenly they find themselves united by a man they never really knew at all.

As these women begin to form unlikely friendships they discover that Paul’s death could prove to be the catalyst they needed to become the people they always wanted to be…

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

My Thoughts…

Three women, one man, it seems that Paul Starr collects wives like other men collect paintings, although he collects those too. In fact, that’s how he met Grace, the starting point for this story. Their attraction is instant and unsettling, she knows he’s married but is drawn like a moth to the flame, and he seems prepared to give up his former life to share hers. It is not until his untimely demise that Grace realises Paul kept secrets from everyone. Grace is running from commitment, from the drudgery of her early life and mostly from herself.

Evie always felt he loved her best despite Grace, but when he dies unexpectedly, she finds out Grace is not the only one. Evie’s story is sad, always living in someone’s shadow, never realising her full potential and now she feels she never will.

Annalise met Paul when she was at an all-time low, he offered her a way of saving face, but somewhere along the way she lost herself. When he died she clings on to her widowhood like a safety net, but maybe falling is better than remaining on the precipice?

Paul is like a child, he wants new toys but doesn’t want to give up his old ones. Unfortunately, his toys are women and their lives are blighted by his treatment. Paul’s lack of awareness is an overriding theme in this story, his character is badly flawed, but despite his controlling and faithless characteristics, as the story progresses, in death he does offer each of his women a precious lifeline.

This story is an excellent family drama and each of the main female characters becomes stronger, it is an empowering book to read. The plot is interesting and whilst the theme is not unusual, it is handled in a unique way and the characters are beautifully written, realistic, flawed, but strong enough to realise they have to accept help from unlikely sources, evolve and most of all forgive – Paul, the other women in his life and most of all themselves.

Lies and secrets are at the heart of this story, but it is courage and transparency that makes it an enjoyable read. Many contemporary issues and attitudes are explored sensitively, and there is a mystery to solve that keeps you guessing. Its resolution ties up the story perfectly.

The relationship that develops between the women is what resonates most in this story, the imagery is vivid, the dialogue realistic, and the plot perfectly paced. This would make a great film.

Guest Post- Faith Hogan

The Ultimate Guide to Being an Irish Reader

It seems, when St. Patrick’s day rolls around each year, more and more people find a little drop of Irish somewhere along the roots of their family tree. It’s a truly wonderful thing, to think that somehow, most of us are connected in some way that’s becoming more traceable as science and research move forward.

Of course, the thing about being Irish is that it’s like being French, it’s as much an attitude to life as it is anything else. Often, it seems that as a nation we’ve been maligned, in terms of being all that goes along with pints of the black stuff and a propensity to curse midstream on the most poetic verses.

I think the things that make us Irish – whether it is esoterically or physically are a little more prosaic…

The most important thing that has set us apart over the centuries is our love for Literature. We’ve been blessed by more than just shamrock, historically with books that stretch all the way back to the Ninth century.

The Book of Kells…. can be visited in Trinity College Library where it’s on permanent display.

Of course, our literary tradition did not begin and end with the monks and academics.

Some of our most famous writers have written across the genres over the last two hundred years. Everyone associates James Joyce and W.B Yeats with the emerald isle, their writing is so richly invested in our green landscape. We are equally proud however of Brahm Stoker who wrote the internationally famous Dracula and Oscar Wilde whose acerbic wit and tragedy lean towards a much more anglicised tradition.

In recent years, I’m not sure you can close or open an Irish cannon without including some of our most treasured and popular writers. Maeve Binchy is a genre to herself at this point and her stories carry within them a heart and warmth that many pretenders may aspire to, but none has so far reached. There is no nicer compliment than being compared to Maeve, but really, I’ve always felt there is only one Queen of the heart stories and her crown remains untouched.

Roddy Doyle writes a very different kind of book to anyone else in the world. It is Irish, it is Dublin and all of his stories are bitingly sharp, poignantly funny and for my money, if we’re comparing, he’s got his finger on the pulse as a modern day Dickens’. Doyle manages to highlight the areas of society we’d rather gloss over and he does it in a way that makes us want to go back for more.

These days, books are a funny thing in Ireland. There are so many fantastic writers out there, a sea of them all bobbing along, but its the ones that make it up onto the big screen that really tend to capture the attention, sometimes to the detriment of equally good books alongside them. One of those books, that made it to the big screen was Brooklyn – based on the wonderful novel by Colm Toibin – if there is a book you think you might read this St. Patrick’s day, this one is light but well written and it is guaranteed to leave you with the whisper of an Irish voice in your ear and a contented smile at the end.

If you’re planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with a book, of course, I have to mention, a brand new paperback has just arrived in the shops and it’s called My Husbands Wives and it’s published by Aria Fiction. It’s been compared to all sorts of wonderful writers, but mainly, it’s an unashamedly feel-good story – a blissful escape from these grey days. It’s the story of four women and how they manage to survive and thrive after the unthinkable happens. It is steeped in the warmth, welcome and windy weather of this little emerald isle and it’s guaranteed to leave you feeling as if all is right with the world at the end!

If you do pick it up, I hope you enjoy it!

Faith xxx

Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has a Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

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

#BlogTour #Trapped-Nick Louth- 5*#Review #GuestPost @canelo_co @NickLouthAuthor

Two desperate criminals. Something she never saw coming.

In Manchester, two hardened gang members on the run take Catherine Blake and her one-year-old son hostage at gunpoint. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Held in a Transit van, Catherine needs a plan fast. But it means diving into her captors’ risk-drenched world, and playing them at their own game.

Catherine has been through cancer, miscarriages and five draining years of IVF in order to have her son Ethan. He is the most precious thing in the world. She may be terrified out of her wits, but she’d do anything to protect him. Anything, no matter the cost…

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

My Thoughts…

From the first page, this suspenseful thriller is intriguing.

Primarily told from Catherine’s husband’s point of view. He assumes the role of the story’s narrator, a unique and unusual role in this type of thriller. His insight is uncanny and the reader has to accept this until the pieces of the puzzle start to reveal themselves. When it becomes clear why he has this unusual insight into her thoughts, it’s probably not what you think, and so becomes a more compelling viewpoint.

Catherine is in a nightmare scenario and as the story unfolds you can understand what motivates her behaviour. Like me, you may wonder what you would do in the same situation. Catherine’s husband’s admiration of her is apparent throughout. She is a clever, driven character, who has fought to bring her child into the world and will never relinquish him. You empathise with her strongly but then, as you think it’s all over, it isn’t.

Gangland crime is at the heart of this plot but there are no stereotypes, the antagonists are believable and have no redeeming features, you are very much on the side of Catherine and Ethan her innocent child.

The twist is masterful and unexpected and makes the final chapters of the story enthralling.

Contemporary crime, authentic police procedures, and an intense, original plot, make ‘Trapped’ one of my favourite thrillers this year.

Guest Post – Nick Louth – Inspiration for Trapped

The original spark of inspiration for Trapped came after I read the brilliant novel Room by Emma Donoghue. I asked myself, could I write something that is even more claustrophobic than that? A story where the walls close in even tighter, where the threats are not mere confinement, but death. That’s when I came upon the idea of a woman and her child being imprisoned in the back of a squalid Transit van, inside a multi-storey car park surrounded by armed police. I wanted a dark, gritty setting, where the odds of survival were low. The next stage was to build a collision of temperament and outlook between prisoners and captors, to create a cauldron of conflict. Catherine Blake is the ultimate risk-averse mother, having finally given birth after years of trying, enduring miscarriages and IVF. Her protective nature involves shielding this precious child from even the most remote risks, by planning and foresight. Fretwell and Cousins, the gangsters who capture her and her child, are two men for whom long-term planning is a few minutes or at most a few hours. They get a kick from risk, a thrill from danger. Normally, these contrasting types of people do not run into each other. The power of the book comes from throwing them together in a believable way, under massive external pressure when the police arrive.

It’s not difficult to build scary gangsters, but what is hard is to steer away from the many cliches and stereotypes which infest the genre of crime fiction. In this case, I started with the names, courtesy of my own late father who used to tell me stories when I was a child of his national service in the 1950s. Amongst the many memorable characters, were the fearsome London hooligans Fretwell and Cousins, who intimidated even the sergeant major in my father’s regiment. The characters are completely different from those he described, but the names have a marvellous rhythm and are grafted onto two new characters. We spend very little time in the gangsters’ heads, but their actions reflect their impulsiveness. Our view into Catherine’s head is far more detailed and comes through her husband, who has a special all-seeing viewpoint that becomes ever clearer as the narrative progresses. His love for her and the ominous portents that he reveals are designed to create a shadow of foreboding right from the beginning. I’m very pleased with the reception that this unusual narrative voice has received from reviewers.

Nick Louth is a best-selling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992 while working for Reuters, that gave him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK No. 1 Kindle best-seller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies and been translated into six languages.

The terrorism thriller Heartbreaker was published in June 2014 and received critical acclaim from Amazon readers, with a 4.6 out of 5 stars on over 100 reviews. Mirror Mirror, subtitled  ‘When evil and beauty collide’ was published in June 2016. The Body in the Marsh, a crime thriller, is being published by Canelo in September 2017.  Freelance since 1998, he has been a regular contributor to the Financial Times, Investors Chronicle and Money Observer, and has published seven other books. Nick Louth is married and lives in Lincolnshire.

Posted in Book Review, Guest post

Blog Tour: Deep Fear – Rachel Lynch – Guest Post – Researching Forensics – 5* Review

DI Kelly Porter is back. But will this new case push her beyond her limits?

On a peaceful summer’s morning in the Lake District, a woman’s body is discovered outside a church. She’s been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home?

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Guest Post

Researching Forensics

By Rachel Lynch

 

Today, forensic evidence is essential to get a conviction. Circumstantial evidence can be argued away by skilful barristers and so-called experts. Science is rarely disputed, and so any Police Procedural, in my belief, has to have plenty of forensic procedure. I love reading about it and I love writing about it, and I hope my readers do too.

I created Ted Wallis, the Senior Coroner for the North West of England, purely by chance, but I liked his character so much that he’s now a permanent fixture. He’s becoming Kelly’s go-to for all things scientific and he’s also quite a father figure to her. She loves bouncing ideas off him and they enjoy each other’s company. He’s experienced, deliberate, trustworthy and reliable.

I research forensic procedure and technique a lot. One, because I enjoy it, but also because I can’t imagine an investigation without it. All forces in the UK used to be able to use the Forensic Science Service (FSS), but sadly it went way over budget (not that there ever was one set), and created quite a scandal when it emerged how much it cost the taxpayer for the privileged use of up to date technology (how dare they). It’s quite a bone of contention still, as it means that now each force has to pay private labs to chase results and process items and it’s astronomically expensive. One investigation could involve the processing of hundreds of items, then they need to be stored, often retested and compared against other tests. It’s a sad loss to the police force, but the price of budget cutting.

For the purposes of tension and pace, Kelly needs to have access to state of the art lab technology, otherwise, my novels would be tomes of ethical debate surrounded by dilemmas of whether or not to pay for speed DNA profiling or expert fibre analysis, not both. Crime readers don’t want to read about budgets, and so Ted has access to what he needs, and he can pull strings with several labs in Carlisle on Kelly’s behalf.

I’m also keen to avoid repetition, so each autopsy needs to bring something new to the table (forgive the pun). Ted himself needs to be surprised by the depravity of the lengths that some killers will go to and I think it does him good to have a few unconventional cases in the twilight of his career. I have studied anatomy and physiology as part of my sports training and massage courses and, although it’s not essential, it certainly helps. Gore will always divide readers but I hope to achieve the right balance to keep fans interested but at the same time not be gratuitous, which I hope I’m not.

Police work isn’t pretty, and it isn’t for the feint hearted, neither should crime novels be so. We’re dealing with the scum of society and the most sick and twisted minds. It’s bound to get ugly once in a while.

The most important aspect for me is that the facts exposed by the scientific research are always made relevant to the story. Everything that Ted discovers is relayed to Kelly, and each piece is processed so that it contributes to the final conclusion; this is my absolute priority where forensic investigation is used. No piece of evidence is ever thrown in by chance.

So where do I get all the information? The internet mainly. I Google some scary stuff. I also use personal testimony, books and my imagination. I go by the loose guide that, if someone has thought it, it’s probably been done, and nothing much surprises me about the lengths that serious criminals will go to snuff out a human being. After all, crime fiction is about the good guys (or girls) beating the bad guys (or girls). And the stakes are always higher when the baddies are particularly nasty.  

My Thoughts…

I read and reviewed the first book in the DI Kelly Porter series – Dark Game, and while I enjoyed it, for me, it was overly graphic and too factual, in parts. Deep Fear, the second book in the series has retained the action, pace and suspense of the first, while losing some of the gore and facts, making it a perfect 5* read.

Kelly Porter is a dedicated police detective, it is part of her life, and she often sacrifices personal matters for the job. Kelly’s complicated relationship with her sister Nikki continues in this sequel as does her on, off relationship with ex-serviceman Johnny, both give an insight into Kelly’s emotional side and are integral to the plot.

The dark and twisty plot makes compelling reading and something you have to finish. The Lake District and Cumbria is an exciting setting, which gives the perfect cover for heinous crimes. The stark contrast of the beautiful lakes and hills with the dark, horror of the murderous crimes adds to the suspense.

The authentic and well-researched plot and the realistic characters make this story come to life, with a well disguised serial killer. The final chapters are adrenaline-fueled with a heart-stopping ending. All the questions thrown up by the story are dealt with believably, although there is one loose end about a person of interest, which could be part of another investigation?

Readable as a standalone but if you want the full impact of DI Kelly Porter and her team, read Dark Game first.

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

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but the writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Twitter: @r_lynchcrime

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Guest post

Blog Tour:The Wrong Man Guest Post -4*Review-Kate White

The Wrong Man Blog Tour Banner

Kit Finn meets handsome sculptor Matt Healy on a business trip, and the two share a night of passion. They arrange a second date, but when Kit arrives at Matt’s apartment, she is greeted by a stranger claiming he is the real Matt and that his identity was stolen.

Realising she has been duped Kit decides to put the encounter behind her. Shortly after, the police ask her to identify a man killed in a hit and run, carrying only her business card, and she is shocked to find the dead man is the person she knows as the genuine Matt Healy.

Kit fears she has become unintentionally embroiled in a sinister web of deceit. With no real evidence to take to police, Kit resolves to unravel the mystery herself. But can she do so before more lives, including her own, are put in danger?

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The Wrong Man

Guest Post-  Kate White

How to Finally Start Writing (After Weeks, Months or Years of Being Stuck).

Over the years, people have frequently asked me if the time I spent in the magazine business–I ran five U.S. magazines, including Cosmopolitan for 14 years–was good preparation for my career as a mystery and thriller writer. My guess is that being a former prosecutor, cop, or private eye would have served me better, but overall my background has had its advantages.

     For starters, it gave me great contacts in media, as well as a certain amount of name recognition, both of which came in handy when I had to promote my first book.

     But probably the best thing my magazine career did for me was teach me how to stop procrastinating. As a young magazine writer, I learned a technique that helped turn me from a wannabe fiction author into a real one.

      I’m not sure how or why I became such a procrastinator, but I do know it began after college, perhaps because the work world seemed so overwhelming at first. During my 20’s, as a feature writer for Glamour magazine, I’d put off my assignments until the very last minute, practically pulling all-nighters to finish them. I was also trying to write fiction then, and that proved to be hopeless. I’d vow to spend all Saturday working on my novel, and yet I’d end up wiling away the hours on stupid stuff like cleaning out my wallet.  I began to think that despite what I told people, I really didn’t long to be an author.

     To help combat the problem, I snagged an assignment at Glamour to write a short piece on time management, and I ended up interviewing some of the top experts in that field. One of them, Edwin Bliss, taught me the trick that changed everything for me. He called it “slice the salami,” and though it’s pretty simple, it was a miracle worker for me. 

     First, the reasoning behind the strategy: Bliss explained that we often avoid an important task not because our heart isn’t in it but because it’s too big and daunting. The key to success, he said, is to make the steps as small as possible.  

     He compared the process to slicing a salami. On its own, a hunk of salami can look fat and ugly, but once you slice it, you’ve got something that–to meat eaters at least–looks very appetizing.  

     If you’re putting off a project or activity, Bliss said, you need to study it and decide how thinly you can slice it down.

      The technique worked fantastically for me in my magazine work and then later in my 40’s when I started trying to write fiction again. I’d decided to attempt murder mystery, something I’d always fantasized about, and with the salami technique in mind,   I made the decision to write for only fifteen minutes a day. That didn’t seem too much for me to ask of myself and it wasn’t. I managed to work every day. And after three months I actually had a few chapters under my belt—and I started expanding the amount of time I wrote each day.  

     I don’t need the salami trick anymore (I’m on my fourteenth suspense novel), but I know it’s there if I fall back into bad habits.

     It also helps, of course, to love the idea you’re working on. Writing The Wrong Man was never a burden because the concept thrilled me, the idea that one small, wrong choice could upend your entire world. As the protagonist Kit Finn muses: Wasn’t the problem with a little danger that you had no guarantee it could be contained? It was light a match tossed on dry brush. Maybe things only smoldered for a while. But with the right conditions, those embers could begin to flare higher and higher in the darkness, until they torched everything you owned.

     That always kept me going!

Kate White is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve works of fiction: seven Bailey Weggins mysteries and five stand-alone psychological thrillers, including most recently, The Secrets You Keep. For fourteen years she was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and though she loved the job (and the Cosmo beauty closet!), she decided to leave in late 2013 to concentrate on being a full-time author and speaker

Twitter: @katemwhite

My Thoughts…

‘ The Wrong Man’ has all the intrigue, menace and suspense of a psychological thriller but it’s the action rather than the main protagonist’s state of mind that is the real focus of this fast-paced novel.

Kit is at a crossroads in her life, she’s tired of playing safe and wants to take a few risks. A ‘one night stand’ fits the bill but unfortunately, it embroils her in a conspiracy that threatens everything she values. Kit’s dilemma of whether to trust her instincts or the evidence, fuels her often impetuous actions,  putting her in danger. As she finds the emotional strength she needs for survival she is increasingly easy to like.

Minor characters such as work colleagues and friends add additional interest to the story. Vividly portrayed they add authenticity to the plot which is suspenseful with often chilling twists. The New York setting is well described and complements the storyline perfectly.

An easy read, with a touch of glamour, edge of the seat suspense and a thrilling ending.

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

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Guest post

Blog Tour: If He Wakes – Zoe Lea -Guest Post 5* Review

 

You can always trust your best friend… can’t you?

When Rachel discovers a Twitter message arranging a romantic liaison she assumes her husband is having an affair and follows him. What she witnesses is so much worse: a hit and run using his car.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie is increasingly worried about her fiance, who’s not been in touch for days. When Suzie learns of huge debts racked up in her name she fears he has run out on her, but then the threatening calls start and she thinks something terrible has happened.

Rachel and Suzie are both about to learn shocking things about the men they love, worse than they could ever imagine… Can their friendship survive?

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Zoe Lea – IF HE WAKES – Guest Post

Why I write psychological thrillers

I wrote that title thinking there’d be a really easy answer, but as I’ve sat here, looking at the blank page for ten minutes, I’ve realised that there isn’t an easy answer at all. 

The thing is, I didn’t set out to write psychological thrillers.  I started writing young adult books, which are a bit different, so it’s not like my route to writing If He Wakes was simple.

I’ve always really enjoyed writing.  I had a small success into the foray of publishing when, at sixteen, I had a short story accepted for Jackie magazine (which way back then, was one of those publications aimed at teenage girls.) I continued to write for them for a few years until the magazine folded and so when it I felt I was ready to have a go at writing a book, which was almost ten years later I might add, I felt a young adult book was the natural choice.

So I wrote a young adult novel, and it was bad.  Not good at all.  It was about a teenager pretending she was pregnant so she could illicit revenge on some lad that had dumped her. It got a bit of interest from some agents, but ultimately it went nowhere. 

Then I wrote another, this time, going for the romance market. It was about a girl who falls for a boy in a band, only she doesn’t find out he’s famous until it’s too late, and she’s been forced into the shallow world of celebrity and fame. 

That one did even worse than the first, so in short, I gave up.  Putting your writing out there is hard, and even harder when you’re getting numerous rejections, so I stopped for a while and went back to short stories.

It was a few years later that I read Stephen King’s book, On Writing. My close friend was seriously writing at the time, and we discussed the process of writing endlessly.  She’d started to write a book, a really great book, and she kept on telling me that I should be writing one too. 

I thought about it.  Looked at the young adult market and what was selling, tried to come up with a premise that I thought agents and publishers would like, and then as the feeling of dread descended, I suddenly realised I was doing it all wrong.  I didn’t even read young adult books so what made me think I would like writing them?

It sounds obvious now, but really, it took me an age to realise.  You hear so often, ‘write what you know,’ instead of, ‘write what you like.’

I looked at the books I was reading, the authors whom I admired, all crime, all thrillers. 

It still took me a while before I plucked up the courage to even start writing in this genre.  It was daunting, I found I was endlessly comparing my work to the authors I coveted, but then, once I got going, I found I couldn’t stop. 

Unlike when I was writing young adult, when I had to drag myself to the keyboard and try to stack up my word count, writing If He Wakes was a joy.  I was thinking about my characters all day, I couldn’t sleep because of the situations I’d put them in, in short, I was excited about my book.  About my plot.  About how I’d get the characters out of the situations I’d put them in.  It was like trying to solve a massive jigsaw puzzle, and I loved it.

So why do I write psychological thrillers?  Because I love them.  Because this type of book exhilarates me, it fills me with anxiety so real in places that I flinch when I write certain scenes.  It takes me on a rollercoaster, it entertains me, and it’s because these are the types of books that dominate my shelves.

Zoe Lea lives in the Lake District with her husband, their two children, three dogs and peregrine falcons. She has previously worked as a teacher, photographer and freelance journalist and is a writer in the day and a reader by night. If He Wakes is her debut novel.

Twitter: @zoe___lea

Instagram: ZoeLeaWriter

 

My Thoughts…

An absorbing, believable first chapter perfectly sets the scene for what is to come, in this tense and shocking psychological thriller. Told from Rachel and Suzie’s points of view the two friends both experience increasingly disturbing events in their otherwise ordinary lives that leave them doubting everything they previously believed; threatening, their friendship and sanity.

The plot cleverly conceals more than it reveals and just when you think you’ve solved the mystery, you find another twist. Authentic characters complement the realistic storyline in a readable mix of action and introspection. The genuinely chilling factor of this story is it could happen and probably has, real nail-biting, what if it happened to me? Experience the nightmare without the consequences when you read this book.

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

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Guest post, Summer Impulse

What Inspired ‘The Honey Trap’? -Mary Jayne Baker

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Guest Post

What Inspired ‘The Honey Trap’? Mary Jayne Baker

Although I only started writing my debut novel The Honey Trap last October, I suppose the embryo of the story goes right back to the early noughties when I was studying English Literature at Durham University. I’d always been attracted to writing contemporary romance in the Mills & Book vein, and one day I decided what the hell: I was just going to do it. So I came up with a heroine, Angel, a feisty red-haired journalist who knew her own mind, and a hero, Sebastian, a dark and mysterious aristocrat with a troubled past. I drafted a plot, wrote about 4000 words worth of scenes – and then I decided the whole thing was dreadful and gave up.

Ten years later, I revisited the characters and plot – and gave up again. It was only last year, when someone gave me the sterling piece of advice that I should stop worrying about the quality of my writing and get on with it, then worry about editing afterwards, that I finally sat down to write what became The Honey Trap.

The characters and plot changed a lot from the original story idea I’d come up with back in my early 20s. From being a well-respected journalist, Angel became someone rather more junior, a newspaper intern just starting out in her career. Sebastian, now more usually known as Seb, changed from being an aristocrat to an acclaimed British film director, and from being dark and tortured to someone rather more fun and sweet. I populated Seb and Angel’s world with a cast of secondary characters – Angel’s love-to-hate boss Steve, Seb’s glamorous actress wife Carole and Angel’s fun, witty and supportive friends Leo and Emily.

Another thing that changed as I wrote was the genre. Although I initially intended the book to be contemporary romance, a lot of humour crept in, with cheeky banter between the characters abounding, and about a third of the way through I could see what I was really writing was romantic comedy, so I went with it.

Although I’m neither a journalist nor a film director, I mined my own interests and experiences pretty shamefully to provide material for the book. In the wake of the recent phone-hacking scandal, which I followed closely, I wanted to focus on Angel’s choices in the morally ambiguous world of the redtop paper she works for and this is one theme of the book. I also loved the idea of the main couple bonding over a shared love of vintage film, which is a passion of mine – the scenes where they watch old films such as The Apartment in Seb’s 1920s cinema, The Hippodrome, were some of my favourites to write. And finally, because he wouldn’t get off my keyboard and I thought it might appease him, I wrote my cat in! Harpo the cat becomes Groucho in The Honey Trap. He’s very proud…

Writing my first novel was an interesting experience. I tried to write 2000 words every day, which is no small commitment while also working full-time as I can only really write in the evenings, and I don’t think I was quite prepared for how much the plot and characters would take over my life and dreams. I found the experience addictive though – having once started writing, I’m now finding I can’t stop! I have another two completed manuscripts that I’m currently editing, and another first draft almost complete, plus I have recently signed with a literary agent.

Butterfly Heaven

The trap is set – but which one of them is the bait?

Journalist Angel Blackthorne is looking for her next big scoop. When her sleazy editor asks her to use her charms on super successful – and married – film director Sebastian Wilchester for a juicy exposé, Angel thinks what the hell? There’s a staff job on the horizon, and, let’s be honest, no one can make a cheater cheat if they don’t want to, right?

After the scandal breaks, Angel tries to put the story – and Seb – behind her, but fate seems to have other ideas. A near miss at a premiere after-party and a shared love of vintage film brings the honey closer to the trap.

But what happens when pretence leads to passion, and a ‘kiss and tell’ becomes something real?

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Flowers - My Review

The Honey Trap

‘The Honey Trap’ is an interesting, insightful expose of the gutter press and the fallout of their actions. Not your usual romantic comedy material but it works. The story explores the current obsession with celebrity status in a humorous way and the well thought out plot holds your interest.
Angel, a journalist intern finds out that ‘making it’ in her chosen career means compromising her moral integrity and possibly losing self respect in the process. Seb, the reclusive anti hero is instantly attractive to Angel and the heat between them is undeniable and often explosive. The sex is more explicit than usual in romantic comedy but as this forms the basis for the story that is a given. There is a good balance of romance and passion between our unlikely couple but the chance for a happy ever after for Angel and Seb is in doubt right to the end.
Angel’s objectionable boss, stereotypical, ‘old school’ editor, Steve easily manipulates her into making questionable choices. His sexist and homophobic behaviour doesn’t make pleasant reading but is essential for the plot’s authenticity and Angel’s out of character behaviour, in agreeing to be the bait in the honey trap.
A different interpretation of a popular theme, making an overall enjoyable read.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Author Bio

 

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature in 2003, she dallied with living in cities including London, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales.

She lives with him in a little house with four little cats and a little rabbit, writing stories about girls with flaws and the men who love them. You can usually find her there with either a pen, some knitting needles or a glass of wine in hand. She goes to work every day as a graphic designer for a magazine publisher, but secretly dreams of being a lighthouse keeper.

More information can be found about MJ on her website at http://www.maryjaynebaker.co..uk You can also follow her on Twitter, @MaryJayneBaker, or like her Facebook page by going to Facebook.com/MaryJayneWrites