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for her to live in the village, and her savings are finally dwindling to a pathetic number – with her book still unpublished after her startling discovery about the author helping guide her towards success.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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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, ganglit, Guest post, Historical Crime Fiction, saga

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

While World War Two rages on around them, the gangs of London are fighting for their turf…

There might be a war on, but that doesn’t stop Georgina Garrett running her business with an iron fist. No one said running the Battersea gang was going to be easy, but her unflinchable nature makes Georgina unstoppable.

With a role that requires a ruthless ability to seek revenge and pay out crippling punishments, Georgina’s enemies are growing in number. With a target on her back, Georgina knows she must do everything to protect her family. But, with the loss of someone closest to her, can Georgina rise up from the ashes or allow a usurper take her crown?

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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…

Like many books set in WW2, this story is atmospheric and full of historical detail. Georgina Garrett and her gang adapt to wartime Battersea. Georgina engenders mixed feelings in the reader. Her loyalty and willingness to provide for those she takes under her wing is admirable. Conversely, she isn’t afraid of using violence and committing crimes to ensure she protects her own and continues their way of life.

Georgina faces resentment and threats. Her love of her family make her vulnerable, yet this love is what makes her easy to empathise. Authentic, multifaceted characters drive an action and conflict rich plot.

The surprising ending leaves you wondering what next?

Guest post- Sam Michaels -Vixen

Hello, I’m Sam Michaels, author of the Georgina Garrett series of books.

Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank you to Jane for featuring me on her wonderful blog site. I was thrilled when she invited me to write a guest post about my latest book, Vixen.

As many readers will know, Vixen is the third book in the Georgina Garrett series. It follows Trickster and Rivals. Way back when WW1 broke in Britain, Trickster began with Georgina being born into a life of poverty, living in the slums of Battersea in south west London. Throughout the book, we watched Georgina, or George as she was known then, overcome adversity to grow into a beautiful young woman. But a woman with a fierce and ruthless streak that would bode well for her life in the criminal underworld. She proved herself a force to be reckoned with but it wasn’t easy, especially facing her biggest enemy, the twisted Billy Wilcox.

In Rivals, during the pre-war years of WW2, Georgina really comes into her own as she heads up the criminal gang running Battersea. But as you’d expect, there are many who think they can do a better job than a woman and are ready to bring her down.  

Vixen picks up the story at the outbreak of WW2. Georgina exploits any opportunities that come along when a country is at war, but she also has a kind heart and fair morals, offering help when she can to those in need. But in Vixen, there’s more than just London under attack – so is Georgina and she also faces unimaginable heartbreak.

For anyone enjoying this series, you’ll be pleased to know there is more on the way, five books in total. I’m currently writing book 4 and without giving too much away, I can tell you this book is going to see Georgina facing a whole new set of challenges, including fighting for her children. She’ll meet some colourful characters along the way who will take her into a whole new world of criminality, one with bigger gains but bigger risks to boot. And what will become of Georgina’s relationship with David Maynard? You’ll have to wait and see.

Whilst writing this series, I’ve grown ever so fond of Georgina and I think her audience has too. I even had a comment from a chap who said he’d love to work for her! I believe it’s because we can all relate to aspects of her personality. Granted, she’s a killer, but somehow, the murders she commits or orders feel justified. She’s intensely protective of her loved ones, a worthy trait, and though she has a tough exterior, there’s a vulnerability about her that we see glimpses of now and again. At the end of the day, everything Georgina does is driven by a desire to make life better for those around her. And like many other women, she feels the need to be loved, albeit on her terms.

With book 5 in the pipeline, time will move forward and you’ll discover more about Georgina’s children. As someone recently said to me, ‘Strong women have strong women.’ And that is very true for Georgina Garrett!

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

Sam Michaels

Sam Michaels lives in Spain with her family and a plethora of animals. Having been writing for years Trickster is her debut novel.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Guest post, Historical Fiction

The Gossips Choice Sara Read #GuestPost @Wildpressed @saralread @LoveBooksGroup #Lovebookstours #HistoricalFiction #17thCentury #TheGossipsChoice

“Call The Midwife for the 17th Century”


Lucie Smith is a respected midwife who is married to Jacob, the town apothecary. They live happily together at the shop with the sign of the Three Doves. But sixteen-sixty-five proves a troublesome year for the couple. Lucie is called to a birth at the local Manor House and Jacob objects to her involvement with their former opponents in the English Civil Wars. Their only-surviving son Simon flees plague-ridden London for his country hometown, only to argue with his father. Lucie also has to manage her husband’s fury at the news of their loyal housemaid’s unplanned pregnancy and its repercussions.
 
The year draws to a close with the first-ever accusation of malpractice against Lucie, which could see her lose her midwifery licence, or even face ex-communication.

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Guest Post : The Gossips Choice- Sara Read 

What’s in a name?

The Gossips’ Choice takes its name from the ‘gossips’ or female attendants who a supported a mother in her labour. These women were an important part of the mother’s birth experience and they were there to physically support her by sitting behind her as she sat on the edge of her bed or on a birthing stool to help support her, and to stroke her belly to encourage the baby to move down, and to help the mother to comply with all her midwife’s instructions. But they had another important aspect of their role which was to keep up the mother’s spirits, to encourage her with kind words, to be cheery and to offer her such food and drink as the midwife might recommend. Lucie Smith, my protagonist, is the gossips’ choice because she is the most experienced and trusted midwife in the area. She is the one that the majority of local women trust to safely deliver their babies.

There is a second reason for my choosing this title for my novel. Lucie becomes the subject of town gossip when people start talking about a case where one of the births she attended had an unhappy outcome. As the rumour mill ramps up, Lucie faces a lot of unwelcome attention as townsfolk speculate about what went wrong. As an ageing midwife who has been practising for over thirty years, is it time for her to admit she is no longer up to the job and to think of retiring? The novel explores what it feels like to suddenly find yourself the subject of gossip and to have those families you have served for so long doubt you. Lucie faces a choice between fighting to clear her good name and stepping back from her lifelong vocation.

This title means a lot to me as the author. I had the outline of the story in my head for a long time, but it was not until the title came to me that the story would flow. And then it poured out!

Sara Read

Dr Sara Read is a lecturer in English at Loughborough University. Her research is in the cultural representations of women, bodies and health in the early modern era.

She has published widely in this area with her first book Menstruation and the Female Body in Early Modern England being published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.
She is a member of the organising committee of the Women’s Studies Group, 1558-1837 and recently co-edited a special collection produced to celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary.

She is also the co-editor of the popular Early Modern Medicine blog. With founding editor Dr Jennifer Evans, Sara wrote a book about health and disease in this era Maladies and Medicine: Exploring Health and Healing, 1540-1740 (Pen and Sword 2017).

Sara regularly writes for history magazines such as Discover Your Ancestors and History Today. In 2017 she published an article ‘My Ancestor was a Midwife’ tracing the history of the midwifery profession for Who Do You Think You Are? magazine in 2017. She has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Freethinking programme and is often to be heard on BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio WM.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Travel

A Shop Girl At Sea Rachel Brimble 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @RachelBrimble #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #Saga #BlogTour #BookReview #Titanic #GuestPost #Penningtons

Bath, 1912.

Amelia Wakefield loves working at Pennington’s, Bath’s finest department store. An escape from her traumatic past, it saved her life. So when Miss Pennington sets her a task to set sail on the Titanic and study the department stores of New York, she couldn’t be more excited – or determined!

Frustrated with his life at home, Samuel Murphy longs for a few weeks of freedom and adventure. Meeting Amelia on board the Titanic, Samuel can’t help wonder what painful history has made the beauty so reserved. But he already has too many responsibilities for love.

Ruby Taylor has always kept her Pennington co-workers at a distance. Making sure her little brother is safe has always been her priority. But when that means accepting Victoria Lark’s offer of sanctuary, more than one of Ruby’s secrets is under threat of being revealed…

A riveting and uplifting saga.

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Guest Post – Rachel Brimble – A Shop Girl At Sea.

Thank you so much for having me here today and being part of my latest tour!

For many years, I have wanted to set a book on the Titanic having been fascinated and humbled by the catastrophe of the fated ship. It wasn’t until I was writing book 2 of the Shop Girl series (A Shop Girl Gets The Vote) that I realised I had found the perfect character to send aboard the ship to America.

The heroine of A Shop Girl At Sea, Amelia Wakefield, is the head window dresser at Pennington’s department store. She is ambitious yet kind, curious yet lacking in self-confidence… or at least she is until Pennington’s owner, Elizabeth, sees something in Amelia that she believes makes her the perfect candidate to send on a scouting expedition of the department stores in New York.

Also aboard the ship is seaman Jacob Murphy who lives in Bath but spends most of his life stationed at Southampton’s docks. Having lost his father at a young age, Jacob stepped into the role of protector and provider for his mother and two younger sisters. His life has rarely been his own his entire adulthood so when he secures a place on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, Jacob sees this as his opportunity to thrive. Isn’t there every possibility his destiny lies in America?

Amelia and Jacob are thrown together in a world where the wealthy and the poor are sailing across the Atlantic for different reasons, but when the mammoth vessel strikes an iceberg, they soon realise no one is better than anyone else or more unprepared for the future…

Through my reading of reference books, survivors accounts and letters, I became more and more immersed in the people aboard the Titanic while writing this book, yet still unable to say I can imagine what those terrified passengers endured in those final hours. I hope, through the writing of this book, I have paid homage to those who died and survived by touching on the tragedy and writing a story that provides love, romance and hope for all that read A Shop Girl At Sea.

Happy Reading,

Rachel x

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

My Thoughts…

Amelia’s American adventure takes the reader away from Pennington’s glamourous ethos. A popular subject for historical fiction, the Titanic tragedy gets a new perspective in this story.
Amelia and Samuel’s lives are irrevocably changed when they get to opportunity to visit America on the luxury liner. Amelia is damaged, by a terrible past crime. Sam is drowning in unwanted responsibility. The chance to escape even for a short time is too good to miss. The romance is gentle but full of angst. Well researched and sensitive writing emphasises the terrible loss, and courage of those on board the ship.

Ruby’ story highlights domestic abuse and society’s prejudice to single-sex couples.

This is an engaging romantic saga. It has a perfect balance of vivid characters, historical detail and poignant events. The complex protagonists are easy to empathise, the historical setting vibrantly brought to life by the easy to read writing style.

Rachel Brimble lives in Wiltshire with her husband of twenty years, two teenage daughters and her beloved chocolate Labrador, Tyler. Multi-published in the US, she is thrilled to have a new beginning writing for Aria in the UK. When Rachel isn’t writing, she enjoys reading across the genres, knitting and walking the English countryside with her family…often stopping off at a country pub for lunch and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Guest post, Holiday Romance, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Travel

My Greek Island Summer Mandy Baggot 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @mandybaggot @HoZ_Books #Romance #HolidayRomance #RomCom #Greece Friendship #Relationships #GreekIslands #Corfu #Travel #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #MandyBaggot20

Becky Rose has just landed her dream job house-sitting at a top-end villa on the island of Corfu. What could be better than six weeks laying by an infinity pool overlooking the gorgeous Ionian waters while mending her broken heart.

Elias Mardas is travelling back to Corfu on business whilst dealing with his own personal demons. Late arriving in Athens, Becky and Elias have to spend a night in the Greek capital. When they have to emergency land in Kefalonia, Becky’s got to decide whether to suck up the adventure and this gorgeous companion she seems to have been thrown together with or panic about when she’s going to arrive at Corfu…

Finally reaching the beautiful island, Becky is happy to put Elias behind her and get on with her adventure. Until he turns up at the villa…

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

My Thoughts…

Becky wants more than working in a sandwich business. She’s creative and clever but is gradually losing her sense of self, by keeping quiet and hiding her talents. The chance to housesit in Corfu, is too good an opportunity, to miss, even though it strains her sibling relationship. This is a gently paced book. You get to know Becky before she sets off on her adventure. Unexpected events make the flights more adventurous than expected, and Becky meets two fellow travellers, full of emotional angst and secrets.

With lovingly described settings, the story has an authentic sense of place. The emotional plot combines friendship, humour, poignancy and romance, in a relatable way. Complex, flawed and unique characters, complement a gently paced, detailed plot. Unexpected twists keep you turning the pages, as the main characters discover what’s important to them.

This story is an escapist read, letting the reader experience love and life in an engaging holiday setting.

#MandyBaggot20 – A tale of many books

I’ve written 20 books! No matter how many times I say this to myself I still can’t quite believe it. How DID that happen? Yes, this year, fittingly in 2020, my 20th novel is published – My Greek Island Summer! So, where did my writing journey begin and what exactly has happened in the last twelve years from Book 1 to Book 20?

Book 1 – Excess All Areas (self-published)

Picture the scene, a new mother crying out for some respite from nappy changes and piles of washing carrying a birth injury no one could fix… what does she do? She escapes into another world and writes about her last sunshine holiday to Corfu creating characters who can do anything! Readers still tell me how much they love Freya Johnson!

Book 2 – One Night on Ice – Aria Fiction (first self-published as Breaking the Ice)

My love of Dancing on Ice spurred me into writing this story. Again, I was escaping into fiction any time I could and writing about other characters’ issues took me away from my own.

Book 3 – Knowing Me Knowing You (self-published)

I have no idea where the idea for this book came from. It’s based around a relationship gameshow where single mum Kate has to compete for a prize alongside the gorgeous Joel, the date she has paid to be there who she knows nothing about. Think The Generation Game meets Take Me Out

Book 4 – Strings Attached (self-published)

This is my real rock star romance spawned from all those delicious tortured bad boys we love to think we could change if they were in our orbit. I think bringing out this book was the time I thought I might be able to take my writing seriously and maybe, just maybe, I could get a publisher.

Book 5 – Taking Charge (Sapphire Star Publishing)* This book is being re-released by Aria Fiction in 2020 under a new title

This was my first traditionally published novel! All the titles I self-published before had been rejected by every publisher imaginable but I refused to give up hope. Call me Little Miss Persistent! Two publishers offered on this book and I decided to go for new small press, Sapphire Star Publishing. I wrote this book after I visited my dad in Michigan and fell in love with the area and the ice hockey…

Book 6 – Public Property (self-published)

This was the 2nd book I ever wrote because it has the same characters as Excess All Areas. I think, when you start off writing, comfortable is good and these characters were comfortable to me so I wrote about them again.

Book 7 – Security (Sapphire Star Publishing)* This book is being re-released by Aria Fiction in 2020 under a new title

This was my first attempt at romantic suspense. I didn’t set out to write a suspense novel, it just happened that the characters and ideas made it that way. It’s always about the romance and the connection, first and foremost, with my writing and this book is no different. Autumn and Nathan are still two of my favourite characters and I can’t wait for this book to be released again!

Book 8 – Do You Remember? – (HarperImpulse)* This book is being re-released by Aria Fiction in 2020 under a new title

I was invited to go to HarperCollins to talk about their idea for a new digital imprint, HarperImpulse. After the meeting I decided I’d submit my next book to them myself! And I got my first UK traditional publishing deal! This book features a dual timeline with the story being present day and ten years before. I think this is probably my most heart-wrenching romance and I can’t wait for it to meet new readers when it releases again!

Book 9 – One Summer in Nashville – Aria Fiction (first published by HarperImpulse as ‘Made in Nashville’)

This was all about my love of country music and the stories Honor and Jared had to tell were a true gift from my imagination. This was one of the easiest books to write because these characters knew exactly what they wanted to do! I’m so glad new readers are discovering this story this year!

Book 10 – Truly Madly Greekly (Bookouture)

This book literally changed my life. My first visit to Corfu since 2004 and I fell in love with our hotel (Mareblue Beach) and all its people. It inspired the backdrop for Ellen and Yan’s romance and this book – to date as I’m writing this – has sold almost 50,000 copies. This novel made me realise that romantic comedy was where my heart was.

Book 11 – One Wish in Manhattan (Bookouture)

I adored writing this book. Hayley, Angel and Oliver were a dream to create and the New York setting just added to the magic. This book is special because it was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy of the Year and it was the first book I had translated into a foreign language. Thank you Germany! I’m lucky to have books translated into German, Hungarian, Czech and Italian now, with the map growing soon I hope!

Book 12 – Those Summer Nights (Bookouture)

My love of Corfu was growing with each trip back, so it made sense to continue to show the love in my next novel. The restaurant in this book was based on a real taverna on the beach in Acharavi called ‘Lavender’. Lavender has since sadly closed but a new restaurant is in its place, Corfu Grill. Definitely worth a visit!

Book 13 – One Christmas in Paris (Bookouture)

How do you follow up a Christmas book set in NYC? You write about the most romantic city in the world – Paris. It had been a long time since I visited Paris so I had to read a lot of guidebooks and watch a lot of You Tube videos to get this one right. Readers tell me I brought the magic of Paris alive so, job done!

Book 14 – Single for the Summer (Ebury)

I moved to join Penguin! This was my first deal that saw copies of my book in Tesco, W H Smith Travel and Asda! It’s always a dream come true to see your books in the supermarkets and at airports! Signing copies at London Luton on my way to Corfu with my family was a particular highlight!

Book 15 – One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill (Ebury)

Again, copies of this book were in supermarkets and this one was my first book with a gorgeous glittery cover! We love a bit of glitter! Think Love, Actually meets Notting Hill with bulldozers…

Book 16 – Desperately Seeking Summer (Ebury)

I do like to have some of my characters coming from places close to me. In this book Abby Dolan comes from Romsey in Hampshire which is just down the road from me here in Wiltshire. I never forget my roots… but she does get to travel to Corfu in this book too!

Book 17 – One New York Christmas (Ebury)

My tomboy heroine in this novel is Lara and she’s from Wiltshire and drives a lorry. The idea for this book involves connecting with celebrities on social media and what would happen if one of them actually replied…

Book 18 – One Last Greek Summer (Aria Fiction)

I joined the incredible Aria Fiction after deciding that I really needed to get back to driving digital sales. The paperback market is so competitive and fewer and fewer books are getting picked for the shelves. This book has done brilliantly and I couldn’t be happier working with Team Aria. Beth and Heidi head to Corfu to be 21 all over again but will their past be waiting for them?

Book 19 – One Christmas Star (Aria Fiction)

Without any doubt, this is my favourite book I’ve ever written. It’s funny and heart-warming but also sad and thought-provoking. Emily and Ray drove their stories for me and the children of Stretton Park really are the stars of the book. I’ve never been prouder of a book and, in my completely biased opinion, it really deserves all the awards/accolades/film deals there are!

Book 20 – My Greek Island Summer (Aria Fiction)

And here we are! Bang up to date! My Greek Island Summer is a worthy 20th novel that seems to encompass everything I love about writing rom com with a little nod to all the books that have come before. It’s sunshine and good times with life hurdles to get over and crazy Greekness all the way through. Some say it’s my best yet… but why don’t you decide!

My Greek Island Summer on Amazonhttps://amzn.to/2TIuSXN

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

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