It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.
In the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16-year-old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.
I received a copy of this book from Viking Books UK – Penguin Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
At the heart of this story is a battle of good against evil, but this is not a fantasy epic, but a believable, contemporary, real-time story, of horrific events and humanity at its best and worst.
The coastal, countryside setting intensifies the events, no one would expect this to happen in a rural idyll, but it does. Written, in an adrenaline-fueled intense style, it keeps you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages. The characters are complex and relatable, you find out a great deal about them in a short space of time and most cases, they are easy to empathise. The story manages to fuse action with deep characterisation perfectly, and the underlying research makes the story authentic.
The plot twists several times to increase the suspense and awfulness of what unfolds. The poignancy of what occurs makes this immersive, the waste of life and opportunity resonates. This is a quality story, thought-provoking and topical.
Relationships are complicated. Long-distance ones, even more so.
When Lisa Millar met AJ Williams online through mutual friends, she wasn’t prepared to fall in love with the man of her dreams. She was even less prepared to discover that he already had a wife. In a heart-wrenching story of love attempting to transcend miles, Lisa finds herself pregnant and on the wrong side of the Atlantic from the man she loves.
Will their love conquer all? Or will the intricacies of a relationship woven across the Atlantic be too much to take and tear them apart once and for all?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Another passionate chapter of the internet romance between Lisa and AJ. This new adult romance is emotional with touches of humour and sadness that draw you into their lives and make you care what happens to them. Lisa’s pregnant, and this leads to a new vulnerability, whilst highlighting the drawbacks of her relationship with A.J.
The story is sensitively written, and the characters, as in the first book, continue to be believable.The story charts the rough with the smooth, before tumbling to the inevitable cliff hanger, which is a signature of this series.
Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.
When Charlie Thorpe met Holly Renton, they were not a match made in heaven…
Holly lives and works in the beautiful town of Willowbury in Somerset. An incorrigible optimist, she is determined to change the world for the better.
Charlie Thorpe, on the other hand, is the ultimate pragmatist. As Willowbury’s new member of parliament, he has to be. While he’s determined to prove himself to the town, as far as Holly’s concerned, he’s just another politician on the make.
But when their paths cross again, it’s clear they’ve got more in common than they think. Can Holly and Charlie overcome their differences and work together, or are they destined to be forever on opposite sides? And why does Holly have a funny feeling she has met Charlie before…
Let Fay Keenan whisk you away to a world of glorious country views, unforgettable characters and once-in-a-lifetime love.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A family drama with a gentle romance between two unlikely individuals, who find they share more common beliefs than they thought. The setting in a small Somerset town is charming and realistic, and the political and social issues raised are integral to the story but resonate. This story has important messages but still manages to remain entertaining.
The pacing is slow, which takes a little getting used to but you do warm to the characters, once you get to know them. Similarly, the romance is realistically delivered in tantalising snippets, but they get there in the end.
Contemporary causes, family drama, and sweet romance are all found in this originally crafted story, with a relatable small town ethos.
The Weekender – Fay Keenan – Extract
‘White sage is all very well,’ Holly Renton reflected, ‘but the ashes are a bugger to get out of the carpet.’ Earlier that morning, before the shop had opened, Holly had carried out a ritual called smudging, which was meant to purify the energy in a building, promote positivity and remove negative energies. Picking up the dustpan and brush, she emptied the pungent remains of the dried herb bundle she’d ignited and then wafted around the windows and doors of the shop into the bin.
‘I know you recommend this all the time for other people’s houses, but why are you so bloody obsessed with doing it in the shop?’ Rachel, Holly’s sister, glanced down at where Holly was still brushing the rug under the mullioned front window of ComIncense, the shop specialising in herbal remedies and well-being aids that Holly ran in the sleepy but nonetheless New Age small town of Willowbury and smiled. Just beyond the shop’s counter, the door that led to Holly’s small back yard was open and Harry, Rachel’s three-year-old son and Holly’s nephew, was playing happily with a set of wooden animal-shaped blocks in their own lorry, which had come from a box of assorted toys that Holly kept specifically for the younger customers. Holly didn’t believe, unlike some of her business-owning neighbours, that children should be banned from places like hers, and since the early-spring weather was warm and pleasant, Harry had trundled out into the sunlight to play.
‘You’ve got to refresh places from time to time,’ Holly replied. ‘Especially when there’s been a lot of negative energy about, and since all of the scandal with Hugo Fitzgerald, I really felt like this place needed a spiritual cleanse!’
‘You can say that again,’ Rachel reached under the wooden apothecary’s dresser that displayed countless jars and pots of dried herbs and flowers, all purporting to be of some spiritual or physical benefit, to retrieve one of the toy llamas that Harry had thrown under it. ‘What a way to go…’
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ Holly replied, still sweeping. ‘At least, having had a massive coronary, he wouldn’t have known much about it.’
‘But what a waste of a good plate of scones and jam!’ Rachel grinned. ‘Mum told me that his constituency agent found him face down in them at his desk.’
‘I wouldn’t have fancied digging him out of them,’ Holly said. ‘But from the size of him, the heart attack was an accident waiting to happen. And gossip has it, he had his finger in a lot of pies, not just the odd plate of scones.’
‘Oh, you know how the rumour mill goes into overdrive when something like this happens.’ Rachel, who had more of a tendency to see the good in people than her sister did, dismissed Holly’s comments with a wave of her hand. ‘I mean, I’m not saying he wasn’t a prat, but nothing was ever proven about his financial misdemeanours. Although I have to admit, since he couldn’t have given a stuff about Harry’s condition, and getting access to these new drugs, I’m hoping the new guy will be more receptive to the cause.’
‘It’s still bloody unfair that he gets to swan in here and take the seat after only the quietest by-election,’ Holly grumbled as she replaced the dustpan and brush on the shelf behind the counter. ‘I mean, the guy’s only a year older than me and he’s been parachuted into one of the safest seats in the country. Even if we have a change of government, he’s unlikely ever to lose his seat. What if he’s just as crap as Fitzgerald and couldn’t care less about us here in his constituency? We’re stuck with him until he chooses to retire.’
‘Give him a chance,’ Rachel said reasonably. ‘He might be good for this place.’
‘Have you made an appointment to see him yet?’ Holly asked, glancing down to where Harry was now building a tower of exotic wooden animals that was getting more and more precarious the higher it got.
From the outside, Harry looked like any other energetic three-year-old, but on the inside, it was a different story. Weeks after he’d been born, Rachel had been launched into a perpetually revolving carousel of physiotherapy, medications and experimental trials in an attempt to alleviate the chronic condition, cystic fibrosis, that would, in all likelihood, limit Harry’s life. The latest medication, which might make a huge difference to Harry’s life expectancy, was currently being held up because the government was still negotiating with the pharmaceutical company involved over a reasonable price to supply it to the National Health Service. How it was possible to put a cost on a life such as Harry’s was a source of increasing frustration and heartbreak for Rachel and the family.
‘Not yet,’ Rachel sighed. ‘If Hugo Fitzgerald couldn’t be arsed to do anything other than toe the party line, then why should this new guy be any better? Especially if he is a total rookie. I doubt he’ll stick his neck out for Harry.’
Noticing Rachel was, unusually for her, close to tears, Holly hurried around from behind the counter and gave her sister a hug. ‘Don’t let it get you down,’ she murmured. ‘I’ll always be right there with you, campaigning to get this little munchkin the treatment he deserves.’
‘I know,’ Rachel replied, giving Holly a shaky smile. ‘I’m fine, really. It’s just when he has a bad day, it reminds me of the challenges he’s facing, which will only get worse as he gets older. And knowing that the new medications could potentially make those challenges so much easier to face…’
‘We’ll get there,’ Holly said. ‘I’ll be with you every step of the way, like I always have been. And I still think it’s worth a punt with this new guy, you never know.’
‘I’ll try and get in to see him over the summer,’ Rachel replied, breaking the embrace from her sister and grabbing the last of the wooden animals to add to Harry’s tower of jungle wildlife. ‘Can I make a drink?’
‘Of course,’ Holly said. ‘I’ve got some organic fair-trade matcha tea in the kitchen.’
‘Is that the super-energising stuff?’ Rachel asked. ‘After being up with Harry last night, I could certainly do with a lift.’
‘Honestly, it’ll keep you going until midnight!’ Holly said. ‘Go on… you know you want to.’
‘All right,’ Rachel replied. ‘But if I end up buzzing around Willowbury like a wasp for the rest of the day, I’m blaming you.’
‘Fair enough. And make me a cup, too,’ Holly called as Rachel disappeared up the stairs to Holly’s flat above the shop. Popping the dustpan and brush behind the counter again, she continued the conversation, since Rachel had left the door to the flat open. ‘Perhaps I should give this new guy the benefit of the doubt,’ she said, adjusting the labels on the jars of dried herbs and plants on the dresser so they all pointed uniformly outwards. ‘After all, new blood could be a good thing.’
‘Perhaps we should be fair and reserve judgement until he’s been in the job a few months,’ Rachel said over the bubble of the kettle. ‘You never know, he could be just the tonic this place needs, politically.’
‘You always try to look on the bright side, don’t you?’
Fay Keenan is the author of the bestselling Little Somerby series of novels. She has led writing workshops with Bristol University and has been a visiting speaker in schools. She is a full-time teacher and lives in Somerset. Fay’s new series for Boldwood will begin with The Weekender.
Meet Louise Fawley – the newest, sassiest and
sleaziest agent in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Follow Louise as she burgles and
bungles at Melusine Plastics, gets flirtatious and salacious in Vetchley
Castle, grows amorous and glamorous in Sainte-Modeste, and finally, hooks and
sinks her villainess on the superyacht Bonquonne.
In this delicious, light-hearted, randy romp, can
Louise solve the arcane mystery of La Ligne?
he Louise Fawley Symphony contains material of a sexually-explicit nature, so will not be to the taste of every adult reader.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The blurb enticed me to read this book, The glamour, giggles and gratuitous sexual encounters I anticipated, but the frenetic pace was a surprise. I enjoy fast-paced fiction but at times this was too much.
Told from Louise’s point of view, she is a curious mix of reality superstar and an emotionally damaged adult who didn’t receive enough nurturing in childhood. Winning money, gave her a status that she never aspired to, even though she tenaciously worked her way up the corporate ladder. Self-esteem issues deny her insight into her true worth. I like her, and her perchance for crazy schemes, danger and scandal make her the perfect protagonist for a story of this type.
The plot is imaginative and quirky. Full of humour and sexy moments. The vivid imagery gives you a good sense of the settings, but the characters are not so well described.
Irreverent, original and steamy, try this if you are looking for something different.
After more than twenty-five years in accountancy, Rikki quit the profession to care for a parent whose health had deteriorated and to give more time to those interests and hobbies which had helped render accountancy almost bearable.
Rikki’s interests include all things historical, from castles to candlesticks, music of many genres, from Gregorian Chant to Brit Pop, and above all, like HE Bates, is happiest when working and whiling in a garden.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Zara Das is Bollywood’s hottest property, her every move watched by the eyes of the press. Riding high from the success of a string of blockbusters, she has the world at her feet, but the scandal from her latest film threatens to dethrone her as Bollywood’s reigning queen.
So when superstar director Raj Dillon stages a lavish retelling of Pride and Prejudice, moving the shoot from Mumbai’s soundstages to London, Zara knows this is the role that could put her back on top. Coming with them are the Bollywood Wives – Jackie, Sasha, and Rani – bringing their own off-screen drama.
But behind the diamonds, designer clothes and seven-star hotels lies the truth of how Zara reached the top. And when a dead body is found in her hotel room, it seems that someone is determined to take Zara down – and will stop at nothing to expose her darkest secrets.
Zara has spent years running from her past. But now it’s caught up with her…
A sexy, gripping, scandalous novel set in the world of Bollywood.
I received a copy of this book from Hera Books in return for an honest review.
This is a story full of contrasts, It opens up the Bollywood film world, and is fascinating to read, but there is a darker side to this book. Intelligent commentary on Indian society, and the deceit and depravity that simmers below Bollywood’s glamour and ostentatious wealth.
There is a wonderful cast of characters, including Zara, who the story revolves around. Despite her celebrity status, she has secrets, and these make her vulnerable. The writing style is informative and inclusive, you feel part of what is happening, even though most of the readers will have little experience of such a glamorous, dangerous world.
On one level this a bonkbuster romance, snapshots of lives, full of sex, secrets and money, but underneath there is a hidden noir world of abuse and desperation. The thriller is well-plotted and gives the story additional depth and interest.
The ending is poignant, but ultimately hopeful, as people who can make a difference and help others not to suffer, as they did, finally find the courage to act.
An insightful look at an important twenty-first-century phenomenon, with a clever fusion of genres, and believable, complex characters.
Alex Khan has spent his life dreaming of writing and starring in Bollywood movies while travelling the world visiting some of the most glamorous and exciting locations. Moonlighting as a crime writer he finally got the courage to pen the novel he wanted to write all his life-Bollywood Wives. Taking you into the glamorous sexy thrilling environment of the world’s biggest movie stars and the secrets they hide.
Book one of NOLA Knights, the heart-stoppingly sexy spin-off series by Men of Haven author Rhenna Morgan
His world. His rules. Her love.
Though his methods may be rough, when it comes to
protecting what’s his, Russian vor Sergei Petrovyh’s heart is always in the
right place. That’s never been more true than when the gorgeous Evette Labadie
asks him for a job. He knows enough to keep his hands off someone as beloved by
the locals as Evie, but there’s something about her that calls to him—no matter
how badly he burns to make her his.
Don’t think Evie hasn’t noticed the powerful Russian
mafia boss who makes her favorite diner a regular stop. How can she not? He’s
as hot as his reputation is dangerous. But everyone in her struggling New
Orleans neighborhood knows he’s the man to turn to. And right now she needs
money to get her son out of trouble.
Her other needs—needs she knows damn well Sergei can
more than satisfy—will have to wait.
Evie soon finds herself playing Cinderella to a man
who, despite what people believe, is definitely more prince than villain. She
can’t help falling deeper in love with each passing day. But when a turf war
between Sergei and a rival brings violence to her doorstep, Evie must come to
grips with loving a man who will do anything to defend her…or walk away from
her best chance at a happily-ever-after of her very own.
I received a copy of this book from Carina Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story will draw lovers of contemporary fairytale romance in, like nectar to a bee.
Evie’s strength comes across in the first pages. She’s lost her job, but she has to find another immediately. Her son needs his schooling, and that costs. As the story progresses her character matures, her son is still the centre of her world, but now she realises her actions have consequences, what she has to decide is can she accept them?
Sergei, is an enigmatic man, physically commanding, this is a reflection of his inner strength. He protects those he values, but he is complex and not a good man, in the conventional sense. Organised crime and protection are his worlds, and whilst he would love Evie in his personal life, he keeps her to the fringes, not wanting to sully her.
This a ‘Cinderella’ type romance, but like all true fairytales, it isn’t all hearts and flowers. Crime, danger and violence are part of Sergei’s world. Evie struggles, but she is honest and law-abiding and has her son to think of. Can the chemistry they both feel ever be something more permanent?
The conflicts in this story are realistic and pose moral questions. Should Evie expose her son to a world of crime? Evie has made poor decisions in the past and is determined not to repeat them. So, the chances for a happy ever after for her and Sergei seems remote.
Despite the criminal ethos, the focus is on Evie’s struggle to find a better life for her son. Currently, they live in a poor, high crime area, where he is likely to be drawn into gangs and crime, simply because of where he lives.
Then there’s the romance…
The romance is gentle and courtly, in contrast to the sizzling chemistry. This makes it realistic, because Sergei, doesn’t want to hurt Evie in any way, and Evie has to decide if falling in love with a man like him, is worth the risk.
Compulsive chemistry, realistic contemporary issues and a gentle love story, make this an engaging modern fairytale romance.
A native Oklahoman, Rhenna Morgan is a certified
romance junkie. Whether it’s contemporary, paranormal, or fantasy you’re after,
Rhenna’s stories pack romantic escape full of new, exciting worlds, and strong,
intuitive men who fight to keep the women they want. For advance release news
and exclusive content, sign up for her newsletter at http://RhennaMorgan.com.
You’ll also find all of her social links there, along with her smoking hot
On a grey, London day, Esme’s world
crumbles around her when she loses her glitzy job on a top TV programme, her
gorgeous, city-slicker boyfriend and her stunning apartment, all in one fell
swoop just before Christmas.
Esme is forced suddenly to move back to
her sleepy hometown of Sandchester, and despite the snow blanketing the roof
and the fairy lights that twinkle in her rustic little cottage, everything is
looking bleak. That is until she reconnects with an old crush and finds herself
unexpectedly getting swept away.
But Joe, handsome and charming as he
is, is not all he seems. Esme soon realises that he has a tragic past which he
just might not be able to overcome…
Surrounded by her loving, if
harebrained, family and with the support of her hilarious friends, Esme is
determined to have a go at forging her own path, even if it all comes to
nothing. But one question still lingers in her mind: will she find someone to
kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?
I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The scene on the cover may be picture-perfect, but that isn’t Esme’s life when she returns to her home town and finds solace in a run-down country cottage. Joe is living half a life, scared to try again and overcome his tragic past.
The main protagonists are complex and emotionally damaged, they find something in each other that gives them hope, but is it enough to take the final step? The cast of characters, Esme’s family and friends are wonderfully eccentric and flawed. Despite the emotional roller coaster Esme and Joe are riding, there are lovely humorous scenes in this story that lighten it without diminishing the conflicts they have to overcome. There is lots of festive moments and some delicious sounding recipes.
A lovely festive themed romance with plenty of heartwarming moments.
Author Interview – Katie Ginger – Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage
What do you enjoy about writing festive stories?
I’m pretty crazy about Christmas and I start getting excited as soon as the kids go back to school in September, so writing festive stories is never a hardship! I make notes and plot during winter so I’m fully immersed in it. I just love everything about Christmas — the planning, the gifts, the tree, and especially the food. It’s that that gets me really excited! And writing festive stories means I can pretend there’s a white Christmas, even if we never actually get one!
Festive stories are often written out of season, to fit in with publishing schedules, how do you get in the festive mood in the Summertime?
When it’s going well, writing is like watching a movie in my head and I have to keep up with what the characters are doing, describing their actions and acting like a narrator showing the reader their feelings. When it’s like this, I disappear into the story and kind of forget about the world outside. Plus, I’m one of those people who is always cold, which helps! When it’s not going well, I shove on a Christmas movie or playlist and get myself in the mood.
What inspired you to write this story?
I am completely obsessed with Christmas cookery shows! It’s actually pretty bad and my family hate it, but as soon as they come on I get all excited and start watching them. Then one day, in the middle of an episode, I just had a second where I imagined what happens when the director shouts ‘cut’ and suddenly Esme appeared! It really all went from there. But one thing I was sure of was that I wanted to have the hero carrying the emotional baggage rather than the heroine, so poor Joe got all the bad luck!
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
It really varies from story to story. For The Little Theatre on the Seafront the setting came first, for Summer Season on the Seafront it was the plot and for ‘Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage’, it was the character of Esme. It really depends on what’s inspired the story and how my imagination decides to work (or not!).
Do you have an ideal setting for your festive holiday?
I really love those Hallmark movies where there’s a little town and a big wooden lodge with an enormous tree! They’re my favourites. Having said that, I live by the sea and there’s nothing better than a walk along the harbour on Christmas Day. As long as there’s a roaring log fire somewhere you can’t go far wrong.
What are the best things about Christmas for you? Is there anything about the festive season you don’t like? Why is this?
The best thing about Christmas is definitely ALL the Christmas food! The decadent deserts, the hearty meals — and let’s be honest, the gluttony! The only thing I don’t like is the weight I put on! And I love the traditions. My mum always makes the Christmas puddings with my children and we have to stir three times clockwise and make a wish before they’re finished. My husband and I have our own Christmas traditions with our kids too. We always take a walk along the beach on Christmas Eve morning, in the dark, and then we watch Home Alone in the afternoon. I think those sorts of things are the best things about Christmas because they’re so unique to every family. And you can create your own traditions at any time!
Which books do you enjoy reading? Do you have a favourite genre?
Of course, I love romance stories, but I also enjoy reading cosy mysteries. I’m particularly fond of ones set in the 1920s to 1950’s. I’ve just found a writer called Marlowe Benn, and I’m really enjoying her novel Relative Fortunes (A Julia Kydd Novel Book 1). It’s set in 1920’s New York and is fab and feels really glam. Perfect for autumn afternoons!
What are you currently writing?
I’m actually just about to start writing my Christmas 2020 novel! Being able to write over the festive period will be so much fun. I really can’t wait! And I’m so excited about this story even though I can’t give you any details right now!
KATIE GINGER lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage is her third novel. She is also the author of the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront. When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive her two children: Ellie, who believes everything in life should be performed like a musical number from a West End show; and Sam, who is basically a monkey with a boy’s face. And there’s also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).