Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Romance

The Man I Fell In Love With Kate Field 4* #Review @katehaswords @AvonBooksUK

Sometimes we find happiness where we least expect it…

After twenty years of quiet, contented marriage, Mary Black can’t help but find her eyes drawn to a particularly handsome man at a Christmas party. But her world is suddenly turned upside down when she sees her husband next to him, holding his hand.

For the sake of her children, Mary has no choice but to pick herself up and start again. She hosts family meals that includes her ex-husband and his new partner. She copes with her children wanting to spend less time with her, and more time with their “fun” dads. And she tries her very best to ignore Leo’s gorgeous brother, who has been living in New York for many years, but has just come back to town…

After living a life of sliding doors and missed opportunities, can Mary finally put herself first and take a chance that could change everything?

AmazonUK

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

My Thoughts…

Everyone’s who’s married or been married, knows that it’s not the stuff of fairytales. Marriage takes understanding and hard work to sustain. Mary Black thought she’d nailed it. She’d put her husband, and then her family first, but when her marriage imploded she was helpless to stop it.

Finding her husband loved another was a devastating discovery. The secrets he kept made her whole marriage a lie. Mary’s ingrained sense of family makes her protect their teenage children, whatever the personal cost. Mary is a strong, selfless character and this story explores her emotional journey of self- discovery. Will she discover her sense of self-worth and be brave enough to take the opportunities for personal happiness that come her way?

This story has a lovely balance of humour, poignancy and romance. Every woman of a certain age will share some of the emotions Mary experiences and understand how she suffers from a lack of self-esteem. Her character is realistic and easy to empathise, and you want her to find her romantic happiness.

The genuineness of this novel makes it a heartwarming read that lets you escape for a little while.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Holiday Romance, Romance

5* #Review – Lucy Coleman- Summer on the Italian Lakes – Extract @LucyColemanAuth @Aria_Fiction

Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling… Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?

Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…

Buy links:

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks

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

My Thoughts…

This story didn’t draw me in immediately, the tone was so negative. Since this author is known for her positivity, I decided to read on. After the first chapter, I realised the reader is in the main character’s head, and she is in a bad place. So don’t be put off, read on.

There is a lot to like in the remainder of the story, a stunning setting, which I love. Having visited the Lake Garda region in 2004, I can confirm that the author’s description really does capture the essence of this lovely region. The writers’ retreat is also interesting, interspersed with writing and publishing tips, this gives the story its authenticity.

Brie’s life is nothing like her public persona and she begins to wonder if romance exists beyond the passionate words she creates in her sexy novels. When she meets Arran, there is chemistry but also conflict. They are both emotionally raw and have seemingly incompatible personality traits. 

I liked the realistic nature of their relationship, with two characters that get under your skin, until you really want them to have their happy ending.

An enjoyable romance, full of vivid imagery and believable characters, and for the most part is positive and heartwarming.

Extract

‘All I can think of is that Brianna Middleton. Wow, that lady knows how to write a sex scene. Just thinking about the gorgeous guys she features in her books is enough to get me in the mood to jump into someone’s arms!’ She laughs and for one moment a look of horror passes over my face.

Oh, dear! Am I unwittingly killing the art of romantic love by concentrating on the intense passion and the hot sex? Isn’t that a modern-day disease, anyway? We want everything instantly and it seems that people forget that some things are worth waiting for. Wasn’t it more exciting when couples didn’t jump into bed before they’d had a chance to get to know each other? And then when they did get to that point it held more meaning. How many people wake up the next morning regretting the night before, I wonder?

‘Guess we’re all looking for a hero.’ I smile up at her in the mirror, doing my best to push aside my concerns.

‘Tell me about it! I can’t remember the last time a guy held a door open for me. Or picked up the tab for a meal out without expecting to go Dutch.’

I nod, glancing in the mirror and relieved to see that my face isn’t giving anything away.

Zena excuses herself to go and mix up the colour for the first step in the transformation. She returns wheeling a cart with two black bowls both containing a creamy white mixture. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the colours aren’t too loud.

‘Can you turn up the music, please?’ She addresses the receptionist who is manning the desk. ‘I love this one.’

Relief washes over me. It’s not a record I know but at least it curtails the conversation. I’m not being moody but the less said the better.

Closing my eyes for a moment to rest them, I’m horrified when a sudden jolt rouses me. There’s a buzzer on the shelf in front of me and it’s jumping around. I can’t believe I fell asleep.

Zena returns, and I follow her over to the basin. I’d forgotten how good it feels to be pampered and the head massage alone is a tonic. I didn’t realise I was quite so stressed out and now I’m longing for that full body polish and massage Mel and I have booked for later this morning.

After wrapping a towel around my head, Zena and I walk back to her styling station. She begins by twisting the majority of my hair up on top of my head, securing it with a clip. Scissors in hand, she turns her attention to the first layer at the back and begins cutting.

With my head tilted forward slightly, I look at the growing pile of debris on the floor. The colour looks okay but then it’s still wet and it’s hard to tell how it will look once dry. It’s been a long time since I wore my hair this short, that’s for sure. I glance across at Mel but she’s engrossed, listening to her iPod. Usually, I love thinking time, but my head is in such a mess that what I need now is a distraction. So instead I grab a magazine from the shelf in front of me and read about the latest red carpet event in Hollywood. I can identify with the sadness behind some of those fake smiles.

The cutting seems to go on forever and I lose interest. I decide it’s time to stop looking in the mirror and wait for the reveal. Eventually, the scissors disappear back into the neat little pouch strapped around Zena’s slender hips. She uses a generous squirt of mousse to scrunch up the longer hair at the front, with her hands, then the blow drying starts in earnest. My head is feeling curiously lighter and it’s a fight to avoid glancing in that mirror.

‘I think we’re done.’ Zena takes a step backwards, sounding pleased with herself. The girl from the reception desk walks by on her way to the coffee machine.

‘On fleek, Zena. A hot new look there, Ms Middleton, it’s time for a new author photo! I rang my mum and she just popped in with one of your books, so I wondered if you’d sign it for me? I have them all! I couldn’t bear to miss one of your hot, sexy heroes.’

I feel the heat rising up around my ears as my cheeks begin to burn; Zena’s jaw has dropped. Fortunately, Mel steps in, making a big fuss over my new hairdo and then whisks me off to the reception desk. I do my usual writerly scrawl just inside the front cover of the book lying on the counter while raising a smile and trying to look composed.

It isn’t until we’re out through the doors and walking down the corridor to find the nail technician that I feel I can finally breathe. I stop to catch my reflection in a glass panel and swish my hair from side to side.

‘You look gorgeous, Brie. On fleek, even!’

She looks at me with a big smile on her face.

‘I don’t feel like me. I look my age; I look like I’m ready to party.’

‘Well, after some new nails and a relaxing massage you will be. Tomorrow we hit the gym and I’ve booked us a session with a personal trainer. Tonight, we are dining in the spa’s acclaimed Nature’s Best restaurant. Nude food is the theme, as nature intended. They’ve stripped everything away and it’s all about the quality of the produce and keeping it simple.’

‘You have to let me pay for this, Mel. It’s way too much. Just the fact that you’ve organised all this is more than I deserve. I’ve been a very bad friend, lately.’

I lean in to give her a hug.’

Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award. Twitter Facebook

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Romantic Comedy

Coming Home to Holly Close Farm – Julie Houston -Guest Post -Extract- 5* #Review- @Aria_Fiction @JulieHouston2

Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic, is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents.

Charlie’s sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is also back home in desperate need of company and some fun. Their great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house, Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades the girls to project manage its renovation.

As work gets underway, the sisters start uncovering their family’s history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the Farm.

 A heart-breaking tale of wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal slowly emerge, but with a moral at its end: true love can withstand any obstacle, and, before long, Charlie dares to believe in love again too…

Buy links:

Amazon UK

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

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

My Thoughts…

Romantic love is often considered something you can only have when you’re young. Can you imagine your grandmother or great-grandmother falling in love, or do you just see the wrinkles, hear the repetitive stories and remember her forgetfulness?

Charlie reeling from a romantic betrayal finds that her great-grandmother Madge has kept so many secrets in her long life, including finding her true love, and the web of betrayal, deceit and secrets that this event spun.

Madge offers Charlie and her sister Daisy a chance to shine when they seem to be failing at life. Accepting the challenge takes the sisters on a journey of self -discovery and the revelation of Madge’s colourful past.

Told in dual timelines, which makes the story doubly interesting, you see parallels and differences between the two generations of women. There is a lovely balance of humour and poignancy. The romance is sweet and the story inspiring.

Literary agents – do writers today need one? – Guest Post-Julie Houston

When I started out on the long – and often winding – road to becoming a published writer, I’d no idea what the role of a literary agent actually was, never mind about how to go about getting one. I just knew that, according to all the self-help handbooks that I bought and loaned from the public library, I had to have one. This was about seven years ago when it was drummed into all new writers that agents were akin to St Peter at the gates of heaven. They held the key to whether you were going to be allowed in to get anywhere near the God-like publisher.

I’m not going to go into how one should go about achieving that status of being an ‘agented writer’ – countless detailed words of advice and articles have been written on the subject – but I thought I would share with you my own particular journey.

So, I’d written a book. It started off with the title ‘Harriet Westmoreland does it with class’ (Harriet is a teacher) became ‘Living La Dolce Vite’ (her husband spends a lot of time in Italy) then became ‘Compulsive Granite Disorder’ (Harriet, like me, has a bit of a compulsion for cleaning her granite when stressed) and eventually ended up as ‘Goodness Grace and Me.’ The manuscript went off to a string of agents. And came back. In those days, agents would often write little notes as to what they thought, and why it wasn’t for them, along with the rejection slip. I may be wrong, but these days, when online submissions to agents are de rigueur, I’m not sure that happens any more. And then came the glorious, magical week when, like a number 9 bus, three agents, all interested in my book, came along at once.

One, based in London, was originally from Yorkshire and was up for the weekend to see her mum. Could we meet? We most certainly could! And we did, the following Saturday, for coffee and a chat at Salts Mill near Bingley. By the time I left, floating back to the carpark on air, I had signed on the dotted line with Anne Williams of KHLA Literary Agency based in Bristol and London.  I had an agent, a literary agent.

She did warn me that my particular genre – we both disliked and eschewed the handle Chick lit, preferring the more grown-up Romantic Comedy/Women’s Fiction – was not faring too well at that point in time, being overshadowed by the rush for psychological thrillers, and had even printed out an article from The Guardian to that effect.

The beauty of having Anne has an agent has been that she was formerly a commissioning editor for one of the big publishing houses. She had, in effect, been on the other side as it were and, as such, very much knew what editors were looking for and the pitfalls involved in getting there. Within a few weeks, my baby had come back to me tracked in red and, once I’d worked out how tracking actually worked (terrifying to begin with when you’re convinced you’re going to lose all that red work and have to admit it to this new agent) and taken my first tentative steps to adding my own tracking in a garish purple alongside hers, we were on our way.

My agent worked tirelessly to get Goodness, Grace and Me a place with a major publishing house. I was astonished at how few there actually were – this was at the time when even Penguin was amalgamating with Random House – and eventually we made the decision to go it alone. It was a good decision: the book went to #1 in Humour and #64 overall. With the follow-up novels, The One Saving Grace, Looking For Lucy and An Off-Piste Christmas we signed up with White Glove, a publishing division of Amazon for agented-only authors, which would not have been available to me without her. This was a great move: White Glove promoted my books, particularly in Australia, where the first two achieved #1 Humour, and Looking For Lucy went to the top of the charts going to #1 overall.

And then came the offer from Aria. I wrote A Village Affair and Anne brokered a three-book deal with Sarah, one of the lovely commissioning editors at Aria, to include Coming Home to Holly Close Farm and, my work in progress, Sing Me a Secret. While Aria do take un-agented submissions, having my agent at my side along the way has been wonderful. She’s a professional, knows all about contracts and the like and still works with me, tirelessly, with that damned red tracking, telling me off if I’ve written something that might come back to bite me, but also giving praise if something particularly meets with her approval.

Perhaps the best thing about my agent is that, after seven years, I consider her a friend. She’ll meet up with me for coffee or lunch when I’m down in London, has been over for supper at my house when she’s been back in Yorkshire and always gets back to me straight away if I email with some thorny question about publication or needing advice about where my work in progress is heading.

Many, many, successful, published authors go it alone without an agent What I would say is, if you do find an agent interested in working with you and offer to take you on to their books, go for it.

The road to publication is so much more comfortable with that agent by your side to hold your hand and share in your success.

Extract

‘Auntie Madge?’

Granny peered closely at the woman, scrutinising her features for clues as to who she might be.

‘I’m sorry…?’

‘It’s Harriet,’ the woman smiled a little nervously. ‘Lydia’s granddaughter.’

‘My Lydia? My sister, Lydia?’ Madge seemed puzzled.

‘Oh,’ Mum said. ‘You’re Keturah’s daughter?’ She turned to Madge. ‘It’s one of Keturah’s daughters, Granny. You know. Gosh, Harriet, I’ve not seen you for years.’ She paused. ‘It must have been at Aunt Lydia’s funeral, what, ten years ago?’

Daisy and I exchanged looks. Blimey, how many more grannies and aunties were there? They seemed to be coming out of the woodwork at an amazing rate. I was totally lost as to who they all were.

‘Lydia’s been dead twelve years now,’ Harriet said, reaching for the bundle of baby from the younger woman as it began to make snuffling noises.

‘My great-aunt Lydia was your Granny Madge’s older sister,’ Mum explained, pulling up a chair for Harriet and the baby. ‘She was quite a bit older than you wasn’t she, Granny?’

‘Oh, yes, much older. There were five of us: Lydia was the eldest and I was the youngest. There was a good twelve years between us. By the time I was eight or nine, Lydia was newly married and living over towards Colnefirth.’

‘I’m trying to work out how we’re all related,’ I said, smiling at the younger woman, who was looking as perplexed as I felt.

‘Oh, sorry, how rude of me.’ Harriet laughed. ‘This is my daughter, Liberty… Libby.’

‘So, you girls and Liberty must be eighth cousins loads of times removed then. Sorry, can’t work it all out,’ Mum smiled. ‘I was never very good at maths.’

‘We’re vaguely related. Probably best if we leave it at that.’ Liberty grinned at Daisy and Me. ‘Oh, and this is Lysander.’ She took the baby back from her mother and pointed him proudly in our direction.

‘Lysander? Golly, that’s a good strong noble name,’ I said. ‘What’s that song we used to sing at school? Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules; Of Hector and Lysander diddle um tum diddle iddle um…Sorry, can’t remember the rest.’

‘“The British Grenadiers”,’ Granny Madge tutted crossly before launching loudly and tunefully into song: ‘But of all the world’s great heroes, there’s none that can compare, With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, to the British Grenadier.’

The old chap who, up until then, had been nodding peacefully in his armchair in the far corner of the residents’ lounge, suddenly shot out of his chair, saluted Granny, shouted, ‘Damn good soldiers. Bless ’em all,’ and then, just as suddenly, sat back down and began to snore loudly.

‘Silly old fool,’ Granny Madge tutted again. ‘I tell you, they’re all mad in here. I need to get out before I become as crackers as they are. I’m sure it must be catching.’

Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestsellers and a Kindle #1 bestseller. She is married, with 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. Twitter Facebook

Posted in Book Review, Romantic Comedy

5*#Review I Owe You One Sophie Kinsella- @KinsellaSophie

Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course, Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.

Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK- Transworld Publishing – Bantam Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is my first Sophie Kinsella novel and what a treat it is. I was smiling as soon as I met Fixie. The characters are vividly depicted, they jump off the page.

The story’s a curious mix of family drama and serendipitous romance. Fixie’s siblings are so irritating, but maybe all the fault doesn’t lie with them. Fixie’s obsessively helpful nature makes it easier for them to let her do everything.

The plot is easy to follow, not too many surprises here for the reader, but many for Fixie, as she embarks on a journey of self-realisation.

The romance is gentle and riddled with conflict, but there’s a satisfying ending. If you like to see ordinary people and situations made extraordinarily, this book will be a perfect read.

Posted in Book Review, Novella, Romance, Serial

5*#Review-Bella Osborne -Wildflower Park Part 2- A Budding Romance @AvonBooksUK @osborne_bella

Life’s not always a walk in the park…

When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves into her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?

Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.

Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

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

My Thoughts…

The second part of the Wildflower Park series continues with more relationship problems for Anna. Liam her ex, seems to be regretting his decision, but does she really want to go there again? Hudson is an enigma and proves a supportive friend, and the face behind the text is revealed.

There are some interesting twists in this book, which alter Anna’s perception of certain people in her life. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, especially for those who have looked after young children.

The characters continue to develop in a pleasing way, and the story still has secrets. Ending on an emotional cliffhanger again, I need to read part three.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Romance, Romantic Comedy

What Happens in France – 4* #Review -Guest Post @carolewyer @canelo_co

She stood and took her place in front of the camera… It was now or never”

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.

With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye. Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

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

My Thoughts…

Bryony decides entering a game show is the best way to publicise her search for her sister. Hannah left home when she was sixteen, and although Bryony has always sought to reconnect with her, through her blog, when her father becomes ill, the need to reach Hannah is vital.

A chance for romance presents in the form of Lewis, not only cute but a lovely person, who is prepared to help Bryony in her quest to find Hannah. Winning the game show is not the main reason for entering, but it becomes important, leading to many humorous moments, as they battle against the other competitors.

Bryony and Lewis head a great character list, whose true personality traits soon become evident as the competition progresses. Not everyone is likeable, but that adds to the authenticity.

The trip through France and the food make this a sensual delight and the challenges the teams face in the game show, absorbing and realistic.

A character-driven, romantic-comedy full of vivid imagery. The perfect book to escape with for a little while.

 Guest Post – Carol Wyer – GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

The title of this post was actually the working title of my latest book until I had an epiphany before I submitted it to Canelo and changed it to What Happens in France.

I’ve always found coming up with book titles one of the most difficult parts of writing a book. I remember my debut novel (Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines) was called A Twinkle in My Wrinkle until an hour before it was published! Titles are hugely important and even though I spend hours awake going through what I think might work, I don’t always get it right and my publisher invariably changes them to something more appropriate.

Titles aren’t always the only part of the book that causes me mental anguish. In the case of this book, it wasn’t the plot or the characters, it was coming up with ideas for crazy games for a reality television show that would be highly entertaining.

It took some doing but I was really pleased with the results. One of easiest to conjure up was a race up a steep hill in beautiful rural France. This wasn’t taxing at all because not only have I raced on the circuit at Castle Donnington but for many years I lived in the Tarn and Garonne region, near a town called St Antonin Noble Val that hosts such a hill climb every August 15th. It’s an incredibly popular event, attracting racing drivers and amateurs alike and about half the population of the region who line the twisted route from the bottom of the hill in the picturesque medieval bastide town to the summit some 250 metres high.

The course de circuit is 1.5 kilometres long and that may not sound very special or spectacular but believe me, it is. The route runs along the jaw-dropping Aveyron Gorges with phenomenal views to the river where canoeists anchor their kayaks to observe the race, while others jostle for space behind massive hay bales that line the road.

The noise is phenomenal – a growling that fills the valleys like a hundred angry dragons battling for supremacy. Each car ascends, engine at full throttle and navigates the sharp bends and turns, hurtling towards the finish line, egged on by eager cries and cheers.

When Bryony and Lewis take on a similar challenge in their furry 2CV, I thought back to the eager faces, the supportive crowd and buzz of excitement that accompanied the event at St Antonin. No matter if you aren’t a car enthusiast, you can’t help but be captivated by the setting and the atmosphere, and in no time at all, you find yourself cheering along with the others.

I hope you’ll root for Bryony and Lewis in What Happens in France, although they’re up against fierce competition and you’ll find your loyalties tested. Besides, the host of the show isn’t keen for them to win… why not? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

EXTRACT FROM WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE:

‘Come on, Furby!’ Lewis pumped the accelerator pedal. The sunshine streaming in through the windscreen was causing him to squint. At last, the car sputtered into life and they made it onto the starting line.

La Pommeraye was a 2.5-kilometre hill climb and the trio of bizarre cars and film crew had attracted a large crowd of supporters who lined the closed circuit, cheering for each of the contestants as the cars raced by. Lewis and Bryony were the last to attempt the climb.

They waited by the lights, currently on red. It seemed to take an age for them to change.

‘Go… go… go!’ Bryony yelled as they tore up the hill past the spectators who waved at them. ‘Right bend!’ The car bore to the right, past a house outside which stood three children holding a sheet marked Allez Furby.

‘We have fans,’ said Bryony, clinging to the grab handle as they rejoined the main road and hastened past more fields. The circuit was an ordinary D road with some sharp bends and twists, railings to one side and all exits blocked off. It made for an exciting circuit although the furry Citroën was nowhere near as fast as the cars that usually competed in the annual hill climb.

Bryony adjusted her racing helmet. The strap was tight under her chin and she had to shout so Lewis could hear her commands. He could see the bends but it helped if she warned him of them too, given he had enough to manage with handling the vehicle.

There was no time to take in the fields of meadow flowers or the cows lazily grazing or the high banks of grass filled with people. Lewis was committed to finishing the race in the fastest time possible without crashing, and Bryony to holding on for dear life.

A bend to the left, another sharp one to the right and an inflatable bridge across the road bearing the name of the show. Cameras to the left and the right and cheering French people. They crossed the line.

Bryony high-fived Lewis. ‘Great driving.’

‘Bit different to that track day I did but not bad at all,’ he replied.

They climbed out of the car hoping they’d done enough to win the challenge.

As a child, Carol Wyer was always moving and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Impulse Book Club, Literary Humour, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Don’t You Forget About Me – 4* #Review -Mhairi McFarlane – @MhairiMcF @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK

It began with four words.

‘I love your laugh. x’

But that was twelve years ago. It really began the day Georgina was fired from The Worst Restaurant in Sheffield (© Tripadvisor) and found The Worst Boyfriend in the World (© Georgina’s best friends) in bed with someone else.

So when her new boss, Lucas McCarthy, turns out to be the boy who wrote those words to her all that time ago, it feels like the start of something.

The only problem? He doesn’t seem to remember Georgina – at all…

I received an electronic advanced reader copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Believable characters, realistic humour and poignant moments are all to be found in this likeable story set in Sheffield. Georgina’s life has not followed her teenage plan, but then whose does?

However, there’s more to her story than is first apparent, and although I did find this book, dragged a little in parts, I enjoyed it and appreciated the important issues it raises. Particularly, how a young person’s life can be irreparably damaged, by a single action or event.

The story is romantic and humorous, but it goes deeper than a romcom usually does. The humour is often dark or double-edged, and the romance is there, but not in the voluminous quantities the reader would expect from romantic comedy fiction.

Georgina’s family seem to treat her as the ‘joke’, the one who never grew up, but this is her perception and not necessarily their intention. Families are made up of individuals, drawn together by birth and blood, there is always likely to be a generational difference of opinion, which comes across well in this story, as does Georgina’s reactions and thoughts about their opinions on her life choices.

The romance of the story hinges on whether Lucas remembers Georgina, I think he does. His actions are not blameless, but they are understandable, given what he believes, how he feels about her, and what has subsequently occurred in his life.

The sibling relationship in this story is one of its strengths; competitiveness, bossiness and a hierarchy are evident, but the sister bond is unbreakable when threatened by outside forces.

The last quarter of this story has the most impact. Especially, when Georgina finally faces up to and shares what changed her young life. It is heartbreaking to read, but there will probably be parts of it that you can relate to, from your teenage life.  The difficulty Georgina has in verbalising her painful experience is relatable and makes her character memorable.

Well- written, topical and varied this is worth reading, but it’s not a quick, easy read.

Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Romance

The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker – 5* Review – Jenni Keer @AvonBooksUK @JenniKeer

Meet Lucy, aged 25, and Brenda, aged 79. Neighbours, and unlikely friends.

Lucy Baker is not your usual 25-year-old. She is more at home reading and knitting in her cluttered little flat than going out partying and socialising.

79-year-old Brenda is full of wise and wonderful advice, but when she’s diagnosed with dementia her life begins to change. Before her memories slip away forever, Brenda is desperate to fulfil one last wish – to see Lucy happy.

Gifting Lucy the locket that helped Brenda find her own true love, she hopes to push her reticent neighbour in the right direction. But is Lucy Baker ready for the opportunities and heartbreaks of the real world? It’s about time she put her knitting needles aside and found out…

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I love that there are so many stories at the moment about cross-generational friendships, which portray older people in a positive light.

‘The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker’ is a lovely example of this type of story featuring Lucy aged 25 and Brenda aged 79 and their strong friendship, which provides the reader with humorous, magical and poignant moments.

Brenda has lived a full often glamorous life and is still a flamboyant character. However, it’s her kind nature that makes her stand out and what draws Lucy to her. Lucy is not typical of her generation, she finds everything in life difficult, lacks self-confidence for a variety of reasons and is still seeking that perfect someone, even though she pretends to everyone, including herself most of the time that she isn’t.

The plot see-saws between Lucy’s home and work life, with engaging characters in each, they are all very human; flawed and realistic, which makes the story believable too, even though it has a strong flavour of the extraordinary.

There’s romance for Lucy, family problems and work stresses. Brenda has to face some cruel realities, but helping Lucy onto her rightful life path makes her focus on the positives rather than the negatives, of her life.

Friendship, frailty and fun sum up this book, one that I would recommend to everyone.

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

Posted in Book Review, Romance

5* Review – Maisey Yates – The Spaniard’s Stolen Bride @maiseyyates @MillsandBoon

Stolen for the Spaniard’s inheritance…

Will her innocence be his undoing?

To notoriously ruthless Diego Navarro, kidnapping and marrying his brother’s shy fiancée seems a perfectly sensible way to secure his inheritance! Yet when Liliana Hart willingly goes with him Diego’s reluctantly intrigued… Though the heat of their marriage bed is scorching, it’s the intensity of their connection that pushes Diego to the edge. But is it powerful enough to redeem this dark-hearted billionaire?

Amazon UK

Read Cam and Matius’ romance in The Spaniard’s Untouched Bride.

My Thoughts…

I enjoyed reading Cam and Matius’ story in ‘The Spaniard’s Untouched Bride’, and I was interested to see what happens to Liliana, Matius’ Fiancee when she is kidnapped by his dark and dangerous brother Diego. Definitely an anti-hero Diego damaged by his father’s abuse, and haunted by the loss of his mother and pregnant first wife seeks only to cause destruction and hurt.

It seems he will stop at nothing to gain his Grandfather’s legacy, especially if it hurts his brother Matius, ‘the good one’. Kidnapping Liliana, Matius’ fiancee appears to be one more destructive act but his reasons are deeper than to gain his inheritance and hurt his brother, but is he prepared to explore what these reasons really mean?

Diego and Liliana’s romance is a learning curve for both of them. There is a strong sexual attraction, but this is underscored with emotional need, as they both discover through much angst and pain what love really is.  Liliana and Diego’s characters are flawed and realistic and their emotional journey fraught with conflict and self-realisation.,

Fast-paced and passionate this romantic story is an absorbing read, with a particularly poignant ending. 

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

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Holiday Romance, Romance, Travel Blogging

A Greek Affair- 5* Review – Linn B. Halton – @HarperImpulse @LinnBHalton

More than just a holiday romance?

Her daughter, her job and divorcing her untrustworthy ex are Leah’s main priorities. She isn’t really bothered that her life might be missing a few things. But after winning a prestigious travel blogger award, she’s inundated with offers to review glamorous holiday destinations. Lying around drinking exotic cocktails and being paid for it! What could be better? Perhaps a romantic trip to idyllic Greece to find the one man who might make Leah risk her heart again…

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

For Leah, the last seven years have been hard. After her ex betrayed her in the worst possible way. She ignored her pain and used her anger to make sure her daughter was emotionally and materially secure. Winning a prestigious travel blogger award means she now has choices, and a blogging trip to Greece shows her she is more than a mother, but can she risk her heart and her daughter’s emotional safety on another man?  I like the originality of this story, The settings are interesting and vibrant. Harrison is a surprising character but proves important in Leah’s rebuilding of her self esteem and emotional health.

Daniel and Leah feel an instant attraction when they meet, but their road to happiness is fraught with conflict and both need to find the courage to achieve the happy ever after they both long for. That’s not all, the conflicts keep on coming, just like real life, but Leah’s bravery and love help her make the right decisions for Rosie, her daughter, and ultimately herself.

I don’t see this as an escapist read, it’s too full of emotion, real-life conflict and experiences, but it is so worth reading. 

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