Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Humour, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Walk in Wildflower Park – Bella Osborne- 5* #Review @AvonBooksUK @osbourne_bella #Romance #RomCom #LiteraryHumour #PublicationDay

A Walk in Wildflower Park was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package. Life’s not always a walk in the park…

Anna thought she’d found The One – until he broke off their engagement exactly a year before their wedding day. Hoping new surroundings will do her the world of good, she moves into a place of her own on the edge of gorgeous Wildflower Park.

With the help and friendship of her neighbour Sophie (a stressed-out mum whose children a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces), Anna quickly settles in and pledges to focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems determined to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives a text from a mystery man, it looks as though an unlikely romance is on the horizon…

Is Anna about to be swept off her feet by someone she really shouldn’t be falling for? Or could this be the new start she needs and deserves?

Amazon UK

Waterstones


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

My Thoughts…

Anna’s engagement is over, and she decides life without men is the way forward. Moving into a new flat with its own private park is a step in the right direction. There, she plans and schemes with her best friend Sophie, mother of two and pregnant with a third, whose life is not what she imagined.

A difficult male colleague who threatens Anna’s career provides the initial conflict and humour. There’s also a mystery texter who makes her wonder if she’s really sworn off men, and her ex refusing to stay out of her life. The wildflower park is a source of solace as Anna faces her past and tries to forge a future she can live with.

Ambition, angst, conflict, humour and romance are major themes in this story

As the story progresses, Anna’s relationship problems continue. 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 develop in a pleasing way. The plot deepens but still keeps its secrets the end.

Heavily pregnant Sophie’s life implodes. Her story has the perfect mix of emotion and humour, especially when, Sophie and Anna discuss the state of her marriage. 
There are some touching scenes with Bill, humour with Maurice(the cat) and Anna wonders if she really is cut out for the single life.

Anna undergoes significant character development in this story. Illustrated by scenes with her ex Liam, Hudson, her attractive work colleague, and Connor, the man she met by mistake. She’s in a quandary, should she hold out for her soulmate, settle for what’s available, or go it alone?

A new opportunity forces her to face her past fears. Then, the story takes a darker turn. Even though like me, you may have suspected this development, the clues are there, the final events are suspenseful and menacing, and give this story another unexpected dimension. adding depth and interest.

Anna’s character develops further as the actions of others and changes in her career make her face her demons. I love this character and it’s good to see her discovering her true self. Sophie’s story is also resolved in a satisfying way, and she provides her share of angst and laughter as the story draws to a close.

Romance isn’t neglected, Anna finally realises where her heart lies but she faces significant conflict before she finds her true soulmate and her happy-ever-after.

This is a lovely, contemporary story about family, friends and career, with romance, humour and mystery, a very enjoyable read.



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

One Last Greek Summer – Mandy Baggot 5*#Review #BlogTour @Aria_Fiction @mandybaggot #Greece #Greek Islands #Corfu #Romance

Beth Martin is 31, newly divorced and wondering just what life holds for her…

Best-friend, Heidi, is adamant that all the answers lie in Corfu – the island where the girls partied away their youth. So cue a trip to a sun-drenched Greek island, ouzo cocktails, a trip down memory lane… and Alex Hallas, the man Beth has never quite forgotten.

As they dance under the stars, the sand beneath their toes, old feelings begin to resurface and Beth might just have a chance to take back her life. If they can learn to love the people they’ve become…

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Kobo

Google Play

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…

There is always a generous comic element in this author’s stories, and this one illustrates it perfectly. Beth’s divorce is absolute, and her co-workers are throwing her a ‘Divorce Party’, to mark the occasion. Immediately, you appreciate how well Beth is liked, especially by her best-friend Heidi.

Rekindling, the freedom, high spirits and the simplicity of being twenty-one, on holiday, is their goal for Corfu, at thirty-one. Their adventure takes in the beauty of the Greek Island, even with accommodation disasters, wicked Mothers and having ten extra years of emotional baggage. The chance of romance and self -realisation beckons, and provides the reader with a humorous, picturesque, poignant and romantic trip to Corfu.

Realistically flawed characters, most of whom you warm to, a vividly described setting, a lovely dynamic between Beth and Heidi, whose friendship has strengthened over the ten years. The romance is expected, but no less sweet and makes this a perfect holiday read.

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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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Cornish Summer – Catherine Alliott 5*#Review @MichaelJBooks @CatherineAlliott @PenguinUKBooks #Summer #Cornwall #FamilyDrama #Secrets #Love #Friendship

Flora’s been in love with her husband for twenty years. The trouble is, he’s been married to someone else for the past fifteen . . .

Now she’s been invited to spend the summer in the shady lanes and sandy coves of Cornwall. It should be blissful.

There’s just one small snag: she’ll be staying with her former mother-in-law, Belinda.

And Flora discovers she’s not the only one invited when her ex-husband shows up out of the blue, complete with his new wife. So now there are two small snags.

Can Flora spend the summer playing happy families with the woman who stole her husband’s heart, and the mother-in-law who might have had a hand in it?

Or will stumbling on the family secret change her mind about them all?

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Reading the prologue of this novel, I imagined two ladies from the between the wars era, travelling to a glamorous, if slightly contentious, house party. In reality, this story has a contemporary setting, but with all the atmosphere, secrets and intrigue of a more romantic era.

Flora, an artist, mother and daughter, grew up in Cornwall, she still loves her husband, to the extent she has put her romantic life on hold, but he has been married to another woman for over fifteen years. This story is about ‘ A Cornish Summer’, where the past meets the present, and secrets kept for years, change the family dynamic, and give Flora a chance of love and happiness.

This is the perfect book to be read when you have a few hours to yourself. It is absorbing, enlightening, and switches between humour and poignancy, against a lovely, vividly described Cornish coastal setting. The characters are authentic, believable, but not necessarily always likeable. Flora is a frustrating, woman, kind, loving, but only living half a life. More than anything else, this story is about her self-discovery, and you enjoy and empathise, as she finally comes out fo her self-imposed shell.

Family dynamics, social expectations, secrets, manipulation and unrequited love are the ingredients that make this story something you just have to finish but are sad when you do. Perfect holiday escapism.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction

The Other Half of Augusta Hope – Joanna Glen 4* #Review @HarperFiction @BoroughPress @JoannaGlenBooks #LiteraryFiction #PublicationDay

You’re not lost. You’re just looking. #AugustaHope

Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in. And she’s right – she doesn’t. At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi.

And now that she’s an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.

When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she’s propelled headfirst into the unknown. She’s determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away? 

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

Perhaps, it is a societal backlash that novels’ featuring, main characters who aren’t accepted because they don’t conform to society’s unwritten expectations, despite their obvious intelligence, and generosity of spirit, are so popular now.

Augusta Hope, a twin born in August, is a cuckoo in the nest, she and her twin appear opposite in every trait. Augusta is a caring, clever, curious child, devoted to her sister, but it seems, a mystery to her almost stereotypical middle class, conformist parents. This leads to some humorous incidents during her childhood. Overall her memories of childhood are poignant. Even at a young age, she realises she isn’t like her sister and will never secure the parental love she needs.

Parfait is the eldest of a loving family, but living in war-torn Burundi, means that his happiness is transient. His journey to happiness is pathed with tragedy.

The two points of view tell their respective stories in tandem, but with little obvious connection, until serendipity gradually draws them into each others’orbit.

The writing style is part of the charm of this story, and one l enjoy. Words are important and used well here, regardless of whether they are strictly necessary, or fashionable. On a literary level, this is lovely. The plot tells an epic story, which some may not connect to. The characters are well created, believable, and you want them to find each other, and somewhere they can be themselves and flourish.

Parts of this story are difficult to read, but they are all necessary to the telling.

Something for everyone who enjoys an emotional story with vivid imagery and a hopeful outcome.

Posted in Book Review, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance, Sampler

#Postscript – Cecelia Ahern – #ARCSample 5*#Review @HarperFiction #PSILoveYou2 @HarperCollinsUK @Cecelia_Ahern @fictionpubteam #Preorder 19 September 19

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly beings a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

Amazon UK

I received an ARC Sample of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The arc sample for Postscript draws you back into Holly’s world as if you never left. It is now seven years after Gerry’s death and Holly is feeling more confident that life can go on as Holly, and maybe even Holly and Gerald. It is in this mindset that she agrees to her sister’s request, to take part in a podcast sharing her grief experience, and particularly Gerry’s letters, and what they meant for her.

Facing her grief again, even seven years on is difficult and you feel her pain and the real fear that she may slip back into the dark abyss if she examines her grief journey too closely. Nevertheless, she delivers and the response is positive, but someone seems too involved and Holly’s reaction is avoidance, and this has consequences, but I need the rest of the book to find out what they are.

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Dreaming of Rome -T.A. Williams – 5* #Review @canelo_co @TAWilliamsBooks #Rome #Romance #Blog Tour #AuthorInterview

Rome is where the heart is… The heartwarming read of the summer

Jo has had enough of handsome men. After a painful break-up, she’s decided she doesn’t believe in love.

Then, while on a professional trip to the magical city of Rome, she meets Corrado, a scientist and her brother-in-law to be, who doesn’t believe in love either. To him, it’s just a biochemical reaction. So what’s the problem?

Well, he’s gorgeous for a start, as well as charming, generous, intelligent and attentive, and she feels herself immediately falling for him, despite her new outlook.

The majesty of the Eternal City brings them ever closer together. But is their relationship doomed, or will love, conquer all?

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…

Like all T.A. Williams books, this story is atmospheric, authentic and absorbing. You quickly become immersed in the sights and sounds of Rome, the excitement of new possibilities and romance and the chance to escape for a little while.

The theme of this story is contemporary, climate change and both the main protagonists are scientists. both attribute their undeniable attraction to hormones and neural impulses, Jo, because she has been damaged by a previous relationship, ending badly and Corrado because he believes love is merely an illusion.

The reader experiences Rome with the protagonist and that alone makes it a wonderful read, but add in complex characters, a lovely balance of heartbreak and humour and it is the perfect beach read.

I’ve read lots or romantic comedy, many are set in far-flung places, but this series stands out and is always a pleasure to read. If you’re looking for a romantic, escapist read, this series is for you.

Author Interview – T. A. Williams – Dreaming of Rome

What inspired you to write this story? Are all your stories set in holiday destinations?

What I’m trying to offer in my books is escapism; the chance for the reader to forget everyday worries and lose herself (or himself) in a magical world of luxury, beauty and happiness. I make no excuses for writing easy-reading, feel-good books with a happy ending. We all need a bit of happiness from time to time, not least with the world in the mess it’s in at present (please don’t mention Brexit). In consequence, I try to set all my books in gorgeous locations. Not least as I insist upon doing a “research trip” to each in advance of starting to write (J).

The inspiration for “Dreaming of Rome” was to revisit a city I have loved all my life. After university, I lived in Italy for 8 years and the head office of my employers was in central Rome. I love it. As for the main thrust of the story – what happens when a girl who’s lost her belief in love meets a scientist who believes he can prove it doesn’t exist apart from as a biochemical reaction – who knows? It just came to me one day when I was out for a walk.

There are lots of similar stories in this genre, currently, what makes yours different?

I don’t really know. I have to confess that I hardly read any romance. I write it, but I don’t read it, so I don’t really know what else is out there. I suppose one thing maybe that makes me stand out from the crowd a little is the fact that I’m a man. Most romance these days is written by women, so maybe I can give a slightly different perspective. Of course, it wasn’t always so – take “Romeo and Juliet” for example.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

Probably the setting, but this is as much down to the title as anything. So far I have written “Dreaming of…” books set in Venice, Florence, St-Tropez, the Austrian Alps, Tuscany and now Rome. Each time we are looking for a name on the cover that will appeal to a prospective reader. I’m afraid that “Dreaming of Huddersfield” (apologies to Huddersfield – no doubt a charming city) is unlikely to appear. After that it’s the main character. This tends to be a bright, competent woman, and readers have commented on how they like my girls because they are decisive and organised and know their own minds. If that is so, that probably comes from me – I’m a fairly well-organised character when I get going.

 Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

I’ve never consciously set out to draw upon somebody I know. Inevitably there will be elements of real people in my characters, but they are pretty much an amalgam. As for making them realistic, I always make sure they aren’t perfect. At the moment I’m writing “Dreaming of Verona” and my heroine wears glasses and is chronically shy. Even the obligatory Labrador I slip into all my books isn’t ever perfect. They fart, they disobey and they insist upon shaking themselves dry right beside the main characters.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I don’t read enough. Also, I almost never read romance. Normally I tend to go for historical novels or non-fiction. My all time favourite is probably “Wolf Hall” for fiction and “Saints and Sinners – A History of the Papacy” for non-fiction. By the way, if you want sex, violence and intrigue, you can’t beat the history of the popes.

 When did you start writing? What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

I still have a 44 page (handwritten in pencil) story that I wrote when I was 14. I wrote my first full-length novel at 25 (never published) and then carried on ever since. It’s a drug. I can’t seem to be able to stop. The best thing about being a writer is that you are your own boss (unless you are unlucky enough to have a bossy editor – I have a wonderful editor) and you get to visit and write about places that most people can only dream of. The worst thing: sitting at the computer for hours on end had caused me all kinds of back problems. I have now invested in a sitting/standing desk that makes things easier. Mind you, this might just be because I’m very, very old.

What are you currently writing?

“Dreaming of Verona”. A Shakespeare scholar visits the city that was the setting of “Romeo and Juliet” and falls in love, but the course of true love is anything but easy for her.

I hope these answers are of interest to you. Thanks a lot for your support.

Trevor

T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing. Twitter: @TAWilliamsBooks

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship

Her Husband’s Mistake- 5* #Review Sheila O’Flanagan @headlinepg @HeadlineFiction @sheilaoflanagan #Family #Relationships #Life #PublicationDay

Roxy’s marriage has always been rock solid.

After twenty years, and with two carefree kids, she and Dave are still the perfect couple.

Until the day she comes home unexpectedly and finds Dave in bed with their attractive, single neighbour.

Suddenly Roxy isn’t sure about anything – her past, the business she’s taken over from her dad, or what her family’s future might be. She’s spent so long caring about everyone else that she’s forgotten what she actually wants. But something has changed. And Roxy has a decision to make.

Whether it’s with Dave, or without him, it’s time for Roxy to start living for herself…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Living and then married to her school sweetheart, Roxy’s adult life has always been a partnership, she thought their marriage was strong, their family, all they both wanted. When her father became terminally ill, she expected, and received her husband Dave’s support, until she didn’t.

Arriving home unexpectedly after the funeral, she finds her loving husband committing the ultimate betrayal, with their attractive next-door-neighbour, and just like that everything changes for Roxy and her young children.

Even though this a soul-destroying discovery, it is written with self-deprecating humour, Roxy is restrained, her reactions even surprise herself, but she is a reflective thinker and doesn’t make life-changing decisions on impulse. She walks away to the safety of her childhood home, kids in tow, to decide on the future for all of them.

Grief for her father and her marriage rule her emotions, but she has responsibilities and moves forward, even though she wants to hide in a dark room and lick her wounds, like an injured animal. This story charts her journey of self-realisation, as she discovers new challenges and possibilities suddenly visible now she is released from the safety bubble of her marriage.

Dave wants his easy life back, even though he is the one who jeopardised it, It’s hard to feel any empathy for such a self-absorbed creature. Roxy is strong, giving and dependable, she is easy to empathise, many mothers will recognise something of themselves in her behaviour and personality traits, regardless of their circumstances.

Easy to read, with contemporary issues and believable, complex characters, this story of empowerment and family life is relatable, and that is why it’s so engaging to read.