Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Release Day Blitz, Romantic Comedy, Travel

JoJo’s French Escape Lorraine Wilson 5*#Review @Romanceminx @0neMoreChapter_ #RomCom #AFrenchEscape @rararesources #France #SocialMedia #RealityTV #PublicationDay #BookReview #RachelsRandomResources

‘She had me at Bonjour! Warm, funny, deliciously French…this lovely story filled my heart with sunshine’ Jane Linfoot

Imagine yourself in beautiful France with the sun warm on your face and a glass of wine in your hand…Jojo’s French Escape is the perfect summer read!

Trapped in paradise…

For twelve months JoJo Grant has been hiding from a secret too shameful to share.  And whilst her sanctuary might be the beautiful French countryside, JoJo has a horrible feeling that her peace is about to be shattered…because bursting into her life is the hottest celebrity chef around – Callum O’Connor.

Callum knows all about JoJo’s past, her time as a reality star, the scandal that has dogged her, but he isn’t sure why she’s still hiding?  After spending time with JoJo, it’s obvious to him that she has nothing to be ashamed of – she just needs to be a little braver…
But as much as JoJo likes Callum, he thrives on the glare of the outside world.  Can JoJo let go of her past…with Callum by her side?

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

My Thoughts…

The perfect start to the weekend a lovely escapist summer read set in France. Romance, friendship and lots of dogs make this an uplifting read with red hot romance and a motivational ethos.

JoJo, an ex-reality star, betrayed by her boyfriend, spent the last year in France, under the radar, recovering. A new celebrity chef is visiting. The disgrace and infamy, of her former life, threaten to engulf her.

Callum and JoJo’s unlikely romance is passionate. Both are wary, but their physical attraction soon deepens into an emotional involvement neither expected. There are many love scenes in this story, all well written and part of JoJo’s acceptance of her true self.

This story explores the power of reality tv and social media and its costs. The ending is powerful and uplifting.

Lorraine Wilson writes flirty, feel-good fiction for One More Chapter – a Harper Collins imprint – and is unashamedly fond of happy endings. She loves hearing from readers and feels incredibly grateful to be doing the job she always dreamt of.

She splits her time between the South of France and Cambridgeshire and is usually either writing or reading while being sat on, walked over or barked at by one of her growing band of rescue dogs.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Sing Me A Secret Julie Houston 5*#Review @JulieHouston2 @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #guestpost #BlogTour #BookReview #SingMeASecret #Westenbury #WednesdayMotivation

The four Sutherland sisters have all had very different paths in life, but one secret and a slighty tense production of Jesus Christ Superstar are about to bring them all back together again…

When the news that pop-superstar Lexia Sutherland is returning to Westenbury, not everyone is thrilled by the news – including Lexia. There are too many memories she doesn’t need to face – or need re-surfacing. Meanwhile, Juno Sutherland just wants a little peace and quiet.

As the local village doctor, she’s got her priorities in order; kids, job, husband, tenacious pony, a role in the village musical… So when the sexy new locum turns up – and steals her office – the last thing she needed was to be hit with rising temperatures and an over-active imagination.

Will these sisters be able to uncover the past, deal with the future and put on the performance of a lifetime?

Return to Westenbury this spring and find out.

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

My Thoughts…

Relatable characters in an authentic village setting make this story captivating, humorous, poignant and romantic.

The Sutherland sisters grew up in the village and have gradually returned. All except for Lexia the youngest. Their family ripped apart by their parent’s infidelity and mental health issues, has a chance to heal with Lexia’s return. This story explores the sisters’dark secrets, mental health issues, and relationships sensitively.

The balance of laugh out loud and tear-jerking moments are perfect in this realistic story. Character-driven it’s absorbing, you believe in the characters and care what happens to them.

I loved the risque romance, the lovely Tilda and her quirky pets. Lexia’s story is sad and resonates. Thankfully the ending is positive for all the sisters.

Guest Post – Sing Me A Secret – Julia Houston

SING ME A SECRET returns to the village of Westenbury in West Yorkshire where Pandora Boothroyd, the self-appointed First Lady of the village, has put forward an application to The Really Useful Group – an actual organisation that gives permission for local rep. companies and choirs to perform the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The story was somewhat inspired by my own venture into musical theatre.

About fifteen years ago, the choir I’d sung with for several years, was given permission by The Really Useful Group to put on a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar in Leeds Town Hall, the several hundred-strong choir taking the part of the chorus waving palm leaves and belting out the many songs, while Jesus and Judas were drafted in from another part of Yorkshire to strengthen the ranks.

And what a Jesus! I can’t even remember his name now but he was gorgeous, and at every weekly rehearsal we’d be asking, ‘Jesus, just look at Jesus. Is Jesus here yet? When’s Jesus going to do his bit? No Jesus tonight?’ We were all a little bit in love, starstruck even, by this talented young man who, during the day, was possibly a painter and decorator, a postman, a teacher – I really have no idea – but at every Monday rehearsal night was transformed into the son of God.

Similarly, when the characters from SING ME A SECRET are first introduced to their Jesus, there is much wide-eyed oohing and aahing amongst the women:

Everyone…’Pandora trilled, holding out an arm before kissing Jesus as if she were compering the Oscars. ‘Everyone, I want you to give a warm welcome to Brett Bailey. Brett is from Barnsley – he’s just finished a run of Joseph in Sheffield – but has agreed to travel over every week to be with us.’

‘Brett Bailey from Barnsley?’ Ariadne, at Juno’s side, who up until then had said very little throughout the proceedings, gave a loud bark of laughter and then started giggling, unable to stop.

‘Oh, but look at him,’ Izzy sighed. ‘Look at Jesus. Jesus, he can lay his hands on me anytime.’

At our actual rehearsals in Leeds, it appeared that someone was missing: seemingly we didn’t have a Herod. During rehearsals, at the point where Herod should be going for his one big number – historically camped up and wearing an over-the-top costume – our musical director, Gary, would simply pass over Herod’s entrance and go on to the next. It wasn’t until the dress rehearsal, when we’d almost forgotten that Herod even existed in the musical, that he made an appearance, flamboyant in yellow suit and purple wig. To begin with, we couldn’t quite work out who was hiding under the wig until he started to sing and we realised it was Gary, the musical director himself. He was brilliant, really superb, and I’ve recreated this scene in SING ME A SECRET when the village have lost their first Herod and a new manifestation then makes an appearance in yellow suit and purple wig, the rest of the choir at first unable to work out just who it is up camping it up on the stage.

What was so great for me, when writing this story, was losing myself once again in the many fantastic numbers in this musical, almost waving a virtual palm leaf as I wrote, remembering not only our very own gorgeous and brilliant Jesus, but my eight-year-old son constantly singing around the house:

Jesus Christ, Superstar

Six feet tall and he wears a bra.

Julie Houston is the author of The One Saving Grace, Goodness, Grace and Me and Looking for Lucy, a Kindle bestseller top100 general, and a Kindle bestseller Number1. She is married, with the two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Travel

The Secret of the Chateau Kathleen McGurl 5*#Review @KathMcGurl @HQDigitalUK @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #Timeslip #HistFic #ContemporaryFiction #TuesdayThoughts #Mystery

Everything is about to change…

1789. Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais, have fled the palace of Versailles for their château, deep in the French Alps. But as revolution spreads through the country, even hidden away the Auberts will not be safe forever. Soon they must make a terrible decision in order to protect themselves, and their children, from harm.

​Present day. When Lu’s mother dies leaving her heartbroken, the chance to move to a château in the south of France with her husband and best friends seems an opportunity for a new beginning. But Lu can’t resist digging into their new home’s history, and when she stumbles across the unexplained disappearance of Catherine Aubert, the château begins to reveal its secrets – and a mystery unsolved for centuries is uncovered…

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

My Thoughts…

Exciting historical fiction fuses with a making a new start contemporary story in an absorbing page-turning read.

The contemporary story seen from Lu ‘s point of view follows the adventures of five friends in their late fifties who decide to sell up and move to France. Believably crafted easy to like characters and a vividly described setting make this contemporary French adventure full of humour and poignancy.

Full of vivid imagery and colourful characters the historical story set in the late eighteenth century has a menacing atmosphere. The dangers faced by the count and his family realistic.

The past and present merge when Lu investigates what happened to the Chateau’s previous aristocratic inhabitants.

Both stories are engaging and their connections easy to follow in this historical timeslip mystery.

Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband. She has two sons who have both now left home. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has published several novels with HQ and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers. After a long career in the IT industry she became a full time writer in 2019. When she’s not writing, she’s often out running, slowly.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Noir

Death of a Mermaid Lesley Thomson 4* #Review @LesleyJmThomson @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #BlogTour #BookReview #DeathofaMermaid #MurderMystery #Coastal #Mystery #noircrime #Friendships #ComingofAge

Freddy left her childhood home in Newhaven twenty-two years ago and swore never to return. But now her parents are dead, and she’s back in her hometown to help her brothers manage the family fishmonger. Nothing here has changed: the stink of fish coming up from the marshes; the shopping trolleys half-buried by muddy tides; the neighbours sniffing for a new piece of gossip.

It’s not what Freddy would have chosen, but at least while she’s here she’ll get to see her childhood best friends, Toni and Pauline. At school, the three of them were inseparable. The teachers called them the Mermaids for their obsession with the sea, and with each other.

Then Pauline goes missing, and Freddy must decide. Go back to her new life, or stay and find her friend?

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

My Thoughts…

This atmospheric story is a fusion of murder mystery, coming of age friendships and noir crime. Set in coastal Newhaven the setting adds to the story’s sense of mystery. Freddy and her two friends were inseparable as youngsters, experimenting with life and love.

Told from three points of view there are many suspects in the murder mystery. The plot is cleverly constructed and until the end conceals as much as it reveals. The story explores relatable contemporary issues such as abuse and bullying.

The suspense builds slowly in the detailed plot and nothing is certain until the end.

An absorbing believable story.

Guest Post – Death of a Mermaid –  Lesley Thomson – Researching fact for fiction

Death of a Mermaid, is a murder mystery set in Newhaven, a port town in East Sussex. This took me into the world of trawlers, fish, Catholicism and a small animal hotel. When I had the idea, I knew little if nothing about any of these subjects.

I do a lot of research for my novels. Some of this is on the internet and I read books and articles. I talk with people who do the jobs I plan for my characters. For the sake of Jack Harmon, train driver in The Detective’s Daughter series, I rode in the cab of a London Underground train. Stella Darnell’s detective dad showed his little girl the horses at Hammersmith Police Stables. When I went, I mistook a row of loudhailers on a wall for hairdryers. All grist to the mill. In Kew Garden’s Herbarium are plant specimens – thrillingly called ‘dead materials’ – discovered by Charles Darwin. Had I stayed longer in the vast Victorian chamber with spiral staircases the naphthalene that nineteenth century botanists used to preserve specimens and in which they were still steeped, would have killed me. Great stuff.

For all this only a tenth of what I learn reaches the story.

On a hot spring day I visited a pets’ hotel called Creature Comforts. Many guests were out of their hutches basking in wire runs on the hotel’s lawn. There was Mr Bun the white rabbit, a lion-headed rabbit appropriately named Simba and regular residents the guinea pigs, Minty and Angelica. George, an ancient parrot preened himself on his perch. Intermittently he embarked on spelling out his name, always stopping ‘r’ before discriminately squawking, ‘I love you.

Jane the proprietor explained the hotel’s daily doings. On her guests’ behalf, she pens the owners postcards filled with news of how their creatures pass the time. The pets too are on their holidays. Jane hosts a variety of small animals and birds including hamsters – Dougal rolled past in a Perspex ball – cockatiels and budgies. Degus, Jane warned (Tinkerbell and Nibbles being examples) are tricky. At mealtimes, sniffing pastures new, they can shoot from their cages and whizzing out at top speed are nearly impossible to retrieve. As I scribbled in my notebook, I concocted the scene. An escaped degu – in Death of a Mermaid I call him Roddy – is the stuff of drama. As Jane explained the ins and outs of the hotel, I knew I had struck gold.

I was invited to Waitrose at dawn one morning. In my novel 40-year-old Freddie Power manages the fish counter in the supermarket’s Liverpool branch. In overalls and hairnet, I watched Steve the manager shovel ice onto a display shelf. With an artist’s flair, species by species, he arranged the sea’s produce, bass, salmon, prawns, scallops, cod. All garnished with lemons, parsley and samphire. Yesterday’s unsold fish goes at the front. Good detail. Freddy will do that.

In Death of a Mermaid Freddy, Toni and Mags had met at convent school in Newhaven during the eighties. The actual convent was evacuated to Hampshire in the second-world war after it was bombed by the Germans. In reality, it never returned to the town. In my novel, it’s still there. The girls call themselves the Mermaids after Disney’s The Little Mermaid. In service to my novel, I watched the film several times. Sebastian the Crab singing Under the Sea to Ariel remains an exasperating earworm!

My research is not only to gather facts. The inspiration and energy I get from  conversations, reading, ‘field trips’ to locations like Newhaven and it’s beaches fuel my writing as I draft and redraft the novel.

As I said, not all I discover goes into the novel. To reach the page, a fact must contribute to the plot. I’m afraid that George the parrot ended up on the cutting room floor.

Lesley Thomson

Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People’s Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective’s Daughter, was a number 1 bestseller and sold over 500,000 copies.

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

A Wedding in the Olive Garden Leah Fleming 4*#Review @HoZ_Books @LeahleFleming #Friendship #Family #Secrets #Romance #GreekIslands #Weddings @Aria_Fiction #BlogTour #BookReview

Can an island in the sun provide the second chance Sara needs? 

A warm and uplifting novel about love, friendship and new beginnings on the beautiful Greek island of Santaniki.

Sara Loveday flees home and crisis to the beautiful island of Santaniki. Here, amid olive groves and whitewashed stone villas, where dark cypress trees step down to a cobalt blue sea, Sara vows to change her life. Spotting a gap in the local tourist market, she sets up a wedding planner business, specialising in ‘second time around’ couples.

For her first big wedding, she borrows the olive garden of a local artists’ retreat, but almost at once, things begin to go wrong. To make matters worse, a stranger from Sara’s past arrives on the island, spreading vicious lies. Can her business survive? And what will happen with the gorgeous new man who she’s begun to love?

This is a gorgeous, warm-hearted and uplifting novel conjuring the local colour, traditions and close bonds of island life.

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Pre-order hardback, released on August 6th: Waterstones Hive

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

My Thoughts…

This story has an eclectic cast of characters and a beautiful Greek Island setting. Sara is running from her past. The island lifestyle appeals to Sara. When she sees a business opportunity, she takes it. The story that follows is full of conflict, humour and poignant moments. The vividly described islanders and setting make them easy to visualise.

Full of cultural description, emotional depth and uplifting moments this story is a lovely escape.

Leah Fleming

After careers in teaching, catering, running a market stall, stress management courses in the NHS as well as being a mother of four, Leah Fleming found her true calling as a storyteller. She lives in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales but spends part of the year marinating her next tale from an olive grove on her favourite island of Crete.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance, Travel

One Italian Summer Lori Nelson Spielman 5*#Review @lnelsonspielman @AvonBooksUK #Romance #Travel #FamilyDrama #Italy #secrets #BlogTour #BookReview #TravelTuesday

Three women. One family curse. The summer of a lifetime.

For generations, no second-born daughter in the Fontana family has married. Lucy desperately wants to find love, but for her cousin Emilia, their family curse is a blessing in disguise.

But then their Great Aunt Poppy declares she’ll reunite with her long-lost love on her eightieth birthday – and break the curse once and for all.

And so the three women embark on a journey to Tuscany to fulfil Poppy’s last wish. But the secrets they uncover there could change their family forever…

A gorgeous story about love, family, and finding yourself in the unlikeliest of places

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

My Thoughts…

An engaging romantic story that spans familial generations from post-war Italy to North America.The Fontana family curse still prevails. Aunt Poppy is determined to end it with the help of her great-nieces Emilia and Lucy on a life-changing trip to Italy.

The story reveals family secrets told from Emilia’s and Poppy’s points of view. The family dynamics and individual characters are authentic and relatable. The settings are vivid and bring the story to life.

This is a charming, poignant romantic story. Full of humour, misunderstandings and self-sacrifice.

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

Dreaming of Italy T.A.Williams 5* #Review @TAWilliamsBooks @canelo_co #Romance #Travel #Films #Locations @rararesources #BookReview #PublicationDayPush #RachelsRandomResources

Up for a dream promotion, Emma won’t let anything get in her way – not even love.

Working for a major Hollywood film company isn’t all glitz and glam. But when Emma gets sent to tour around Italy to scout the perfect location for a new blockbuster movie, she’s not going to complain. Especially when it could make or break her career…

​Historical adviser for the project Mark is a distraction that Emma does not need. As they explore the beauty of Italy, Emma starts to fall for the mysterious Mark, and soon finds herself torn between her job and her heart.

​From the wild, northern mountains of Piedmont, down the vibrant coast of Cinque Terre and through the rolling hills of Tuscany, Emma’s journey becomes one of self-discovery as she questions her priorities in life.

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

My Thoughts…

Emma has a high profile role in a Hollywood film studio her boss asks her to find the perfect Italian locations for a major film. Her career is her main focus in life. Love not a priority until she meets Mark, the historian.

The journey through Italy is atmospheric and full of vivid imagery. The author’s knowledge of Italy shines through and lets the reader escape. The glamour of the film industry gives the story its glitz, especially when two A list stars visit the locations and Emma’s assistant is the studio owner’s son.

The gentle romance between the characters echoes the screenplay. The last scenes in Italy are particularly poignant. The ending is worthy of a Hollywood romance.

I love reading this series with its well-researched setting uplifting romance and humour.

T.A.Williams

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations and, as a writer, I obviously have to go there in person and check them out first. I love my job…

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