Family means everything to Lily and Zinnia Cortez and, growing up in their non-conventional family unit, they and their two mums couldn’t have been closer.
So it’s a bolt out of the blue when Lily finds her father wasn’t the anonymous one-night stand she’s always believed. She is, in fact, the result of her mum’s reckless affair with a married man.
Confused, but determined to discover her true roots, Lily sets out to find the family she’s never known – an adventure that takes her from the frosted, thatched cottages of Middledip to the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, via a Christmas market or two along the way…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I’m starting to get in the festive vibe now, well it is the last day of September, and this story is a festive gem. The conflicted romance between two likeable protagonists, Lily and Issac, is at the heart of this story. Rather like a festive ‘pass the parcel’, it has so many layers, with a surprise every time you peel one-off.
There is a family drama, as Lily’s search for the other half of her family, raises hidden secrets in the other half. There tumultuous consequences. for Lily, Zinnia and their mothers. This story is wonderfully contemporary, internet dating and same-sex relationships are interwoven into the complex plot, which adds to the story’s authenticity.
A significant part of the story takes place in Switzerland, where Lily and some of the villagers, take their choir to deliver some quintessentially British Christmas cheer. This is where the title really comes into its own, The ambience, food and scenery are beautifully vivid.
The darker themes explored in this story are a good contrast to the festive frivolity and fun, It reads perfectly as a standalone, even though it features characters from the Middledip series.
The perfect book to get you in the festive mood. With family, friends and sparkling romance wrapped beautifully in a snow covered world.
Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. She’s won a Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award and been nominated for others, including a ‘RoNA’ (Romantic Novel Award). Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice-chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and editor of its two anthologies.
She also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.
The daughter of two soldiers, Sue was born in Germany and went on to spend much of her childhood in Malta and Cyprus. She likes reading, Zumba, FitStep, yoga, and watching Formula 1.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The blurb for this book attracted me, even though I don’t usually read new adult romance, anymore. I need to think back thirty-nine years, to recognise how I would react in these circumstances, and whether I would risk everything for love, on the strength of an internet acquaintance.
There wasn’t internet in the 1980s, but I still changed the course of my life for love, after a short acquaintance, and so, the main character Lisa’s motivations are something I can relate to.
This contemporary romance is well-written, with an easy to read, style. The youth of the characters and the initial decisions they make are often immature, reading this now, but perfectly in keeping with their age group and intended audience.
Honest and relatable, this story does present our internet lovers with plenty of conflicts, which test their feelings and motivations. The twisty plot tells an engaging story, and the characters are authentic.
The first in the Lisa Millar series, it will be interesting to see what happens next.
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.
A rookie cop, a dash of mysterious death, and a heap of suspicion – as the heat rises, lethal tensions boil over in the Pyrenees.
Unappreciated, unnoticed, and passed over for promotion, thirty-year-old Danielle’s fledgling career in law enforcement is going nowhere – until the unexpected death of a hated Englishman turns her small town upside down.
Set in the idyllic south of France, Palm Trees in the Pyrenees is the first whodunit novel in Elly Grant’s thrilling murder mystery series. Against a background of prejudice, jealousy, and greed, Danielle pieces together the sparse clues of a fractured homicide. But will she find enough evidence to solve the case – and get the recognition she deserves?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Superficially, this story, the first book in the ‘Death In The Pyrenees’ series, seems like a cozy mystery, set in the South of France. It does have many of the attributes of a cozy read; multiple suspects, a dramatic murder, a small, close knit quirky community, but as the story progresses, the reader appreciates that the story is more than this.
The bullying, malicious gossip and prejudice, Danielle the town’s solitary police presence uncovers ,gives this story a strong noir element. Corruption, drugs and vice, are all themes alluded to, in this story, which is a hybrid between a murder mystery and a police procedural.
Written in the first person, from Danielle’s point of view, her compassion, dedication and naivety, help the reader to see what lies beneath, the friendly, safe ethos, the town projects. She is easy to like, and gives this story a unique perspective that engages the reader from the first page. There is a retro feeling to this story, where even though the problems are contemporary, the community and personal beliefs and motivations are not.
The plot is pacy, and the characters full of surprises. The mystery keeps most of its secrets until the final stages and the ending is well executed. An original murder mystery which keeps you reading happily until the last page.
Guest Post – Elly Grant – Palm Trees In The Pyrenees
When I first arrived in this region of the Eastern Pyrenees
I was mesmerised. I had never seen an area that moved me so much. The mountains
were magnificent, tree covered rocks with an impossible number of shades of
green and dotted about them were luminous patches of bright yellow Mimosa
giving the effect of a patchwork quilt. The sky was a deep turquoise and the
lack of pollution meant everything seemed clean and fresh as if the scene had
been newly painted. It was hard to believe that what I was seeing was real and
not just some beautiful dream I would wake from. Indeed, I was so enthralled, I
was frightened to leave the place, in case, ‘Brigadoon’ style, it would
disappear, not to be seen again for 100 years. Consequently, together with my
husband, Zach Abrams, and within a few days, we managed to locate and buy a
small, low-priced property to enjoy as a holiday home. After that, it took only
days before I had the idea of writing ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’. As I walked
through the small town or sat sipping wine in the sunshine outside one of the several
cafes or bars, the story almost seemed to write itself. As I imagine is the
case in any small town, there was much that was different from anything I’d
experienced before. I observed the quirky way of life enjoyed by its
inhabitants, and the many, sometimes unusual, local events. Who would have
guessed that an artichoke festival would be so well attended? Not me, for sure.
Then there were the family feuds, the jealousies, the prejudices, the slight
mistrust of strangers. I sipped wine or drank coffee as my victims walked by,
totally unaware that I was about to kill them on paper.
Being a small town nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, it came as no surprise to me that nobody seemed to speak English, and, having only a few words of French, meant that I had to learn the language quickly if I wanted to interact with local people. Consequently, the first people I had conversations with were the handful of ex-pats who lived in the area. But gradually, and with much effort on my part to integrate, I am now accepted as of the town, no longer merely a tourist, but not quite a local. Quite surprisingly, more and more of the locals will now speak to me in English if I have difficulty communicating in French. It seems that many of them do have the ability to converse in another language but choose not to do so with tourists. After all, they reason, it is the tourists who are the visitors and therefore it is they who should make the effort. The locals are not unfriendly, quite the reverse in fact; it is simply a matter of respect. And, as I’ve discovered, once you do gain their trust, they will go to great lengths to help or assist you.
After ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ was published, the
subsequent books of the series seemed to pour out of me. I felt I couldn’t
write them quickly enough. There was so much going on in my little town, so
many things to observe that writing was a joy. I suppose that may seem rather
strange considering I mostly write about crime, and not just any crime, but death
and murder, in fact. But I do feel that this series is not all doom and gloom.
My publisher calls these books ‘cosy crime’. I still kill people, but hopefully
there is enough charm in the story telling so as not to cause my readers
Hi, my name is Elly Grant
and I like to kill people. I use a variety of methods. Some I drop from a great
height, others I drown, but I’ve nothing against suffocation, poisoning or
simply battering a person to death. As long as it grabs my reader’s attention,
I’ve written several novels and short stories. My first novel, ‘Palm Trees in
the Pyrenees’ is set in a small town in France. It is the first book of my
‘Death in the Pyrenees series and they are all published by Creativia. The
others in the series are, ‘Grass Grows in the Pyrenees’, ’Red Light in the
Pyrenees’, ’Dead End in the Pyrenees’, ‘Deadly Degrees in the Pyrenees’ and
‘Hanging Around in the Pyrenees’. Creativia has also published my grittier
crime novels set in Glasgow, ‘The Unravelling of Thomas Malone’ and ‘The Coming
of the Lord’ as well as my thriller, ‘Death at Presley Park’. Also published are my Romance ‘Never Ever
Leave Me, as well as a collaboration on the quirky black comedy ‘But Billy
Can’t Fly’ and short stories called ‘Twists and Turns’.
As I live much of the year in a small French town in the Eastern Pyrenees, I
get inspiration from the way of life and the colourful characters I come
across. I don’t have to search very hard to find things to write about and
living in the most prolific wine producing region in France makes the task so
much more delightful.
When I first arrived in this region I was lulled by the gentle pace of life,
the friendliness of the people and the simple charm of the place. But dig below
the surface and, like people and places the world over, the truth begins to
emerge. Petty squabbles, prejudice, jealousy and greed are all there waiting to
be discovered. Oh, and what joy in that discovery. So, as I sit in a café, or
stroll by the riverside, or walk high into the mountains in the sunshine, I
greet everyone I meet with a smile and a ‘Bonjour’ and, being a friendly place,
they return the greeting. I people-watch as I sip my wine or when I go to buy
my baguette. I discover quirkiness and quaintness around every corner. I try to
imagine whether the subjects of my scrutiny are nice or nasty and, once I’ve
decided, some of those unsuspecting people, a very select few, I kill.
Perhaps you will visit my town one day. Perhaps you will sit near me in a café
or return my smile as I walk past you in the street. Perhaps you will hold my
interest for a while, and maybe, just maybe, you will be my next victim. But
don’t concern yourself too much, because, at least for the time being, I always
manage to confine my murderous ways to paper.
Read books from the ‘Death in the Pyrenees’ series, enter my small French town
and meet some of the people who live there —– and die there.
Alternatively read about life on some of the hardened streets of Glasgow or for
something different try my other books and short stories.
Sam lives by the mantra that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
After the tragic loss of her husband, Sam built a new life around
friends, her cat Coco and a career she loves. Fending off frequent set-ups and
well-meaning advice to ‘move on’, Sam is resolutely happy being single.
But when Sam gets seconded to her firm’s Boston office for the
summer, it is more than her career that is in for a shake-up. A spur of the
moment decision to visit the idyllic beaches of Cape Cod could end up changing
her life forever.
I received a copy of this book fro,, HQ Digital via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Starting with a family tragedy, you immediately feel empathy with the woman suffering a cataclysmic loss. Fast forward to 2018 and we meet Sam, whose point of view this story is told from, and a widow after that terrible night in 2010. She is existing rather than living, with one good friend, who even though she understands still keep putting eligible men in her path. Happy, if you can call it that,with her demanding career and her cat coco, you really want her to find true happiness again.
After many failures, she gains the opportunity to further her career, with a job in Boston, for three months, she decides to go, and it is the beginning of a new chapter in her life.The secondment does not go to plan and in need of some R&R, she takes a ferry trip to Cape Cod, whose small town charm melts her heart and leaves her open to friendship at least.
The setting is lovely, New England always brings charm and character, to a romantic story, as is the case here. The romance with Ethan, someone who is also hurting, is conflict ridden and gentle. It is believable, because the passion is low key and both are wary of laying their hearts open to hurt. The friendship with Barney and Harry is also noteworthy, it shows Sam what true friendship can be. The pacing is good and the cast of characters and emotion in the story realistic.
Angst, emotion and romance are beautifully intertwined in this gentle second chance love story, unfolding in a lovely coastal setting.
– Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the
Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield
with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by
the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and
travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her
classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man.
Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking
several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, ‘The Secret to
Falling in Love,’ in 2016.
Her third novel, Who Needs Men Anyway? became a
digital bestseller in 2018.
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Phoebe’s adventure is waiting. Sam has to deal with his past so he can move on with his future. But will love wait, while life happens?
Phoebe and Sam meet by chance at St Pancras station. Heading in opposite directions, both seeking their own adventures, meeting the love of their lives wasn’t in the schedule. So they make a promise: to meet by the statue of Sir John Betjeman in twelve months’ time if they still want to be together.
But is life ever as simple as that?
This is a story of what-ifs and maybes – and how one decision can change your life forever…
I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories in return for an honest review.
A chance meeting at Sir John Betjeman’s statue in St Pancras station seems serendipitous, but Sam is on his way to the Scottish Isles and Phoebe is off to France for the trip of a lifetime. Both are searching for something, their journeys more emotional than geographic, but something happens at the station, but will it have a happy ending?
The two main characters are lovely, but also frustrating, they both have emotional damage, and anxiety, which in some ways increases as the story progresses. The setting and cast of characters for their travelogue is wonderful and gives the story authenticity and depth, as they start to realise the true purpose of their year away from their everyday lives.
The twist stops this story from being predictable. The last part of the book shows how the couple have developed emotionally but is it enough for them to live fulfilled lives?
A story of self-discovery, friendship and love, with just a hint of magic.
Lindsey Coulson likes to scale mountains. With her sister, Alison, she has made a name for herself climbing the tallest and most treacherous peaks in the world. But when Alison dies on a K2 expedition—the second-highest mountain on earth—Lindsey stops climbing. Unable to shed her grief, it becomes clear she must return to the wilderness and only one place will do—K2, the Savage Mountain.
Tyler Galloway has finally secured a permit from the Pakistani government to bring an American team to K2. When Lindsey Coulson inquires about joining the expedition, he gladly brings the famed mountaineer on board. Her strong climbing resume precedes her, and she’ll be a welcome addition to the small crew he has assembled. But K2 is a force unto itself, as is Lindsey. Both will test his limits. And both will test his heart.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
After reading ‘Deep Blue’ the first book in the Pathway series, I looked forward to reading book two, ‘Cold Horizon’, and it is just as adrenaline-fuelled, believable and emotional as the first book. The second book is a standalone read, although characters from the first book are mentioned, this is Lindsey and Tyler’s adventure.
Tyler is an adventure writer, surfer and mountain climber, and Lindsey, a dedicated climber too, has to be on his next expedition, to climb the savage mountain K2. Not because she wants to conquer it, but to try and assuage the crippling grief of her sister’s death. They always climbed together, this time they didn’t and Alison didn’t come back.
Beginning with a climbing incident, the book backtracks to the beginning of the climb. The details are well-researched, and make the story interesting. Add in the believable personalities of the various climbers, and it is impossible not to be drawn into their adventure. I’ve never understood why people endanger themselves to climb mountains, but now I do.
The dynamic between the climbers making up Lindsey and Tyler’s team is authentic, and the characters realistic. The camaraderie between the different climbing teams, wars with their rivalry, making this story, an insightful study of human nature, as they take on the elemental forces around them.
The developing romance between Lindsey and Tyler gives the story a romantic edge. The setting is dynamic and forbidding and full of vivid imagery. The writing style engages you from the first page, and takes you on a wild, emotional adventure, to the edge of the abyss and back. Lindsey’s emotional and physical journey is difficult, as she faces her guilt and finds inner peace with her sister’s fate.
Guest Post – Kristy McCaffrey– The Belay
K2, located in the Karakoram Mountain Range, is the second-highest mountain in the world at 28,251 feet, straddling the Pakistan/China border. Its icy sides are steep and exposed, and it’s prone to heavy storms and avalanches. K2 wasn’t surveyed until 1852, and the first known climbing attempt was in 1902, with one of the climbers’ none other than Aleister Crowley. They never made it higher than 20,000 feet.
In 1953, with the summit yet to be reached, an American expedition was launched, marking the fifth quest to conquer the mountain. The team was led by Charles Houston, who had attempted to climb K2 in 1938 but had retreated just shy of the summit due to diminishing supplies and imminent bad weather.
High-altitude mountaineering had, up to this point, been an enormous undertaking with the establishment of many camps along the route to the top, taking several weeks of ascents and descents to stock gear, food, and heavy oxygen canisters. Instead, Houston proposed a lightweight expedition, and this would later become known as the Alpine style of climbing.
There were eight men on the team: Charles Houston, a physician; Robert Bates, a climbing friend of Houston’s from their Harvard days, who had also gone to K2 in 1938; Robert Craig, a ski instructor from Seattle; Art Gilkey, a geologist from Iowa; Dee Molenaar, a geologist and artist from Seattle; Pete Schoening, also from Seattle and the youngest member at 25; George Bell, a nuclear scientist from Los Alamos; and Tony Streather, an English army officer.
As they approached the summit, Art Gilkey became ill, most likely with thrombophlebitis (a blood clot). The team decided to descend in order to save Gilkey’s life, despite that his condition was likely fatal. Since he was unable to walk, they carried him in a makeshift stretcher made from canvas, ropes and a sleeping bag.
Somewhere around 24,600 feet, Bell slipped and fell on a patch of ice, pulling off his rope-mate, Streather. As they fell, their rope became entangled with those connecting Houston, Bates, Gilkey and Molenaar, pulling them along as well. Pete Schoening, who had been belaying Gilkey and Molenaar, was now the only climber still standing and was connected to the force of six falling men. He quickly wrapped the rope around his shoulders and ice axe, and he miraculously held all six climbers from plummeting to their deaths. This act became known as “The Belay,” considered one of the most famous events in mountaineering history.
After the climbers had recovered and made their way to a tent at the next lower camp, they, unfortunately, lost Gilkey. He had been anchored to the ice slope as the exhausted climbers had prepared the tent. They could hear his muffled shouts, but when they returned to retrieve him, he was gone. The most likely culprit was an avalanche. Later, members of the team concluded that Gilkey had released the anchors to unburden himself from the team, but the true cause of his death remains unknown.
In more than 150 years of mountaineering, only about 300 climbers have reached the summit of K2, known as the Savage Mountain, while nearly 80 people have died trying.
Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. A fascination with science led her to earn two mechanical engineering degrees—she did her undergraduate work at Arizona State University and her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh—but storytelling has always been her passion. She writes both contemporary tales and award-winning historical western romances.
With the release of Deep Blue, Kristy is launching The Pathway Series, a project she’s been developing for years. Each book will combine her love of animal conservation and environmental awareness, while also shining a light on unique and diverse locations around the world. Come along for high adventure with honourable heroes, determined heroines, and Kristy’s trademark mysticism.
An Arizona native, Kristy and her husband reside in the desert where they frequently remove (rescue) rattlesnakes from their property, go for runs among the cactus, and plan trips to far-off places like the Orkney Islands or Machu Picchu. But mostly, she works 12-hour days and enjoys at-home date nights with her sweetheart, which usually include Will Ferrell movies and sci-fi flicks. Her four children have nearly all flown the nest, and the family recently lost their cherished chocolate Labrador, Ranger, so these days a great deal of attention is lavished on Ranger’s sister, Lily, and the newest addition to the household—Marley, an older yellow Labrador they rescued in early 2018. Both dogs are frequently featured on Kristy’sInstagram account, so pop over to meet her canine family.
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir
For the past seven years, Violet Branham has enjoyed the luxury of travelling the world as an independent woman, and confining her awkward past to a distant, if painful, memory. But now she has been summoned home to England over a stipulation in the will of her late uncle, the Earl of Ellsworth, one that decrees she lose everything unless she reconciles with the man who broke her heart and ruined her life—her husband.
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The fourth book in the ‘Lady Traveller’s Society’ series, this reads perfectly as a standalone. The story of Violet and James, who married after a scandalous moment, to appease society. They lived apart, for the next six years, until the demise of Richard, Earl of Ellsworth, and his will. Forced to live together again, have they changed? Will they learn to be a couple? Or are they destined to lose everything?
Divided into two main parts, the first covers the reunion and the makings of a lasting romance are hinted at, but only if Violet, maintains her independence, and James puts aside his arrogance, and pride, to follow her, and find out who she truly is.
Part two follows the couple across Europe in an amusing, romantic journey to their happily ever after. The main characters are well written and reflect the opportunityof the era they live in. The three elderly matchmakers are also a delight.
The perfect late Summer read. An atmospheric journey across Europe, with gentle romance and witty dialogue.