I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
There is a lot to like in this travel orientated story. In a London publishing company, Freya is a successful editor, but her personal life is in tatters after a tragic loss and a relationship breakdown. Running a bookshop in The Maldives is an idyllic opportunity, and when she gets the job, she loves the island paradise.
The characters are vividly brought to life, and there are soon romantic possibilities. The plot has some surprising twists, and Freya finds herself on an emotional rollercoaster. There are dramatic elements, a mystery to solve and a wonderfully described setting to enjoy, but it’s the romance that makes it an addictive read.
Kate Frost is the author of best-selling romantic escape novels (The Baobab Beach Retreat, A Starlit Summer, The Greek Heart and The Amsterdam Affair), character-driven women’s fiction (The Butterfly Storm series and Beneath the Apple Blossom), and Time Shifters, a time travel adventure trilogy for children. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she also taught lifewriting to creative writing undergraduates.
Kate lives in Bristol with her husband, young son, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Frodo. As well as writing novels, she’s also the Director of Storytale Festival, a new city-wide children’s book festival that she co-founded in Bristol in 2019 with the ethos of making books accessible to all and encouraging children and teens to read, write and be creative. Kate feels incredibly lucky to spend her days writing and being immersed in books.
Filmmaker Lily’s life is all about work and adventure. So when she suffers an accident on her travels and finds herself recuperating in the quiet French seaside village where she spent her childhood, she can’t wait to escape. Not least because Olivier – Lily’s childhood friend and former crush, who she has spent the last thirteen years avoiding – is staying next door . . .
Strong-minded masterbaker Olivier is happily settled in St Pierre, preparing to marry and put down roots. But Lily’s return to the village risks turning his carefully-laid plans upsidedown, and as the pair rediscover their familiar rivalry and fun, sparks fly.
Is Lily really as fearless and independent as she seems on the surface – or is she just running from the past? And what if Olivier is the only one who can teach her what it really means to be brave?
I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley.
Lily is an intrepid filmmaker with a conscience. Whilst filming at a coffee cooperative run by women in Columbia filming Lily is courageous in protecting the women when they are threatened but doesn’t come out of the incident unscathed. Returning to her grandmother in Provence has bittersweet memories, especially when she is met at the airport by Olivier, her best friend and teenage crush.
The friends to lovers romance between Lily and Olivier is conflicted. It develops realistically with many heartwarming, humorous and heartbreaking moments. Lily’s grandmother is a lovely character who has always positively influenced her life. The story flows well with an absorbing setting and believable cast of supporting characters.
The romantic tension is intense, and the reader realises how important the couple’s friendship is. Lily and Olivier undergo significant character development until they reach a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.
Friendship, family romance and self-realisation make this an engaging summer read.
Get swept into a summer of sunshine, soul-searching, and shameless matchmaking with this delightfully big-hearted road-trip adventure!
Kathleen is eighty years old. After she has a run-in with an intruder, her daughter wants her to move in to a residential home. But she’s not having any of it. What she craves—what she needs—is adventure.
Liza is drowning under the daily stress of family life. The last thing she needs is her mother jetting off on a wild holiday, making Liza long for a solo summer of her own.
Martha is having a quarter-life crisis. Unemployed, unloved and uninspired, she just can’t get her life together. But she knows something has to change.
When Martha sees Kathleen’s advertisement for a driver and companion to share an epic road trip across America with, she decides this job might be the answer to her prayers. She’s not the world’s best driver, but anything has to be better than living with her parents. And traveling with a stranger? No problem. Anyway, how much trouble can one eighty-year-old woman be?
As these women embark on the journey of a lifetime, they all discover it’s never too late to start over.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Summer Seekers encapsulates a Summer road trip, a marriage in trouble and three women at different life stages, all in need of emotional support. This multi-generational story is humorous, poignant and romantic as it explores friendship, marriage and mothers and daughter relationships.
Kathleen loves her rambling Cornish cottage close to the beach packed with a lifetime of memories. Liza is the lynchpin of her family, weighed down with her catastrophising and keeping her family’s life stress-free. Kathleen and Liza are emotionally estranged but still care deeply for each other. Martha, unconnected with the women, facilitates Kathleen’s latest adventure despite Liza’s misgivings and her own anxiety.
Martha and Kathleen take a road trip on Route 66. Liza reconnects with her true self in her Cornish childhood home. This is not a travelogue, but there are some good descriptions of places visited.
Gentle romance, relatable characters, and an uplifting conclusion. An addictive Summer read.
It’s truffle season and in the hills around Bologna the hunt is on for the legendary Boscuri White, the golden nugget of Italian gastronomy. But when an American truffle ‘supertaster’ goes missing, English detective Daniel Leicester discovers not all truffles are created equal. Did the missing supertaster bite off more than he could chew?
As he goes on the hunt for Ryan Lee, Daniel discovers the secrets behind ‘Food City’, from the immigrant kitchen staff to the full scale of a multi-million Euro business. After a key witness is found dead at the foot of one of Bologna’s famous towers, the stakes could not be higher. Daniel teams up with a glamorous TV reporter, but the deeper he goes into the disappearance of the supertaster the darker things become. Murder is once again on the menu, but this time Daniel himself stands accused. And the only way he can clear his name is by finding Ryan Lee…
Discover Bologna through the eyes of English detective Daniel Leicester as he walks the shadowy porticoes in search of the truth and, perhaps, even gets a little nearer to solving the mystery of Italy itself.
I received a copy of this book from Little Brown Books – Constable and the author in return for an honest review.
This is best described as a literary mystery with its evocative settings and lyrical writing.
Private detective Daniel Leicester is hired to find a missing truffle taster by his parents. The story details the importance of the truffle economy to this area of Italy and explores the possibilities for crime with its unregulated nature. Investigations are hampered by the terrain and the lack of information about the missing man’s plans. An unexpected death intensifies the search and put Daniel in a precarious position.
The cast of characters are well-crafted, the detective team are diverse, and there is a believable team dynamic. Told from Daniel’s viewpoint, the reader gains insight into the Italian customs and settings and astute observations on possible suspects. Cultural and historical references and sensory imagery make this an inclusive reading experience.
The mystery is well-plotted with twists and satisfying conclusion, but it’s the atmospheric quality of this story that resonates.
Tom Benjamin grew up in London and began his working life as a reporter before becoming a spokesman for Scotland Yard. He went on to work in international aid and public health, developing Britain’s first national programme against alcohol abuse and heading up drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He now lives in Bologna, Italy
The #1 bestseller is back with an uplifting, escapist read that will brighten the gloomiest day!
A warm, sun-baked terrace.
The rustle of verdant green vines.
The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.
And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…
Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.
When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.
However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…
This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Set in a picturesque Italian setting, this intriguing family mystery has drama, romance and secrets. Zia no longer has any close family and wants to discover her roots. Her friendship with Ursula sustains her, but Ursula has her own relationship problems. Then there’s Piero, an attractive neighbour, who is torn between family loyalty, and self-preservation.
A multilayered plot keeps the reader engaged and subject to a myriad of emotions. The characters are as vibrant as the vivid setting, not everyone is likeable, but all add to the story’s ambience and authenticity.
This is a detailed and well-paced story. It allows the reader to immerse themselves in the characters’ lives and the Italian ethos. If you want to escape from reality or even the rainy weather, this is the perfect solution.
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author and has reached the #1 spot on Kindle UK. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Published by HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by other publishers around the world.
Sun, sea and inescapable exes… Peach is excited to hear that her sister, Di, is getting married. Of course, she would have preferred her little sister to be engaged to someone she’s known longer than a week – and the fact that his name is Charles doesn’t bode well – but who is she to judge?! Afterall, her own love life is non-existent, and who doesn’t love a destination wedding…?
Whisked away to the gorgeous Italian coast, Peach assumes her role as chief bridesmaid and, despite her reservations about the groom, she tries to ensure everything goes to plan.
But weddings are never straightforward affairs… throw in some unexpected guests in the form of ex-boyfriends and one night stands, and soon enough there is more drama than a reality tv show.
Can Peach keep the show on the road, or might she end up in a whirlwind romance of her own…?
Escape to the stunning Italian coast with bestseller Portia MacIntosh.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Penelope’s world is a non-stop rollercoaster of fun, misunderstandings and romance in a glamorous Italian island setting. Told from Penelope’s viewpoint, the reader experiences her self-deprecating humour and innermost emotions, which makes her easy to empathise with and like. Relatable characters enhance a plot that is full of secrets and twists.
It’s a perfect beach read addictive but lighthearted. Perfect for those of us who like our romance full of conflict, fun and passion.
Portia MacIntosh is a bestselling romantic comedy author of 16 novels, including The Plus One Pact and My Great Ex-Scape. Previously a music journalist, Portia writes hilarious stories, drawing on her real-life experiences.
Your wedding day is easily supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life – but if you want to make absolutely sure it is, you can always spend £2,500 on a horse-drawn Cinderella-style carriage.
‘It’s top of the range,’ the hotel wedding coordinator assures me. ‘It’s a gorgeous ivory fairy-tale pumpkin carriage, with a stunning white upholstery interior – it even has a little crown on top. It’s always in incredibly high demand.’
‘It sounds beautiful,’ I reply.
‘If you do decide to have your wedding here, we can make arrangements to suit your big day – whether you want picking up from home, taking to the church, or here if you would prefer one of our non-religious ceremonies, which I highly recommend. Churches can be so drab. Of course, there is an additional cost per mile, but we can get down to things like that later. Shall we head inside?’
Annette is the wedding coordinator at The Chadwick Hotel in York. We’re currently standing outside the five-star hotel, admiring the Grade II-listed building from the gravel pathway that leads up to it.
It’s a gorgeously warm sunny day. The kind where you can comfortably get away with wearing a strappy sundress, but not quite hot enough to leave you looking a mess – a few degrees hotter than this and my long, straight blonde hair would be half frizzy, half stuck to the sides of my face hair instead. Today is just perfect though, so it’s sundresses, sandals, straight hair and smear-free make-up.
‘Yes,’ I reply excitedly. ‘Let’s do it.’
‘So, the hotel has actually been open for more than a century. As you can see, it boasts an ornate terracotta façade, typical of high Victorian architecture, and the stone cupola makes for a stunning backdrop for outside photos.’
I smile and nod because, if I’m being honest, I have no idea what any of that means. It is a gorgeous old building though, surrounded by large gardens full of flowers, huge ponds with grand fountains at their heart, and trees in all directions. It’s hard to believe we’re so close to the city, and impossible not to get carried away, thinking about pulling up in front of the huge doors, having my photo taken with my dad, and then coming back out here after tying the knot to take gigabytes worth of photos with my future husband and everyone we love.
‘Beautiful,’ I say simply. There’s just no other word for it.
Once inside the large lobby, Annette picks up a wedding pack that’s waiting for me at reception, before leading me past the grand wooden staircase that sits in the centre of the room. I marvel at the spectacular light that hangs at the centre of the atrium, a large double drum chandelier suspended high above, captivating me so powerfully I nearly bump into a hotel employee coming the other way.
‘Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry,’ I blurt. ‘I was mesmerised.’
‘No worries,’ he says with a laugh.
Annette laughs gently.
‘You’d be surprised how often that happens,’ she reassures me. ‘Come, let me show you the function room.’
‘The function room’ sounds like a rather bland concept. Well, many places have a function room, from restaurants to town halls, so the only real expectation I have is space for tables. But this function room surely deserves a grander title, because it is everything. It’s maybe three times the height of a regular room, with enormous arch-shaped windows that flood the place with the most beautiful natural light.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is atmospheric psychological suspense that explores friendship, relationships, and secrets. The Wild Girls, four friends who grew up together, all different personalities but a close-knit friendship group until the night they weren’t. Two years later and no one is in contact. A surprise invitation to celebrate a birthday in Botswana brings back memories, some good, others troubling, but will they go? Of course, they do and find themselves in a hostile environment which quickly turns toxic.
The suspense building is good, but not enough is made of the Botswanan location. Told in three parts from multiview points some first-person, others third-person. The secrets are gradually revealed as the events of their estrangement become clear. The three women are unreliable protagonists and hard to empathise with. The story is well-plotted, and the final chapters are particularly twisty and impactful.
The innocent, the playboy… And their seven-night passion!
Archivist Merle’s dream job in an abandoned mansion on New Zealand’s Waiheke Island gives her the isolation she craves and the freedom to delight in its extravagance. Then infamous owner Ash arrives, without warning…
Used to women falling at his feet, Ash is ever so intrigued when he interrupts virginal siren Merle in his bath – and she tries to conceal her shock…then her red-hot reaction! He’s back for one week only to lay his tarnished past to rest. Might he find solace in the intriguing Merle instead…?
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A sizzling romance, set on a private island, a fast-paced, physical attraction, catalyses gradual emotional commitment.
This story is full of introspection and internal conflict. Merle’s teenage years were lonely and starved of affection. Ash has regrets from his youth that he can’t let go. The romance is passionate and the dialogue vibrant. Merle’s character development is good. Ash’s self-realisation is not as significant, but he gets there in the end.
The Kafenion has much more to offer than just coffee and cake!
The Kafenion is undergoing its regular seasonal change from traditional coffee shop and local hangout to summertime hotspot for the massive influx of tourists who visit the Greek island each year.
The furniture has been updated, the new signs for more specific coffee types have been installed, the basic cookies have been replaced with a tempting range of cakes and desserts and a fresh coat of paint has added an optimistic glow to the place, which always attracts the many visitors who are looking for a treat.
Jane has been working on the island for a few years and finds a job in the kafenion for her friend Helen, who is hoping for some fun and romance during the summer.
Xenon and Kyriakos both make regular deliveries of fresh produce to the kafenion and they find other reasons to want to visit when Jane and Helen are around, but are they both interested in the same girl?
Georgina discovers the kafenion while searching for information from her mother’s past, but does Pericles have all the answers or will he just cause more confusion?
Visit the kafenion during a Greek summer season to see how the staff and their regulars navigate their way through complex working and romantic relationships. This is the eleventh book of standalone reads in the Aegean Sun series.
Stephanie Wood writes contemporary fiction in the form of novels, novellas and short stories and you can find the running order of her titles on the ‘look inside’ of any book.
She published the AEGEAN SUN series of books as a fly-on-the-wall vision of life in a Greek resort during the summer season, using her extensive experience as a holiday rep to bring some unusual incidents to life on the page. The series began as an exploration of the various ways in which tourists make the most of their holidays and how they interact with the locals while they are visiting. The later books in the series have taken a closer look at the locals themselves and show how their lives and relationships are sometimes changed by the regular influx of seasonal visitors.
The CHRISTMAS ON THE CLOSE series is set in a British suburban cul-de-sac over the festive period and visits each house individually to discover how the neighbours who live there celebrate the season in their own special way.
Stephanie lives in Lancashire where, apart from reading and writing, she loves gardening and cycling and is a huge fan of the soaps Emmerdale and Neighbours. If you would like to sign up to her newsletter list (with around four messages per year) you can do so on the contact page of her website and, as a thank you, will receive the free short story THE ZIA SUNSET EXCURSION.
After a summer of staying in, it’s time to let your hair down and escape to Greece!
For Lucie Burrows, it’s time to embrace Greek life and put the past behind her! Having spent the summer of 2020 battling a global health crisis, Lucie Burrows is looking forward to a summer out of lockdown.
When best friend, Gavin, finds them the perfect Greek escape Lucie finally starts to think this summer might just go without a hitch.But after a landslide puts the village into a local lockdown, Lucie is thrown together with Michalis Andino, the super sexy village doctor. It’s not quite the holiday she had planned, but things could certainly be worse.
As Lucie relaxes into the Greek way of life, she begins to wonder whether this lockdown might just end in a new life, a new love…
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely laugh out loud romantic comedy set mainly in Corfu. There are many humorous moments and countless romantic encounters. Set in a post-Covid19 world, it acknowledges the courage of key workers and the effect on our everyday lives of the pandemic.
There is so much to enjoy in this story. Passionate romance, vibrant characters and the vivid setting make this story full of drama, humour and poignancy, come alive, letting the reader escape to the sunshine. There was one aspect I didn’t enjoy, and that was the setting in the butcher’s shop and the associated humour. I have strong beliefs about animals, so this element was tough to read for me. Overall this is an engaging story.
Escaping it, but not ignoring it!
Why I wrote about the pandemic in my latest rom com…
Let me say this first, my brand-new book – Staying Out for the Summer – is all the summer escapist fiction you’ve come to expect from me! There’s a gorgeous Greek hero, a heroine and a best friend that you will be rooting for, plus all the sun, sea and sizzling flavours of Greece wrapped up in the pages too! But does it mention the worldwide pandemic we’re still going through? Yes, it does!
When I started writing this book it was July 2020, we were out of restrictions and I was in the middle of spending six weeks at my house in Corfu, Greece. I certainly thought, by the time this book was published, the pandemic would be completely behind us and if there were any restrictions still in place they would be minimal. How wrong was I? I don’t know how many times I had to make edits to what was happening in the book with regard to rules of six, all the tiers and Christmas arrangements. However, even after all that, I don’t feel I was wrong to write about Coronavirus and have it as the backdrop to this story.
I always write about topical subjects in my books with references to pop culture and I like to have a big touch of reality amid the fiction. My characters discuss things that are going on in the world, what TV shows they’re watching or music their listening to, it’s all very current and relatable. I chose to write about the pandemic because we have all been through it together. It has touched everyone. Yes, we might have had very different experiences of it, but we have all had to stay home and face limited lives and some of us have been ill with the virus or sadly lost people that we love to it. The hero in Staying Out for the Summer – Michalis – is a Greek doctor who specialises in the lungs and my heroine – Lucie – is an NHS nurse who has been working tirelessly trying to save as many lives as she can. This book and their stories is my tribute to the medical staff around the globe and all the keyworkers who have risked their lives doing all those things we take for granted to keep the world going.
I know a lot of other writers have decided to avoid writing about Covid-19 in their books because they feel readers are looking to get away from all that. I understand that completely and, as I said straight off, my book is going to take you to Greece for all the fun in the sun and so much more. But, for me, I felt if I didn’t acknowledge that this has happened in our lives it would be like sweeping under the carpet all the sacrifices people have made over the past year. Whatever we feel about it, no matter how dreadful it has been – and continues to be – I don’t think we should pretend it didn’t happen. I want people to read this book and feel. It’s really a salute to all the good that happened during the hardest times and a testament to our strength and resilience. It’s also a big nod to the fact that brighter times are coming. We just have to hang in there!
So, grab a cool drink, snuggle up and let me transport you to Corfu where the weather is beautiful, and the hot Greek doctor is ready to see you now…
Mandy Baggot is an international 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 Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.