I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The Whisker Twitchers is a beautifully illustrated book about finding the courage to experience new adventures featuring cute rabbits. Bella worries when Grandad behaves oddly, but he keeps his secret until the next day. Bella is amazed and a little scared when faced with snow, but her curiosity makes her brave, and she finds it’s fun.
The text is simple enough for young readers to read and understand. It’s also a perfect book for adults to read and expand and share their experiences of wintry weather antics.
Writing is a relatively new part of my life. When I go to schools and am introduced as an author it is still a bit of a surprise to me!
It was the birth of my daughter (in 2016) that changed everything. I had spent many years building up my career in accountancy, accumulating business qualifications and generally working hard in that one field.
Spending time with my little girl and reading hundreds of different children’s stories really inspired me. My first book, Nana Duck, was published in 2017. It did well and I found that I enjoyed visiting schools and nurseries. There is nothing like reading your story and getting great reactions from a class full of eager little children.
Now, I’m having ideas all of the time. I’m so looking forward to bringing more stories into the world, to seeing my characters come to life through the talented illustrators that I work with, and inspiring more children in my local area and beyond.
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the giveaway link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
A twisting tale of elemental magick and a broken ecosystem, Earthlings is the spellbinding debut from Ray Star exploring family, friendship and the intrinsic value of nature
Peridot Watkins has always lived a very sheltered life. Raised on a remote island by an over-protective mother, she has never spoken to anyone outside of her family.
Until one day, a strange boy Euan knocks on her window, mumbling about escape from captivity on the mainland and Peri quickly learns that the world isn’t safe for people like them. It isn’t safe for Elementals, those who have the power to control earth, air, fire, water and spirit.
On her quest to learn the truth, Peri escapes the island to discover that the world is worse than she could have possibly imagined. Humans are slaves, animals can talk and the world is run by unruly chickens.
Peri is thrown into a world she barely understands; caught in an ongoing battle for freedom and struggling to command her magick whilst trying to find Euan, who is entangled with people who may not be as straight forward as they seem. Peri’s abilities may be what is needed to save humanity but at what cost?
I received a copy of this book from the author via Midas PR in return for an honest review.
Earthlings is intended for the young adult fantasy age group, but it explores issues that affect everyone. There is something in this story to capture most people’s interest. It envisages an alternative world where the balance of power shifts from humanity to the animal world. Whether you are an advocate of animal welfare or not, it’s hard not to see that current practices using animals are likely to harm not just them but humans too.
Peri’s sheltered life leaves her unprepared for her exceptional skills and the real world she encounters. This story is about how she copes and the difference she can make. It’s a coming-of-age fantasy story, but its setting and the world-building gives it a dystopian ethos. The inhumanity shown to animals is reversed in this world with humans as the farmed captive creatures. The story has a serious message that is impactful because of the quality of the storytelling. Adventure, friendship, family and relationships are all explored. Magickal practices feature strongly in this story through the main protagonist and as a major plot strand giving this story an engaging vibrancy.
The characters are believably crafted and draw the reader quickly into a world that should defy belief but doesn’t.
Q&A with Ray Star – #Earthlings
When creating your story, which comes first, the characters, plot or setting? Why do you think this is?
I am going to be completely honest with you, I have no plan of action when it comes to writing. The words find their way to me when I’m in the moment, and I rarely, if ever, know what I am going to write.
The Earthlings story came to me bizarrely when I was at lunch with my mother, a few weeks after my dad’s funeral. We were seated next to a small tropical fish tank, and I remember feeling so sad for the fish that would inevitably spend their lives swimming round in circles, never experiencing freedom.
I remember vividly, turning to Mum and saying quite out of the blue, “I’m going to write a book about animals that can talk.”
She stopped eating, put her fork down and said with a smile, “Well, why not?”
“Yes,” I thought, “why not indeed?”
I looked down at my dad’s ring that I wear always, and as the green gem twinkled back at me, Peridot’s tale came to life from there.
What are the inspirations for Earthlings – The Beginning, your debut fantasy novel?
Animals and the environment were the reason behind the creation of the Earthlings trilogy. As a practising eclectic green witch, I have a deep love for the natural world, and it pains me to witness how humanity neglects our home and its inhabitants.
I wanted to write a book that had a conscience to the narrative, enabling readers to contemplate how life could be if we were no longer the dominant species on the planet.
World-building is an essential component of fantasy novels. How did you create yours?
This was surprisingly the easiest part of writing Earthlings, I looked at modern day society and without giving too much away, reversed some of the roles.
I remember thinking another writer might have a similar concept and beat me to it, itching to publish the book so I didn’t miss the opportunity to share the Earthlings tale.
Did you set out to write a book suited to the young adult market? If so, can you share why you believe they are your target audience?
I knew from the moment I wrote the first chapter that I wanted the story to revolve around teenagers, finding their inner power and trying to make positive changes for the planet. It’s a concept I believe we can all relate to.
Deep down, everyonewants to make the world a better place.
I also wanted to incorporate some of my daily practises as an eclectic witch into the novel, as an avid YA Fantasy lover, giving Peridot magick (yes – magick with a ‘k’), was too tempting to resist.
This was the only aspect of Earthlings that I debated – whether to include magick. In the end, it was my love for YA Fantasy that made it an easy decision to make.
Is this book part of a series? If so, what aspect of elemental magick and the ecosystem does the second book explore?
Earthlings includes genuine magickal practises that I use in my own rituals, from herbal lore, crystal healing and invoking the elements to following moon cycles – I wanted to include practical magick that works and that we can use in our lives today.
Earthlings is book one of a trilogy as the story has many depths that I wanted to cover, and I physically could not cram them all into one book, as much as I wanted to!
The following book in the trilogy (Dominion) is in the editing process due for release this festive period, with the final instalment (Land of hope and glory) to be released next year.
A little inside secret for your followers; I will be writing a prequel (The Changing) which will be Peridot’s mother’s story explaining how the Earthlings world came to be, and I plan to have a spin off series from this once that book is complete.
Readers can sign up to my newsletter on raystarbooks.com for more details on this to come next year!
What five words summarise your story. Can you explain why?
Earthlings is the world we live in today, reversed, and with a hearty helping of magick added to each page.
Ray Star is a Fantasy author from Essex with a passion for animal rights and eco-living. She can often be found writing, exploring nature and occasionally stargazing underneath a full moon with a tarot deck in one hand and a strong cuppa in the other.
Earthlings was conceived from a love for the environment and inspired by her father, whose passing was a catalyst in leading a greener lifestyle.
Ray’s dream is to one day open an animal sanctuary and wildlife reserve in memory of her father. Earthlings is Ray’s debut novel and the first book in the Earthlings trilogy.
Lena Farnham has it all: a job she loves, a wonderful husband, a huge house, and a baby about to arrive. She’s the happiest she’s ever been, and she can’t believe how lucky she is.
Unfortunately, Lena’s luck is about to run out.
Someone is following her, and not only that – they’re leaving frightening messages, and threatening her perfect life. Even worse? Her husband Sean doesn’t believe any of it.
When the baby finally arrives, however, Lena’s follower is the least of her worries. Everything in her life is about to change, but why? What did she do to deserve this? And what isn’t Sean telling her?
Lena embarks on a journey to uncover the lies, deceit, and betrayal from the one person she loves and trusts the most… her husband.
Even the most perfect people can have dark pasts – and even darker secrets.
This story has an addictive quality essential for psychological suspense.
Lena is an unreliable protagonist, but this only becomes clear as the story progresses. She’s easy to empathise with. Sean, the love of Lena’s life, has secrets and is unlikeable. Various other viewpoints give the reader an omnipotent view.
Some of the plot twists are easy to discern, but there are suspenseful elements in this story. The more developed characters’ motivations make this an absorbing read. There is some repetition from the many viewpoints. Less information would make the plot more edgy and intense.
This disturbing, domestic psychological suspense immerses the reader in the characters’ lives. Its implications are immense and resonate.
I read this book on Kindle Unlimited.
Q&A with Ruth O’Neill
Which comes first when you are creating your novel, characters, plot or setting? Why is this?
For me personally, I always begin with the plot I like to know where I am going before I create my characters. Although I do have a strong idea as to how my characters will be integrated into my story, I do not really develop all aspects of their personality until the story unfolds and I can tweak their character to match what is happening.
What are the inspirations for your latest book, Circle of Betrayal?
I was inspired to write this book because I wanted to write a story about characters that have domestic noir issues. I love this genre, so for me it was incredibly exciting creating a story that turns into a minefield of betrayal and deception.
How do you make your dialogue authentic?
This is one of the most difficult things for me to develop; I would say that I’ve learnt a lot from reading different authors where dialogue was a strong part of their stories. This helped me understand how to allow dialogue to develop and be interesting. Dialogue must sound like it does in real life, so I do spend considerable time reading aloud what is being said and this helps me keep the flow of conversation realistic.
Why do you write psychological suspense?
I`ve always enjoyed reading such stories before I became an author, so it seemed a natural progression to combine my personal interest to my writing. I love the challenge of trying to keep readers glued to the page and keeping them guessing. Writing about the dark truths, lies, cheating, manipulation, and heinous crimes that happen under the veneer of everyday lives, and writing a plot full of twist and turns allows me to enter the minds of readers allowing them to wonder what’s going to happen next.
Describe your latest release in five words and say why they epitomise your story.
Tense, Twisty, Domestic, Captivating & Heart-breaking. These five words, including the title of my new release, Circle of Betrayal, epitomise what my story is really about as they are all integrated into the background of my story. They become more apparent as the revealing revelations come to a climax.
Can you share what the best things about being a writer are?
I find writing very therapeutic, my first book, Sunshine and Tears, was a story I developed from my own personal experiences, and I found it extremely rewarding. After so much positive feedback about the book and with so many ideas floating around in my head it seemed natural to just develop these ideas into books. The best thing about being a writer is being able to take so many of these ideas into a different world in which readers can become totally immersed in.
Receiving positive reviews from readers who have enjoyed my books gives me a real lift and being part of the writing community is enriching. I’ve made many friends in the last six years I’ve been writing and it feels amazing when I connect with people through my writing.
What are you currently writing?
I’m working on a new psychological thriller about three sisters. It’s a dark story with dark undertones which will hopefully drag the reader in and never let them… go!
A woman lies dead in a bombed-out house. A tragic casualty of the Blitz? Or something more sinister?
Cleaner-turned-detective Stella Darnell connects a murder in Tewkesbury Abbey to a decades-old mystery in wartime London. From the number 1 bestselling author of The Detective’s Daughter.
Several neighbours heard the scream of the woman in the bombed-out house. One told the detective she thought the lady had seen a mouse. Another said it wasn’t his business what went on behind closed doors. None of them imagined that a trusting young woman was being strangled by her lover.
Beneath the vast stone arches of Tewkesbury Abbey, a man lies bleeding, close to death. He is the creator of a true-crime podcast which now will never air. He was investigating the murder of a 1940s police pathologist – had he come closer to the truth than he realised?
Stella Darnell has moved to Tewkesbury to escape from death, not to court it. But when this man dies in her arms, Stella, impelled to root out evil when she finds it, becomes determined to hunt down his killer and to bring the secrets he was searching for into the light…
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Detective Daughter series delivers an original twist on the classic murder mystery genre. Stella, the detective’s daughter, has a cleaning business and a detective agency with an eclectic mix of employees. The main protagonists are believably eccentric and flawed. This story reads well as a standalone, but the series is addictive and engaging and worth reading in its entirety.
This dual timeline story explores a wartime murder during the London blitz and murder in Tewkesbury in 2019. The connections between the two stories are revealed in a suspenseful way and involve Stella, Jack and the other team members across London and Tewkesbury.
The recent murders are catalysed by The Death Cafe, a group that discusses death that Stella is drawn to. The story has important character development for the main protagonists in addition to the well-plotted murder mystery.
Evocative with vivid sensory imagery, the reader is drawn into a world of deceit and murder that is chilling and disturbing. The historical and contemporary are interwoven convincingly and give the story its classic murder mystery ethos.
This story’s atmospheric settings and vibrant characters elevate the simple murder mystery into something that resonates.
Q&A : Lesley Thomson
What inspired you to write about a blitz murder?
I spent first part of 2020 clearing and sorting stuff in the attic in preparation of moving. I unearthed a photocopy of a message that Jose Wahlberg, a convicted Nazi spy, wrote to my grandfather – who I never knew – the night before Wahlberg was hanged Pentonville Prison in 1940. My mum had showed me the cigarette packet on the back of which Jose Wahlberg had thanked my grandfather for his kindness. Mum would reflect on how hard it must have been for her dad , prison officer, to comfort the young man hours before his death. On the internet I found newspaper articles about Wahlberg’s capture and how the British were treating spies and, as often happens point of inspiration takes me somewhere else.
In The Distant Dead, I mention the incident in passing, I was inspired to explore 1940 London in which my mum and her family had lived. Blackouts, the deafening roar of planes, the massive thuds as bombs fell and the constant smell of burning. The murder rate went up and, with a depleted police force, fewer were solved. You could pass off a murder victim as a bombing casualty. Stuck in Lockdown, I found key similarities between 1940 and our own restricted lives. Even the slogan – We’re all in it together – was the same. This was enough for me to find a bridge to the past.
Did you undertake any research with this novel?
I read books on the Home-front including a doorstop-sized biography of Churchill by Andrew Roberts, I devoured published diaries by women living through the Blitz. Newspapers of the time were fascinating as were the propaganda films made by British Government agencies such as Fires Were Started and Britain Can Take it.’ Tewkesbury Abbey was my other inspiration and long before I started The Distant Dead, I had spent many hours there. I was sorry not to be able to visit in 2020.
Out of the entire Detective Daughter’s series, which one was your favourite to write and why?
For me, I think it’s up to the reader to have a favourite novel. Were you to have asked me this question each year, starting when Ghost Girl came out, I’d tell you the same. This novel. I relish steeping myself in the world of my story, honing my writing ability and creating new characters and ideas. I want each novel to be my best yet. Therefore, The Distant Dead is my current favourite and I loved every minute of working on it right to proof stage.
If you could have any job in the world (other than an author), what would it be and why?
I’d want something that involves long drives in a nice car, preferably a Jeep, with music playing. I used imagine being a taxi driver, but these days I’d rather be alone in the car to think or sing raucously and out of tune to, for instance Robbie Williams’s Angels or say, True along with Spandau Ballet. So if there were a job, which involves delivering Jeeps to far-flung corners of the country and back, I would apply.
What are you currently working on at the moment?
I’m writing The Companion, a standalone set in Sussex, featuring a disparate bunch of oddballs who live in a stately home converted into luxury apartments. There’s a serial killer at large – dubbed the media, The Family Man – due to the victim profile. This means that an ever watchful fear and suspicion pervades the mood of the community. Is it him, is it her? Who can you trust? As ever with my novels, I hope The Companion will offer the reader frissons of dread and unease laced with laugh out loud moments.
What can we expect to see from Stella next?
In 2023, I hope. She’s already knocking at my door with another mystery…
Lesley Thomson is the author of the Detective’s Daughter series of West London-set mysteries featuring private investigators Stella, a cleaner, and Jack, a tube driver. The first novel, The Detective’s Daughter, became an ebook phenomenon in 2013, staying at number 1 in the digital charts for 3 months. Since then, the series has gone on to sell 800,000 copies worldwide. Lesley is an active member of the UK crimewriting community, and appeared at several crime festivals in 2019, including CrimeFest, Harrogate, Morecambe & Vice and Capital Crime. She lives in Lewes with her partner and her dog
Today is publication day for The Wolf Mile by C.F.Barrington by Aries Fiction, the adventure fiction imprint of Head of Zeus Books. The first in a series of five books this promises something different for the adventure fiction market.
A forbidden contest. An international game.
Bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and followed by thousands online, two teams of warriors vie for dominance … and the streets of Edinburgh run with blood.
Into this secret struggle steps Tyler Maitland, seeking his lost sister, and Lana Cameron, grieving her dead child. When they are accosted by figures in black hoodies and each handed a silver amulet, they recognise the Triple Horn of Odin – the talisman of the Valhalla Horde.
They are being recruited into the great game known as The Pantheon. And one day they will change everything.
Now they must risk their lives and join the ranks of seven ancient warrior teams which inhabit this illicit world. Their journey will be more wondrous and horrifying than anything they could have dreamed, taking each of them to the depths of their souls … and testing them to breaking point as they search for loved ones and for the meaning in their lives.
I thought your readers might like to hear about my debut novel – The Wolf Mile – which is being launched by Head of Zeus adventure imprint, Aries Fiction, on 6 May (digital) and 8 August (paperback). It is the first in a five-book saga about The Pantheon, with Book 2 (The Blood Isles) launching in October 2021 and Book 3 (The Hastening Storm) coming in spring 2022.
I’ve chosen it because the story – and indeed the genre – has sparked much discussion amongst my early readers, because it is hard to pin into a single category and defies my many attempts to condense it into a snappy teaser. The most concise description came from one of my advance readers, who said it was ‘Fight Club with swords’. I’ll take that! And my agent (Laura Macdougall at United Agents) said it had ‘elements of The Hunger Games’ when she first read it.
What inspired you to write The Wolf Mile?
It is a story which is first and foremost inspired by a sense of place. Apart from a sojourn into the forests of the Highlands, the book’s action all takes place in the closes, tunnels and rooftops which flow from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Indeed, it was Edinburgh’s Old Town which really allowed the story to manifest. The dark, malevolent history of the Old Town and its stunning architecture and rumours of tunnels and secret passages, set my mind ticking. I am sure that the whole concept of The Pantheon could not have come together if it had not been for my life in and around Edinburgh.
The story was also prompted by two other factors: Firstly, I had always wanted to take my love of historical fiction and coax it into a modern thriller – without going down the well-trodden route of some sort of time-travel. Secondly, after a career spent in major gift fundraising for charities and universities, I had communicated with many very wealthy individuals and I got to wondering what makes someone excited when they can buy everything? As the book asks….. Imagine riches beyond your wildest dreams. What would you do with them? Travel the world? Buy a yacht? Now times it by ten. A hundred. We’re talking mega-wealth – the kind that buys governments, shapes economies, enervates security forces and makes a mockery of justice systems. NOW what would you do with it? Less certain?
In ancient times, the wealthy of Rome spent their money and energies on forsaking human life in the gladiatorial stadia – and that’s where the concept of The Pantheon grew from in my head.
The Wolf Mile charts the rise of Tyler Maitland and Lana Cameron as they are plucked from their normal lives to become players in The Pantheon, a secret game bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and watched online by thousands. Warriors from seven ancient civilisations are trained, sworn to allegiance, then pitted against each other in battles amongst the claustrophobic alleys which flow from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and filmed in real-time.
Set in today’s city, this is very much a modern thriller, but it mixes elements of historical fiction, as well as a sweeping romance over the five-book series, which takes the protagonists from friends, to sworn enemies and finally to lovers. So when Aries came along and declared it was, above all, adventure fiction, it was perfect – because this is exactly what the saga is: A twisting, turning, relentless adventure with a big cast of characters, which propels the protagonists on a journey more horrifying and wondrous than they could ever have dreamed, into a world which perhaps we all secretly wish we experience.
Comments so far include:
‘The Wolf Mile is a thrilling ride and a heck of a debut. C F Barrington knocks it out the park.’
‘Featuring two compelling yet flawed lead characters, an intriguing mystery and unrelenting action, I can’t wait to see where Mr Barrington takes us in the future.’
‘It is a very cool idea and I think if done right will become one of my favourite secret societies.’
‘Get ready for a rip-roaring adventure through the streets of Edinburgh – The Wolf Mile is the perfect escapist read!’
I’ve included some photos of the Old Town which have helped inspire me. One evening before the pandemic, a friend and I toured the Old Town cameras in hand. We ended up climbing onto buildings and lying in the middle of roads, getting carried away discovering the dark, brooding essence of The Pantheon. It was great fun and hopefully the images provide a taste of what to expect in The Wolf Mile.
C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as the RSPB, Oxford University and the National Trust.
When his role as Head of Communications at Edinburgh Zoo meant a third year of fielding endless media enquiries about the possible birth of a baby panda, he finally retreated to a quiet desk beside the sea and discovered the inspiration for the Pantheon saga.
Raised in Hertfordshire and educated at Oxford, he now divides his time between running over the hills of the Lake District and dog walking on the beaches of Fife.
My website is www.cfbarrington.com – and provides lots of visuals and backstory about Edinburgh’s Old Town.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus -Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an addictive historical ganglit with the indomitable Georgina Garrett desperate for release from Holloway Prison to reclaim her children and get revenge on her enemies. With WW2 still raging when Georgina returns to Battersea, she has to regroup and diversify to achieve her aims with grit and tenacity, meeting violence with violence.
This is a well-written story with vivid characters and a menacing ethos. It captures the gangland era dynamic and personalities in an intricate plot with unexpected twists.
Guest post- Sam Michaels – Siren
Thanks for taking the time to read my post and thank you to Jane for inviting to me contribute to her fabulous website.
I’m thrilled that Siren is now out in the big wide world and I can’t wait for you to read it! This is the fourth book in the Georgina Garrett series. The first, Trickster, begins on the day that WW1 is declared. And then Rivals is next which is set just before the outbreak of WW2. Vixen and Siren follow Georgina’s life through the turbulent and challenging times of worn-torn Britain.
Although my gangland sagas are fictional, I like the facts to be historically correct so I’ve spent many hours researching the history of these times and read hundreds of personal memories of the Blitz. The things that I’ve learned have been both fascinating and heart-wrenching. Tales of rations, shortages and the blackouts are bad enough but the stories of bombs raining down on cities across the country are horrendous. The Blitz began in September 1940 and for fifty-seven consecutive nights, London was bombarded by the Luftwaffe’s bombs. Over three hundred planes would fly across the city, destroying a third of London and killing and injuring thousands. The accounts of the people whose memories I read makes me wish that I’d asked my grandparents more about their personal experiences of being Londoners living through the war.
But it wasn’t all fear and gloom. One of the overwhelming feelings that I got from my research was the sense of community and coming together that the war seemed to bring. I loved reading about the impressive strength of the British resolve and I found the make do and mend attitude admirable. Also, with the men away fighting the enemy, women found a place in the workforce doing the jobs that men once did. This was a huge shift from the traditional role of the stay-at-home housewife and mother though in most jobs, women weren’t paid the same rate as the men had been. Mothers had to quickly adapt a new way of life. For many, their children had been evacuated to safer homes in the countryside away from the nightly air raid sirens, explosions and fires. Food shortages meant that they had to be inventive with new recipes. Even stockings were hard to come by so ladies might use gravy browning to colour their legs and draw a line up the back to imitate a seam. With homes being destroyed all around them, lives being lost, their husbands and sons in foreign, treacherous lands and sleepless nights in air raid shelters, it does make me wonder how people today would cope if we were thrown into the same situation.
In Siren, the book opens with Georgina behind bars in Holloway prison. During my research, I was shocked and horrified to discover some of the facts about prison life for women at this time. And not just women. Holloway Prison also held German-Jewish refugee children incarcerated with their mothers. It was a time of deep suspicion of anyone German which was transposed onto the German-Jews who came to Britain when fleeing death from Hitler. I was equally shocked to find out that Sir Oswald Mosely, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, was also held prisoner at Holloway. Under Winston Churchill’s orders, Mosely was detained with his wife, Diana, in a house within the grounds of the prison. They even had women prisoners to wait on them and they were allowed to order deliveries from Harrods!
So when you read my books, you’ll find bits of background information weaved throughout which are fact, not fiction. For instance, the meagre breakfasts in the prison, the continual bombing of London, the firewomen on motorbikes… all these things and many more are true stories.
I really hope that you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them! And, by the way, this isn’t the last that you’ll hear of Georgina… I’m halfway through writing the fifth book in the series.
Event planner Julianne Rose is on the verge of making her dreams of ‘rescuing’ weddings in need of help a reality. She and business partner Kitty have finally finished transforming the dilapidated barn into a chic event space, and they even have a new client eager to use it—a quirky, charming space organization guru named Deirdre who seems capable of organizing everything but her own special day. As if that wasn’t enough, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity soon presents itself through the who’s who of their sleepy little Cornish village: the chance to step into the event planning void for a posh bride in desperate need of an emergency salvage for her wedding plans. A wedding that could establish Julianne and Kitty as two of Cornwall’s best event planners if all goes well.
But an event that big doesn’t come without a catch. To persuade the posh clients to commit to them, Julianne and Kitty must first impress them with the ceremony for their current bride-to-be—a task that seemed easy, but proves complicated when stories emerge involving a history of broken engagements, cold feet, and commitment phobia on the part of Deirdre, who soon begins to exhibit possible symptoms of nervousness regarding her big day. Faced with a real case of runaway bride—and with their future reputation at stake— they must attempt to the impossible task of holding together a wedding fraying at its seams, and Julianne finds herself seemingly facing a choice between what’s best for Save the Date’s survival and what’s best for her client’s happiness, regardless of the cost.
Are Julianne’s worst fears about to be realized, with Deirdre gearing up for yet another run from the church altar? Can she persuade the posh but sympathetic bride Alexi to take a risk on Save the Date regardless of it? And will Julianne and the handsome-but-equally-busy Matt find time to smolder anything in their marriage besides leftover chicken pie? Readers will learn these answers and more in the funny and heartfelt sequel to the first full-length titular novel Return to Cornwall .
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This first book in the Return to Cornwall series is believable, engaging and funny.
Readers familiar with the author will recognise the two protagonists from the A Wedding in Cornwall series. This book brings together old friends and new, in a delightful story of a would-be runaway bride, and the struggle to get a new business off the ground. For lovers of all things wedding, this is a perfect read. The event and wedding planning research makes this an authentic story and coupled with relatable characters its a must-read book.
Gentle humour runs through the story, especially when exploring family life, and the stress of getting married. There are some poignant moments which makes the happy outcome, well deserved.
This first book promises another lovely series from this author.
Creating Exciting Events for My Cornish Romance Reads!
– Laura Briggs Guest Post
Thank you so much to Jane for letting me drop by and share about my Cornish romance reads. My newest one, Wedding Vows and Cornish Ribbons, makes its debut today as book one in a new series about Julianne Rose, a busy wife and mum running her own event planning firm in the idyllic village she calls home. This isn’t my first time to write about Julianne’s adventures, though, with the same characters and setting used as the focus of my long running series known as ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’, where Julianne begin her career organizing special occasions at the village manor house—and found her own happily ever after with handsome, Poldark-esque gardener Matthew Rose. With the series reboot being launched, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the more unique events Julianne has coordinated over her rather diverse career.
Pippa’s wedding in A Manor in Cornwall:
This was a fan favorite and special for multiple reasons, but mostly because it was the event that introduced Julianne to her new assistant (and future best friend and business partner) Kitty. Tough-as-nails on the outside, Kitty was a village girl who harbored a hidden talent for spotting the little details that make bigger events shine. She would go on to have her own happy ever after—and even her own narrative in one book—because she resonated so well with readers of the series. Of course, A Manor in Cornwall was also the story that bid a bittersweet farewell to Cliffs House kitchen maid Pippa, whose wedding reception would become a favorite memory for both Julianne and her young assistant. And the beautiful—though slightly dilapidated—old stone barn that Julianne and Kitty transformed for Pippa’s wedding reception becomes an important part of their brand new business in the series reboot, serving as a venue for their client’s special occasions.
The village play in A Star in Cornwall:
Shakespeare, community theatre, and a charming stranger in town with a secret made this another fan favorite in the original series. And even though Julianne didn’t exactly relish her brief stint as substitute director of the Cliff’s Edge Player’s summer production of Romeo and Juliet, it definitely made for an interesting change of pace from her usual kind of work. With a new (and temporary) assistant by her side, Julianne managed to navigate her way through the world of local amateur dramatics without too much disaster—although, her production is rather upstaged by a dramatic discovery about one of its lead actors before the next show’s curtain can rise!
The local music competition in A Talent Show in Cornwall:
Ah, who doesn’t love a good talent show? Friendly competition among neighbors in the sleepy Cornish village stirs up excitement after a drought of boredom—and offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance for whoever comes in first place. As usual, things don’t go as smoothly as Julianne would hope for. There’s a bit of humor and a lot of heart as Julianne helps friends pull together a show to remember. And she unexpectedly finds herself in the role of mentor for a shy, budding musician in need of a bit of encouragement.
Percy and Elaine’s would-be wedding in Return to Cornwall:
This official full-length reunion novel for the series characters was packed full of laughter, fun, and friendship. It also found Julianne building a reputation for her event planning business in the village after years of organizing events at Cliffs House. Her business partner is, of course, her old friend Kitty, back in Ceffylgwyn for good it would seem, after globetrotting with her husband Nathan. Together, the two planners are tasked with organizing an elaborate, late-in-life wedding for the eccentric earl Percy and his would-be bride, an archaeologist named Elaine. It’s among Julianne’s most challenging events and comes with a bittersweet twist at the end—but with a promise of hope for the future and more excitement to come for Julianne and her friends in the Cornish village, of course.
If all this sounds like your cup of tea when it comes romance reads, I do hope you’ll be sure to check out the books in all my Cornish series. They’re perfect for those in search of a feel-good, escapist story with humor, romance, and larger-than-life events.
Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.
Beobrand is besieged in the action-packed instalment in the Bernicia Chronicles set in AD 647 Anglo-Saxon Britain.
War hangs heavy in the hot summer air as Penda of Mercia and his allies march into the north. Caught unawares, the Bernician forces are besieged within the great fortress of Bebbanburg.
It falls to Beobrand to mount the defence of the stronghold, but even while the battle rages, old and powerful enemies have mobilised against him, seeking vengeance for past events.
As the Mercian forces tighten their grip and unknown killers close in, Beobrand finds himself in a struggle with conflicting oaths and the dreadful pull of a forbidden love that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear.
With the future of Northumbria in jeopardy, will Beobrand be able to withstand the powers that beset him and find a path to victory against all the odds?
What inspired you to write The Bernicia Chronicles and Fortress of Fury?
As with all of the Bernicia Chronicles, Fortress of Fury is inspired by real historical events that are documented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and Bede’s History of the English Church and People. I find an interested event around which I can entwine Beobrand’s (the protagonist) story. In the case of Fortress of Fury, it is the attack on Bebbanburg by Penda of Mercia.
Why does this period in history appeal to you?
Seventh century Britain is a time of great turmoil and the island is like a continent in microcosm with all of its small kingdoms. The Germanic people have settled in the east and are pushing westward, displacing the native Britons. The Angles and Saxons also vie for power with each other, with frequent battles between the warring kingdoms. On top of all of that, two strands of Christianity (the Irish and the Roman) are also seeking to conquer the hearts and minds of the population, and defeat the old gods and superstitious ways of the people.
Conflict is needed to tell good stories, and the seventh century has it in spades.
Northumbria is the setting for Fortress of Fury, why is it the perfect location for the book?
It is the location of the real-life events, of course. But more than that, it has become Beobrand’s adopted home and all of his loved ones now live there. Despite his differences with his king, Northumbria is now Beobrand’s land and he will fight for it and for its people till his dying breath.
How did you research the historical period for this book?
I have done a lot of reading since starting the first book in the series, The Serpent Sword, nearly twenty years ago. So I have a clear feeling of the time and the place of the novels now. As mentioned, I glean what I can from the primary sources and then, as I come across specifics I am not sure on while writing the first draft (like types of tree, food, clothing, names of lesser characters, etc.), I make a note, and then research those details while editing and polishing the draft.
What type of books do you like to read? Why is this?
I like historical fiction, westerns and fantasy and really any good book. Increasingly, I enjoy reading non-fiction, often autobiographies. I think this is because I am drawn to stories of strong characters and by definition, autobiographies give an interesting window into memorable people.
What is the best thing about being a writer? Is there anything you do not like?
I love being able to tell the stories I would like to read, and also hearing from people that my stories have resonated with in some way. This is the ultimate thrill for any writer, I think; to know that your writing has connected and impacted someone.
I dislike how long it takes to finish a novel, then edit it and get it published! And I really hate the feeling of always having pressure to write the next book and to make it better than the last! The struggle is real!
Can you tell us a little about The Bernicia Chronicles series so far? Is there going to be another book in this series?
The first in the series is The Serpent Sword and it takes place in AD633. Beobrand begins as a young man with nothing but a desire to find a place in the world and a strong sword arm. He starts the series searching for his brother and fleeing a dark past. He soon finds himself embroiled in the struggles for the kingdoms of Bernicia and Northumbria.
Over the course of the novels he faces many foes and aligns himself with several lords and kings. He finds and loses love, and is never far from the action. His life is fraught with danger.
By the seventh book, Fortress of Fury, Beobrand is a lord in his own right with land and a warband. And the dangers he faces are more fearsome than ever!
I am currently writing book eight (currently untitled) in the series and I think there will be at least three or four more after that if people keep reading them!
Matthew Harffy grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline had a huge impact on him. He now lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters
Weeks after boarding a train to Paris in pursuit of her writing dreams, aspiring novelist Maisie Clark is right back where she started: on the idyllic shores of Port Hewer in Cornwall, luggage in hand and heart filled with anticipation for what lies ahead. Except that nothing seems the same as Maisie left it, from her place among the staff at the hotel Penmarrow to her budding romance with groundskeeper Sidney Daniels, who isn’t quite ready to overlook the painful consequences of her sudden departure.
Losing Sidney would be unbearable, but Maisie can’t help fearing it might be true if the rift between them proves too deep to heal. She knows her feelings for him are unchanged, but whether he feels the same remains to be seen—particularly since she stopped him from expressing them in the first place. And to make matters worse, her position at the Penmarrow has been filled by another, there’s nowhere for her to live in the village, and her savings are finally dwindling to a pathetic number – with her book still unpublished after her startling discovery about the author helping guide her towards success.
But one thing which hasn’t changed is the drama and excitement at the hotel Penmarrow, where the staff is awaiting inspection from the dreaded owner Ms. Claypool. Stirring up trouble in the meantime is the owner’s special guest ‘Mad Ludwig’, an eccentric architect whose demands are definitely driving everyone on the staff a little crazy. And then there’s the hotel’s mysterious new desk manager, whose behavior ignites Maisie’s suspicions and causes her to become entangled in yet another form of intrigue—one that could unwittingly jeopardize the future of the Penmarrow and everyone who works there, unless Maisie can find a way to undo the harm.
With everything that matters to her most at stake this time, Maisie faces her biggest challenges yet…and her deepest question of the heart as she confronts the reason she returned to Cornwall and the Penmarrow in the first place.
Reasons Readers Might Enjoy A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss:Laura Briggs
Thanks so much to Jane for this chance to tell her readers about my newest Cornish romance read. The sixth book to be released in my ‘A Little Hotel in Cornwall’ series, it shakes things up for the main character Maisie in a big way, as her life in the quaint village of Port Hewer takes a different route than the one she knows and loves so well. For this guest post, I wanted to share a few of the reasons why readers might look forward to A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss (and perhaps the other books in the series, if they have yet to read them!). So here goes:
It puts the spotlight on romance
Of course, romance has always been a part of Maisie’s Cornish journey, from the moment she woke from a cycling accident to find a handsome stranger cradling her with a look of concern. A friendship was quickly formed, their potential for ‘something more’ always just beneath the surface—with a few stolen kisses and near misses in between, of course. But this story really puts their relationship center stage, exploring those unspoken emotions and loose ends created by Maisie’s abrupt departure back in book four. It’s a bit messy, a bit angsty, and absolutely nothing like the reunion Maisie pictured…and that’s just their first conversation, the rift between them far wider than Maisie dreamed in her rush to get back from London. But since when did the course of true love ever run smooth?
It has quirky guest characters
This always seems to be a popular aspect of the Little Hotel books: the glamorous, grand, and sometimes eccentric guests who check into the opulent hotel by the sea. Past reader favorites include the celebrity ‘psychic’ hired for the earl’s birthday party in A Spirited Girl in Cornish Shores, and the infamous jewel thief known simply as La Fleur in book four of the series. This time, it’s an architect with an obsessive streak and the hotel’s jet-setting owner Ms. Claypool who are keeping the staff on their toes. And then there’s the new desk clerk Frank, whose covert activities make Maisie fear for the future of the hotel and its employees—and, of course, she’s determined to stop him before disaster ensues.
Another secret is introduced
Longtime readers of the series know that just about everyone seems to be hiding something at the hotel Penmarrow. Be it their real name, their native accent—or something even more out of the ordinary—there’s more than one person on staff pretending to be someone or something they’re not. And when it comes to this latest intrigue, Maisie finds herself curious to have the answer for personal reasons. It’s a matter close to her heart, the very reason she came to Cornwall in the first place…and even though she might not get quite the answer she’s looking for within the pages of this particular novella, it’s all leading up to bigger reveals in the final two installments of the series, and I do hope readers will agree that the answers are worth waiting for.
If you haven’t read the stories in my Cornish romance series yet, I hope you’ll be sure to check them out. Books one through six are available in digital format at Amazon and other major eBook retailers, with book seven now on pre-order.
Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.
British doctor Lea Holm has come to New York to work in her chosen field of emergency medicine. She loves her new life in this exciting city and can’t wait to get started with her research project. The last thing she needs are distractions.
But then she meets famous actor Ricco Como in her building – a distraction if ever there was one. He’s gorgeous and sweet, and there’s an immediate connection between them. Lea tries to resist temptation, but when he comes to her for help dealing with his steadily worsening migraine she can’t turn away from his plight.
As Ricco’s health takes a turn for the worse, their lives become more and more entwined. But can their growing attraction withstand the strain of his ill health, and can he let Lea be more than just his doctor?
**This novella series contains detailed descriptions of long-term health conditions, cheating and a bereavement.**
The series is set in New York City and was written before COVID-19. It makes no reference to recent events.
Character Interview with Dr Lea Holm By Cecilia Fyre
We had the rare opportunity to catch up with Dr Lea Holm, the new girlfriend of actor Ricco Como. Lea is a doctor at Bellevue Hospital. She’s originally from London, England.
Hi Lea, thanks for agreeing to talk to us. I don’t think you’ve given many interviews like this so far?
No, this is my first, actually. I’m quite nervous.
No need, we won’t ask you anything incriminating. [Lea laughs nervously.] Now, do you want to tell us a little about yourself?
Let’s see. There isn’t much to tell. I recently moved to New York, from London. I work in an ER in the city, and as a researcher on a pain study. That’s why I came to Bellevue Hospital in the first place, to work on that study.
Is this your first time living in Manhattan?
I don’t actually live in Manhattan now, I moved to Queens. This city is insanely expensive, even worse than London! [laughs] My little flat is cute, but even out there it’s expensive. But yes, to answer your question. I’ve never lived in the States before.
So, let’s get to the juicy details, the questions our readers are eagerly awaiting: How did you and Ricco meet?
Well, when I first moved to New York I did live in Manhattan. I knew someone who knew someone who wanted a lodger for a few months. That guy lives in Ricco’s building, and I met Ricco in the hall one day.
Was it love at first sight?
Not really. We had coffee soon afterwards, though. So I guess we at least liked each other.
What is it like being with someone famous? Is it harder than dating normal people?
Oh yeah! [laughs again] It’s a lot harder, because so many people are interested in Ricco’s private life. So we kind of try to stay out of the spotlight, you know? But it’s also hard for other reasons. He works really long hours, and is often away for work. And I work long hours too. So we don’t always see each other as much as we’d like.
I bet that sucks especially. Being with a guy like Ricco and not being able to see him much?
I’m used to people who are passionate about their work. Doctors are like that as well, so we have that in common, which helps, I think. And when we do get to spend time together it’s really special. We try and make the most of it.
Okay, let’s do a few quick-fire questions to close off the interview. One word answers only!
Is Ricco a good kisser?
Who does the dishes, he or you?
The dishwasher! [she claps her hand to her mouth] Sorry that’s two words.
Are you messy or neat?
Ricco – neat. Me – not!
Who gets to choose the TV station, or the Netflix show to watch?
Me! Always, always me! [laughs]
And that’s the end of the interview. Thank you so much for taking the time for us, and all the best to you two!
Lea stepped out of the elevator and heard a weird, humming sound. No, not humming. Purring. Looking around her she spotted a black cat in the crevice under a nearby radiator.
“Hey, who’re you?” she murmured.
Big, green cat eyes stared at her out of the gloom, the jet-black body obscured in the shadows.
“Are you running away?” She crouched down and held out a hand. For a moment the cat looked like it was going to hiss at her. But then it slunk over, belly close to the marble floor. It was still purring.
Truth be told, Lea wasn’t really a cat person. She preferred dogs. Or maybe, in the tiny New York apartments, a cockatiel would be nice. Though this kitty was pretty cute. Its coat was fluffy, and it was a little on the chubby side. Well cared for, certainly. Of course, it would be, in this swanky Little Italy apartment building where the cheapest unit cost well over three million dollars. And whoever the cat belonged to was probably looking for it. So Lea braced herself and picked it up.
The elevator servicing the apartments on this floor was hidden away in a nook at the end of the hallway. As Lea stepped out from that little space now, the cat hanging relaxed in her arms, the door at the opposite end of the hallway opened. A man peered through it. “Carl? Man, if you slipped out, I’ll…sh*t…oh.”
He spotted Lea and opened the door wider. She felt foolish asking since he had pretty much confirmed it. “He yours?” She nodded at the cat in her arms, who had wriggled onto his back, head lolling, looking at her with those weird, slitted eyes.
“Yeah, he is,” the man said. “Little f**ker… sorry.”
She hid her smile as the color rose in his face. “Did he give you the slip?”
He nodded. Lea walked the length of the hallway, taking the opportunity to study him. Brown hair to just over his ears, tousled and standing up in places like he’d just woken up. His eyes were very blue, slightly slanted, and returning her gaze openly. Nice cheekbones that gave his features a certain finesse. He had boyish good looks that could only be helpful in his line of work. He wore a black T-shirt and grey sweatpants, and despite his handsome face, his smile was a little shy and very ordinary. Lea already knew who he was.
Despite what she might have said to Carmine about not caring for the famous people living in his building, now that she found herself face to face with one her heart jumped in her chest and her hands that were still clasping the cat began to sweat.
When she reached him, she held out her arms, uncertain of what to do. He smiled again, then disentangled the furry creature from his cozy spot.
“Thanks a lot.”
Lea returned his smile. “No problem.”
He wrestled for a moment with the cat, who was trying to crawl onto his shoulder. Once the cat had settled, looking very much at home, he extended his hand. “I’m Ricco.”
Lea was about to say, I know, but then decided against it. She shook his hand. “I’m Lea. Nice to meet you.”
Ricco gestured behind himself. “D’you wanna come in for a coffee? Thanks to you my afternoon won’t be wasted looking for this monster now.” He patted the animal, who purred.
Lea shook her head. She could’ve kicked herself. “I’m sorry, I can’t. My shift starts in less than an hour.” She glanced at her watch. She’d rushed out to run some errands she’d forgotten about all week and was running late now.
“Oh, okay… maybe another time.” He seemed disappointed, but Lea found that hard to believe. Why’d he care one way or another?
She banished the cynicism. “Definitely.”
Ricco was still looking at her, and the intensity of his gaze made Lea feel uneasy. He seemed to notice and lowered his eyes, retreating into his doorway. Lea turned to retrace her steps to the door furthest from his.
“See you later,” he said. Lea glanced around and he gave her a one-handed wave. She waved back and began to dig in her bag for the house keys. His door fell shut. Lea inserted her key into her own door, then stopped and glanced back down the corridor. Her heartbeat rather fast and her hands shook. She couldn’t understand why that should be so. She’d never cared a fig about celebrities.
Cecilia Fyre is the pen name of a romance author trying out something new.
She likes sunny, crisp autumn days. Cups of hot cocoa with little marshmallows floating on top. The roaring of the sea. Laughing until your face hurts. The silence when you curl up with a good book.
Her stories are about people. Some of them are strange, some think they’re boring. They all have secrets, they’re all scared sometimes. Cecilia writes about life, about love. About how hard it is to do it right. Usually, there’s a happy ending, or at least there might be one, someday.
But life’s not all sunshine and roses, and that’s why Cecilia tells her stories.
The five novellas are: Book 1 – Heart and the City Book 2 – Unexpected Truth Book 3 – Been There Before Book 4 – Wish The Pain Away Book 5 – A Thousand Little Pieces
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