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

A Perfect Cornish Summer – 5* #Review -Phillipa Ashley @AvonBooksUK @PhillipaAshley #Cornwall #Summer #PublicationDay #Family #Coastal #RomCom

Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival. At least, most of them are…

For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors, and being on the committee has provided a much-needed distraction from the drama in her family life (and the distinct lack of it in her love life).

When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see, and his return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life forever.

Curl up with this gorgeous novel and savour the world of Porthmellow Harbour.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The author’s love of Cornwall and all things Cornish is evident in this story. The characters of Porthmellow harbour are authentic, and all have a story to tell and secrets to keep.

Sam loves the food festival, it gives her a focus away from the family drama and helps promote the harbour town she loves. Sam and Gabe have history and working in close proximity threaten more than the festival.

Lots of characters and a taste of their stories make this a complex but interesting book. You know that you will meet them again as the series progresses.

At its heart, this is a story of community, the inherent closeness that means everyone takes an interest in each other’s life, sometimes this is intrusive, sometimes comical but nearly always well meant and important for the harbour to survive.

A charming story full of heart, secrets and love, looking forward to the next one.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Romance, Romantic Comedy

The House at Greenacres – Darcie Boleyn – 4*#Review #BlogTour #Extract @canelo_co @DarcieBoleyn #RomanticComedy #Cornwall #MothersDay #WeekendReads #SundayMorning

All roads lead home…

When Holly Dryden fled Penhallow Sands nearly a year ago she was determined to put the past – and Rich Turner – behind her. But now an unexpected loss and financial trouble have led her back to the family vineyard and it’s time to tell Rich the truth – he’s a father.

Surrounded by the memories of what they once shared Holly’s anger fades in the glow of Rich’s undeniable love for their son and the way he selflessly steps in to help the vineyard out of trouble. As Holly watches Rich flourish in his new role as father to baby Luke, she realises that though they can’t change the past, the future is still theirs to write…

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Extract from The House at Greenacres – Darcie Boleyn

Rich was trying to concentrate on what a client was telling him, but his mind kept drifting to the text he’d received from Holly. She did want to meet with him today. He’d known it would happen sooner or later, but he’d thought it would take her a while to settle back in and to grieve for her grandpa. He’d also thought she might not want to see him, that she might try to delay it, as he couldn’t imagine that he was her favourite person – father of her child or not.

There were cafés and pubs in Penhallow Sands, but the chances of being left alone to talk for any length of time were slim, as people who hadn’t seen Holly for some time would want to pass on their condolences and catch up with her. He could suggest heading into Newquay, but again, they might not get any privacy, and that was something he thought their conversation would require. There was only one place he could think of for what he imagined was going to prove to be an emotional meeting.

As soon as his client had gone, he replied to Holly’s text, asking her to meet him at 5.30 that afternoon at the old spot. Holly would know where he meant. He’d be able to get there by then as long as he clocked off straight after his final meeting of the day.

Since the funeral on Monday, the atmosphere at his parents’ cottage had been strained. His mother was trying her best not to pester him about Holly and the baby, but it was obvious that she was struggling with it. She wanted to know if Holly would stay in Penhallow Sands if she would be able to spend time with her grandchild. Rich too wanted to know the answers to those questions, and yet he was terrified of finding out either way. He knew now that Luke was his, but he and Holly had always used contraception and it had never failed them before, so he was confused about how it had happened. If Luke had been conceived despite contraception and Holly’s condition – which she’d been told in her teens could affect her fertility – then he was meant to be. Against the odds, he had arrived – a beautiful, healthy baby boy.

Then there was the other matter to consider. Rich had always believed he never wanted children. After what had happened to Dean, he’d sworn never to open himself up to hurt like that again, never to put himself through what his parents had endured. Why would anyone take that risk? And it had all been his fault – Dean’s death, their parents’ suffering; all because of Rich’s stupidity and weakness.

His heart was racing and his palms were clammy; he knew what was happening. He had to get control of this before it consumed him. His life had moved on to a better place; he would not let the old anxieties resume their hold on him.

He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing – in for four, out for four. He felt the air rushing into his lungs, then he pushed it back out, emptying his chest until he needed to fill it again. He opened his mind to the scenery from Ibiza, imagined the sounds of the waves lapping at the shore and the sensation as he walked into the water and felt its warm, soothing embrace.

Tension gone, he drifted …

‘Rich?’

He opened his eyes to find Sam standing in the doorway.

‘You okay?’

He nodded, blinking away his meditation.

‘Just overthinking things, so I needed to mentally check out for five minutes.’

Sam smiled. ‘Did it work?’

‘Like a charm.’

‘Good. You want to grab an early lunch then have a walk along the beach? Get some fresh air?’

‘Wonderful idea.’

Lunch and a walk would be just what he needed before an afternoon of work. Sam really was a good friend.

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

My Thoughts…

This lovely romantic comedy combines second chance romance with an unexpected pregnancy. Set in coastal Cornwall with a host of realistic characters, this is the perfect holiday read.

Holly is a strong female lead, empowered by the birth of her son, she faces up to her past when she returns home for her Grandfather’s funeral. Rich’s life has not been easy, and losing Holly through his actions makes him keen to explore whether they have a second chance at happiness.

The plot is simple, but the characters make it enjoyable, with romance, humour, and more than a little angst making the path to true happiness for Holly and Rich peppered with conflict both internal and from external interference. The outcome is worth the rollercoaster ride and you’re left with a heartwarming feeling at the end.

If you’re looking for an escapist read on Mother’s Day (UK), with vivid characters, a delightful coastal setting and a lovely blend of angst, humour and romance this is the perfect fit.

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Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship

5* #Review – The Newcomer – Fern Britton- @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @Fern_Britton

Cornwall is only a page away…


She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms.

It was to be a new beginning…

It’s springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny, a newcomer causes quite a stir…

Reverand Angela Whitehorn came to Cornwall to make a difference. With her husband, Robert, by her side, she sets about making changes – but it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon Angela starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.

Angela has always been one to fight back, and she has already brought a fresh wind into the village, supporting her female parishioners through good times and bad. But as the letters get increasingly more personal, Angela learns that the secrets are closer to home.

With faith and friends by your side, even the most unlikely of new beginnings is possible.

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

My Thoughts…

There’s a certain addictive charm about all of Fern Britton’s stories. The description of Cornwall and village life are part of this, but the uniqueness stems from her characters. She explores everyday situations and leaves behind the mundane, teasing out the courage, fear, passion and secrets, which hide behind their public face,

This story draws you in with a tragic event, before taking you back six months to the arrival of a newcomer to Pendruggan. Angela is a newly ordained vicar, Pendruggan is her first, albeit temporary parish, and she wants to succeed. You meet the village characters, some of which are familiar, and Angela’s family. Her husband is a television political correspondent, on a temporary sabbatical from a career he loves, her daughter Faith, is much loved, but unhappy to be uprooted from her friends and the life she loves, Then there’s Aunt Mamie. A wildcard, she is an important influence in Angela’s life, and her maverick nature brings laughter and excitement to the village and its inhabitants.

The plot is fast-paced and easy reading, it has the ethos of a cozy mystery, with its cast of character and a mystery to solve, but it’s more than this. The complex characters are flawed and realistic and give the story emotional depth and interest. The plot is simple but believable, and its resolution authentic. There is a lovely medley of angst, faith, humour and poignancy. It’s an emotional journey for Angela and those who care about her and she leaves the village with memories that resonate.

A lovely book that is both entertaining and sincere.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

#BlogTour: Eva Leigh – Counting on a Countess @MillsandBoon #romance #Insiders #romancebloggers @EvaLeighAuthor

Image credit-Megan-Seek My Scribbles 

For a shameless libertine and a wily smuggler in the London Underground, marriage is more than convenience—it’s the strategy . . .

Christopher “Kit” Ellingsworth, war veteran and newly minted Earl of Blakemere, buries his demons under every sort of pleasure and vice. His scandalous ways have all but emptied his coffers . . . until a wealthy mentor leaves him a sizeable fortune. The only stipulation? He must marry within one month to inherit the money. Kit needs a bride and the bold, mysterious Miss Tamsyn Pearce seems perfect.

Husband hunting isn’t Tamsyn’s top priority—she’s in London to sell her new shipment of illicit goods—but she’s desperate for funds. When a handsome earl offers to wed her and send her back to Cornwall with a hefty allowance, Tamsyn agrees.

But when an unexpected proviso in the will grants Tamsyn control of the inheritance, their arrangement becomes anything but convenient. Now, Kit’s counting on his countess to make his wildest dreams a reality and he plans to convince her, one pleasurable seduction at a time…

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My 4* Review of ‘Counting on a Countess’…

An enticing medley of Regency London Society and Cornish smugglers provides an exciting setting for this ‘Marriage of Convenience’ historical romance with a strong feminist theme.

Kit, the Earl of Blakemere is a veteran of Waterloo, he is a consummate rake, who has to marry. Tamsyn is forced to earn money in an unorthodox way when her parents die, and her uncle refuses to support the estate’s villagers. She needs a rich husband to buy back the estate.

Kit and Tamsyn meet at a society ball and the physical attraction is strong, but will a ‘Marriage of Convenience’ succeed when they are both keeping secrets and their emotions are starting to mirror their passion for each other?

This is an exciting story, with complex characters and contemporary exploration of historical themes. Kit has lasting effects from his war service, recognised in today’s society as Post Traumatic Stress. Tamsyn is a society lady, with feminist views and actions, not accepted in Regency society.

The attraction is passionate, the story well-paced and varied, the characters multi-layered and believable, with an adrenaline-fueled satisfying ending.

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

Q&A Eva Leigh #CountingOnACountess #BlogTour #MillsandBoon

What do you find inspirational about Regency England?

I love that there was a mix of different classes, genders, races, and sexualities—particularly in London—and we as readers and authors get to explore the dynamics of shifting borders. The social constructs were more fluid than I believe we realize, and I love playing with that.

Would you have liked to have lived in this era? Why?

Nope! I don’t fancy being considered a man’s property. I’d rather write about hidden pockets of resistance in that world.

How do your stories differ from other Regency romance novels?

Honestly, I don’t like to compare myself or my books to other authors or their works. I like that we each provide different stories, different facets, different characters. My books often consider people who don’t quite conform to societal expectations, and I have a very strong feminist sensibility which plays out in the pages of my work.

Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?

I take inspiration from history and do a substantial amount of research to learn about people such as confidence artists or smugglers. The characters are born from what I learn and my own imagination.

Can you tell us a little about the ‘Scandalous Ladies of London’ series?

Regency London existed beyond the ballrooms and private clubs of the elite. As the television series “Taboo” explores, there were thousands of liminal figures in this world, and I wanted to explore it. In particular, women were a major part of this in-between world, and I thought, Wouldn’t it be fascinating to make my heroines shady? Also, I love an across-the-tracks romance.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

Naturally, I love romance, so that constitutes a considerable amount of my reading. Historical, contemporary, erotic, and the occasional paranormal. I’m getting into reading more Young Adult fiction because of the breadth of characters, settings, and topics. It’s really amazing to see marginalized voices finally getting heard—though we have a long way to go as far as representation and #ownvoices are concerned.

 What are you currently writing?

It’s very exciting because I’m currently working on the first book in a new series inspired by classic American ‘80s movies. The heroes all meet during “detention” at Eton—which, yes, is loosely based on The Breakfast Club! I’m really loving writing the first book in the series because I get to be a little silly, a little funny, and also discuss important topics like gender roles, biases in the sciences, and the need for ecological conservation. The usual Eva Leigh book! 😉

Image credit – Megan- Seek My Scribbles

Also in ‘The Scandalous Ladies of London’ series is From Duke Till Dawn.

‘It’s not my habit to seduce impoverished widows…’

The Duke of Greyland lost his heart – and a princely sum – to a charming, beautiful and destitute widow who, after one passionate night, vanished without a trace. Cassandra Blair grew up on the city streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a rich mark – to be fleeced and forgotten – only she’d never forgotten him.

Years later, chance brings them together again, in a London gaming hell. Grayland is desperate to have her… never suspecting everything about his lover was a lie. But finding herself in dire financial straits, at risk of losing everything, Cassandra has no choice but to beg the man she betrayed for help.

The proud Duke will assist her under one condition: she doesn’t leave his sight until her debts are paid! But can the real Cassandra – the smart, streetwise survivor – steal his heart all over again?

Book one in ‘The Scandalous Ladies of London’ series.

Amazon UK

 My 4* Review of ‘From Duke Till Dawn’…

A different trope from the usual Regency romance, this story has some originality, an anti-heroine character rather than an anti-hero. The story creates an interesting relationship between the Duke and the con- artist, but even though she fools him once, Cassandra ultimately needs his help and position to survive, which detracts from her independence.

The Duke of Greyland lacks the arrogance customarily associated with his rank in Regency romance. He has many appealing traits, not least his passionate nature and support of those less fortunate than he. However, he does lack authenticity.

This story scores highly for sensuality, the connection between the Duke and Cassandra is hot, and the love scene leaves little to the imagination. They explain why the Duke acts as he does and their deepening emotional attachment underlines every kiss.

Overall this is a lovely story, which superficially explores the seedier side of Regency England while delivering a passionate love story.

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

Image credit- Megan- Seek My Scribbles

 

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Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Kate Ryder – Cottage on a Cornish Cliff – Guest Post -Extract and 5* Review

Returning to the heart of her beloved Cornwall, Kate Ryder weaves another deliciously irresistible tale of desire, jealousy and the search for understanding, set against the stunning backdrop of the glorious Lizard Peninsula.

Globally renowned actor Oliver Foxley has made the most difficult decision of all and set the love of his life free, in order to try and bring his family back together. But there’s a magnetic pull back to both Cara and Cornwall that Oliver can neither deny nor resist…

Heartbroken for a second time in her short life, single mother Cara knows she has no choice but to pick up the pieces yet again and carry on. Perhaps a complete change of scenery would help her, and her young family? Yet her mind, spirit and heart yearn for the windswept shores of her Cornish Cove…

Cara and Oliver face the agonising choice between following expectations or following their hearts. How will their story end…?

 

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Guest Post – Kate Ryder: My experiences as a writer

I have been a keen reader since childhood and during my early teens, this evolved into writing poetry and short stories for my own pleasure.  In fact, a friend and I – horse mad teenagers at the time – wrote alternate chapters to complete our first novel (surprisingly, never published!).  The hero, then, was always a dark, brooding, magnificent stallion…

At school, English Literature was one of the subjects that naturally received my undivided attention.  I remember an appointment with a careers advice officer as keenly as if it were yesterday.  When asked what I’d like to do when I left school, I replied that I wanted to be an author or a journalist.  The careers advisor’s response was to ask me if I’d ever considered becoming a florist!  So, my dream of becoming an author was crushed before it ever had a chance to have life breathed into it.  I did not follow his advice into floristry but, instead, chose to study acting.  However, it soon became apparent that my passion lay more in crafting words than interpreting someone else’s.

Over the years I have enjoyed a variety of careers, mainly within travel, publishing and property.  Writing has featured strongly.  I have worked in PR and marketing (all those press releases!) and in editorial as a proof-reader, copy editor, assistant editor and writer.  It was during a period of employment with a specialist newspaper that I decided to escape news-speak and flex my creative writing muscles by joining a local writers’ group with the intention of writing short stories.  However, one particular exercise turned out to be a little longer than intended and I soon had 85,000 words and the semblance of a novel.  I self-published that short-story-turned-novel and was thrilled if a little shocked when it was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s 2016 Search for a Star and honoured with a Chill with a Book Book of the Month.

I am a member of the Society of Authors and a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.  Cottage on a Cornish Cliff is the second of my books published by UK-based digital publisher Aria Fiction, an imprint of award-winning Head of Zeus.  It is the sequel to Summer in a Cornish Cove, which saw me shortlisted for the RNA’s prestigious Joan Hessayon award.

Being traditionally published is a dream come true!  Thank you, Aria, for taking a punt on me.

My Thoughts…

I love the first book in this series and although the ending is poignant there is hope for Oliver and Cara’s future. The sequel sees Cara and Oliver living their lives, Cara with another child to love and Oliver trying to help his youngest son and see if there is anything of his marriage to save apart from staying together for the sake of the children.

Cara is emotionally strong and her family give her a reason to live, even though her heart is broken for the second time. Her artistic talent draws the attention of a New York art critic but are his motives as magnanimous as he portrays them? Or does he have a sinister motive for showcasing Cara’s art to the world? He offers security and success but is the sacrifice Cara will have to make worth it?

Exacerbated by his failing marriage and loss of Cara, Oliver’s depression deepens. Is doing the right thing for his family worth sacrificing his emotional happiness?

This is an intensely romantic, emotional story with two leading characters you can’t help but empathise with. The conflicts are frequent and convincing and the ending is worthy of any romantic film. The writing style is easy to read, full of authentic characters and a breathtaking setting.

Definitely one of my favourite romantic series of the year.

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

Extract

Here you go,’ says Janine, placing two mugs of coffee and plates filled with generous portions of chocolate cake on the table. ‘Enjoy!’

Cara picks up a fork. Slicing off a mouthful of cake, she pops it into her mouth. ‘Mmmm… that’s delicious.’

‘My mother’s recipe,’ says Janine. ‘She was a tremendous cook. That’s why all her children have grown to the size we have!’

‘Sorry to interrupt.’ A man’s strong Cornish accent makes them both jump. ‘I’ve come to fix the sign.’ Janine pushes back her chair and rushes over to him.

Toby, who had been falling asleep with his mouth slack around Cara’s right nipple, wakes suddenly and energetically sucks. Cara winces. She looks across at the man who, although talking to Janine, watches her.

‘Well, isn’t that a lovely sight?’ he says, scratching his head. ‘Fair made my day, that has!’

Cara smiles.

Janine glances over her shoulder at Cara. ‘Probably won’t make your day if you hang around for the nappy-changing part, Jim.’ She bustles the man out of the café.

Toby closes his eyes. Cara carefully removes him from her breast and pulls her sweatshirt down. Her son has incredibly thick black eyelashes and she wonders if Oliver had at that age too. NO! She has to stop doing this. Oliver Foxley does not exist. He is a world and a lifetime away…

‘Sorry about that,’ Janine says, returning to the table.

‘No worries, Janine. Breastfeeding’s only natural.’

‘Yes, but you don’t want any old Tom, Dick or Harry watching you while you do it,’ Janine says.

‘Or Jim…’

Janine laughs. ‘He’s a good guy. I’ve known him for years. He’s got eight grandchildren, so I guess he’s used to it. How’s the latte?’

‘Scrumptious. If I get into the habit of this indulgence I’ll have to start running again.’

‘I should take up running as well,’ comments Janine. ‘I don’t suppose customers want to be served by a large, sweaty lump of a woman.’

‘Oh, Janine! Your weight’s perfectly fine for your height.’

‘Yeah, guess so. Anyway, hubby never complains when he’s home from the rigs. Puts slighter men off though,’ Janine says with a laugh, ‘like that American friend of yours. When I first met him he actually cowered!’

Cara raises her eyebrows. She thinks back to the day when Greg visited her at The Lookout and Janine brought Beth and Sky home after school. It’s true! He backed off in Janine’s presence. However, Cara suspects it was not so much to do with her friend’s size and powerful charisma but more to do with keeping himself at a distance from the locals.

‘Poor Greg.’

‘Why poor?’ Janine asks, loading her fork with cake. ‘When I look at him the word “poor” doesn’t spring to mind!’

‘His wife’s just died. She had cancer. That’s why they visited the cove in the first place, for her recuperation… or so they’d hoped.’

‘Oh, that’s tough.’ Janine pops the cake into her mouth.

‘I wonder what he’ll do now,’ Cara says quietly, a small frown settling on her brow.

Janine considers her neighbour. She witnessed the devastating effect Christo’s tragic death had on her dear friend, and then the all-consuming love affair with Oliver that ended so suddenly, followed by the birth of their love child without the actor being there. She also knows Greg would find any excuse to hang around Cara whenever he was in the cove.

‘He is very attractive, in an older man sort of way,’ she says cautiously.

Cara nods her head.

‘And he has plenty of money.’

Cara gives her friend a questioning look. ‘What exactly are you suggesting, Janine?’

‘Nothing really,’ Janine says airily, ‘just… Well, you know, life’s short and he inhabits the same world as you. He could provide you and your family with a wonderful life.’

‘Janine! He’s only just lost his wife!’ Cara scolds.

‘I know. I’m just saying.’ Janine gives a small smile before adding, ‘You know he’s really keen on you.’

‘I do not!’ Cara exclaims.

‘Oh, I think you do, Cara Penhaligon. The fuss he’s made of you ever since he first discovered your talent, and the way he guided you through all the press nonsense surrounding that prize you won. He wouldn’t let you out of his sight!’

Cara frowns again.

‘And, let’s face it, Cara. Most men would run a mile from a woman who had a baby by another man, but Toby doesn’t seem to have made a bit of difference.’

Cara considers Janine’s words. She’s right. Having supported her through the excitement of winning the Threadneedle Prize, Greg kept in touch throughout her pregnancy and beyond. His attention never waned. She remembers the first day she saw him, walking a dog on the beach in the most atrocious weather. He clocked her watching him from her studio window and acknowledged her. Her first impressions were that he was not only attractive – in an older man, Richard Gere sort of way – but also sophisticated and a league away. However, through their professional relationship, the distance between them has lessened. He has pointed her in the right direction and introduced her to influential people in the art world, and she now considers him a true mentor.

‘What are you thinking?’ asks Janine.

‘Nothing of importance,’ Cara says a little too quickly.

‘Well, I think nothing of importance could grow into something very much of importance if that’s what you want,’ says Janine, rising from her chair as the entrance door opens.

Jim walks in. ‘I’m ready to hang those signs now,’ he says, looking over at Cara and Toby, asleep in her lap. He smiles.

‘Here they are,’ says Janine, picking up the signs off a neighbouring table. ‘I’ll hold the ladder for you.’

As Janine disappears with Jim, Cara contemplates what her friend has said. She’s never really considered Greg in that light. Oh, yes, he kisses her at every given opportunity, but it doesn’t mean a thing.  It’s just his way. But now, after Janine’s comments, she wonders if there is something to the way Greg handles her. And then she remembers the way he looked at her – in this very café – the first time they officially met. So much has happened since she had forgotten the look that suggested a different time and place.

Cara’s face flushes and her frown deepens.’

After pursuing a career in publishing and acting, Kate found her passion in writing. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her self-published debut novel received a Chill with a Book, “Book of the Month” Award. She currently lives with her husband in the Tamar Valley in a renovated 200-year-old Cornish sawmill. She finds the Cornish landscape a great source of inspiration. When she is not writing she enjoys reading, art, theatre and travel. Facebook   Twitter Website

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Kitty Wilson – Cornish Village School – Second Chances – Guest Post and 4* Review

Ex-ballerina and single mum Sylvie is in trouble. Juggling her ballet classes in the nearest town, preparing shy Sam for his first day at Penmenna Village school and trying to finally move out from the farm she shares with her cantankerous Uncle Tom means life is anything but easy.

Television Journalist Alex is facing challenges of his own. Seeking a calmer environment for his newly adopted daughter, Ellie, he’s swapped reporting in war zones for the school PTA in quiet Penmenna, where his best friend Chase has persuaded him to start laying some roots.

Fireworks ignite when Sylvie and Alex meet but as Ellie and Sam become instant best friends, will they be able to keep things strictly platonic for the sake of the children?

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 Guest Post –  Kitty Wilson  – What does a working day look like for me?

I used to be a primary school teacher so do like a structured day, a timetable to adhere to. On top of which my natural personality is quite owl like – I would like you all to imagine that this means I’m very, very wise but what it actually means is that I do not like mornings, not at all. I appreciate the crisp freshness of dawn, the ethereal beauty of early morning before people are up, just not on a daily basis. Consequently, my timetable for the day is structured so I can be a bit of a slug-a-bed (I just love that word) and stay in my little pit until mid-morning, slurping on vast amounts of coffee and tea, having a yummy breakfast (in bed, I know) until my brain will not allow my body to stay there one second longer and compels me downstairs.

Once downstairs though I am a powerhouse. Well, maybe more of a power-hovel, but I slide into my regular spot on the sofa, put on some background noise and start to tap away. I find if I write solidly all day my brain dries up after a couple of hours and my petulant voice takes over – I hate it all, hate it so much (I don’t at all, not really!) – so every few hundred words I’ll nip on to social media or make myself yet another cup of tea, just to break it up for a few minutes and then throw myself back in again.  I try to get at least 1,000 words written every day and will keep on going until I do. Some days it’s like wading through treacle and it just seems… to… take… forever. However, most days are fairly good and whilst 1,000 words are my must-do I try and aim for 2,000 if I can. I like to bank the words up so I’m well in advance of my deadline which then gives me the flexibility to have days off when the mood, or necessity, takes me.

After my word count is reached I relax, get on with household chores or try and catch up with friends, do normal stuff that keeps a home, a life and a head running smoothly. Then after a break of a couple of hours, I return to the laptop and read through what I’ve written and tidy it up a bit.

In the evenings I like to plan exactly what is happening next in my book so when I come to the laptop the next morning it’s there, fresh and ready to go. This in itself is sensible, but the bizarre element is that I have to do it in water. I either have a long bath where I set a timer for the first fifteen minutes and devote that only to planning (no daydreaming allowed) or I head to my local pool and sit in the water and plan there. People probably think I’m a bit of a freak, sitting and zoning out in the hot-tub, but thankfully I stopped minding that a long time ago. And besides it’s worth it – I sit there, periodically giggling as I come up with ideas that I hope will make my readers smile, like Marion’s appalling behaviour and Ellie’s much cuter naughtiness.

Of course, this is my perfect routine and is dependent upon an empty house. Whilst I like to write with background noise on (it reminds me of being adamant when revising for exams at school that yes, I did need the music on) I prefer the house to be empty. I really struggle if my adult children (as lush as they are) are home or my partner has time off. It’s as if when I’m in my role as mother or girlfriend, I can’t get fully into my writing zone. Consequently, I have a really bad habit of giving the people I love most in the world a proper big hug when I see them and following it up with a slightly desperate ‘will you be in for long?’

In a nutshell – long lie-ins, water and solitude are what shape my writing day and make me happy.

My Thoughts…

Another slice of modern village life in Cornwall as the ‘Second Chances’, continues to explore life around the village school. The story focuses on Sylvie and Alex, both single parents who form an instant attraction but put their children’s happiness first and decide to stay ‘just friends’.

The story pans out as you’d expect but this is part of the attraction for this type of literature. The characters are contemporary, realistic and vivid. You empathise with them as they find out what life is like in the village.

If you are looking for a romantic tale, with a delightful Cornish village setting, this will suit you, enjoy.

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

Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind. 

Twitter: @KittyWilson23

Posted in Book Review

Summer on the Little Cornish Isles -5* Review – Phillipa Ashley -The Starfish Studio

 

 

 

Poppy has always loved Cornwall – the crisp sea air, the welcoming community. So when her boyfriend Dan suggests they leave their office jobs and take over the Starfish Studio on the Isles of Scilly, Poppy doesn’t need asking twice.

But things don’t go to plan when Dan dumps her, weeks before they’re due to move. Determined not to give up, Poppy accepts the help of local photographer Jake, her landlord’s grandson. But Jake is distracted by a loss from his past.

Can they turn the crumbling gallery into a success in time for tourist season? And will a summer on the little Cornish Isles mend just the studio – or Poppy’s heart too?

Amazon UK

 Amazon

My Thoughts…

Every time I read a book in ‘The Little Cornish Isles’ series, I think that’s my favourite and #The Starfish Studio’ is no different. I love the story, the chemistry between Jake and Poppy, the healing and forgiveness required to move forward and the friendly, loving, nosy community that supports Jake and Poppy find love and happiness again. 

Full of vivid imagery, reading this story is like looking at a detailed canvas, you can feel the sea sway, enjoy the wildlife and scenery and absorb the warmth of the community.

After a moment of serendipity, Jake and Poppy go their separate ways, never expecting to meet again, not knowing their lives will change forever before they do. The chemistry between Poppy and Jake is undeniable if unwelcome, as Jake runs from his haunted past and Poppy’s faces a future alone after her boyfriend’s betrayal.

A romantic story of battling against life’s troubles and learning to let your heart love again, perfect summer reading.

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

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Emma Burstall -A Cornish Secret – Extract – 4*Review

 

Be careful what you kiss for…

Esme Posorsky is an enigma. For as long as people can remember, she has been part of community life in the quaint Cornish fishing village of Tremarnock, but does anyone really know her? She is usually to be found working in her pottery studio or at home with her beloved cat, Rasputin. But when an old school friend turns up with a secret from the past, nothing will ever be the same again.

Meanwhile, teenager, Rosie, is excited to find a bottle washed up on Tremarnock beach with a message from a former German prisoner of war. While the rest of the village is up in arms about a new housing development, she sets out to find him. Little does she know, however, that her discovery will unleash a shocking chain of events that threatens to blow her family apart. Tremarnock may look like a cosy backwater, but some of its residents are about to come face-to-face with tough decisions and cold reality… 

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Extract

Liz had left Lowenna’s pushchair at the bottom of the fire escape, and once the little girl was strapped in, they made their way down narrow winding South Street towards the marketplace, in search of a loaf of bread. But they didn’t get far; as they passed Seaspray Boutique, its owner Audrey came dashing out, waving a copy of the local newspaper, the Tremarnock Bugle, above her head.

Audrey, in her fifties, was tall and eye-catching – even more so today, dressed in a bright pink tunic top that had been on one of her shop-window mannequins only days before.

‘Have you heard?’ she said slightly breathlessly, thrusting the paper into Liz’s hands before turning back to lock the door of her shop, which had a closed for lunch sign on the inside.

Liz stared at the paper as if she wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.

‘The council’s agreed to sell the play park,’ Audrey exclaimed. The paper was upside down, so she turned it around and jabbed at an article on the front page with her index finger. ‘They approved it last night. Look. It’s all here.’

‘Wha-at? How could they?’

Liz started to scan the report, and her mouth dropped open. The issue of the children’s playground was hardly new. Developers had been sniffing around the village for months, with their clipboards and smug expressions, and she’d already signed countless petitions and written objection letters.

More active locals, who’d been making a bigger noise, had warned that their concerns seemed to be falling on deaf ears, but she’d never actually believed that developers would get the go-ahead to build one hundred brand-new homes, most of which would be out of the reach of local people’s pockets. Yet here it was, in black and white:

COUNCIL APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL TREMARNOCK HOUSING ESTATE

A little further down, she read:

Outline plans were eventually given the go-ahead by a single vote during a tense meeting of the council’s district planning committee last night.

Residents had pleaded with councillors to reject the proposals, raising concerns over highway safety and the impact on the countryside and local services. However, chairing the meeting, Lucinda Graham (Lib Dem, Langowan) reminded members that the council had, just one year ago, voted to approve the site for development.

‘If we are to refuse this application, I think there are half a dozen applications which will have to be refused. We have a requirement to provide so many houses, and there’s nothing we can do about it.’

Agreeing, Laurence Nares-Pillow (Con, Porthraden), said, ‘If we can’t provide those houses, the government’s planning inspector will rule on the matter, not where we want to have them but where the inspector wants them.’

Putting the decision to the vote resulted in five votes for and five against the application, with Mrs Graham ultimately casting the deciding vote in favour of the development.

The proposals from Bedminster New Homes will see a mix of three-, four- and five-bedroom homes built on the 0.95-hectare site. The plans also include seventy-five parking spaces and two access points on Fore Street and Cardew Avenue, which would be widened in an effort to improve safety.

Once she’d reached the bottom, Liz exhaled loudly.

Audrey gave a grim nod. ‘Shocking, isn’t it?’ She ran a hand through her dark hair, which was tipped with platinum streaks, cut pixie-short and artfully mussed, before giving Liz a firm push, which sent her and the pushchair bowling slowly down the hill. ‘We’ll go and find Barbara,’ she said bossily. ‘She’s sure to have some ideas.’

Liz sighed. Barbara, landlady of the Lobster Pot on the seafront, was a tremendous source of information as well as an arch organiser. Liz was very fond of her, but she’d been hoping to grab an hour with her book while Lowenna had an after-lunch snooze. As it was, the little girl would probably drop off in her pushchair and wake up hungry and out of sorts. Still, the playground was a major issue; children adored it, and no one wanted an ugly new estate on the doorstep, least of all Liz. If there was a fight to be had then she, for one, was up for it.

They didn’t get far when Barbara herself came bustling up the hill in the opposite direction from the Lobster Pot, her dark blonde hair, normally stiff with lacquer, sticking up untidily. She was in black trousers and a low-cut red top that revealed quite a lot of tanned cleavage, and her face was flushed.

‘The marketplace,’ she said, nodding in the direction of the turning that led to the square, and Liz and Audrey followed obediently. The sound of Barbara’s high heels clopping on the cobbles seemed to act like a muezzin’s call to prayer, as more and more folk appeared from doors and alleyways and trailed after her.

‘It’s a scandal,’ Liz heard behind her. ‘Shouldn’t be allowed,’ muttered someone else.

Emotions were clearly running high, and she wished that Robert were beside her, but he’d be busy with the lunchtime shift at A Winkle in Time, and she didn’t want to bother him.

Word travelled fast in Tremarnock. A sizeable crowd had already gathered in the square, which had a stone cenotaph in the middle bearing the names of local men who had died in the Second World War, and was lined with shops. Liz spotted Ryan, the fishmonger, still in his white overalls streaked with blood; Rick Kane, who owned the gift shop, Treasure Trove; and the couple who ran the popular little bakery. Jean the childminder was there, too, with her husband Tom and two toddlers in a double buggy, as well as pensioners Ruby and Victor, and Jenny and John Lambert, who had a fishing tackle store on the seafront.

Someone had thoughtfully placed an upturned crate in front of the cenotaph and Barbara pushed her way through the throng and climbed onto it. Before she had the chance to speak, however, someone else dug Liz in the ribs, and she turned to find Robert’s niece Loveday grinning at her, with two rather extraordinary buns perched on either side of her head and a glittery blue parting running down the middle. Behind her was her boyfriend, Jesse, and beside him, Liz’s friend Tabitha and her boyfriend Danny.

Liz was surprised that Robert had allowed Loveday and Jesse, his sous-chef, to leave the restaurant. She was about to ask what had happened when Barbara cleared her throat and shouted, ‘Welcome, all!’

A hush descended.

My Thoughts… 

A snapshot of life in a Cornish fishing village that captures angst, camaraderie, gossip and scandal against a picturesque coastal background. The fourth in the series about Tremarnock took me awhile to get into this story having not read any of the previous three books. There is little backstory, and so it is hard to empathise with the characters if you aren’t familiar with them from reading the previous books. Despite this, I enjoyed my visit to the village and the adventures of its inhabitants.

Esme, an artistic person, is an enigma, no one knows much about her, but she is one of the community stalwarts. Caroline, an old school friend, becomes her holiday companion when the two decide to meet after years apart. Their story’s poignancy resonates. 

Rosie finds a ‘message in a bottle, that has implications both for her family and the village, not all of which are pleasant and make Rosie questions whether she should have read the message at all.

The prospect of an unwanted housing estates draws the village community together and provides some comic moments for the reader. The three subplots are easy to follow and well-drawn together by the end.

The coastal setting is well-described, and the characters have authenticity and depth. Reading this makes me want to read the previous books in the series. 

A perfect beach read whether you’re visiting Cornwall or not; if you haven’t read the previous three books make room for them in your beach bag too and get the best from this series.

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

Emma Burstall was a newspaper journalist in Devon and Cornwall before becoming a full-time author. Tremarnock, the first novel in her series set in a delightful Cornish village, was published in 2015 and became a top-10 bestseller.

Twitter: @EmmaBurstall

Facebook: @emmaburstallauthor

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Kitty Wilson – The Cornish Village School – Q&A and 4*Review

 

Rosy Winter is definitely not looking for love

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure, and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… she won’t be giving up without a fight.

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Q&A with Kitty Wilson – The Cornish Village School Blog Tour

What inspired you to write a story set in a Cornish Village?

They say write what you know and I have lived here for over two decades. Every morning I open my eyes and out of the window there is the sea stretching in front of me just past some fields. I live in the middle of nowhere surrounded by a network of Cornish villages, and there is nothing like it. It’s hard not to be inspired by my surroundings. The villages are quirky, picturesque and a perfect microcosm of all human behaviour. I love the community feel and the things you learn. People are quick to gossip, but they are even quicker to help. Spending time in these villages, and I do seem to be in the village pub with alarming frequency, helped me shape the book. I knew I wanted to write romance, but I also knew I wanted it to be a story of a community and how it pulls together, how it’s supportive and funny and a character in its own right.

There are lots of stories about Cornish life currently, what makes yours different?

A book takes me about a year to write, so I was a bit panicked as I saw Cornish title after Cornish title hitting the shelves. But the truth is that the setting is so magical, memorable and lends itself beautifully to all types of fiction that I am not surprised that many great stories are set here.

What makes mine different? I hope the fact that I am so deeply immersed in Cornish life and culture makes a difference. I know the people intimately, the everyday customs and practices that make this county are ingrained in me and my children. We do like to go at a slow pace although everything is thrown down for the day if the sun shines, then we race to the beach with our bags and BBQ kit which are permanently packed and kept by the door. We have experienced, over two decades, so much that Cornwall has to offer; beach and moors, hidden forests and ancient monuments. I hope my book is weaved through with the spirit of Cornwall in the same way that Cornwall is woven through me, and that Cornwall jumps out from the pages with real depth, a passion, knowledge that can’t always be captured without having lived it. 

Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?

My characters tend to start with a real person if for no other reason that then I can picture them in my head and go from there. In this instance, Rosy was made of an amalgamation of a few teacher friends and Matt was a young Monty Don. However, it doesn’t take long before they seem to take over themselves and become very much their own person with barely any resemblance to the initial inspiration at all. So, I start with real life, but that barely lasts ten minutes before they, or my imagination, takes over and runs wild.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I read all sorts of books and always have done. I grew up devouring the classics which has helped shape my love of history, and my comfort reads tend to be historical or romance. I love romantic comedies, and there is nothing that lifts the soul as beautifully on a grey day. I read literary fiction occasionally as well but think that the escapism of a commercial novel is a wonderful thing that should be celebrated a lot more than it is. But the truth is I will read anything and do. Why do I love reading? That is an essay worthy question so I shall say simply because it is something I have always done and cannot imagine a life in which I didn’t. It enriches my heart, mind and soul.

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

I have always wanted to write, ever since I was a small child and used to create story after story. Rather like reading it was just part of me for as long as I can remember. I did let real life get in the way and found little time to write when I was working full-time as a teacher and was a lone parent with two children, but still, I would occasionally try, although I tended to write poetry, time being in short supply. I think writing is an itch and is always there niggling in your mind if you’re not doing it. I had to stop teaching when I became poorly, but on the upside, I suddenly had time on my hands, and I started to write. This genre was a natural fit, and it just seemed to flow, I have loved to read romance ever since (and maybe a little before) it was age appropriate, so that was what I started with. I found that as I was writing, I was writing things that made me cackle and decided to embrace the humour rather than cut it out. My romantic comedy voice was born, and I love writing this genre. It’s warm, it’s comforting, and it provides an escape – what is not to love?

What’s next for Kitty Wilson? Have you written any more books set in this lovely village?

I am currently writing the second in the series set around Penmenna School and have more planned in my head. Each will centre around a different protagonist, but favourite characters (and mine is Marion) will feature heavily in each. In fact, I am giving Marion a longer-running storyline which I hope will carry over a couple of books, so yes, hopefully, lots more Penmenna village. I have so many stories in all sorts of places that I’m desperate to write, jostling around in my head, so I’m hoping I can carry on writing books for a very long time.  

My Thoughts… 

Strong female characters and the author’s knowledge and appreciation of all things Cornish makes this a welcome addition to growing number of fictional tales set in England’s most south-westerly county.

Rosie, the village school headteacher, sees the village as her new start, nothing will spoil it for her as long as she follows her rules. Matt, a celebrity gardener, moves in next door, and their growing physical and emotional attachment threatens Rosy’s rule book.

Aside from the emotional angst, the school is under threat of closure, and the subsequent campaign to #SaveOurSchool draws the community together and gives the Matt and his sister a chance to become part of something real and worthwhile.

The plot is simple and a little predictable, but the characters are believable, quirky and vividly portrayed, so the complete package makes a satisfying read. 

Romance, humour, trust and community are all themes of this village based tale, and I look forward to seeing who comes under the village spotlight next.

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

Kitty Wilson has lived in Cornwall for the last twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard or hiding out at the beach and has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Twitter: @KittyWilson23

Posted in Book Review

The Little Cornish Kitchen – Jane Linfoot – 5* Review

Can you leave behind Paris if your heart belongs in Cornwall?

With a gorgeous new life in vibrant Paris, Clemmie isn’t looking forward to heading home to the picturesque but sleepy village of St Aidan, Cornwall. However, when she discovers that her cosy apartment by the sea, which her beloved grandmother left to her, is under threat from super-hot but ruthless property mogul, Charlie Hobson, Clemmie realises she can’t abandon her home in its time of need.

With her childhood friends encouraging her, Clemmie decides to turn the apartment into The Little Cornish Kitchen – a boutique pop up supper club raising money for the repairs to the building in an effort to stop Charlie once and for all. But when Charlie and his easy charm won’t seem to go away, everything soon becomes even messier than the state of Clemmie’s Cornish kitchen…

Amazon UK 

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My Thoughts…

Clemmie finds adjusting to life in Cornwall after the buzz of Paris difficult but feels she has no choice; she has to protect her legacy, against a ruthless property developer. Charlie’s emotional baggage and problems make him prickly, but he mellows even though Clemmie seems determined to be his number one difficulty. Conflict, personality clashes and past hurts challenge their relationship, but there’s something there that they can’t ignore.

The friends that support Clemmie through her life-changing events are supportive and driven. They’re not put off by Clemmie’s hostility. The Cornish Kitchen is an inspired idea. There is a lovely medley of laughs and poignancy which bring the characters to life. The coastal setting is pure seaside and makes you long for ice cream, cake and paddling in the sea.

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