Julie Houston, bestselling author of A Village Affair
Once upon a time, twelve women joined the hottest reality TV show looking for love. Except one had a secret identity . . .
Abby Jones is a serious writer. Or at least she will be, one day. Right now, she spends her time writing recaps of reality television under a secret identity.
When a recap for The Stag – the must-watch dating show – goes viral, her editor thinks she should be on set, writing the drama as it happens. The good news: the next season will be filmed in Sydney. Sun, sea and a glamorous trip abroad, this could be Abby’s big break.
The bad news: the producers don’t just want Abby to write the recaps, they want her to be on the show. Abby can’t think of anything worse than being undercover and followed around by cameras. But her career depends on it, and when she meets gorgeous producer Jack, Abby begins to wonder if this job might not be so bad after all . . .
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Whilst I can’t see the appeal of reality TV, the characterisation, humour and romance in this book kept me turning the pages. Abby is an easy to like character with a good heart and witty sense of humour. This book is a good balance of romance and comedy and is the perfect escape from real life, maybe just like the fictional show it features?
The romantic element has a realistic blend of conflict and emotion. The reader is invested in its outcome. The friendship dynamic is believably written. The show’s details are well-researched, immersing the reader in the world of reality TV. Enhanced with angst, believable characters and well-timed comic dialogue, this is an addictive original story.
Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob. She lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins.
There’s someone out there for everyone… you just need to know where to look…
All NEW from bestselling author Della Galton.
Unlucky in love Poppy Allen is the producer of a brand-new TV show, ‘Date for a Day’ – think ‘Take Me Out’ meets ‘It’s a Knockout’!
Lovelorn contestants must perform a series of seaside challenges to win the hand of the starring lady and a ‘Date for a Day’.
Left heartbroken when Stephen, her childhood sweetheart eloped with her best friend on her hen night – Poppy has no plans to risk her own heart again. Besides, she’s far too busy filming contestants against the backdrop of the beautiful Bluebell Cliff Hotel and the stunning Jurassic Dorset coastline.
However, when sabotage on set threatens to stop shooting, Poppy discovers soulmates can be found in the most unexpected places…
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Set on the Dorset coast, this book focuses on Poppy, a film producer and a pilot for a reality TV dating show. This is topical contemporary fiction, and whilst I am not a fan of reality TV, going behind the scenes with Poppy and her film crew makes this absorbing reading.
Poppy is career orientated after being practically jilted at the altar. She has a supportive family who we discover lots about and good work friends, particularly Dave, her camera director. At the heart of this story is a lovely gentle friends-to-lovers romance that is heartwarming. There is also plenty of family drama which adds to the story and shows what a loving and loyal person Poppy is. The filming of the pilot of the Dating reality show is interesting full of humour and conflict, which adds authenticity to the story. The setting at Bluebell cliff brings cameos from some well-known characters and a wonderfully described setting.
This is a lovely, uplifting story, with family drama, glamour and romance.
Extract from Shooting Stars Over Bluebell Cliff – Della Galton
Poppy Allen took a gulp of the fresh, brine-scented air and shielded her eyes against the winter sunshine as she looked out across the strip of pale sand. It was warm for February and the sea was flat and calm. She wasn’t the only one making the most of the stunning early-morning weather. Out in the bay, a small boat towed a waterskier in a black wetsuit past Old Harry Rocks. He bounced across the navy sea and Poppy could hear the distant drone of the boat’s engine beneath the mewling cries of the gulls.
Her ankle boots sank into the powdery sand as she twirled slowly around. Wow, this was a beautiful location to film. In her mind’s eye, she saw a pair of chestnut horses cantering in slow motion through the surf into a sunset that painted the sky pink and gold and turned the sea all around into a mirror of rose-tinted glass.
Which way was west? She checked her smartphone. Oh God, it was perfect. The sun would set over Brownsea Island. They might be able to use this very stretch of beach for that part of her show.
People raved about Dorset’s beaches. Bournemouth drew the crowds, but, in her opinion, Studland Beach was better. It was wilder, with no neat prom and no pier. Just a backdrop of sand dunes dotted with scrubby grass that stretched away into the distance. It was so much more romantic than its staid sister, Bournemouth, certainly for what she had in mind.
Date for a Day, a new kind of dating show, was Poppy’s brainchild. Billed as a cross between Take Me Out and It’s a Knockout, it involved seven contestants participating in challenges to win the attention of the picker. Netflix had commissioned a pilot that would be shown in the autumn. Poppy was determined to make it a hit. Being a producer was all she’d ever wanted to do and she was passionate about her work.
Poppy turned back towards the chain ferry, which was docking again. It came from Sandbanks three times an hour and the crossing took four minutes. From her flat on Poole Quay, it was quicker to come by ferry. The alternative was a very scenic forty-minute drive (on a good day) through Wareham and the Isle of Purbeck.
The ferry disgorged a handful of cars from the 9 a.m. crossing. She had got the one before. She never slept much past dawn anyway. Dave would probably be on this one. It had been tricky to get him to agree to such an early start, especially as he was – technically – working for nothing today. This was a pre-recce excursion, prior to bringing in her full crew. She could have done it by herself, but she wanted a sounding board and Dave had agreed to keep her company after she’d caught him in a weak moment last week following a shoot.
She’d known Dave Blackwell for a lot longer than he’d been her preferred director of photography – they had worked for other production companies together before she’d set up her own, Beauty Spot Productions, eighteen months ago, and they’d become good friends. There was no one she trusted more to help her bring her dream to life.
Poppy felt a prickle of excitement run down her back as she looked around her. It might be too busy to film here, but there were other more secluded, even more beautiful, beaches in this bay.
She glanced back towards the National Trust car park and saw Dave’s old black Mercedes pulling in and parking beside her metallic-silver Jeep Renegade. Too impatient to wait, she set off to meet him.
Della Galton is the author of many books, including Ice and a Slice. She writes short stories, teaches writing groups and is Agony Aunt for Writers Forum Magazine. She lives in Dorset. Della’s new fiction series launched with Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff in May 2020.
Three best friends are going to solve their relationship woes once and for all
Forty-something Jemima’s life is on track – well, sort of. All she has to do is muster the courage to bat her niggly ex away for good.
Twenty-something Meagan is in the midst of her five-phase plan and is nearly ready for phase three – a relationship.
While thirty-something Simi has had more it’s not yous than any I dos.
Deciding it’s time to play the dating game by their own rules, they’re going to ditch the dating apps and ask people out in real life. The catch? They’re playing matchmaker and can only ask out potential dates for each other because the most important rule is that no woman gets left behind.
Comedian Andi Osho’s hilarious and uplifting debut novel features her trademark wit
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I loved the ideas behind this story since I’m old enough to remember dating before dating apps. Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with the characters. So, this story didn’t fulfil its potential. There is plenty that I liked, especially the dynamic between the characters. Their friendship bond is believable and well written. There is also an insightful look at contemporary life which captures its humour, and sadness well.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a lighthearted romantic comedy where the female lead makes all the choices. It’s contemporary and diverse embracing love wherever it falls, which is refreshing. Penny is likeable, and the love square she finds herself in is amusing, frustrating and a little sad. I don’t necessarily understand what motivates some of her actions and choices, but they do make this a good read.
Before Roxy found herself “Single in Buenos Aires,” she was a single girl in London in search of true love. The third instalment of The Polo Diaries series takes us back to that time, and we follow Roxy as she hires a love coach to help her navigate the dating scene. But the love coach comes up with an unexpected assignment: reconnect to a long-forgotten passion. For Roxy this means horses. Within weeks, she finds herself playing polo, thanks to a series of unforeseen events.
Torn between her desire to become the best polo player she can be and the dream of falling in love, Roxy steps fully into the exciting and demanding world of polo, where injury and recovery mix with hard training, and where celebrating the victory of a tournament comes at a high price. Will Roxy eventually become the polo player she dreams to be? And with polo being such a demanding sport, can there be any space left for love?
Roxana Valea -Find your passions or they’ll find you!
When I was ten, I had a dream. I wanted to ride horses. I didn’t own a horse and didn’t know anyone who did. I had no idea where this wish came from but it was there, coming to visit my dreams at night. I dreamed of riding horses.
My parents were not very open to the idea and it took a couple of years of convincing before they eventually took me to a club where I could learn how to ride. I met Samurai there, the first horse I ever rode. He was a black gelding, old and slow. Perfect for children, my trainer told my parents.
Samurai and I spend that summer together. I came to ride three times a week and felt my heart bubbling with excitement every time I met him. I saved apples and carrots for him but he couldn’t care less. For him, I was just another twelve-year-old learning to ride. I took a fall or two and made sure I concealed all evidence from my parents. I didn’t want to endanger my newly found passion and I was afraid if my parents found out about my falls, they would put a stop to all this.
But, in the end, it was I who put a stop. Winter came and we didn’t ride in the winter and by the following spring I had to focus on my exams and I somehow forgot about Samurai andthe riding club. He came into my mind a few times but every time I was pushing the thought further and further away and other things became more important. A new school, dresses, music. Friends. Going to university. More friends. More dresses. Holidays. And later, work. Career. Money. No time. Very little time, actually. No time for this type of things, anyway.
How often do we treat our passions that way? They come to us in childhood and draw us in with inexplicable force. They make us feel alive, whole, excited. We try them on and love every minute of the experience. But then, other things get in the way and we learn to live life as defined by others. We go on following a path that has been prescribed for us, leaving behind the passion we had found and sometimes a piece of our own soul with it.
But passions discovered in childhood don’t go away. They wait patiently in the dark corners of our mind, the places we have pushed them into. They wait and germinate and every now and then send a signal from down there. “Are you ready?” they ask. “Are you ready to come back to me?”
If we’re not, they don’t get angry. They keep on waiting. They’re patient, these passions. They know something we haven’t learned yet: they know they are part of our soul and there’s no way we can cut them out for good.
And year after year we keep them locked down there. Until one day. Because there’s always one day when things change. One day when we come face to face with this long-forgotten passion.
For me it happened in an office, in my mid-thirties, while I was working for a large multinational company. I had a meeting with a colleague to discuss the upcoming launch of a new technology. She worked in the legal department. I was a project manager. I headed over to that meeting carrying my laptop in one hand and the printed launch schedule in the other. My mind was busy recapping all the points we needed to cover during the meeting. The launch was near and I wasn’t going to let anything get in its way.
But something did. As I entered the meeting room she wasn’t there. I waited for a few minutes, feeling irritation bubbling up. I didn’t have any time to waste. And then, just as I wanted to leave, she came in walking slowly.
“Sorry for being late.” she said. “I can’t walk properly. I’ve got muscle pain. I had a riding lesson yesterday.”
And so, with no notice, no time to prepare and no possibility of denial, my old passion walked slowly back into my life. And the following week I went riding with my colleague.
And if you want to know more about what happens when you reconnect to an old childhood passion, read The Polo Diaries Series!
Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner. As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–travelling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.
Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.