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

Escape to Giddywell Grange Kim Nash 5*#Review @KimTheBookworm @HeraBooks @rararesources #RomCom #Romance #BlogTour #BookReview #EscapetotheCountry

#EscapetoGiddywellGrange

Maddy Young thought she had it all.

Swanky city apartment? – yep. Fancy car? sorted. High-flying career? – tick.

Even if she’s lost most of her friends because of spending all her time at work, and can’t remember when she last had fun, it’s worth it.

Until she’s suddenly made redundant. Now she’s 37, jobless, and after the breakup with the former love of her life, unhappily single.

Enter Maddy’s childhood friend, Beth, the owner of Growlers, the doggy daycare centre at Giddywell Grange, on a mission to make Maddy see there’s more to life than work.

Soon, Maddy is swapping spreadsheets for volunteer duty at the library, daily Starbucks for cups of tea with elderly neighbours, and her Prada handbag for doggy poo bags… And with Beth’s gorgeous brother, Alex, back from the States, Maddy starts to think that Giddywell Grange might just be her happy place.

But when her old life – and her old boyfriend – comes calling, will Maddy go back to the job she loved so much? Or will she discover that the key to happiness lies in making others happy?

An uplifting romantic comedy that will warm your heart.

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

MyThoughts…

‘Escape to Giddywell Grange is an amusing, poignant, romantic and uplifting story.

Maddy thinks she’s living the dream until her world crumbles when she loses her glamorous job. In shock, she returns home to the mother who has always put her first, and the best friend who she has sadly neglected and seeks the emotional comfort she needs. The opportunity to help her friend, when she needs her, is too good to resist, and after a while, Maddy realises that it may be the best choice she’s ever made.

This story leaves you with a lovely warm feeling. It celebrates everything that is good about humanity and shows that money and glamour and material things are worth nothing if they are not shared with someone special. The characters are well-written and believable, they have flaws, but in all but one case they are easy to like.

Maddy is at a crossroads in her life, and you want her to find something more worthwhile. Some of her decisions towards the end of the story had me shaking my head and telling her to think again, so she’s someone you can relate to and care about. Thankfully, the story comes to a convincing and hopeful conclusion.

If you’re looking for a lovely escapist read, this heartwarming, humorous journey of friendship, self-discovery and gentle romance is the answer.

Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger at www.kimthebookworm.co.uk

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA. 

When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge-watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs. 

Amazing Grace was her debut novel with Hera Books and came out in April 2019.

Escape to Giddywell Grange is Kim’s second novel and will be published on September 18th 2019.

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Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour – Jules Wake – A Girl’s Best Friend – 4*Review

 

 

City girl Ella wants to take refuge in the country, lick her wounds and work out what she’s going to do with the rest of her life. She certainly doesn’t want to have a four-legged house guest or anything to do with village life. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of Wilsgrave have other ideas.

Settling into her godmother’s house for a few months of R&R, Ella finds herself the reluctant babysitter of a badly behaved Labrador – and her plans of staying mainly indoors scuppered. But as she’s forced into wellies and into the village’s way of doing things, Ella meets people who make her think again about what she really wants out of life and love, starting with her new furry best friend . . .

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

‘City girl seeks a new start in English country village’.

When her godmother needs a housesitter, Ella decides to escape the rat race and her relationship problems. She’s looking for the quiet life, but the reality is considerably noisier and full of villagers who want to know all about her and won’t stop until she feels like a full inclusive villager.

Dog sitting for Tess, the Labrador is also part of the deal, and although their relationship gets off on the wrong foot, after much hilarity and heartache, they become inseparable. Devon also an incomer, helping out his dad in his Vet’s practice has his problems, and so when he meets Ella, he comes across as more grumpy than charming.

The story has lots of humour, and many poignant moments, Ella is a great character, flawed but willing to change and I love the way she embraces country life. The scenarios are realistic and the romance lovely.

The ending is romantic and touchingly sentimental, the perfect finish to this escape to the country.

I received a copy of this book from Sphere – Little Brown Book Group UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

Do Not Disturb- 4* Review – Claire Douglas

COULD YOUR DREAM HOME BE YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE?

After what happened in London, Kirsty needs a fresh start with her family. And running a guesthouse in the Welsh mountains sounds idyllic.

But then their first guest arrives.

Selena is the last person Kirsty wants to see. It’s seventeen years since she tore everything apart.

Why has she chosen now to walk back into Kirsty’s life? Is Selena running from something too? Or is there an even darker reason for her visit?

Because Kirsty knows that once you invite trouble into your home, it can be murder getting rid of it . . .

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Family, drama meets murder-mystery with a gothic twist, this story has many elements and lots of characters, maybe a few more than readers are comfortable with?

Kirsty and her family escape to the country for a better life and to leave their troubles behind. Renovating the dream home and business comes at a price and so financial help from Kirsty’s mum is welcome but her controlling nature less so.

An unexpected and somewhat unwelcome face from Kirsty’s past causes additional tension. New visitors add to the cast of characters and introduce a gothic thread to the plot when one guest hints at a dark history for the house. Then disaster strikes and Kirsty and her family feel threatened, and the business hangs in the balance.

Tense, complex with misinformation and suspects worthy of any murder mystery but the underlying family secrets add a sinister dimension, and the ending is well crafted and may surprise you.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK, Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Alison Sherlock – Escape to the Country- Extract and 4*Review

 

Journalist Eleanor McCartney leads a glamorous life in London exposing the sordid secrets of famous celebrities for Hot Gossip! magazine. But her perfect life is a sham. So when her world collapses, she has to reluctantly head home to her mum and friends in the quiet country village of Cranley.

Willow Tree Hall is still in the midst of extensive renovations under the careful eye of Eleanor’s best friend Annie and her fiancé, record producer and future Earl of Cranley, Sam Harris.

With a recording studio now in the grounds of the estate, it should be the perfect place for global singing sensation Tom Kingsley to hang out. But Tom is burnt out after a gruelling worldwide tour and is escaping the paparazzi after yet another scandal.
Eleanor cannot believe her luck. A story on the world’s biggest superstar would be the ticket that gets her job and glamorous life back in London.

But soon both Eleanor and Tom begin to fall under the spell of Willow Tree Hall. Eleanor begins to wonder whether she can really betray his trust. And does she really want her old life back or is home really where the heart lies?

As a heatwave soars, friendships are made, truths are told and, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps love can be found as hearts are healed.
By escaping to the country, maybe Eleanor and Tom have found their new beginning.

 

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Extract

Theresa had announced the previous week that a senior position had just become vacant within the media group that Hot Gossip! belonged to. It would involve proper investigative journalism. That would mean no more gossip. She could write articles that actually interested her and could make a difference.

Eleanor knew that she alone was the senior member of staff on the team. She had worked there the longest. All it would take was one more big story and the promotion was hers. Then she could leave the celebrity world far behind in the capable hands of Killer Kourtney.

Finally, she could have a job that she could be proud of. A job she didn’t have to lie about any more. She could relax and be herself for the first time in a very long time.

Eleanor shivered, her clothes were soaking. Her knees were almost at breaking point in her crouched position. She had been there for two hours and was chilled to the bone. How much longer would she have to wait? She longed for a hot shower.

She grabbed her phone and automatically checked her appearance. With a grimace, she saw that her long dark brown bob was beginning to kink and curl in the rain. Thankfully her mascara and eyeliner hadn’t run, but her face looked pale and gaunt in the harsh glare of the street lamp.

Thank god, nobody was around to see her like this. Eleanor prided herself on her immaculate looks. Feeling less than perfect on the outside panicked her. Even her boyfriend Lucas had never seen her without makeup on. She liked to look polished and poised at all times. Soaking wet with messy hair wasn’t a good feeling for her and added to her misery.

She gave a start as the mobile suddenly rang out into the quiet of the night. Seeing the name on the screen, she immediately grimaced. It was her editor, the fearsome Theresa. A woman so rude and abrupt in nature that she could make Cersei Lannister look cute and cuddly.

With her phone in one hand, Eleanor reached out with the other to stroke the smooth pink petals of one of the roses. Her floral comfort blanket.

‘Hello. You’re working late,’ said Eleanor, faking a bright tone of voice.

‘That’s because I got called into the boardroom this evening,’ snapped Theresa, straight to the point as always. ‘Circulation is down. The owners want to know why.’

‘Well, everyone in the industry is struggling at the minute,’ began Eleanor. ‘It’s tough out there in the current climate, what with…’

‘Your stories have been a total snoozefest recently,’ said Theresa, talking over her.

Eleanor was taken aback. ‘Well, it’s getting harder and harder to get an exclusive when everyone is so empowered with Twitter and Instagram these days. But I’ve had a tip-off that…’

‘Kourtney manages it.’

Eleanor took a deep and calming breath. ‘Kourtney’s Dad owns a Formula One team. She has access to all those secret parties.’ The ones that you know I can’t possibly get into, she added silently.

‘Quite. The London season is coming up and I need someone young like Kourtney to handle it.’

‘Young? I’m only thirty,’ blurted out Eleanor, with a shocked laugh.

‘Anyway, I’ve decided to make Kourtney the senior reporter in my team.’

Eleanor quickly stopped laughing. ‘What? No!’

‘Look, thanks to her contacts, she can bring in exclusives that you can only dream about,’ said Theresa.

‘But I’ve earned this promotion!’ Eleanor told her, beginning to lose her temper. ‘I’ve spent eight years working on this magazine! She’s only been with us for six months!’

‘Kourtney assures me that she can bring in a different angle on things, liven up the stories and that will boost circulation.’

Eleanor could feel her pulse racing as her heart hammered away in panic. It was the third time this month that it had happened. She had assured her doctor that her stress levels would be back to normal soon. But that had been when she had thought the promotion was hers.

‘Theresa, listen to me,’ said Eleanor, rubbing her throbbing chest. ‘Please. I can’t carry on doing these celebrity stories any more. I just can’t. I’m losing the will to live on a daily basis. You’ve got to give me a break, let me do something different. I beg you.’

‘Well, there may be some relief for you there, I suppose,’ drawled Theresa. ‘I’m afraid that I’ve got to let you go. The board want us to downsize. Cut our overheads.’

A chill came over Eleanor that had nothing to do with being soaked to the skin. ‘Downsize?’ she repeated, in a daze.

‘I’m sure you understand.’

‘Actually, I don’t think I do,’ said Eleanor, struggling in her shock to form a coherent sentence. ‘I’m out of a job? Who’s going to get the celebrity stories for you now?’

‘Kourtney’s going to do both for the time being. It makes more sense.’

‘But I need this job.’ Eleanor could feel her dream of a garden flat slipping far out of reach.  Even a bad job chasing celebrities was better than no job at all.

‘Surely working somewhere that makes you lose the will to live on a daily basis can’t be good for you?’ She could hear that Theresa was almost smiling down the phone as she carried on speaking. ‘I’m sure you can find something more suited to your lofty position.’

‘I was kidding!’ said Eleanor, quickly. ‘I mean, aren’t there any other vacant jobs in the company that I could take? I don’t care which department they would be in.’

‘The board are making cuts all over the place,’ Theresa told her. ‘It’s not just you. Now, I’ve had a look at your contract. Your redundancy package will be in accordance with your time of service, of course. Three months’ pay, I think. I’ll email you the details first thing. I’m sure you’ll find it more than fair. But it’s probably for the best that you don’t come into the office any more. Internal politics can be so exhausting. Make sure you return your pass to reception at some point.’

Eleanor’s head was reeling, trying to take in everything she was being told.

Theresa finally took a beat. ‘Look, if you can find me a decent story at some point over the summer, call me and we’ll talk.’

Then she hung up.

Eleanor sank onto the ground, barely registering the wet grass soaking through her jeans. She couldn’t believe it. She had just lost her job. What was she going to do? What was she going to tell everyone back home in Cranley?

Her Mum and best friends, Annie and Megan, actually believed in the fake lifestyle that she had created for them so many years ago. The fiction she had told them bore no resemblance to her real job. They would all be horrified if they knew that she had been lying over and over to them. And now, at the end of so many wasted years, it turned out that her gut instinct had been right all along. That she wasn’t the big success in the city that she had pretended to be. That deep down beneath the expectations of her friends and family, she really was just a big, fat failure after all.

On the opposite side of the street, the front door opened to Tuesday Tavistock’s apartment just as a taxi drew up outside. Eleanor watched in a daze as Tuesday kissed an elegant woman on the cheek. They looked so alike it could only have been her mother.

The tip-off had turned out to be nothing. Just like the rest of her career.

Eleanor slowly became aware that she was still holding the rose, clutching the petals so hard that as she let go, they floated down to the sodden ground next to her, along with her dreams.

Whatever the future held, it was unlikely that her very own Superman was going to show up and rescue her. Tights, cape or otherwise.

My Thoughts…

Escaping to the Country seems to be everybody’s dream nowadays, but Eleanor had the perfect country life and longed for the bright city lights of London. After a few years, she doesn’t recognise who she is. Tom is living the dream but he still he’s lonely. Serendipity decides to give them another chance and when Eleanor loses her job and Tom has an accident they both end up in the country and have a chance to start again.

Eleanor is a likeable, flawed character; appearance is everything to her because its the only thing she can control but her health is suffering, and she needs to recapture her former friendships and values to recuperate. Looking for someone to love the real man is all Tom wants; it’s all he’s ever wanted and losing his Gran makes him evaluate his current choices of companions and lifestyle. Eleanor and Tom’s encounters are stormy, but gradually circumstances make them value the other, but both have secrets, and Eleanor’s could ruin their romance.

There are many humorous scenes in this story and some questionable choices and values, but the message is clear, be true to yourself and don’t live a lie. The country setting is idyllic, and Sam and Annie and Rose and Arthur who provide an oasis for Eleanor and Tom are lovely characters, vividly described and realistic.

Dylan is a star and makes this a must read for any dog lovers.

The second book in the Willow Tree Hall series, this reads well as a standalone story. It’s a lovely breath of fresh air with conflict, humour and romance making an ideal summertime read.

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

Alison Sherlock enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Alison lives in Surrey with her husband and a daft golden retriever.

Twitter: @AlisonSherlock

Posted in Book Review

A Home at Honeysuckle Farm – Christie Barlow – 4*Review

 

A family secret

One shocking argument and ten-year-old Alice Parker’s world was turned upside down. Her peaceful life at Honeysuckle Farm in the quiet rural village of Brook Bridge swapped for the bustling metropolis of New York City. Alice’s life was changed forever…

A second chance

Now, thirteen years later, Alice’s American dream is over. With her life in tatters, there is only one place Alice wants to be… home at Honeysuckle Farm. So, when Alice learns her beloved Grandie is ill, she knows this is her last chance to heal the family rift.

A forever home?

But secrets still swirl in Brook Bridge, and Alice is no closer to discovering the truth. And for some reason her new friendship with local heartthrob Sam Reid seems to be making the locals tense.

Sick of the lies Alice knows it’s time to lay the past to rest once and for all. But could the truth ruin her hopes of ever calling Honeysuckle Farm home again?

Amazon UK

Amazon 

My Thoughts…

Who wouldn’t want to live at Honeysuckle Farm with its animals and land? The setting for this story is idyllic, and so when our young heroine is snatched away from its welcoming arms at ten-years-old, you feel for her.

Thirteen years later, living in New York, she still doesn’t understand the reasons for her sudden departure and parting from her beloved Grandie. The chance to return to her childhood home coincides with a difficult time in her life but will she find the answers to the secrets that trouble her? Alice is a lovely character, courageous and loyal but haunted by past secrets; she risks everything to reunite her family and build a future.

The plot reveals misunderstandings, tragedy and a terrible lie, which threatens to ruin Alice’s second chance. The village settings and its characters are believable without being stereotypical, and the ending is worthy of this touching, heartfelt story.

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

Posted in Book Review

The Two Houses 4*Review – Fran Cooper

 

‘The Two Houses sit grey and brooding beneath a pale sky.
They cling to the hillside, cowering from the wind, because always, before everything up here, there is the wind.
The Two Houses were not always two. But if it is human to build – even up here, in this blasted northern hinterland – it is human to break, too.’

After an acclaimed career in ceramics, Jay herself has cracked. Recovering from a breakdown, she and her husband Simon move to the desolate edges of the north of England, where they find and fall in love with the Two Houses: a crumbling property whose central rooms were supposedly so haunted that a previous owner had them cut out from the building entirely.

But on uprooting their city life and moving to the sheltered grey village of Hestle, Jay and Simon discover it’s not only the Two Houses that seems to be haunted by an obscure past. It becomes increasingly clear that the villagers don’t want them there at all – and when building work to make the two houses whole again starts, a discovery is made that will unearth decades-old secrets…

But who in this village has been hiding them?

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Amazon

My Thoughts…

At first glance, this appears to be a ghost story. While the writing style is atmospheric, creepy and gothic, the content is more grounded. The ghosts are emotional, bad memories and entrenched secrets kept by the living rather than the dead.

Escaping to the country seems like a rest cure for Jay and Simon, reeling from Jay’s emotional breakdown when she discovers she cannot have children. A ceramic artist Jay’s work suffers until she shies away from it and everyone attached to it. Simon loves her but doesn’t necessarily understand her. His constant presence is claustrophobic for his free-spirited wife. She doesn’t want to share her emotions just to make him feel worthwhile.

So when they find a quirky, broken down property, two houses severed in their past. Jay loves it, and Simon who wants his wife to recover agrees, although he is looking for a bolt hole and she is searching for a new life.

The villagers are suspicious of the interloper’s motives and the reasons for this gradually become clear as the story progresses. It’s not just because they want to protect the secrets of the old houses, their way of life has disintegrated with the closure of the mines and farms, young people want to leave, and only the old ones and those who cannot survive elsewhere are left. They want to protect their way of life even if it’s not what it once was.

The characters are realistic, as is their behaviour when confronted with newcomers. Jay becomes obsessed with the house’s secrets to the exclusion of all else, but maybe this is part of her healing process?

The plot reveals its clues and misinformation as it progresses, the pacing is slow because of the detailed descriptions and the internal conflict of the main characters.

Mysterious and suspenseful but not written in a commercial, contemporary style, it is all about the characters and their interaction with the setting. It resonates as you read and the two houses’ story is infinitely sadder than you first imagine.

I liked it and found the ending particularly poignant. It conveys the sense of stability and people becoming as one with the land well. It is slow and maybe too detailed in places, but it does fit with a gothic writing style and is a lovely example of this.

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

 

 

Posted in Book Review

A Country Escape – 5* Review Kate Fforde

Fran has always wanted to be a farmer. And now it looks as if her childhood dream is about to come true.

She has just moved into a beautiful but very run-down farm in the Cotswolds, currently owned by an old aunt who has told Fran that if she manages to turn the place around in a year, the farm will be hers.

But Fran knows nothing about farming. She might even be afraid of cows.

She’s going to need a lot of help from her best friend Issi, and also from her wealthy and very eligible neighbour – who might just have his own reasons for being so supportive.

Is it the farm he is interested in? Or Fran herself?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

A possible inheritance, a rundown farm, rare breed cows and cheese may seem to be strange themes for a romance but when Fran takes a chance on ‘the good life’, she becomes involved with all of the above and finds that love happens in the most unusual places.

‘A Country Escape’, begins for Fran when she leaves her cheffing job in London to run a distant relative’s farm after she moved into a care home. The farm is rundown but has potential, the question is, has Fran the expertise and finance to realise it?
‘A Country Escape’, gives the reader a chance to do just that. From the first page, you experience life in the countryside with a delightful array of characters both human and animal.

Courage, loyalty and tenacity are all characteristics that aptly describe Fran, she wants to experience something new and is willing to risk everything to have the lifestyle she craves. Antony is a successful businessman as well as the ‘man next door’ he is more than helpful and seems to be the perfect neighbour, but her cousin Amy has warned Fran about his motives, so can she trust him?

Both the characters and the plot are realistic. Dairy farming and artisan cheesemaking are vividly described and allow the reader to experience what Fran does; this makes the story come to life.
There is plenty of angst; the appearance of Roy, a rival for the inheritance, and Amy’s fickleness towards Fran’s attempts at running the farm. Both of these sources of conflict, make Fran believe she will never achieve her goal.

There is a lovely romantic thread to this story; it seems nothing is too much trouble for Antony where Fran is concerned, and Issi finds that everything to do with cows is enthralling when the herdsman Tig shares them with her. Both romances are affected by the outcome of the inheritance. Is this Antony’s real interest in Fran, and what will happen to Issi and Tig, if he loses his home and livelihood? The delightful ending has both poignant and romantic elements.

A lovely romantic tale, which provides the reader with everything they need to enjoy an escape to the country.

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK Cornerstone – Century via NetGalley in return for an honest review.