When florist-to-the-stars Abbie Coleman catches a glimpse of her boyfriend through the window of Tiffany’s, she couldn’t be more excited. Keen to share her happiness, she organises a huge surprise party for all their family and friends… except things don’t quite work out as she expected, and instead of planning a flower-filled wedding, she finds herself single, and fired from a job she loves.
Desperate to escape her heartbreak, she jets off to her aunt’s quirky Hummingbird Hotel on the gorgeous island of Corfu. Little did she know that instead of spending her time lounging by the pool, drinking cocktails, and soaking up the sun, she’d be stepping into the role of the island’s newest hotelier.
The arrival of unexpected guests sends Abbie into a tailspin of panic, and she’s forced to turn to snippy, but charismatic, vineyard owner-turned-chef, Nikos Angelopoulos, for help. Why does the kitchen fill with smoke whenever she makes coffee? Why is there a naked man swimming in the pool? And why do the hotel’s toiletries turn their guests’ hair pink?
Despite all the chaos, the Hummingbird Hotel works its magic on Abbie, and she finds herself with a decision to make. Will she return home to the drizzly grey skies of London? Or will she take a leap of faith and embrace the new opportunities that little corner of paradise has to offer, and maybe, just maybe, discover a sprinkle of romance along the way?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review
Abbie is a character who draws the reader into her world within minutes of meeting her. She’s creative, compassionate and hopeless at picking the right man. Discovering her estranged aunt’s legacy in Corfu is the perfect solution.
The chemistry between Abbie and the gorgeous but grumpy Nikos provides the humour, poignancy and romance in this story. The Hummingbird Hotel is not what she expects, and she is gifted with a mystery to solve, new opportunities and an unforgettable journey of self-realisation.
I love the relatable and vibrant characters. The vividly described setting allows the reader escapist virtual travel, and a lovely ending paves the way for the next book in the series, which I can’t wait to read.
Daisy James loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. She especially likes to create sunshine-filled settings in exotic locations – the Caribbean, Tuscany, Cornwall, Provence – so she can spend her time envisioning her characters enjoying the fabulous scenery and sampling the local food and drink.
When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
I received a copy of this book from Tinder Press in return for an honest review.
Reading the blurb for this story evoked a whole series of images in my mind, which compelled me to read the book. The reader is introduced into Pru’s life when she buys the black dress, and then the reasons for her purchase are revealed intimately and insightfully from the main protagonist.
The writing style is full of sensory imagery, which makes it an easy read. Pru is a conflicted but fascinating character. She appears transparent in her revelations but is really an unreliable narrator. What comes across strongly in this story is her loneliness and how it defines her. Whilst she enjoys a series of adventures, many of which end badly, her need for companionship and identity motivates her.
Sophisticated humour and wit make this an engaging read, but it’s the underlying sadness that resonates.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The reader is instantly drawn to Liv, the main protagonist in this heartwarming story of love, life and second chances. Returning to her hometown, Liv finds the sense of community and completeness she’s missed. Family secrets, friendship rekindled, and romance are woven into the plot making it an engaging read. It’s about finding what makes you happy and being brave enough to follow your dreams.
The setting is intrinsic to the story. It’s described with powerful sensory imagery that draws the reader into the world. If you enjoy heartbreak, happiness and soul searching, this story delivers them all beautifully.
Extract from Life’s What You Make It – Sian O’Gorman
I really should buy my ex-boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend a drink or a posh box of chocolates to say thank you for getting back together, even if it was just for one night. And I should say an even bigger thank you to her for telling me about it. Because if Jeremy and Cassandra hadn’t met up at one of his friend’s weddings, there is the very real possibility that he and I might have carried on and then everything that did happen wouldn’t have happened and my life would have remained exactly as it was.
I was an Irish girl transplanted to London for a decade, swapping the seaside and village of Sandycove – with its little shops and the beach, the people, the way the clouds skidded in for a storm, the rainbows that blossomed afterwards – for the bright lights, the traffic and the incessant noise of London. My visits home had become sporadic to the point of paltry. There was never enough time for a long trip and so my visits were only ever two nights long. Even last Christmas I’d flown in on Christmas Eve and was gone the 27th. I’d barely seen Mum or my best friend Bronagh and when Mum drove me to the airport and hugged me goodbye, I had the feeling that we were losing each other, as though we were becoming strangers.
London had become a slog, working twelve-hour days for my toxic boss, Maribelle, who drank vodka from her water bottle and didn’t believe in bank holidays. Or weekends. Or going home for the evening. Or eating. Or, frankly, anything that made life worth living. If it wasn’t for my flatmate, Roberto, my London life would have been utterly miserable. Looking back now, I think the reason why I kept going out with Jeremy for six months, even though we were entirely unsuited, was because at least it was something. And if I’ve learned anything about life over the last year, it’s that you should do something, but never the least of it.
‘Olivia O’Neill,’ Roberto would say on a loop. ‘Liv, you need to raise your game.’ He wasn’t a fan of Jeremy, whom I’d been seeing for six months. ‘Leave Jeremy and dump Maribelle and make your own life.’
But how do you do that when you have forgotten what your own life is? How on earth do you find it again when you are the grand old age of thirty-two? I couldn’t start again. But then the universe works in mysterious ways. If you don’t get off your arse and make changes, then it gets fed up and starts making them for you. But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself… let’s zip back to before it all began… before I discovered what really made me happy, took charge of my life and found my crown.
* * *
It was Friday, the last day of May, and I was at Liverpool Street Station. Mum normally called at this time, knowing my route to work and that, by 7.32 a.m., I was always on the escalator, rising up from the underground, before the thirteen-minute trot to my office.
‘Hi, Mum,how are you? Everything okay?’
‘I am…’ She hesitated.
‘I am…’ She stopped again. ‘I am fine… absolutely fine. It’s just we’ve been in A & E all evening… we got home back at midnight…’
‘A & E?’ I was so worried that I didn’t ask who the ‘we’ was.
‘It happened the other night in Pilates,’ she said. ‘I reached down to pick up the ball and I felt my knee go.’
My speed walk through the station stopped mid-concourse, making a man in pinstripes swerve and swear at me under his breath. It didn’t make sense. My mother was fitter than me, this walk from tube to desk was the only exercise I did. She was fifty-seven and power walked her way up and down the seafront every evening, as well as the twice-weekly Pilates classes. ‘But you are brilliant at Pilates,’ I said. ‘Didn’t your teacher say you have the body of a twenty-five-year-old?’ I’d moved myself to the side of the newsagents’ kiosk, where I would buy my Irish Times to keep when I was feeling homesick – which was increasingly more frequent these days.
Mum gave a laugh. ‘She said my hips were the hips of a younger woman,’ she explained. ‘I don’t think she said twenty-five-year-old. My hip flexors have stopped flexing and I’m on crutches. It’s not the worst in the world and within a few weeks, with enough rest, I should be back on my feet. The only thing is the shop…’
Mum ran her own boutique in Sandycove, the eponymously named Nell’s. She’d opened it when I was just a toddler and had weathered two recessions and a handful of downturns, but was just as successful as ever. And even when a rival boutique, Nouveau You, opened ten years ago, Nell’s was definitely the more popular.
‘Jessica can’t manage the shop on her own,’ Mum continued. ‘I’ll have to try and find someone for the four weeks. I’ll call the agency later.’
‘Oh, Mum.’ I couldn’t imagine Mum on crutches – this was the woman who had only ever been a blur when I was growing up, coming home from the shop to make dinner for her second shift and all the business admin she had to do. I used to imagine she slept standing up, like a horse. I tried to think how I could help, stuck here hundreds of miles away in London. ‘What about your Saturday girl?’
‘Cara? She’s got her Leaving Cert in a week’s time. I can’t ask her. So… it’s just a bit of a hassle, that’s all.’
I really wished I was there to look after her. Maybe I could fly in this weekend? Just for Saturday night.
‘Please don’t worry,’ said Mum. ‘It’s only four weeks on crutches, and I’ve been ordered to rest, leg up… read a few books. Watch daytime television, said the doctor.’ Mum gave another laugh. ‘He said I could take up crochet or knitting. Told me it was very popular these days. So I told him that I was only fifty-seven and the day I start knitting is the day I stop dyeing my hair.’
‘But you’ll go mad,’ I said. ‘Four weeks of daytime television. Who will look after you?’
‘I can hobble around,’ she said. ‘Enough to make cups of tea, and I can get things delivered and, anyway, I have Henry.’ She paused for emphasis. ‘He was with me in the hospital and has volunteered to help.’
Mum had never had a boyfriend that I’d known of. She’d always said she was too busy with me and the shop. ‘And Henry is…?’
‘Henry is my very good friend,’ she said. ‘We’ve become very close. He’s really looking forward to meeting you.’ She paused again for dramatic effect. ‘We’ve been seeing each other since Christmas and… well, it’s going very well indeed.’
‘That’s lovely,’ I said. ‘Tell him I’m looking forward to meeting him. Very much. Who is he, what does he do?’ I really would have to fly over to vet him… maybe Maribelle might be in a good mood today and I could leave early next Friday?
‘Henry took over the hardware shop from Mr Abrahamson. Henry’s retired from engineering and needed something to do. He’s like that, always busy. He’s been a bit of an inspiration, actually,’ she went on, ‘taking on a business when he’s never run one before. And he’s trying to grow Ireland’s largest onion.’ She laughed. ‘Not that he’s ever even grown a normal-sized one before, but he’s read a book from the library on what you need, gallons of horse manure apparently, and he wants to win a prize at the Dún Laoghaire show in September.’
If anyone deserved a bit of love Mum did and considering I would not win any awards for daughter of the year with my generally neglectful behaviour, I was happy she had someone. And surely anyone who grew outsized vegetables could only be a good person.
But I felt that longing for home, that wish to be there. Even if she had Henry and his onions, I wanted to be there too. I restarted my speed walk to the office. Being late for Maribelle was never a good start to the day.
‘So you’re sure you’re all right?’ I said, knowing that going over probably wouldn’t happen this weekend, not with the presentation I had to help Maribelle prepare for on Monday. I passed the only tree I saw on my morning commute, a large and beautiful cherry tree, it was in the middle of the square outside the station and blossomed luxuriantly in the spring and now, in late May, all the beautiful leaves which I’d seen grow from unfurled bud to acid green were in full, fresh leaf. Apart from my morning coffee, it was the only organic thing I saw all day. If that tree was still going in all that smog and fumes and indifference from the other commuters, I used to tell myself, then so could I.
‘I’m fine,’ Mum said. ‘Don’t worry… Brushing my teeth this morning took a little longer than normal, but it’s only a few weeks… I’m getting the hang of the crutches. I’ve been practising all morning. Anyway, how is Jeremy?’ She and Jeremy were yet to meet.
‘Jeremy is…’ How was Jeremy? Just the night before, Roberto had described him as a ‘wounded boy, shrouded in a Barbour jacket of privilege’. But I felt a little sorry for him, especially after meeting his family last New Year’s Eve and seeing how he was treated. I hadn’t actually seen him for a week as he’d been at a wedding the previous weekend and we’d both been busy with work. ‘Jeremy is fine,’ I said. ‘I think. Sends his love.’
Jeremy wasn’t the type to send his love, but Mum didn’t know that. ‘Well, isn’t that lovely,’ she said. ‘Say we’re all really looking forward to welcoming him to Ireland.’
I really couldn’t imagine Jeremy in his camel chinos striding around Sandycove’s main street and speaking in his rather loud, bossy, posh voice. He’d stand out like a sore thumb.
‘And you’ll have to bring that dote Roberto as well,’ said Mum. ‘He probably needs a bit of time off as well, the little pet.’
‘I don’t think we’ll get him over,’ I replied. ‘You know how he says he can’t breathe in Ireland and starts to feel light-headed as though he’s having a panic attack. He says he’s done with Ireland.’
Mum laughed, as she always did when I told her something Roberto had said. The two of them were as thick as thieves every time she came to London, walking arm in arm around Covent Garden together, Roberto showing her all his favourite shops and deciding what West End show we would go to. ‘He’s a ticket, that one. Anyway, there’s the doorbell. It’ll be Henry with some supplies. I’ll call you later.’
‘Okay…’ I had reached my building. If you dislocated your neck and looked skywards, straight up the gleaming glass, my office was up there somewhere on the seventeenth floor. I had to go in, any later and it would put Maribelle in a bad mood and that wasn’t good for anyone.
In the lift, among the jostle of the other PAs, behind some of the other equity managers who, like Maribelle, were overpaid and overindulged, we ascended to our offices where we would spend the next twelve hours.
I thought of Mum at home in Sandycove. The end of May, the most beautiful month in Ireland, and I remembered the way the sun sprinkled itself on the sea, the harbour full of walkers and swimmers all day long, people in the sea as the sun retreated for the day, or the village itself with its small, bright, colourful shops and the hanging baskets and cherry trees, and Mum’s boutique right in the middle. I wished I was there, even just for a few hours, to hug Mum, and go for a walk with Bronagh. To just be home.
The doors opened on the seventeenth floor. It was 7.45 a.m. exactly and dreams of Sandycove would have to be put on hold as I had to get on with surviving Maribelle. I hung up my coat and sat down at my desk and switched on my computer. My screen saver was a selfie of me and Bronagh, taken last summer sitting on the harbour wall at the little beach in Sandycove. Every time I looked at that picture of the sun shining, the two of us laughing, arms around each other, seagulls flying above us, the pang for home got worse. I should change it, I thought. Replace it with something that doesn’t make me homesick, something that doesn’t make me think of all the things I am missing and missing out on. I clicked on my screen and up came the standard image of a scorched red-earth mountain, as far from Sandycove as you could get.
Sian O’Gorman was born in Galway on the West Coast of Ireland, grew up in the lovely city of Cardiff, and has found her way back to Ireland and now lives on the east of the country, in the village of Dalkey, just along the coast from Dublin. She works as a radio producer for RTE.
Running from a wedding… … to a whole new future! Bree Allenby’s first stop on her road trip across Australia is to attend the society wedding of her brother’s best friend. When Noah Fitzgerald is dramatically jilted, he needs a quick getaway—so Bree suggests he come with her! Spending her days with a billionaire is not what she was expecting… Not only is their spark of attraction completely new, but it has them both rethinking where they’re going in life!
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A well-written friend to lover romance where Bree and newly jilted Noah go on a life-changing road trip. Bree’s original reason for the road trip leads to some poignant, thought-provoking moments. The road trip setting is a bonus with great descriptions.
Bree and Noah are likeable characters with emotional baggage, which they open and discard as the journey progresses. A sweet romance about friendship, parenting, and taking a chance on love.
His brief was simple: confirm whether model Oriel Cuvier is the secret daughter of a Bollywood legend. But when billionaire security specialist Vijay Sahir locks eyes with Oriel, all thoughts of work disappear—leading to a few stolen hours where all rules are broken…
Weeks later, Oriel gets two life-changing surprises. First, the truth about her birth mother. Second, she’s pregnant with Vijay’s child! He demands marriage, but can she really promise to honor and cherish him when, until now, all they’ve shared is one extraordinary encounter?
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A lot is going on in this story. It’s full of emotion, mystery and passionate romance between a couple who have self-esteem issues and unanswered questions in their past. It is glamorous, but beneath the glitz are two people who long for a partner who values them.
Their firstmeeting leads to unexpected passion, which draws them together. There’s a mystery to solve and many conflicts before they can achieve the happiness they deserve. The two main protagonists are likeable, and the plot has interesting twists to keep the reader engaged.
‘Delightful and witty with a heroine you’ll be rooting for . . . joyful escapism’ Milly Johnson ‘Spirited, adventurous and full of heart!’ Heidi Swain
Although thirty-three-year-old Kara Moon loves her hometown of Hartmouth in Cornwall, she has always wondered if she should have followed her dream of going off to study floristry. But she couldn’t bring herself to abandon her emotionally delicate single father, and has worked on Ferry Lane Market’s flower stall ever since leaving school.
When her good-for-nothing boyfriend cheats on her and steals her life savings, she finally dumps him and rents out her spare room as an Airbnb. Gossip flies around the town as Kara welcomes a series of foreign guests to her flat overlooking the estuary.
Then an anonymous postcard arrives, along with a plane ticket to New York. And there begins the first of three trips of a lifetime, during which she will learn important lessons about herself, her life and what she wants from it – and perhaps find love along the way.
I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has emotion, drama, humour and romance in a cleverly crafted world that brings the believably flawed characters and settings to vibrant life. It’s set in a Cornish village with a ferry and a delightful market. This story concentrates on the Moon family and Kara in particular. This is an engaging story with surprising twists. Kara’s character development and the family and friendship dynamics are well written. The simple plot lets the characters shine, and the reader is quickly invested in their futures. This story is comfortingly relatable yet full of originality, making it addictive reading. The ending is romantic and realistic, and I can’t wait, for the next book, in the series.
More praise for Nicola May!
‘This book will twang your funny bone & your heartstrings’ – Milly Johnson ‘A fun and flighty read’ – Sun ‘A funny and fast-paced romp – thoroughly enjoyable!’ WOMAN Magazine ‘One of those books that I can’t stop thinking about way after I’ve read it! – Kim The Bookworm ‘This book is so addictive that you will literally lose 3 hours of your life, and you won’t care!’ – Cara’s Book Boudoir
Readers love Nicola May, too!
‘A FABULOUS must-read’ – 5 STARS ‘An excellent book of friendship – with a little wickedness!’ – 5 STARS ‘Good for the soul‘ – 5 STARS ‘I loved it and devoured it in a matter of days’ – 5 STARS ‘A wonderful, feel-good novel with some grit thrown in’ – 5 STARS ‘Marvellous, beautiful and heart-warming‘ – 5 STARS ‘Sea, sand and sex – a soppy delight’ – 5 STARS ‘A truly lovely book’ – 5 STARS ‘Fun and whimsy, plus a dog!’ – 5 STARS ‘Nicola May is a brilliant, relevant writer for today, exposing today’s issues with tenderness, and always demonstrating a warm, human, heartfelt response‘ – 5 STARS
Nicola May writes ‘chick lit with a kick’ and is the internationally bestselling author of eleven romantic comedies. All have appeared in the Kindle bestseller charts. The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay became the best-selling Kindle book in the UK across all genres in January 2019 and March 2020 respectively. It was also the second best-selling eBook of 2019 in the UK. Nicola’s books have also been sold in many languages.
London, 1940. Britain is gripped by the terror of the Blitz, forcing Nell Spelman to flee the capital with her young daughter – leaving behind her husband, Arthur, the clockmaker who keeps Big Ben chiming.
When Arthur disappears, Nell is desperate to find him. But her search will lead her into far darker places than she ever imagined…
New York, Present Day. When Ellie discovers a beautiful watch that had once belonged to a grandmother she never knew, she becomes determined to find out what happened to her. But as she pieces together the fragments of her grandmother’s life, she begins to wonder if the past is better left forgotten…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This book begins quietly, a young woman and the man she loves climbing the clock tower that houses the iconic clock and Big Ben bell in London in 1939. This gentle love story draws the couple into the London Blitz in 1940 and a secret that lasted over eighty years.
The historical parts of this story are well-researched with authentically crafted characters. The contemporary chapters are also well written, and the solving of the family mystery is immersive and intriguing.
This is an emotional story of courage and secrets that affect a family for a lifetime. The plot flows well, and the pacing keeps the reader engaged until the poignant and satisfying conclusion.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Elle, the focus of this story, has always longed to leave her childhood home to achieve her dreams. However, life intervenes at the most inopportune moments, and she starts to believe she’ll never leave or find her true self.
This is an emotional story as the reader follows Elle’s life in the village. The story has a strong thread of realism with many conflicts and mistakes. Elle is a lovely character, easy to empathise with but frustrating too. The relationships are written believably.
This story reflects its title. Elle experiences the whole spectrum of love as she finally finds herself and where she’s meant to be in this lovely, entertaining and emotional story.
Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two children. Her debut, Art and Soul, a heart-warming contemporary romance, was published in 2020. Elle’s A to Z of Love is her second novel.
A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for over a hundred sweet treats at clairehuston.co.uk. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.
A secret hidden in the past.A family bound by a dark legacy…
Ever since her sister disappeared eleven years ago, Serena Warren has been running from a ghost, haunted by what she can’t remember about that night.
When Caitlin’s body is discovered, Serena returns to her grandfather’s house, nestled beside the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall in Oxfordshire, determined to uncover the truth. But in returning to the place of her childhood summers, Serena stands poised at the brink of a startling discovery – one that will tie her family to a centuries-old secret…
Taking readers from the present day to the Wars of the Roses in the 1400s, and with an enthralling mystery at its heart, The Last Daughter is a spellbinding novel about family secrets. ____
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A dual timeline novel set in Oxfordshire following the lives of Anne Lovell during the War of the Roses historical period and Serena, in current times, drawn to the area when her twin sister’s body is discovered. The two stories are linked believably, and the supernatural element is well written.
The historical element brings this tumultuous period of English history to vibrant life. The intrigue, mysteries and politics are dramatised fascinatingly. Serena tries to discover what happened to her sister as she researches her family history. Her memories return as she connects with the place and its past.
This is an absorbing story, both timelines draw the reader into their worlds, and the connections between the two are perfectly woven.
I received a copy of this book from the author and Nick Hern Books via MidasPR in return for an honest review.
Based on Giles Terera’s journal entries, this book gives the reader insight into the actor’s process as he auditions, prepares, rehearses and performs the character of Aaron Burr in the London production of the musical Hamilton.
Whilst I’ve heard about this musical I have never seen it, but I quickly became absorbed in this actor’s view of the production. It’s easy to read and hard to put down. Honest, insightful and reflective, the book takes the reader to the heart of this iconic piece of musical theatre, its motivations and outcomes and what it meant to play such a pivotal role in it.
Interspersed with images from the show, at its various stages, and the author’s thoughts about the casting and the company, it gives the reader a unique perspective on what is involved in bringing a musical theatre production to life.
The relationship between actor and character is particularly fascinating.
A book that will have wide audience appeal whether you are a Hamilton fan, a student of acting or someone seeking an informed, intense and intriguing read.
Giles Terera MBE is an award-winning actor, musician and writer. He trained at Mountview Theatre School and has worked consistently at venues such as the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe. He is best known for originating the role of Aaron Burr in the London production of the award-winning musical Hamilton, for which he won the 2018 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.