Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Humour

The Spy Who Inspired Me Stephen Clarke 5*#Review @sclarkewriter #PAF @RichardsonHelen #humour #historical #WW2 #France #Female #Spy #satirical #BlogTour #BookReview #TheSpyWhoInspiredMe

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I received a copy of this book from the author via Helen Richardson PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story highlights the role of female spies in WW2. Their commitment and courage is something often overlooked, but many died in service of their country. This story parodies a well-known male fictitious spy as he finds himself in an uncomfortable alliance with a female spy who is everything he isn’t, but would like to be.

Lemming’s major contribution to the war effort appears to be working his way through the females who work alongside him until he meets his match in Margaux. She flatters his ego but makes him uneasy. When they meet again, he realises why.

Thrown in an uneasy alliance the unlikely couple travel to occupied France where Margaux shows Lemming what really happens behind enemy lines. Comically, and once you get to know him predictably, Lemming retreats into his vast imagination and rewrites the story covering himself in glory.

The immersive writing style and relatable characters draw the reader into the fictitious world from the start. Good use of sensory imagery brings the history and location vividly to life, so the reader feels they are on the mission too.

Humour and satire underpin this story making it an enjoyable read with characters, events and places that resonate.

Guest author Post – Stephen Clarke – The Spy Who Inspired Me

My new novel The Spy Who Inspired Me is a reaction against the old-fashioned Bond girl. The most Bond-girlish of them all, for me, is the dubiously named Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. In the original novel, she’s the feisty leader of a lesbian criminal gang, one of the key players in a plan to rob West Point. Then she meets 007, decides he’s cute, and suddenly she’s betraying her criminal chums and turning straight. It’s the same with the clairvoyant Solitaire in Live and Let Die – she sleeps with Bond (her first lover), loses her powers and becomes more or less enslaved to him.

The suggestion is that a woman will abandon all her ill-advised feminine foibles as soon as she meets a “real” man. It’s old-school gender nonsense.

This is why for The Spy Who Inspired Me, I decided to reverse the roles. The spy on the cover, Margaux Lynd, is a tough, highly-trained agent with plenty of mission experience. But when she lands in Occupied France in April 1944, she gets saddled with a scared, inexperienced, older male sidekick who just wants to go home to his clean shirts and his limitless supply of handmade cigarettes. The man is modelled on, but – for legal reasons mainly – not named after Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. My character’s name is Ian Lemming. (You see, nothing at all like “Fleming”.)

The real Fleming was a suave playboy who spent most of the war in a comfortable Admiralty Office, a world away from the harsh everyday realities of spying. Meanwhile, dozens of women were being sent undercover into Occupied Europe. And they were the inspiration for Margaux Lynd. These real-life heroines joined up with the Resistance and acted as radio operators, go-betweens, recruiters and spies. Many were caught by the Gestapo, and then there was no Bond-like banter with their interrogator before a miraculous dash for freedom and a finale in a luxury bed. It was usually a short trip from the torture chamber to the firing squad.

Women agents were valued by the Allies because they exploited Nazi sexism – most Gestapo officers thought that German Frauen existed to breed Aryan babies, and found it hard to believe that a woman would do perilous “male” work like spying. In many ways, that is what Ian Lemming in The Spy Who Inspired Me believes, too. Only gradually does he come to respect, and then fear, the ruthless female secret agent he is forced to work with.

And as the two of them sneak across Occupied France and into Paris, Lemming begins to fantasize about a world in which a suave male spy would lord it over the ladies, while enjoying all the comforts he’s missing from back home – champagne, hot water, a change of underwear. As a reaction to the humiliations and deprivations he’s suffering, we sense that a macho superhero is being created in his head. And while Lemming fantasizes, his female mentor Margaux Lynd has to concentrate on completing her mission – and begging him never to attempt real undercover work ever again.

The Spy Who Inspired Me published on November 12 by pAf Books.

Stephen Clarke – Image Credit Marie Liss

Stephen Clarke is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy
novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually, Dial M for Merde et al) which
have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than a
million copies worldwide.

Stephen Clarke has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK number-one bestseller in both
hardback and paperback), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Humour, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

A Village Vacancy Julie Houston 5*#Review @JulieHouston2 @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #VillageLife #Romance #Friendships #Family #Secrets #Humour #BlogTour #BookReview #AVillageVacancy #GuestPost

Village Affair comes a laugh out loud new Westenbury tale…

As the Yorkshire village of Westenbury mourns the loss of one of their own, the women can’t help but contemplate who will fill the vacancy in one handsome widower’s life…

Grace Stevens has decided it’s time to move on without her husband. He’s off gallivanting around Devon in search of a new life, and good riddance. It’s time to go back to teaching, so Grace returns to Little Acorns and takes on an unruly class of pre-teens.

As she deals with disasters in – and out of – the classroom including an accidental dalliance with her most troublesome pupil’s dad, helping track down a drug ring and keeping up with her closest girlfriends, Grace begins to wonder more and more about the sparkle in David’s eyes and the sparking chemistry between them.

Could Grace be the one to fill this village vacancy?

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

My Thoughts…

A Village Vacancy takes the reader back to the Westenbury for another tale of laughter, love and life. This is a standalone story, but many of the characters previously featured in other books about Westenbury, and you will be intrigued to see what has gone before.

The funeral of one of the village’s enigmatic women introduces the cast of characters. Amanda’s loss is felt both in the community and her personal life. A mystery surrounds her untimely death, which gives this tale of village life an added dimension.

Grace takes centre stage in this story as she copes with her dysfunctional family life and wonders if romantic happiness is within her grasp. Westenbury experiences city problems in this story which are topical and give the story its contemporary edge.

There’s humour, mystery, romance and poignancy in this insightful story which draws the reader into the village and the lives of its inhabitants. The characters are believable and relatable, which makes their stories engaging and memorable.

Julie Houston

Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestseller and a Kindle #1 bestseller. She is married, with two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.

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Guest Post Julie Houston September 2020 –

A VILLAGE VACANCY – Grace

To celebrate the publication of A Village Vacancy, I thought it might be a good idea – as well as helpful to readers who have never met her before – to write a little biography of Grace. While all the Midhope/Westenbury novels can be read as total and utter standalones, this, my eighth novel, gives Grace a leading role as well as showing a greater insight into her character, and I wanted to give a little background information to readers who may have never met her before.

So, while my first novel – Goodness, Grace and Me – has Grace playing a major role, the book is essentially Harriet’s story. In this first book, we learn that Grace and Harriet meet on their very first day at grammar school and both become infatuated with a fifth-former, one Amanda Goodners or Little Miss Goodness as Grace dubs her a couple of years later when Amanda is promoted to head girl. The three women meet up again as adults and Grace, staggering from husband Dan’s infidelity, falls for Mandy Henderson’s (as she now is) much younger son, Sebastian.

In the One Saving Grace, while again this is essentially Harriet’s story, Grace is suffering. Unable to conceive a much-longed for child with husband Dan, she is absolutely over the moon when she falls unexpectedly pregnant to Seb Henderson. Unfortunately, Grace suffers severe post-natal depression which renders her unable to look after her son, Jonty properly and destroys the already flimsy relationship with Seb. My intention was to show that Post-natal depression does not discriminate or care who it chooses and can – and does – affect even the most confident, intelligent and outgoing women such as Grace.

I’ve always wanted the reader to have an impression of Grace as a strong, confident and independent woman which she clearly is. While An Off Piste Christmas takes Grace onto the next stage of her life when she becomes the mother of Pietronella who has Down’s Syndrome, all my other Westenbury novels feature Grace only fleetingly where she, together with Harriet, take on much smaller cameo roles.

It was an email from a reader last year asking what was happening to Grace, and could I write a book with her as the main character, that brought about the idea for A Village Vacancy. In this book, published by Aria on October 22nd, I have allowed Grace centre stage. While she might have perhaps previously played a lesser role to Harriet, this one is certainly Grace’s story.

A couple of reviewers have referred to Grace as a maneater who appears happy to discard her husband, Dan when the marriage breaks down once more and Dan moves out. This certainly wasn’t my intention to have Grace viewed as such. Yes, she makes a huge mistake at the start of the book, but this, I want the reader to appreciate, is totally out of character. She tries to argue that she is a strong, independent woman who has the right, on occasion, to please herself as to how she behaves, but deep down she is embarrassed and ashamed as to what she got up to on that night out in Leeds, and I would hate the reader to think of her as naturally promiscuous; she isn’t. Foolhardy, yes, amoral, no.

I wanted to show that the breakdown of two major relationships together with the terrible post-natal depression have combined to leave Grace both vulnerable and desperate for a serious, ‘proper’ relationship for both herself and her two children. If she comes a bit of a cropper in the attempt, I hope the reader will not condemn her but empathise, sympathise even, with what she’s going through. After all, life for many of us isn’t always that straightforward. We are human; we make mistakes.

Luckily, for Grace, there will be a happy ever after.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Friendship, Guest post, Historical Fiction

The Deptford Girls Patricia A.McBride #GuestPost #HistFic #TheDeptfordGirls The Lily Baker Series #WW2 #Friendship #London #BlogTour @rararesources

A country at war. Friends in trouble. A fascist traitor. Stepping up can only lead Lily to danger.

Rescuing friends or spotting spies; Private Lily Baker always gets involved.

While London burns she looks out for workmates and girlfriends but also uncovers a web of deception at the Depot where she works.

When the ruthless suspect knows she’s closing in, she must act fast to unmask the traitor and save her friends, herself, and the brave soldiers overseas whose lives are at risk.

The Deptford Girls is the fourth in the Lily Baker wartime series. This heart-wrenching story features courage, friendship, betrayal, compelling characters, and a captivating plot.

If you like vivid stories that take you right into the world of the characters, you’ll love The Deptford Girls. Cuddle up with a cuppa and enjoy this exciting, warm-hearted read.

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How I write – Guest Post Patricia A. McBride

This is a frequent topic in writing magazines – how I write and where I write. Let me tell you both.

I write anywhere where I have my laptop – cafes, on a bus, in the garden, at my kitchen table. Call me weird, but I have no rituals and no lucky mascots. Often I have no plot either which is worrying for an author. I’m sometimes found wondering what on earth to write next. How I envy writers who say they have a hundred plot ideas in their heads!

How I write is another matter. My goal is to have a plot worked out in great detail before I start. Every single scene oven ready. This would work well because when I know where I’m going with a story I write fast. Five thousand words on a good day. But as I said, that’s the goal. The reality is, I have some plot ideas worked out, and optimistically think that’s enough. It never is – hence the dreaded writers’ block.

I have a few ways to break through the block. Number one is to take my husband Rick to a nearby coffee shop and mercilessly pump him for ideas. He’s not a writer; he’s a very down-to-earth engineer, but somehow he has more imagination than me. That’s just plain unfair. So he’ll often give me great ideas, but he sometimes gets frustrated when I twist and turn them to fit the plot. ‘But that’s not what I said!’ he complains. I can’t argue with that, but without his suggestions I’d still be looking at a blank screen.

My second method is to speak to my great writing buddy, Fran Smith. We speak at least twice a week about writing and marketing. Oh, and sometimes about our husbands, but we won’t tell them that. She’s a massively supportive person who writes brilliantly (head off to Amazon to read ‘Best wishes, Sister B’ you’ll love it!  https://books2read.com/u/3Lg10M)

As with Rick, I often change her suggestions, but they are always inspirational. Both of us write period stories and find old photos aid the writing process. My Lily Baker series is set in World War Two England and France. There are hundreds of photos online that give me ideas and I love the BBCs People’s War web pages where people alive during the war tell their stories. Many of them have found their way into Lily’s novels.

While I was writing The Telephone Girls, which is set in England and France, I was absolutely stuck for a plot idea. Lily and her friends worked as telephonists in Paris for the British Expeditionary Force. They had to work right up until the German army entered the city, then they had a frantic race across France to avoid the murderous invasion. I’d already given them several horrible obstacles to overcome, then dried up. I asked for suggestions on a writing Facebook page I belong to, and someone came up with the perfect idea.

If you’d like to read The Telephone Girls, you’ll find it on Amazon now.

Patricia A. McBride

Patricia lives in Cambridge, England with her husband Rick. She first wrote non-fiction, mainly self-help books, but became inspired to try her hand at fiction. In addition to writing she volunteers for a local museum and Addenbrookes Hospital.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Return to Cornwall Laura Briggs #GuestPost @PaperDollWrites #Cornwall #RomCom @rararesources #BlogTour #ReturntoCornwall

The sequel novel to the best-selling UK series A WEDDING IN CORNWALL brings new surprises, romance, humor, and wedding bells, to readers who fell in love with the first stories.

Busy mother of two Julianne Rose has extended her talents beyond the manor house, opening her own event planning agency with the help of no-nonsense best friend Kitty. Balancing the chaos of daily life with their respective careers in their beloved Cornish village means Julianne can rarely snatch a romantic moment with handsome husband Matt. And just when it seems things couldn’t get any more chaotic, a sudden arrival at Cliffs House lands Julianne in the most unusual event of her career.

The reappearance of Percy or ‘the old earl’ after years of adventures abroad has temporarily shocked Lord William and Lady Amanda and set the entire village abuzz with gossip. Grizzled, spry, and delightfully eccentric, he’s returned with a most unusual set of traveling companions: an archaeological team digging in a spot whispered to have ties with the legendary Camelot. But it’s Percy’s ties with a certain charming woman among its team that has everyone taken by surprise, along with the news of their soon-to-be nuptials.

Tasked with planning the big day, Julianne and Kitty spring at this opportunity despite its rushed timeline and their own woes regarding the renovation of their future event space. But as the big day rolls closer for the earl and his bride-to-be – with cakes and wedding flowers competing with pottery shards and an ancient warrior chieftain’s grave for attention — are there still surprising revelations to come?

Adding to the excitement is the return of former Cliffs House maid Gemma, whose posh new life as a novelist may not be all it seems … and Dinah visits in a flurry of festive baking for a holiday competition on everyone’s favorite baking show. Kitty’s life is in a tizz regarding both family and secrets … and Julianne’s happy marriage is challenged by an unwelcome sexy-and-persistent suitor among the summer visitors.

Filled with old friends, new adventures, and heartwarming Cornish charm, RETURN TO CORNWALL is an all-new, full-length novel—the first one ever to feature the characters from the original series!

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Fun Facts about Return to Cornwall:Laura Briggs

Thank you to Jane for letting me to tell her readers about my newest romance read, Return to Cornwall. It features the same characters and setting from my long-running series A WEDDING IN CORNWALL, with the same sense of humor, romance, and adventure at its heart. There are exciting new changes too, though, and I hope that fans and new readers alike will find themselves caught up in a fun, feel-good escape when they join event planner Julianne and her friends at Cliffs House for a summer in beautiful Cornwall. I thought it might be lovely to share a few fun facts behind the story’s inspiration, so let’s dive in!

  1. Although a little cliché perhaps, the idea of an Arthurian archaeology site was inspired by Cornwall’s ties to the legendary king and his Camelot. With multiple sites in the county already linked to the beloved lore it only seemed fitting to create a fictional dig with the same special connection. My own personal favorite from the historic Arthurian locations in Cornwall is that of his supposed birth site at Tintagel Castle, with its amazing and atmospheric medieval ruins and rugged shoreline—it’s definitely on my travel wish list!
  2. Julianne and Matt’s decision to name their son Heath is fitting for two reasons, first being that it’s a plant native to Cornwall. The second reason is that Matt and Julianne’s first meeting—and subsequent fiery exchange—took place when her spiky heels trod a patch of heath that was freshly planted by the rugged gardener on the grounds of the estate she was strolling through.
  3. Readers of my Cornish wedding series have always known that it owed some of its inspiration to the BBC drama Poldark. And with subtle nods to the series having popped up in previous novellas, I couldn’t resist sneaking yet another parallel into this reunion story. Fans of the television series will likely guess which one if I say it involves a handsome admirer’s attempts to woo our married heroine through poetry—only with very different results than what happens in the television series, I might add!
  4. In the past, I’ve often watched episodes of reality wedding shows for inspiration on designs, trends, and décor that characters like Julianne would be familiar with in their work. But for this book I needed to get a feel for a very different field of work: namely, the world of archaeology and history exploration. So instead of Rich Bride, Poor Bride, I found myself binge watching episodes of Time Team and Expedition Unknown to help create the atmosphere and excitement of a dig site where ancient ruins are being discovered.

If you’re a fan of feel-good romance with a bit of drama and a lot of heart, I hope you’ll be sure to check out my latest read. And if you haven’t read Julianne’s previous adventures, now is the perfect time to start. You can find all twelve of the original novellas from A WEDDING IN CORNWALL available in individual format as well as two convenient book bundles—they go perfect with a cuppa and a sunny day in the garden!

Laura Briggs

Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

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Giveaway to Win an e-copy of Return to Cornwall by Laura Briggs (Open INT)

To enter click on giveaway link

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the giveaway link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Blitz, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Guest post, Holiday Romance, Romance

A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss Laura Briggs #GuestPost @PaperDollWrites @rararesources #Romance #Cornwall #ALittleHotelinCornwall

Weeks after boarding a train to Paris in pursuit of her writing dreams, aspiring novelist Maisie Clark is right back where she started: on the idyllic shores of Port Hewer in Cornwall, luggage in hand and heart filled with anticipation for what lies ahead. Except that nothing seems the same as Maisie left it, from her place among the staff at the hotel Penmarrow to her budding romance with groundskeeper Sidney Daniels, who isn’t quite ready to overlook the painful consequences of her sudden departure.

Losing Sidney would be unbearable, but Maisie can’t help fearing it might be true if the rift between them proves too deep to heal. She knows her feelings for him are unchanged, but whether he feels the same remains to be seen—particularly since she stopped him from expressing them in the first place. And to make matters worse, her position at the Penmarrow has been filled by another, there’s nowhere for her to live in the village, and her savings are finally dwindling to a pathetic number – with her book still unpublished after her startling discovery about the author helping guide her towards success.

But one thing which hasn’t changed is the drama and excitement at the hotel Penmarrow, where the staff is awaiting inspection from the dreaded owner Ms. Claypool. Stirring up trouble in the meantime is the owner’s special guest ‘Mad Ludwig’, an eccentric architect whose demands are definitely driving everyone on the staff a little crazy. And then there’s the hotel’s mysterious new desk manager, whose behavior ignites Maisie’s suspicions and causes her to become entangled in yet another form of intrigue—one that could unwittingly jeopardize the future of the Penmarrow and everyone who works there, unless Maisie can find a way to undo the harm.

With everything that matters to her most at stake this time, Maisie faces her biggest challenges yet…and her deepest question of the heart as she confronts the reason she returned to Cornwall and the Penmarrow in the first place.

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Reasons Readers Might Enjoy A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss: Laura Briggs

Thanks so much to Jane for this chance to tell her readers about my newest Cornish romance read. The sixth book to be released in my ‘A Little Hotel in Cornwall’ series, it shakes things up for the main character Maisie in a big way, as her life in the quaint village of Port Hewer takes a different route than the one she knows and loves so well. For this guest post, I wanted to share a few of the reasons why readers might look forward to A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss (and perhaps the other books in the series, if they have yet to read them!). So here goes:

It puts the spotlight on romance

Of course, romance has always been a part of Maisie’s Cornish journey, from the moment she woke from a cycling accident to find a handsome stranger cradling her with a look of concern. A friendship was quickly formed, their potential for ‘something more’ always just beneath the surface—with a few stolen kisses and near misses in between, of course. But this story really puts their relationship center stage, exploring those unspoken emotions and loose ends created by Maisie’s abrupt departure back in book four. It’s a bit messy, a bit angsty, and absolutely nothing like the reunion Maisie pictured…and that’s just their first conversation, the rift between them far wider than Maisie dreamed in her rush to get back from London. But since when did the course of true love ever run smooth?

It has quirky guest characters

This always seems to be a popular aspect of the Little Hotel books: the glamorous, grand, and sometimes eccentric guests who check into the opulent hotel by the sea. Past reader favorites include the celebrity ‘psychic’ hired for the earl’s birthday party in A Spirited Girl in Cornish Shores, and the infamous jewel thief known simply as La Fleur in book four of the series. This time, it’s an architect with an obsessive streak and the hotel’s jet-setting owner Ms. Claypool who are keeping the staff on their toes. And then there’s the new desk clerk Frank, whose covert activities make Maisie fear for the future of the hotel and its employees—and, of course, she’s determined to stop him before disaster ensues.

Another secret is introduced

Longtime readers of the series know that just about everyone seems to be hiding something at the hotel Penmarrow. Be it their real name, their native accent—or something even more out of the ordinary—there’s more than one person on staff pretending to be someone or something they’re not. And when it comes to this latest intrigue, Maisie finds herself curious to have the answer for personal reasons. It’s a matter close to her heart, the very reason she came to Cornwall in the first place…and even though she might not get quite the answer she’s looking for within the pages of this particular novella, it’s all leading up to bigger reveals in the final two installments of the series, and I do hope readers will agree that the answers are worth waiting for.

If you haven’t read the stories in my Cornish romance series yet, I hope you’ll be sure to check them out. Books one through six are available in digital format at Amazon and other major eBook retailers, with book seven now on pre-order.

Laura Briggs

Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Guest post, New Adult Romance, Romance

Seven and a Half Minutes Roxana Valea #GuestPost #Polo #London #Dating #Love #SevenandaHalfMinutes #BlogTour #ThePoloDiaries @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources

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? 

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Guest Post

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 and the 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

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.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Character Interview, Giveaway, Novella, Romance

Heart and the City Cecilia Fyre #BlogTour #GuestPost #CharacterInterview #Giveaway #LoveMedicine #Romance @CeciliaFyre @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #HeartandtheCity

British doctor Lea Holm has come to New York to work in her chosen field of emergency medicine. She loves her new life in this exciting city and can’t wait to get started with her research project. The last thing she needs are distractions.

But then she meets famous actor Ricco Como in her building – a distraction if ever there was one. He’s gorgeous and sweet, and there’s an immediate connection between them. Lea tries to resist temptation, but when he comes to her for help dealing with his steadily worsening migraine she can’t turn away from his plight.

As Ricco’s health takes a turn for the worse, their lives become more and more entwined. But can their growing attraction withstand the strain of his ill health, and can he let Lea be more than just his doctor?

**This novella series contains detailed descriptions of long-term health conditions, cheating and a bereavement.**

The series is set in New York City and was written before COVID-19. It makes no reference to recent events.

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Character Interview with Dr Lea Holm By Cecilia Fyre

We had the rare opportunity to catch up with Dr Lea Holm, the new girlfriend of actor Ricco Como. Lea is a doctor at Bellevue Hospital. She’s originally from London, England.

Hi Lea, thanks for agreeing to talk to us. I don’t think you’ve given many interviews like this so far?

No, this is my first, actually. I’m quite nervous.

No need, we won’t ask you anything incriminating. [Lea laughs nervously.] Now, do you want to tell us a little about yourself?

Let’s see. There isn’t much to tell. I recently moved to New York, from London. I work in an ER in the city, and as a researcher on a pain study. That’s why I came to Bellevue Hospital in the first place, to work on that study.

Is this your first time living in Manhattan?

I don’t actually live in Manhattan now, I moved to Queens. This city is insanely expensive, even worse than London! [laughs] My little flat is cute, but even out there it’s expensive. But yes, to answer your question. I’ve never lived in the States before.

So, let’s get to the juicy details, the questions our readers are eagerly awaiting: How did you and Ricco meet?

Well, when I first moved to New York I did live in Manhattan. I knew someone who knew someone who wanted a lodger for a few months. That guy lives in Ricco’s building, and I met Ricco in the hall one day.

Was it love at first sight?

Not really. We had coffee soon afterwards, though. So I guess we at least liked each other.

What is it like being with someone famous? Is it harder than dating normal people?

Oh yeah! [laughs again] It’s a lot harder, because so many people are interested in Ricco’s private life. So we kind of try to stay out of the spotlight, you know? But it’s also hard for other reasons. He works really long hours, and is often away for work. And I work long hours too. So we don’t always see each other as much as we’d like.

I bet that sucks especially. Being with a guy like Ricco and not being able to see him much?

I’m used to people who are passionate about their work. Doctors are like that as well, so we have that in common, which helps, I think. And when we do get to spend time together it’s really special. We try and make the most of it.

Okay, let’s do a few quick-fire questions to close off the interview. One word answers only!

Fire away!

Is Ricco a good kisser?

Yes!

Who does the dishes, he or you?

The dishwasher! [she claps her hand to her mouth] Sorry that’s two words.

Are you messy or neat?

Ricco – neat. Me – not!

Who gets to choose the TV station, or the Netflix show to watch?

Me! Always, always me! [laughs]

And that’s the end of the interview. Thank you so much for taking the time for us, and all the best to you two!

Thank you! And it was my pleasure!

Here’s an extract from Heart and the City

Heart and the City (Love Medicine Book 1)

© 2020, Cecilia Fyre

Chapter 1

Lea stepped out of the elevator and heard a weird, humming sound. No, not humming. Purring. Looking around her she spotted a black cat in the crevice under a nearby radiator.

“Hey, who’re you?” she murmured.

Big, green cat eyes stared at her out of the gloom, the jet-black body obscured in the shadows.

“Are you running away?” She crouched down and held out a hand. For a moment the cat looked like it was going to hiss at her. But then it slunk over, belly close to the marble floor. It was still purring.

Truth be told, Lea wasn’t really a cat person. She preferred dogs. Or maybe, in the tiny New York apartments, a cockatiel would be nice. Though this kitty was pretty cute. Its coat was fluffy, and it was a little on the chubby side. Well cared for, certainly. Of course, it would be, in this swanky Little Italy apartment building where the cheapest unit cost well over three million dollars. And whoever the cat belonged to was probably looking for it. So Lea braced herself and picked it up.

The elevator servicing the apartments on this floor was hidden away in a nook at the end of the hallway. As Lea stepped out from that little space now, the cat hanging relaxed in her arms, the door at the opposite end of the hallway opened. A man peered through it. “Carl? Man, if you slipped out, I’ll…sh*t…oh.”

He spotted Lea and opened the door wider. She felt foolish asking since he had pretty much confirmed it. “He yours?” She nodded at the cat in her arms, who had wriggled onto his back, head lolling, looking at her with those weird, slitted eyes.

“Yeah, he is,” the man said. “Little f**ker… sorry.”

She hid her smile as the color rose in his face. “Did he give you the slip?”

He nodded. Lea walked the length of the hallway, taking the opportunity to study him. Brown hair to just over his ears, tousled and standing up in places like he’d just woken up. His eyes were very blue, slightly slanted, and returning her gaze openly. Nice cheekbones that gave his features a certain finesse. He had boyish good looks that could only be helpful in his line of work. He wore a black T-shirt and grey sweatpants, and despite his handsome face, his smile was a little shy and very ordinary. Lea already knew who he was.

Despite what she might have said to Carmine about not caring for the famous people living in his building, now that she found herself face to face with one her heart jumped in her chest and her hands that were still clasping the cat began to sweat.

When she reached him, she held out her arms, uncertain of what to do. He smiled again, then disentangled the furry creature from his cozy spot.

“Thanks a lot.”

Lea returned his smile. “No problem.”

He wrestled for a moment with the cat, who was trying to crawl onto his shoulder. Once the cat had settled, looking very much at home, he extended his hand. “I’m Ricco.”

Lea was about to say, I know, but then decided against it. She shook his hand. “I’m Lea. Nice to meet you.”

Ricco gestured behind himself. “D’you wanna come in for a coffee? Thanks to you my afternoon won’t be wasted looking for this monster now.” He patted the animal, who purred.

Lea shook her head. She could’ve kicked herself. “I’m sorry, I can’t. My shift starts in less than an hour.” She glanced at her watch. She’d rushed out to run some errands she’d forgotten about all week and was running late now.

“Oh, okay… maybe another time.” He seemed disappointed, but Lea found that hard to believe. Why’d he care one way or another?

She banished the cynicism. “Definitely.”

Ricco was still looking at her, and the intensity of his gaze made Lea feel uneasy. He seemed to notice and lowered his eyes, retreating into his doorway. Lea turned to retrace her steps to the door furthest from his.

“See you later,” he said. Lea glanced around and he gave her a one-handed wave. She waved back and began to dig in her bag for the house keys. His door fell shut. Lea inserted her key into her own door, then stopped and glanced back down the corridor. Her heartbeat rather fast and her hands shook. She couldn’t understand why that should be so. She’d never cared a fig about celebrities.

Cecilia Fyre is the pen name of a romance author trying out something new.

She likes sunny, crisp autumn days. Cups of hot cocoa with little marshmallows floating on top. The roaring of the sea. Laughing until your face hurts. The silence when you curl up with a good book. 

Her stories are about people. Some of them are strange, some think they’re boring. They all have secrets, they’re all scared sometimes. Cecilia writes about life, about love. About how hard it is to do it right. Usually, there’s a happy ending, or at least there might be one, someday.

​But life’s not all sunshine and roses, and that’s why Cecilia tells her stories.

In the real world, Cecilia lives in England.

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Giveaway – (Open INT)

Win 2 x A Complete set of all 5 novellas in the

Love Medicine series, in an ebook format.

The five novellas are: Book 1 – Heart and the City Book 2 – Unexpected Truth Book 3 – Been There Before Book 4 – Wish The Pain Away Book 5 – A Thousand Little Pieces

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Giveaway Link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Sing Me A Secret Julie Houston 5*#Review @JulieHouston2 @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #guestpost #BlogTour #BookReview #SingMeASecret #Westenbury #WednesdayMotivation

The four Sutherland sisters have all had very different paths in life, but one secret and a slighty tense production of Jesus Christ Superstar are about to bring them all back together again…

When the news that pop-superstar Lexia Sutherland is returning to Westenbury, not everyone is thrilled by the news – including Lexia. There are too many memories she doesn’t need to face – or need re-surfacing. Meanwhile, Juno Sutherland just wants a little peace and quiet.

As the local village doctor, she’s got her priorities in order; kids, job, husband, tenacious pony, a role in the village musical… So when the sexy new locum turns up – and steals her office – the last thing she needed was to be hit with rising temperatures and an over-active imagination.

Will these sisters be able to uncover the past, deal with the future and put on the performance of a lifetime?

Return to Westenbury this spring and find out.

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

My Thoughts…

Relatable characters in an authentic village setting make this story captivating, humorous, poignant and romantic.

The Sutherland sisters grew up in the village and have gradually returned. All except for Lexia the youngest. Their family ripped apart by their parent’s infidelity and mental health issues, has a chance to heal with Lexia’s return. This story explores the sisters’dark secrets, mental health issues, and relationships sensitively.

The balance of laugh out loud and tear-jerking moments are perfect in this realistic story. Character-driven it’s absorbing, you believe in the characters and care what happens to them.

I loved the risque romance, the lovely Tilda and her quirky pets. Lexia’s story is sad and resonates. Thankfully the ending is positive for all the sisters.

Guest Post – Sing Me A Secret – Julia Houston

SING ME A SECRET returns to the village of Westenbury in West Yorkshire where Pandora Boothroyd, the self-appointed First Lady of the village, has put forward an application to The Really Useful Group – an actual organisation that gives permission for local rep. companies and choirs to perform the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The story was somewhat inspired by my own venture into musical theatre.

About fifteen years ago, the choir I’d sung with for several years, was given permission by The Really Useful Group to put on a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar in Leeds Town Hall, the several hundred-strong choir taking the part of the chorus waving palm leaves and belting out the many songs, while Jesus and Judas were drafted in from another part of Yorkshire to strengthen the ranks.

And what a Jesus! I can’t even remember his name now but he was gorgeous, and at every weekly rehearsal we’d be asking, ‘Jesus, just look at Jesus. Is Jesus here yet? When’s Jesus going to do his bit? No Jesus tonight?’ We were all a little bit in love, starstruck even, by this talented young man who, during the day, was possibly a painter and decorator, a postman, a teacher – I really have no idea – but at every Monday rehearsal night was transformed into the son of God.

Similarly, when the characters from SING ME A SECRET are first introduced to their Jesus, there is much wide-eyed oohing and aahing amongst the women:

Everyone…’Pandora trilled, holding out an arm before kissing Jesus as if she were compering the Oscars. ‘Everyone, I want you to give a warm welcome to Brett Bailey. Brett is from Barnsley – he’s just finished a run of Joseph in Sheffield – but has agreed to travel over every week to be with us.’

‘Brett Bailey from Barnsley?’ Ariadne, at Juno’s side, who up until then had said very little throughout the proceedings, gave a loud bark of laughter and then started giggling, unable to stop.

‘Oh, but look at him,’ Izzy sighed. ‘Look at Jesus. Jesus, he can lay his hands on me anytime.’

At our actual rehearsals in Leeds, it appeared that someone was missing: seemingly we didn’t have a Herod. During rehearsals, at the point where Herod should be going for his one big number – historically camped up and wearing an over-the-top costume – our musical director, Gary, would simply pass over Herod’s entrance and go on to the next. It wasn’t until the dress rehearsal, when we’d almost forgotten that Herod even existed in the musical, that he made an appearance, flamboyant in yellow suit and purple wig. To begin with, we couldn’t quite work out who was hiding under the wig until he started to sing and we realised it was Gary, the musical director himself. He was brilliant, really superb, and I’ve recreated this scene in SING ME A SECRET when the village have lost their first Herod and a new manifestation then makes an appearance in yellow suit and purple wig, the rest of the choir at first unable to work out just who it is up camping it up on the stage.

What was so great for me, when writing this story, was losing myself once again in the many fantastic numbers in this musical, almost waving a virtual palm leaf as I wrote, remembering not only our very own gorgeous and brilliant Jesus, but my eight-year-old son constantly singing around the house:

Jesus Christ, Superstar

Six feet tall and he wears a bra.

Julie Houston is the author of The One Saving Grace, Goodness, Grace and Me and Looking for Lucy, a Kindle bestseller top100 general, and a Kindle bestseller Number1. She is married, with the two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Blitz, Guest post, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Travel

Through Dust and Dreams. An African Adventure Roxana Valea ​#GuestPost @roxana_valea @rararesources #Travel #memoir #Africa #ThroughDustandDreams #BlogBlitz #SundayThoughts #RachelsRandomResources

At a crossroads in her life, Roxana decides to take a ten-day safari trip to Africa. In Namibia, she meets a local guide who talks about “the courage to become who you are” and tells her that “the world belongs to those who dream”.

Her holiday over, Roxana still carries the spell of his words within her soul. Six months later she quits her job and searches for a way to fulfil an old dream: crossing Africa from north to south. Teaming up with Richard and Peter, two total strangers she meets over the Internet, Roxana starts a journey that will take her and her companions from Morocco to Namibia, crossing deserts and war-torn countries and surviving threats from corrupt officials and tensions within their own group.

Through Dust and Dreams is the story of their journey: a story of courage and friendship, of daring to ask questions and search for answers, and of self-discovery on a long, dusty road south.

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Guest Post – Roxana Valea

Through Dust and Dreams.

Follow your dreams

“The world belongs to those who dreams.” he told me looking deep into my eyes.

I was a tourist on a ten day safari trip in Namibia. He was the tour guide. We were finishing our drinks late at night under the full moon. The rest of the tourists were already asleep but I didn’t want to go to sleep. It was my last night in Africa and I didn’t feel ready to go back and face my job, my life, my flat, and all the emptiness I left behind.

I thought it was only a big statement called in by too much alcohol. I pretended I didn’t hear it. But somewhere deep down, it touched me. What are my dreams? I asked myself. I didn’t know. I hadn’t asked myself the question.

I went back the next day and returned to a life that was a far cry from what I really wanted. Not that I actually knew what was it that I really wanted. But then, something magic happened. I started to dream again. New things came into my mind, at the beginning like a shy day dreaming thought that would quickly disappear. Slowly, these thoughts turned into constant companions. Thoughts  like “I want to go back to Africa. I want to travel. I want to find a job that has meaning. I want to explore where I really want to live and what type of job I really want to do.” And then another though hit me with the power of a hammer: these were more than wishes.

These were my dreams.

And then, six month later, when I was offered a moment of choice, I took it. I chose to get up and go follow these dreams and turn them into reality. I left my job and went back to Africa.

Dreams are not wishes. They are not frustrations about things that should have happened in a certain way and didn’t. They are also not the product of imagination, some bubble that comes and stays with us for a while and then departs as unexpectedly and suddenly as it came. Dreams come from somewhere deep down, from the bottom of our soul. Dreams originate from the very fabric of who we really are and come to tell us a story about why we were born and what we are meant to do here, on earth. Dreams are the way your soul talks to us.

In the high Andes, the shamans, the medicine men and women of the descendants of the Incas, say that we dream the world into being. What they mean is that the reality that surrounds us – where we live, who we marry, what type of job we do – all this is a product of a dream that we have dreamed at some point. We might have done this unconsciously and didn’t fully understand what reality we had called into our life. But we may choose to do this consciously, select the dreams that we dream and then watch how this unfolds in reality.

Because, you see, in order to dream your world into being, it’s enough to hold your dreams in your consciousness. Be aware of them. Let them live in you. Let them inspire you.

So I kept these dreams alive and  six months after my return from the ten day safari in Namibia, I found a once in a life time opportunity to cross Africa from North to South, in a Land Rover, in the company of two others.

And here’s the last catch. Things come to us because we dreamed them. But then we need to take the decision to follow them. The opportunity could have come and gone and I could have stayed in my  meaningless job and carried on with my  empty life in my small flat. But I decided differently.

And with this, a whole new world opened up. Because my African guide was right, the world does belong to those who dream.

If you want to know the whole story, read my travel memoir, “Through Dust and Dreams – The Story of an African Adventure”

Roxana Valea

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.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Lost Girls Jennifer Wells 4*#Review @jenwellswriter @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #HistFic #HistoricalFiction #Secrets #Lies #FamilyDrama #BlogTour #BookReview

The Lost Girls – Jennifer Wells

Everyone remembers the day the girls went missing.

May Day 1912, a day that haunts Missensham. The day two girls disappeared. The day the girls were murdered.
Iris Caldwell and Nell Ryland were never meant to be friends. From two very different backgrounds, one the heir to the Caldwell estate, the other a humble vicar’s daughter. Both have their secrets, both have their pasts, but they each find solace with one another and soon their futures become irrevocably intertwined.
Now, many years later, old footage has emerged which shows that Iris Caldwell may not have died on that spring morning. The village must work out what happened the day the girls went missing…

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

My Thoughts…

The Lost Girls is a surprisingly poignant story of two girls, from different social classes, who dared to defy society’s norms. An old home movie, showing a girl who went missing, believed abducted and murdered, is the catalyst for a surprising chain of events.

The characters are complex and flawed, and their story is full of dark secrets, and desperate emotion. An absorbing, engaging story, with a uniqueness that keeps you reading.

Guest Post- Jennifer Wells-The Lost Girls

The little moments which bring the past back to life

There is something quite eerie about old films. I don’t mean cinematic classics or even the first Hollywood movies. I’m talking about the old cine films that survive from the early twentieth century. Such films were shot using cumbersome machines, where filming depended on an operator who could doggedly turn a crank handle for minutes on end. These machines produced images that are little more than light and shadow – grainy outlines and stuttering movements – yet there is something about them that is very alluring.

Among these films are some of the very first home movies. They show horse-drawn trams battling through busy shopping streets, exuberant workers spilling from factory gates, football matches, political marches and family events. The women wear shawls or gloves, their skirts swishing around their ankles as they walk. The men strut boldly, their hands thrust into the pockets of their suits. But whether young, old, rich or poor – everyone wears a hat.

The films I am describing are now over a hundred years old. The Edwardian era is a time that has become unfamiliar to us. When you watch such films, the horse-drawn trams and long skirts seem like things that only ever existed in the pages of history books, and the people appear, not as busy shoppers or factory workers, but ghosts.

It is the ghost-like quality of such films that gave me the inspiration for the opening scene of my latest novel, THE LOST GIRLS. The novel opens in 1937 with a public screening of an old film – a lost home movie that had been shot 25 years earlier on May Day 1912. As the audience watch entranced, the image of a girl in a white dress flashes on to the screen. Her face is one that they all recognise – Iris Caldwell, a girl who was thought to be dead by that May Day morning. A girl presumed murdered.

When I first started writing THE LOST GIRLS, Iris Caldwell was little more than a ghost to me. She was no more than one of those old cine film images, her face in shadow and her movements slow and stuttering. But I wanted to give life to a character who might have appeared in one of these old films, and soon the girl in the white dress became flesh and blood to me. Iris Caldwell became a girl who, like many others, loved to read novels and longed for friendships. She also became a girl with terrible secrets and forbidden desires. We live in a time that is very different from 1912. The horse-drawn trams, long skirts and a multitude of hats belong to a world that seems very strange to us. Yet, among the grainy faces that peer out from the past, we can sometimes spot a smile or a wink – something that reminds us that the people who lived back then were not so different to us after all. It is these little moments which bring the past so much closer again.

Jennifer Wells

Jennifer is the author of THE LIAR, THE MURDERESS, THE SECRET and THE LOST GIRLS published by Aria Fiction. Her novels involve the themes of family, betrayal and love and are set in the home counties in the early 20th century. Jennifer lives in Devon with her young family and cats.

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