Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Guest post, New Books, Romance, Travel

The Night We Met @zoefolbigg 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #Romance #PublicationDay #serendipity #guestpost #TheNightWeMet #BlogTour #BookReview

The Story…

 As a man holds his wife’s frail hand, he recounts a journey like no other…

Daniel and Olivia are destined to be together. At least, Daniel thinks this the night he sees Olivia across a sea of people. As he backpacks through Australia, Daniel and Liv continue to cross paths, yet never speak. Until one night, Liv joins Daniel for a drink. And that night everything changes.

Back in London, stuck in a monotonous routine, Daniel finds himself daydreaming of the woman with green eyes and fiery hair. Armed with only a name he begins a hunt to find her. With every passing moment, Daniel’s hopes begin to disappear. What if it wasn’t meant to be?

But then fate steps in, and Daniel and Olivia’s story can truly begin…

This is a tale of serendipity, missed chances and the power of love.

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

My Thoughts…

If you think for a moment I’m sure you can remember making a connection with a stranger and wondering what would happen if you’d taken it further? Daniel and Olivia’s love story grows from a series of encounters at different times and time zones. These culminate in one night where they realise they should be together. The story could end there, happily, but it doesn’t. Olivia begs Daniel to write their story for their daughters.

This is an emotional journey full of serendipitous moments. The locational settings across the world, are rich with vivid imagery that immerses the reader in the time and place. The characters and the familial dynamic is relatable, and at times heartbreaking.

This is an undeniably, sad story, but there are lots of happy moments and powerful relationships, that resonate. The poignant ending contains elements of positivity about the family’s survival and future happiness.

Guest post by Zoë Folbigg – The Night We Met

It all started with a glance out of the window, on a bus in Australia. I was 18 and backpacking with my friend Jo, and as our Greyhound overtook another Greyhound up the East Coast highway, I looked out of the window and saw a guy looking back at me from the bus we were overtaking. It was a face I had already seen in three hostels in Australia, at the central Post Office in Christchurch, and on a flight from Fiji to Auckland. The coincidences were getting crazy. We’d never spoken, but gave each other a smile and a look of recognition. A little wave that said a friendly “hi”. These coincidences were spooky – so when we got to our destination and bumped into him again, in our hostel kitchen in Cairns, we decided to go for a drink.

He was friendly and had a sweet face. His name was Robert and he was from Holland. He, Jo and I went for a beer, chatted, talked about our travels and laughed about the coincidences, and then we never saw him again – he was heading back to Europe the next day.

There was no romance or thunderbolt moment – but the coincidences of seeing him in the strangest of places on the other side of the world stuck with me and I remembered that feeling of serendipity – we were meant to chat and go for that drink – when I fell for a handsome stranger on my daily commute; I remembered him when I was writing my debut novel, The Note, and I remembered him when I was writing The Night We Met.

Because that feeling of sliding doors and missed opportunities; of coincidences and excitement in exciting places, has always stayed with me, more than ever as I wrote the story of Daniel and Olivia, who meet on the other side of the world, and keep bumping into each other in the strangest of places.

Daniel and Olivia are destined to be together, and I hope that feeling comes through the book: that the universe conspires for things to happen to us and some things are meant to be, whether it’s for one friendly evening or a lifetime of love. And I think we’re more open to them than ever when we’re travelling, with our eyes are open, seeing the world. I hope when the world opens up and we can travel again, people can find inspiration, friendship – or perhaps the love of their life – on their next adventure.

Zoë Folbigg

Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Guest post, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Mystery, New Books

Just Bea Deborah Klee #GuestPost @DeborahKlee @rararesources #homeless #uplit #selfdiscovery #mystery #BlogTour

Sometimes you have to stop trying to be like everyone else and just be yourself.

Bea Stevens and Ryan O Marley are in danger of falling through the cracks of their own lives; the only difference between them is that Bea doesn’t know it yet.

When her world is shaken like a snow-globe, Bea has to do what she does best; adapt. Homeless man Ryan is the key to unlocking the mystery of her friend Declan’s disappearance but can she and Ryan trust one another enough to work together? 

As the pieces of her life settle in new and unexpected places, like the first fall of snow, Bea must make a choice: does she try to salvage who she was or embrace who she might become?

Just Bea takes the reader on a heart-warming journey from the glamour of a West End store to the harsh reality of life on the streets and reminds us all that home really is where the heart is.

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Just Bea -Homelessness Guest Post Deborah Klee

I was inspired to write Just Bea as there were two occasions when women I knew said that they were tempted to offer a temporary home to a homeless man. The first was a single woman whose two children had left home for university. She came across a young man, a similar age to her absent son, who was living in a tent. It was winter and her heart went out to him. She seriously considered offering him a home rent free, until her children talked her out of it as they didn’t want their mother putting herself at risk.

Several years later a gentle, caring woman who lived in my village told me about a homeless man who had been sleeping rough in our neighbourhood. This was an unusual occurrence in our little community. This woman befriended the man, buying him food and giving him books to read. As she came to know him better, she was tempted to offer him a room in her house. Again, friends and family advised her not to do so as they felt it was unsafe.

I can understand how a compassionate woman might be persuaded to invite a homeless man into her home. Bea Stevens, the protagonist in my story has more reason than most: Ryan, the homeless man, is known and trusted by her friend Declan, Bea has had too much to drink at the office party and so her judgement is impaired, she spilt hot chocolate over Ryan’s sleeping bag, and it is snowing heavily.

‘Why don’t you sleep in my spare bedroom tonight?’ Bea blurted out and immediately regretted it. She didn’t know anything about him. But he was a close friend of Declan, and she owed it to Declan. It was too cold for Ryan to sleep outside.

            Ryan looked as though he too was surprised by her suggestion. ‘Because you’re a single girl. A slightly inebriated single girl. I’ve got a little sister, about your age. I would be telling her not to let a strange man into her home on any account – no matter what the circumstances.’

            But he’s not a stranger, Bea thought, and then she decided if Declan trusted him, then so could she. ‘Please. It would make me feel better about spilling hot chocolate on your sleeping bag. I could pop it in my washing machine and it’ll be dry by the morning.’

            ‘I’m not sure. This’ll be the booze a talking. You’ll wake up, forget you invited me in, and scream blue murder.’

            They looked at each other, each weighing up the risks. The snow whirled in the light of a street lamp and Ryan pulled his jacket closer around him. ‘I’d better be off. This isn’t going to let up.’

            ‘That settles it,’ Bea said. ‘Come inside before we both freeze to death.’

One day when I was walking across London Bridge on my way to work, I noticed a young Mediterranean looking man huddled in a blanket. I looked closely at his face and imagined him as a tour guide, a gondolier on a Venice canal, anything but a homeless man. He could have been anything. Anyone. He mattered. At that time, I was too shy to talk to him. Further along the bridge I noticed a woman ask another homeless man whether he would like a tea or coffee. I chased after the woman and asked her whether her offer was welcomed by homeless people or refused. She assured me that it was always appreciated. From that day on, I have always offered to buy a drink and sometimes food for the people I meet who are living on the street. It has also helped me in my research. One man told me that by listening to him I had given him all that he needed.

Everyone who becomes homeless has a story. It is easy to fall through the gaps as Bea and Ryan discovered in Just Bea.

Deborah Klee

Deborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.

Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.

Just Bea is her second novel. Her debut The Borrowed Boy was published last year.

Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Guest post, New Books, Romantic Comedy

Love and Ohana Drama Melissa Baldwin #GuestPost @mpbaldwinauthor @rararesources #RomCom

Love and Ohana Drama is a romantic comedy that explores the challenges of family dynamics and reminds readers that there is always hope for a second chance. Sometimes the most challenging situations bring the most happiness . . .

Twenty-something Cora Fletcher is a book-loving public relations executive who lives with her overly Zen best friend and attention-loving cat. Newly single and focusing on her exciting career, she feels like she’s in a good place. She’s even been invited on an all-expenses-paid Hawaiian vacation! The only catch—it’s a family reunion . . . and her family can be a lot to handle.

Cora vows to not let that get in the way, but even before the family has boarded the plane, the ohana drama begins. As usual, there’s the sister-in-law who is bent on causing friction, the self-centered cousins, and the aunt who loves to party a bit too much. Her mother has filled the itinerary with endless activities, and she’s even invited Cora’s ex-boyfriend in an attempt to get them back together.

Although she feels overwhelmed, Cora gets a blast from her past that could impact her life forever. This is one welcome reunion she did not expect . . .

Will Cora make it through a week of family togetherness? And will she be able to say aloha to someone she thought was out of her life forever?

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Goals: Guest post by Melissa Baldwin

Welcome 2021, I’m glad you’re here. With the start of the new year, I’ve been making a list of things I hope to accomplish in the coming months. Being the Type A person that I am, setting goals is huge for me. I divide my list into professional, spiritual, family, and personal categories. (Yes, I’m that person J)

After 2020 (we won’t get into that) I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.

There’s something exhilarating about checking an item off a list. Taking the time and staying focused despite the many distractions of daily life is a great feeling.

This year I’m hoping to release four (possibly five) new books including a new series. To help me stay on track I use my trusty planner, lots of sticky notes and I started talking with a life coach. And since my memory isn’t what it used to be, I have to write everything down. My husband used my office recently and was in awe at the number of post-it notes strategically placed all over my desk. I like to call it organized chaos.

Staying organized and keeping my days structured is necessary for me to keep up with everything I have to do. I’m a busy author, mother, and wife and it’s easy to let things slip through the cracks.

Of course, there are some days I’d prefer to sit on the couch and watch Beverly Hills 90210 re-runs. Those guilty pleasures just love to creep in and mess with my productivity.

Although there is quite a bit of uncertainty right now, I’m choosing to stay positive for a great year. I look forward to bringing more stories to life in 2021. Stay tuned for more from Melissa Baldwin.

Melissa Baldwin

Melissa Baldwin is a planner-obsessed Disney fan who still watches Beverly Hills 90210 reruns and General Hospital.

She’s a wife, mother, and journal keeper, who finally decided to write the book she talked about for years. She took her dream to the next level, and is now an award-winning, bestselling author of nineteen Romantic Comedy and Cozy Mystery novels and novellas. Melissa writes about charming, ambitious, and real women, and she considers these leading ladies to be part of her tribe.

When she isn’t deep in the writing zone, this multitasking master organizer keeps busy by spending time with her family, chauffeuring her daughter, traveling, attempting yoga poses, and going on rides at Disney World.

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*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, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

One Snowy Week in Springhollow Lucy Knott 4*#Review @LucyCKnott @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #BookReview #RomCom #OneSnowyWeek #Festive #SecondChance #Romance #uplit #GuestPost

Tomboy Scarlett thought Devon would be her best friend forever. He was the only person in Springhollow who supported her ambitious artist dreams. But then one winter, Devon and his parents disappear without warning to start a new life in NYC and a devastated Scarlett is left alone to face her high-school bullies and overbearing mother.

Fast-forward ten years: Scarlett is playing it safe in her childhood village with a dull PA job and a wardrobe that passes her mother’s old-fashioned standards. Meanwhile, Devon is a Hollywood heartthrob, starring in the latest superhero blockbuster. And he’s finally coming home for Christmas…

Scarlett can’t help blaming her former best friend for the way her life has turned out, but Devon’s cheeky charm and gorgeous smile prove difficult to resist. Devon always did make her feel on top of the world, but Scarlett knows her heart isn’t racing just because she has her friend back – is it mistletoe madness, or is she seeing Devon in a completely new light?

Scarlett hasn’t taken a risk in years… but this Christmas of second chances could finally be her time to shine.

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‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ –

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

My Thoughts…

This is a charming story of two childhood friends reunited as adults. Both are different people but can they recapture their friendship? The characters are flawed and relatable. Scarlett is likeable and easy to empathise. Her originality shines through, and she grows as a character throughout the story in a satisfying way.

This festive story is an enjoyable read, with realistic characters relationships and gentle romance. The small-town setting is perfect for the festive time of year.

The Inspiration behind my story. Lucy Knott

There was a chill in the air, a cool wind that nipped at my cheeks as I walked the busy sidewalks of Times Square. I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck being careful not to bump into the fast walking pedestrians doing their late night shopping or possibly heading out to see a show, or just simply going about their day to day lives in New York City a day after Christmas. Myself, I was on a mission. The festive spirit lingered in the night, twinkling lights and Christmas décor sparkled from every shop window and I had to find Broadway.

Ticket in hand, a smile permanently etched on my face, I find my destination. After taking in the bold, bright, and beautiful posters and the lettering that read ‘First Date,’ I ducked inside and took my seat. Two hours of pure joy, laughter and entertainment followed as I experienced my first Broadway show in New York. The show was fantastic, the music was fabulous and the fact that I was getting to watch one of my favourite actors, Zachary Levi, perform in front of my very eyes was a dream come true.

Shuffling out of the building and back into the frosty night among other Zac fans, I remember the message I got earlier from my sister, Kelly, who was all the way in England. The message had told me that Zac said he would come out after the show to say hi to people. So, I zip up my coat to ward off the cold and stick around with the crowd.

It doesn’t take long before Zac emerges, and I stand back in awe. I calmly wait my turn to meet him and watch as he puts everyone at ease and makes time for them. When it’s my turn to say hello, he beams and asks me questions, asks where Kelly is and about my being a wrestler and I in turn tell him of his awesomeness. We say our goodbyes and I proceed to skip around New York City delighting in my own little Fairy Tale of New York as I stand in front of the Rockefeller tree unable to wipe the smile off my face.

And just like that a story idea was born.

That was back in 2013. It would take seven years before my initial story idea and hastily written out three chapters became a fully-fledged world in my head and before that spark of inspiration became ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow.’ I met a hero of mine that night and it was the catalyst for my book that looks at embracing who you are and never losing that childhood joy within. I feel that often when we grow up there is a lot of pressure to act and be a certain way. Society and social media seem to dictate what is cool, sophisticated, and empowering. It likes to tell you where you should be and what you should have achieved by a certain age. But what happens when you feel like you don’t fit in? What do you do when it always feels like you’re an outsider looking in? What happens when your dreams aren’t approved by others? What do you do when you don’t look how other people think you should look or act how people think you should act?

When I was thirteen, I loved the pop punk band Good Charlotte. I think it surprised people at school considering the first ever concert I attended was Gareth Gates and therefore liking Good Charlotte didn’t quite fit. To the school’s resident rockers, I wasn’t a proper punk. At that very same age I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was going to be a Professional Wrestler. However, two shy girls (my twin sister Kelly and I) with no social skills, a penchant for awkwardness and a love of baggy kaki pants and oversized wrestling tees, did not a wrestler make. The women on TV were models, how on earth were two small girls from Stockport going to be wrestlers? The answer to that question according to the other kids at school and most of the adults around me was quite simple, they were definitely not going to be wrestlers, and it was a rather humorous and entertaining anecdote. The laughs were a plenty. Needless to say, I felt like I spent the majority of my teen years trying to justify what I liked and what I wanted to do.

All these year later, I’m thirty-two years old, had a successful wrestling career, still love Good Charlotte and have realised that I don’t have to fit into a box. However, that still doesn’t stop those niggling insecurities. Nowadays, someone doesn’t even have to make a comment about me acting my age or looking my age for me to feel anxious, those nerves are always at the back of my mind. I can’t seem to shake them. Those underlying fears are where Scarlett’s character in ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ came from. I wanted to write a character who felt a little hopeless and didn’t fit in and I wanted to see her come out at the other end feeling strong, confident and inspired by all the things that make her, her.

Furthermore, I wanted to write a story that saw two people carry the things they loved as children with them into adulthood and not feel ashamed of doing so. I wanted Scarlett and Devon to be unapologetic about their love of Superheroes because life is way too short to not enjoy or shout from the rooftops about the things, the people and the adventures that make us happy.

Seven years after meeting Zachary Levi on that magical New York night I got to meet him again at my first ever Comic Con while he was promoting Shazam. I loved that when he talked about being a Superhero his eyes lit up and he wasn’t afraid of being excited about it. I loved that while doing press for the movie that you could clearly see how enthusiastic he was about becoming a real-life Superhero. When I met Zac again, he was just as kind, wonderful and inspirational. To me, he’s always embodied joy, fun and love and ultimately, I wanted ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ to be a combination of all those things.

‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ to me is about overcoming those childhood scars, figuring out who you are and loving that person the whole way. It’s about fighting for the people that make us feel seen and realising that you are worthy of your own fairy tale. (of New York.)

So, next time the people at your local Cinema save you a life size cardboard cut-out of Shazam, (see, there will be people that get you) and you have to walk past all the hip, cool and quaint restaurants where people are enjoying a sophisticated cocktail and chilled beer on the patios outside and they offer you odd and curious looks as you hold said giant cardboard cut-out, hold your head high, don’t feel embarrassed and rock it because you in all your nerdy, goofy, beautiful glory are SHAMAZING!

All my love

Lucy xx

Lucy Knott

Lucy Knott is a former professional wrestler with a passion for storytelling. Now, instead of telling her stories in the ring, she’s putting pen to paper, fulfilling another lifelong dream in becoming an Author.

Inspired by her Italian Grandparents, when she is not writing you will most likely find her cooking, baking and devouring Italian food, in addition to learning Italian and daydreaming of trips to Italy.

Along with her twin sister, Kelly, Lucy runs TheBlossomTwins.com, where she enthusiastically shares her love for books, baking and Italy, with daily posts, reviews and recipes.

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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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