Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Guest post, Holiday Romance, Romantic Comedy

Wedding Bells at Villa Limoncello – Daisy James @canelo_co @daisyjamesbooks #BlogTour #4*#Review #GuestPost #RomCom #MondayBlogs#TuscanTrilogy

When Isabella Jenkins is unceremoniously fired from her fancy London job, she escapes to Tuscany. A few weeks hiding amongst rolling hills and grape vines at Villa Limoncello sounds exactly like the distraction she needs.

But Italy holds emotional memories for Izzy and with a hapless handyman, a matchmaking village matriarch and a gorgeous – if infuriating – local chef named Luca Castelotti, her quiet Italian getaway turns into an unending cacophony of chaos.

Suddenly Izzie finds herself on a mission to pull off the wedding of the century and maybe get her life in order in the process. If only Luca’s gorgeous smile wasn’t such a powerful distraction…

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Guest Post -Daisy James-Wedding Bells at Villa Limoncello

First of all, a huge thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. It’s great to be here to tell you about my brand-new book Wedding Bells at Villa Limoncello.

Anyone who has read one of my books will know that I love writing stories with a strong sense of place and Villa Limoncello series is no exception. I spent an amazing few days in Tuscany last year and loved it so much I just knew I had to write a story that was set there.

I had a fabulous time researching the area around Florence; the art, the history, the culture, the traditions, the scenic towns and villages, the vineyards, but mainly the cuisine! Italy is famous for its fabulous pizzas and pasta dishes, and its amazing wine – think prosecco and Chianti – but it’s also well-known for its delicious desserts from tiramisu to cannoli, from panforte to the many flavours of gelato – blue cheese and walnut flavour anyone?

In Wedding bells at Villa Limoncello, Izzie is asked to organise a film shoot at a care-worn villa in the Tuscan hills where she meets Luca who is a chef at the local trattoria. This gave me the chance to investigate the recipes particular to the area, as well as the passion with which Italians approach every aspect of their food – after all, Italy is where the ‘slow-food’ movement started as a reaction to the creeping invasion of ‘fast food’. I even read about one family who hadn’t spoken to their neighbours for twenty years because they put parsley in their minestrone – there’s passion for you!

As Luca bakes up a storm in the story, I couldn’t include a culinary scene without having taste-tested the recipes myself, so I set about having a go at some of the many desserts that Italy, and especially Tuscany, is famous for. My attempt at ice cream – apricot and amaretto flavour with crushed biscotti went down very well even though it didn’t set properly. I then moved on the baking a batch of ricciarelli which are oval-shaped biscuits made with almonds and dusted in icing sugar – absolutely delicious.

Image Credit –
Daisy James

However, my favourite recipe has to be limoncello tiramisu. It was the perfect dessert for a summer barbeque and I’ve made it many times because it is so easy to make – no baking required!

Here’s Izzie’s recipe:

Izzie’s Limoncello Tiramisu

Ingredients

100g caster sugar

100ml limoncello

Zest & juice of 3 lemons

50ml water

500g mascarpone

500ml double cream

10g icing sugar

100g lemon curd

200g sponge fingers

Method

Place the caster sugar, water and the zest and juice of two lemons into a small pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add half the limoncello and simmer until syrupy. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the mascarpone until smooth, then add the double cream, the remaining limoncello, the zest and juice of the remaining lemon and the lemon curd and stir together.

Carefully soak the sponge fingers with the syrup and placed in the base of a ceramic dish, or individual glass dessert dishes, then spoon over a generous helping of the cream mixture and repeat, finishing off with a sprinkle of finely grated lemon zest and a dusting of finely grated milk chocolate. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. Serve with home-made limoncello cocktails.

Buon Appetitio!

I received a copy of this book from Canelo in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A lovely sad heroine, who is unable to come to terms with losing her twin, a cast of authentic Italians and a Summery, vivid setting, combine to make this romcom a must-read summer book.

Izzy is an interior designer, but after the untimely loss of her twin, she is full of guilt, grief and greyness. This reflects in all aspects of her life. When fate intervenes with an opportunity to stage a fake wedding in Tuscany, she decides to live a little and grasp the opportunity to put some colour and zest back in her drab life.

I loved that each chapter began with a little phrase and a colour, it set the scene and chartered Izzy’s moods perfectly. The plot is simple and the pacing gently, both fitting in with a lighthearted, but sometimes poignant romantic comedy, set in a place full of colour and visual imagery.

The balance of comedy and romance is perfect, and the setting is full of sunshine, it makes you feel warmer and happier with every chapter. With the added bonus of lovely food and more complications than you could ever imagine, this book would make a great film.
I look forward to the next in the series of the #TuscanTrilogy.

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the northeast of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

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Posted in Book Review

The French Adventure – Lucy Coleman 5* Review

 

Suddenly unemployed and single, Anna escapes to her parents’ beautiful house in France for a much-needed recharge – and to work out what she wants to do next with her life now her carefully mapped out plan has gone out the window.

Anna gives herself 6 months to recuperate, all the while helping renovate her parents’ adjoining gites into picturesque B&Bs. But working alongside the ruggedly handsome Sam on the renovation project, she didn’t expect for life to take an unexpected, if not unwelcome, twist…

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My Thoughts…

The setting for this story makes it special from the beginning. Anna is at a crossroads in her life, she has a plan and thought it was working out but soon discovers it isn’t. Arriving at her parents’ French B&B gives her chance to heal from her toxic relationship and plan her next move. Anna’s journey is more than a hop over the channel, it brings her into contact with Sam, her polar opposite, he doesn’t plan and doesn’t see the need to finish everything he starts,  yet they manage to work together renovating two smaller properties on their parent’s estate. There are lots of renovating tips as the story progresses, which increase the story’s visual impact, very useful also if you want to do any house renovation. 🙂

Sam has a tragic secret, which blights his life,  his attitude frustrates Anna, but she can’t help but like him, maybe because of their differences. There’s a mystery to solve and some lovely characters to meet, and there’s Karl, Anna’s ex-boyfriend who won’t leave her alone, but is this more about saving face than a broken heart? Anna’s journey of self-discovery is at a realistic, gentle pace but the setting combined with the possibility of romance and the mystery Anna and Sam have to solve makes this an easy to read, page-turner, with a believable outcome.

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

Here’s an extract from The French Adventure…

‘Karl sidles up to me. Nestling his body up against my back, he wraps his arms around my waist to give me a hug. I continue to unwrap a few cheeses and lay them out on a platter, laughing as he buries his head in my hair. We always come back to my place after a night out. He lives like a bachelor, and his fridge is never stocked.

‘You’re very quiet tonight, Anna. Anything I should be worried about?’

I tried to join in with the spirit of the film, but with my head filled with so many conflicting emotions, it was hard to concentrate. I’m on the brink of challenging him about our situation and telling him how unhappy I am with the way things are. Tonight, all I could think about was how I would begin that conversation. But there’s an underlying problem. Assuming that Karl immediately wants to do the right thing and make me happy, rather than risk losing me, what if I don’t suddenly feel my life is complete, after all?

What if things don’t fall nicely into place? It’s like I have this disconnect. I want to love him; I want this to be right. However, I can’t engage until he’s proven beyond any doubt whatsoever that he loves me. Only then will I truly know how I feel and hopefully be able to say that back to him.

‘I’m… tired. That’s all.’

‘Hey,’ he turns me round so he can stare into my eyes. I have a cheese knife in one hand and a piece of kitchen towel in the other. ‘I don’t like to think of my girl overdoing it. If you need to take some time off the boss is saying yes.’

When he looks down at me with that look on his face, it’s a different Karl I see. There is a vulnerable streak there, a softness to him that never shows at work.

‘I’ll be fine. It’s only that… sometimes I’m not sure what the future holds.’

Damn it, Anna, why do you have to soften it? Ask him outright! Or are you scared you won’t get the answer you think you want?

‘The future is bright, I can promise you that. We’re going to be trailblazers, Anna. You’re going to love being driven around in a Porsche and taken to the best restaurants. And it’s not just my success we’re talking about here, Anna, we’re a team. Your parents are going to be very proud of their daughter’s achievements.’

I stare back at him, trying hard to hide my bitter disappointment.

‘I just want to be happy, Karl, and have a good work/life balance. Work is only a part of it.’

He looks at me and emits a slow sigh.

‘I see this as a start, and my aspirations go way beyond that. I don’t want a mediocre life, I want it all – for us. One day I’m going to run my own company and prove to my father I have what it takes.’

I met Karl’s parents once, and that was enough. I felt uncomfortable in their company as if I wasn’t good enough for their son. Which was bad enough, but the way his father treated him was appalling. He kept asking questions and challenging every single little thing. I knew Karl was embarrassed and we hardly spoke a word on the journey back home.

‘Money and material things don’t necessarily bring happiness, Karl.’ I catch his eye, even though I can see he doesn’t want to listen.’

Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.

Posted in Book Review, New Books

4* Review: A Kiss in the Dark – Lisa Fox

25678438Poppy - BlurbGrace’s attraction to her new web designer, amateur boxer and all-around playboy, Ryan Granger, is off the charts. But the bad boy of programming is not someone she needs to get entangled with. She’s got too many responsibilities and no time for games. She has deadlines to meet and a sick father to care for. Ryan is tempting, but being with him is completely unrealistic. Still, a girl can fantasize, right?

Ryan wants Grace badly, but while he’s building her website, they have to keep things strictly professional. Thankfully, walking her home during a city-wide blackout is on his own time and whatever happens in the dark doesn’t count. He’s falling hard for Grace and he is a man used to winning. The only problem is, he’s got to convince her that he’s worthy of her trust.

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Flowers - My Review

A Kiss In the DarkAn easy to read novella that delivers nicely written, contemporary escapism, perfect for the beach. Grace and Ryan are likeably imperfect and easy to warm to. The story’s New York setting adds an extra dimension and makes the couple’s unlikely meeting plausible.

Ryan is a web designer who also enjoys boxing. His fashionable job and trendy hobby, ramp up the escapism value of this story. Grace, a successful writer has family issues, which make her insular and guilty. Playboy Ryan is the perfect man to let her live a little. Something every girl needs. The scenes with Grace’s father are poignant, realistic and sensitively written.

Despite the story’s brevity, both character’s develop as a result of their interaction and the romantic ending is worthy of them and their emotional journey.

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

A Kiss In the Dark by Lisa Fox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Kiss In the Dark by Lisa  Fox

Lisa Fox

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