Posted in Book Review

One Summer in Italy – Sue Moorcroft – 5* Review

 

 

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Italy, family secrets, realistic characters and a coherent plot make ‘One Summer in Italy a lovely book to enjoy this summer. The setting is vivid, and the characters animated and believable.

Sofia has looked after her father, and his dying wish is for her to visit Italy and her paternal family and experience some previously missed life experiences. Amy is barely an adult, running away from home after receiving devastating news. Levi is a source of attraction for Sofia, but she’s not sure of his motives. Family secrets, living life to the full and second chances are all explored in this romantic tale.

Perfect holiday reading regardless of where you are.

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

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Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: T.A. Williams – Dreaming of St. Tropez – Extract and 5* Review

The perfect summer escape on the French Riviera. Sun, sea and secrets…

After a disagreement with a billionaire, architect Jess Milton is ‘let go’ from her job. However fortune intervenes – an elderly client asks Jess to dog-sit overweight, but loveable dog Brutus in St. Tropez.

Fed up with the mega-rich, Jess is reluctant to visit the playground of billionaires, but an all-expenses-paid trip and the promise of sunshine seals the deal.

Little does Jess know how much time she’ll be spending with the family living in St. Tropez. The sullen, but very good-looking David and his millionaire father are both welcoming but guarded, haunted by their pasts…

Can Jess bring some sunshine back into their lives – and, just maybe, find love in the process?

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Extract

‘Jess had appointments all the next day, and she didn’t get back to the office until mid-afternoon. She exchanged pleasantries with Deanne on the front desk and then took the lift up to the third floor, wondering if Drugoi had carried out his threat to talk to her boss. Either way, she knew she needed to speak to Graham herself about the previous morning’s events. She had had it with this particular oligarch.

To her surprise, as she came out of the lift, she found Caroline from HR waiting for her. Warning bells started sounding in her head.

‘Jess, hello. Listen, we need to talk.’

‘Of course, Caroline. What about?’

‘Could we talk in your office?’

Jess led her along the corridor to her office and offered her a seat. Caroline closed the door carefully behind her before sitting down. She waited until Jess was also seated before delivering the body blow.

‘I’ve been talking to Graham, and I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go, Jess.’

Although Jess had half been expecting it, this demonstration of her boss’s total lack of backbone came as a shock.

‘You’re what? This is about that slimy toad Drugoi, isn’t it?’

‘No, of course, this isn’t because of Mr Drugoi, or any other client. It’s just restructuring.’ Jess noticed that Caroline didn’t meet her gaze, keeping her eyes down as she opened the folder she was holding. ‘You’ve been with us now for almost five years?’

‘Yes.’ Jess felt the anger rising in her veins. She leant forward, resting her elbows on the desk. ‘And you’re firing me? Why? I think you’d better tell me what I’m supposed to have done.’

Caroline looked up, but only briefly, and Jess noted that she surreptitiously pushed her chair back a few inches. ‘Not firing you, Jess. Please don’t think that. Like I said, we have to restructure the business. I’m afraid it’s just that you’re surplus to our requirements. Business is down in the wake of the Brexit vote, and we have to be prudent.’

This didn’t accord with Jess’s assessment of the situation. She had been busier over the past six months than at any time since joining the company. She struggled to get her head round what she was being told.

‘You don’t need me? Who’s going to do all the work I’ve been doing? I’ve got six projects ongoing as it stands, and if we get the Drugoi contract, there’s well over a million pounds’ worth of work in that one job alone.’ Caroline finally raised her eyes, and Jess held them. ‘Have we got the Drugoi contract?’

She caught a flicker of something on Caroline’s face, but it disappeared immediately as she replied in a bland tone. ‘I have no idea. Contractual matters are not part of my remit.’

Jess stared at her for a few seconds until the other woman’s eyes dropped once more. Suppressing a desire to reach across the desk and strangle her, Jess did her best to keep her tone level.

‘So, when do I have to leave? And what about pay and all that?’

Caroline looked up again, clearly relieved to be able to talk about practical matters. ‘We’ve put together a generous severance pay package for you. You’ve been a valued member of staff, and we want to reward you for your efforts on behalf of the firm. Graham told me to make that clear to you. Here… see for yourself.’

She removed a sheet of paper from the folder and slid it across the desk. Jess took it and cast her eye down the figures. It soon became clear that Caroline hadn’t been joking. The settlement was, indeed, generous.

Suspiciously generous.

Dropping the page onto the desktop, Jess raised her eyes towards Caroline.

‘And when am I expected to leave?’

‘With immediate effect.’

‘Now? What, this afternoon?’

‘Yes. I’ll get somebody to bring you a box for your things. You are to clear your desk and leave.’ She caught Jess’s eye. ‘Graham told me to tell you that he will provide you with a glowing reference, without any stain on your character.’

‘Why should there be a stain on my character?’

The cold sensation in the pit of her stomach was turning to anger.

‘No reason.’

Jess got the feeling Caroline was regretting her choice of vocabulary.

‘It’ll be a glowing reference, Jess, but he did ask me to make it clear to you that, in return, he expects you to leave quietly and without fuss. And without contacting any of your colleagues, or any of our clients, now or subsequently. Do I make myself clear?’

‘Crystal clear, thank you, Caroline. I think the expression you’re looking for is gagging order.’

The urge to throttle somebody rose up again and if Graham had been in the room, Jess felt pretty sure she would have been tempted to launch herself at his scrawny neck. She was dimly aware of Caroline standing up and offering her hand across the desk. She took it automatically and shook it, resisting the temptation to squeeze it until the bones cracked.

‘Goodbye, Jess, and thank you on behalf of the firm for all you’ve done.’

‘This is Drugoi’s doing, isn’t it?’

‘Mr Drugoi? How could you possibly think that?’’

My Thoughts…

If you’re looking for the perfect holiday read, for the beach or even the back garden, this is it.

Sun, sea, a troubled hero, a lovable dog and an intelligent, kind heroine who lives her life with integrity make this an absorbing read with plenty of laughs, most of them doggy related. Conflict-ridden romance and a second chance at life mean this story is full of poignant moments too.

The story reveals St Tropez as something more than a rich person’s playground, with its historic past, unspoilt beauty and intrinsically interesting population. The story has a delightful symmetry when Jess unjustly loses her job only to find a 21st- century fairy godmother provides her with a holiday and a chance to make a difference to two people who life has mistreated.

Believably vivid characters bring this story to life, and there are pockets of excitement amongst the romance and angst to keep you turning the pages.

Full of sunshine, a few clouds and the winds of change this is a lovely, easy to read holiday romance.

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

 T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England to a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

Twitter: @TAWilliamsBooks

Posted in Book Review

Poppy’s Place in the Sun – Lorraine Wilson – 4* Review

Sometimes you need to lose yourself to find your way home…

With only her trusty dogs Peanut, Treacle and Pickwick by her side, Poppy Kirkbride could be forgiven for having doubts about her move to a quiet village in rural France. But as the sun shines down on her ramshackle new home, Poppy knows she’s made the right decision. A lick of paint, and some TLC and her rustic farmhouse will be the perfect holiday retreat – Poppy’s dream come true.

Poppy is welcomed by her fellow villagers, except for brooding local vet Leo Dubois, who makes it clear Poppy isn’t welcome in his village – or his life! Leo might be gorgeous, but Poppy won’t be told what to do by an arrogant Frenchman – no matter how kind and gentle he is to her dogs!

Determined to stay, Poppy tries to understand the enigmatic Frenchman better. But as the two get closer, Poppy sees another side to Leo – a man with heartbreak of his own. Falling in love with Leo is easy, but can he ever return Poppy’s love? And what would this mean for her dream life and place in the sun?

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Poppy is a likeable, independent character who makes her dreams reality when she moves to France. Things don’t go to plan, and she finds herself alone in a French village she knows little about, in a property that requires renovation and with a neighbour who makes no secret of the fact he wants her gone. Not the most auspicious of starts but Poppy is determined to succeed and sharing her journey with its ups and downs is a pleasurable read.

Well researched and with a precise local knowledge you learn about village life in France and its history in entertaining conversational bites, the detail is there but cleverly interwoven into the story without inhibiting the pace or the character development.

The book’s stars are the animals, the loveable dogs and quirky donkeys, they have individual personalities which bring them to life, and they provide many of the story’s comic and tender moments.

Another favourite character is Joanna who Poppy helps even though she is running from something. We learn Joanna’s secrets, but she is worthy of her own story and happy ever after too.

Romance is a major theme, and Leo and Poppy have a tempestuous relationship, which is often passionate with realistic, sensual love scenes that underpin the couples emotional development. The ending is believable and happy and makes a satisfying conclusion.

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

Posted in Book Review

Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson 5* Review

My name is Willow Longville. I live in a village called Budbury on the stunning Dorset coast with my mum Lynnie, who sometimes forgets who I am. I’m a waitress at the Comfort Food Café, which is really so much more than a café … it’s my home.

For Willow, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach, together with its warm-hearted community, offers friendship as a daily special and always has a hearty welcome on the menu. But when a handsome stranger blows in on a warm spring breeze, Willow soon realises that her quiet country life will be changed forever.

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

I read a lot of books, and most of them are good but the ‘Comfort Food Cafe series’, has a magic sparkle that makes it’s stories marvellously memorable, even when you read as much as I do.

It has a broad appeal; there’s romance, lots of laughs and heartwarming poignant moments. The whole age spectrum is covered, including various charismatic animal friends. Most readers will see a little of their own lives written into the pages of these realistic, yet wonderfully escapist stories, which means they are relevant, contemporary and worth reading.

‘Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe’, the fourth book in the series is Willow’s story. Willow is unique, definitely new age and the primary carer for her mother Lynnie who has dementia. The friends at the cafe support her in practical ways, which make her life easier and give her much-needed respite but she has put romance and having a family of her own out of her mind, her mother’s well being her only focus.

Willow’s meeting with Tom, echoes a vibrant childhood memory, he is intelligent, successful but a loner and quite probably Willow’s soulmate in another life. Exploring Willow’s life, the author illuminates some of the problems of living with Dementia and how it affects not only the sufferer but their carers. Willow is vibrant, eccentric and loyal and in a village full of lovely characters, she is my favourite. Her quirky sense of humour and positive outlook on life is refreshing. Willow is not a victim, she loves her mother and wants to care for her, but she deserves to have some lighter moments in such a dedicated life.

There are lots of humorous moments in this poignant story, learning to dance the ‘Strictly’ way is one of them, hilarious and the ‘ Mr Darcy scene in the pond is another. If you love animals, there is another delightful animal charmer to meet too.

It reads well as a standalone story; courtesy of Willow you get a handy ‘Game of Thrones’ style crib sheet introducing all the characters but if you get the chance read all the books because you’re in for a treat.

Perfect to read at any time, it’s as addictive as cake and coffee and just as yummy.

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

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read

Christmas Read: The Present – Charlotte Phillips – 4* Review

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12 magical gifts, one love that lasts a lifetime…

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … one romantic Christmas you won’t forget.

When helping to clear out her beloved grandmother’s home, Lucy Jackson discovers twelve beautiful Christmas decorations hidden in the loft. As she discovers their heartbreaking story, a touching romance develops with the handsome gardener next door.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

A  charming, unashamedly romantic tale, with a funny, vulnerable heroine and a sexy hero who falls in love despite it being the last thing he wants to happen.

A serendipitous discovery in her Grandmother’s loft leads Lucy on a tale of discovery back to 1940s England, where she uncovers her Grandmother’s secret and realises that having a life plan doesn’t necessarily guarantee happiness. 

Lots of comical and poignant moments and an easy to read story, perfect for an afternoon in front of the fire with the Christmas tree lights on.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

Christmas at the Cornish Cafe – The Penwith Trilogy #2 – Phillipa Ashley- 5*Review

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blurb-winter

Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so.

She and Cal are keeping their fledgling relationship under wraps for now. But then Kit Bannen, a hunky, blond – and somewhat mysterious – writer arrives at Kilhallon Resort, and not everyone is charmed. Cal is sure that Kit is hiding something. But is he the only one guarding a secret?

Demi is busy baking festive treats for the newly opened Demelza’s cafe, but when Cal’s ex Isla arrives to shoot scenes for her new drama, Demi can’t help but worry that things aren’t quite over between them. Kit flirts with both women, fuelling Cal’s suspicions that Kit has hidden motives for staying on at Kilhallon. Then Cal has to go to London, leaving Demi and Kit to decorate the cafe for Christmas . . . all by themselves.

A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?

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my-review-winter

Christmas at the Cornish Café (The Penwith Trilogy, Book 2)

A festive, gentle romantic story with complex characters and an interesting plot. The story concentrates on opening the café and there are lots of new characters. One threatens Cal’s new found happiness with Demi.
A lot happens in this story. Demi achieves her potential by leading the café project. She carries more than her share of emotional baggage and this influences how she perceives her relationship with Cal. Cal continues to battle his own secret demons, leaving him moody and unapproachable. He’s a good guy at heart and you want him to overcome the horrors of his past.
There are some unexpected plot twists and surprising character developments, which illustrate the village’s comaradie and the overriding spirit of the novel. A good mix of questions answered and new ones posed make reading the last book in the series essential. There is no cliff-hanger ending but it is hopeful, just as a festive read should be. I can’t help thinking the problems for Cal, Demi and their friends may not be over yet.
Cal and Demi are the contemporary counterparts of Poldark and Demelza and Cornwall steals the show in this novel too.
I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Christmas at the Cornish Café by Phillipa Ashley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Christmas at the Cornish Café (The Penwith Trilogy, Book 2) by Phillipa Ashley

Phillipa Ashley

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Posted in Book Review, Summer Impulse

5* Review: Jules Wake – Escape to the Riviera

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Blurb - Flower

Carrie Hayes is ready for the summer of a lifetime . .

Quiet and unassuming Carrie Hayes has a nice, steady life with long-term boyfriend Alan. But she’s been keeping a secret hidden for years. A whirlwind marriage to Hollywood superstar Richard Maddox when they were young and foolish and life was full of endless possibilities. Although no longer together when Richard went to fulfil his acting ambitions in America, they’ve never quite got a divorce.

And now a chance meeting in the paradise of the glamorous French Riviera is about to change Carrie’s summer, and entire life, for ever . . .

Flowers - Buy Links

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Flowers - My Review

Escape to the Riviera

Is it realistic for a couple to stay married, even though they never see each other? I didn’t think so, but once you get to know Carrie and Richard, the reasons why, are definitely believable. Carrie is hardworking and loyal to her family, living an unremarkable life. The chance of an ultra glamorous holiday and an unexpected offer, force her to confront painful secrets, with life changing results.
The vivid setting is authentic and beautiful. The insight into the world of film stars and the theatre, interesting. Reliable but less than exciting, Alan is well portrayed as the other man. Angie and Jade are insightful characters and support the story’s two main players Carrie and Richard admirably.
Peppered with angst, hope and humour; Carrie’s emotional journey exhibits her flawed reasoning. This makes her real and easy to empathise with. You want her to get her happy ending. Romance is implicit in every scene and the ending is a romantic masterpiece, so easy to visualise.
The lovely holiday setting reveals a story of self-discovery and the resilience and strength of true love. The perfect summer book, definitely worth reading.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Escape to the Riviera by Jules Wake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Escape to the Riviera by Jules Wake

Jules Wake

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Posted in Book Review

5* Review: From Paris With Love This Christmas – Jules Wake

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Just until Christmas…

That’s what Paris socialite Siena keeps telling herself. She’ll hide away in her sister Laurie’s cottage near London to escape her hot-tempered fiancé.

However, when Jason – gorgeous but a bit of a Grinch – picks her up from the airport, he reveals that Laurie hasn’t lived there for months, complicating Siena’s holiday getaway.

At first, Jason and Siena don’t see eye to eye. But after a weekend in the most romantic city in the world, experiencing all it has to offer – from the magic of a fir-lined Champs-Élysées, lit up by thousands of sparkling fairy lights, to the swoosh of skates on ice at the Eiffel Tower – Siena shows Jason her Paris, and a whole other side to herself. Suddenly Siena’s December deadline seems far too close…

This Christmas, jet off to Paris with Siena and Jason and experience the magic of the holiday season.

 

Buy Links 1

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My Review 2

With Love From Paris This Christmas

Yes, I know it’s not Christmas but I really enjoyed this author’s first book ‘From Italy With Love’ and I do love Christmas stories, so I thought why not? I’m so glad I did. ‘From Paris With Love This Christmas’ is full of lovely characters and festive settings, with plenty of romance and fun. It features Siena, the younger sister of Laurie, the romantic heroine in From Italy With Love.’
Siena’s emotional journey is the backbone of this story and although flawed, she develops into a romantic heroine definitely worth rooting for. The romance is natural and peppered with comic moments and lots of sexual tension that culminates in a believable outcome.
Jason is grumpy but loveable and the perfect foil for Siena’s emotional growth.
I loved the guys in the pub and the quirky but supportive Lisa. Hope we get to read her story soon.
A lovely romantic read whatever the season.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

With Love From Paris This Christmas by Jules Wake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


With Love From Paris This Christmas by Jules Wake

Jules Wake

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Posted in Inspiration

More from Northumberland #Inspiration

Now I’m back from my holiday in Northumberland. I have a few more memories to share with you. The weather was less than perfect but we still managed to get on the beach with our dogs. In the evening the open fire kept us lovely and warm.

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I really do love this part of England, the coastline is rugged and wild and the castles are imposing and  full of memories of years gone by.

I particularly enjoyed staying at Letterbox Cottage , West Burton which used to be a farm worker’s cottage. Originally it was only one storey with three rooms but another level was added in 1942.

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There was a lovely walled garden, which the dogs loved and lots of wild birds came to visit. Wagtails and Jackdaws, both favourites of mine, were frequent visitors.

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The windows had views of Bamburgh castle and lots of fields with horses, cows and sheep. It was beautifully rural and lovely to see animals in the fields as they should be.

 

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#Loving # Northumberland

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Summer Impulse

4*Review: A Family Holiday – Bella Osborne

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Blurb - Coastal

 

She’ll do whatever it takes to keep this family together…

As the nanny to four quirky but loveable children, Charlie French has learnt that if there was ever a cement shortage Weetabix would be a viable substitute and that YouTube videos can go viral in seconds, much to her horror. But, most importantly, she’s learnt that whatever happens you stick together as a family.

When tragedy strikes, Charlie is forced to decide whether it’s time to move on or fight to keep the children she loves. With the distraction of the children’s gorgeous Uncle Felix and the chance of a holiday in stunning Antigua, she’s left wondering if turquoise seas can wash away their present troubles. Is the pull of white sand beaches too tempting to resist or will paradise fail to keep them all together?

Buy Links - Coastal

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Amazon

My Review - Coastal

A Family Holiday: A heartwarming summer romance for fans of Katie Fforde

This story has all the right ingredients for a great summer read; effortless dialogue, a great setting, an interesting plot and vivid characters. It is a very enjoyable book.
Charlie is like a modern day ‘Mary Poppins’, totally child orientated and with more than her fair share of magic up her sleeve. The children are the most vibrant of the characters; they really steal the show and make this more of a family, than a romantic comedy read.
Fleur, Charlie’s best friend is an important character in the story but she is too weak and self centred to make a favourable impression. She does however serve to make Charlie look selfless in this story, despite the obstacles she faces.
Would be guardians, Ruth and Felix are well written characters. Ruth is the archetypical villain of the story. Whilst Felix lacks conviction as the story’s romantic hero I much preferred Jonathan. Felix’s motives driven by his passion for Charlie rather than genuine feelings for his nieces and nephews make him appear rather shallow and superficial.
Clearly the characters made an impression on me and there is a lovely balance of humour and poignancy. Definitely worth reading on the beach.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

A Family Holiday: A heartwarming summer romance  by Bella Osborne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A Family Holiday A heartwarming summer romance for fans of Katie Fforde by Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne

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