Christmas is coming and best friends Chloe, Jules, and Lucy are needing change… so swapping homes for the holidays could be the perfect present for all of them!
Australian Chloe spends her Christmas in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England. She is totally star-struck when she discovers who lives across the road.
Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.
And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend her Christmas on a beach with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away is just what she needed.
The only thing better than one Christmas romance is three.
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Three women, friends since they met on holiday as young girls are all living good lives, but when it comes to Christmas they all feel it’s time to shake things up a little. Chole, Jules and Lucy agree that a house swap at Christmas will meet their needs and what follows is festive, fun and full of romance.
The characters are relatable and the plot peppered with Christmas activities and memories, vivid locations and love. There are three romances, all different, but equally believable and heartwarming.
If I had to pick a favourite it would be Lucy and Will, she’s introverted and doesn’t realise how lovely she is, and Will does. The glamour of Archer and Chloe’s romance is good to read. Jules and Matt’s relationship is less romantic than the other two, but it’s realistic and has its moments. The three stories bound together by the three women and Christmas make this an engaging festive read.
Sandy Barker is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list. She loves exploring new places, outdoor adventures, and eating and drinking like a local when she travels, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, film buff, wine lover and coffee snob.
Essy Havers is good at finding things. Her company specialises in helping clients track down anything, from missing china pieces to rare vintage clothing. But now Essy has something more important to find: herself. Essy has always been curious about her mother’s secret past and her Cornish roots. So, when the opportunity arises, she hops on a plane in Tennessee and ends up in Herring Bay in Cornwall; the village where her mother grew up. But once there, she’s mystified by the reactions of the villagers when they realise who she is. Was Essy’s decision to visit Cornwall a mistake, or will it lead to a summer she’ll never forget?
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
Essy visits her family in Cornwall when a work opportunity arises she’s keen to know why her mother won’t talk about her past. Her aunt is pleased and surprised to see her, but the welcome isn’t universal. Essy meets Ruan, and they find they have a lot in common. Ruan’s family seems tied up with her mother’s past, and so they investigate but is this wise?
This is a family mystery story full of angst and secrets. The characters are relatable, and each plays a part in the story. The setting is coastal and well-described and complements a plot with some original touches.
Gentle romance, family mystery and a community that needs mending all make this an enjoyable summer read.
Angela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties!
A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels. Thanks to over three decades of marriage to her wonderful American husband she’s a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after.
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers. Her first novel ‘Truth and Consequence’ was published in 2006 and she’s now had over 30 novels published internationally and several short stories in women’s magazines.
If you’d like to find out more of what Angela gets up to (Advance warning: this may include references to wine, dark chocolate, Poldark and the hunky Aidan Turner) follow her social media.
Struggling to come to terms with the loss of her mother, Sophie needs to get away from it all. On a much-needed break to Tenerife, she stumbles across a Help Wanted sign for local pensioner, Hugo, and on a leap of faith she accepts the job.
But life on the island isn’t all sun, sea and siestas…
Hugo’s beautiful villa is under threat and, to complicate matters, his brooding (but handsome) nephew, Alex, has shown up full of suspicion towards Sophie.
Her hands full dealing with difficult men and a clearly unreciprocated attraction towards Alex, Sophie needs to decide if her future lies in Tenerife or if her holiday is officially over.Escape to a Spanish island with this gorgeously uplifting romance,
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Exploring the non-touristy side of Tenerife this is an emotional and enjoyable uplit story. The setting, seen through the eyes of main character Sophie, makes an impact. The story of rebuilding a life after caring for a loved one is poignant and realistic and makes Sophie easy to empathise.
This is an escapist read, so fate takes a hand in the proceedings. Sophie’s multigenerational relationship with Hugo is humorous and rewarding. The chance for romance surprises Sophie but makes her braver as she tries to map out her future. Enigmatic Alex or friendly Dominic, who will she choose?
Gentle romance humour and poignancy fuse together to provide a lovely way to escape for a couple of hours.
The Chamberlain family – Charlie and Daphne, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick – had fantastic summer holidays when they were young. But then, inevitably, the children grew up, and their own messy lives got in the way.
Since their mum died, it feels to them all as if their family just isn’t that close any more. And Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.
For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again – and by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.
So for the first time in a very long time, the Chamberlains are going on a family holiday.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin – Michael Joseph UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Like all addictive family drama, this is a character-driven emotional story. Charlie is lost without Daphne, his wife and feels his once-close family is drifting. He plans a family holiday as Daphne would have done and hopes to draw his fractured children together.
The opening chapters explore the main characters and significant events. This illustrates their complexities and flaws and engages the reader in their lives. The characters are easy to empathise and relatable. The family drama is realistic and makes this an emotional read.
The holiday draws the family’s troubles into the open with dramatic and poignant results. Ultimately the family unit survives with help from an unexpected source making you believe in serendipity.
Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…
After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.
But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.
So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Humour, originality and romance are all integral to this motivational story. There are good intentions, misunderstandings and an idyllic if not expected setting. Deeper issues of controlling behaviour and conservation add depth and engagement.
Forced out of her comfort level, Sarah confronts issues caused by her difficult childhood. She is conflicted but easy to empathise. Gentle romance is the catalyst for her emotional journey, which is positive and satisfying.
Extract from Summer Island Swop – Samantha Tonge
‘I’ll still have to clear it at work. I’m not sure how Prue will feel about me taking a month off.’
Just the mention of my boss’s name made my stomach knot.
‘No one’s indispensable. Not even wonderful you,’ she called back.
My chest felt warm. Over recent years, Amy had matured and started to look out for me, cooking dinner and mowing the lawn. However, I’d never lose my maternal feelings towards her. When we were ten and six ours was quite an age gap. As was eighteen and fourteen when I’d had to leave her behind with Dad but promised we’d live together again. I beat the sugar and butter, remembering her tears and his folded arms as I dragged my suitcase past the fountain and out of the huge driveway, into the street. I’d finally realised I had to leave after… I swallowed. No. I wasn’t going to think about that now.
I let Nelly into the back garden, busied myself with ingredients and cleaned up whilst the cookies baked. Their sweet aroma wafted through the air as I carried them into the lounge, on a tray, with two coffees.
‘Good timing,’ said Amy and turned off her screen, looking pleased with herself. I put the tray on the table and joined her.
‘Is it all booked?’
She nodded. ‘A modest deposit paid. The rest is due in the middle of June, two weeks before we leave.’
‘Can’t you at least share which part of the world we’re visiting?’
‘That would be telling,’ she replied airily and took the largest cookie.
I jumped up and held her right arm firm whilst tickling the armpit. ‘I won’t stop until I find out, Amy Sterling.’
However, she was as strong as me these days and, giggling, held the cookie in her mouth and forced both of my hands away. I sat down once more. I recognised that expression. She was determined to keep her secret. Sometimes, with my impulsive sister, that could be a dangerous thing, like when she’d agreed to do a charity skydive with colleagues at work. She didn’t tell me until the morning of the jump.
‘Just a clue. A teeny one,’ I said. ‘Please…’
‘I’ve never seen you this excited before. Well, not since you were made assistant manager. Oh, and the time you found that fancy moisturiser for half price.’
‘It wasn’t just any moisturiser. The Duchess of Cambridge uses it.’ I pressed my palms together. ‘At least let me guess… the Canary Islands? Barbados? Australia’s an island, right? I mean, you and me – we share most things, don’t we?’
‘Best buddies, always,’ she said solemnly.
It was a promise we’d made to each other, the day after Mum’s funeral. And sure enough, we confided in each other about our latest celebrity crushes, about our dreams for the future; we put the world to rights over Chardonnay and Pringles. I knew her favourite colour, favourite food, favourite band. She could always tell when I’d had a stressful day at work and, without prying, would make me a hot chocolate, fetch a blanket and switch on my current Netflix obsession.
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo and in 2020 her novel Knowing You won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award.
Fall in love with the beautiful Jewel Island this summer, where the sapphire sea sparkles, the golden sun warms your skin and the islanders melt your heart. From the bestselling author of The Little Village of Happiness comes Holly Martin’s most romantic novel yet.
Aria Philips has lived on Jewel Island all of her life. Even when her sisters Clover and Skye left its stunning shores for bigger and better things, Aria stayed to help her father run their family hotel.
A year after her father’s death Aria’s done everything she can to keep things afloat but the hotel has long been struggling to make a profit. With so few guests Aria risks losing the only home she’s ever had.
Noah Campbell earned his fortune from making hotels a success, and he also just happens to be staying on Jewel Island this summer. Could he be the answer to Aria’s problems? If only he hadn’t kissed her under the willow tree the year before and never called her again. It had been the most incredible kiss of her life, but clearly business and pleasure should never be mixed.
As gorgeous and charming as Noah may be, Aria vows to keep things professional while she seeks his help. But for the past year Noah has been keeping a secret and his return to Jewel Island is about to change Aria’s life forever…
Soak up the sun in Sapphire Bay with this feel-good novel you won’t be able to put down. An unforgettable summer romance
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Gentle romantic comedy set in a picturesque coastal setting. Aria is generous and loving, adopted as a baby, after being abandoned by her birth mother, she always feels the need to fit in. Noah is an astute and rich business developer, but his attraction to Sapphire Bay is personal. Aria and Noah are good people, but with significant trust, and in Aria’s case self-worth, issues. Their relationship is conflicted but full of humour, passion and poignancy.
Authentic characters and a simple plot make this an easy read, filled with heartwarming and uplifting moments, balanced with misunderstanding and sadness. Most of the characters are likeable, but someone has a vindictive agenda. The hotel is a vibrant setting, with lots of scope for future stories?
Enjoyable, escapist reading, perfect.
I live in a little white cottage overlooking the sea. I studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by an even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of my colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when I knew I had to escape. I quit my job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, I emerged wide eyed and terrified that I now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. I taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave me a lot of time to plan out my stories and I now write full time, doing what I love.
I have been writing for 6 years. I was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance 2012. My short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology in 2013. I won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with my novel The Guestbook. I was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.
Becky Rose has just landed her dream job house-sitting at a top-end villa on the island of Corfu. What could be better than six weeks laying by an infinity pool overlooking the gorgeous Ionian waters while mending her broken heart.
Elias Mardas is travelling back to Corfu on business whilst dealing with his own personal demons. Late arriving in Athens, Becky and Elias have to spend a night in the Greek capital. When they have to emergency land in Kefalonia, Becky’s got to decide whether to suck up the adventure and this gorgeous companion she seems to have been thrown together with or panic about when she’s going to arrive at Corfu…
Finally reaching the beautiful island, Becky is happy to put Elias behind her and get on with her adventure. Until he turns up at the villa…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Becky wants more than working in a sandwich business. She’s creative and clever but is gradually losing her sense of self, by keeping quiet and hiding her talents. The chance to housesit in Corfu, is too good an opportunity, to miss, even though it strains her sibling relationship. This is a gently paced book. You get to know Becky before she sets off on her adventure. Unexpected events make the flights more adventurous than expected, and Becky meets two fellow travellers, full of emotional angst and secrets.
With lovingly described settings, the story has an authentic sense of place. The emotional plot combines friendship, humour, poignancy and romance, in a relatable way. Complex, flawed and unique characters, complement a gently paced, detailed plot. Unexpected twists keep you turning the pages, as the main characters discover what’s important to them.
This story is an escapist read, letting the reader experience love and life in an engaging holiday setting.
#MandyBaggot20 – A tale of many books…
I’ve written 20 books! No matter how many times I say this to myself I still can’t quite believe it. How DID that happen? Yes, this year, fittingly in 2020, my 20th novel is published – My Greek Island Summer! So, where did my writing journey begin and what exactly has happened in the last twelve years from Book 1 to Book 20?
Book 1 – Excess All Areas (self-published)
Picture the scene, a new mother crying out for some respite from nappy changes and piles of washing carrying a birth injury no one could fix… what does she do? She escapes into another world and writes about her last sunshine holiday to Corfu creating characters who can do anything! Readers still tell me how much they love Freya Johnson!
Book 2 – One Night on Ice – Aria Fiction (first self-published as Breaking the Ice)
My love of Dancing on Ice spurred me into writing this story. Again, I was escaping into fiction any time I could and writing about other characters’ issues took me away from my own.
Book 3 – Knowing Me Knowing You (self-published)
I have no idea where the idea for this book came from. It’s based around a relationship gameshow where single mum Kate has to compete for a prize alongside the gorgeous Joel, the date she has paid to be there who she knows nothing about. Think The Generation Game meets Take Me Out…
Book 4 – Strings Attached (self-published)
This is my real rock star romance spawned from all those delicious tortured bad boys we love to think we could change if they were in our orbit. I think bringing out this book was the time I thought I might be able to take my writing seriously and maybe, just maybe, I could get a publisher.
Book 5 – Taking Charge (Sapphire Star Publishing)* This book is being re-released by Aria Fiction in 2020 under a new title
This was my first traditionally published novel! All the titles I self-published before had been rejected by every publisher imaginable but I refused to give up hope. Call me Little Miss Persistent! Two publishers offered on this book and I decided to go for new small press, Sapphire Star Publishing. I wrote this book after I visited my dad in Michigan and fell in love with the area and the ice hockey…
Book 6 – Public Property (self-published)
This was the 2nd book I ever wrote because it has the same characters as Excess All Areas. I think, when you start off writing, comfortable is good and these characters were comfortable to me so I wrote about them again.
Book 7 – Security (Sapphire Star Publishing)*This book is being re-released by Aria Fiction in 2020 under a new title
This was my first attempt at romantic suspense. I didn’t set out to write a suspense novel, it just happened that the characters and ideas made it that way. It’s always about the romance and the connection, first and foremost, with my writing and this book is no different. Autumn and Nathan are still two of my favourite characters and I can’t wait for this book to be released again!
Book 8 – Do You Remember? – (HarperImpulse)* This book is being re-released by Aria Fiction in 2020 under a new title
I was invited to go to HarperCollins to talk about their idea for a new digital imprint, HarperImpulse. After the meeting I decided I’d submit my next book to them myself! And I got my first UK traditional publishing deal! This book features a dual timeline with the story being present day and ten years before. I think this is probably my most heart-wrenching romance and I can’t wait for it to meet new readers when it releases again!
Book 9 – One Summer in Nashville – Aria Fiction (first published by HarperImpulse as ‘Made in Nashville’)
This was all about my love of country music and the stories Honor and Jared had to tell were a true gift from my imagination. This was one of the easiest books to write because these characters knew exactly what they wanted to do! I’m so glad new readers are discovering this story this year!
Book 10 – Truly Madly Greekly (Bookouture)
This book literally changed my life. My first visit to Corfu since 2004 and I fell in love with our hotel (Mareblue Beach) and all its people. It inspired the backdrop for Ellen and Yan’s romance and this book – to date as I’m writing this – has sold almost 50,000 copies. This novel made me realise that romantic comedy was where my heart was.
Book 11 – One Wish in Manhattan (Bookouture)
I adored writing this book. Hayley, Angel and Oliver were a dream to create and the New York setting just added to the magic. This book is special because it was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy of the Year and it was the first book I had translated into a foreign language. Thank you Germany! I’m lucky to have books translated into German, Hungarian, Czech and Italian now, with the map growing soon I hope!
Book 12 – Those Summer Nights (Bookouture)
My love of Corfu was growing with each trip back, so it made sense to continue to show the love in my next novel. The restaurant in this book was based on a real taverna on the beach in Acharavi called ‘Lavender’. Lavender has since sadly closed but a new restaurant is in its place, Corfu Grill. Definitely worth a visit!
Book 13 – One Christmas in Paris (Bookouture)
How do you follow up a Christmas book set in NYC? You write about the most romantic city in the world – Paris. It had been a long time since I visited Paris so I had to read a lot of guidebooks and watch a lot of You Tube videos to get this one right. Readers tell me I brought the magic of Paris alive so, job done!
Book 14 – Single for the Summer (Ebury)
I moved to join Penguin! This was my first deal that saw copies of my book in Tesco, W H Smith Travel and Asda! It’s always a dream come true to see your books in the supermarkets and at airports! Signing copies at London Luton on my way to Corfu with my family was a particular highlight!
Book 15 – One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill (Ebury)
Again, copies of this book were in supermarkets and this one was my first book with a gorgeous glittery cover! We love a bit of glitter! Think Love, Actually meets Notting Hill with bulldozers…
Book 16 – Desperately Seeking Summer (Ebury)
I do like to have some of my characters coming from places close to me. In this book Abby Dolan comes from Romsey in Hampshire which is just down the road from me here in Wiltshire. I never forget my roots… but she does get to travel to Corfu in this book too!
Book 17 – One New York Christmas (Ebury)
My tomboy heroine in this novel is Lara and she’s from Wiltshire and drives a lorry. The idea for this book involves connecting with celebrities on social media and what would happen if one of them actually replied…
Book 18 – One Last Greek Summer (Aria Fiction)
I joined the incredible Aria Fiction after deciding that I really needed to get back to driving digital sales. The paperback market is so competitive and fewer and fewer books are getting picked for the shelves. This book has done brilliantly and I couldn’t be happier working with Team Aria. Beth and Heidi head to Corfu to be 21 all over again but will their past be waiting for them?
Book 19 – One Christmas Star (Aria Fiction)
Without any doubt, this is my favourite book I’ve ever written. It’s funny and heart-warming but also sad and thought-provoking. Emily and Ray drove their stories for me and the children of Stretton Park really are the stars of the book. I’ve never been prouder of a book and, in my completely biased opinion, it really deserves all the awards/accolades/film deals there are!
Book 20 – My Greek Island Summer (Aria Fiction)
And here we are! Bang up to date! My Greek Island Summer is a worthy 20th novel that seems to encompass everything I love about writing rom com with a little nod to all the books that have come before. It’s sunshine and good times with life hurdles to get over and crazy Greekness all the way through. Some say it’s my best yet… but why don’t you decide!
Mandy Baggot is an internationally bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
From the blurb, the reader knows that this is not the idyllic holiday you’d expect, but nothing prepares you for the twists and turns that appear with increasing alacrity as the story progresses.
Cora and Jonathan are on a dream holiday, Cora seems unsure whether she wants to be there. Jonathan is full of surprises, and it seems that life is on track. Until, their exclusive holiday retreat becomes crowded, with another couple, and they can’t fail to see the resemblance to themselves.
The story has a strong technological theme, which adds depth and complexity to the plot.
Progressing, through Cora’s point of view, things start to spiral in an increasingly uncomfortable way. The characters are believable and complex. They are not what they appear to be on the surface.
Cora is an unreliable narrator, and as the story progresses, she presents a hidden side to her character. Flashbacks to incidents in her past illuminate and reinforce her present actions. The last part of the story is an adrenaline rush, and at times full of confusion.
Even at the end, I still wasn’t sure I’d understood everything, but that’s what you want from a psychological thriller.
An absorbing, addictive read.
Guest Post : Smiling assassins By Pat Black
The psychopathic, murderous villains in my new novel The Beach House drew inspiration from a lovely couple we met on holiday.
When I’m on holiday I tend to stick to my own pen. I wouldn’t say I was unfriendly, but I am guarded. I realise this doesn’t reflect well on me, but bitter experience has taught me to be wary.
I remember one couple I got to know on holiday years ago who passed out business cards and tried to flog their home renovation business at every opportunity. This was odd enough – before the boorish male in that pairing then made some utterly jaw-dropping comments about the looks of a woman as part of a third couple who joined the group. I was astounded at the cheek, and the fact the woman just smiled and laughed at these comments, instead of absolutely battering him. “People like that actually exist! In the real world!”
Another couple on an overnight boat trip didn’t realise I was joking when I was… making jokes. It’s not like any of the daft comments and dad-on-holiday patter were certificate X, either. It was a bit like explaining that, you know, it doesn’t really matter why the chicken wanted to cross the road, or what might have awaited it on the other side. Now imagine that sort of scrutiny after every utterance. “It’s your accent,” the woman explained later, as if that explained anything.
So, I’ve learned. I’m happy enough drinking cocktails in our own group of two, reading a stack of books on my tod, worrying about sharks while we go for a swim in a pair, and forming our own pub quiz team.
Then one night (a while ago now, mind you; pre-kids anyway), we were approached by this cracking couple from the South West. The shutters went up immediately, but then something strange happened: I lightened up, and we… Well. We made friends. They were loads of fun. They didn’t want anything from us. They got my jokes, and I got theirs. Importantly, they also knew not to crowd us – I looked forward to having a drink with them at night back at the hotel, and was genuinely sorry to see them go home, a couple of days before we did.
Hey – maybe for them, we were the weirdos?
It was a nice, human experience. So of course my imagination twisted this into something unpleasant for The Beach House.
I wondered what would happen if you had genuinely evil people try to befriend you on holiday – evil people with an evil purpose. And you couldn’t easily extricate yourself from the situation. When your own sense of manners and social skills over-ride your instincts, which might have to scream at you in order for you to protect yourself and your partner.
One of my favourite parts of any modern thriller is in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, when Mikael Blomkvist confronts the novel’s villain. He has a chance to get away, but he refuses, because of good manners. The villain reflects on this with some astonishment. “All I had to do was offer you a cup of coffee.”
All my baddies had to do was order my heroine a pina colada. And it could happen to you. Of course it could. They’re out there. They walk among us. They go on holiday. They sit beside you on a train. They seem nice. They know exactly what to say to people. They see a person or a situation, and their minds instantly move onto how they can strip it to the bone.
Have you seen my business card, incidentally? Maybe we could swap? Hey, networking is networking, after all. No sense in ignoring the business angle, hey? We’ve all got to eat. Fancy a cocktail? Maybe we could go to the pub quiz…
Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize.
Sarah has had enough of men. It’s time to rekindle her first true love – travel – so she books a sailing trip around the Greek islands with a group of strangers.
The very last thing Sarah wants is to meet someone new… But then a gorgeous American man boards her yacht and she knows she’s in trouble. And when she also encounters a handsome silver fox who promises her the world, she realises that trouble really does come in twos.
Will Sarah dive into a holiday fling, embark on a relationship, or stick to her plan – steer clear of men, continue her love affair with feta, and find her own way after all?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK – One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
What I enjoyed most about this story is its uniqueness. I expected a holiday romance, but whilst there is romance, this more about self-discovery, living life to the full, friendships and exploring the Greek Islands. The setting is well described focusing on the people, animals, scenery and food, which is described in a mouthwatering way.
Sarah is a character that grows on you, initially, I found her a little brash, but she has a sharp sense of humour and an innate honesty, which is endearing. The other element I like is that, even though she meets two possible lovers, the final chapters pose more questions than answers, which are both believable and intriguing.
The story engages on many levels; emotionally, humorously and visually. The characters are relatable. This isn’t a story that requires in-depth characterisation, Sarah only spends ten days with her sailing family, and even less with the ‘silver fox’, so she doesn’t know everything about them.
Her emotional journey is deep and eventful, and you finish the story believing she understands herself better, and her future will be more rewarding, which is a more than satisfying ending.
Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a holiday romance that’s forever…
When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes, she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic sea will more than makeup for it – especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them.
Sparks fly when they meet onboard and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina.
But in a
secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick
discover they might have more in common than they realise…
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter in return for an honest review.
I always enjoy these romantic escapes, and this one takes place in Croatia, on board a luxury yacht.
Nick, Nina’s brother from ‘The Little Paris Patisserie’, has a glamorous, if shallow girlfriend, who has just invited him to the holiday of a lifetime. Maddie, Nina’s friend is at a loose end and jumps at the chance to crew for the luxury yacht. There are only six guests but Maddie soon has her work cut out, dealing with their constant neediness.
Nick and Maddie’s first meeting, gives both of them the wrong impression of the other, but the claustrophobic atmosphere of the yacht throws them together and they realise they have more in common than they thought.
The description of Croatia and the secret cove allow you to experience the culture, romance and scenery. The glamorous lifestyle is also interesting but the shallowness of its players makes Tara and her friends hard to like. Maddie is lovely, but lacking in confidence, Nick is out of his depth, but eventually realises beauty is more than fancy packaging.
The romance builds slowly between the two outsiders, but there is plenty of conflict and rough seas, even when their passion is undeniable. Thankfully, they get the happy ending they deserve.
A lovely holiday read.
Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way
she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands,
taking journalists on press trips to awful places like Turin, Milan, Geneva,
Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and occasionally losing the odd member of the
press in an airport. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it
provided her with the opportunity to eat amazing food, drink free alcohol, hone
her writing skills on press releases and to research European cities for her
best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for HarperImpulse.
Under her pen
name, Julie Caplin, her twelfth novel, The Secret Cove in Croatia published in
ebook format this July.