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, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance

One Summer in Paris- Sarah Morgan -5* #Review @HQStories @SarahMorgan_ #PublicationDay #Romance #Family #Friendship

One charming bookshop, two unlikely friends, and a summer in Paris that will change their lives forever…

Grace can’t believe it when her husband of twenty-five years announces he doesn’t want to join her on their anniversary trip to Paris – instead, he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock, Grace makes the bold decision to go on this holiday of a lifetime alone.

Audrey leaves behind heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no knowledge of the French language, her summer adventure seems doomed to fail. Until she meets Grace and everything changes…

Living in neighbouring apartments above the bookshop, Grace and Audrey form an unlikely friendship. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding each other might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.

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

My Thoughts…

I love this book and I couldn’t put it down. The two main characters Grace and Audrey are so likeable, despite the emotional wasteland they find themselves in. They are realistic and easy to empathise and you want them to appreciate their true worth and find happiness.

David, Grace’s husband and Linda, Audrey’s mum, lead a varied collection of subsidiary characters that make the story realistic and resonate, but not always in a good way, but that’s a true reflection of life, isn’t it?

The women meet by chance and form an unlikely friendship but both fulfil a need in the other. Grace sees her young self in Audrey and wants to help her discover her true importance. Audrey makes Grace realise she has so much to live for and can be the strong, independent woman she dreams of being.

This is a story of family, friendship and forgiveness. Despite their age difference, Audrey and Grace share similar character traits, most notably a self-deprecating sense of humour, which lightens the dark moments in this story. A hopeful ethos pervades this story, even though at times you feel Audrey and Grace may drown in their sadness. The friendship between them is authentic and the serendipity of their meeting gives the story its magic.

The final chapters bring the story to a satisfying conclusion, the believable outcomes make this poignant tale a lovely, heartwarming book.

A great holiday read, for lovers of family drama and friendship stories that take you on a poignant, angst-ridden journey, lightened with humour and romance. Read this book and escape to Paris for the Summer.

Posted in #BookBlogger , #amreading, Book Spotlight, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, New Books, Romance, This Week's Books

One Summer in Paris #amreading #SaturdayMorning #books #bookblogger #spotlight #NetGalley @HQStories @SarahMorgan_

One charming bookshop, two unlikely friends, and a summer in Paris that will change their lives forever…

Grace can’t believe it when her husband of twenty-five years announces he doesn’t want to join her on their anniversary trip to Paris – instead, he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock, Grace makes the bold decision to go on this holiday of a lifetime alone.

Audrey leaves behind heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no knowledge of the French language, her summer adventure seems doomed to fail. Until she meets Grace and everything changes…

Living in neighbouring apartments above the bookshop, Grace and Audrey form an unlikely friendship. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding each other might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.

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

My Thoughts So Far…

So, I thought I’d share what I’m currently reading this weekend. Sarah Morgan has always been a favourite author, and her new book released by HQ on April 4th 2019, is full of good things.

I have only read about 16 %, so far, we haven’t even reached Paris yet, and I can’t put it down. The two main characters Grace and Audrey are so likeable, despite the emotional wasteland they find themselves in. They are realistic and easy to empathise and I can’t wait to find out what happens in Paris.

There is also a collection of subsidiary characters that resonate, but not always in a good way, but that’s a true reflection of life, isn’t it?

I will post my review of this story in early April, but in the meantime, if you are looking for a great holiday read, with angst, romance, family drama and friendship, this is a contender.

Posted in 7 Days of Books, Book Review

#7DaysofBooks #Read #Reviews #bookblogger #amreading @Jolliffe03 #JaneHuntWriter

What I’ve read and reviewed over the last seven days.

Click on the link on the image for the full review.

I received a copy of these books from the publishers via NetGalley in return for honest reviews.

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Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

5* Review- Zara Stoneley – No One Cancels Christmas @ZaraStoneley#Festive @HarperImpulse

 

A holiday she’ll remember forever…

It’s the most magical time of the year, and for travel agent Sarah it’s also the busiest! But this year one man threatens to ruin Christmas for Sarah’s customers – Mr Grinch, Will Armstrong.

The Shooting Star Mountain resort is a magical place, and Sarah has fond memories of Christmas here as a little girl – visits to Father Christmas, husky rides in the snow and hot chocolate by a roaring fire. But as the resorts new owner, Will refuses to play snowball or to deck the halls with anything remotely resembling tinsel!

With customers complaining their Christmas is ruined, Sarah decides it’s up to her to convince Scroogey Will just how magical Christmas can be….

But getting Will into the Christmas spirit is hopeless – he is Bah Humbug personified! But as Sarah gets to know him better, she realises that underneath all the gloom is a man struggling with a pain of his own.

With the big day approaching, Sarah realises that the magic and sparkle can wait. This year, she’s going to spend Christmas day with someone special her very own Mr Scrooge…

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My Thoughts…

Funny, festive and fabulous, everything you want in a Christmas holiday read.

Sarah is such an authentic, believable character, her sense of responsibility makes her confront Will, co-owner of a holiday resort that is threatening the reputation of her aunt’s travel agency. The emails soon turn from caustic to cosy, and when she decides to visit the resort, the fun really starts.

Will has secrets and hides them well under a Mr Scrooge persona. The romance is slow to build but so worth waiting for and really threatens to melt the snow. There are plenty of poignant moments, as Sarah lets go of past hurts and finds out things are not always right or wrong but somewhere in between.

All the supporting characters are vivacious and add to the story’s imagery. The setting is well-described and breathtaking and the plot is full of twists, turmoil and tenderness.

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

Posted in Book Review

Secrets in Sicily- Penny Feeny-Blog Tour 4* Review

Sicily, 1977 Ten-year-old Lily and family arrive for their annual summer holiday in Sicily. Adopted as a toddler, Lily’s childhood has been idyllic.

But a chance encounter with a local woman on the beach changes everything…. 10 years later… Ever since that fateful summer Lily’s picture-perfect life, and that of her family has been in turmoil.

The secrets of the baking hot shores of Sicily are calling her back, and Lily knows that the answers she has been so desperately seeking can only be found if she returns to her beloved island once more…

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My Thoughts…

A family drama set in iconic Sicily initially in 1977. Lily’ lives a privileged life, including an annual holiday to the same villa in Sicily. She knows she was a survivor of an earthquake in Sicily in 1968, but nothing of her birth family and that isn’t problematic until she meets a stranger on the beach, who upsets the family dynamics and changes Lily’s life forever. Lily returns to island ten years later, to find out who she is.

Family secrets are at the centre of this story, brought to life with the vivid description of its setting in Sicily. Character driven, it examines how one chance encounter can change relationships and threaten the core values of a previously happy family.  Lily’s character development is the greatest as she moves from childhood to adulthood and finally discovers her roots. It highlights that well-meant actions and decisions sometimes have unforeseen consequences.

 If you are looking for a poignant, deep holiday, read then try this perfect escape to Sicily and all its secrets.

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

Penny Feeny has lived and worked in Cambridge, London and Rome. Since settling in Liverpool many years ago, she has been an arts administrator, editor, radio presenter and advice worker. Her short fiction has been widely published and broadcast and won several awards. Her first novel, That Summer in Ischia, was one of the summer of 2011’s best selling titles.     

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

BlogTour: Daisy James – Confetti and Confusion – Guest Post – 4*Review

 

The Paradise Cookery School is officially open!

Stepping in for a celebrity chef, Millie Harper is feeling the pressure to make the first ever Paradise Cookery School classes a dazzling success and ensure that bride-to-be Imogen and friends have an unforgettable experience.

Meanwhile, Millie is trying to play it cool around handsome estate manager Zach Barker. But whenever he is near Millie cannot fail to notice the chemistry between them – until someone from Zach’s past arrives and any potential romance seems out of the question.

When disaster strikes and the wedding is in jeopardy, Millie realises she may have to go above and beyond to make sure the school is a success. Can Millie manage to create a day that dreams are made of, and will she find a way to tell Zach how she feels?

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Guest Post – Daisy James – Chocolate Heaven

Confetti & Confusion is the second book in the Paradise Cookery School series, set on the spectacular Caribbean island of St Lucia. In the story, we re-join Millie and Ella as they showcase a myriad of chocolate-themed recipes for bride-to-be Imogen and her friends in the run-up to their glamorous wedding at a luxury resort on the hilltop overlooking the stunning Pitons. It’s a dream come true for Imogen to be getting married in such exotic surroundings and, as a confirmed chocoholic, being able to attend the cookery school is the icing on the three-tiered wedding cake.

The Paradise Cookery School is in a former cocoa plantation house nestled on the hillside overlooking the St Lucian Pitons, spectacular emerald pyramids that poke from the Caribbean Sea like the spines on a dinosaur’s back. The owner and celebrity chef, Claudia Croft, hopes to one day bring the cocoa trees back to life and make her own chocolate to use in her recipes. In fact, the very first course that the school runs is called Confetti & Chocolate, designed specifically for Imogen and her friends.

The course features a variety of recipes that include chocolate, from the wedding cake pops to the chocolate tiramisu bombe, the chocolate truffle tortes with hazelnut brittle and chocolate and cherry madeleines. There’s even freshly grilled salmon in a chocolate and ginger sauce!

 The Paradise Cookery School’s Molten Lava cakes

One of Millie’s favourite recipes is for Molten Chocolate Lava cakes – especially as the view from her kitchen window overlooks the volcanic Pitons! Here’s her recipe…

Ingredients:

100g butter

100g dark chocolate

150g light brown sugar

3 eggs

50g plain flour

Half teaspoon vanilla essence.

Method:

Grease 6 metal ramekins and place on a baking tray. Put the butter and the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of hot water, stirring until smooth and then putting to one side to cool. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar and the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla essence and finally the flour. Divide into the six ramekins and refrigerate. When ready to eat, bake in an oven, 200C, 180C fan or gas mark 6, for 10-12 minutes until the tops are firm to the touch, but the middles are still soft. Run a knife round and turn them out onto a plate, dust with icing sugar and serve with fresh cream.

What are your favourite chocolate recipes? Let me know in the comments.

My Thoughts…

If you can’t afford the Caribbean this Summer, this book is the next best thing. Full of sunshine, warmth, vividly depicted scenery with a tumultuous romance and a mystery too this will keep you happy wherever you’re reading it.

The second in ‘The Paradise Cookery School’series, ‘Confetti and Confusion’ reads well as a standalone too but I did wish I read the first in the series ‘Sunshine and Secrets’. Millie agrees to run an exclusive cookery course for a bride to be and her entourage. She’s in need of something to lift her spirits and loves cooking, so this is the opportunity she can’t turn down. Strongly attracted to Zach the acting estate manager, she wonders if she can risk her heart again.

The setting is sublime and well described, especially through the food on offer. Millie is a lovely character and her friend, and colleague Ella is a warm and giving person who helps Millie step out of her self-imposed shell.

The plot is written in the style of a ‘Death in Paradise’ story by without the murder. It gives a flavour of Caribbean life, without being overly descriptive and the characters are likeable and relatable. The ending gives Millie hope for the future, and now I can’t wait for the Christmas book.

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

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north-east 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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