Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

Blog Tour: Guest Post -Moonlight on the Thames – Lauren Westwood – 5* Review

Christmas is a joyous time, but not everyone is merry and bright. Nicola is a star at the top of the corporate ladder, but her personal life is a disaster. Her office affair has run its course, and the last thing she wants to think about is Christmas. A night of cancelled trains and festive Christmas carols at Waterloo Station is the last straw… Dmitri loves conducting his pop–up choir during the festive season, meeting people, and spreading joy and cheer around London. But he carries deep secrets from his past that robbed him of his dream to become a concert pianist. Can two lonely hearts and souls be unlocked by music and moonlight and will they discover the healing power of love?

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 Guest Post – Music, Moonlight and Inspiration – Lauren Westwood

As a writer, I’m often asked where I get my inspirations from. The simple answer is that inspirations come from everywhere! For me, usually, a book will start out with just a simple idea or image, or some kind of trigger event from real life. For Moonlight on the Thames, the opening scene was inspired by a real choir who were performing last year at Waterloo Station during the Christmas season, and a real delayed train. I’m happy to say that unlike my main character, Nicola, I did not create a scene (nor, unfortunately, did I meet the love of my life as a result). But thanks to that night and that choir, my book was born.

To create the two main characters, I also drew on my past. Nicola is a high-powered investment banker, and over the years I’ve dealt with a lot of those in my day-job as an in-house lawyer. I thought it would be interesting for the heroine to be the ‘alpha’ character in the book, though this was somewhat risky. She’s not instantly likeable, but I’m hoping that she’s interesting and different enough for people to stick with her, find out why she is like she is, and see her story unfold.

In contrast, Dmitri is more likeable upfront, but he too has secrets from his past that adversely affect his whole life and forced him to give up his career as a concert pianist. Many years ago, I studied music at university, and though I was not suited for a life as a performer, I did encounter some brilliant musicians who inspired me to want to write about music. There is truly an agony and ecstasy about being a musician, and it takes a very particular personality type to be able to achieve the focus and sacrifice that is required.

The piano music that Dmitri plays in the book was also an inspiration for the tone of the book and also some of the scenes. It was great fun trying to search out the perfect pieces that evoked the mood and emotion that I was going for. And while it is hard to ‘describe’ the effect of music in words, I have put together a playlist to accompany the book that hopefully allows the music to speak for itself. The link is here: http://www.laurenwestwoodwriter.com/playlist.

Finally, I also drew inspiration from a trip I took twenty years ago to Russia. There is something incredibly poetic about the country, its past, its people, its music and literature, that resonates with me. Growing up in America in the 70s and 80s, we were brainwashed into thinking of Russia as ‘the evil empire’ governed by dictators whose fingers were on the red button (hmm, who does that sound like nowadays?) So, it was interesting to travel there myself, form my own opinions, and meet some of the people. I also really like Russian literature, and I have a lovely illustrated book of Russian fairytales with lacquer box designs that inspired the retelling of the Firebird that is in the book.

So, all in all, Moonlight on the Thames was a fun book to imagine and write, and I really hope that readers will enjoy it. I am grateful to Aria for the lovely cover, and also for believing in my somewhat dubious interpretation of an ‘escapist Christmas romance’ that also covers many darker, more serious issues.

If you do read Moonlight on the Thames, please do leave a review or a rating where you purchased it. This helps so much to spread the word to people who might not otherwise find the book.

Most of all, best wishes for the rest of the year and the holiday season.

My Thoughts…

‘Moonlight on the Thames’ is not the lighthearted festive read the title suggests but it does have romance, a fairytale quality and a Christmas message.

Nicola’s successful career masks an empty life and deep, damaging secrets that seem worse at Christmas time. Dimitri’s giving nature is especially evident at Christmas, but he is finding it increasingly difficult to hide the despair and guilt he feels. The couple’s meeting is festive, and Nicola is more ‘Scrooge’than ‘Santa Claus’, but their serendipitous meeting makes them both look at their empty lives.

Poignant and romantic this festive tale focuses on those less fortunate at this time of the year. Dimitri and Nicola’s life are both blighted despite their outward success, and this story explores their inner turmoil and seemingly unlikely romance. Both protagonists are authentic and flawed and carry a damaging amount of emotional trauma but their courage and need to find more in their lives lets both characters develop in a believable and heartwarming way.

Music in all its forms underscores this story and gives it a uniqueness not usually found in festive reads. There are no sugar-coated platitudes in this story, just two people trying to make the best of shattered lives but the outcome makes all the angst worthwhile and leaves an important message in the readers’ minds.

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

 

Lauren Westwood writes romantic women’s fiction and is also an award-winning children’s writer. Originally from California, she now lives in England in a pernickety old house built in 1602, with her partner and three daughters.  

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Posted in Book Review

The Legacy of Lucy Harte – Emma Heatherington – 5* Review

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‘Sometimes time is all we have with the people we love the most. I ask you to slow down in life. To take your time, but don’t waste it….’

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Reading this book is an emotional experience but so worth it. 

Maggie has a second chance at life when she receives a donor’s heart. She feels a unique connection with her donor and longs to connect with her family to thank them.  Seventeen years after her transplant Maggie’s emotional well-being is threatened she feels she is on borrowed time but seems set on hastening her demise.

Maggie is a strong character with a supportive network of family and friends, but she pushes them away, as she battles with the ever-present survivor guilt and her tumbling self – worth issues. I like the serendipity of the letter arriving just when Maggie is teetering on the edge of self-destruction. Lucy’s legacy forces Maggie to focus on the gift of life she has been given, and the story takes on a hopeful theme from this point. There are many slip-ups and misunderstandings, but  Maggie realises her life’s purpose.

A well-paced plot full of vivid characters and unexpected adventures is both poignant with many lighter humorous scenes. The importance of love and living life to the limit, whatever this may be for you, is reaffirmed.  Reading it is like riding an emotional roller-coaster, but the overall feeling that remains is of hope and love and the importance of giving the gift of life.

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

Posted in Book Review

The One With The Wedding Dress – Bridesmaids #2 – Erin Lawless- 4* Review

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BLURB

Nora Dervan is ready for her Happy Ever After. With her darling Harry waiting at the altar, and all her family and friends around her. She is certain that her special day will not be forgotten/will be one to remember…

But with her four bridesmaids hiding more secrets, than bottles of champagne. Will her big day be remembered for all the right reasons?

Bea has barely gotten past the fact that her two best friends are dating, and now they’re engaged, whilst cupid’s arrow points in a forbidden direction for Cleo. She is so distracted by her off limits, hot new colleague that she has forgotten Daisy, who has been left dreading the singles table. There’s more romance in the cheesy pick- up lines than Sarah’s own marriage, which hasn’t turned out as she hoped it would be.

Buy Links

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My Review 2016-1

The One With The Wedding Dress

 

Reacquainting with bride to be Nora and her prospective bridesmaids, as they celebrate Cleo’s thirtieth birthday is easy, despite the months that have passed since I read part 1 of the Bridesmaids’ story. Experience, a nerve racking but hilarious weekend finding the perfect wedding dress. There is plenty of tension between bridesmaids Cleo and Bea and Nora and her mum, who seems set on ruining her daughter’s wedding dress buying experience.
It’s enjoyable sharing the ups and downs of the weekend and the story ends with an unexpected cliff-hanger that could threaten the stability of the group and turn the wedding into a disaster.
This is a quick easy read but there are complex characters and vivid imagery which make this story addictive. I also love the snippets of real wedding memories at the beginning of each chapter.
Looking forward to the hen weekend, all the fun without the hangover, what could be better?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

The One With The Wedding Dress by Erin Lawless

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The One With The Wedding Dress by Erin Lawless

Erin Lawless

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Posted in Author Blog Challenge, My Books, The Dangerous Gift

Author Blog Challenge: Music I Love and Book Playlists #LifeBooksWriting

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This week’s topic is ‘music I love’ and ‘book playlists’. Playlists are popular with writers now but in the four books I’ve written, I only made a playlist for one of them.

Perhaps this is because I’ve never really  understood whether a playlist is supposed to reflect the characters and the plot of the book? Or  just what the writer listens to whilst writing? What do you think?

I don’t usually listen to music when I’m writing, but when I wrote The Dangerous Gift, I did and the playlist below is the result.

The Dangerous Gift Playlist

 

Listen to The Dangerous Gift Playlist on Spotify here

 These were songs I listened to whilst wrote the final draft of The Dangerous Gift, I loved the US series Nashville and so that’s why over half of the songs are from the series. Since The Dangerous Gift is a Western Romantic Suspense, it put me in the right mind set, even though my story is  set in Texas and not Nashville.

The other songs are longtime favourites of mine. I first listened to The Eagles  when I started going out with my husband in 1980. ‘Take It Easy’, always manages to send me back in time , to a Bronze Ford Capri, with an an Eight Track Player. The days were full of sunshine and love. When times are hard, this song always makes me feel good and remember why thirty six years later we are still together.

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The Roxy Music songs have similar poignant memories, so I listen to them  frequently. Jimmy Nail’s ‘Cowboy Dreams’ and ‘What Kind of Man Am I’, fitted in with how Jared felt at times in the story  and Savage Garden’s ‘ Truly, Madly, Deeply’ epitomises the love between Jennie and Jared.

The Dangerous Gift- Teaser 3

 If you haven’t read The Dangerous Gift, it’s available on Amazon and Free for Amazon Unlimited members.

The Dangerous Gift FRONT COVER

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Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, New Books

Chasing Dreams – Alison Mello – Release Day Spotlight and 4* Review

CHASING DREAMS EBOOK - AMAZON

CHASING DREAMS by Alison Mello
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Blurb 2016- 2

 Young, gorgeous, and with the voice of an angel, Skyler Jones dreams of becoming a singer…

After the death of her parents in a tragic car accident, there’s nothing to tie twenty-five-year-old Skyler to the East Coast. But if she’s learned one thing, it’s that life is short. So with aspirations of landing a record deal, she moves to the land of champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

Sexy, rich, and wildly successful, Logan Michaels’ club is the hottest nightspot in Los Angeles…

While at his club, Logan spots a stunning woman ordering a drink. In L.A., beautiful women are a dime a dozen, but this one’s different—and so is their connection. He’s never been so infatuated, and he’s determined to know more about the striking stranger. After pulling some strings, he finds out where she works and asks her to dinner.

They find more than love—they find opportunity…

After a few dates, Logan convinces Skyler to perform at his club. But when Skyler dances with one of Logan’s connections, he’s unable to contain his explosive jealousy. However, his major screw-up with Skyler is the least of his problems. When a scorned ex-employee seeks revenge in the most deadly of ways, it puts both himself and Skyler’s life in danger.

Will Logan be able to protect Skyler from the growing threat?
Or will she run…and write off this chapter of her life as chasing dreams?

Buy Links 2016 -2

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon

Paperback

Amazon UK

My Review

 Strong characters, an original plot, sensual romance and a suspenseful twist kept me turning the pages of ‘Chasing Dreams’; Sky is a typical new adult heroine, running from a tragic loss she decides the only way is forward and sets off to the bright light of LA to realise her dreams as a professional singer.
Serendipity and a great best friend play a part in Logan and Sky’s meeting but the instantaneous attraction is down the them. The passion between them dominates their developing relationship and makes for some memorable love scenes.
Logan is controlling and I find this trait irritating but his caring nature and deepening love for Sky redeems him for me, as the story progresses.
Sky is independent and tenacious and easy to like. Her obvious physical attraction to Logan reveals her vulnerable side but when he oversteps, her feisty nature returns and demands his respect.
The suspense element enhances the story and contrasts with the sensuous romance. Well paced,it probably won’t turn out like you expected, which is always the mark of a good book.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

CHASING DREAMS - Cover Reveal Copy

Author Bio 2016- 2

Alison Mello (1)Alison Mello is a wife and stay at home mom to a wonderful little boy. She lives with her amazing family in Massachusetts. She loves playing soccer, basketball and football with her son.

After having her son, Alison started reading again and fell in love with Contemporary Romance. Reading made her happy and gave her something to do when she had downtime. As she started to read more, she started to noticed things she really enjoyed in a book and things she didn’t. She began to have ideas for writing one of her own. One day she literally woke up and started writing. She realized that if there was ever a time for her to write, it was now. She had a part time job to give her something to do. The hours at work were slow and she was bored with what she was doing, so while her son was off enjoying his friends over summer vacation she got started.

Alison finished the first book in two weeks and decided that she really enjoyed writing, so she kept going. She already had ideas in mind for books two and three, so she kept writing. That is how the Learning to Love Series was born. Somewhere along the line, one of my Beta readers convinced me that Michael, a character from Finding Love, needed his own story. That is when Alison added the fourth and final book. Alison hopes you enjoy her books as much as she enjoyed writing them.

She’s so glad she started this writing journey and hopes you will stay with her for the ride. Chasing Dreams is scheduled to release in April and the first two books of the Love Conquers Life series will be out this summer!

 

Links 2016-2

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Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, Release Day Blitz

Lines We Forget J.E.Warren – Release Blitz & 4* Review

FIGHTING DESTING - SHELLY MORGAN - LIMITLESS PUBLISHING
DESIGNED BY TOJ PUBLISHING SERVICES WWW.TOJPUBLISHING.COM

Winter Blurb

Love never comes easy, especially to those who aren’t prepared for it…
Twenty-four-year-old musician Charlie Stone has always played the classics. It’s just another day of playing the same old songs until he notices her—Anna Garrett, a beauty with cold-bitten, rosy cheeks and a coffee cup clutched in her hands.

Five songs later, and she’s still standing there. He vows to steal her heart the only way he knows how.

In the heart of London, chance encounters are few and far between, but a warm melody can bring people together…

New day, same old disappointments. Anna Garrett believes her luck at finding love has stalled before it’s even started when she’s stood up for a second date with a friend of her housemate.
But when she sees a handsome musician playing his heart out, everything changes. Memories come flooding back. As she listens to the music, Anna realises she must take matters of love and luck into her own hands.

When opposites attract, sparks fly…

After a series of wonderful, unconventional dates, feisty Anna and hopeless romantic Charlie declare their love for each other. But their newfound bond is rocked to its core by a New Year’s Eve party gone awry that threatens to throw them off course.

Finally, a bright future appears to be within their grasp. But when Anna’s world fractures and distance comes between them, the real work begins.

Will their love go on in perfect harmony, or become another old song full of Lines We Forget?

Teaser 1

Winter Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon

 

Winter My Review
This is an unusual love story set in London. Charlie is a musician who despite his privileged background craves a simpler life, filled with music, which he funds working in a music shop and busking outside a London Underground station. Country girl Anna works in London, living the dream; except she doesn’t like her job or her bitchy colleagues and is fed up of being constantly set up by her flatmate with materialistic arrogant men.
Charlie’s attraction to Anna is instant and powerful and he tries to charm her with his music. Anna doesn’t notice him at first until he plays a song that captures her heart and evokes loving memories of her childhood. Charlie and Anna are opposite in background, family and aspirations but they form an unlikely bond. Seen through Anna and Charlie’s eyes we experience their emotional highs and lows as they try to discover their happy ever after.
For me Anna and Charlie are difficult to warm to. However they are realistic characters and reflect twenty-first century relationships. The setting is vibrant and contrasts with the introspective nature of the story, which is full of angst.
If you like your romance totally focused on the hero and heroine and a little quirky, this story should appeal to you.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Author Bio 2016- 2

J.E.Warren currently resides in a somewhat sleepy seaside town, and is a British Romance/YA writer who has a long standing love for milky tea, travel, shaggy haired 90’s band Hanson, and small dogs.

She enjoys writing and bringing to life realistic and relatable characters, especially strong, sharp and savvy females who aren’t afraid to speak their mind.

Music has always played a big part in her life – from noisy rock to reggae, folk to pop punk and everything else in between. And is a constant source of inspiration when writing, especially when plotting new ways to steal reader’s hearts, or make them swoon (usually with the help of guitar playing heartthrobs.)

When she’s not writing, J.E likes to curate perfect playlists – of which she has many, and catch up on her favourite shows (again too many), though you can be certain to find Buffy The Vampire Slayer on heavy rotation.

Links 2016-2

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Posted in Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: Chasing Dreams – Alison Mello

CHASING DREAMS EBOOK - AMAZON

CHASING DREAMS by Alison Mello
Cover Designer: TOJ Publishing Services
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Blurb 2016- 2

 Young, gorgeous, and with the voice of an angel, Skyler Jones dreams of becoming a singer…

After the death of her parents in a tragic car accident, there’s nothing to tie twenty-five-year-old Skyler to the East Coast. But if she’s learned one thing, it’s that life is short. So with aspirations of landing a record deal, she moves to the land of champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

Sexy, rich, and wildly successful, Logan Michaels’ club is the hottest nightspot in Los Angeles…

While at his club, Logan spots a stunning woman ordering a drink. In L.A., beautiful women are a dime a dozen, but this one’s different—and so is their connection. He’s never been so infatuated, and he’s determined to know more about the striking stranger. After pulling some strings, he finds out where she works and asks her to dinner.

They find more than love—they find opportunity…

After a few dates, Logan convinces Skyler to perform at his club. But when Skyler dances with one of Logan’s connections, he’s unable to contain his explosive jealousy. However, his major screw-up with Skyler is the least of his problems. When a scorned ex-employee seeks revenge in the most deadly of ways, it puts both himself and Skyler’s life in danger.

Will Logan be able to protect Skyler from the growing threat?
Or will she run…and write off this chapter of her life as chasing dreams?

CHASING DREAMS - Cover Reveal Copy

Author Bio 2016- 2

Alison Mello Thank you for choosing to read my book. I am a wife and stay at home mom to two wonderful children. My family is my world and one of the reasons I started writing was so I could be home for them. I was born in raised in Massachusetts where I still live today with my amazing family.

As a child and young adult I was never a big reader and I think it was because I never found a genre or a series I really enjoyed. After having my son fell in love with Contemporary Romance and I have built up quite the collection since then. As I started to read more, I started to notice things I really enjoyed in a book and things I didn’t and realizing what I didn’t enjoy really made me want to write more.

I literally woke up one morning and started writing. I was bored and unhappy with what I was doing in life and since I had an idea in mind for the start of a book, I sat down and went for it. I realized that if there was ever a time for me to do it, it was now, because my hours at work were slow and the kids were off enjoying their friends for summer vacation.

I finished the first book in two weeks and decided that I really enjoyed writing, so I kept going. I already had an idea in mind for a book two and three, so I kept writing and that is how the Learning to Love Series was born. Somewhere along the lines one of my Beta readers convinced me that Michael needed a story to so I added the fourth and final book. I hope you enjoy my books as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

I am so glad I started this writing journey and I hope you will stay with me for the ride. I will definitely be writing more in the future. Chasing Dreams is one of my favorites and is my first stand alone, but stay tuned for the next book to come!

Links 2016-2

LIMITLESS PUBLISHING 
GOODREADS
FACEBOOK
WEBSITE