Julie Houston, bestselling author of A Village Affair
Once upon a time, twelve women joined the hottest reality TV show looking for love. Except one had a secret identity . . .
Abby Jones is a serious writer. Or at least she will be, one day. Right now, she spends her time writing recaps of reality television under a secret identity.
When a recap for The Stag – the must-watch dating show – goes viral, her editor thinks she should be on set, writing the drama as it happens. The good news: the next season will be filmed in Sydney. Sun, sea and a glamorous trip abroad, this could be Abby’s big break.
The bad news: the producers don’t just want Abby to write the recaps, they want her to be on the show. Abby can’t think of anything worse than being undercover and followed around by cameras. But her career depends on it, and when she meets gorgeous producer Jack, Abby begins to wonder if this job might not be so bad after all . . .
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Whilst I can’t see the appeal of reality TV, the characterisation, humour and romance in this book kept me turning the pages. Abby is an easy to like character with a good heart and witty sense of humour. This book is a good balance of romance and comedy and is the perfect escape from real life, maybe just like the fictional show it features?
The romantic element has a realistic blend of conflict and emotion. The reader is invested in its outcome. The friendship dynamic is believably written. The show’s details are well-researched, immersing the reader in the world of reality TV. Enhanced with angst, believable characters and well-timed comic dialogue, this is an addictive original story.
Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob. She lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins.
There’s someone out there for everyone… you just need to know where to look…
All NEW from bestselling author Della Galton.
Unlucky in love Poppy Allen is the producer of a brand-new TV show, ‘Date for a Day’ – think ‘Take Me Out’ meets ‘It’s a Knockout’!
Lovelorn contestants must perform a series of seaside challenges to win the hand of the starring lady and a ‘Date for a Day’.
Left heartbroken when Stephen, her childhood sweetheart eloped with her best friend on her hen night – Poppy has no plans to risk her own heart again. Besides, she’s far too busy filming contestants against the backdrop of the beautiful Bluebell Cliff Hotel and the stunning Jurassic Dorset coastline.
However, when sabotage on set threatens to stop shooting, Poppy discovers soulmates can be found in the most unexpected places…
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Set on the Dorset coast, this book focuses on Poppy, a film producer and a pilot for a reality TV dating show. This is topical contemporary fiction, and whilst I am not a fan of reality TV, going behind the scenes with Poppy and her film crew makes this absorbing reading.
Poppy is career orientated after being practically jilted at the altar. She has a supportive family who we discover lots about and good work friends, particularly Dave, her camera director. At the heart of this story is a lovely gentle friends-to-lovers romance that is heartwarming. There is also plenty of family drama which adds to the story and shows what a loving and loyal person Poppy is. The filming of the pilot of the Dating reality show is interesting full of humour and conflict, which adds authenticity to the story. The setting at Bluebell cliff brings cameos from some well-known characters and a wonderfully described setting.
This is a lovely, uplifting story, with family drama, glamour and romance.
Extract from Shooting Stars Over Bluebell Cliff – Della Galton
Poppy Allen took a gulp of the fresh, brine-scented air and shielded her eyes against the winter sunshine as she looked out across the strip of pale sand. It was warm for February and the sea was flat and calm. She wasn’t the only one making the most of the stunning early-morning weather. Out in the bay, a small boat towed a waterskier in a black wetsuit past Old Harry Rocks. He bounced across the navy sea and Poppy could hear the distant drone of the boat’s engine beneath the mewling cries of the gulls.
Her ankle boots sank into the powdery sand as she twirled slowly around. Wow, this was a beautiful location to film. In her mind’s eye, she saw a pair of chestnut horses cantering in slow motion through the surf into a sunset that painted the sky pink and gold and turned the sea all around into a mirror of rose-tinted glass.
Which way was west? She checked her smartphone. Oh God, it was perfect. The sun would set over Brownsea Island. They might be able to use this very stretch of beach for that part of her show.
People raved about Dorset’s beaches. Bournemouth drew the crowds, but, in her opinion, Studland Beach was better. It was wilder, with no neat prom and no pier. Just a backdrop of sand dunes dotted with scrubby grass that stretched away into the distance. It was so much more romantic than its staid sister, Bournemouth, certainly for what she had in mind.
Date for a Day, a new kind of dating show, was Poppy’s brainchild. Billed as a cross between Take Me Out and It’s a Knockout, it involved seven contestants participating in challenges to win the attention of the picker. Netflix had commissioned a pilot that would be shown in the autumn. Poppy was determined to make it a hit. Being a producer was all she’d ever wanted to do and she was passionate about her work.
Poppy turned back towards the chain ferry, which was docking again. It came from Sandbanks three times an hour and the crossing took four minutes. From her flat on Poole Quay, it was quicker to come by ferry. The alternative was a very scenic forty-minute drive (on a good day) through Wareham and the Isle of Purbeck.
The ferry disgorged a handful of cars from the 9 a.m. crossing. She had got the one before. She never slept much past dawn anyway. Dave would probably be on this one. It had been tricky to get him to agree to such an early start, especially as he was – technically – working for nothing today. This was a pre-recce excursion, prior to bringing in her full crew. She could have done it by herself, but she wanted a sounding board and Dave had agreed to keep her company after she’d caught him in a weak moment last week following a shoot.
She’d known Dave Blackwell for a lot longer than he’d been her preferred director of photography – they had worked for other production companies together before she’d set up her own, Beauty Spot Productions, eighteen months ago, and they’d become good friends. There was no one she trusted more to help her bring her dream to life.
Poppy felt a prickle of excitement run down her back as she looked around her. It might be too busy to film here, but there were other more secluded, even more beautiful, beaches in this bay.
She glanced back towards the National Trust car park and saw Dave’s old black Mercedes pulling in and parking beside her metallic-silver Jeep Renegade. Too impatient to wait, she set off to meet him.
Della Galton is the author of many books, including Ice and a Slice. She writes short stories, teaches writing groups and is Agony Aunt for Writers Forum Magazine. She lives in Dorset. Della’s new fiction series launched with Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff in May 2020.
‘She had me at Bonjour! Warm, funny, deliciously French…this lovely story filled my heart with sunshine’ Jane Linfoot
Imagine yourself in beautiful France with the sun warm on your face and a glass of wine in your hand…Jojo’s French Escape is the perfect summer read!
Trapped in paradise…
For twelve months JoJo Grant has been hiding from a secret too shameful to share. And whilst her sanctuary might be the beautiful French countryside, JoJo has a horrible feeling that her peace is about to be shattered…because bursting into her life is the hottest celebrity chef around – Callum O’Connor.
Callum knows all about JoJo’s past, her time as a reality star, the scandal that has dogged her, but he isn’t sure why she’s still hiding? After spending time with JoJo, it’s obvious to him that she has nothing to be ashamed of – she just needs to be a little braver… But as much as JoJo likes Callum, he thrives on the glare of the outside world. Can JoJo let go of her past…with Callum by her side?
I received a copy of this book from the author and One More Chapter in return for an honest review.
The perfect start to the weekend a lovely escapist summer read set in France. Romance, friendship and lots of dogs make this an uplifting read with red hot romance and a motivational ethos.
JoJo, an ex-reality star, betrayed by her boyfriend, spent the last year in France, under the radar, recovering. A new celebrity chef is visiting. The disgrace and infamy, of her former life, threaten to engulf her.
Callum and JoJo’s unlikely romance is passionate. Both are wary, but their physical attraction soon deepens into an emotional involvement neither expected. There are many love scenes in this story, all well written and part of JoJo’s acceptance of her true self.
This story explores the power of reality tv and social media and its costs. The ending is powerful and uplifting.
Lorraine Wilson writes flirty, feel-good fiction for One More Chapter – a Harper Collins imprint – and is unashamedly fond of happy endings. She loves hearing from readers and feels incredibly grateful to be doing the job she always dreamt of.
She splits her time between the South of France and Cambridgeshire and is usually either writing or reading while being sat on, walked over or barked at by one of her growing band of rescue dogs.
Jess’s life was turned upside down when her blog went viral. Now, with hundreds of thousands of followers, Jess is now navigating the trials and tribulations of a world online.
Being a mummy blogger was original an escape, but now it seems to be turning into a career. And after one wrong post on her social media channels, Jess discovers that life in the spotlight isn’t always peachy.
With a new baby on the way, the possibility of starring in a reality TV show and a husband who’s struggling with his wife’s new-found fame, Jess has a lot going on.
Jess needs to decide whether this is everything she wanted it to be or whether this is all a bit too much for her? Can Jess persevere against the haters, rise up above the pettiness and find the perfect balance of life in the real world and life online?
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus- Aria in return for an honest review.
Mum’s Big Break is another enjoyable chapter about Jess, her family and her life as a successful mummy blogger. Now a ‘celebrity’ social influencer Jess finds that blogging isn’t the escape it was. Amusing anecdotes and an insiders insight into the world of mummy blogging and social influencers make this a delightful read.
Mum’s Big Break is a contemporary, engaging, and humorous story about life as a mummy blogger.
Excerpt From Mum’s Big Break – Louise Emma Clark
Truthfully, she’d been a bit surprised by how much time had been demanded by the staff at the hotel, but it was too late now. She’d accepted the holiday and she had to do the work – even if that meant being dragged away from her sunbed to listen to a monologue about the interior design decisions behind an overwhelmingly brown conference hall.
It was a few hours before she was able to say her goodbyes and scurry back to the pool, but when she arrived, Chris and Bella were nowhere to be seen. Looking down at her phone and realising it was now midday and Bella had probably been tired and grouchy, she made her way up to their room.
She’d never set eyes on a hotel suite before this holiday, let alone stayed in one, and when they first arrived and were shown to their room, it had taken them a good five minutes to explore, eyes wide with shock. There were two bedrooms, joined together by a large lounge. Wardrobes opened up to reveal storage space the size of small rooms just for their clothes and shoes. Everything inside the suite was perfectly matched in hues of dark wood and warm tones of caramel-brown, and vast, floor to ceiling windows showed off the view to its absolute best.
From their balcony, they could see the whole of Jumeirah Beach stretched to the left and right of them. The white sand, the colour of the sea a perfect reflection of the cornflower-blue sky above, hotels dotted along the coast, the impressive Burj Al Arab hotel shaped like the sail of a boat to their right, and a big wheel that seemed to be sat on its very own island to their left.
Looking directly down from their balcony to the hotel grounds, a series of pools stretched invitingly in front of their hotel.
‘Seven pools, to be exact,’ their concierge had informed them on that first night. ‘Three general pools that everyone can use, one saltwater pool, one shallow pool for children, one adult-only pool, one pool for swimming laps, and a swimmable canal that connects them all.’
The biggest pool was directly below them, with the words ‘THE MERRYGOLD’ stamped on the bottom in large, black letters. And as swimmers disturbed the surface of the water, the letters shimmered and danced in the sunlight.
It was, without doubt, the most impressive hotel that Jessica had set foot in.
In fact, the room alone was so inviting that Jessica was quite tempted to spend the full week inside it, relying on room service and gawping at the views, but with a nearly-two-year-old in tow, that was never going to happen.
Jessica made it back to the room and stood in front of the heavy mahogany door with 3008 monogrammed in gold letters, pulling her key card from the pocket of her bag to unlock it. As the light flickered green, she pushed the door as gently as possible.
‘Sssshhh,’ Chris hissed, turning towards the door from his armchair. ‘F**k’s sake, Jess, please don’t wake her!’
‘Seriously?’ Jessica whispered. ‘What was I supposed to do? Beam myself through the door?’
Chris rolled his eyes.
‘You know,’ Jessica continued. ‘This hotel room is nearly as big as our house. She’s got her own room, Chris! You’re sat out here lording it up with your iPad and she’s fast asleep in her own room, with the door closed. How was I ever going to wake her?’
‘Lording it up with my iPad?’ Chris repeated slowly. ‘Good one. That’s obviously what I’ve been doing while you’ve been swanning around conference rooms for the last couple of hours…’
‘Oh whatever,’ Jessica said, shaking her head. ‘Anyway, what have you been doing while I’ve been gone? Has she been OK?’
‘No,’ Chris said. ‘She’s been a bit of a bloody nightmare actually. She was tired and hungry, and she wanted Mummy as soon as you disappeared. We waited for as long as we could, as I thought it would be nice to have lunch together, but I needed to give her something to eat in the end. Not that she enjoyed the chips I ordered her… Most of them ended up on the bloody floor, so she’s probably gone to bed hungry.’
Louise’s blog, Mum of Boys and Mabel has over 100k followers. Having moved to Dubai with her family she’s now back in the UK and is enjoying writing. From Mum with Love was her debut novel.
Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.
Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes. When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he’s lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate.
Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what’s real – and what’s just for the cameras.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
‘A Messy affair’, is the third book in ‘The Lena Szarka Mysteries’, but reads well as a standalone. It is an enjoyable read, and now, I want to read the first two in the series.
Lena, an enterprising Hungarian woman living in Islington, London, has a talent for business, unwavering loyalty to family and friends and undoubted skill as an amateur sleuth. She has a sharp wit, and an intelligent mind, and reading the story through her eyes is a joy. All of the characters are believable, and fulfil their roles in the story well.
The plot follows a murder mystery style and has elements of a cozy mystery. The urban setting and contemporary themes, give it an edginess, which is original and will appeal to a younger audience.
Lena is not a reality TV fan but finds herself embroiled within it. Her thinking is astute, and I like how she theorised, in her bid to find the antagonist. There are numerous suspects and many twists, I did work it out but coupled with the drama, humour and final suspense, this was a satisfying experience, and I look forward to Lena’s next adventure.
Elizabeth Mundy’s grandmother was a Hungarian immigrant to America who raised five children on a chicken farm in Indiana. Elizabeth is a marketing director for an investment firm and lives in London with her messy husband and two young children. She writes the Lena Szarka Mysteries, featuring a Hungarian cleaner as a detective.
She stood and took her place in front of the camera… It was now or never”
Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.
With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye. Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Bryony decides entering a game show is the best way to publicise her search for her sister. Hannah left home when she was sixteen, and although Bryony has always sought to reconnect with her, through her blog, when her father becomes ill, the need to reach Hannah is vital.
A chance for romance presents in the form of Lewis, not only cute but a lovely person, who is prepared to help Bryony in her quest to find Hannah. Winning the game show is not the main reason for entering, but it becomes important, leading to many humorous moments, as they battle against the other competitors.
Bryony and Lewis head a great character list, whose true personality traits soon become evident as the competition progresses. Not everyone is likeable, but that adds to the authenticity.
The trip through France and the food make this a sensual delight and the challenges the teams face in the game show, absorbing and realistic.
A character-driven, romantic-comedy full of vivid imagery. The perfect book to escape with for a little while.
Guest Post – Carol Wyer – GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
of this post was actually the working title of my latest book until I had an
epiphany before I submitted it to Canelo and changed it to What Happens in France.
always found coming up with book titles one of the most difficult parts of
writing a book. I remember my debut novel (Mini
Skirts and Laughter Lines) was called A
Twinkle in My Wrinkle until an hour before it was published! Titles are
hugely important and even though I spend hours awake going through what I think
might work, I don’t always get it right and my publisher invariably changes
them to something more appropriate.
Titles aren’t always the only part of the book that causes me mental anguish. In the case of this book, it wasn’t the plot or the characters, it was coming up with ideas for crazy games for a reality television show that would be highly entertaining.
took some doing but I was really pleased with the results. One of easiest to
conjure up was a race up a steep hill in beautiful rural France. This wasn’t
taxing at all because not only have I raced on the circuit at Castle Donnington
but for many years I lived in the Tarn and Garonne region, near a town called
St Antonin Noble Val that hosts such a hill climb every August 15th. It’s an
incredibly popular event, attracting racing drivers and amateurs alike and
about half the population of the region who line the twisted route from the
bottom of the hill in the picturesque medieval bastide town to the summit some
250 metres high.
The course de circuit is 1.5 kilometres long and that may not sound very special or spectacular but believe me, it is. The route runs along the jaw-dropping Aveyron Gorges with phenomenal views to the river where canoeists anchor their kayaks to observe the race, while others jostle for space behind massive hay bales that line the road.
noise is phenomenal – a growling that fills the valleys like a hundred angry
dragons battling for supremacy. Each car ascends, engine at full throttle and
navigates the sharp bends and turns, hurtling towards the finish line, egged on
by eager cries and cheers.
Bryony and Lewis take on a similar challenge in their furry 2CV, I thought back
to the eager faces, the supportive crowd and buzz of excitement that
accompanied the event at St Antonin. No matter if you aren’t a car enthusiast,
you can’t help but be captivated by the setting and the atmosphere, and in no
time at all, you find yourself cheering along with the others.
hope you’ll root for Bryony and Lewis in What
Happens in France, although they’re up against fierce competition and
you’ll find your loyalties tested. Besides, the host of the show isn’t keen for
them to win… why not? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
FROM WHAT HAPPENS IN FRANCE:
‘Come on, Furby!’ Lewis pumped the accelerator pedal. The sunshine streaming in through the windscreen was causing him to squint. At last, the car sputtered into life and they made it onto the starting line.
La Pommeraye was a 2.5-kilometre hill climb and the trio of bizarre cars and film crew had attracted a large crowd of supporters who lined the closed circuit, cheering for each of the contestants as the cars raced by. Lewis and Bryony were the last to attempt the climb.
They waited by the lights, currently on red. It seemed to take an age for them to change.
‘Go… go… go!’ Bryony yelled as they tore up the hill past the spectators who waved at them. ‘Right bend!’ The car bore to the right, past a house outside which stood three children holding a sheet marked Allez Furby.
‘We have fans,’ said Bryony, clinging to the grab handle as they rejoined the main road and hastened past more fields. The circuit was an ordinary D road with some sharp bends and twists, railings to one side and all exits blocked off. It made for an exciting circuit although the furry Citroën was nowhere near as fast as the cars that usually competed in the annual hill climb.
Bryony adjusted her racing helmet. The strap was tight under her chin and she had to shout so Lewis could hear her commands. He could see the bends but it helped if she warned him of them too, given he had enough to manage with handling the vehicle.
There was no time to take in the fields of meadow flowers or the cows lazily grazing or the high banks of grass filled with people. Lewis was committed to finishing the race in the fastest time possible without crashing, and Bryony to holding on for dear life.
A bend to the left, another sharp one to the right and an inflatable bridge across the road bearing the name of the show. Cameras to the left and the right and cheering French people. They crossed the line.
Bryony high-fived Lewis. ‘Great driving.’
‘Bit different to that track day I did but not bad at all,’ he replied.
They climbed out of the car hoping they’d done enough to win the challenge.
As a child, Carol Wyer was always moving and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.
Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.
One-off, moving on sex wasn’t meant to be this hot… When determined singleton Shea Summers is persuaded to become the “wife” of the Lord of Edgerton Manor, the last thing she wants to do is play house with a stranger.
Brooding playboy Brando Marshall, is far from happy when Shea turns up at his sprawling estate with production crew in tow. Surely she’s just another woman after his wallet? And if she’s looking for Mr Right, she’s definitely hitting on the wrong guy. Then again, after catching an unscheduled glimpse of her knickers, perhaps Brando needs to teach this “gold-digger” a lesson!
She’s seizing the moment, he’s breaking the rules, and when bad boys can be so much fun, who can resist getting on the right side of Mr. Wrong…
My Review The Right Side of Mr Wrong is a delightful romp in rural England full of emotion, humour, spice and hidden secrets it has all the required ingredients for a compelling read.
Brando, lord of the manor by default, so not in the market for a wife is horrified his younger sister who works in TV thinks he needs one. Bryony creates a reality TV show around finding him a wife and he agrees to pick the winner to keep his sister sweet and out of his love life.
Shea a professional organiser works for the rich and famous. She wants to move on with her life and to prove she can she enters the TV competition. Much to her horror she wins. Friends and relatives concerned for her welfare push her into accepting a trip to meet Brando at his stately home in the English countryside. Brando agrees but intends to leave on the helicopter Shea arrives on. Running is what he does and he’s an expert.
A freak wind puts pay to his escape when it shows him rather more of Shea than he bargained for in public. He rethinks his plans and decides Shea is every man’s dream. Her chic, contained ,calm exterior masks a sassy, sexy siren. More important in Brando’s eyes she appears willing to indulge in commitment free sex with him . Shea denies their mutual attraction but his to die for physique and persistence makes her rethink. Hot, spicy sexual encounters in unexpected locations are inevitable.
Shea is shocked by her wild, wanton side. Brando is intrigued. The more she runs the more he wants to stay until he realises he has broken his own unwritten sexual encounter rules and doesn’t care. Brando’s emotional barriers tumble with each passionate interlude until Shea knows all Brando’s secrets but won’t share hers. When he discovers what she’s hiding he runs…
Centred exclusively on the couple and their emotional journey this story is well paced and full of anecdotal humour. The scorching love scenes reveal more about the characters than they realise. Shea and Brando are realistically flawed but their love story is worth investing your time in.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I’m Jane Linfoot, and I write fun, flirty fiction, with feisty heroines and a bit of an edge. I live in a mountain kingdom in Derbyshire, England, where my family and pets are kind enough to ignore the domestic chaos – happily, we’re in walking distance of a supermarket. For me, writing romance is cool because I get to wear pretty shoes instead of wellies. I love hearts, flowers, happy endings, all things vintage, most things french. When I’m not on Facebook, and can’t find an excuse for shopping, I’ll be walking, or gardening. On days when I want to be really scared, I ride a tandem.