Christmas is coming and actress Kirsty Castille seems doomed to play the front part of Nag, the Christmas pantomime horse when a surprise audition lands her the lead role as Maria in the Sound of Music.
Even better she bonds with a handsome chef over
a piece of squid at her local supermarket, although sadly romance is the last
thing on Jake Levy’s mind.
He has a Christmas deadline, an ex-wife to mourn
and lots of emotional baggage to drag around. He certainly doesn’t have time
for romance and even if he did he wouldn’t fall for someone like Kirsty who
craves the limelight: been there, done that.
A misunderstanding leads Jake to offer Kirsty a
job in his new restaurant and she takes it purely to convince him that she’s the
girl of his dreams.
Her charm offensive begins to work but while
he’s cooking up a storm she’s secretly sparkling under the spotlight – until
her cover is busted.
The fallout is catastrophic, but as they say in
Luvvie Land, the show must go on, even if Kirsty is terrified that she’s taken
her last curtain call and ruined her chance for love.
Read on and immerse yourself in this delightful
winter romance as the snow starts to fall and Christmas day becomes a magical
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
If you are looking for some genuine humour in your festive reading, this book is the one. Kirsty is quirky, desperate to be a successful actress, an ideal romantic comedy heroine. Jake, is a successful chef, but his love life is a mess, and he’s never going to get entangled with someone seeking fame again. Even though the attraction is evident for both of them, it seems ill-fated.
The characters are realistic, the author is an astute observer of people and situations. The constant and increasing misunderstandings are humourous, and often a little poignant. The writing style is full of visual imagery and it flows through the reader’s mind like watching a film. This is an essential quality for a romantic comedy, and one this novel delivers on.
The festive element is more a setting rather than intrinsic to the story, but it is an enjoyable read with a lovely happy ending.
Jackie Ladbury writes heartwarming contemporary and historical women’s fiction that is always guaranteed a happy ever after. From spending many years as an air-stewardess and seeing that it really is love that makes the world go around, she determined to put the same sparkle and emotion into her stories. Her life is no longer as exotic (or chaotic) as it was in those heady days of flying as she now lives a quiet life in Hertfordshire with her family and two cats, spending her days making up stories and finding excuses not to go to the gym.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is an interesting insight into a love triangle relationship. Alice and Kai are together, having been friends since childhood. Alice has lived and worked in the coastal town where she lives all her life. Kai, a freelancer works away, but always comes home to Alice. He wants to make them official, Alice resists, she needs her independence. Mia arrives home from her travels and a chance meeting with Alice, causes her to question everything.
This is an emotional story from three points of view. The reader is drawn into the web of tangled emotions, and you empathise, with all of them, because of their youth and naivety. The conclusion is well written and ties up the story in a believable and emotionally satisfying way.
“I’m Gemma Roman.
I have pretty much always been a bookworm.
I always loved reading, writing and the creative arts, and also
enjoyed dancing which led me to study for a degree in Dance Studies when I
was at University. Following graduation, I worked in retail and became
interested in the wealth of characters that I came across daily while
working in customer service.
I’d had a few ideas rumbling around in my head for a while, and so
spent a few years writing my first novel in my spare time. I finally managed to
release it in June 2016, and am now planning for the release of my new book
‘All At Sea’, which is due out in 2019.
My marriage to Calypso was simply business. Until our unexpectedly passionate wedding, night shook us both! Unwilling to muddy our convenient arrangement with such inconvenient emotions, I reluctantly left. Now discovering the baby in my estranged wife’s arms is mine, it’s about securing my legacy. I will claim my son and again enjoy the one thing Calypso cannot hide—the chemistry that still sizzles between us…
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
An interesting interpretation of the marriage of convenience trope.
Callie and Axios are not in love, their marriage is a business arrangement, Callie is a pawn in her father’s business empire, and appears to have little say in the matter. Axios is powerful and successful but is still prepared to sacrifice his happiness for the good of his family and their business success.
Everything is not as it seems in this story. Callie has a reason for her compliance and a secret. Both are attracted unwillingly to the other, and the passion is evident from the start, but just when you believe they may have a chance, Callie’s life is rocked by a devastating discovery.
This story took a while to get into and to empathise with the characters and their situation, but I got there. I found this to be a lovely romance, with many poignant moments that tugged at the heartstrings. The ending is a little contrived, but a happy-ever-after is an expectation of this type of romance.
Some things you can never escape. I should know. I’ve been running away for fifteen years, and now I’m right back where I started…
Skye Turner’s family fell apart the day her twin sister Ginny died. Everyone in their tiny community in the Scottish Highlands accepted it was an accident, but more than one person in town is haunted by a secret from that night…
Skye left after the funeral, believing her mother blamed her for Ginny’s death. Skye should have taken care of Ginny, should have been there to stop her falling from the cliffs that night. Over the years, she’s barely spoken to her mother, until the day she receives a phone call asking her to return home.
As soon as Skye arrives in her childhood home, she knows something isn’t right. Her mother has kept the bedroom she shared with her sister like a shrine, Ginny’s clothes and diaries gathering dust, as though her mother thinks Ginny might come back. And there are whispers in town that Ginny wasn’t alone when she died…
Skye is desperate to find out the truth, but her mother just wants her family back together. As Skye begins to unravel everyone’s lies, she realises the truth might tear her family apart for good…
My Mother’s Silence is a twisty and emotional novel about the bonds between mothers and daughters, and what happens when we hide things from those we love the most.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A family tragedy resonates on a small Scottish community, It tears a local family apart, but now it’s time for Skye to come home. She’s unsure of her reception, but her younger brother insists her mother needs her. Her new life is in tatters, she has nowhere else, but can she face going back? This is a story about sisters, mothers and daughters and the secrets families keep to protect those they love most.
Told in the first person from Skye’s point of view, this is a compelling, emotional tale of a woman’s search for answers so that she can finally lose the guilt and move on with her life.Skye has done most of her growing up with strangers, always moving, never finding the peace, she unconsciously seeks. Circumstances, force her back home for Christmas, but what she finds is not what she expects.
The characters in the family and the wider village are well written and realistic. They are all hiding something, but Skye’s return opens Pandora’s box and finally, with the help of Nick, an ex-detective the truth is uncovered.The family relationships and tensions are believable and poignant, The mystery part of the plot is cleverly constructed and its resolution satisfying.
The romance is secondary to the family drama and mystery, but adds light to the darkness and makes the ending romantic and hopeful.
Ordinary families and tragic events make absorbing reading when instilled with a perfect balance of angst, hope, love, mystery, romance and sadness.
Lucy fell in love with tumbledown Rosemary Cottage as a child. So thirty years on, when she loses her city job and discovers the cottage is for sale, it feels like fate. She’ll raise her children in Burley Bridge and transform the cottage into a B&B with her husband.
But a year can change everything . . .
Now Lucy is juggling two children and a B&B but on her own. Christmas looks set to be their last on Rosemary Lane – until she meets James, a face from her past and someone who might offer a different kind of future . . .
Should Lucy leave the cottage behind? Or could this winter on Rosemary Lane be the start of something new?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Childhood memories can be powerful, and Lucy’s love of the cottage on Rosemary Lane stayed with her for thirty years. When her career reaches a crossroads, she convinces her husband that living there would be perfect for their family. For a while it is. Then life happens and tragedy strikes and Lucy is left to rebuild her family, but will it be at the cottage on Rosemary Lane?
Whilst this story is not exclusively festive, there are many Christmassy references and touches, which show the best and worst of the season. Told from mainly from Lucy’s point of view, this is a lovely tale of family life in a small Yorkshire village, it is a story of bereavement and loss and starting over. There are some strong friendships, and interesting romantic possibilities overlaid with courage, emotion and humour.The story draws you in, and it becomes important what happens to Lucy and her young family.
The rural setting is well described and the cast of characters diverse and realistic. James’ story is intricately woven into the main plot in a believable way, with just the right amount of serendipity. The story brings hope out of tragedy and leaves the reader with a feel-good hug.
Charlotte, daughter of Reverend Percival Hatton, has been content to follow the path laid out for her. Charlotte has an understanding with Captain Nicolas Paget – every inch the gentleman – who she expects someday to marry. But then she meets Josiah Martyn and everything changes…
A driven and ambitious Cornish mining engineer, and the complete opposite to Captain Nicholas, Josiah has come to London to help build the first tunnel under the river Thames. When unpredictable events occur at the inauguration of the project, Josiah and Charlotte are suddenly thrown into an unexpected intimacy.
But not everyone
is happy with Charlotte and Josiah growing closer. As friends turn to foes,
will they be able to rewrite the stars and find their happy ever after,
although all odds seem to be stacked against them…?
I received a copy of this book from the author and Corvus Books in return for an honest review.
Set in 1825, this romantic family saga explores the engineering feat of building the first underwater tunnel in London, by Brunel. The vision of this late Regency event comes across well in this story, but so does the human cost, of such a dangerous undertaking.
Charlotte is the Rector’s daughter, who since her mother’s untimely death has fulfilled the parish duties expected of a Rector’s wife. She is compassionate, clever and courageous, and does what she can to help the parish’s poor and unfortunate. The Rector is judgemental about his poorer parishioners. He is the antithesis of his daughter and prepared to put his material needs above his pastoral duties.
Charlotte meets Josiah, an engineer working for Brunel on the tunnel when he averts a near-tragic accident for her. The attraction although immediate and powerful builds through friendship when they meet on many occasions, through Charlotte’s parish duties and mutual acquaintances. Their romance appears ill-fated, when her father’s desire to maintain his reputation overrides the needs and wishes of his daughter, leading to an angst-ridden emotional climax to this story.
The historical background is well researched and written in a vivid real-time way that allows the reader to experience some of the events of the era. The characters are complex. Many are disagreeable but add to the story. All act in a way that fits with this exciting historical period. The social class divide is marked, but the evidence of change that the future Victorian era witnessed is seen here.
An absorbing plot, with vividly written characters, historical events, and a believable but utterly romantic love story, makes this the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter’s afternoon.
Jean Fullerton is the author of thirteen novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer. She won the Harry Bowling Prize in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is halfway through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.
GRACIE PORTER’S LIFE IS IN A TANGLE. HER TELEVISION COOKERY SHOW IS FLAILING AND HER BOYFRIEND’S AFFECTIONS ARE WANING. IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE…
friend Faith rescues her place on the small screen when she unwittingly lands
them both starring roles in a steamy spin-off that becomes an instant hit. The
new show is more about relationships, sex and stonking big vegetables than
in a fluctuating crush on her surprisingly irresistible agent, Harry Hipgrave,
an unlikely friendship with a pair of D-list models and a gossip journalist
intent on making her life miserable, Grace wonders if becoming famous is all
it’s cracked up to be?
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Definitely a story for lovers of celebrity and reality TV.
‘Look at me Now’, follows Gracie’s exploits as a celebrity chef on day time television, new owners and a tired show mean either change or unemployment. Gracie and Faith come up with a topical slant to make the show a twenty-first-century hit. What happens next pushes Gracie, who is a typical rom-com heroine, likeable and naive, well out of her comfort zone. Can she do it? Well, you’ll have to read it and see.
There is genuine humour in this story, plenty of romantic and work-based angst and conflict, and a gentle romance. The cast of characters are vividly written, and most avoid becoming stereotypical. The writing style is inclusive and informal and makes this an easy, escapist read. Short chapters keep it well-paced.
If you like a romantic comedy with a contemporary twist, this is an enjoyable read.
Extract from – Look At Me Now – Simone Goodman
‘Oops!’ Rushing into the television
station where I work, escaping the demonic gale that’s sweeping across London
this morning, I slide delicately across the wet tiles inside the entrance.
I say delicately. But it’s more hope that I look like an
accomplished ice skater as I clumsily regain my balance. Being a healthy size
14 – I don’t consider myself fat, I’m just not reed thin – there’s a risk I’ve
come off more like a comedian on a banana skin. Thankfully, no one other than Mitzi,
our receptionist, is here to hold me accountable.
‘Golly, Gracie, are you okay?’ Mitzi calls from across the
foyer, where she’s sitting behind the front desk, most likely reading a script.
‘I’m okay, Mitzi.’ By all accounts, my near miss looked
distinctly less than elegant. Laughing, I steady myself on the death-tiles. It
could have been worse. I could have toppled right over my own feet.
It’s only a short few hundred metres dash from Oxford Circus
Tube station to my workplace, our studios located in a narrow but deceptively
cavernous Georgian building on Soho Square. My umbrella blowing inside-out
against the pelting rain and wind this morning, I covered the distance as
quickly as possible. My dash best described as a nippy jog, it’s the most
exercise I’ve done in months. It’s early January, the time for New Year
resolutions. Possibly, it wouldn’t be the worst idea for me to consider joining
‘I’ve been warning someone will break their bones on those
tiles,’ Mitzi says.
‘We could do with a non-slip mat here,’ I agree.
‘We could do with a lot of things around here,’ Mitzi sighs.
She reminds me of Daisy Lowe, the model. Dark hair. Doe
eyes. Cherry-red lips. Though her role is to welcome visitors, Mitzi looks the
part for television. Like many people who work here, she yearns to be in front
of the camera.
I have my own show. But it troubles me, more and more
lately, that I don’t look like I belong. This isn’t to say I don’t have my
finer points. Pragmatically speaking, we all do. What can I tell you? My eyes
are sometimes so blue as to appear violet. Almond-shaped, they’re generously
framed with oodles of long, thick lashes. My dark locks cascade to below my
shoulders and, at thirty-three years of age, I’ve not got a single grey hair on
my head. My complexion is creamy, free of lines and, generally, spots. But
before you picture me as some uber-glamourous cross between a young Elizabeth
Taylor and a brunette Katy Perry, bear in mind I’m the more robustly packaged
(sometimes size 14 plus) version. Some days, I fear I’m veering more into the
territory of a Dawn French and Melissa McCarthy lovechild – without their
comedy vehicles for kicks. But surely no one likes a thin chef?
I host my own daily cookery show, Gracie Porter’s Gourmet
The title is a bit of a misnomer.
It’s impossible to prepare gourmet meals, haute cuisine of several
aesthetically balanced and rich courses of food, within a short thirty minutes
allotment of air time. Notwithstanding that with preparation of the set, the ingredients
and me, it takes almost a full day to pre-record every show that then airs
across the whole of England, Scotland and Wales at 10.30 a.m. the following
week. Also, there isn’t much ‘getting together’ with my format. I like to think
I’m always engaging with my audience as they tune in to connect with me from
the comforts of their own homes, but the original concept had me hosting the
occasional special guest: other chefs, celebrities and perhaps the more
interesting politician. With none of us, including my producer, Robin, moving
in celebrity circles, with Westminster MPs otherwise occupied with their
scandals, solicitations and squabbling and me reasoning that any chef who wants
to be on television would surely want their own show, we failed to deliver.
When no one pushed us, we let it slide. We don’t even have a live audience.
It’s pretty much me and the crew who chow down after a recording finishes. On
this basis, my cookery show has aired daily for almost a year and a half.
Previously, I worked as a normal chef. I prepared
mouth-watering meals in lovely places where people came to eat. When it comes
to food, I’m a consummate professional. As far as television goes, I’m still
cutting my teeth.
From the beginning, both investment and expectation of our
little cookery show has been low. Being at the bottom end of a long list of hot
shows and hotter stars left me below the radar – and this has suited me fine.
Things changed late last year after Titan Media, the US entertainment giant,
acquired a large chunk of our relatively tiny UK operations. This afternoon, at
3 p.m., I have a meeting with the American executives who now run things to
discuss my ‘future services to the company’. It hasn’t escaped me that not
everyone summoned to such meetings returned from their New Year breaks. People
have been literally disappearing from the studios in droves. And I know my
ratings aren’t the best.
I don’t disagree with Mitzi that things around here could be
better. However, today is a day for putting the best, most confident and upbeat
version of me forward.
‘I’m sure things will settle down and everything will be
fine again soon,’ I assure her. I put my wet umbrella inside a cotton shopping
Behind me, the front doors burst open. I turn to look.
Shadowing the doorway, wearing her long, spectral black-hooded cape, stands
Zelda the Magnificent, our resident daytime television psychic.
‘Gracie,’ Zelda declares on seeing me. ‘Dahling.’ Her voice
is deep and melodic. Her accent is old Budapest enchantment. She’s like a
darker, earthier Zsa Zsa Gabor. ‘Please, stop for Zelda,’ she implores in her
dulcet tones. ‘I have, for you, a vision.’
Simone’s Bio – Simone Goodman is CFO at one of the fastest-growing tech companies in Europe. She is Australian and lives in London with her daughter and her two cats. Look At Me Now is her debut romantic comedy and will be published in November 2019.