Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930s.
Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.
Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Grace needs to escape from her daily life, she has a broken heart, a controlling mother and a family who take her for granted, no wonder she enjoys her work, where she is appreciated. Finding some letters and treasures in a storage unit whose payments have lapsed, Grace finds a kindred spirit in Connie. She finds both, courage and solace whilst learning her story and tracking down her heirs.
There is a good mystery to solve, romance, but most of all a journey of self-discovery for Grace. The Italian scenes are vividly described and give the story added interest. The historical aspect of the story is well-written and shows the problems faced by women in the 1940s. There are obvious similarities between Connie and Grace’s stories, but some important differences too.
This is an emotion-driven story, you feel for both Connie and Grace as they are constrained by their circumstances, familial demands and society’s expectations.
There is a detailed epilogue, which draws the drama together well, and gives Grace the hopeful ending she deserves.
Everyone knows that being a single mother means having no time to yourself. But for CallieBrown, it’s more exhausting than most. She’s juggling the needs of three teenage children, two live-in parents, a raffish ex-husband, and a dog who never stops eating.
The last thing Callie needs is anything more on her plate. So when she bumps (quite literally) into a handsome, age-appropriate cyclist, she’s quick to dismiss him from her life. After all, if she doesn’t have time to brush her hair in the morning, she certainly doesn’t have time to fall in love…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I love the easy to read writing style of this novel. The themes are familiar to everyone who parents or has parented teenagers or looked after elderly parents. There’s a glossary of teenage vocabulary at the end of the story for the uninitiated. It is the story that most of us have thought of writing at some time, but this author has actually done it and with great results.
Callie is a single mum, with twin girls and a son from her previous relationship who she has been a mother to for eight years, her ex is frankly abysmal, and her ageing parents are a further emotional and physical drain on her already depleted resources. Getting run over by a takeaway delivery bike, is the final straw, she’s invisible and surely something has to change?
Modern family stories are particularly popular and relevant at this moment. This story has many laugh-out-loud moments mixed in with strong emotional poignant scenes, especially concerning Wilf. It is a story of family, friends, self- worth and love, in all its forms.
An absorbing, yet quick read, I read it today in a couple of hours. Its charm is in its relatability and believable characters. A lovely, emotional humorous read.
Guest Post: All about time for you… Fiona Perrin
HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR ME was inspired by all the women I know who (in the words of the old ad campaign) juggle their lives. I was particularly interested in writing about those who find themselves part of the ‘sandwich generation’ – looking after children as well as ageing parents, mostly while holding down a job (but probably also still making the sandwiches).
It struck me that ‘having it all’ as we say, frequently
means having no time to yourself. We have children to bring up, extended
families to support and it can be just at the time that careers develop and
grow difficult. Callie, the heroine of my novel, is also a single mother with a
complicated, modern and messy family, full of happiness but also pretty
challenging. How does she get any time for herself let alone the opportunity to
fall in love?
I’m not a single mother now, but I was for a few years and I
remember the chaos fondly, but also a constant feeling of exhaustion. Luckily,
I found time to meet Alan and fall in love and now, we have just about waved
all four of our kids off to Uni and careers.
But with them as teenagers, our house was hectic – demanding
but also, fun. HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR ME heavily features teenagers and shows the
pressures they are up against – as well as taking the mickey out them. It has
footnotes to explain teenager-speak for example – they have a whole lingo of
their own. While it’s great to have time to ourselves, I really miss the
madness of those teenage years, and the kids and their friends all hanging
around the house, doing not much. But they all seem to come home quite often
too, mostly with huge bags of washing and to eat their way through the fridge.
I’m really lucky in that my Mum is about the most active,
healthy, supportive parent you can imagine. However, she is also a carer for my
older stepfather, while in her seventies – he can no longer walk – so I have
some understanding of being responsible for the older generation too. HOW TO
MAKE TIME FOR ME features two loopy parents that Callie adores but also add to
the demands on her day. I have dedicated this book to my Mum just so she knows
they were in no way based on her.
I would love it if readers took a little time out for
themselves to read my novel. They might also enjoy Callie’s struggle to stop
feeling ‘invisible’ just as she is knocked off her feet quite literally by a
rather attractive neighbour. She immediately feels that there is no way she
will have time to fall in love with him, but sometimes life has other ideas.
Thanks so much for this opportunity to appear on your brilliant blog.
Fiona Perrin was a journalist
and copywriter before building a career as a sales and marketing director in
industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis Brown Creative
Writing course before writing The Story After Us. Fiona grew up in Cornwall,
hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire, and now writes as
often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the end of The Lizard
When Maisie Meadows finds herself single
and jobless on New Year’s Day, she resolves that this will be the year she
focuses on bringing her scattered family back together. Romance is all very
well, but it’s the people you grew up with that matter the most.
But a new job working at an auction house
puts her in the path of Theo, a gorgeous but unattainable man who she can’t
help but be distracted by. As their bond begins to grow, Maisie finds herself
struggling to fulfil the promise she made to herself – but the universe has
other ideas, and it’s not long before the Meadows family are thrown back
together in the most unlikely of circumstances…
Can dealing with other people’s treasures help Maisie to let go of the past, and teach her who she ought to treasure the most?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
What a lovely story. Maisie the youngest child in a dysfunctional family is the star of this gently paced, characterful story. Her attempts to recreate the ‘perfect family’, are spectacularly unsuccessful, as she is let down by her latest lover and loses her job as well.
The auction house job is a new start, and it feels right, but the serendipitous change in circumstances and career, and the part tea set she uncovers have a profound effect on her life and those close to her.
Maisie is a realistically flawed but easy to empathise character, her motivation for good is strong, but her foundations are rocky. Was life really as ‘rosy’ as she remembers? Is having a tidy house, the only way she can live her life, which seems so out of control. Is her secret, a true reflection of who she really is?
There are so many levels to this story, a potential romance, that is fraught with misunderstanding. A little magic, that Maisie hopes to use to bring her family together. The outcome is not what she expects, but is believable and hopeful. A multi-generational theme, that adds depth to the story and shows how the present reflects the past, and the lessons to be learnt.
It’s easy to lose yourself in this book. Character-driven, it makes you believe in the story, and want the best for Maisie and her friends. The setting is authentic, and relatable and gives the book its unique twist.
Gentle romance, quirky characters and a wealth of emotion and regret, all make this story a lovely interlude in everyday life.
Guest Post – Jenni Keer
Love for Auctions
Thank you for inviting me over, Jane, to talk about the fascinating backdrop to my latest novel The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows, which is set at Gildersleeve’s – a fictional auction house in north Suffolk.
When I was playing about with ideas for my second book, I started thinking about environments I already had a good knowledge of (partly because I had a deadline for this book and was a bit panicky about how much research time I would have). Amongst other things, auction houses sprang to mind. My husband has an antique furniture business and we have been attending auctions at T. W. Gaze in the picturesque market town of Diss, Norfolk, for over twenty years. Over this time, I have seen the auction evolve and grow, and it has always been one of my favourite places to visit. It seemed the perfect setting for a story and much of the plot grew from this seed.
The highly knowledgeable Elizabeth Talbot (you may have seen her on the TV) was very generous with her time and I had several visits behind the scenes and the opportunity to quiz her about various aspects of the business – all of it was fascinating but only a fraction made it into the book. James Bassam, the modern design expert, also gave me his time and expertise, and this helped me to make Theo a much more rounded character. I learned a lot about Scandinavian furniture, studio pottery and post-war glass – so Theo now knows all those things, too.
If you have never been to an auction, I would encourage you to go. I hope I manage to get across some of the tension and excitement of bidding in a busy saleroom, but much of the fun is to be had in wandering around on viewing days and looking at the myriad of items coming up in the weekly sale. You truly never know what you are going to come across. I asked Elizabeth about the most bizarre objects they’d had pass through their hands and she said if it’s legal to sell it, they’ve probably had it – including a coffin (which gets a mention in the book).
Going back a couple of hundred years, most towns held regular auctions and they would have been a thing for all. Sadly, by the middle of the twentieth century, they were not so commonplace and had become the preserve of the dealers – who bought items at auction and sold them on to the general public. But more recently, largely thanks to the TV and the internet, auction rooms have become more accessible again and, although I appreciate they remain intimidating places to some, I hope those who read Maisie Meadows might be tempted to give them a go. Even Maisie had never been to an auction until she started working at Gildersleeve’s, yet instantly falls in love with the variety and energy her new workplace affords.
I suspect if my husband’s profession hadn’t taken us to the auctions, I would never have discovered the thrill that is a live auction, but it’s often the highlight of my week. Much of the furniture in my house has come from Gaze’s over the years, when we’ve been looking for stock but “accidentally” purchased things we fell in love with. This is the downside – you stumble across things you never knew you needed until you see them. Consequently, we have pieces of unusual glass, dinner services (that’s my bad – I can’t resist pretty china), too many bicycles, pieces of art, garden furniture, Scalextric, ceramic clock faces, and a box of 500 old keys… to name but a few of our impulse purchases.
All of my experiences fed into my plot and I loved writing about Gildersleeve’s and its eclectic staff. I knew I wanted the plot to centre around a very unusual tea set that had been separated, so an auction house was the perfect place to start Maisie’s journey. Early on in her new job, she stumbles across a teapot that she recognises from her past – so much so that it sends prickles up her arm. Why has it ended up an auction? And is there more to this curious teapot than meets the eye?
I hope you have fun following Maisie as she tries to reunite both the tea set and her own scattered family. Thank you for having me over, and for the delicious cup of virtual coffee.
Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house, it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.
The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker was published in January 2019.
The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows is out in July 2019.
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I enjoy the finer things—aged whisky, gourmet meals, beautiful women… So when sweet virgin Millie Davis propositions me, I vow we’ll savour every moment. It’s completely no-strings—love is too dangerous. Yet, how can someone so innocent bring me to the brink of losing control?
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Heated and passionate from the start, this story has the trademark sensuality of a #Dare book, but as the story progresses the heat is fused with emotional entanglement that brings the characters’ to life. and makes you want them to have a happy ending.
Millie is on an emotional journey, travelling the world, meeting new people and experiencing new things as her mother always wanted to. In Dublin, she decides that Michael, a top barrister is just the teacher she needs for a particularly personal initiation, but will he agree?
The chemistry is hot and definitely not sweet, but one night isn’t enough. As the addictive passion escalates, so does the emotional commitment. Control and power are predominant themes of this story, but it develops in an empowering way for Millie and gives this story an excellent twist.
The final conflict is heartbreaking but utterly romantic and the ending is perfect.
In this SOS Docs story, the last person paediatrician Ethan Reid expects to see on board the rescue boat during his latest humanitarian mission is nurse Claire Durand. The woman he shared an electrifying, anonymous encounter with is now his newest colleague! Life’s taught Ethan to keep everyone at arm’s length, but Claire’s bombshell changes everything. Because Ethan’s no longer alone – Claire’s pregnant, with his baby!
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
It’s a while since I’ve read a medical romance, and I didn’t remember them being so sizzling, but this one is, and I’m not complaining.
It starts, with a traumatic event for Ethan, that is still affecting his life many years later, when he is attracted to Claire in a bar, just before he embarks on an important humanitarian mission. They are both at pivotal points in their life, and so act on impulse with an explosive and sensual outcome.
The emotional impact of their first meeting is apparent when they meet again and then the conflicts begin and their chance of ever together seeming remote.
There is a sensitive grasp of contemporary refugee issues and the role of medics in their plight, this provides an adrenaline-fuelled, yet poignant setting for their troubled romance to grow or die.
Claire has her own demons, which make her back off from a long term relationship, but the consequences of their passion, make her reevaluate, but can Ethan, whose emotional damage is severe, learn to forgive himself and trust in another?
After angst and indecision, there is an expected happy outcome, but they really have to work for it.
Charlie’s unveils her signature bake… Charlie and Marmite finally arrive in the picture-postcard Cornish village of Porthgolow in their vintage Routemaster bus. Not everything is as it seems and Charlie’s friend, Juliette, tells her about the owner of the big hotel up on the hill who has managed to upset the locals. That doesn’t stop Charlie and Marmite making new friends and the bus finds a new lease of life as the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea. But what will Charlie make of the enigmatic Daniel Harper when they meet, and more to the point, what will he think about Charlie and her bus parked outside his lovely hotel?
I received a copy of the book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Charlie is more settled into her Cornish life, The cream tea bus is proving a popular attraction, and Charlie wants the village to realise its full potential Her latest foody idea is received with mixed emotions, but does introduce the prospect of romance into her life, but is she ready for it?
The characters are complex and realistic, the possibility of a love triangle is suggested in ‘The Eclair affair, and Charlie meets another of Porthgolow’s residents, who has a surprising if reticent insight into to Daniel’s motivations. There is also the hint of someone messing with Charlie’s plans, but who, and the motivation for this, are still a mystery.
An absorbing, quick read, which leaves you wanting more. Set in a delightfully quirky Cornish coastal village.
A Walk in Wildflower Park was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package. Life’s not always a walk in the park…
Anna thought she’d found The One – until he broke off their engagement exactly a year before their wedding day. Hoping new surroundings will do her the world of good, she moves into a place of her own on the edge of gorgeous Wildflower Park.
With the help and friendship of her neighbour Sophie (a stressed-out mum whose children a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces), Anna quickly settles in and pledges to focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems determined to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives a text from a mystery man, it looks as though an unlikely romance is on the horizon…
Is Anna about to be swept off her feet by someone she really shouldn’t be falling for? Or could this be the new start she needs and deserves?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Anna’s engagement is over, and she decides life without men is the way forward. Moving into a new flat with its own private park is a step in the right direction. There, she plans and schemes with her best friend Sophie, mother of two and pregnant with a third, whose life is not what she imagined.
A difficult male colleague who threatens Anna’s career provides the initial conflict and humour. There’s also a mystery texter who makes her wonder if she’s really sworn off men, and her ex refusing to stay out of her life. The wildflower park is a source of solace as Anna faces her past and tries to forge a future she can live with.
Ambition, angst, conflict, humour and romance are major themes in this story
As the story progresses, Anna’s relationship problems continue. Liam her ex, seems to be regretting his decision, but does she really want to go there again? Hudson is an enigma and proves a supportive friend, and the face behind the text is revealed.
There are some interesting twists in this book, which alter Anna’s perception of certain people in her life. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, especially for those who have looked after young children.
The characters develop in a pleasing way. The plot deepens but still keeps its secrets the end.
Heavily pregnant Sophie’s life implodes. Her story has the perfect mix of emotion and humour, especially when, Sophie and Anna discuss the state of her marriage. There are some touching scenes with Bill, humour with Maurice(the cat) and Anna wonders if she really is cut out for the single life.
Anna undergoes significant character development in this story. Illustrated by scenes with her ex Liam, Hudson, her attractive work colleague, and Connor, the man she met by mistake. She’s in a quandary, should she hold out for her soulmate, settle for what’s available, or go it alone?
A new opportunity forces her to face her past fears. Then, the story takes a darker turn. Even though like me, you may have suspected this development, the clues are there, the final events are suspenseful and menacing, and give this story another unexpected dimension. adding depth and interest.
Anna’s character develops further as the actions of others and changes in her career make her face her demons. I love this character and it’s good to see her discovering her true self. Sophie’s story is also resolved in a satisfying way, and she provides her share of angst and laughter as the story draws to a close.
Romance isn’t neglected, Anna finally realises where her heart lies but she faces significant conflict before she finds her true soulmate and her happy-ever-after.
This is a lovely, contemporary story about family, friends and career, with romance, humour and mystery, a very enjoyable read.