1799 Emily Moon lives with her mother in an inn on a clifftop in the darkest reaches of Cornwall. After her father mysteriously disappears, her mother finds solace at the bottom of a bottle, and the only way to keep afloat is to turn a blind eye to the smugglers who send signals from the clifftops. But Emily knows that the smugglers killed her father to ensure his silence, and she will not let his murder go unpunished…
Present day After a case ends in tragedy, police officer Phoebe Bellingham flees to Cornwall for a summer of respite. But rather than the sunny Cornwall of her dreams, she finds herself on storm-beaten cliffs, surrounded by stories of ghosts and smugglers – and the mysterious Emily Moon, who vanished without a trace over two centuries ago. As rain lashes down around her, Phoebe determines to find the truth behind the rumours – but what she uncovers will put herself in danger too…
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Smuggler’s Daughter is a mysterious timeslip story, connected by place and two women. This is an atmospheric story in both 1799 and 2019, with the danger of smugglers and an underlying menace.
In Cornwall in 1799, Emily witnesses a terrible crime which she vows to avenge. Viewed as strange by her community, she has few friends. Phoebe is reeling from a mistake that left someone dead. She escapes to Cornwall and finds a mystery to occupy her mind.
Both stories are engaging with strong female characters who draw you into their lives and gain your empathy. The well-paced plot provides a medley of mystery, paranormal and romance amidst Cornwall at its most haunting and rugged.
Meaningful and moving, a beautiful story with life-affirming qualities.
Milly Bryne’s world came crashing down when she lost her beloved Dad and boyfriend in a matter of weeks. Losing her Dad has broken her family. Losing her soul mate made has made her give up on life and love. After swerving from stability to chaos to despair, Milly finally believes she has her life back on track when the unexpected return of a familiar face to Ireland throws her life once more into a spin. Milly is forced to decide if her new life is the one for her, or if there is another path that will bring even greater riches of joy, excitement and fun into her world. Life just isn’t worth living if your heart isn’t in it?
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I always love reading a book written by a true storyteller and this one of those. Milly is not coping, no one would know, but she’s still crippled with grief after losing her father five years ago, has a ruthless career that demands all her time and offends her moral code and was abandoned by her soulmate at the lowest point in her life. When her old lover returns, it forces her to look at her life and decide what she truly wants it to be.
Milly is a likeable and relatable protagonist. You want her to overcome her anxiety, learn to live with her grief and be happy. A diverse cast of characters both hinder and support Milly in this quest. Everyone is authentic and adds something to this enjoyable story.
The story explores how Milly and her family members experience, both anxiety and grief believably.
The story is heartbreaking and humorous in equal measure but ultimately heartwarming.
Extract from Life After You Sian o’Gorman
A low hum of chatter, the odd bray from the over-inebriated, the tinkling of Cole Porter from the grand piano in the corner, the soft lighting, the waft of the kind of perfume that hadn’t been bought as an after-thought in Duty Free, the pop of the champagne bottles. Siobhán held up her glass of fizz. ‘I could get used to this,’ she said, putting on a posh voice. ‘I may insist on always socialising in the Shelbourne.’
It was early April and there was a touch of spring in the air and we were both a little over-excited. It was a Tuesday which was enough to celebrate on its own, but we were at the launch of a new development for my boyfriend’s property company and although Ryan and I had been going out for three months, he and Siobhán were yet to meet.
She’d already peered across the room at him as he shook hands with and chatted to some of the other guests. ‘He’s handsome,’ she said, approvingly. ‘The kind of cheekbones that make him look like he’s sucking on a lemon or an eighties popstar.’
Siobhán and I had been best friends since our third year of high school when we both realised we shared a hatred of hockey and a love of talking to each other. We’d lived with each other many times over the years, her moving in with me when my then boyfriend, Darragh, left me five years earlier. Her partner, George, was often to be found on our sofa – normally asleep, wrecked from his early starts in a bakery.
Siobhán’s arm darted out to nab a handful of canapés as a tray bobbed past our heads. She handed one to me. ‘Being a corporate lawyer, you probably eat like this all the time,’ she said, mouth full, ‘expense-account lunches…’
‘I’m lucky if I get ten minutes to buy a sandwich. Normally, it’s just me and Catriona working through.’ Catriona was my boss, one of the partners at my law firm McCoyMcAvoy. I’d worked there since getting onto the graduate scheme, and had slowly made my way up to being junior to the firm’s only female partner. As corporate lawyers, we bent the rules to nearly breaking point, discovering legal loopholes and building cases so rock-solid that we always ensured our clients got their way.
‘Lunch is the most important meal of the day,’ Siobhán reminded me.
‘I thought it was breakfast.’
She held up a canapé. ‘No, I forgot. Nibbles and snacks are the best meal of the day.’ She grinned at me. ‘Can’t live without snacks.’
‘We’d die together for the want of a good snack… talking of which, these are very nice, very nice indeed!’
Siobhán was small, with long, waterfall-wavy red hair, and always wore bright red lipstick. I was tall, with shoulder length light brown hair which I tied back for work, with minimal make-up. She wore long skirts and chunky cardigans and dangly earrings, whereas I couldn’t remember the last time I wore anything that wasn’t sensible. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done something that wasn’t sensible. But, then again, I was the one who’d signed up to be a lawyer and being sensible was part of the deal. Except, I wouldn’t mind some fun. It was exactly why I insisted on Siobhan coming tonight. It was at least something.
Sian O’Gorman was born in Galway on the West Coast of Ireland, grew up in the lovely city of Cardiff, and has found her way back to Ireland and now lives on the east of the country, in the village of Dalkey, just along the coast from Dublin. She works as a radio producer for RTE.
Essy Havers is good at finding things. Her company specialises in helping clients track down anything, from missing china pieces to rare vintage clothing. But now Essy has something more important to find: herself. Essy has always been curious about her mother’s secret past and her Cornish roots. So, when the opportunity arises, she hops on a plane in Tennessee and ends up in Herring Bay in Cornwall; the village where her mother grew up. But once there, she’s mystified by the reactions of the villagers when they realise who she is. Was Essy’s decision to visit Cornwall a mistake, or will it lead to a summer she’ll never forget?
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
Essy visits her family in Cornwall when a work opportunity arises she’s keen to know why her mother won’t talk about her past. Her aunt is pleased and surprised to see her, but the welcome isn’t universal. Essy meets Ruan, and they find they have a lot in common. Ruan’s family seems tied up with her mother’s past, and so they investigate but is this wise?
This is a family mystery story full of angst and secrets. The characters are relatable, and each plays a part in the story. The setting is coastal and well-described and complements a plot with some original touches.
Gentle romance, family mystery and a community that needs mending all make this an enjoyable summer read.
Angela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties!
A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels. Thanks to over three decades of marriage to her wonderful American husband she’s a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after.
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers. Her first novel ‘Truth and Consequence’ was published in 2006 and she’s now had over 30 novels published internationally and several short stories in women’s magazines.
If you’d like to find out more of what Angela gets up to (Advance warning: this may include references to wine, dark chocolate, Poldark and the hunky Aidan Turner) follow her social media.
JACKIE When her first marriage ends in tragedy, Jackie Kennedy fears she’ll never love again. But all that changes when she encounters…
ARI Successful and charming, Ari Onassis is a man who promises her the world. Yet soon after they marry, Jackie learns that his heart also belongs to another…
MARIA A beautiful, famed singer, Maria Callas is in love with Jackie’s new husband – and she isn’t going to give up.
Little by little, Jackie and Maria’s lives begin to tangle in a dangerous web of secrets, scandal and lies. But with both women determined to make Ari theirs alone, the stakes are high. How far will they go for true love?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a modern Greek tragedy, an epic love triangle, played out amidst the political and social turbulence of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
This fictional story delves behind the headlines to the people who make them. Two iconic women, one with an incredible musical gift and the other a magnet for power are drawn to an enigmatic man. One wants his love the other wants his protection. He wants them both surely a recipe for disaster?
Compelling and enthralling, this is an enticing mix of fact and fiction. Flawed, fragile and glamorous characters authentically written with flaws and incredible presence drive this story. Research underpins every scene making them believable and relatable.
Sensitively portrayed tragedy and sensual romance make this a must-read story.
Gill Paul’s historical novels have reached the top of the USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail and kindle charts, and been translated into twenty languages.
They include THE SECOND MARRIAGE (titled JACKIE AND MARIA in the US), two bestselling novels about the Romanovs – THE SECRET WIFE and THE LOST DAUGHTER – as well as WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST, which was shortlisted for the 2013 RNA Epic Novel of the Year award, NO PLACE FOR A LADY, shortlisted for a Love Stories award, and ANOTHER WOMAN’S HUSBAND, about links you might not have suspected between Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana.
Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A HISTORY OF MEDICINE IN 50 OBJECTS, and she speaks at libraries and literary festivals on subjects ranging from the Titanic to the Romanovs. Gill lives in London, where she is working on her tenth novel, and she swims daily in an outdoor pond.
Can love truly heal old wounds? Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest?
Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty. She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?
When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.
But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.
Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.
Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence? Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?
Will they get the chance to put things right between them?
Settlement is the sequel to literary romance novel, Displacement, but it can be read as a stand-alone.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An excellent sequel to Displacement, although the story is complete and so can be read as a standalone. However, Jack and Rachel’s story is compelling, emotional and realistic, so read the first book too.
The story begins at a devastating time for Jack, his life hangs in the balance, and he regrets how he left it with Rachel. Rachel learns about Jack, and she relives her former loss of her son.
The story then reverts to the recent past from Rachel and Jack’s point of view, so the reader understands how they got to this dramatic point in their relationship. The story explores what happens after you fall in love, especially if you have emotional baggage. Jack’s track record with long-term relationships impacts on his and Rachel’s. Rachel is constantly moving forward, and is a positive person despite the loss she’s known.
There’s politics and crime as Rachel and Jack pursue their lives independently, and they add to the story’s depth and realism.
This is an addictive read, maybe because the characters are older and have lived.
I look forward to the final instalment in their love story.
Anne Stormont was born in Scotland and although she has travelled all over the world – including a teaching exchange to South Africa, four trips to Australia and several visits to the Middle East – it’s where she still lives.
She began making up stories as a child in order to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult, being busy with motherhood and working as a teacher, it took a long time and a mortality wake-up call for her to get that first book written.
She’s a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and enthusiastic gardener. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and being with her grandchildren.
Change of Life was her first novel and she has since published three more. Her books are all set in Scotland and are contemporary romances where the main characters may be slightly older but are not necessarily wiser.
You can find out more about Anne and her books at her Website
A new beginning. A house with a past. A man with secrets.
It was a dream come true…that turned into a nightmare.
Kate Wilson thinks moving back to Cornwall might be the answer to her prayers. But it isn’t long before she begins to have doubts. Is the house she inherited from her godmother haunted? Or is she going out of her mind? With a stalker, threats, and attempted break-ins, Kate’s troubles multiply.
Then there’s her enigmatic neighbour, the brooding Tom Carbis; a man with secrets he doesn’t wish to share. Can she trust him when he says he wants to help?
In her quest to unravel the mysteries surrounding her, will Kate uncover more than she bargains for?
Set in beautiful Cornwall, The Unquiet Spirit is a gripping suspense with paranormal and romantic elements.
I received a copy of this book from Darkstroke Books and the author in return for an honest review.
This is an atmospheric story that is full of historical detail that adds to its authenticity. Kate unexpectedly inherits an old house from her godmother in Cornwall. Eager for a new start, she travels to Cornwall to claim her inheritance. A house with secrets.
Mystery, paranormal, romance and suspense are weaved into the well-paced plot. Engaging characters and detailed imagery makes this an enjoyable reading experience. The suspense building and paranormal twists immerse the reader in Kate’s world with an interesting conflicted, but romantic relationship with Tom, a man with secrets.
This is an engaging read with a wide reader appeal because of its cross-genre approach.
Some time ago Penny Hampson decided to follow her passion for history by studying with the Open University. She graduated with honours and went on to complete a post-graduate degree.
Penny then landed her dream role, working in an environment where she was surrounded by rare books and historical manuscripts. Flash forward nineteen years, and the opportunity came along to indulge her other main passion – writing. Penny joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and three years later published her debut novel, A Gentleman’s Promise, a historical mystery/romance. Other books in the same genre soon followed.
But never happy in a rut, Penny also writes contemporary suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Her first book in this genre is The Unquiet Spirit, published by Darkstroke.
Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… It’s December on Castle Street; the fairy lights are twinkling, snow has settled and the festive season is in full swing.
For Carly, the owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, it’s the busiest time of year getting everyone’s Christmas treats ready on time. However with her clumsy sister, Bethany, as a co-worker, it’s proving a difficult task. They say you shouldn’t mix work with family. Maybe they have a point…
As Christmas approaches, Carly is also eagerly awaiting the return of her best friend to Whitborough Bay. Liam has no idea he’s been the object of her affection since their schooldays. After years of pining after him, can Carly pluck up the courage to finally tell him how she really feels by 25th December?
Could a little festive magic make all of Carly’s wishes come true this Christmas…?
A heartwarming, short festive story of friendship and family from bestseller Jessica Redland. You can find out what happens to Carly next through exploring her best friend Tara’s story in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café.
This is a new and updated version of Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes which has been previously published.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books in return for an honest review.
Every bit as comforting, delicious and festive as a Christmas cupcake this story leaves you with a lovely heartwarming hug. Carly has a successful cake shop in Whitsborough Bay on the North Yorkshire coast. Her love life is less successful than her career, and even that is in jeopardy. Bethany her younger sister is responsible for her business woes cake decorating doesn’t appear to be her thing.
The two sisters are opposites, and Bethany still retains the over-indulged air of a younger sibling. By the end, both have changed for the better, with Bethany maturing and Carly learning to fight for what she wants.
Aside from the family drama and the workplace humour, there is also a gentle friend to lover to romance which is perfectly festive. Carly’s is easy to empathise, and she engenders support from the local community because of her helpful nature.
This is an engaging story with relatable characters and charming festive sentiments.
Jessica Redland is the author of nine novels, including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
This is one of my favourite rom-com series, and this book is one of the best. Full of heartbreak, humour, and romance it takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions in a lovely Cornish setting. I’ve read all the books in the series, but this one is a complete story, so enjoyable as a standalone read.
Milla returns to the Cornish village she left after her mother’s death broken with betrayal. Living above a wedding shop and running Brides Go West with her deceitful friend is like rubbing salt in her wounds. She survives with strong friendships from childhood friends and her unexpected attraction to Nic.
There are lots of misunderstandings, laugh out loud moments and simmering passionate occurrences amidst the wedding fayres and planning but is true love a possibility for Milla?
Engaging characters, humour, and poignancy and heart-stopping romance make this a perfect Summer read.
I write fun, flirty fiction, with feisty heroines, and lots of heart. Writing is fab, because I get to wear pretty shoes instead of wellies. I live in a cottage up a mountain road in Derbyshire, where my family and pets are kind enough to ignore the domestic chaos. Happily, we’re in walking distance of a supermarket. 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.
1954. Zara is fifteen the first time she meets Leon. During a power cut in a small French museum, the two spend one short hour in the dark talking about their love for art, Monet and Paris. Neither knows what the other looks like. But both know their lives will never be the same.
1963. In Paris, Leon no longer believes he will ever find the girl he lost that night. Zara thinks she has already found him. When they meet at an exhibition, they don’t recognise each other – but the way they feel is so familiar…
Over the course of thirty years, Zara and Leon are destined to fall in love again and again. But will they ever find a way to be together?
‘It’s about dreams and taking chances. Missed opportunities and mistakes. Loss and sacrifice. But above all, it is about love. The kind of love that survives time, distance… even death. The kind of love I wish for you.’
In May 2020, Someday in Paris, my debut novel was published. I am still incredibly excited, three months later and find reasons to celebrate every single week— getting amazing reviews from readers and bloggers around the world, seeing my book becoming an international bestseller on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Kobo, getting lovely messages from people everywhere, telling me how much they loved the story and how it moved them and sometimes even impacted them. Am I still sometimes pinching myself that I am now a published author? Constantly!
But how did I get to this point? Definitely not overnight. The road to publication, at least for me, was a rollercoaster that officially took five years and unofficially about nine.
I wrote partial manuscripts between 2011 and 2015 (I shelved all of them)
I wrote the first book in 2015 (Someday in Paris)
I edited the first book all through 2016
I started the second book in 2017
I got an agent in 2017
It didn’t work out (long story)
I finished the second book in 2018
I got a new agent in the summer of 2018
I edited the first book for the next six months
We went on submission in the Spring of 2019
I wrote a third book in 2019
I signed a 2-book publishing deal in the summer of 2019
Edited the first book some more
Published my first book in the summer of 2020
I wrote a fourth book in 2020
And voila. Here we are.
So what does this all mean?
I think it means…keep at it and it will happen. I could’ve given up countless times between 2011 and 2019. Countless! The journey to publication for almost all new writers is a sum of rejections, silence, waiting, editing, editing again, writing, writing some more, hoping, trying and trying again. Ups and downs and downs and ups. It was the same for me. When I was at my lowest point in this journey (where my younger self would’ve probably just moved on), I stomped my feet, dried my tears, made myself a strong cup of coffee, opened my laptop and kept at it. Was it worth it? Oh, you bet! Knowing my story is out there for people to read, is worth it. Knowing there will be more to come…so worth it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My second book will be published next year. And yes, it is a love story, but that’s all I’m going to say for now (except for the fact that I’m super excited to share it with readers everywhere and I hope they will love it as much as I do). I’m also working on my next book. It is a story that’s been with me for quite a while and I feel I’ve let it ‘simmer’ long enough. I’m loving every minute I get to spend with the characters and taking my time with their story, because I know I will be missing them once I type ‘the end’.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A magical romantic tale. Full of love, pain serendipity and tragedy. Fate and faith are instrumental in this gently paced tale. It’s perfect escapism to give flight to your belief in magic and romance. Told from two viewpoints its character-driven, but the setting is vital and almost a character too.
Leave your weary cynicism behind and get lost in this timeless love story.
OLIVIA LARA was born and raised in Bucharest in a family of book lovers and storytellers. Since university she has worked as a journalist and marketer in Romania, France and the United States. She is currently a marketing executive in San Francisco and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, young daughter and four cats. Someday in Paris is her first novel.
As a man holds his wife’s frail hand, he recounts a journey like no other…
Daniel and Olivia are destined to be together. At least, Daniel thinks this the night he sees Olivia across a sea of people. As he backpacks through Australia, Daniel and Liv continue to cross paths, yet never speak. Until one night, Liv joins Daniel for a drink. And that night everything changes.
Back in London, stuck in a monotonous routine, Daniel finds himself daydreaming of the woman with green eyes and fiery hair. Armed with only a name he begins a hunt to find her. With every passing moment, Daniel’s hopes begin to disappear. What if it wasn’t meant to be?
But then fate steps in, and Daniel and Olivia’s story can truly begin…
This is a tale of serendipity, missed chances and the power of love.
Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons.