Claude’s Christmas Adventure – Sophie Pembroke – 4*Review

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blurb-winter

This Christmas a little dog is in for a BIG adventure…

Meet Claude. He’s a loveable, big-eared, permanently hungry French Bulldog, who loves his humans – the McCawley family of number 11 Maple Drive to be precise.

When Daisy and Oliver McCawley start using new words like, ‘ferry’, ‘chateau’ and ‘France’, Claude realises they won’t be spending this Christmas at home. Only, when he finds himself on the street, as the family car pulls away, Claude realises he is ALONE. And more importantly, he is without all the yummy treats he knows the festive season brings…

Cue the start of Claude’s Christmas Adventure. It all begins with a belly-flop through next door’s catflap, where he finds newly single and craft-a-holic Holly, Jack the ex-army postman, his arch nemesis Perdita the cat … and serious amounts of gingerbread.

Maple Drive’s cutest resident is about to bring the street together for Christmas, in ways no-one could have imagined …

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my-review-winter

Claude’s Christmas Adventure

I read this lovely Christmas story a few weeks ago but the characters and humour have stayed with me and I am smiling again as I write this review. Although the circumstances leading up to Claude’s Christmas adventure seem unlikely, this doesn’t stop you enjoying it and becoming absorbed in the lives of the family who leave him behind and the street who take him in when they do.
Vivid characters and events characterise this Christmas tale, it’s easy to see it as a Christmas romantic comedy film. Naughty but loveable dogs, demanding children and an overworked mum, who has forgotten who she is as she tries to please everyone at Christmas with predictably disastrous results.
The characters are strong and realistic. Claude’s pursuit of gingerbread and his lost family brings, lots of laughs, poignancy and a delicious sprinkling of romance.
A light-hearted festive read, from a doggy perspective, which is worth reading.
I received copy of this book from Avon books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Claude’s Christmas Adventure by Sophie Pembroke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Claude’s Christmas Adventure by Sophie Pembroke

Sophie Pembroke

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The Holiday Swap – Zara Stoneley – 5* Review

The Hoiliday Swap

Blurb - Coastal

Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to a Christmas holiday fraught with potential pitfalls.

The Holiday Swap.

Florence Cortes has the perfect life – an apartment in the trendiest district of Barcelona, a job she loves and a boyfriend who’s whisking her away on a romantic break to Paris to no doubt propose.
Only, he’s planning something far different, and Flo soon realises her life isn’t so perfect after all.

Home loving Daisy Fischer is perfectly happy in her idyllic home in the Cheshire countryside, with an on-off boyfriend who might be slightly dull but is totally dependable. Until he issues an ultimatum, and Daisy suddenly realises that there might be a whole different world out there that she’s missing out on.

Have Flo and Daisy come up with the perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak?
Can a snowbound Christmas in Cheshire – with aristocratic, handsome Hugo as her neighbour, a house full of animals and a leaking roof – help Flo mend her broken heart, and remind her of what she really wants in life?

Can a sunny break in beautiful Barcelona – with the dishy but brooding Javier, a never ending supply of cava, and a sea view to die for – prove to Daisy that playing safe isn’t always the answer?

Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas – and in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it, but where will they be for New Year?

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My Review - Coastal

The Holiday Swap

The classic romantic comedy ‘The Holiday’ springs to mind reading the blurb for this story. As it’s a firm favourite of mine and I enjoy Zara’s Tippermere stories, I couldn’t wait to read this. I loved it.
For fans of Tippermere there’s a tantalising glimpse of village life in snowy Cheshire, as Flo returns to her childhood home and meets sexy Hugo. A lovely collection of animal personalities guaranteed to make you smile complete this part of the story perfectly.
However, it’s the Barcelona setting that draws you in. The passion and glamour of the city echoes Daisy’s new found passion for life and new love.
There is a definite festive theme to this story but it’s more about, friendship, realising your true potential and living your own life. Something both Daisy and Flo find out as they explore their new environments with new friends and experiences.
The characters are authentic and vivid. The plot comprises plenty of humour and lots of romance. Written in scenes, it’s easy to visualise the girl’s adventures as if you’re experiencing them first hand.
The perfect holiday read.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley

Zara Stoneley

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What Inspired ‘The Honey Trap’? -Mary Jayne Baker

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Guest Post

What Inspired ‘The Honey Trap’? Mary Jayne Baker

Although I only started writing my debut novel The Honey Trap last October, I suppose the embryo of the story goes right back to the early noughties when I was studying English Literature at Durham University. I’d always been attracted to writing contemporary romance in the Mills & Book vein, and one day I decided what the hell: I was just going to do it. So I came up with a heroine, Angel, a feisty red-haired journalist who knew her own mind, and a hero, Sebastian, a dark and mysterious aristocrat with a troubled past. I drafted a plot, wrote about 4000 words worth of scenes – and then I decided the whole thing was dreadful and gave up.

Ten years later, I revisited the characters and plot – and gave up again. It was only last year, when someone gave me the sterling piece of advice that I should stop worrying about the quality of my writing and get on with it, then worry about editing afterwards, that I finally sat down to write what became The Honey Trap.

The characters and plot changed a lot from the original story idea I’d come up with back in my early 20s. From being a well-respected journalist, Angel became someone rather more junior, a newspaper intern just starting out in her career. Sebastian, now more usually known as Seb, changed from being an aristocrat to an acclaimed British film director, and from being dark and tortured to someone rather more fun and sweet. I populated Seb and Angel’s world with a cast of secondary characters – Angel’s love-to-hate boss Steve, Seb’s glamorous actress wife Carole and Angel’s fun, witty and supportive friends Leo and Emily.

Another thing that changed as I wrote was the genre. Although I initially intended the book to be contemporary romance, a lot of humour crept in, with cheeky banter between the characters abounding, and about a third of the way through I could see what I was really writing was romantic comedy, so I went with it.

Although I’m neither a journalist nor a film director, I mined my own interests and experiences pretty shamefully to provide material for the book. In the wake of the recent phone-hacking scandal, which I followed closely, I wanted to focus on Angel’s choices in the morally ambiguous world of the redtop paper she works for and this is one theme of the book. I also loved the idea of the main couple bonding over a shared love of vintage film, which is a passion of mine – the scenes where they watch old films such as The Apartment in Seb’s 1920s cinema, The Hippodrome, were some of my favourites to write. And finally, because he wouldn’t get off my keyboard and I thought it might appease him, I wrote my cat in! Harpo the cat becomes Groucho in The Honey Trap. He’s very proud…

Writing my first novel was an interesting experience. I tried to write 2000 words every day, which is no small commitment while also working full-time as I can only really write in the evenings, and I don’t think I was quite prepared for how much the plot and characters would take over my life and dreams. I found the experience addictive though – having once started writing, I’m now finding I can’t stop! I have another two completed manuscripts that I’m currently editing, and another first draft almost complete, plus I have recently signed with a literary agent.

Butterfly Heaven

The trap is set – but which one of them is the bait?

Journalist Angel Blackthorne is looking for her next big scoop. When her sleazy editor asks her to use her charms on super successful – and married – film director Sebastian Wilchester for a juicy exposé, Angel thinks what the hell? There’s a staff job on the horizon, and, let’s be honest, no one can make a cheater cheat if they don’t want to, right?

After the scandal breaks, Angel tries to put the story – and Seb – behind her, but fate seems to have other ideas. A near miss at a premiere after-party and a shared love of vintage film brings the honey closer to the trap.

But what happens when pretence leads to passion, and a ‘kiss and tell’ becomes something real?

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Amazon UK

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Flowers - My Review

The Honey Trap

‘The Honey Trap’ is an interesting, insightful expose of the gutter press and the fallout of their actions. Not your usual romantic comedy material but it works. The story explores the current obsession with celebrity status in a humorous way and the well thought out plot holds your interest.
Angel, a journalist intern finds out that ‘making it’ in her chosen career means compromising her moral integrity and possibly losing self respect in the process. Seb, the reclusive anti hero is instantly attractive to Angel and the heat between them is undeniable and often explosive. The sex is more explicit than usual in romantic comedy but as this forms the basis for the story that is a given. There is a good balance of romance and passion between our unlikely couple but the chance for a happy ever after for Angel and Seb is in doubt right to the end.
Angel’s objectionable boss, stereotypical, ‘old school’ editor, Steve easily manipulates her into making questionable choices. His sexist and homophobic behaviour doesn’t make pleasant reading but is essential for the plot’s authenticity and Angel’s out of character behaviour, in agreeing to be the bait in the honey trap.
A different interpretation of a popular theme, making an overall enjoyable read.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Author Bio

 

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature in 2003, she dallied with living in cities including London, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales.

She lives with him in a little house with four little cats and a little rabbit, writing stories about girls with flaws and the men who love them. You can usually find her there with either a pen, some knitting needles or a glass of wine in hand. She goes to work every day as a graphic designer for a magazine publisher, but secretly dreams of being a lighthouse keeper.

More information can be found about MJ on her website at http://www.maryjaynebaker.co..uk You can also follow her on Twitter, @MaryJayneBaker, or like her Facebook page by going to Facebook.com/MaryJayneWrites

London Calling – Mark Daydy- 4* Review

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Blurb 2016- 2

When 29-year-old Taunton-based Erin Goodleigh learns that an old boyfriend is a successful writer in London, she is astonished. Back in sixth-form, when they co-wrote the school play, she practically carried the lazy worm. So how did he do it and – more importantly – is it too late for her to fulfil her side of the vow they made to become successful writers?

Follow Erin’s adventures in London – with old university friend Trish, two-faced ex-boyfriend Ian and motorcycle messenger-writer Paul – as she pursues her dream armed only with hope, determination and a second-hand Amstrad computer.

Buy Links 2016 -2

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My Review -1

‘London Calling’ manages to be both amusing and insightful with enough nineties nostalgia to make it interesting. Erin is a writer but she works as a ‘junior executive’ in her parents’ packaging company in the south west of England. She grew up in Hammersmith in the seventies and wants to become writer for BBC radio, moving back to London is the only way.

The weekly timetable for non commissioned writers serves to emphasise how difficult it is to follow your dream in the creative world. Money is tight and disappointment plentiful but sticking at it, is the only way to realise your chance of becoming a commissioned writer.

 Those who are not discouraged with their numerous failures form a club of sorts and the team spirit is an important theme of this story.

The authenticity of the plot makes it a little repetitive at times but Erin is a strong, likeable character and you follow her rejections and small wins avidly. There is an interesting romantic dynamic between Erin and fellow non commissioned writer Paul, which adds to her roller-coaster life.

The historic influences are strong and make you realise how much has changed in the last twenty years. Does anybody remember the ‘Amstrad’ computer?

‘London Calling’ is a light hearted tale of ambition and stamina with lots of humour and a lovely thread of romance.

 I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Author Bio 2016- 2

13995020Over the past 20 years, I’ve written extensively for TV and radio in the UK and I’m currently developing a TV sitcom (optioned by NBC-Universal).

I love reading heart-warming, humorous novels about life’s little ups and downs, so it’s hardly a shock that I’ve started writing them myself. In my stories, I look to bring the feel-good factor (laughter and, perhaps, a few tears) to romance and relationships, changing careers, moving home, family upheaval, growing up, and a whole host of other bumps in the road.

The Honey Trap – Mary Jayne Baker -4* Review #SummerImpulse

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Poppy - Blurb

The trap is set – but which one of them is the bait?

Journalist Angel Blackthorne is looking for her next big scoop. When her sleazy editor asks her to use her charms on super successful – and married – film director Sebastian Wilchester for a juicy exposé, Angel thinks what the hell? There’s a staff job on the horizon, and, let’s be honest, no one can make a cheater cheat if they don’t want to, right?

After the scandal breaks, Angel tries to put the story – and Seb – behind her, but fate seems to have other ideas. A near miss at a premiere after-party and a shared love of vintage film brings the honey closer to the trap.

But what happens when pretence leads to passion, and a ‘kiss and tell’ becomes something real?

Available  to Pre- Order

Flowers - Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon 

Winter My Review

The Honey Trap

‘The Honey Trap’ is an interesting, insightful expose of the gutter press and the fallout of their actions. Not your usual romantic comedy material but it works. The story explores the current obsession with celebrity status in a humorous way and the well thought out plot holds your interest.
Angel, a journalist intern finds out that ‘making it’ in her chosen career means compromising her moral integrity and possibly losing self respect in the process. Seb, the reclusive anti hero is instantly attractive to Angel and the heat between them is undeniable and often explosive. The sex is more explicit than usual in romantic comedy but as this forms the basis for the story that is a given. There is a good balance of romance and passion between our unlikely couple but the chance for a happy ever after for Angel and Seb is in doubt right to the end.
Angel’s objectionable boss, stereotypical, ‘old school’ editor, Steve easily manipulates her into making questionable choices. His sexist and homophobic behaviour doesn’t make pleasant reading but is essential for the plot’s authenticity and Angel’s out of character behaviour, in agreeing to be the bait in the honey trap.
A different interpretation of a popular theme, making an overall enjoyable read.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The Honey Trap by Mary Jayne Baker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Honey Trap by Mary Jayne Baker

Mary Jayne Baker

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5* Review: Sunshine and Secrets (Willow Cottage #1-) Bella Osborne

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Poppy - Blurb

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

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Flowers - My Review

Sunshine and Secrets (Willow Cottage, #1)

The auction scene at the beginning of this amusing serial definitely epitomises Beth as a romantic comedy heroine. Beth is the proverbial ‘fish out of water’ in the country idyll. Beth’s ‘townie’ observations about her surroundings are vivid and often comical. The story is a curious mix of laugh out loud hilarity and dark undercurrents of menace. Beth is running and a rundown cottage in an off the beaten track rural village is a better prospect than a glamorous apartment in London for Beth and her young son Leo.
Brusque and sexy Jack is more than a little attractive to heart worn Beth but what is he hiding? The villagers bring the story to vivid life. There is an atmosphere of secrets, hinted at but not explored, making reading the next part of this funny, poignant serial a must. Life in London continues without Beth through the eyes of her best friend Carly.
I can’t wait to read what happens next to Beth, Carly and Jack and of course Willow Cottage.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Sunshine and Secrets by Bella Osborne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sunshine and Secrets (Willow Cottage, #1) by Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne

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4*Review: A Family Holiday – Bella Osborne

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Blurb - Coastal

 

She’ll do whatever it takes to keep this family together…

As the nanny to four quirky but loveable children, Charlie French has learnt that if there was ever a cement shortage Weetabix would be a viable substitute and that YouTube videos can go viral in seconds, much to her horror. But, most importantly, she’s learnt that whatever happens you stick together as a family.

When tragedy strikes, Charlie is forced to decide whether it’s time to move on or fight to keep the children she loves. With the distraction of the children’s gorgeous Uncle Felix and the chance of a holiday in stunning Antigua, she’s left wondering if turquoise seas can wash away their present troubles. Is the pull of white sand beaches too tempting to resist or will paradise fail to keep them all together?

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My Review - Coastal

A Family Holiday: A heartwarming summer romance for fans of Katie Fforde

This story has all the right ingredients for a great summer read; effortless dialogue, a great setting, an interesting plot and vivid characters. It is a very enjoyable book.
Charlie is like a modern day ‘Mary Poppins’, totally child orientated and with more than her fair share of magic up her sleeve. The children are the most vibrant of the characters; they really steal the show and make this more of a family, than a romantic comedy read.
Fleur, Charlie’s best friend is an important character in the story but she is too weak and self centred to make a favourable impression. She does however serve to make Charlie look selfless in this story, despite the obstacles she faces.
Would be guardians, Ruth and Felix are well written characters. Ruth is the archetypical villain of the story. Whilst Felix lacks conviction as the story’s romantic hero I much preferred Jonathan. Felix’s motives driven by his passion for Charlie rather than genuine feelings for his nieces and nephews make him appear rather shallow and superficial.
Clearly the characters made an impression on me and there is a lovely balance of humour and poignancy. Definitely worth reading on the beach.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

A Family Holiday: A heartwarming summer romance  by Bella Osborne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A Family Holiday A heartwarming summer romance for fans of Katie Fforde by Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne

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My Top 5 Books and Why? Author Blog Challenge: #LifeBooksWriting

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So like many writers, I am an avid reader too. I would never have become a writer, if I hadn’t read books, I’d like to have written and these are a few of them.

 The Donovan Legacy – Nora Roberts

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I loved these romantic paranormal stories about  a supernatural  family. If you enjoyed the 1990’s witchy  TV series Charmed you’ll love these stories too. The romance is easy, the characters believable and the magic is the perfect escapism.

I wanted to write stories with the same mix of paranormal romance and fantasy . I decided to write  a paranormal romance after reading this series but it was over ten years later, when I wrote my first paranormal romance; The Dragon Legacy series.
 

Ashes to Ashes –   Tami Hoag

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 I also  love reading mysteries and thrillers, especially those that get inside the mind of the antagonist. Tami Hoag, does this perfectly, especially in my favourite story of hers.

The female lead in this story is perfectly flawed but so easy to empathise with. The  villain is pure evil  and the suspense to die for.  I read this in the late nineties but its still one of my favourite suspense thrillers.

Designed by TOJ PUBLISHING SERVICESwww.tojpublishing.com

In my current release, The  Dangerous Gift, I tried to create the same suspenseful ethos with elements of romance and mystery intertwined. 

The Cat Who… Lilian Jackson Braun

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My mum loved, what is now termed cosy mysteries and she introduced me to Lilian Jackson Braun and ‘The Cat Who….’ mysteries. These feature a quirky private detective and his two Siamese cats, who are really the stars of the book; Koko  and Yum Yum. The stories are simple but full of interesting characters and they remind me of happy times with my mum.

Tangled Reins and Four in Hand – Stephanie Laurens

I have always loved reading Regency Romance  and  Stephanie Laurens’, ‘Four in Hand’ and ‘Tangled Reins’ are two of my all  time favourites Arrogant, sexy heroes. Feisty , intelligent yet vulnerable heroines and a glamorous settings make them great to read.

 Past Shadows Cover 2My love of Regency romance,mystery, suspense and the paranormal, inspired me to write my latest story ‘Past Shadows’ . which I  hope to release later this year. Excerpts are on Wattpad under my user name  JaneHunt5.

Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe  Debbie Johnson

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As a book reviewer, I am lucky enough to read stories from many different authors. One of my  favourites because her stories never fail to make me laugh out loud is Debbie Johnson. Her latest book ‘ Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe’ is her most memorable tale to date, full  of fun, poignancy and some many delightfully, real characters. Definitely a must read this summer.

 So that’s my top five books, what are yours and why? Comment  below or on Twitter using the hashtag #LifeBooksWriting.

 

Zara Stoneley -Cover Reveal – The Holiday Swap

I know its a little early to be thinking about Christmas, even for someone who loves it so much like me but I couldn’t resist participating in the cover reveal for Zara Stoneley’s next book- a festive tale entitled ‘The Holiday Swap’,which is available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Amazon UK

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The Hoiliday Swap

Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to a Christmas holiday fraught with potential pitfalls.

The Holiday Swap.

Florence Cortes has the perfect life – an apartment in the trendiest district of Barcelona, a job she loves and a boyfriend who’s whisking her away on a romantic break to Paris to no doubt propose.
Only, he’s planning something far different, and Flo soon realises her life isn’t so perfect after all.

Home loving Daisy Fischer is perfectly happy in her idyllic home in the Cheshire countryside, with an on-off boyfriend who might be slightly dull but is totally dependable. Until he issues an ultimatum, and Daisy suddenly realises that there might be a whole different world out there that she’s missing out on.

Have Flo and Daisy come up with the perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak?
Can a snowbound Christmas in Cheshire – with aristocratic, handsome Hugo as her neighbour, a house full of animals and a leaking roof – help Flo mend her broken heart, and remind her of what she really wants in life?

Can a sunny break in beautiful Barcelona – with the dishy but brooding Javier, a never ending supply of cava, and a sea view to die for – prove to Daisy that playing safe isn’t always the answer?

Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas – and in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it, but where will they be for New Year?

5* Review: Country Rivals – Zara Stoneley

Country Rivals eBook

Historical Blurb

Dashing eventer Rory is ready to button up his breeches and settle down. His gorgeous wife, Lottie, wants a bank balance in the black so she can protect the beautiful family estate for future generations.

But with the wedding business at Tipping House going up in flames, and rumours that it was arson not accident, Lottie begins to wonder who she can trust with her future.

Tranquil Tippermere is under siege as movies moguls and insurance investigators invade the countryside, and as events gather pace rescue plans start to look too good to be true, and intentions may not be as honourable as they seem.

As a moody, but definitely marvellous, polo player enters the fray and squares up to the eventing hero of Tippermere, does Lottie stand to lose her husband as well as her home?

Historical Buy Links

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Mystery Thriller My Review

‘Country Rivals’ is characterised by its believable English country setting and complex characters. The lovable and often naughty animals regularly upstage their human counterparts and make this series a delight. The residents of Tippermere are larger than life but they are all grounded, with recognisable human flaws and frailty that make them easy to empathise with and hard to forget.

I have read the other books in the series and so most of the characters in ‘Country Rivals’ are old friends.  If you are new to Tippermere, this story is complete and supported by sufficient back story to make it a standalone read but why miss out on the other books?

 Lovable Lottie and sexy Rory take centre stage but it is Lady Elizabeth’s redoubtable influence that makes the plot unpredictable and interesting. Sam, the quintessential footballer’s wife provides the glamour and glitz and new characters add to the mayhem, misunderstanding and mystery that make this fast paced story an engaging read.

‘Country rivals’ is full of humour, passion and poignancy, with a lovely hopeful ending.

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

Poppy - Author Bio

Zara was born in a small village in Staffordshire, educated in Cheshire, and went on to study at Liverpool University. After a successful career as an IT consultant, she decided to follow her heart and ran a dog grooming business for several years before becoming a full-time writer.

Her fun, romantic, romps draw on her experiences of village life, and her various love affairs with dogs, cats and horses. These days if she’s not at her laptop, you can usually find her trudging across fields on foot, or sat on the back of a horse.

Zara divides her time between a country cottage in Cheshire and an apartment in Barcelona. Her most recent novels include the popular Stable Mates, Country Affairs and Country Rivals.

Poppy - Links

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