Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry – Caroline Roberts – #BlogTour 5* #Review – #AuthorQ&A @_caroroberts@HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #Puddings #Northumberland #Farming #Sheep #PuddingPantry

Primrose Farm is Rachel’s very own slice of heaven. Come rain or shine there’s always a pot of tea brewing by the Aga, the delicious aroma of freshly baked puddings, and a chorus of happy memories drifting through the kitchen.

But the farm is in a spot of trouble. As the daffodils spring, Rachel must plant the seeds of change if she wants to keep the farm afloat, and it’s all resting on a crazy plan. She’ll need one family cookbook, her Mum Jill’s baking magic – and a reason to avoid her distractingly gorgeous neighbour, Tom . . .

Swapping their wellies for aprons, can Rachel and Jill bake their way into a brighter future? The proof will be in the pudding!

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

‘Rachel’s Pudding Pantry’, is a lovely mix of family drama, friendship, romance and humour, with a sprinkling of poignant life experiences that may have you reaching for the tissues.

Not surprisingly, it is full of delicious puddings, as Rachel and her mother strive to find a way of keeping the family farm. There is an empowering, female family dynamic, spanning four generations, which withstands the heartache and tragedy the Swinton women have to face.

The story’s romance grows from an interesting take on the ‘boy next door’ trope. Tom, the attractive farmer at the neighbouring farm is always there to help out, Rachel grew up with him, so he can only ever be a friend, can’t he? The romance is sweet but embroiled in conflict. Is it worth losing their longstanding friendship for a chance of something deeper but riskier?

The Swinton women are easy to like, and all have a strength of character born out of adversity and familial love. They are believable and are written so that you can visualise them and become invested in their future happiness.

The authentic setting in a North Northumberland farming community is another attractive aspect of this book, I love this area and the descriptions and ethos of the community recounted in this story, make it an even more enjoyable read.

Written in addictive, short chapters that get you hooked, each has a title that includes a pudding or cake, which gives the story an added appeal but also makes you reach for the cake tin.

There is a clever connection between the puddings and the emotion of the story. Warm, soft Brownies equating to a warm, empathic friend. Sweet Sticky Toffee Pudding, synonymous with a comforting, conversation with your family.

The perfect holiday read, ‘Rachel’s Pudding Pantry’, delivers a well-paced story about family, friends, loyalty and love, against a background of community, hard work, heartbreak, and heartwarming romance, as the Swinton women learn how to adapt to change, to secure their family legacy.

ARC
Q&A with Caroline Roberts – Rachel’s Pudding Pantry

Is there a specific place or moment that inspired you to create The Pudding Pantry?

I think the initial spark was when I saw an image in a magazine of a lovely stone barn that had been converted into beautiful cottages in Northumberland, and I also knew of tearooms and farm shops that have been created in old farm buildings in the area. I was interested in the idea of diversification in farming, and the need for Rachel and her family to take this step to give Primrose Farm a future. It was lovely to imagine how The Pudding Pantry would look once finished, and what a cosy, welcoming place it would become, full of scrumptious bakes and cakes.

What did you most enjoy about writing this novel (apart from sampling some delicious puddings of course!)?

The romance! How can I not mention the gorgeous next-door farmer, Tom? There is even a rather wonderful, Poldark-style chest-bearing moment that takes Rachel rather by surprise. We see the relationship grow between Rachel and Tom, despite age differences and being farming neighbours, and it’s lovely how that romance unfolds between them, I enjoyed writing that.

Image Credit – Caroline Roberts

And what were some of your absolute favourite puddings that you sampled along the way?

It’s been such hard research, hah, but somebody had to do it!! Sticky toffee pudding is up there as one of my all-time favourites, and I do love a pavlova with summer fruits, the raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake I adapted myself and was very pleased with the result, Susan Green’s Ginger Pudding is a delight, and you obviously can’t beat some gorgeous apple crumble – I like mine with a little warming spice and cream.

Image Credit – Caroline Roberts

We love seeing photos of your gorgeous dog Jarvis on twitter! Does he help or hinder your writing routine?

Hah, at the moment he is still only nine months old, so I have to admit when I need to settle quietly to write at home, he just wants to play and is a bit of hindrance, bless him. But when we are out and about on our walks together, I do get inspired by the landscapes and changing seasons around me. Both Jarvis and my last dog, Meg, who are cocker spaniels, inspire my doggie characters – being Alfie, the spaniel, in the Chocolate Shop books and now Moss, the wonderful border collie, in Rachel’s Pudding Pantry.

Image Credit – Caroline Roberts

And has your writing routine changed over the course of your career?

I’ve had to become more focussed with my writing; having written seven books in four years. So, I have my own writing room – in the small bedroom. I also have a proper chair and desk now, rather than writing in the conservatory or at the kitchen table as my back was beginning to feel it. But I can write anywhere if need be, as I still write my first draft of each scene longhand then type it up later. If inspiration strikes, I can often be found up at 3am jotting down notes or even whole lines of dialogue that just appear in my head in the middle of the night – strange but true!

What would you most like for readers to take away from Rachel’s Pudding Pantry?

I’d like my readers to be able to escape for a while into Rachel’s world, with a heart-warming read that feels like a hug in a book.

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry, like your previous novels, is so joyful and warm. However, it does still tackle some serious issues. How do you balance writing about things like grief without taking away from the uplifting nature of your stories?

I want my books to reflect real life with all its trials and tribulations, which I know can be so very hard at times, so I’m not afraid to explore the impact of grief and loss. However, I am a very optimistic person and I strongly believe in the power of love, family, and friendship, to help us heal and in being kind to ourselves too. That’s where the journey of the story and our lives take us, and I want readers to feel there is always hope.

Back Cover – ARC
Image Credit Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts lives in the wonderful Northumberland countryside with her husband and credits the sandy beaches, castles and rolling hills around her as inspiration for her writing. She enjoys writing about relationships; stories of love, loss and family, which explore how beautiful and sometimes complex love can be. A slice of cake, glass of bubbly and a cup of tea would make her day – preferably served with friends! She believes in striving for your dreams, which led her to a publishing deal after many years of writing.

ARC

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance

5* #Review – Susan Lewis – One Minute Later @HarperCollinsUK @HarperFiction @susandlewis@fictionpubteam

You think your life is perfect.

You think your secrets are safe.

You think it’ll always be this way.

But your life can change in a heartbeat.

Behind every secret lies a story.

With a high-flying job, a beautiful apartment and friends whose lives are as happy as her own, Vivienne Shager is living the dream. Then, on the afternoon of Vivi’s twenty-seventh birthday, one catastrophic minute changes everything.
 
Forced to move back to the small seaside town where she grew up, Vivi remembers the reasons she left. The secrets, lies and questions that now must be answered before it’s too late. But the answers lie in thirty years in the past…
 
Shelley Raynor’s family home, Deerwood Farm, has always been a special place until darkness strikes at its heart. When Vivi’s and Shelley’s worlds begin to entwine, it only takes a moment for the truth to unravel all of their lives.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Authentic, emotional, mysterious and romantic are the perfect words to describe this enthralling story. Told primarily from Vivi and Shelley’s points of view, you wonder what there can be to connect two women who are so different in all aspects of their lives. Both their stories are absorbing. Vivi’s story is at the present time, Shelley’s mainly retrospective but one unconnected incident puts their lives on a collision course.

This a story of family life, relationships and friendship but there is an underlying mystery, which is gradually solved as the story develops. The story is suspenseful, as in the midst of ordinary events you are metaphorically waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop’.

So many people’s lives turn on a moment in time and the main body of the story focuses on the fall out from this event, and its consequences. The characters are complex, flawed and so believable. Reading this story is like being a voyeur into the character’s lives, the events are realistic as are their emotional responses and motivations.

The romance is sweet yet passionate, and selfless, it is the basis of the two main protagonist’s lives and what binds the families in the face of adversity. There is a multitude of poignant moments in this book, which enrich it. The plot’s twists make solving the underlying mystery complex and satisfying.

The emotional ending is beautiful to read and surprisingly hopeful. The messages peppered throughout this story are important for the reader to take on board.

Posted in Book Review, Literary Humour, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Love Heart Lane – 5*#Review – Christie Barlow @HarperImpulse @ChristieJBarlow

When Flick Simons returns to the cosy village of Heartcross she only expected to stay for a few days. The white-washed cottages of Love Heart Lane might be her home, but the place holds too many painful memories, and of one man in particular – Fergus Campbell.

When a winter storm sweeps in, the only bridge connecting the village to the mainland is swept away. As the villagers pull together, Flick finds herself welcomed back by the friends she once left behind. And as the snow begins to melt, maybe there is a chance that Fergus’s heart will thaw too…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

What I love about this author’s books is that she is a true storyteller, she introduces you to a community full of interesting characters, highlights serious issues affecting women. Particularly, the general perception of what’s expected fo women in given situations, and shows through Flick’s experience, how emotionally damaging it can be for the woman. Especially, if she feels she cannot express her grief or true feelings because of what people may think. There’s also a lovely second chance romance and a beautiful rural setting.

This promises to be a heartwarming series, with a realistic mix of humour, poignancy and romance.

Posted in Book Review, Literary Fiction

Mr Doubler Begins Again – Seni Glaister – 5*#Review @HQstories @HQDigitalUK @SeniGlaister

Baked, mashed, boiled or fried, Mr Doubler knows his potatoes. But the same can’t be said for people. Since he lost his wife, he’s been on his own at Mirth Farm – and that suits Doubler just fine. Crowds are for other people; the only company he needs are his potato plants and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, who visits every day.

So when Mrs Millwood is taken ill, it ruins everything – and Mr Doubler begins to worry that he might have lost his way. But could the kindness of strangers be enough to bring him down from the hill?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I love the current trend of novels featuring older characters in a protagonist role. Perhaps, its because I am closer to being older than young myself?

‘Mr Doubler Begins Again’, is the story of a man who has lost his wife and retreated into his home and business because it’s what he knows, what he likes, and most importantly it won’t leave him. His children visit, but his main contact with the outside world is Mrs Millwood his housekeeper, who not only keeps his house but also makes sure he receives the emotional support he needs.

His reliance on his trusty housekeeper is shaken when she is hospitalised and he finds his life is lonely, and not as full as he thought.

Told in a charming way, the reclusive Mr Doubler learns to trust others and to give friendship in return.  Just like his potatoes, people are many varieties and some are better suited than others.

The characters are steeped in authenticity, and the rural way of life is celebrated. Not everyone has good intentions, but all have a part to play in Mr Doubler’s reemergence from his grief.

A lovely story full of poignant, relatable moments.

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour – Jules Wake – A Girl’s Best Friend – 4*Review

 

 

City girl Ella wants to take refuge in the country, lick her wounds and work out what she’s going to do with the rest of her life. She certainly doesn’t want to have a four-legged house guest or anything to do with village life. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of Wilsgrave have other ideas.

Settling into her godmother’s house for a few months of R&R, Ella finds herself the reluctant babysitter of a badly behaved Labrador – and her plans of staying mainly indoors scuppered. But as she’s forced into wellies and into the village’s way of doing things, Ella meets people who make her think again about what she really wants out of life and love, starting with her new furry best friend . . .

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

‘City girl seeks a new start in English country village’.

When her godmother needs a housesitter, Ella decides to escape the rat race and her relationship problems. She’s looking for the quiet life, but the reality is considerably noisier and full of villagers who want to know all about her and won’t stop until she feels like a full inclusive villager.

Dog sitting for Tess, the Labrador is also part of the deal, and although their relationship gets off on the wrong foot, after much hilarity and heartache, they become inseparable. Devon also an incomer, helping out his dad in his Vet’s practice has his problems, and so when he meets Ella, he comes across as more grumpy than charming.

The story has lots of humour, and many poignant moments, Ella is a great character, flawed but willing to change and I love the way she embraces country life. The scenarios are realistic and the romance lovely.

The ending is romantic and touchingly sentimental, the perfect finish to this escape to the country.

I received a copy of this book from Sphere – Little Brown Book Group UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

A Home at Honeysuckle Farm – Christie Barlow – 4*Review

 

A family secret

One shocking argument and ten-year-old Alice Parker’s world was turned upside down. Her peaceful life at Honeysuckle Farm in the quiet rural village of Brook Bridge swapped for the bustling metropolis of New York City. Alice’s life was changed forever…

A second chance

Now, thirteen years later, Alice’s American dream is over. With her life in tatters, there is only one place Alice wants to be… home at Honeysuckle Farm. So, when Alice learns her beloved Grandie is ill, she knows this is her last chance to heal the family rift.

A forever home?

But secrets still swirl in Brook Bridge, and Alice is no closer to discovering the truth. And for some reason her new friendship with local heartthrob Sam Reid seems to be making the locals tense.

Sick of the lies Alice knows it’s time to lay the past to rest once and for all. But could the truth ruin her hopes of ever calling Honeysuckle Farm home again?

Amazon UK

Amazon 

My Thoughts…

Who wouldn’t want to live at Honeysuckle Farm with its animals and land? The setting for this story is idyllic, and so when our young heroine is snatched away from its welcoming arms at ten-years-old, you feel for her.

Thirteen years later, living in New York, she still doesn’t understand the reasons for her sudden departure and parting from her beloved Grandie. The chance to return to her childhood home coincides with a difficult time in her life but will she find the answers to the secrets that trouble her? Alice is a lovely character, courageous and loyal but haunted by past secrets; she risks everything to reunite her family and build a future.

The plot reveals misunderstandings, tragedy and a terrible lie, which threatens to ruin Alice’s second chance. The village settings and its characters are believable without being stereotypical, and the ending is worthy of this touching, heartfelt story.

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