On the beautiful island of Santaniki, close to Crete, it’s not all white sands and sunshine. When retired bookseller Ariadne Blunt suggests the English residents form a choir, there are groans of resistance. After a little persuasion, the group gather in Ariadne’s olive garden to rehearse, but each member of this choir has their own anxieties and secrets.
Ariadne’s partner, Hebe, is in failing health. Clive struggles to accept the loss of his wife while Della, the Pilates teacher, drinks too much and Chloe, Queen Bee of the village society, faces a family dilemma. Then there is Mel, the real songbird amongst them, English wife of a taverna owner who hides her talent until the choir inspires her to raise her voice once more.
In this tiny community, the choir brings the residents together like never before in a bittersweet tale of love and loss – and how life can begin again when you let go of the past.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The setting for this story is sublime and beautifully described, making it the perfect holiday read. The themes are popular at the moment, a group of people drawn together by necessity, in this case, they are Ex-Pats on a small Greek Island, who need a distraction and are intrigued by the creation of an island choir.
There are lots of characters, and through short chapters, the reader shares their stories, finding out why they are on the island, what motivates them, their emotional state, and what they are hiding from the others. I like following the fortunes of many characters, but for some readers, this can be off-putting.
This is an emotional story and you empathise with the characters, not all are likeable, but their flaws make them realistic and relatable. The choir is a good medium for bringing the community together, and whilst not a new theme, it is used to good effect in this book.
The book also explores contemporary issues, focusing on the humanity angle and shows how small communities react.
A nice mix of characters and a well-told story, in a vividly described setting, something for those who read to escape.
You’ve seen me on the street. You’ve walked past my house, and pointed, and wondered. The cat lady. All on my own, with only my five cats to keep me company. Did no-one ever tell you that you can’t judge a book by its cover?
Everyone in town knows Nancy Jones. She loves her cats. She loves her tumbledown house by the sea. She loves her job in the local school where she tries to help the children who need help the most. Nancy tries hard not to think about her past loves and where those led her…
Nancy never shares her secrets – because some doors are better kept locked. But one day she accepts a cat-sitting request from a local woman, and at the woman’s house, Nancy sees a photograph, in a bright-red frame. A photograph that opens the door to her painful past…
Soon Nancy doesn’t know what frightens her the most: letting her story out or letting the rest of the world in. It’s impossible to find companionship without the risk of losing it. But can Nancy take that risk again?
A heart-wrenching and heart-warming story of love lost and found, and of second chances.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
People who seem to prefer animals to humans are often seen as eccentric. Nancy looks after cats and names them after people she has loved. She volunteers and is always there to help out in the community, but still many see only what she chooses to show and so she’s ‘the cat lady’.
This is not the first time a story has been told about a woman with secrets, whose past has made her introverted, and trusts animals more than people who judge and are intrusive. This story is notable because of its sensitive treatment of Nancy and her broken life. It sees her grow and learn to trust and have the courage to face heartbreak again.
This journey of self-development is hopeful and Nancy realises that she deserves to feel happiness and love again. She is courageous and easy to empathise and this gentle story is worth reading to escape for a little while.
When Holly Dryden fled Penhallow Sands nearly a year ago she was determined to put the past – and Rich Turner – behind her. But now an unexpected loss and financial trouble have led her back to the family vineyard and it’s time to tell Rich the truth – he’s a father.
Surrounded by the memories of what they once shared Holly’s anger fades in the glow of Rich’s undeniable love for their son and the way he selflessly steps in to help the vineyard out of trouble. As Holly watches Rich flourish in his new role as father to baby Luke, she realises that though they can’t change the past, the future is still theirs to write…
Extract from The House at Greenacres – Darcie Boleyn
Rich was trying to concentrate on
what a client was telling him, but his mind kept drifting to the text he’d
received from Holly. She did want to meet with him today. He’d known it would
happen sooner or later, but he’d thought it would take her a while to settle
back in and to grieve for her grandpa. He’d also thought she might not want to
see him, that she might try to delay it, as he couldn’t imagine that he was her
favourite person – father of her child or not.
were cafés and pubs in Penhallow Sands, but the chances of being left alone to
talk for any length of time were slim, as people who hadn’t seen Holly for some
time would want to pass on their condolences and catch up with her. He could
suggest heading into Newquay, but again, they might not get any privacy, and
that was something he thought their conversation would require. There was only
one place he could think of for what he imagined was going to prove to be an
soon as his client had gone, he replied to Holly’s text, asking her to meet him
at 5.30 that afternoon at the old spot. Holly would know where he meant. He’d
be able to get there by then as long as he clocked off straight after his final
meeting of the day.
Since the funeral on Monday, the atmosphere at his parents’ cottage had been strained. His mother was trying her best not to pester him about Holly and the baby, but it was obvious that she was struggling with it. She wanted to know if Holly would stay in Penhallow Sands if she would be able to spend time with her grandchild. Rich too wanted to know the answers to those questions, and yet he was terrified of finding out either way. He knew now that Luke was his, but he and Holly had always used contraception and it had never failed them before, so he was confused about how it had happened. If Luke had been conceived despite contraception and Holly’s condition – which she’d been told in her teens could affect her fertility – then he was meant to be. Against the odds, he had arrived – a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
there was the other matter to consider. Rich had always believed he never
wanted children. After what had happened to Dean, he’d sworn never to open
himself up to hurt like that again, never to put himself through what his
parents had endured. Why would anyone take that risk? And it had all been his
fault – Dean’s death, their parents’ suffering; all because of Rich’s stupidity
heart was racing and his palms were clammy; he knew what was happening. He had
to get control of this before it consumed him. His life had moved on to a
better place; he would not let the old anxieties resume their hold on him.
closed his eyes and focused on his breathing – in for four, out for four. He
felt the air rushing into his lungs, then he pushed it back out, emptying his
chest until he needed to fill it again. He opened his mind to the scenery from
Ibiza, imagined the sounds of the waves lapping at the shore and the sensation
as he walked into the water and felt its warm, soothing embrace.
gone, he drifted …
opened his eyes to find Sam standing in the doorway.
nodded, blinking away his meditation.
overthinking things, so I needed to mentally check out for five minutes.’
smiled. ‘Did it work?’
You want to grab an early lunch then have a walk along the beach? Get some
Lunch and a walk would be just what he needed before an afternoon of work. Sam really was a good friend.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This lovely romantic comedy combines second chance romance with an unexpected pregnancy. Set in coastal Cornwall with a host of realistic characters, this is the perfect holiday read.
Holly is a strong female lead, empowered by the birth of her son, she faces up to her past when she returns home for her Grandfather’s funeral. Rich’s life has not been easy, and losing Holly through his actions makes him keen to explore whether they have a second chance at happiness.
The plot is simple, but the characters make it enjoyable, with romance, humour, and more than a little angst making the path to true happiness for Holly and Rich peppered with conflict both internal and from external interference. The outcome is worth the rollercoaster ride and you’re left with a heartwarming feeling at the end.
If you’re looking for an escapist read on Mother’s Day (UK), with vivid characters, a delightful coastal setting and a lovely blend of angst, humour and romance this is the perfect fit.
Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.
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…
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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.
Sometimes we find happiness where we least expect it…
After twenty years of quiet, contented marriage, Mary Black can’t help but find her eyes drawn to a particularly handsome man at a Christmas party. But her world is suddenly turned upside down when she sees her husband next to him, holding his hand.
For the sake of her children, Mary has no choice but to pick herself up and start again. She hosts family meals that includes her ex-husband and his new partner. She copes with her children wanting to spend less time with her, and more time with their “fun” dads. And she tries her very best to ignore Leo’s gorgeous brother, who has been living in New York for many years, but has just come back to town…
After living a life of sliding doors and missed opportunities, can Mary finally put herself first and take a chance that could change everything?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Everyone’s who’s married or been married, knows that it’s not the stuff of fairytales. Marriage takes understanding and hard work to sustain. Mary Black thought she’d nailed it. She’d put her husband, and then her family first, but when her marriage imploded she was helpless to stop it.
Finding her husband loved another was a devastating discovery. The secrets he kept made her whole marriage a lie. Mary’s ingrained sense of family makes her protect their teenage children, whatever the personal cost. Mary is a strong, selfless character and this story explores her emotional journey of self- discovery. Will she discover her sense of self-worth and be brave enough to take the opportunities for personal happiness that come her way?
This story has a lovely balance of humour, poignancy and romance. Every woman of a certain age will share some of the emotions Mary experiences and understand how she suffers from a lack of self-esteem. Her character is realistic and easy to empathise, and you want her to find her romantic happiness.
The genuineness of this novel makes it a heartwarming read that lets you escape for a little while.
Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling… Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.
So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching
at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned
by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up
Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?
Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the
beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review
This story didn’t draw me in immediately, the tone was so negative. Since this author is known for her positivity, I decided to read on. After the first chapter, I realised the reader is in the main character’s head, and she is in a bad place. So don’t be put off, read on.
There is a lot to like in the remainder of the story, a stunning setting, which I love. Having visited the Lake Garda region in 2004, I can confirm that the author’s description really does capture the essence of this lovely region. The writers’ retreat is also interesting, interspersed with writing and publishing tips, this gives the story its authenticity.
Brie’s life is nothing like her public persona and she begins to wonder if romance exists beyond the passionate words she creates in her sexy novels. When she meets Arran, there is chemistry but also conflict. They are both emotionally raw and have seemingly incompatible personality traits.
I liked the realistic nature of their relationship, with two characters that get under your skin, until you really want them to have their happy ending.
An enjoyable romance, full of vivid imagery and believable characters, and for the most part is positive and heartwarming.
can think of is that Brianna Middleton. Wow, that lady knows how to write a sex
scene. Just thinking about the gorgeous guys she features in her books is
enough to get me in the mood to jump into someone’s arms!’ She laughs and for
one moment a look of horror passes over my face.
Oh, dear! Am I unwittingly killing the art of romantic love by concentrating on the intense passion and the hot sex? Isn’t that a modern-day disease, anyway? We want everything instantly and it seems that people forget that some things are worth waiting for. Wasn’t it more exciting when couples didn’t jump into bed before they’d had a chance to get to know each other? And then when they did get to that point it held more meaning. How many people wake up the next morning regretting the night before, I wonder?
we’re all looking for a hero.’ I smile up at her in the mirror, doing my best
to push aside my concerns.
me about it! I can’t remember the last time a guy held a door open for me. Or
picked up the tab for a meal out without expecting to go Dutch.’
glancing in the mirror and relieved to see that my face isn’t giving anything
excuses herself to go and mix up the colour for the first step in the
transformation. She returns wheeling a cart with two black bowls both
containing a creamy white mixture. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the colours
aren’t too loud.
you turn up the music, please?’ She addresses the receptionist who is manning
the desk. ‘I love this one.’
washes over me. It’s not a record I know but at least it curtails the
conversation. I’m not being moody but the less said the better.
my eyes for a moment to rest them, I’m horrified when a sudden jolt rouses me.
There’s a buzzer on the shelf in front of me and it’s jumping around. I can’t
believe I fell asleep.
returns, and I follow her over to the basin. I’d forgotten how good it feels to
be pampered and the head massage alone is a tonic. I didn’t realise I was quite
so stressed out and now I’m longing for that full body polish and massage Mel
and I have booked for later this morning.
After wrapping a towel around my head, Zena and I walk back to her styling station. She begins by twisting the majority of my hair up on top of my head, securing it with a clip. Scissors in hand, she turns her attention to the first layer at the back and begins cutting.
With my head tilted forward slightly, I look at the growing pile of debris on the floor. The colour looks okay but then it’s still wet and it’s hard to tell how it will look once dry. It’s been a long time since I wore my hair this short, that’s for sure. I glance across at Mel but she’s engrossed, listening to her iPod. Usually, I love thinking time, but my head is in such a mess that what I need now is a distraction. So instead I grab a magazine from the shelf in front of me and read about the latest red carpet event in Hollywood. I can identify with the sadness behind some of those fake smiles.
The cutting seems to go on forever and I lose interest. I decide it’s time to stop looking in the mirror and wait for the reveal. Eventually, the scissors disappear back into the neat little pouch strapped around Zena’s slender hips. She uses a generous squirt of mousse to scrunch up the longer hair at the front, with her hands, then the blow drying starts in earnest. My head is feeling curiously lighter and it’s a fight to avoid glancing in that mirror.
think we’re done.’ Zena takes a step backwards, sounding pleased with herself.
The girl from the reception desk walks by on her way to the coffee machine.
fleek, Zena. A hot new look there, Ms Middleton, it’s time for a new author
photo! I rang my mum and she just popped in with one of your books, so I
wondered if you’d sign it for me? I have them all! I couldn’t bear to miss one
of your hot, sexy heroes.’
I feel the heat rising up around my ears as my cheeks begin to burn; Zena’s jaw has dropped. Fortunately, Mel steps in, making a big fuss over my new hairdo and then whisks me off to the reception desk. I do my usual writerly scrawl just inside the front cover of the book lying on the counter while raising a smile and trying to look composed.
isn’t until we’re out through the doors and walking down the corridor to find
the nail technician that I feel I can finally breathe. I stop to catch my
reflection in a glass panel and swish my hair from side to side.
look gorgeous, Brie. On fleek, even!’
looks at me with a big smile on her face.
don’t feel like me. I look my age; I look like I’m ready to party.’
‘Well, after some new nails and a relaxing massage you will be. Tomorrow we hit the gym and I’ve booked us a session with a personal trainer. Tonight, we are dining in the spa’s acclaimed Nature’s Best restaurant. Nude food is the theme, as nature intended. They’ve stripped everything away and it’s all about the quality of the produce and keeping it simple.’
have to let me pay for this, Mel. It’s way too much. Just the fact that you’ve
organised all this is more than I deserve. I’ve been a very bad friend,
I lean in to give her a hug.’
Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award. TwitterFacebook
A Happy Christmas to everyone who reads my blog. This story has the perfect sentiments for this time of year.
Can a single act of kindness change a life forever?
To many people, Ruth Ryans has everything: the perfect job, a home to die for and a loving family. But it’s all lies. As Christmas approaches, Ruth feels lonelier than ever.
Then Ruth meets Michael. A man who, on the night of her father’s death the year before, she showed kindness to during his darkest moment. That one single act, his miracle, helped change his life forever.
Can one act of kindness really change a person’s life? Ruth decides to find out and plans to make this Christmas the most perfect one ever, opening up her home to those who need her help – the lonely, the lost and the ignored.
This Christmas actions will speak louder than words and Ruth Ryans’ kindness will create little miracles for everyone … including her own battered heart.
If you’re looking for a heartwarming, poignant festive story, ‘ A Miracle on Hope Street’ is the perfect book.
Ruth Ryans is a national treasure, an agony aunt who spends her life solving other people’s problems. She ignores her own issues, which eight days before Christmas take a tragic turn, sending her in a downward spiral. Her random act of kindness on that night is forgotten, in her sea of grief, but a year later it may be her only salvation.
This is a story of despair and hopelessness countered with courage and kindness. The characters are complex and believable, and you empathise with their situations. The story charts Ruth rebuilding her life by helping others and is a charming often tearful read, but the ending is positive and uplifting and underscores the true meaning of this time of year.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
It’s Christmas-time in the little Yorkshire village of Welford, and the first snowflakes are just starting to fall.
As far as Susan Collins is concerned, this Christmas is all about quality time with her family, especially her son Jack. After a string of terrible dates, she’s given up on love, and Susan’s certainly got plenty to keep her busy.
That is until she meets handsome children’s author Douglas Macleod. Dishevelled in appearance with bright red hair he is the opposite of Susan’s usual type, but an undeniable spark soon lights up between them. But then Michael Chalk, Jack’s father, turns up on the scene wanting to be a family again – and Susan finds herself torn.
With snow settling on the ground and the big day fast approaching, who will Susan and Jack be choosing to spend Christmas at Moon Cottage with this year?
Animals, children and romance all make this story a perfect festive book. If you haven’t read any other books in the series, like me, don’t be put off, it’s a great standalone read.
Single mum Susan has had enough of dating sites and nearly doesn’t accept her latest date who definitely isn’t her type. I love that Douglas is more like a Christmas elf than Prince Charming, but he has a good heart and cares for Susan and Jack and really that’s all that matters. I disliked Michael from the beginning, weak and self- serving, you really want Susan to see through his false charm and looks.
Full of nativity plays, comical children’s’ behaviour and lovable rescue animals, this story is heartwarming with a sparkling romance that demonstrates the joy and poignancy of the festive period.
I received a copy of this book from Hodder&Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Dumped on Christmas Eve by her long-term boyfriend, it’s been a rough year for Zoe Lumsley. But then she gets an invitation she can’t refuse: an all-expenses-paid skiing holiday with old university friends.
The bad news: her ex, Grant, will be there with his new girlfriend. But so will her former flatmate Billy, the organiser, and in the meantime, he’s done rather well for himself. As Christmas in the Alps approaches, it’ll be great to see the old gang. Some more than others…
T.A. (Trevor) Williams talks about his new book, Dreaming of Christmas and how potentially tricky it was to write.
I’ve never been big on Christmas. Like a lot of men, I find it creeps up on me and suddenly it’s Christmas week and I haven’t bought anybody any presents. This realisation has me scuttling off to the city centre on Christmas Eve with little or no idea of what to buy. Mind you, ever since one memorable Christmas forty years ago, I definitely know what NOT to buy for my wife. If any men are reading this, heed my words – underwear is not a good idea. Indeed, clothes of any kind are definitely a risky business and best avoided. Luckily my wife has a definite weakness for marrons glacés, so if all else fails, I go for a ridiculously expensive box of those. Anyway, as Christmas approaches, the pile of Christmas cards on my desk grows ever taller and, with it, so does my sense of guilt. If you are one of the rare recipients of a Christmas card from me, don’t be surprised if it was postmarked 24th December.
So how, you may ask, does such a pathetic specimen manage to write a Christmas book? It’s a question I asked myself a good few times last winter when I sat down to write Dreaming of Christmas. The answer has to be imagination. Just because I’m useless at Christmas, this doesn’t mean I can’t imagine what it must be like for people who know what it’s all about and how to do it properly. Over the course of my writing career, I have written about medieval knights, Hollywood film stars, Italian winemakers and internet billionaires. I have no experience of any of these job descriptions so I have had to use research and imagination. So it was with Dreaming of Christmas. I had to think myself into the mind of a Christmas aficionado and write accordingly.
Even so, when I sent the first draft to my editor at publishers, Canelo, I was unsurprised to receive his subsequent advice to “ramp up the glitter” and I did my best to comply. In fairness, I did make life easy for myself by setting the book in a very posh luxury hotel in the beautiful Austrian Alps. This place in my mind’s eye was smothered in deep snow, surrounded by snow-covered pine trees hung with fairy lights, and inside there were Christmas decorations galore. I even Googled “Christmas decorations” so as to remind me what sort of things constituted a really special Christmas and included as much as possible, from angels on top of trees to presents beneath them. I even gave the hotel manager – a figure I image to be a short, chubby man in an impeccable grey suit – a pair of plastic reindeer antlers on his head.
The characters in Dreaming of Christmas are a group of old university friends meeting up again after ten years. They all spend Christmas together so this inevitably meant I had to think about Christmas presents. The eagle-eyed reader will soon spot that nobody gives anybody else any underwear (when I learn a lesson, I really learn a lesson), but it was a struggle to imagine what, say, a thirty-something billionaire would give to his former housemates. Luckily I hit upon the idea of a “Christmas Market” in the village and that opened to doors to snow globes, candles, mugs, scarves and gloves, as well as a rather fine little silver necklace.
Hopefully, the description of Christmas in the book will satisfy the reader. To be totally honest, I ended up rather liking the environment I created. So much so that Casa Williams this Christmas may well find itself with an all singing and all dancing Christmas tree and ancillary baubles, just like in the book. Who knows? I might even buy a few presents in advance. Maybe writing the book has been good for me.
A lovely festive setting, an interesting group of people and an unlikely romance make this an enchanting Christmas story. Glamour, reunion, troubled relationships and romance simmering under the surface bring this modern-day fairytale to life, and it will have you turning the pages lost in its ambience.
Billy is definitely romantic hero material and Zoe can’t believe how he’s changed in ten years, but he’s married and so she has to look elsewhere for her prince charming. Zoe is faced with numerous dilemmas, as she deals with her former flatmates’ problems, but can she sort out her own life and make it a truly memorable festive time?
This is an easy to read, well written festive romantic comedy, set in the picturesque Austrian Alps, complete with a perfect fairytale ending.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.Twitter
Returning to the heart of her beloved Cornwall, Kate Ryder weaves another deliciously irresistible tale of desire, jealousy and the search for understanding, set against the stunning backdrop of the glorious Lizard Peninsula.
Globally renowned actor Oliver Foxley has made the most difficult decision of all and set the love of his life free, in order to try and bring his family back together. But there’s a magnetic pull back to both Cara and Cornwall that Oliver can neither deny nor resist…
Heartbroken for a second time in her short life, single mother Cara knows she has no choice but to pick up the pieces yet again and carry on. Perhaps a complete change of scenery would help her, and her young family? Yet her mind, spirit and heart yearn for the windswept shores of her Cornish Cove…
Cara and Oliver face the agonising choice between following expectations or following their hearts. How will their story end…?
Guest Post – Kate Ryder: My experiences as a writer
I have been a keen reader since childhood and during my early teens, this evolved into writing poetry and short stories for my own pleasure. In fact, a friend and I – horse mad teenagers at the time – wrote alternate chapters to complete our first novel (surprisingly, never published!). The hero, then, was always a dark, brooding, magnificent stallion…
At school, English Literature was one of the subjects that naturally received my undivided attention. I remember an appointment with a careers advice officer as keenly as if it were yesterday. When asked what I’d like to do when I left school, I replied that I wanted to be an author or a journalist. The careers advisor’s response was to ask me if I’d ever considered becoming a florist! So, my dream of becoming an author was crushed before it ever had a chance to have life breathed into it. I did not follow his advice into floristry but, instead, chose to study acting. However, it soon became apparent that my passion lay more in crafting words than interpreting someone else’s.
Over the years I have enjoyed a variety of careers, mainly within travel, publishing and property. Writing has featured strongly. I have worked in PR and marketing (all those press releases!) and in editorial as a proof-reader, copy editor, assistant editor and writer. It was during a period of employment with a specialist newspaper that I decided to escape news-speak and flex my creative writing muscles by joining a local writers’ group with the intention of writing short stories. However, one particular exercise turned out to be a little longer than intended and I soon had 85,000 words and the semblance of a novel. I self-published that short-story-turned-novel and was thrilled if a little shocked when it was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s 2016 Search for a Star and honoured with a Chill with a Book Book of the Month.
I am a member of the Society of Authors and a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. Cottage on a Cornish Cliff is the second of my books published by UK-based digital publisher Aria Fiction, an imprint of award-winning Head of Zeus. It is the sequel to Summer in a Cornish Cove, which saw me shortlisted for the RNA’s prestigious Joan Hessayon award.
Being traditionally published is a dream come true! Thank you, Aria, for taking a punt on me.
I love the first book in this series and although the ending is poignant there is hope for Oliver and Cara’s future. The sequel sees Cara and Oliver living their lives, Cara with another child to love and Oliver trying to help his youngest son and see if there is anything of his marriage to save apart from staying together for the sake of the children.
Cara is emotionally strong and her family give her a reason to live, even though her heart is broken for the second time. Her artistic talent draws the attention of a New York art critic but are his motives as magnanimous as he portrays them? Or does he have a sinister motive for showcasing Cara’s art to the world? He offers security and success but is the sacrifice Cara will have to make worth it?
Exacerbated by his failing marriage and loss of Cara, Oliver’s depression deepens. Is doing the right thing for his family worth sacrificing his emotional happiness?
This is an intensely romantic, emotional story with two leading characters you can’t help but empathise with. The conflicts are frequent and convincing and the ending is worthy of any romantic film. The writing style is easy to read, full of authentic characters and a breathtaking setting.
Definitely one of my favourite romantic series of the year.
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Here you go,’ says Janine, placing two mugs of coffee and plates filled with generous portions of chocolate cake on the table. ‘Enjoy!’
Cara picks up a fork. Slicing off a mouthful of cake, she pops it into her mouth. ‘Mmmm… that’s delicious.’
‘My mother’s recipe,’ says Janine. ‘She was a tremendous cook. That’s why all her children have grown to the size we have!’
‘Sorry to interrupt.’ A man’s strong Cornish accent makes them both jump. ‘I’ve come to fix the sign.’ Janine pushes back her chair and rushes over to him.
Toby, who had been falling asleep with his mouth slack around Cara’s right nipple, wakes suddenly and energetically sucks. Cara winces. She looks across at the man who, although talking to Janine, watches her.
‘Well, isn’t that a lovely sight?’ he says, scratching his head. ‘Fair made my day, that has!’
Janine glances over her shoulder at Cara. ‘Probably won’t make your day if you hang around for the nappy-changing part, Jim.’ She bustles the man out of the café.
Toby closes his eyes. Cara carefully removes him from her breast and pulls her sweatshirt down. Her son has incredibly thick black eyelashes and she wonders if Oliver had at that age too. NO! She has to stop doing this. Oliver Foxley does not exist. He is a world and a lifetime away…
‘Sorry about that,’ Janine says, returning to the table.
‘No worries, Janine. Breastfeeding’s only natural.’
‘Yes, but you don’t want any old Tom, Dick or Harry watching you while you do it,’ Janine says.
Janine laughs. ‘He’s a good guy. I’ve known him for years. He’s got eight grandchildren, so I guess he’s used to it. How’s the latte?’
‘Scrumptious. If I get into the habit of this indulgence I’ll have to start running again.’
‘I should take up running as well,’ comments Janine. ‘I don’t suppose customers want to be served by a large, sweaty lump of a woman.’
‘Oh, Janine! Your weight’s perfectly fine for your height.’
‘Yeah, guess so. Anyway, hubby never complains when he’s home from the rigs. Puts slighter men off though,’ Janine says with a laugh, ‘like that American friend of yours. When I first met him he actually cowered!’
Cara raises her eyebrows. She thinks back to the day when Greg visited her at The Lookout and Janine brought Beth and Sky home after school. It’s true! He backed off in Janine’s presence. However, Cara suspects it was not so much to do with her friend’s size and powerful charisma but more to do with keeping himself at a distance from the locals.
‘Why poor?’ Janine asks, loading her fork with cake. ‘When I look at him the word “poor” doesn’t spring to mind!’
‘His wife’s just died. She had cancer. That’s why they visited the cove in the first place, for her recuperation… or so they’d hoped.’
‘Oh, that’s tough.’ Janine pops the cake into her mouth.
‘I wonder what he’ll do now,’ Cara says quietly, a small frown settling on her brow.
Janine considers her neighbour. She witnessed the devastating effect Christo’s tragic death had on her dear friend, and then the all-consuming love affair with Oliver that ended so suddenly, followed by the birth of their love child without the actor being there. She also knows Greg would find any excuse to hang around Cara whenever he was in the cove.
‘He is very attractive, in an older man sort of way,’ she says cautiously.
Cara nods her head.
‘And he has plenty of money.’
Cara gives her friend a questioning look. ‘What exactly are you suggesting, Janine?’
‘Nothing really,’ Janine says airily, ‘just… Well, you know, life’s short and he inhabits the same world as you. He could provide you and your family with a wonderful life.’
‘Janine! He’s only just lost his wife!’ Cara scolds.
‘I know. I’m just saying.’ Janine gives a small smile before adding, ‘You know he’s really keen on you.’
‘I do not!’ Cara exclaims.
‘Oh, I think you do, Cara Penhaligon. The fuss he’s made of you ever since he first discovered your talent, and the way he guided you through all the press nonsense surrounding that prize you won. He wouldn’t let you out of his sight!’
Cara frowns again.
‘And, let’s face it, Cara. Most men would run a mile from a woman who had a baby by another man, but Toby doesn’t seem to have made a bit of difference.’
Cara considers Janine’s words. She’s right. Having supported her through the excitement of winning the Threadneedle Prize, Greg kept in touch throughout her pregnancy and beyond. His attention never waned. She remembers the first day she saw him, walking a dog on the beach in the most atrocious weather. He clocked her watching him from her studio window and acknowledged her. Her first impressions were that he was not only attractive – in an older man, Richard Gere sort of way – but also sophisticated and a league away. However, through their professional relationship, the distance between them has lessened. He has pointed her in the right direction and introduced her to influential people in the art world, and she now considers him a true mentor.
‘What are you thinking?’ asks Janine.
‘Nothing of importance,’ Cara says a little too quickly.
‘Well, I think nothing of importance could grow into something very much of importance if that’s what you want,’ says Janine, rising from her chair as the entrance door opens.
Jim walks in. ‘I’m ready to hang those signs now,’ he says, looking over at Cara and Toby, asleep in her lap. He smiles.
‘Here they are,’ says Janine, picking up the signs off a neighbouring table. ‘I’ll hold the ladder for you.’
As Janine disappears with Jim, Cara contemplates what her friend has said. She’s never really considered Greg in that light. Oh, yes, he kisses her at every given opportunity, but it doesn’t mean a thing. It’s just his way. But now, after Janine’s comments, she wonders if there is something to the way Greg handles her. And then she remembers the way he looked at her – in this very café – the first time they officially met. So much has happened since she had forgotten the look that suggested a different time and place.
Cara’s face flushes and her frown deepens.’
After pursuing a career in publishing and acting, Kate found her passion in writing. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her self-published debut novel received a Chill with a Book, “Book of the Month” Award. She currently lives with her husband in the Tamar Valley in a renovated 200-year-old Cornish sawmill. She finds the Cornish landscape a great source of inspiration. When she is not writing she enjoys reading, art, theatre and travel. Facebook TwitterWebsite