Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Holiday Romance, Romance

Wrapped Up For Christmas Katlyn Duncan 4*#Review @katlyn_duncan @HQDigitalUK #festiveread #NewEngland #SecondChances #Family #Friendsahip #Romance #Christmas #PublicationDay #BlogTour #BookReview

#WrappedUpForChristmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but not for Angie Martinelli…

Having lost her boyfriend, job, and apartment all in the space of a week, Angie has no choice but to leave California and return to her family in New England.

 Determined not to let life weigh her down, Angie finds work at the local mall where she worked as a teenager. After an embarrassing run-in with a handsome stranger, Nick, she’s convinced her luck is about to change.

But Nick has secrets of his own…  and as the first flakes of snow begin to fall, Angie can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever find love.

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

My Thoughts…

A second chance romance with the lovely festive backdrop of New England. Angie never thought she go back east, but when her life implodes thanks to her cheating ex, she has little choice. Moving in with mum and dad is not ideal, not to mention overcrowded, so she needs a plan. Nick’s life is far from easy, but a serendipitous meeting with Angie, maybe just what he needs, but is it really?

This is a story of family and friendships, secrets and lies, with a small town ethos. The romance is gentle and slow, both are hurting, and they have many conflicts to overcome. Thankfully, this is a heartwarming festive read and so the ending is hopeful and romantic.

The perfect escapist read, full of family drama, interference and love, good friends, and a chance to start again for Angie and Nick.

#KatlynDuncan

Coming from a small town in Western Massachusetts, Katlyn Duncan always had her head in the clouds. Working as a scientist for most of her adult life, she enjoyed breaking down the hows and whys of life. This translated into her love of stories and getting into the minds of her characters.

Currently, she’s a full-time author and freelance writer. When she’s not writing, she’s obsessing over many (many) television series’.

She currently resides in Southern New England with her family. Check out more about her writing and current TV addiction in her newsletter, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

SCBWI & RWA Member.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post

The Time of Our Lives Abby Williams 4* #Review @fionajourno @Aria_Fiction @HoZ-Books #MultiGenerational #Friendship#SecondChances #NewBeginnings #BlogTour #GuestPost

Two women from two very different generations are brought together through dramatic circumstances and help each other to forge new paths.

Twenty-six-year-old Erin has everything she’s ever wanted – a good job, a gorgeous fiancé and a best friend who’s always there for her. But suddenly her life comes crashing down around her. Unable to return home to her parents, she takes a room in a house nearby and her life starts over in the most unexpected of ways…

Seventy-six-year old Lydia, who, shocked by the sudden death of her husband, is devastated to discover that he has left her in crippling debt. With no choice but to take in a lodger, Erin comes into her life. When they find a letter hidden in the attic old secrets come to light and, with Erin by her side, Lydia finds herself going on a trip of a lifetime.

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

My Thoughts…

A delightful multi-generational story of love, loss, friendship and new beginnings.

Erin’s life implodes, when she is betrayed by those she loves, she needs to escape, to rebuild her life. Lydia still in shock from her sudden bereavement, finds that loss isn’t the only emotion she has to contend with. Her financial security is compromised, and taking in lodger seems the only way to make ends meet. The unlikely pair, find that material security isn’t the only benefit of living together, and they forge a friendship that opens up a new lease of life for both.

A chance discovery, reveals more family secrets, and a chance to experience something special for both women.

This is a story full of emotion and poignancy, but there are plenty of humorous moments too. Lydia is a witty woman, and Erin soon realises that age is no barrier to a true friend.

A lighthearted, emotional read, with characters who you can empathise and a heartwarming ethos.

#TheTimeofOurLives
Naked Saunas – The Inspiration behind The Time Of Our Lives– Abby Williams

I’ve always enjoyed running. Not only is it a great stress reliever, it’s great for allowing you to eat lots of cake, and also great for me, as I usually find all my best novel ideas come to me when I’m pounding the pavement.

The idea for The Time Of Our Lives was no different. One summer’s evening, I was out with my running club, when Nella, my lovely Finnish friend started telling us all about the naked saunas she and her fellow Finns all enjoyed back home! Cue much hilarity amongst us British girls who were positively squeamish at the thought of showing off our bits and pieces to all and sundry. Not so for Nella. She said she thought it was a good thing – young and old came together to enjoy simple pleasures. Inhibitions and modesty were left at the door she said, and real, lasting connections were formed, regardless of age.

She was right. It was us Brits that were repressed. After that conversation, I couldn’t get the idea of these generations coming together and although I didn’t really want to write about naked saunas, (Sorry Nella, it was a step too far), what did strike a chord was the idea of age being no barrier to friendship. It was then I knew that what I wanted to write about next was the power of friendship.

And so I found millennial Erin and almost-octogenarian, Lydia. Two women who come to need each other more than they can ever realise after their lives implode in very unexpected ways.

The moment I hit upon the idea I found I couldn’t wait to spend time with my characters. Lydia and Erin became as real to me as any of my friends and family, and I found their friendship as charming and inviting as any relationship I’ve experienced in real life. It was funny because even though I never wrote about naked saunas the image Nella created for me that day was so strong, I only had to shut my eyes and I could see young and old coming together, laughing, sharing, joking and confiding about all manner of things to bond Lydia and Erin.

And so no, there are no naked saunas in this book, but there’s still lots of running for me. The last time I ran with the girls we started talking about the best places to go to the loo on a long run…someone mentioned the bushes and Paula Radcliffe. Safe to say, that hasn’t inspired anything in me quite yet.

Fiona Ford – Abby Williams

Abby Williams is the pseudonym for Fiona Ford, writer of romantic up-lit and historical fiction. Fiona started out as a freelance journalist for titles such as Grazia, Sunday Mirror and Stylist before realising her passion lay in novels. Now she spends her days immersed in made-up worlds and reckons she has the very best job in the world. When she’s not writing, Fiona is a gym nut, but only so it means she can eat lots of cake and drink lots of wine – not necessarily in that order. She lives in Berkshire with her husband and two cats who she sometimes thinks she might love just a little bit more than all the humans she knows. The Time of Our Lives is her first romantic novel and she is now busy scribbling away her second.

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Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Medical Romance, Romance

A Return, A Reunion, A Wedding Annie O’Neil 4* #Review @MillsandBoon #Romance #MedicalRomance #SecondChanceRomance #Insiders #PublicationDay @AnnieONeilBooks

A second chance with her GP… 
Dare she follow her heart this time?

Jayne had been so happy! Engaged to gorgeous Sam Crenshaw, planning an idyllic life together as GPs in Whitticombe’s close-knit community. Until the day her twin sister died, compelling Jayne to leave the man she loved to fulfil her sister’s dreams. Now a paediatric cardiologist, Jayne’s hit crisis point—and coming home to heal reminds her that her own dream is still life with Sam!

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

My Thoughts…

This story is driven by powerful emotions, grief, guilt and love. It is a second chance romance, my favourite kind, between two medics, whose fairytale ending was obliterated by a tragic accident.

The story begins with an intense medical drama, that reveals that Jayne is finally unable to run from her past. It should be the pinnacle of her career, so far, but rather than success, it forces her to confront her past, and what she believes is her failure.

Sam never really came to terms with Jayne’s ending of their engagement, he understood her grief, but not her wish to face it alone. The meeting between Sam and Jayne sets the scene for an awkward few weeks, as they recognise their mutual attraction still lives, but are not sure what if anything they can do about it.

There is plenty of authentic medical details, and an exceptionally poignant love story, which is fraught with internal conflict. Both of the main protagonists are likeable and relatable, the best friend Maggie and the villagers all give the story its authenticity, a snapshot of English village life.

An intensely emotional medical romance with a lovely hopeful happy ending.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post

A Year of Second Chances- Kendra Smith 4*Review #blogtour #GuestPost @KendraAuthor @Aria_Fiction #friendship #familydrama #secondchances @HoZ_books

Three women. Three very different lives. One life-changing adventure.

Charlie is a single mum unlucky in life. Her multiple jobs make barely enough to feed the family cat, never mind being able to give her son the life he deserves. So when an opportunity to make a lot of cash comes along, she simply has to take it.

Suzie has always wanted to be a mother. But fate has been cruel and now time is running out. Soon her final frozen egg will be destroyed and her last chance of having a baby will go with it. With her husband resolved to their childless life, Suzie takes matters into her own hands.

Dawn is about to turn fifty and seems to have misplaced her mojo along with the car keys. But with an interfering mother-in-law and a gaggle of judgemental mums at her children’s school, it’s proving harder to find than a decent fitting bra. Especially after a series of highly embarrassing incidents…

Over the course of a year three lives are about to collide and as they do be prepared to laugh, cry and fall in love with these women as they discover how life can give you a second chance.

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

My Thoughts…

Three women, with little in common, except they are all at a point in their lives where something has to change. Charlie a single mum is in debt, working all hours, and still cannot make ends meet. Suzie is facing infertility issues, and her partner doesn’t share her urgency to take the last chance left to them. Dawn is nearly fifty and is struggling to give her future life meaning.

The start shows the disparity between Charlie and Dawn’s situations, but it also highlights their desperation and willingness to take drastic action. This makes the decisions they take as the story progresses more realistic than they would otherwise have been.

The characters are slightly stereotypical, but this doesn’t detract from the situations they find themselves, and the genuine emotions they feel. It is this emotion that makes the story worthwhile. There are lighter moments, but this is poignant read.

It’s not a story to dip in and out of, you need to stick with it to appreciate its impact. I did, and it is a satisfying, ultimately hopeful book.

Guest Blog – Kendra Smith – A Year of Second Chances

First of all, thank you for letting me guest blog, Jane!

People often say ‘ooh, you write books!’ It’s such a nice feeling, and probably better than if I said I wrote the copy for the back of baby wipe packets – oh, but I’ve done that too! (That didn’t used to get so many ‘oohs’). I have been a journalist for over 20 years, working in both Sydney and London and have written in-house as well as freelance for various women’s magazines, health, food and more – including a famous high street supermarket where I did write the copy for the baby wipe packets!

My heart was always set on writing novels, though, and this is my second book. A Year of Second Chances weaves together the story of three women all with different issues in life. I wanted my book to feature capable but flawed heroines and the 3-way narrative was a new writing challenge for me, but with the help of Post-its, a lot of A3 paper stuck to the walls for timelines, I (hope) I pulled it off!

I had a fairly strong idea of where I wanted the novel to go, but I do remember an early assessment where my writing coach said, ‘try not to throw everything into the plot!’ I had to choose my battles for my heroines – as well as their love stories too…

The early reviews have been really encouraging (“This was a sweet, fast read for me.  I couldn’t put it down!  Five stars for sure!!” NetGalley.) So I hope your readers enjoy it, too!

Kendra Smith has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly made the leap to editorial – and went on to work on several women’s magazines in both Sydney and London. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children.

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

The Olive Garden Choir – Leah Fleming – 3*#Review #Friendship #Family #Secrets #Romance #GreekIslands @HoZ_Books @LeahleFleming

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.

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

My Thoughts…

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.

Posted in Book Review, Literary Fiction

They Call Me The Cat Lady – 4* #Review – Amy Miller @bookouture @AmyBratley1 #LiteraryFiction #FridayReads

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.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

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.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Romance, Romantic Comedy

The House at Greenacres – Darcie Boleyn – 4*#Review #BlogTour #Extract @canelo_co @DarcieBoleyn #RomanticComedy #Cornwall #MothersDay #WeekendReads #SundayMorning

All roads lead home…

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…

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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.

There 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 emotional meeting.

As 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.

Then 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 and weakness.

His 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.

He 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.

Tension gone, he drifted …

‘Rich?’

He opened his eyes to find Sam standing in the doorway.

‘You okay?’

He nodded, blinking away his meditation.

‘Just overthinking things, so I needed to mentally check out for five minutes.’

Sam smiled. ‘Did it work?’

‘Like a charm.’

‘Good. You want to grab an early lunch then have a walk along the beach? Get some fresh air?’

‘Wonderful idea.’

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.

My Thoughts…

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is author-image.jpg

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.