Brand NEW from the bestselling author of The Village Shop For Lonely Hearts.
After escaping her parents’ unhappy marriage to sleepy Cranbridge a long time ago, Belle Clarke dreams of staying at The Black Swan Inn forever.
But with the rundown Inn threatened with closure, Belle may be forced to leave, unless a buyer can be found … quickly.
So, when her oldest friend Pete Kennedy returns from working abroad with a plan to save the Inn, Belle should be overjoyed. The trouble is, Pete has some rather radical ideas for the renovation which Belle disagrees with.
But when a snow storm hits, Belle and Pete are forced to put aside their differences and work together to help the village.
Can Belle realise her dreams to stay in Cranbridge and can Pete ever stop running from his past?
As they try to save The Black Swan Inn, secrets are revealed and just maybe they’ll finally find out how they really feel about each other.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Belle and Pete are the main focus of book three in the Riverside Lane series. Belle is in danger of losing her home, and Pete returns to the village after years away and becomes the unlikely saviour of the pub and Belle, but his offer seems to lead to more conflict. Pete is Belle’s friend, but their relationship dynamic suggests they are more than this. They don’t see themselves as a couple, but their family, friends and the wider community do.
This is a romantic story with realistic conflict and humour. Likeably flawed main protagonists and the supporting characters give the village authenticity. Like the other books in the series, it explores contemporary issues through the characters in an insightful way.
This uplifting story weaves community spirit, friendship and romance into its idyllic but lifelike village setting.
Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village and book one The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts was published in July 2020 and book two The Village of Lost and Found in March 2021.
Welcome to Pepper Bay. A small close-knit community where you’ll find chocolate box cottages, quaint shops, drama, friendship, and love.
Snuggle down with this cosy, feel-good, comfort read that whisks you away to a beautiful bay on the Isle of Wight.
The Pepper Bay books are standalone stories that intertwine with recurring characters.
Starlight Cottage – Anna Cooper and Jake Reynolds both live at the luxury London building, River Heights. The only difference is that Jake lives in the penthouse, and Anna lives in a tent on the roof.
When Jake finds out, he offers Anna a chance of a new life in his grandmother’s childhood home in Pepper Bay, and she decides to take the opportunity to see if she really can make a fresh start somewhere else.
The beauty of Pepper Bay, with its quaint shops, chocolate box cottages, and all of Jake’s closest friends, immediately fills Anna’s heart with nothing but love, and it isn’t just Starlight Cottage that she finds herself falling in love with.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The first meeting between Anna and Jake isn’t promising, but it introduces the characters succinctly and adds some lovely touches of humour and poignancy. Max the dog is a lovely character, the perfect friend, and matchmaker. Pepper Bay proves to be their salvation, with its caring, kindly intrusive community and coastal beauty. Both characters have emotional journeys to travel to reach their happy place, and the reader is immersed in their story and wants them to get there.
This is a gentle romance with believable characters that is an engaging read.
Author, reader, mum, chocolate lover, and a huge fan of a HEA. I was born and raised in the East End of London, and I’ve been happily writing stories since I was a little girl. When I’m not writing, I’m baking cakes or pottering around in my little garden in Essex, trying not to kill the flowers. I’m the author of contemporary romance, middle-grade, and the thought-provoking thriller about mental illness, The Focus Program.
Where there’s always a second chance at first love…
Zoe has spent her life facing battles: fighting her parents for independence, struggling with her feelings for local bad boy Finn and, after a car accident at eighteen, adjusting to the fact she would not walk again. She remained strong until the day Finn, the person she thought she could trust, broke her heart… Now a successful travel writer, Zoe is excited to review a new luxury hotel in the beautiful South Pacific – until she meets its owner…
Finn was never good enough for Zoe. He knew it. Zoe’s family knew it. The village of Hawkes Cove made sure he knew it. Proven when he let her down in the worst way possible. Now a successful businessman, he thought his past was behind him, until a journalist turns up to review his new resort…
As Finn shows Zoe the exotic wonders of the islands both face the fact their shared past might just be the beginning of a future. But only if Zoe can win the biggest battle of her life…facing up to her heart’s desire.
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Set in romantic Tahiti, Zoe and Finn meet again after twelve years and find that the attraction still burns brightly between them but are they brave enough to overcome past differences? Zoe is a travel writer who explores holiday resorts to discover their accessibility. Zoe’s story is a journey of self-discovery, coming to terms with her past and taking a second chance at love with Finn. The story features Victoria, Lily and Malie and is told from Zoe and Finn’s viewpoints.
The setting is well described, and the friendship dynamic between the women is pivotal to the story and well written. This is an enjoyable chapter in the Meet Me series, humorous, poignant and romantic.
Joining the family business was never going to be easy…
Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities, well for now anyway. Having escaped Westenbury after suffering a shattered heart, it’s time to take up her place on the family board. Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves needs Frankie. Frankie knows she can make the business work. But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she’s going to have to come up with something special to get them off her back and recognising she belongs on the board just as much as they do.
With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend, Daisy, Frankie is thriving with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into it…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story took me a little longer to get into than the previous books about Westenbury, but it’s emotional, insightful and wonderfully romantic. When I finished, it was one of my favourite books in the series.
Frankie returns to the family business after two years away. Her motivations for leaving are understandable and easy to empathise with. Pam sees Frankie as her second daughter. Pam’s story takes place in the 1970s. The seventies are well-described, especially the differences in attitudes and prejudices in comparison with the present day.
The characters are relatable, and the pacing keeps the reader engaged. This is a family centred story with pertinent social history and two believable and satisfying love stories.
Julie lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where her novels are set, and her only claims to fame are that she teaches part-time at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old junior school and her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author, Joanne Harris. After University, where she studied Education and English Literature, she taught for many years as a junior school teacher. As a newly qualified teacher, broke and paying off her first mortgage, she would spend every long summer holiday working on different Kibbutzim in Israel. After teaching for a few years she decided to go to New Zealand to work and taught in Auckland for a year before coming back to this country. She now teaches just two days a week, and still loves the buzz of teaching junior-aged children. She has been a magistrate for the past nineteen years, and, when not distracted by Ebay, Twitter and Ancestry, spends much of her time writing. Julie is married, has a twenty-four-year-old son and twenty-one-year-old daughter and a ridiculous Cockerpoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book – preferably with Matthew Mcconaughay in attendance.
Guest Post: The inspiration behind the Family Affair – Julie Houston
It was the evening before the very first lockdown back in March last year and I was getting desperate. I’d stared at a blank screen for several days but nothing was forthcoming. I knew I had a good eight months to write this novel – my ninth for Aria Head of Zeus – but to be absolutely honest I really didn’t have a clue what direction this new story would take. And then, a seed, a little germ of hope and inspiration was planted: why wasn’t I using my own Italian heritage as a basis for the story? I knew then that I was going to write Frankie Piccione’s story. My own grandmother was born Madeleine Scaramuzza and was the daughter of Antonio who’d left Naples to find work in the woollen mills here in Yorkshire. In my home town there are many Italian and Sicilian families and those I’m friendly with are wonderfully warm and extremely sociable as well as great cooks and hosts! I immediately headed down to my Sicilian friends, Joe and Luanda and, armed with notebook and pen, almost drafted the first plan there and then. They told me of wonderful Sicilian food, but especially the crema limon (lemon curd) that Frankie would eventually take on in the quest for manufacturing the best preserve at her Nonno Angelo’s factory. They gave me insights into Italian families and sayings, including the lyrical “bedda mia” – my beautiful one – that Joe’s mum uses all the time when greeting her family.
I’ve loved writing this story. I wanted to embrace the idea of economic migrants coming from different parts of the world – India and Italy – and how they worked hard to establish themselves in the north of England: Frankie’s grandfather, Nonno Angelo, with his pickles and preserves company and Daler’s Indian grandfather with his sandal factory. Both had to overcome prejudice, but fought against the odds to do exceptionally well in their chosen industries. I wanted to show how Pam, introducing a bit of seventies nostalgia, found herself part of the Piccione family at the age of just sixteen, and the prejudices she also had to fight against from her stand as a woman in a company dominated by men at the top.
But mainly, I just loved writing two parallel love stories – Frankie’s and Pam’s – one starting in the seventies and one just two years earlier, but both coming together and bang up to date by the end of the book. I fell a little bit in love with both Rob and Daler. I hope the reader will too!
Ava Flynn sometimes feels like the clothes donated to her charity shop have seen more life than her, but ‘maximum dedication for a minimal wage’ is what it takes to keep her mother’s beloved wildlife charity, All Critters Great and Small, running – especially in the village of Dapplebury, where business is certainly not booming.
But when Ava’s first love, Henry Bramlington, returns to the village, suddenly life becomes a little too eventful. Henry escaped Dapplebury many years before, but now he has the power to make or break the village he left behind – All Critters Great and Small included. Can Ava trust the boy who ran away to give both her and her charity a second chance?
I received a copy of this book from Choc Lit in return for an honest review.
This is a charming and heartwarming story about second chances and village life.
Ava runs the charity shop in the village of Dapplebury, forsaking her true vocation. The village needs rejuvenation, but at what cost to its heritage and the surrounding wildlife? Henry returns to the village after years away and history with Ava. He has the power to change the village but will this be a good thing?
The romance is gentle and fraught with conflict. The village characters are relatable, and there is a believable village vibe. The plot has humour, mystery and surprises. The animal characters are the stars.
A lovely summery story full of community spirit, friendship and love.
Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively Labrador. She has been a primary school teacher for over twenty years and has a passion for reading, writing and people watching. When she is not in school, chasing after her children, or stopping her dog from eating things he shouldn’t, she can be found loitering in cafes drinking too much tea and working on her next book.
Escape to the beautiful Scottish Highlands for a heartwarming and feel good cosy romance that will whisk you away.
When Scotland’s sleepiest hamlet becomes the centre of hot gossip, Layla Devlin finds herself caught in a mystery…
When Layla’s fiancée has an unexpected heart attack and dies – in another woman’s arms, no less – Layla is determined to pack up and leave Loch Harris, the village she’s always called home. But an unexpected inheritance and love for her quiet corner of Scotland send her down a new path.
Now Layla finds herself facing a whole new kind of drama. Rumours swirl that a celebrity has moved into Coorie Cottage and Layla is determined to have him headline her opening night at local music venue The Conch Club. But the reclusive star is equally determined to thwart Layla’s efforts. Rafe Buchanan is in hiding for a reason, and soon his past comes to Loch Harris to haunt him…
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a heartwarming story about finding your purpose in life. Layla feels heartbroken and betrayed when her fiance dies unexpectedly. His hurtful secrets make her want to run away. Music and helping the community she loves help her heal. She has supportive relationships with the father who raised her and her best friend. Mysterious men with secrets is a recurring theme in this story, and one of them offers a second chance for Layla if she’s courageous enough to try again. The setting is well described. This is an uplifting story of love and loss.
I am a contemporary romance author from Scotland, who is obsessed with stationery and handbags.
I am married with two sons and have a poodle cross Romanian rescue puppy called Cooper. A Secret Scottish Escape is my fifth book.
I trained as a journalist and studied Communication & Media. When I’m not reading or writing, I love getting out for long walks, listening to music and watching romcoms.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely heartwarming story set on the west coast of Ireland. It explores female relationships and the importance of living life to the full. The setting is an immense part of this story giving the women space to breathe and think. The relationship dynamics are relatable, and the author explores topical issues in an enlightened way.
Character-driven, it immerses the reader in the main protagonists’ lives, which is an emotional experience. Family drama, heartbreaking decisions and romance are interwoven into this literary puzzle, and despite the shocks and tears, it leaves you feeling uplifted.
Guest Post:The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club – Inspiration- Faith Hogan
It’s been a funny old year, I mean to quote those wonderful words, it’s been the best of times, it’s been the worst of times, certainly, it’s been an extraordinary fifteen months on this side of the pond and although I haven’t travelled to the UK since 2019 – that sounds much too long ago – this has been a year like no other in every part of the world.
Apart from the terrible tragedies that have moved each of us, even if they did not touch our lives directly, there has been such a complete upheaval of life as we’ve known it and sometimes, it feels as if we may never fully return to what went before as normal.
At the end of it all, I’ve found a much renewed love of the book that uplift my spirits. It’s been an essential part of my lockdown armoury. Losing myself in the words of favourite writers who can help me escape the worries that might otherwise have dragged me down further and let-s face it, the nightly news was as much as any of us needed to drift into the tragedies of life.
So, I’ve been reading lots of unashamedly uplifting, happy books. I think it’s helped me to see the positives of having been locked down in a way that has balanced out all the losses. And there have been many positives. While less air travel has meant travel is curbed, I’m also very aware that the environment has managed to get some much needed breathing space. It’s given us great family time – now we’re playing scrabble and regularly sitting down to watch TV programmes together that I’d never have watched otherwise. And it’s given us time to think; perhaps savouring the little things that we’d rushed about so much for before and missed out on the simple joy of them. Things like family meals, long phone calls with friends – when once a text flown off seemed to be as much as we could manage. And then, there have been so many who’ve had the opportunity to work from home and in some cases think of re-locating and maybe taking life off hold.
Yes, it’s been the best of times and the worst of times.
But the one thing I’m sure of, is that a good uplifting book is one of those things that has really come up trumps throughout, a little like scrabble and strangely, The Grand Tour – yep ,in the Hogan House we’re on a binge!
I wrote The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club the year before we’d even heard of Covid 19. I’d written it purely for the joy of telling a story that would uplift my own spirits and so far it seems to have had the same impact on readers who’ve picked it up.
It’s unashamedly feel good, gentle and ultimately heartening, you may cry at certain parts, but you will laugh much more and I hope, as you pick up the threads of Lucy, Jo and Elizabeth’s lives, you will feel you are on a journey with old friends – people you’ll root for, people you’ll be sad to say goodbye to at the end. Because, we all want a happy ending, don’t we and there’s nothing that we could want more than a happy ending for the people we love!
And, as we near the end of this extraordinary year, perhaps we’ve all learned something we hadn’t expected – happiness can be found in the most unexpected places and if we’re wise, we’ll grab it when we can. And happiness is the one thing that we can feel, no matter if we are living in the best of times or indeed, the worst of times…
So, go on, choose your own kind of happy today, jump in with the Ladies Midnight Swimming Club, I promise, you’ll feel better once you’ve dived in there….
Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women’s fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.
She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!
WELCOME TO THE BEAUTIFUL SEASIDE TOWN OF PORT AGNES.
A fresh start…
Midwife Ella Mehenick left the small Cornish town of Port Agnes for London and never looked back. But when her seemingly perfect life crashes down around her, there’s only one place she can heal her battered heart – the place she once called home.
A new arrival…
Ella is quickly welcomed into the small community midwife team and loves her new job caring for mums and their precious babies – it’s what she does best! But being back also means facing ex-flame Dan Ferguson…the first man to break her heart.
A second chance at love?
Dan is still as gorgeous as ever, but he’s never forgiven Ella for leaving. And now she’s back it’s clear that there is unfinished business between them. As Ella settles into her new/old life, she can’t stop the memories of how she once loved Dan so completely – and maybe never stopped.
Maybe coming home to Cornwall is Ella’s chance to love again…
Meet The Cornish Midwives of Port Agnes- where community, friendship and love are always delivered.
This book was previously published as Return to Port Agnes.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This book has the perfect balance of drama, humour and romance to keep me turning the pages. Ella returns home to heal after her engagement ends disastrously. She wants to hide, but the community at Port Agnes won’t allow that and draw her into their close-knit, and for the most part, comforting world.
The immersive writing style is engaging, and the characters are relatable. The vividly depicted Cornish setting has memorable characters. The author highlights contemporary issues that affect coastal communities adding authenticity.
The community midwives team give the story its focus, with many heartwarming and poignant moments. There is a sense of camaraderie that is believable. Ella’s life in Port Agnes is about second chances, new and rekindled friendships, a rebuilding of self-esteem and romantic possibilities with the man she left behind.
This is a lovely story.
Jo Bartlett is the bestselling author of nineteen women’s fiction titles. She fits her writing in between her two day jobs as an educational consultant and university lecturer and lives with her family and three dogs on the Kent coast. Boldwood is publishing the first title in The Cornish Midwife Series – part of a twelve-book deal – in April 2021.
Escape to the countryside with a heart-warming new novel from Katie Ginger, author of Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage.
Amelia loves her life in Paris. But with the surprise inheritance of her childhood home, Meadow Farmhouse, she has no choice but to return to the small village of Meadowbank to restore her great-aunt’s old farmhouse. However returning to Meadowbank means she has to confront her past, including old flame Adam.
When Amelia discovers a locket hidden in the farmhouse, containing the picture of a mysterious World War Two soldier, she starts to uncover the secrets of her great-aunt’s past and is drawn further into village life. Shocked by the warm welcome from the villagers and her own surprising feelings for first love Adam, Amelia is suddenly confused as to where she truly belongs.
Can Amelia finally confront her own past and find where her heart truly calls home?
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
All old houses have secrets, and Meadow Farmhouse is no different. When Amelia returns to her childhood home to sort out her unexpected inheritance, she finds a clue to her great-aunt’s past. Her childhood was not a happy one, but back at the place where she grew up, she is determined to evaluate her life and finding out why Vera seemed incapable of love is a part of this. Solving the mystery of Vera’s past adds depth to this story.
Amelia’s journey of self-discovery catalysed by returning home to Meadow Farm is an emotional one. Adam, her first love, is still in the village. The rekindling of their friendship, and the sparks of something more, add a believable touch of romance.
The villagers are an interesting mix of characters that populate a quintessential English village. They add gossip, humour and vibrancy to the story and make it authentic. Gentle pacing reflects village life.
This is an engaging story that immerses you in the details of village life and life choices, perfect escapist reading.
KATIE GINGER lives by the sea in the south-east of England, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big as your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse is her seventh novel. She is also the author of theSwallowtail Bayseries – Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay, Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay and Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay, Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage and the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront.
When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time with her husband and two kids, and their dogs: Wotsit, the King Charles spaniel, and Skips, the three-legged rescue dog. (And yes, they are both named after crisps!)
Scandal hit party girl Lucy Conway needs to leave London fast, so she packs her bags and escapes to the sleepy village of Cranbridge to take care of her beloved Uncle Frank.
But the country village isn’t quite as idyllic as she remembers. To make matters worse, her Uncle’s pride and joy, The Cranbridge Times, is close to going out of business.
Editor-at-Large Tom Addison is having a crisis of confidence and needs help if the newspaper is going to survive.
With time on her hands, can Lucy work some magic and together save the family newspaper? Over a long, hot summer, friendships are made and hearts begin to heal. And, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps Lucy and Tom can find their very own new beginning…
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has an engaging setting with realistically flawed characters. The protagonists are at a low point in their life but want to find happiness again. The Riverside Lane series focuses on female protagonists who need positive change in their lives and hope to find it in Cranbridge. The village needs rejuvenation, but there is an intrinsic community spirit that is attractive to newcomers. Lucy is the latest incomer someone who wants a quiet life and is happy to look after her uncle who she loves to find it.
Village life is under threat, and the newspaper is failing. Lucy has the skills to help, but she is low on self-esteem. This is a story of self-realisation, helping others and finding your true life path. The story is gently paced and is character-led. The simple plot satisfyingly showcases character development.
This is a heartwarming and uplifting read with humour, poignancy and romance.
Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village and the first title will be published in July 2020.
Extract from The Village of Lost and Found – Alison Sherlock
‘What on earth were you thinking?’
Lucy Conway glanced around the hospital ward and was not surprised to see the other male patients staring across at them after the shouting they had just heard.
She looked back at Uncle Frank, who was sitting up in bed looking extremely agitated. ‘Could you please stop yelling and take it easy,’ she whispered to him. ‘Otherwise you’re going to have another episode or whatever it was.’
Frank Conway slumped back against the pillows, his face paling once more as his anger faded. ‘I’m fine,’ he told her with a wave of his hand. ‘And it wasn’t an episode. The tests will confirm that. I just tripped over my own feet and I’ll be back home tomorrow hopefully. So it’s nothing for you to worry about.’
‘Great,’ drawled Lucy, rolling her eyes. ‘Maybe we can go out for a ten-mile run later if you’re not too busy.’
He gave a grunt of humour in reply before following her gaze to where his heavily swollen foot was resting on top of the covers, covered in bruises. He had fallen badly earlier that day. ‘It’s only a small bone fracture,’ he said. But his sixty-seven-year-old face was etched with pain.
Lucy glanced at the drip which was attached to his arm and felt a pang of fear. She didn’t know what she’d do if she ever lost Uncle Frank. He was her rock and the only member of the family that seemed to genuinely care about her these days.
Lucy sat down on the edge of the bed and sighed. ‘I shouldn’t have said anything,’ she said, feeling cross with herself that she had upset him when he was already in hospital.
Frank looked at her, his hazel eyes softening. ‘You’re my favourite niece. We talk nearly every day. You tell me everything, so why should today be any different?’
‘Because you’re in hospital today,’ she said, reaching out to take his hand and hold it tightly in hers. ‘By the way, I’m your only niece.’
He smiled at her. ‘You’re still my favourite though.’
They were both silent for a moment as Lucy relished the strength she drew from the hand squeezing hers. Her fingers touched the gold band on his third finger. Uncle Frank still wore his wedding ring, five years after losing his beloved wife. The loss of her Aunt Jane still weighed heavily on both of them. What they would have given to have her calming, comforting nature with them that afternoon. Lucy missed her more than ever in that moment.
‘Jamie Watkins,’ murmured Frank, with a small shake of his head.
‘Don’t upset yourself,’ said Lucy with a grimace. ‘He’s not worth it.’
‘He’s awful,’ said Frank, looking dismayed. ‘What were you even doing going out with someone like that?’
Lucy rolled her eyes. ‘Trying and failing to please my parents, as per usual.’ She had spent all of her thirty years attempting to achieve something that might be a kind of accomplishment in her parents’ eyes. Unfortunately being headline news in the tabloids wasn’t quite what they had in mind.
Uncle Frank squeezed her hand again. ‘I guess they were hoping that your days of being in the news were long over.’
‘So was I,’ said Lucy, grabbing the newspaper which had been lying on Uncle Frank’s lap.