1954. Zara is fifteen the first time she meets Leon. During a power cut in a small French museum, the two spend one short hour in the dark talking about their love for art, Monet and Paris. Neither knows what the other looks like. But both know their lives will never be the same.
1963. In Paris, Leon no longer believes he will ever find the girl he lost that night. Zara thinks she has already found him. When they meet at an exhibition, they don’t recognise each other – but the way they feel is so familiar…
Over the course of thirty years, Zara and Leon are destined to fall in love again and again. But will they ever find a way to be together?
‘It’s about dreams and taking chances. Missed opportunities and mistakes. Loss and sacrifice. But above all, it is about love. The kind of love that survives time, distance… even death. The kind of love I wish for you.’
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A magical romantic tale. Full of love, pain serendipity and tragedy. Fate and faith are instrumental in this gently paced tale. It’s perfect escapism to give flight to your belief in magic and romance. Told from two viewpoints its character-driven, but the setting is vital and almost a character too.
Leave your weary cynicism behind and get lost in this timeless love story.
Olivia’s love for words started as a child when she spent all her summer vacations watching her grandfather, who worked for the biggest publishing house in Romania, edit hundreds of books. She is a former investigative journalist for a newspaper and a television network in Romania, now a Marketing Director in Silicon Valley – in between she lived in Paris where her love for the Alsace region was born
Nothing is as it seems at first sight. Feelings are laid bare. There is no black and white. There is no right. And the wrong feels too good to be trusted.
People think that Alex was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, not only rich, but blessed by luck. Men respect him, women dream of him, and Alex alone knows the strength it takes to conceal his tortured soul and devastating secrets.
But despite those powerful life lessons, he has always believed in his father’s words, ‘When you fall in love, you love forever – it’s in our family blood. Look for HER and you’ll find your happiness beyond thought…’
Valeria has never experienced actual romance (an early pregnancy, a hasty marriage, a life filled with work and study) and considers herself a pragmatist. She was taught to live by the rules: if you get married, then you love your husband; if you dream of a new home, then you work hard. But when, against all logic, she finds a beautiful stranger in her bed, her world turns upside down. After all, falling for the forbidden can be too sweet not to try… at least once.
They come from the opposite ends of the globe, but the collision of two soulmates is destined. Fate will send them on a lifelong journey from Eastern Europe to Spain, France, the United States, and back.
Their story is a mix of a beautiful fairy tale and a painful nightmare. It`s not something you`ve heard before: everything is too vivid, too honest, too emotional and too profound.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This story is intense and immersive. You feel every emotion Valeria experiences, and at times, this makes the story almost claustrophobic. The romance is sensual.
Valeria’s life does not meet her expectations. She married young and soon discovers her husband’s physical attributes do not compensate for his lack of motivation to make a good life for his family. Alex enters her life unexpectedly, and his impact is life-changing.
Drawn to each almost against their will, Valeria and Alex become lovers. The story follows their relationship in a world where only they matter. There is a selfishness about this story that many will recognise. Valeria’s love for Alex excludes everyone, even her children.
The story has an unexpected twist which is emotional and poignant. Valeria has to make difficult moral choices. She’s hard to empathise at this point, especially if you are a mother. She is a complex character, both selfish and selfless. The ending is brutal and paves the way for the next book in the series.
Victoria Sobolev is the author of four bestselling series and one standalone novel that have gained her thousands of followers on Russian indie platforms and a Monogamy fan club.
She was born in Ukraine but spent most of her life living in Moldova until immigrating to Canada with her husband and two children. She currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Victoria believes in true love and soulmates just as much as she does in working hard at marriage. Travelling is her passion, but she thinks there is no safer or calmer place for a woman than her man’s shoulder.
She is fascinated by watching people and studying human relationships, but, even more, she loves writing novels about them.
Victoria Sobolev loves all her characters and never abandons them in the tragedy of separation and hopelessness forever, but always leads them to happiness. She takes her reader’s breath away only to make them feel even more alive when they start breathing again, so that everyday things become appreciated even more and their true value recognised.
When married couple Fern and Aiden have a windfall, their reactions could not be more different. While Fern is content to pay off their mortgage and build a nest egg before starting a family, her husband is set on traveling the world.
Fern’s not much of a back-packer so, before she knows it, the idea of a ‘marriage gap year’ takes shape. And, as Aiden heads off to the wilds of Australia, Fern chooses the more restful Provence for her year out.
Set amidst the glorious French scenery, Château de Vernon offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of normal life, and Fern agrees to help out in return for painting lessons from the owner – renowned, but rather troubled, painter Nico.
As their year unfolds in very different ways, will the time apart transform their marriage, or will it drive Fern and Aiden even further apart…
Let Lucy Coleman whisk you off on a heart-warming, sun-drenched and magical French adventure.
I received a copy of this book from the author and Boldwood Books in return for an honest review.
Fern is sure something is going to happen, to disturb her life’s status quo, but she doesn’t know what it is. If her body’s reaction is an indication it’,s not going to be good. I love the intuitive protagonists the author creates. They give the story an added dimension, adding to the characters’ complexity and depth.
Fern finds that money isn’t everything when her stable world implodes. She finds herself in Provence, not sure what to expect, or why she’ s there. The characters she meets are diverse and all have a story. The group dynamics that develop are authentic. They provide a sympathetic setting for Fern’ s emotional journey.
Nico is an enigma, a successful artist he has the moody temperament and a magnetic personality. Drawn to the latent talent he sees in Fern, he mentors her. Fern enjoys his focus, appreciated for something other than her problem-solving skills. There is romance in this story, but it’s a meeting of minds, rather than physical completion. There is one sensual scene, towards the end that is beautifully written and makes Fern challenge, everything she believes about her life and relationship.
The story is easy to read, full of interesting people and activities. Character-driven it takes you on a sensual journey of exploration. With its touches of drama, poignancy and romance you enjoy a lovely escape from reality. The ending is full of twists and completes this journey of minds and spirits in a satisfying way.
From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’
Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels – including Summer on the Italian Lakes, Snowflakes over Holly Cove, The French Adventure and A Cottage in the Country. She is represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.
When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture, working in the garden, or practising Tai Chi.
Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she is an eternal romantic.
Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the SoA and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Giveaway Link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will behttp://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494365/?passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Maddie is restless in London. She
has friends, a job and a sort-of boyfriend, but something in her life is
missing. Then she visits the ancient village of Walditch, deep in the Dorset
countryside. Something stirs in her, and on a whim she buys a centuries-old cottage
and moves there three months later. Her friends think she’s crazy, but for
Maddie it feels like coming home.
Late at night in the cottage,
Maddie hears strange noises and sees mist gathering indoors and out. When she
starts investigating the cottage’s history, she becomes drawn into the tragic
story of a family who lived here 400 years ago. Meanwhile, Maddie starts to
fall in love with a local carpenter – but he has a relationship already…
Can Maddie solve the riddle of
the past? What is her connection with the family that lived there so many years
ago? And can she and her true love ever be together?
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I live in a sixteenth-century converted barn, and just standing in it, thinking how long it has stood over looking the Exmoor landscape is awe inspiring. So, I can fully appreciate the inspiration behind, this lovely timeslip romance set in Dorset.
Serendipity plays an important part in this book. I was drawn to Maddie’s story, as soon as I read about her unexplained, and out of character attraction to the old cottage, formerly a blacksmith’s, when she visited the village as part of her work. The story is cleverly written, so that Maddie’s experiences at the cottage are believable. Set in the present, as she brings her new home up to date, there are many slips into the past as historic events and a time defying love unfolds.
Maddie’s leaves a well-paid career and a glamorous life in London behind her. At a crossroads in her life she is not sure why, but as the story progresses, things start to fall into place. Her meeting and attraction to Nick is powerful but fraught with conflict. Their chance of something developing seems remote.
The characters are complex and realistic, the situations they find themselves in believable. The pacing and the timeslip element make this an absorbing read. I couldn’t put it down, literally I read it into the night.
The poignant ending is perfect, and the epilogue draws everything together in this gentle, timeslip, romantic story.
Guest Post – Kate Ryder – Secrets of the Mist
I’m so thrilled to be invited on your
guest post. Thank you!
Do you ever wish you had a second chance to
meet someone again for the first time? I have explored
this theme in Secrets of the Mist, a time slip romance that encompasses self-discovery and a great
love resonating across the ages. With
supernatural, historical and geographical overtones, it should appeal to fans
of Kate Mosse, Diana Gabaldon and Barbara Erskine.
few years ago, my husband and I moved to Cornwall and bought a derelict, 200
year old cottage. Whilst carrying out extensive
renovations and taking the cottage back to its shell, we discovered a time
capsule left by a previous owner. The
contents were fascinating, if not that old (circa 1980), and made me consider previous
occupants during the past two centuries, the lives they led and the dramas that
may have taken place within the four walls of our cottage.
Apart from spending days mixing cement,
procuring building materials and helping to install the plumbing and electrics
(must remember to add these to my CV!) I was also selling complementary health
products at country fairs throughout Devon and Cornwall. One day, a chance conversation with a fellow
trader set my creative juices flowing as she described a Dartmoor cottage she once
owned, which had an unusual, internal stained-glass window and unaccountable
cold corners. Well… that was all the
encouragement I needed!
At the time I was a member of a local
writers group and, suitably fired up, I penned a short story. The room fell silent as I read it out to my fellow
writers and all wanted to know what happened next. During this period I had to travel up to the
South East on a fairly regular basis. On
one particular trip I took a detour to Dorset and discovered the villages of
Walditch and Shipton Gorge, which became the setting for the tale. Furthermore, whilst researching the villages
and surrounding area, I uncovered historic events on which to pin the story. Three months – I mentioned I was fired up,
didn’t I? – and 85,000 words later, I had a novel!
I self-published the book as The Forgotten Promise, and this version achieved
one of the first Chill with a Book “Book of the Month” awards. I am very fortunate that Aria agreed to
publish the novel and, with further time-slip development, it is now Secrets of the Mist. Lastly, but by no means least, I must mention
the lovely cover, which has a softly haunting feel and is totally appropriate
to the story.
Kate Ryder writes
romantic suspense with a true-to-life narrative. Her passion is writing (a
period during which she studied acting only confirmed her preference for
writing rather than performing!). Since then she has worked in the publishing,
tour operating and property industries, and has travelled widely.
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’
Association and the Society of Authors. Kate lives in Cornwall with her husband
and a newly acquired rescue cat.
In 2017 Kate signed a 4-book publishing contract
with Aria (digital imprint of award-winning independent publisher, Head of
Zeus). Her first novel, ‘Summer in a Cornish Cove’, saw her nominated for the
RNA’s 2018 Joan Hessayon award. Under its original self-published title, ‘The
Forgotten Promise’, ‘Secrets of the Mist’, was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s
“Search for a Star” and awarded a Chill with a Book “Book of the
Extract From: Secrets of the Mists – Kate Ryder
We arrived in Walditch late
morning, having first visited the Bridport estate agents, Randall & Mather,
to pick up the keys for The Olde Smithy. As we pulled up alongside Walditch
village green I noticed a few people already sitting outside the Blacksmith’s
Arms. Casually, I wondered if there might be an opportunity of work in that
Clambering down from the van, I stretched and rubbed
my hands together. ‘OK, let’s get cracking.’
Over the next couple of hours we unloaded the van, depositing
bags and furniture in various rooms. Dan hit his head several times on the low
beams of the downstairs rooms, but I had no such trouble. At five feet four
inches I was a good ten inches shorter.
‘Must have been midgets in the seventeenth century!’
he muttered, ferociously rubbing his skull.
According to Randall & Mather, the cottage dated
back to the mid-1600s, in part. The property details stated: A charming, two-bedroom period cottage situated in Walditch, a
village set deep in hilly countryside yet only a mile from Bridport and West
Bay. The Olde Smithy offers discerning buyers an opportunity to put their stamp
on a property steeped in history but with all modern-day conveniences.
The sitting/dining room, kitchen and master bedroom
were in the original part of the building, and all had heavily beamed ceilings
and uneven floors, while a two-storey extension, built during the late 1980s,
created a hallway, downstairs bathroom and first-floor guest bedroom. A small,
overgrown, cottage-style garden to the front opened directly onto the village
green and to the rear, immediately accessed from the kitchen, was a courtyard
created by a collection of outhouses, one being an outside privy. A pathway led
past the outbuildings to a further area of overgrown garden where there were
three gnarled and twisted fruit trees, in desperate need of pruning, and the
outline of a long-forgotten vegetable bed. To my delight, at the far end, was a
The day passed quickly and we busied ourselves
unpacking boxes, stacking shelves and filling cupboards. I had energy to spare.
Soon, the cottage soon took shape and by the time the elongating shadows of the
oak tree encroached upon the front garden it felt homely. Only the last
remaining packing boxes stacked in the hallway and the lack of curtains at the
windows declared me a new occupant. I made a mental note to buy fabric during
the next few days to remedy this, as I’d been unable to salvage any window
dressings from the flat. Being a Victorian conversion, the apartment had tall
sash windows to which the landlord had fitted vertical blinds.
As the day progressed, Dan regained a cheerful
disposition and his earlier melancholy evaporated. He was busy cleaning the
fireplace as I rummaged through a box in the kitchen, searching for elusive
teabags. I paused and looked around appreciatively at the beams, the flagstone
floor and the view of the courtyard through the small-paned windows. I could
already see next spring’s hanging baskets on the outhouse walls. I smiled, instinctively
knowing that all that had gone before was simply leading to this day.
‘Hey, Mads, take a look at this,’ Dan called from the
I turned and walked to the doorway. A thick haze
filled the room and I marvelled at how much dust he’d created. I was about to
suggest he let in some fresh air when I noticed all the windows were open wide.
I frowned. How strange… The room was full of fog and yet there was a strong
breeze blowing outside.
It must have been a trick of the light because, as Dan
turned, his blond hair appeared darker and longer and he seemed less tall and
lean; an altogether rougher version. I blinked and shook my head, as if
brushing away the image. As quickly as he had appeared altered, there he was,
once again, the Dan I knew.
‘What have you found?’ I walked across the room and
saw a small opening in the stonework to one side of the inglenook. ‘How did
‘One of the stones was loose. It came away quite
easily when I investigated. I think there’s something behind it.’
‘Clear away a bit more,’ I said, enthusiastically.
‘It might be a bread oven.’
Placing his long fingers into the gap, he teased away
at the stones around the opening. For a moment nothing happened but then one
suddenly shifted, coming away in his hand. There was a definite edge to the
hole. I peered inside at a hidden void.
‘Wow, how exciting!’
Without hesitation, I inserted my hand and felt
around, unsure what I expected to find, but apart from a thick layer of dust
and rubble, the alcove was empty. Disappointment flooded through me.
‘I’ll make a feature of it,’ I said. ‘I’ll visit a
reclamation yard and find a door that fits.’
‘This cottage will give up more of its secrets as
time goes by.’
As Dan spoke the words I became aware of an expectant
stillness in the air.
‘Why did you say that?’ I asked sharply.
‘Well, these old places always have secrets, don’t
they? And this one’s had four hundred years to collect them.’
Suddenly I felt hot and short of breath. Feeling
dizzy, I reached out for Dan, as if trying to hold on to something solid;
something I could trust.
He caught hold of my arm. ‘Hey, steady, Mads!’
Beads of perspiration pricked my forehead and I
struggled to hold back rising nausea.
‘You OK?’ Dan asked with concern.
‘I just need some fresh air,’ I gasped.
‘Tell you what – let’s abandon the tea thing and go
to the pub instead.’ This was his answer to most things.
‘Yeah, I could do with a drink.’
He smiled at me.
‘And dinner’s on me,’ I said weakly, hurrying towards
‘Now, there’s an offer I can’t possibly refuse, but won’t that be a tad messy?’
You’re not lost. You’re just looking. #AugustaHope
Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in. And she’s right – she doesn’t. At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi.
And now that she’s an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.
When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she’s propelled headfirst into the unknown. She’s determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Perhaps, it is a societal backlash that novels’ featuring, main characters who aren’t accepted because they don’t conform to society’s unwritten expectations, despite their obvious intelligence, and generosity of spirit, are so popular now.
Augusta Hope, a twin born in August, is a cuckoo in the nest, she and her twin appear opposite in every trait. Augusta is a caring, clever, curious child, devoted to her sister, but it seems, a mystery to her almost stereotypical middle class, conformist parents. This leads to some humorous incidents during her childhood. Overall her memories of childhood are poignant. Even at a young age, she realises she isn’t like her sister and will never secure the parental love she needs.
Parfait is the eldest of a loving family, but living in war-torn Burundi, means that his happiness is transient. His journey to happiness is pathed with tragedy.
The two points of view tell their respective stories in tandem, but with little obvious connection, until serendipity gradually draws them into each others’orbit.
The writing style is part of the charm of this story, and one l enjoy. Words are important and used well here, regardless of whether they are strictly necessary, or fashionable. On a literary level, this is lovely. The plot tells an epic story, which some may not connect to. The characters are well created, believable, and you want them to find each other, and somewhere they can be themselves and flourish.
Parts of this story are difficult to read, but they are all necessary to the telling.
Something for everyone who enjoys an emotional story with vivid imagery and a hopeful outcome.
Gigi and Tess aren’t the most obvious of friends. Gigi is a grandmother, Tess is pregnant for the first time. But when they meet, each one is coping with their own secret sadness. Tess is writing letters to her unborn baby with no one else to turn to, and Gigi has reached breaking point in her marriage. Little do they know how much they will come to mean to one another as both of their lives are turned upside-down.
Their story is about love in all its forms: the love between a mother and her unborn child, between a grandmother and her granddaughter, between spouses and between friends. Tess and Gigi will find what they need most in the place they least expect, and learn to understand the future by unlocking the past . . .
Believable, humorous and poignant ‘Letters to Iris’ is a beautifully written life study of three women and their families.
Tess and Iris are granddaughter and grandma, and they have such a strong bond that transcends Iris’s dementia. Grace or Gigi as everyone but her father-in-law knows her comes into Tess’s life serendipitously. They meet when Tess needs someone impartial and caring who knows the traumas associated with losing a loved one to dementia but as you read on you find even more serendipity in their meeting.
A story about everyday life and its momentous occurrences. The characters work well because they are realistic, full of flaws, indecision, selflessness and fear. Love is the overriding theme in this story, what happens when you’re not brave enough to grab it and the pain it can give you when it ends but the message is hopeful, and the story’s cyclic pattern makes the ending happy if tinged with sadness.
There is frustration, laughter, poignancy and tragedy but love is the mainstay of this lovely story which is sure to touch your heart.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Lizzie Sparkes should be the happiest girl in the world – she’s three months away from marrying The One in the wedding of her dreams! But then The One before the One walks back into her life with a bombshell.
Alex’s unexpected return changes everything, and now Lizzie faces an impossible dilemma. Because how can you leave the past behind you, when it’s standing right in front of you…asking you for one more chance?
‘The One’, is an emotionally intense story. From reading the blurb, I imagined a romantic comedy but there’s more angst than humour, and this increases as Lizzie’s wedding draws relentlessly closer.
In the beginning, Lizzie is happy finding the wedding dress of her dreams, but she cannot silence the echoes of her past life. The story counts down to her wedding day but chapters from her university life more than a decade ago are also explored, informing her current actions and state of mind.
Reading this story, Josh does not seem like the ideal partner for Lizzie, he has good qualities but doesn’t seem willing to let Lizzie be her true self, so even before Alex comes back, she has doubts. As the story progresses you discover her break-up with Alex is not straightforward.
Vividly written, the flawed characters compliment the realistic storyline perfectly. The believable ending is hopeful, if not happy and leaves you a little sad but satisfied.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Katie has had her fair share of bad luck, but when she finally realises her dream of opening a bakery it seems things can only get better.
But the reality of running a business hits Katie hard and whilst her partner, Steve, tries to help she begins to sense that the situation is driving them further apart. Could Katie be set to lose her relationship and her dream job?
Then, one winter’s day, a man walks into her shop – and, in the space of that moment, the course of Katie’s life is changed.
But nobody finds happiness in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it takes two Christmases, three birthdays and a whole lot of cake to get there …
One of the best things about reading fiction for me is the chance to experience another world, walk in someone else’s shoes for a while. Sometimes this is romantic experience, sometimes it is angst ridden, with this author’s stories by the time you reach the end you always have that ‘feel good’ feeling that sets you up for the day ahead. Katie and Adam are wonderful characters, not perfect but willing to go the extra mile for people they care about, even if it means putting their wants and needs on hold. Serendipity plays an important role in this story and if we’re honest most of us acknowledge our own lives are touched in similar ways at certain times. Grace is at the end of her life but she still puts her grandson Adam first. She worries that he only living half a life and hopes to remain on earth long enough to help him. She, as do the other characters in this flowing, poignant story, has lessons to learn. Self belief and discovery are important themes of this story, whether you believe in soul mates or a life beyond our human existence, this story is worth reading. I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.