Posted in Book Review, Romance, Romantic Comedy

The Wedding Planner – Eve Devon – 5* #Review @HarperImpulse @EveDevon #Romance #RomCom #WhispersWood

Wedding bells are ringing and gossip is spiralling in Whispers Wood…

Single mum Gloria Pavey has a bad habit of saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. Determined to make a positive change she can’t say no when her best friend, Emma, asks her to take on the role of her wedding planner. The only problem? Gloria’s co-planner – best man Seth Knightley.

Gloria is on a self-imposed man ban but pulling together the most beautiful wedding Whispers Wood has ever seen alongside gorgeous Seth is pushing her to her limits. As every interaction increases the tension between them Gloria finds herself wondering…could the happy ever after she never thought she’d have, be in her future after all?

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

My Thoughts…

Planning a wedding is stressful. Planning a close friends’ wedding is crazy, especially if you’re still recovering from a very public divorce, and your wedding planner partner is another divorcee, who seems intent on challenging every word you utter, determined to convince you there can be a ‘Happily Ever After’, and oh yes, he’s definitely not what you need in your eye-line when you’re on a man ban.

This is a comical, quirky, romantic story, something you expect from the Whispers Wood series featuring Gloria and Seth as they set out to plan Emma and Jake’s wedding. The chemistry between Gloria and Seth is spot on, both are sworn off love, both trying to prove something to those they care about and both attracted to the other, although they feverishly deny this, even to themselves.

The cast of characters, (which for readers, new to the series are described in a glossary), make this village come to life. All, have a role to play, and I particularly like the role of Old Man Issac as a therapist, who would have thought?

Great characters, a lovely snapshot of village life, with both a sense of community and the tendency to gossip and interfere in each other’s lives. It is great that Gloria and Seth get their chance of a happily ever after, despite their cynicism and flaws.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Perfect Cornish Summer – 5* #Review -Phillipa Ashley @AvonBooksUK @PhillipaAshley #Cornwall #Summer #PublicationDay #Family #Coastal #RomCom

Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival. At least, most of them are…

For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors, and being on the committee has provided a much-needed distraction from the drama in her family life (and the distinct lack of it in her love life).

When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see, and his return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life forever.

Curl up with this gorgeous novel and savour the world of Porthmellow Harbour.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The author’s love of Cornwall and all things Cornish is evident in this story. The characters of Porthmellow harbour are authentic, and all have a story to tell and secrets to keep.

Sam loves the food festival, it gives her a focus away from the family drama and helps promote the harbour town she loves. Sam and Gabe have history and working in close proximity threaten more than the festival.

Lots of characters and a taste of their stories make this a complex but interesting book. You know that you will meet them again as the series progresses.

At its heart, this is a story of community, the inherent closeness that means everyone takes an interest in each other’s life, sometimes this is intrusive, sometimes comical but nearly always well meant and important for the harbour to survive.

A charming story full of heart, secrets and love, looking forward to the next one.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship

5* #Review – The Newcomer – Fern Britton- @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @Fern_Britton

Cornwall is only a page away…


She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms.

It was to be a new beginning…

It’s springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny, a newcomer causes quite a stir…

Reverand Angela Whitehorn came to Cornwall to make a difference. With her husband, Robert, by her side, she sets about making changes – but it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon Angela starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.

Angela has always been one to fight back, and she has already brought a fresh wind into the village, supporting her female parishioners through good times and bad. But as the letters get increasingly more personal, Angela learns that the secrets are closer to home.

With faith and friends by your side, even the most unlikely of new beginnings is possible.

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

My Thoughts…

There’s a certain addictive charm about all of Fern Britton’s stories. The description of Cornwall and village life are part of this, but the uniqueness stems from her characters. She explores everyday situations and leaves behind the mundane, teasing out the courage, fear, passion and secrets, which hide behind their public face,

This story draws you in with a tragic event, before taking you back six months to the arrival of a newcomer to Pendruggan. Angela is a newly ordained vicar, Pendruggan is her first, albeit temporary parish, and she wants to succeed. You meet the village characters, some of which are familiar, and Angela’s family. Her husband is a television political correspondent, on a temporary sabbatical from a career he loves, her daughter Faith, is much loved, but unhappy to be uprooted from her friends and the life she loves, Then there’s Aunt Mamie. A wildcard, she is an important influence in Angela’s life, and her maverick nature brings laughter and excitement to the village and its inhabitants.

The plot is fast-paced and easy reading, it has the ethos of a cozy mystery, with its cast of character and a mystery to solve, but it’s more than this. The complex characters are flawed and realistic and give the story emotional depth and interest. The plot is simple but believable, and its resolution authentic. There is a lovely medley of angst, faith, humour and poignancy. It’s an emotional journey for Angela and those who care about her and she leaves the village with memories that resonate.

A lovely book that is both entertaining and sincere.

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Kitty Wilson – Cornish Village School – Second Chances – Guest Post and 4* Review

Ex-ballerina and single mum Sylvie is in trouble. Juggling her ballet classes in the nearest town, preparing shy Sam for his first day at Penmenna Village school and trying to finally move out from the farm she shares with her cantankerous Uncle Tom means life is anything but easy.

Television Journalist Alex is facing challenges of his own. Seeking a calmer environment for his newly adopted daughter, Ellie, he’s swapped reporting in war zones for the school PTA in quiet Penmenna, where his best friend Chase has persuaded him to start laying some roots.

Fireworks ignite when Sylvie and Alex meet but as Ellie and Sam become instant best friends, will they be able to keep things strictly platonic for the sake of the children?

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 Guest Post –  Kitty Wilson  – What does a working day look like for me?

I used to be a primary school teacher so do like a structured day, a timetable to adhere to. On top of which my natural personality is quite owl like – I would like you all to imagine that this means I’m very, very wise but what it actually means is that I do not like mornings, not at all. I appreciate the crisp freshness of dawn, the ethereal beauty of early morning before people are up, just not on a daily basis. Consequently, my timetable for the day is structured so I can be a bit of a slug-a-bed (I just love that word) and stay in my little pit until mid-morning, slurping on vast amounts of coffee and tea, having a yummy breakfast (in bed, I know) until my brain will not allow my body to stay there one second longer and compels me downstairs.

Once downstairs though I am a powerhouse. Well, maybe more of a power-hovel, but I slide into my regular spot on the sofa, put on some background noise and start to tap away. I find if I write solidly all day my brain dries up after a couple of hours and my petulant voice takes over – I hate it all, hate it so much (I don’t at all, not really!) – so every few hundred words I’ll nip on to social media or make myself yet another cup of tea, just to break it up for a few minutes and then throw myself back in again.  I try to get at least 1,000 words written every day and will keep on going until I do. Some days it’s like wading through treacle and it just seems… to… take… forever. However, most days are fairly good and whilst 1,000 words are my must-do I try and aim for 2,000 if I can. I like to bank the words up so I’m well in advance of my deadline which then gives me the flexibility to have days off when the mood, or necessity, takes me.

After my word count is reached I relax, get on with household chores or try and catch up with friends, do normal stuff that keeps a home, a life and a head running smoothly. Then after a break of a couple of hours, I return to the laptop and read through what I’ve written and tidy it up a bit.

In the evenings I like to plan exactly what is happening next in my book so when I come to the laptop the next morning it’s there, fresh and ready to go. This in itself is sensible, but the bizarre element is that I have to do it in water. I either have a long bath where I set a timer for the first fifteen minutes and devote that only to planning (no daydreaming allowed) or I head to my local pool and sit in the water and plan there. People probably think I’m a bit of a freak, sitting and zoning out in the hot-tub, but thankfully I stopped minding that a long time ago. And besides it’s worth it – I sit there, periodically giggling as I come up with ideas that I hope will make my readers smile, like Marion’s appalling behaviour and Ellie’s much cuter naughtiness.

Of course, this is my perfect routine and is dependent upon an empty house. Whilst I like to write with background noise on (it reminds me of being adamant when revising for exams at school that yes, I did need the music on) I prefer the house to be empty. I really struggle if my adult children (as lush as they are) are home or my partner has time off. It’s as if when I’m in my role as mother or girlfriend, I can’t get fully into my writing zone. Consequently, I have a really bad habit of giving the people I love most in the world a proper big hug when I see them and following it up with a slightly desperate ‘will you be in for long?’

In a nutshell – long lie-ins, water and solitude are what shape my writing day and make me happy.

My Thoughts…

Another slice of modern village life in Cornwall as the ‘Second Chances’, continues to explore life around the village school. The story focuses on Sylvie and Alex, both single parents who form an instant attraction but put their children’s happiness first and decide to stay ‘just friends’.

The story pans out as you’d expect but this is part of the attraction for this type of literature. The characters are contemporary, realistic and vivid. You empathise with them as they find out what life is like in the village.

If you are looking for a romantic tale, with a delightful Cornish village setting, this will suit you, enjoy.

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

Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind. 

Twitter: @KittyWilson23

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Jill Steeples – Happily Ever After at the Dog and Duck – Extract – 4 *Review

Life in Little Leyton is never quiet, and when handsome developer Max and his bride-to-be Ellie, receive some sad news, he decides to whisk her away for a romantic break. The time away gives Ellie a new perspective, and she’s eager to get home to get on with planning their wedding.

But a devastating incident at the pub she runs, The Dog & Duck, puts everything in jeopardy.  And, at their home Braithwaite Manor, tensions are heightened when Ellie’s future mother-in-law turns up with all her worldly belongings, much to Max’s sister Katy’s despair.  

With Max preoccupied with problems at work, Ellie’s left literally holding the baby, while dealing with a seemingly endless list of dramas. And as Christmas approaches, Ellie begins to wonder if she’ll ever get her happily ever after…

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Extract

Later that day, back at the manor, I found Max, Arthur and Katy sitting around the kitchen table, the doors of the conservatory wide open onto the stone paved patio that offered views of the sweeping lawns, running into the distance as far as the eye could see. The days were still warm and bright, but the faintest of breezes provided a cool autumnal edge, and the geraniums and blowsy petunias in the profusion of wood and stone planters were beginning to look a little straggly now.

After dinner, I would go round and deadhead the plants, which was my one small contribution to the upkeep of the extensive grounds. I found it reassuringly therapeutic, giving me a chance to snatch some alone time and to reflect on the events of the day. Luckily, Max had a small team of gardeners who helped him out around Braithwaite Manor, and it was their hard work that kept the gardens looking so plentiful. Of course, Max was head gardener and liked to get outside as much as his busy schedule would allow. He was never happier than when sitting upon his ride-on mower, his canvas hat perched on his head at a jaunty angle, whizzing across the lawns. Arthur was a keen gardener too, and was always ready with advice, even when it wasn’t needed. He’d had an allotment for years, growing an assortment of fruit and vegetables, until a spate of ill health had meant he’d no longer been able to manage. When he’d fallen ill, Arthur had come to us to recuperate, and the arrangement had worked so well that he’d never returned home. Braithwaite Manor was his home now, and he was part of our family. He’d also taken on the role of Chief Adviser for Vegetable and Fruit Production.

Max’s little sister, Katy, on the other hand, had no interest in gardening or the great outdoors, come to that. Spending the majority of her childhood growing up in Spain, she’d always told me how much she’d hated the heat, just one of the many reasons why she’d been desperate to come back to the UK to live. There’d been a big bust up with her mum, Rose, and her stepdad, Alan, and Katy had left under a cloud, coming to live with us for a while. Max had agreed to let Katy stay, and she was now happily settled in Little Leyton, attending college in town, working shifts at The Dog and Duck, back in touch with her biological father and in a steady relationship with her boyfriend, Ryan.

I pulled out a chair and sat down at the table to join them. Along with the four dogs, currently mooching beneath the table, this was our little melded family.

‘So, how did it go?’ Max placed a very welcome cup of tea in front of me. ‘What did they think to the news?’

‘What news?’ asked Katy, sitting up to attention, her curiosity immediately piqued.

‘Well… we were waiting to tell Veronica and Malc before making it common knowledge, but Ellie and I have set a date for the wedding. It’ll be on 20th December this year.’

‘Really!’ Katy jumped up from her seat, squealing. The dogs, alerted by her excitement, jumped up too, their tails wagging excitedly, and Flora darted between all our legs making us giggle with her antics.

‘Ah, that’s marvellous news,’ said Arthur, standing up to shake Max’s hand and giving me a hug. ‘If you’re half as happy as me and my Marge were, then you’ll have some magic years ahead. It’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? A happy family life.’

I squeezed Arthur even tighter and rested my head on his chest. I remembered Marge well. She was a kind hearted woman who welcomed all the village children into her home and in the summer months was happy for us to run wild around her playground of a garden. There would be home made cakes and biscuits, and fresh lemonade, and I would always come away with a bag of apples, or pears, a batch of scones or anything else that Marge might have whipped up that day. They never missed a birthday or Christmas, always sending a card and a small present. When Marge died, Arthur put on a brave front and carried on as best he could, but it was plain to see for anyone who knew him that he was struggling without the woman he loved at his side. That was the start of the deterioration in his health, I realised now. He hadn’t looked after himself properly, not eating or drinking, and had slowly declined to a point where he couldn’t manage on his own. Max and I were both so pleased and relieved when we were able to persuade him to come and live with us.

‘It is very exciting, but if you could both keep it under your hats for another few days. I haven’t mentioned it to the girls yet. I’ve invited Polly, Josie and Sasha round on Friday night for drinks and nibbles. I’ll tell them the news then, and ask if they’ll be my bridesmaids. I can’t wait to see their faces.’

‘Your secret is safe with me,’ said Arthur, tapping his nose. Katy glanced across at me, nodding her agreement before standing up and wandering over to Noel’s rocker, lifting him out.

‘Once we get back from our holidays it will be full steam ahead with the arrangements. When you think about it, it’s not that far away.’

‘When is it you’re going?’ asked Katy.

‘In a couple of weeks. It’s come round so quickly, and I’m already feeling nervous about leaving Noel behind, but Max seems to think it’s for the best.’ I cast him a questioning glance, hoping he might have had a change of heart on that front.

‘Look, Ellie, it’s up to you. I really don’t mind. And if you’re not going to be happy leaving him behind, then, of course, we must take him with us, but you need a break, and I think you’ll get more of a rest if it’s just the two of us. We’ll be able to completely relax, go for some nice long walks, have some lovely meals, get some good nights’ sleep, with proper lie-ins, and come back completely refreshed. Your mum and dad will be here to look after Noel and the dogs, so really there’s nothing to worry about.’

‘Good idea,’ said Arthur. ‘We’ll manage, won’t we, Katy?’

‘Yes, well, you certainly don’t need to worry about me! I don’t need looking after. In fact, I might go and stay with Ryan,’ she said airily, before handing Noel over to Max, and turning to waltz out of the kitchen, tension bristling off her shoulders.

‘Katy! I don’t think Max was suggesting you needed looking after for one moment.’

‘And you won’t be staying with Ryan, young lady. You’ll be staying here. To give Veronica and Malc a hand if they need it.’

Max’s tone was gruff, and I could see Katy’s hackles rise.

‘We were hoping you might help with looking after the dogs and with Noel,’ I offered. ‘You’re always so good with him when he’s cross and tired and doesn’t want to settle. It will make me feel so much better knowing you’re here with him.’

‘Really?’ She turned to me, her expression matching the sharpness of her tone. ‘So, you want me to help out when it suits you, but otherwise, you don’t want to know me.’

‘Katy! Don’t speak to Ellie like that! What’s got into you?’ Max’s brow furrowed, his puzzled expression mirroring my own confusion. Her face had lit up to hear our wedding news, but now it was as if she was having second thoughts about the whole idea. ‘Do you not want us to go on holiday – is that it?’

‘No, it’s not that at all!’ she said in frustration.

Max and I shared a glance and shrugged, none the wiser as to what had made Katy so angry.

‘Oh, come on, Katy,’ I tried to coax her. ‘I know you, and can tell when you’re upset. How can we do anything to put it right if you won’t tell us what it is?’

‘It’s you!’ she said, glaring at me, as though it were blindingly obvious. ‘You pretend that we’re best friends and everything, but it doesn’t mean a thing.’

I glanced across at Arthur, who was looking as perplexed as me.

‘That’s not true. Why would you even think that?’

‘Huh!’ She crossed her arms fiercely, her body held rigid.

My Thoughts…

If you’re looking for a little me time as Winter approaches, this is the perfect book to curl up with. I’ve already read other books in this series, but with sufficient backstory and character information provided, you can read this last book as a standalone.

This instalment of life at the Dog and Duck is full of family drama, and unexpected incidents and you meet familiar characters and new faces. The story portrays the dynamic flow of everyday life well, and this gives this lovely story an authentic edge.

It is pleasantly seasonal and rounds up the series perfectly.

Read this and enjoy and then put the other books in the series on your Christmas list.

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

Jill lives with her husband, two children and an English Pointer named Amber in the Bedfordshire countryside. Her short stories have appeared in women’s magazines around the world as well as in charity anthologies. When she’s not writing, Jill loves spending time with family and friends, reading, films, musical theatre, walking, baking and eating cakes, and drinking wine.

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Posted in Book Review

5* Review Kathleen McGurl- The Drowned Village –

A village destroyed
It’s the summer of 1935, and eleven-year-old Stella Walker is preparing to leave her home forever. Forced to evacuate to make way for a new reservoir, the village of Brackendale Green will soon be lost. But before the water has even reached them, a dreadful event threatens to tear Stella’s family apart.

An uncovered secret
Present day and a fierce summer has dried up the lake and revealed the remnants of the deserted village. Now an old woman, Stella begs her granddaughter Laura to make the journey she can’t. She’s sure the village still holds answers for her but, with only days until the floodwaters start to rise again, Laura is in a race against time to solve the mysteries of Stella’s almost forgotten past.

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My Thoughts…

Laura turns to her grandmother Stella when her boyfriend and best friend betray her. Life with Stella is quiet and safe, but her grandmother worries Laura is missing out. A TV news item brings Stella’s secret past to the present and Laura is easily persuaded to help her Grandmother solve past secrets and enjoy an escape to the beautiful English Lake District.

The destruction of villages through the creation of reservoirs must leave its community with latent resentment. Even though the villagers are usually financially compensated this doesn’t negate the sense of loss and destruction of a community. Stella village is resurrected after an exceptional drought and with it the chance to right a wrong and find the answers to some family secrets buried by the water.

The timeslip between the present day and the thirties is well written and adds depth to the story. The characters are complex and flawed but believable, and it’s easy to empathise with the choices most of them are forced to make. The gentle romance between Laura and Tom is lovely and the ending when family secrets are revealed poignant and satisfying.

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

Posted in Book Review

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

 

 

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

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

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My Thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Caroline Roberts The Cosy Seaside Chocolate Shop – 5*Review

 

When Emma opened her gorgeous little chocolate shop in the harbour village of Warktonby-the-Sea, she realised a lifelong dream. Love is also blossoming with her hunky beau, Max, who’s slowly healing her fragile heart. Summer is here, and life has never felt so sweet. Until the rain clouds start to gather… A rival sweet shop and killjoy landlord give Emma a headache, and when a face from the past turns up unannounced, Emma finds herself spiralling down memory lane. With Max’s crazy work schedule driving him to distraction, Emma’s in danger of making some choices she might regret . . . With close friends, spaniel Alfie, and the whole village behind her, can Emma get the chocolate shop and her love life back on track? Only time will tell in this deliciously romantic novel of love, loss, hope and second chances.

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Tips for Writers: By Caroline Roberts

Write what you are passionate about. If you love what you write this will make the writing process so much easier, and it will come through to readers (and hopefully publishers/agents if you are looking to be published) and spark their imagination and interest too.

Finish the book! Don’t pressure yourself that it has to be perfect. Just keep going forward and get the story out. Make time to write regularly, and you will get there. Editing is for later.

 Submitting – If publication is your aim, finish the whole book, check it over and polish up your first 3 chapters, spend time on your synopsis and cover letter, and only then start sending it out. Try to be as professional as possible. Do your research on who you are submitting to – and send exactly what they ask for. (Try the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and use Google to help find suitable agents and publishers, then read their websites carefully). Do try and personalise your cover letter to show you have spent time finding out about them/their company.

 PERSEVERE – the submission process can be long and hard, and rejection is never easy. Try not to take it too personally – easier said than done, I know – but keep going and try to learn from any critical feedback you might get and keep writing. It might be your second or third novel or even a short story or poem that gets someone’s attention. Don’t give up!

Link up with other writers. Look for local groups or groups within your genre. For me, the support and friendship within organisations such as The Romantic Novelists’ Association were,  and still is, invaluable. (It was only by taking a deep breath and pitching at the RNA Conference that I got my book deal with HarperCollins and my agent.)

 Good luck!

My Thoughts…

Any story that features Northumberland gets my attention and having read the first book in the series ‘The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop’ I was looking forward to seeing what happens next to Emma and Max, whose deepening relationship faces several tests in this Summer story.

Emma’s business is growing, but despite her hard work and creativity, she is still at the mercy of an unscrupulous landlord. There are lots of colourful events in this book, including prosecco parties and food festivals. They celebrate the culture and vivacity of Northumberland life adding both authenticity and depth to this romantic story.

Emma’s tragic loss of her fiance Luke made her wary of falling in love again, and even though she is committed to Max now, the unexpected appearance of a face from the past makes her remember what she’s lost and threatens her future happiness.

The village characters make this romantic tale resonate, they are believable and demonstrate the community spirit associated with English village life. There’s also plenty of gossip and lots of advice, not all of it welcome but again this underpins village England and makes the story realistic.

The lovely chocolate descriptions are a bonus, so good you can almost taste them. Recipes are included at the back of the book if you want to sample the chocolate delights.

The ending is heartstoppingly romantic, the perfect conclusion to this sweet story.

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

Family, friends, food, a glass of bubbly and, of course, a good book make Caroline smile. She loves writing emotional stories about love, loss, betrayal and family, which explore how complex and yet beautiful love can be. She also likes to write romantic comedy, letting the characters have a bit of fun too! Caroline believes in following your dreams, which led her to HarperImpulse and a publishing deal after many years of writing. Stunning Northumberland is her home – sandy beaches, castles and gorgeous countryside have inspired her writing! 

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Blog Tour: Emma Burstall -A Cornish Secret – Extract – 4*Review

 

Be careful what you kiss for…

Esme Posorsky is an enigma. For as long as people can remember, she has been part of community life in the quaint Cornish fishing village of Tremarnock, but does anyone really know her? She is usually to be found working in her pottery studio or at home with her beloved cat, Rasputin. But when an old school friend turns up with a secret from the past, nothing will ever be the same again.

Meanwhile, teenager, Rosie, is excited to find a bottle washed up on Tremarnock beach with a message from a former German prisoner of war. While the rest of the village is up in arms about a new housing development, she sets out to find him. Little does she know, however, that her discovery will unleash a shocking chain of events that threatens to blow her family apart. Tremarnock may look like a cosy backwater, but some of its residents are about to come face-to-face with tough decisions and cold reality… 

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Extract

Liz had left Lowenna’s pushchair at the bottom of the fire escape, and once the little girl was strapped in, they made their way down narrow winding South Street towards the marketplace, in search of a loaf of bread. But they didn’t get far; as they passed Seaspray Boutique, its owner Audrey came dashing out, waving a copy of the local newspaper, the Tremarnock Bugle, above her head.

Audrey, in her fifties, was tall and eye-catching – even more so today, dressed in a bright pink tunic top that had been on one of her shop-window mannequins only days before.

‘Have you heard?’ she said slightly breathlessly, thrusting the paper into Liz’s hands before turning back to lock the door of her shop, which had a closed for lunch sign on the inside.

Liz stared at the paper as if she wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.

‘The council’s agreed to sell the play park,’ Audrey exclaimed. The paper was upside down, so she turned it around and jabbed at an article on the front page with her index finger. ‘They approved it last night. Look. It’s all here.’

‘Wha-at? How could they?’

Liz started to scan the report, and her mouth dropped open. The issue of the children’s playground was hardly new. Developers had been sniffing around the village for months, with their clipboards and smug expressions, and she’d already signed countless petitions and written objection letters.

More active locals, who’d been making a bigger noise, had warned that their concerns seemed to be falling on deaf ears, but she’d never actually believed that developers would get the go-ahead to build one hundred brand-new homes, most of which would be out of the reach of local people’s pockets. Yet here it was, in black and white:

COUNCIL APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL TREMARNOCK HOUSING ESTATE

A little further down, she read:

Outline plans were eventually given the go-ahead by a single vote during a tense meeting of the council’s district planning committee last night.

Residents had pleaded with councillors to reject the proposals, raising concerns over highway safety and the impact on the countryside and local services. However, chairing the meeting, Lucinda Graham (Lib Dem, Langowan) reminded members that the council had, just one year ago, voted to approve the site for development.

‘If we are to refuse this application, I think there are half a dozen applications which will have to be refused. We have a requirement to provide so many houses, and there’s nothing we can do about it.’

Agreeing, Laurence Nares-Pillow (Con, Porthraden), said, ‘If we can’t provide those houses, the government’s planning inspector will rule on the matter, not where we want to have them but where the inspector wants them.’

Putting the decision to the vote resulted in five votes for and five against the application, with Mrs Graham ultimately casting the deciding vote in favour of the development.

The proposals from Bedminster New Homes will see a mix of three-, four- and five-bedroom homes built on the 0.95-hectare site. The plans also include seventy-five parking spaces and two access points on Fore Street and Cardew Avenue, which would be widened in an effort to improve safety.

Once she’d reached the bottom, Liz exhaled loudly.

Audrey gave a grim nod. ‘Shocking, isn’t it?’ She ran a hand through her dark hair, which was tipped with platinum streaks, cut pixie-short and artfully mussed, before giving Liz a firm push, which sent her and the pushchair bowling slowly down the hill. ‘We’ll go and find Barbara,’ she said bossily. ‘She’s sure to have some ideas.’

Liz sighed. Barbara, landlady of the Lobster Pot on the seafront, was a tremendous source of information as well as an arch organiser. Liz was very fond of her, but she’d been hoping to grab an hour with her book while Lowenna had an after-lunch snooze. As it was, the little girl would probably drop off in her pushchair and wake up hungry and out of sorts. Still, the playground was a major issue; children adored it, and no one wanted an ugly new estate on the doorstep, least of all Liz. If there was a fight to be had then she, for one, was up for it.

They didn’t get far when Barbara herself came bustling up the hill in the opposite direction from the Lobster Pot, her dark blonde hair, normally stiff with lacquer, sticking up untidily. She was in black trousers and a low-cut red top that revealed quite a lot of tanned cleavage, and her face was flushed.

‘The marketplace,’ she said, nodding in the direction of the turning that led to the square, and Liz and Audrey followed obediently. The sound of Barbara’s high heels clopping on the cobbles seemed to act like a muezzin’s call to prayer, as more and more folk appeared from doors and alleyways and trailed after her.

‘It’s a scandal,’ Liz heard behind her. ‘Shouldn’t be allowed,’ muttered someone else.

Emotions were clearly running high, and she wished that Robert were beside her, but he’d be busy with the lunchtime shift at A Winkle in Time, and she didn’t want to bother him.

Word travelled fast in Tremarnock. A sizeable crowd had already gathered in the square, which had a stone cenotaph in the middle bearing the names of local men who had died in the Second World War, and was lined with shops. Liz spotted Ryan, the fishmonger, still in his white overalls streaked with blood; Rick Kane, who owned the gift shop, Treasure Trove; and the couple who ran the popular little bakery. Jean the childminder was there, too, with her husband Tom and two toddlers in a double buggy, as well as pensioners Ruby and Victor, and Jenny and John Lambert, who had a fishing tackle store on the seafront.

Someone had thoughtfully placed an upturned crate in front of the cenotaph and Barbara pushed her way through the throng and climbed onto it. Before she had the chance to speak, however, someone else dug Liz in the ribs, and she turned to find Robert’s niece Loveday grinning at her, with two rather extraordinary buns perched on either side of her head and a glittery blue parting running down the middle. Behind her was her boyfriend, Jesse, and beside him, Liz’s friend Tabitha and her boyfriend Danny.

Liz was surprised that Robert had allowed Loveday and Jesse, his sous-chef, to leave the restaurant. She was about to ask what had happened when Barbara cleared her throat and shouted, ‘Welcome, all!’

A hush descended.

My Thoughts… 

A snapshot of life in a Cornish fishing village that captures angst, camaraderie, gossip and scandal against a picturesque coastal background. The fourth in the series about Tremarnock took me awhile to get into this story having not read any of the previous three books. There is little backstory, and so it is hard to empathise with the characters if you aren’t familiar with them from reading the previous books. Despite this, I enjoyed my visit to the village and the adventures of its inhabitants.

Esme, an artistic person, is an enigma, no one knows much about her, but she is one of the community stalwarts. Caroline, an old school friend, becomes her holiday companion when the two decide to meet after years apart. Their story’s poignancy resonates. 

Rosie finds a ‘message in a bottle, that has implications both for her family and the village, not all of which are pleasant and make Rosie questions whether she should have read the message at all.

The prospect of an unwanted housing estates draws the village community together and provides some comic moments for the reader. The three subplots are easy to follow and well-drawn together by the end.

The coastal setting is well-described, and the characters have authenticity and depth. Reading this makes me want to read the previous books in the series. 

A perfect beach read whether you’re visiting Cornwall or not; if you haven’t read the previous three books make room for them in your beach bag too and get the best from this series.

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

Emma Burstall was a newspaper journalist in Devon and Cornwall before becoming a full-time author. Tremarnock, the first novel in her series set in a delightful Cornish village, was published in 2015 and became a top-10 bestseller.

Twitter: @EmmaBurstall

Facebook: @emmaburstallauthor

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

The Wish – Alex Brown 4* Review

Sam Morgan knows he messed up with his wife Chrissie and daughter Holly – he wasn’t there when they needed him most, but now he’ll do anything to put his family back together again. Until then, he’s living in the picture-postcard village of Tindledale helping to renovate the Blackwood Farm Estate for its elusive new owner.

Jude Christmas is coming home for good this time. She’s taking over the antique shop in Tindledale, the place where she grew up and she’s going to make sure she’s there for her friend, Chrissie, and Goddaughter, Holly. They certainly need her right now.

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

‘The Wish’ reads well as a standalone story even though the village of Tindledale features in other novels by this author. The story revolves around two people who grew up in the village returning home after successful careers abroad. Their emotional lives are less rewarding, and both want to draw on family love to help them rebuild their emotional lives.

Sam’s marriage is in crisis; he provides material security but not hands-on support and love for his wife and young daughter Holly. Jude wants to build a life in her childhood home after living in LA and a failed relationship.

Holly’s dearest wish is to have her parents back together, and the story details her exploits to achieve this and the effect this has on her parents. Sam and Chrissie unravel as their guilt, pain and fear for their daughter’s safety are brought to the surface. Jude and Myles provide the light relief in this angst-ridden tale, their cute meet and quirky professional/personal relationship are amusing and romantic.

Family secrets long suppressed return to haunt them but demonstrate the importance and strength of family and friendship and how village community spirit reinforces this. Authentic characters and setting and gentle storyline make this a lovely light read with a satisfying ending.

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