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.