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Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

white lies final

 

** My thanks to Sarah at Bombshell Books for the opportunity to read this book and inviting me to be part of the blog blitz **

 

Description:

Lydia knows first-hand that ‘having it all’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. As far as she’s concerned, when it comes to job versus family, it’s a case of one or the other. And whilst most women her age have spent years climbing the corporate ladder, she’s made a career out of bagging her perfect man. Now nearly thirty and still single, Lydia wonders if she’d made the right choice.

Realising the time has come to take stock, she goes against her family’s wishes and goes travelling in the hope of finding a new direction. At least that’s the plan.

So when Sam comes along, she decides to tell a little white lie, re-inventing herself as a professional chef – not exactly the best new identity for a woman who can’t cook. But the truth can’t stay hidden for long and when her family show up unexpectedly things go from bad to worse…

Can Lydia find love? Will she ever learn to cook?

Little White Lies and Butterflies is a heart-warming comedy about finding your place in the world.

My Thoughts & Review:

After reading Suzie Tullett’s previous book The Trouble with Words I was delighted to be offered an early review copy of her next book by the publisher.
Despite this being only the second book that I’ve read by this author, I definitely have a new name to add to the list of go to authors for when I need a book to pick me up or offer an escape, she’s right there alongside Holly Martin, Darcie Boleyn, Rachel Griffiths and Jenny Colgan.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of the plot, that’s something for you to discover on your own, preferably with a hot cuppa and a chocolate biscuit or two.  But I will say that I loved how the story flowed so easily in this book, the way it all wound perfectly together despite the madcap escapades of certain characters.
Lydia, wants to find her soul mate, her perfect match, the one…..and in doing so she has a strict list of criteria she is looking for and not willing to deviate from it.  But with this mindset she is potentially missing out on perfectly nice men in search of a mythical man that might not exactly exist.  There were times I could sympathise with her, if you were to settle down you would want it to be with someone special, someone who is the chocolate to your digestive, but there were also times that I wanted to give Lydia a shake and tell her to stop being so quick to judge.  To open her eyes and see what was right in front of her, see who was in front of her.

There were so many moments in this that I found I was chuckling out loud, seeing little white lies becoming huge whoppers that snowballed cataclysmically made this such a humorous read.  However, this book has more to offer than just light-hearted comedic read, it has romance, and some enthusiastic family members that cause embarrassment and panic.  But ultimately it has an important lesson to share – everyone has their own place in this life, it may not be apparent if you are quick to judge and only see one perspective, look deeper and try to appreciate what’s around you.

I absolutely love Suzie Tullett‘s style of writing, it flows beautifully and it feels like it transports you into the book.  The descriptions of the Greece were mesmerising, the beaches became such clear images in my head, the sights and smells (especially food) felt so rich and authentic.  One of those books that’s perfect to lose yourself in for an afternoon.

You can buy a copy of Little White Lies and Butterflies via:

Amazon

Why not check out the other blogs involved:

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Published 13 July 2017

 

Description:

The magical new summer novel by the author of Little Flower Shop by the Sea

One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there’s a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

‘The Welcome House’ is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there’s always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she’s remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.

But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious ‘Welcome House’? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

My Thoughts & Review:

I must confess that this is the first book written by Ali McNamara that I’ve read, I do own a couple but they never seem to make it up to the top of the reading pile sadly.  But after reading “The Summer of Serendipity” I’ve rescued the other books, bought a few more and will be slowly losing myself in the wonderful world that McNamara creates for her readers.

The plot is full of mystery and intrigue, our leading lady Serendipity (Ren) is on a mission in Ballykiltara to find the perfect retirement home for a client with her assistant Kiki.  The dynamic duo eventually find the perfect house but cannot find out who owns the property to make an offer to purchase it.  The more they ask locals about The Welcome House, the more complex the mystery becomes.  No one knows for sure who owns the house, some saying that the house has always been there since the time of the monks and Viking invaders, some saying it’s a place of sanctuary for travellers, a shelter with food that asks nothing more of people to replace what they have used (if they can).  With so much folklore surrounding The Welcome House Ren and Kiki look to the local priest for help, but instead of shining light on their mystery, Father Duffy imparts wisdom onto Ren that makes things more complicated.  And if that wasn’t enough for Ren to struggle to get her head round, there’s also a wee romantic interest for her in the shape of the brooding and handsome hotel manager,  Finn.

The setting of Ballykiltara is so exquisitely described that you cannot help but imagine the hotel, the wonderful woodland walks, The Welcome House or even just the general tranquillity of it all.  Ali McNamara’s writing transports her readers to the settings she writes about, and has them invested in the characters being written about.  The way that relationships develop through the book is interesting, seeing the ups and downs of friendships makes this feel realistic as well as makes the characters stand out.  The way that they come to life from the pages is another reason to love this book, Kiki is a fantastic character, so lovely and endearing.  Her muddling of words just makes her even more appealing and she works well as a contrast to Ren.  Ren, whilst a friendly and cheery person has secrets she keeps locked away and sometimes forgets to take her business hat off.  Finn, well what can I say about the dishy hotel manager?  His charm and impish ways are so well written that I could almost see him as I read (swoon!).

This book has almost everything you need for a holiday read (whether it’s a staycation or far flung destination), it’s humorous, it’s magical and it’s so full of delightful charm that you can’t help but enjoy it!

You can buy a copy of The Summer of Serendipity via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown Book Group for the opportunity to read this book and to take part in the blog tour.

 

Follow the blog tour:

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Copy provided by Ebury Publishing in return for an honest review

 

Description:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes.

One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love.

Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Thoughts & Review:

Ashamedly, this is the first book that I have read by John Marrs, quite how I’ve managed to miss his books previously is beyond me, perhaps it’s because there are so many good books out there at the moment that as a reader I am spoiled for choice?  Yes, that’s why, we shall use that as my excuse, but thanks to a very interesting description and some recommendations from wonderful fellow bloggers in TBC I thought I would check this one out.

The idea that there is a genetically perfect match out there for each of us is an intriguing one, but I can’t help but feel it’s a little scary too.  How many people if faced with the chance would take the test?  And of those who took the test, who would open the results?  Would you still take the test if you were in a committed relationship?  What would you do if the person you are with turns out not to be your perfect match (genetically)?
The concept of this is explored so fully by Marrs in this novel, cleverly he writes from the perspective of more than one character allowing the reader to experience the quandary at hand.

At first I had my reservations when I saw that there were numerous different characters all narrating, each telling their story about how this genetic test plays a part in their life and how it’s far reaching repercussions impact on those around them.  But I quickly changed my mind as I was hypnotised by the enchanting charm of the writing.  The pace of this is relentless in the sense that you cannot stop reading, you don’t want to stop reading.  You want to know what each character will do about the situation they have found themselves in.  The revelations that are unveiled are wholeheartedly shocking in places, and each is bigger than the previous one.  The twists that are cleverly woven into this are the work of sheer genius – not once did I suspect what lay ahead and found myself staring at the book in awe but also slightly terrified at what I was reading.  I should add “terrified” was more in the sense of how intricately well the plot worked, how characters played out certain scenes etc.

There are so many things I would love to say about this book, but that would really be doing you a disservice.  This is definitely a book that deserves to be read and enjoyed, it’s evocative, it’s clever, it’s heart wrenchingly oppressive in places and takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of human behaviour.

I shall be hunting out other books by this author, his style of writing was a joy to read and even when the subject was of a more sensitive nature he handled it carefully and respectfully.

You can buy a copy of The One here.

 

About the Author:

John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, England, who has spent the last 20 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.
He has written for publications including The Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World’s Sunday Magazine.
His debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, he released his second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.
In July 2016 came his third novel A Thousand Small Explosions.

For more information about John’s books follow him on Twitter @johnmarrs1

 

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Published: 19 January 2017
Reviewed: 13 January 2017

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Black and White Publishing

 

Description:

Daisy Delaney’s life is pancake-flat. A talented baker and passionate lingerie specialist, she has wound up with no one to bake for and a career that hasn’t proved successful. But when she starts a delicious relationship with famous French author-chef, Michel Amiel, everything begins to look a bit more exciting.

That is until Michel’s bestselling cookbook is knocked off the top spot by newcomer ‘Lucy Lovecake’. His outdated recipes slide down the charts, while the popularity of Lucy Lovecake’s new dating cookbook is rising like the perfect sponge.

As Daisy teeters on the brink of love, how can she ever tell Michel that she is the mysterious Lucy Lovecake? Could he ever forgive her for finishing off his career? And more importantly, does Daisy even want to be with a difficult, egotistical, down-on-his-luck Frenchman just as her career is beginning to take off? Especially when she has some other very interesting offers…

My Thoughts & Review:

The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake is the perfect book to start your year with, it oozes charm and appeal that has a reader grinning from ear to ear at the wonderful highs and commiserating with the protagonist when it comes to the lows but overall it’s a great  book for an escape from the drudgery and rubbish weather of late.

Daisy Delaney is a fantastic character, a budding author, talented amateur baker and lingerie sales assistant – she’s a busy lass that’s for sure!  She’s just the sort of character that readers will warm to and relate to.  Her enthusiasm is infectious, I found that I was excited for her when it came to the launch of her book ‘French Fancy’ under her nom de plume Lucy Lovecake.
The chemistry between Daisy and her new love interest Michel Amiel makes for interesting  and entertaining reading.  Michel is a character that definitely stands out in this book, his behaviour is somewhat prima donna-esque, and so to see the success of Daisy/Lucy makes him all the more grumpy – delightfully entertaining for the audience.  

The writing itself is so flowing and easy to read that this is a book you can read in one sitting (if the outside world gives you peace and quiet!), it’s the sort of book you can pick up and become utterly lost in.  The plot is fun and well thought out, the characters are a breath of fresh air (even the grumpy Michel!), but best of all it’s full of optimism and the idea that you can take hold of the reins of life, give them a good pull and decide where you want to go.
The author is spot on with her quote “It’s a modern day fairytale – I want to promote the idea that women’s financial independence can dive them emotional freedom.  It’s about empowering femininity”.


You can buy a copy of The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake here.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for some brilliant reviews!

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Published: 7 November 2016
Reviewed: 28 November 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Canelo in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Warm your heart with this perfect Christmas love story

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

It’s always a treat to read a book written by Darcie Boleyn, there’s a wonderful warmth in her writing, rich characters that you feel are like old friends instead of new acquaintances but best of all the sense of humour that shines through the narrative is just utterly brilliant.

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is wonderfully festive tale that the reader can curl up with and enjoy.
With narration from both of the main characters Lucie and Dale the reader gets a great insight into each character and how they feel, and can understand why these two people who are perfect for each other are not a couple (yet).  And by writing in this way, Boleyn ensures that the reader becomes attached to her characters, becomes invested in their stories and feels like they want to keep reading to see how the story evolves.

All of the characters are well written, including the supporting characters.  They are endearing, realistic, and can be infuriating at times especially Lucie who I think many readers would like to give her a wee shake or bash her and Dale’s heads together.
As always, the descriptive qualities in Boleyn’s writing are spot on.  The settings are so vividly described that I could imagine the scenes in New York so clearly, the carriage ride, the hotel suite.

I suppose the only negative thing about this book is it’s over too quickly, a short but lovely read that I was really sad to finish.  I must add that despite it being a short book, the plot is jam packed and utterly engrossing.  It’s a Christmassy feel good book that deserves to be on your reading list every year.

The perfect book to get you feeling festive!

You can buy a copy of A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas here.

 

 

About the Author:

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

For more information about Darcie’s books go to her website or follow her on Twitter @DarcieBoleyn

 

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I am delighted to welcome you to the final stop on the #BecauseOfYou blog tour and share my review of Hélene Fermont’s début novel.

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Published: 15 August 2016
Reviewed: 15 November 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Bookollective as part of blog tour

 

Description:

Because of You spans 36 years in the life of Hannah Stein, a Swedish teenager who arrives in London, at the tail end of the disco era, for a gap year before embarking on a teaching career. The people she meets change the course of her life irrevocably and the novel charts her changing personal and professional fortunes over the next three decades. Because of You is about love, coming of age, friendship, bereavement, stillbirth and rape. Its themes include redemption, acceptance, fidelity and family. Because of You is a story that every woman can relate to. 

Because of You is the deeply moving debut novel by Scandinavian writer Helene Fermont. It’s a gripping work of modern women’s fiction with a distinct ‘Scandi’ feel and a psychological twist. 

Scandinavian noir has firmly established itself as a bestselling genre in the UK. Because of You takes the elements that make this style of writing so compelling – the realism and dark, morally complex mood – and combines it with women’s fiction. 

This is a dark, morally complex and cross-generational story of enduring love, fate and destiny and will appeal to readers who appreciate an emotive, uncompromising and fulfilling read driven by character and circumstance. 

My Thoughts & Review:

When I first heard about “Because of You” I thought it might be another of those sorts of books that I will pick up as a wee break from dark and twisted thrillers, a change of pace so to speak.

The story follows Hannah Stein, who the reader meets in her teenage years as she prepares to leave home for London on a gap year.  The reader joins Hannah on her journey through life for the next 36 years as she experiences various events such as divorce, grief, love, heartbreak, abuse and death to name but a few.

Hélene Fermont includes some subjects of a sensitive nature in this book, and ones that some readers may feel uncomfortable about, but the writing is sympathetic and care without being gratuitous.

The characters in this feel authentic to the types of people we encounter in life, ones that are invariably various shades of interesting and ones that leave little mark on us.   The development of Hannah’s character throughout the book is well done, in the beginning she came across as very sheltered and naive but after experiencing so many things during the course of her life this changes who she is, shapes her to become a character that many readers will be able to relate to.

I did find that my interest waned slightly at times reading this, perhaps a little too wordy in places, but overall there was enough substance to keep me reading on.  The second half of the novel definitely caught my attention and had me reading quickly to find out what happened.
I have to admit that this did impact on my enjoyment of the read somewhat, finding at times I wanted to put the book down and read something else but felt that I needed to keep working at this.  Overall it is a good read, and an impressive début from a promising author.

You can buy a copy of Because of You here.

About the Author:

Born into a bilingual family (Swedish/English), Hélene Fermont enjoyed an idyllic childhood on the outskirts of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city and a major cultural hub.

Growing up in the early 1970s, she enjoyed a brief musical career on Swedish TV and radio before pursuing a rewarding career as a therapist specialising in children with learning difficulties.

Hélene has lived in London for over 20 years but still regularly returns to her native Sweden, where the unspoiled scenery and tranquility help aid the creative process. Hélene is currently hard at work on her second novel.

For more information see Hélene’s website http://helenefermont.com/  or follow her on Twitter @helenefermont


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Published: 14 July 2016
Reviewed: 7 November 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Urbane Publications in return for an honest review

 

Description:

We all have secrets…… Ambitious journalist Rosa Fernley has been asked to fulfil her grandmother Jocelyn’s dying wish.

Jocelyn has also passed on a secret – in the summer of 1968, fleeing from the terror of a bullying husband, she visited the mysterious Tintagel Castle. Jocelyn wasn’t seeking love, but she found it on the rugged clifftops in the shape of Jory, a local man as enigmatic and alluring as the region itself. But she was already married, and knew her husband would never let her find happiness and peace in Jory’s arms.

Now as her days are nearing their end, she begs Rosa to go back to Tintagel, but is unwilling, or unable, to tell her why. Rosa is reluctant – she has a job in London, a deadline that won’t wait and flights of fancy are just not in her nature. Nevertheless, she realises it might be the last thing she will do for her beloved grandmother and agrees to go.

Once in Tintagel, Rosa is challenged to confront secrets of her own, as shocking events threaten to change everything she has ever believed about herself and her family. She also meets a guide to the castle, Talan, a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jory.

Will the past remain cloaked in tragedy, sadness and the pain of unrequited love? Or can Rosa find the courage and strength to embrace the secrets of the past, and give hope to the future?

My Thoughts & Review:

Summer in Tintagel was one of those books that immediately grabbed my attention from the description, something about it screamed “read me!” and I was more than happy to oblige.  This is the first book by Amanda James that I have read, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed her style of writing, and I would be keen to read more books by this author.

This is a genuinely lovely book to read, it’s heart warming romance brings a smile to the face of readers and the vivid descriptions of the settings are utterly breathtaking.  I admit, I did google Tintagel to see if such a place existed when I finished reading this, it does.  If you’ve never been to Cornwall I would suggest looking it up, the images online are exactly how I imagined the village when I was reading, Amanda James transports her readers to the setting with her beautifully descriptive writing.

Characterisation in this is superb, they are realistic and engaging.  Rosa in particular is a lovely character that many readers will feel an an instant liking towards.  The slow journey to self discovery is an emotional one that the reader experiences along with Rosa which helps to strengthen the connection to this character.

The paranormal/otherworldly edge to this is written well, it fits in well with the story and does not seem out of place as I was worried it might.

Pace of the book is good, characters and settings are wonderful, the story is richly atmospheric and the narrative is humorous in the right places.  The real wonder of this book is the skill in the writing, Amanda James effortlessly weaves together a story about relationships between various individuals that cannot fail to capture the heart of readers.

You can buy a copy of Summer in Tintagel here.

About the Author:

Courtesy of Goodreads

Amanda James (aka Mandy) was born in Sheffield and now lives in Bristol with her husband and two cats. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, singing, and spending lots of time with her grandson. She also admits to spending far too much time chatting on Twitter and Facebook! Amanda recently left her teaching role to follow her ambition to live her life doing what she most enjoys—writing.

 

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Published: 20 October 2016
Reviewed: 21 October 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Sphere / Little, Brown Book Group in return for an honest review

Description:

It’s Christmas in the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne – a time for family, friends and feasting.

Polly Waterford loves running the Little Beach Street Bakery. She’s at her happiest when she’s creating delicious, doughy treats and the festive season always inspires her to bake and knead something extra special for the village residents. In fact, the only thing she loves more than her bakery is curling up with her gorgeous boyfriend, Huckle. She’s determined that this Christmas is going to be their best one yet, but life doesn’t always work out as planned…

When Polly’s best friend Kerensa turns up with a secret that threatens the life Polly and Huckle have built together, the future begins to look uncertain. And then a face from Polly’s past reappears and things become even more complicated. Polly can usually find solace in baking but she has a feeling that’s not going to be enough this time. Can she get things back on track so that everyone has a merry Christmas?

My Thoughts & Review:

As much as I am a fan of crime and psychological thrillers, there’s something about Jenny Colgan’s writing that makes me do a meerkat impression whenever I hear she has a new book coming out and this one was no exception.  Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery is a heartwarminly wonderful slice of Christmas and it sees the return to the beautifully described coastal village of Mount Polbearne.  Even more exciting was “seeing” one of my favourite characters – Neil the puffin.  Yes, ok the other characters are alright too I suppose…..

I should point out that you can read this book as a standalone, if you’re looking to start your Christmas reading list this is an excellent book to include.  You don’t have to read the entire series to make sense of what happens in this book, the who’s who and why etc but with a series as lovely as this why would you want to miss out on the preceding books?  They are Little Beach Street Bakery and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery.

We are reunited with Polly Waterford who is a great character, with baking skills that would rival any in the tent at the Great British Bake Off I reckon.  She has grown so much over the course of the previous books and the development of her character has been wonderful to watch.  This Christmas all she wants is a quiet time with her boyfriend Huckle, but alas, things never go as planned for her.  Throw in familial issues, friendship worries, trying to save the puffin sanctuary and trying to juggle running a business and it’s only a matter of time before Polly is faced with making some uncomfortable decisions about her present and her future.  The test of her character comes when trying to remain loyal to those she loves and keeping them all from being hurt by revelations that could ruin everything.

I absolutely loved catching up with the residents of the wee village, their stories are intertwined and it’s so lovely to see the community spirit between them all.  The fact that Polly has “pet” puffin living with her and Huckle is so funny and endearing, even more so when Colgan depicts him as such a heat loving, affection giving bird – the idea of  him warming up by the Aga made me chuckle.  I also loved the fact that because he’s overweight Polly and Huckle took him for a walk….expect Neil had other ideas and slept in a backpack.

Jenny Colgan writes with such a wonderful flair, the vivid descriptiveness means the reader can easily visualise the village, the crossing to get over to the island (tide permitting), the people and the mouthwatering bakes that Polly creates.  There is an easy going feel to the narration, almost as if the reader was having a chat with Jenny, the conversational tone really works and makes this such an enjoyable read that you don’t realise how quickly you are reading the book whilst savouring each detail.

The plot is filled with humour, romance, loyalty and friendship.  The festive feel of it all is cozy and uplifting.  It’s the perfect Christmas read!

A huge thank you to Jenny for the recipes at the back of the book, but don’t think that this will let you off the hook for making this the last book in the series!  I will be sad to say goodbye to Mount Polbearne and the villagers – especially Neil but I can honestly say it’s been a real delight to follow such a lovely series.  And it does mean that I will have to move on to Jenny’s next set of books, whatever they shall be!

You can buy a copy of Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery here.

About the Author:

Jenny Colgan is the author of numerous bestselling novels – Little Beach Street Bakery and the Top 5 bestseller Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2013. Meet Me at the Cupcake Café was also a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller, and won the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance 2012.

Jenny is married with three children and lives in Scotland. For more about Jenny, visit her website and her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @jennycolgan

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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Nicky Clifford’s blog tour for Never Again and share my review of her book with you.

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Description: 

Mountains, Mystery, Romance: Can you run from your past?
Harriet Anderson’s life is spiralling out of control. Unused to such mayhem, she ditches her high-powered job to take refuge in the Swiss Alps where she meets Philippe Smith, a crime writer with a dark and shadowy past. Thrown together by chance, is their fate intertwined? Will the karma and romance of the mountains and the quaintness of the Alps soothe their troubled souls?
Or will their rocky paths create avalanches that cannot be avoided…

My Thoughts & Review:

Never Again is a wonderful début novel from Nicky Clifford, rich with scenic detail, wonderfully rounded characters and a story that captures the attention of the reader.
When I first read the description of the book I did wonder if it would be a quick read, a tale of a romance but it turned out to be so much more and I am so thoroughly glad that I took a chance on reading this.

The setting for the book is absolutely spectacular, and the descriptive nature of Nicky’s writing is beautifully vivid that the reader can almost step into the setting through the narrative.  Only bad thing was that I was desperately craving apple strudel but had to make do with ryvita…..just not the same is it?!

The characters are very interesting, they appear likeable and realistic.  The secondary characters are also great, adding extra layers to the story.   The idea that both Harriet and Phillipe are trying to recover from what life has thrown at them makes for interesting reading and the author explores this well by slowly immersing the reader in their respective tales, ensuring that just the right amount of information is given away at the right time to keep the reader guessing.  Doing this allows the reader to feel empathy and understanding towards the characters, especially Phillipe.  Harriet on the other hand, despite being a kind soul does come off as needing a shake or a clout round the ear at times.
I particularly liked the drama between Harriet and Phillipe, understanding their pasts makes it more interesting when seeing the dynamic between them and is enjoyable reading.

This was an enjoyable book to read, the romance aspect was just right to balance with the drama and mystery element.  It’s the perfect book to pick up on a quiet afternoon and become completely lost in, the writing draws the reader in and carries them off, Nicky Clifford has a wonderful style of writing that is a joy to read and I still cannot believe that this is her début!  I’ll be keeping an eye out for her in the future and recommend you do too!

You can buy a copy of Never Again here.

About the Author:

Writing has always been a passion for Nicky Clifford and as a student she penned poems, short stories and articles, many of which were successfully published. But a lack of confidence in her novel writing led her to follow a different career path and for many years she worked in the corporate world of HR & Training.

Now with her sons having reached their teens and with her husband’s encouragement, Nicky has decided to focus on her writing once again and, glued to her writer’s chair, has completed three novels. Her debut novel, Never Again, is the first to be published and hits the contemporary romance shelves this autumn. The book is set in her home county of Berkshire and also in the Swiss Alps where Nicky has many happy memories, having worked there in her student days.

As well as dedicating her time to writing, Nicky also works part-time for a local charity. She will make a donation from the book royalties to the charities, Auticulate and Childhood Tumour Trust. Having completed a writing course at Reading University, she is a member of her local writing group which she says, were staunch in their support and have helped enormously in encouraging Nicky to launch her first book.

Nicky was a keen ice-skater, managing to perfect backwards crossovers, mohawks and one foot turns, but has recently hung up her boots to spend more time relaxing with her friends and family at home in Berkshire.

Website: www.nickyclifford.com
Facebook: NickyCliffordWriter
Twitter: @NickyNovelist


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, Q&A pieces and fantastic guest posts written by Nicky!

never-again-by-nicky-clifford-blog-tour

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Florence Grace

Author: Tracy Rees
Published: 30 June 2016
Reviewed: 16 July 2016
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review as part of Quercus Summer Reading Book Club
4 out of 5 stars
Description:

Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It’s a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone. 

But when Florrie is fourteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie’s life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth. 

Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

My Thoughts & Review:

As the second offering in the Quercus Summer Reads, I was intrigued to see where this book would take me, and having enjoyed Last Dance in Havana I was hoping for another engrossing and enjoyable read.
From the very first pages you are introduced to a strong and determined character in the haunting setting of the misty moors of Cornwall.  A young Florrie Buckley making her way back from Truro is catapulted from her horse and instead of lamenting her fate, she continues on foot towards home, knowing every inch of the moors through an affinity with nature and the surrounding landscapes.  Her irritation towards the horse and it’s reaction to a pigeon gives the reader a glimpse at the wit and attitude of this feisty character early on.  
What then develops is a tale of coming of age for Florrie, her transformation from teenager to young woman, the discovery of a secret that will change her life and the realisation that she needs to be strong and have courage to overcome what faces her.  Learning to be a member of the London Society in the Victorian era does not come easy for Florrie/Florence, her lessons are strict, punishments are harsh but she shows determination and sheer stubbornness to achieve what is expected of her (eventually).  
The juxtaposed images of Florrie/Florence in Cornwall and London are incredibly well written.  The almost feral Florrie running free on the moors, embracing open space and exhilaration at fresh air jars so fiercely with the Florence in London.  Here she fights for space, she is confined in all senses, a prisoner of the Grace family.  Even a walk in the garden must be done with decorum and decency.  
Initially a bit of a slow read, however, the author does gently create a story that becomes addictive reading.  With wonderful descriptions of scenery, the reader is transported from the atmospheric brooding Cornish moors to the desolate yet claustrophobic home of the Grace family.   
There are some interesting specimens of characters, some incredibly hard to bear any liking towards – manipulative, scheming and utterly abhorrent.  There are also ones that the reader can’t help but take an instant liking towards, feel sympathy for and generally want a good outcome for.  But all characters are meticulously detailed, multilayered and very well thought out.  
Tracy Rees writes superbly,atmospheric and fitting for the time setting.  Her descriptions of fashions and etiquette at the time are well researched and show attention to detail matters.  The story does flow well after the inital heavy start.  Having not realised this was Tracy Rees second book, I was impressed by her writing skills, and will be downloading a copy of her debut novel Amy Snow. 

You can buy a copy of Florence Grace here.   


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