The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne #BlogTour #BookReview @Abigail_Author @fayerogersuk

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About this book…

Manipulated by fear and love…could you cut the strings and take back control?

Billie’s hiding from the world, believing it to be the only way to take control of her life as she lives in fear of the man who nearly destroyed her. But what she doesn’t realise that she’s exactly where he wants her; isolated and afraid. A chance meeting with budding journalist Adam sparks a relationship that could free her from the terror that controls her. But will Adam be able to see the real Billie buried under her terror and pain?

Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives she ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him but as unwanted attraction and feelings blossom between them, Adam is forced to realise that all is not as it seems. Most of their lives have been unknowingly governed by the desires and needs of someone who considers himself their master. He has influenced and shaped them for years, meticulously weaving a web of lies and control around them. Can Billie and Adam survive the betrayals in store and cut the strings that bind them?

One thing is for sure. The master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.

My review…

What a fabulous debut novel this is from Abigail Osborne! I don’t know what I was expecting but it definitely wasn’t this emotional love story twisted around a creepy chiller that pulled me in from the first page.

The Puppet Master has one of the most vile and creepy villains I have come across in quite some time. As you can tell from the title, both Adam and Billie are being controlled and manipulated by this shadowy figure that we only meet at the start through his diary entries. Billie,though, was a character that I took to immediately with her sweet nature although I really wanted her to grow a bit more backbone as I hated to see her hiding away from the world. But as the plot progressed I could see exactly why she had retreated into her own little world with only Bobby the cat for company.

I liked the way that this was told in alternating viewpoints, from both Billie and Adam, as it often told the same events from their differing perspectives. And as the tension started to increase those chapters got shorter and sharper until a ferociously shocking climax which didn’t exactly play out the way I thought it would. Some of the scenes were difficult to read at times due to their emotional intensity but the author doesn’t hold back in her punchy plotting to get her story told. There was one small chapter towards the end that didn’t quite work for me but that’s only a little quibble for me personally and it certainly didn’t deter from my eagerness to finish the final few pages.

For a debut novelist Abigail Osborne has done a great job of making the reader care about her characters and I can tell she felt very connected to them. She has a natural flare for storytelling and has drawn a lot from her personal emotions so I can’t wait to see where she goes from here!

The Puppet Master was self published on 30th August 2016 and is available to buy at Amazon UK

My thanks to the author for my review copy of The Puppet Master in return for my unbiased review.

About the author…

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Abbie was born in the Lake District and has moved all around the UK since then until she met her husband at University. She lives with him and their two crazy cats in the West Midlands. She is a Needs Assessor for students with disabilities and has her own book reviewing blog called Many Books, Many Lives. Even though she did English Literature at University it wasn’t until she started reviewing books that she realised how much she loved to write. The Puppet Master is her first novel but it certainly won’t be her last.

You can follow her on @Abigail_Author or @MBequalsML.

You can follow Abigail via her Website Facebook or on Twitter

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Nice Day for a White Wedding by A.L. Michael **Blog Tour** plus giveaway!

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So today I am absolutely delighted to be on the blog tour for Nice Day for a White Wedding by A.L. Michael organised by Jenny in Neverland blog tours. This book is the second book in The House on Camden Square series and today I have a review and an extra special giveaway for you as well. So read on!!

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About this book…

Sometimes, Happy Ever After is where the real trouble begins…

Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.

These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancé. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts of herself behind?

My review…

Although this is the second book in The House on Camden Square series it absolutely can be read as a standalone novel but to be honest WHY WOULD YOU?! Ruby Tuesday was the first in the series of books that have played with my emotions and made my mascara run and I would love it if you started with that one so you can meet the friends and get some more background on them. And then if you enjoy Ruby Tuesday you will HAVE to read Nice Day for a White Wedding as I think it is…..EVEN BETTER! A.L. Michael can really write the most amazing and emotional scenes for her characters that just feel so realistic. I don’t know how she gets under my skin but she does it in such a way that you don’t even realise she’s doing it until you look up from your book and hours have past!! I absolutely adored this book from start to finish!

The series is based around four old friends who had lost touch but after the events of the first book they are back in each other’s lives. But this second book concentrates on Chelsea although Mollie and Evie do pop in and out and so does Ruby in flashbacks to their teenage years. Chelsea is living a very different life to the one lived as a child and she has the most amazing boyfriend Kit who seems like her perfect “happy ever after”. And a surprise proposal means that the fairy tale wedding is on its way…or is it? And that’s what kept me turning the pages of this book, it wasn’t the fluffy romantic comedy  I was expecting…it was so much more. There was real depth to Chelsea’s character which seems bizarre when you realise how far she has actually reinvented herself! The scenes where Chelsea meets Kits family were just so well balanced between humorous observations and bittersweet revelations that I just devoured every little vignette. I wanted to punch Jemima and I am not an aggressive person!

I just love Andi Michael for making me live every emotion alongside her characters-I felt as if I was amongst friends and when I finished I missed them. I just want to Face Time them to find out how they are!! Book 3 can’t come quickly enough for me. One of the easiest 5* reviews I have ever given. Loved it!

 

Nice Day For A White Wedding (The House on Camden Square, Book 2) is available to buy here from Amazon UK

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday (The House on Camden Square, Book 1) is the first book in the series and you can find out more here!

About the author…

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A.L. Michael is hurtling towards the end of her twenties a little too quickly. She is the author of ‘Wine Dark, Sea Blue’, ‘The Last Word’, ‘My So Called (Love) Life’, ‘Driving Home for Christmas’, and ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, based upon her experiences as a London barista.

She is a Creative Therapeutic Facilitator, currently researching the power of creative writing to be helpful in recovering from eating disorders.

Her new three book series, The House on Camden Square, is being released in 2016, starting with ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday’ is available now.

When she’s not writing, she likes yoga, trying to bake healthy treats and was a hipster before hipsters were hipster. Well, she likes chai lattes and owns a Mac.

You can find out more about A.L. Michael at (surprisingly)  Her website and on Twitter Facebook or Pinterest

Enter the giveaway here…

This is a giveaway for an Italian themed goodie bag that has been prepared by the author herself. It contains lots of goodies like Prosecco, biscotti and other Italian themed yummy treats! You can enter the giveaway HERE

And follow the rest of the tour here!!

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The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley

About this book…

Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak!

Tucked away in the idyllic English countryside, Daisy Fischer’s cosy little cottage has always been her safe haven. But when her completely dependable boyfriend issues her an ultimatum, Daisy realises there’s a whole world out there she’s missing out on.

Florence Cortes’s life couldn’t be better – gorgeous apartment right on the beach, fabulous job and dreamy boyfriend, or so she thought. Suddenly, Flo’s life isn’t so perfect after all.

When the girls house swap for the holidays, it’s not long before Daisy is being distracted by sun, sea and sexy Javier while Flo finds herself snowbound for Christmas with only handsome neighbour Hugo and a house full of animals to keep her company.

Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas, but in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it…

My review…

Get ready to raise a glass of Cava as Tippermere is back but with a little Spanish twist! I love the Tippermere series (I have to admit that my own Cheshire village comes very close to all the fun and drama but maybe doesn’t have quite as many gorgeous single men!) but here we get twice the fabulous settings as the cosy Cheshire village is romantically twinned with bustling Barcelona for a Christmas treat! And although Tippermere is the location for one of the swaps this is a standalone book so you don’t need to have read any others (but you should anyway!!)

What I adore about Zara Stoneleys books is that you get a real sense of her locations as she writes about what she knows. All the way through I could practically taste all the wonderful tapas dishes and feel the warmth of the Spanish sunshine then, when I turned the page, I was immediately back in the Cheshire countryside, in the snow, hacking down country lanes. And then she fills her authentic settings with the most wonderful characters who are gorgeous and funny and feel like they are your friends. I adored both Daisy and Flo, who decide to swap their lives for a few weeks. Daisy isn’t sure that she wants to accept her boyfriend Jimmy’s proposal and Flo is expecting a proposal but she gets rather a different kind of shock instead! So it just makes sense to try living in one another’s shoes, it always brings things into perspective…doesn’t it?! One of the things that made this book work for me was that I loved both girls stories equally. Often when there is a dual point of view I can find myself racing through one person’s chapter just to get to the other storyline but here I felt at home with Flo and with Daisy and enjoyed both of their journeys of self discovery. If you don’t feel happy and relaxed and full of Christmas cheer by the end then your name must be Scrooge!
This book has been promoted as addictive reading for fans of the film The Holiday and I have to back that up 100%! I don’t feel it’s really Christmas until I’ve snuggled down under a cosy blanket with a fully loaded hot chocolate and a plate of homemade mince pies to watch The Holiday. It’s a Christmas tradition that I undertake with one of my daughters every year as its her favourite film! This year I have to say that I have already preordered the paperback of The Holiday Swap to pop in her Christmas stocking as I know she will love it as much as I do! The cover alone makes me smile so I can’t wait to see her face on Christmas morning (although it may backfire on me when she’s too busy reading to help peel all the veg!)

I always recommend this author to fans of Jilly Cooper especially ones who love Jilly’s quick witted humour and puns but struggle with the huge cast of characters and animals. This book had me smiling from cover to cover and I loved the pages of little tips at the end too. Christmas in Cheshire is going to be fabulous this year!

The Holiday Swap: The perfect laugh-out-loud romance for fans of the Christmas movie The Holiday is published by Carina and available to buy here at Amazon UK

About the author…

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Bestselling author Zara Stoneley lives in Cheshire surrounded by horses, dogs, cats and amazing countryside. When she’s not visiting wine bars, artisan markets or admiring the scenery in her sexy high heels or green wellies, she can be found in flip flops on the beach in Barcelona, or more likely sampling the tapas!

Zara writes hot romance and bonkbusters. Her latest novels, ‘Stable Mates’, ‘Country Affairs’ and ‘Country Rivals’, are fun romps through the Cheshire countryside and combine some of her greatest loves – horses, dogs, hot men and strong women (and not forgetting champagne and fast cars)!

She writes for Harper Collins and Accent Press.

Where you can find her-

Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

About this book…

Blue skies, new love, and a glass of Bordeaux . . . what could possibly go wrong?

When Emmy Jamieson leaves her life behind and moves toLa Cour des Roses, a gorgeous guesthouse amidst vineyards in France, everything is resting on her success as the new guesthouse manager.

Looming in the calendar is the biggest booking ever, when the entire eccentric, demanding Thomson family will descend for a golden wedding anniversary. With airbeds on the floor and caravans in the garden, La Cour des Roses will be bursting at the seams.

Emmy knows she’s up to the challenge, especially with the support of the gorgeous Alain, the half-French, half-English, caramel-eyed accountant. But she hadn’t counted on a naked, sleepwalking travel blogger, or the return of owner Rupert’s venomous ex-wife Gloria.

Gloria has a few things to say about Emmy’s new role, Rupert’s finances, and the unsuspecting Alain, which send everybody reeling. Just when Emmy can see a future for herself of endless sunshine, true love and laughter, are her dreams about to be ripped at the seams?

My review…

Having read The Little French Guesthouse earlier in the year I definitely had to make sometime in my busy reading schedule to catch up on this sequel. If you haven’t read the first book then you really should before picking up this one to get the most out of it!

I just loved immersing myself back into the lives of Emmy and Rupert and all the rich and colourful characters who make up this seriously warm and sunny feel good romance. Although it’s more a book about friendships I think and how true friends always come back together to help each other through life’s adversities. There’s a huge bombshell dropped into the cosy and settled lives at Last Cours Des Roses when Gloria comes back, not with her tail between her legs but with her head held high and an eye for causing trouble. Emmy has her work cut out when a large party come to stay and it needs to go well after The Silver Fox has had his say on his blog about his holiday there.

I absolutely love the way the author makes you feel as if you are there in the warm sunshine with Emmy and co, this really does feel like a real place to me! I can imagine the house and the gardens and the kitchen with all the delicious food prepared there. Even the local town and chateaux feels familiar as if I’ve visited there before and this book is a real memory of that time! I’m actually missing the place and people already now that I’ve finished.

This is a book that lives up to its “feelgood” tagline and anyone taking a holiday to France would be well advised to pack a copy to take with them. Even the cover makes me smile!

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

Return to the Little French Guesthouse: A feel good read to make you smile (La Cour des Roses Book 2) is available to buy now from Amazon UK

And  I’ve made you curious about book 1 The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard then you can read my review here!

About the author…

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As a child, Helen had a vivid imagination fuelled by her love of reading, so she started to create her own stories in a notebook.

She still prefers fictional worlds to real life, believes characterisation is the key to a successful book, and enjoys infusing her writing with humour and heart.

Helen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.

You can find her online at:

http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com
http://facebook.com/HelenPollardWrites

http://goodreads.com/author/show/8647878.Helen_Pollard

This Last Kiss by Madeleine Reiss

About this book…

As original as One Day and as heartbreaking as Me Before You, This Last Kiss is the perfect emotional and romantic read.

Rora Raine is finally coming home to Hastings, twelve years after she left her grief-stricken father, and fled the love of her life, Carl.

Struggling to support her bright but troubled daughter, Rora has convinced herself she’ll never love again.

When she meets a bumblingly charming stranger, Rora’s heart begins to thaw.

But, try as she might, she can’t run from true love forever.

Funny, warm-hearted and soaringly romantic, This Last Kissis the redemptive story of two star-crossed lovers, told through each and every kiss they share.

My review…

I’m probably not alone in remembering how Madeleine Reiss became a published author when she beat some very stiff competition on The Alan Titchmarsh Show to win a publishing deal. It was based on writing the first few chapters of a novel and I remember watching all the finalists on the show reading their work. I was so pleased that Madeleine won that I bought Someone to Watch Over Me as soon as it came out. And then she seemed to disappear from the limelight and it was only when I saw something on Facebook recently that I realised she had probably been hiding away writing as I saw she had another book out. Now this is a very difficult book to pigeon hole and its a different genre from her previous work but I knew that if written with the same beautifully flowing prose, then I was in for a treat. And I was!

Right from the start I knew I was going to be an emotional wreck. The way the story is told is quite unlike anything I have read for a long time, each chapter being told has a kiss as its pivotal point. And not every kiss is a romantic one but one that defines that particular relationship at that one point in time. This is inspired mainly by a book that is shared with Rora by her grandmother, and a stunning book it sounded with pictures of historical and fictional famous kisses. Rora has returned home after many years to reconcile with her father who is dying. There are flashbacks to Rora as a teenager and to the relationships that have shaped the adult she has become, the non-communicative one with her father but mainly with her mother and her first love Carl.

I found the relationship between Rora and her mother to be the hardest to read. The affects of mental illness spread so much further than people realise and my heart just ached as the author explored their mother/daughter bond and how it rippled throughout their family. Would Rora and Carl have become so dependent on each other if her home life had been different? The kiss in that chapter was the most heartbreaking for me even more so than the kiss that you are expecting from the moment you realise where the plot is going.

I loved the characters of Krystof and, even more so, Ursula as they provided a different perspective into the adult Rora has become. Ursula was such an adorable child but again I was desperate for her to be just a happy little girl and not to be affected by the adult relationships around her. I have read some reviews that say this is a depressing book. Yes it is very sad in places, it is after all a book about loss after all, but I found it to be realistic, poignant and ultimately uplifting. It isn’t a traditional romance, it’s far more than that, it’s a journey through relationships that are complex and recognisable to us all. The “last kiss” of the title may not be the one that you are expecting and yes, it made me cry but it also left me feeling enriched by the whole reading experience. Just a gorgeous book!

This Last Kiss: You can’t run from true love for ever is published by Bonnier Zaffre and is available to buy now from Amazon UK.

Many thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this book so that I could write an unbiased review.

About the author…

 Madeleine Reiss was born in Athens. She worked for some years in an agency for street performers and comedians and then as a journalist and publicist. She has two sons and lives in Cambridge with her husband and her younger son. This Last Kiss is her second novel.

 

The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James **Blog Tour**

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Today I am delighted to be the next stop on the blog tour for The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James and hosted by Jenny In Neverland!

About this book…

The perfect summer romance for a sunny afternoon and a picnic in the park

Emily Reed is having a bad day. Her mother has just dropped a devastating bombshell—the dad she’s known and loved for twenty-five years isn’t her biological father!

Desperately in need of answers, Emily heads to Luna Bay covering her personal quest up as a work trip to Sunflower Cottage B&B.

Setting up the ‘Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club’ should be a great way to meet the locals and maybe even find out who her father is. The only problem is brooding and insanely gorgeous, Noah, who is determined to make Emily’s stay perfectly uncomfortable.

Discovering the truth after all these years was never going to be simple, but Emily will stop at nothing to uncover her past… even if her heart is getting in the way!

Don’t miss a single book in the Luna Bay series:
Book 1 – The Broken Hearts Book Club
Book 2 – The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club
Book 3 – Coming soon

My review…

If you haven’t read The Broken Hearts Book Club which is the first in the Luna Bay books then don’t worry as this can totally be read as a standalone. It is nice to see however the characters from that book making cameo appearances here so it might tempt you to find out a little more about them!

Lynsey James has written a lovely romantic comedy around my most favourite meal….breakfast! When Emily descends upon the gorgeous seaside town of Luna Bay, she isn’t looking for love, well not in that way! But she is looking for the love of a father that she has never known and for a promotion in the job she loves. So when she meets Noah at The Sunflower Cottage and they end up cooking breakfasts together, it’s all a bit unexpected! The scenes where they come together in the kitchen the first time are hilarious (for their cooking skills not their romantic liaisons!) But by the time they were planning their new Breakfast Club adventure, it was all I could do not to make myself a huge pile of pancakes and join in!

There is a great cast of interesting and wacky characters here but my favourite has to be Pamela, Emily’s mother. She really was the mother you love to pieces but would drive you mad at the same time! Unfortunately, I saw a lot of myself in her so it’s a good job I have a sense of humour too! I loved catching up with Lucy from the book club and I have a funny feeling about a certain breakfast regular, that her story may well be on its way soon!

This is an easy to get into, sweet but sometimes bittersweet, book that is an ideal holiday read.

The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club (Luna Bay, Book 2) is available to buy now from Amazon UK here.

About the author…

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Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She’s an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad- and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine- with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she’s sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn’t a “good option” and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left her job a couple of years ago, she started writing full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She haven’t looked back since.

When Lynsey’s not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Dylan O’Brien FINALLY realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day…

Links

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Lynsey1991

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/lynseyjamesauthor/?fref=ts

Blog: www.lynseyjames.wordpress.com

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What Happens at the Beach by T.A Williams **Blog Tour** with guest post!

Today I am absolutely delighted to welcome T.A Williams to my blog with a guest post about the appearance of a certain breed of dog that always makes a very special appearance in his books. 

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So is this the last appearance of a Labrador?

TA (Trevor) Williams reflects on his canine obsession

What Happens at the Beach… is to be the last (or maybe the penultimate) in the What Happens… series. This book has a great canine character in it, in the form of Barney the black Labrador. Those of you familiar with my work will know that a black Lab is pretty much my trademark. But is that about to come to an end? My editor at Harper Collins believes it might be time to ditch the dog when I branch out into another series. I’m prepared to give it a go, but I’m not convinced.
As an author, I find that the dogs in my books actually serve a practical purpose. A page full of text can look intimidating, maybe potentially boring. Insert some dialogue and it breaks the whole thing up. When you’ve got a character all alone, it’s hard to insert dialogue unless you go for a phone call or have the poor soul talking to him or herself. That’s where the dog comes in. Tell me honestly, all you dog owners out there that you never speak to your dog. I don’t believe you. I’m not just talking about “sit, stay, good dog”, but actual chat. I used to do it all the time with dear old Merlin. Men are often described as poor listeners. You could never say that about a Lab. They listen, maintain eye contact and, apart from an unfortunate habit of interrupting the conversation to lick his genitals, Merlin proved to be an outstanding sounding block.
All right, they aren’t too hot at the responding part of a conversation, but my dogs could always be counted on to stretch out a friendly paw or offer a lick of the hand (depending where the dog’s tongue had just been, this often resulted in a trip to a wash basin, but I digress). So, as a writer, I find the dog a valuable tool.
My next book is set in Venice and, as such, offers less scope for a canine companion than in some of my other books. Dante the Tuscan dog and Barney in What Happens at the Beach… both have whole hillsides to roam around in. Venice has very little in the way of green space and, although a dog is the ultimate status symbol there, indicating to all and sundry that the owner is a local, not one of the millions of tourists who descend upon the city each year, there aren’t many about. Venice doesn’t really lend itself to dogs.
So, brace yourselves, the next book is going to be dog-free although I might just slip in a cameo appearance by a woofer or two for old time’s sake. I will be interested to get the feedback of the readers but, for now, I do hope you enjoy Barney the dog, the latest reincarnation of good old Merlin.

A huge thank you to T.A Williams for this post and I’m sure this will spark a little friendly debate amongst his fans…..are we ready for a dog-free book???

About this book….

A deliciously sunny, uplifting romance to curl up with on your holiday – or any day!

For the perfect summer romance…

It’s finally time for Natalie Dryden to decide what she reallywants! After ditching her sparkling engagement ring, and her ghastly fiancé, she jets off for the sun-kissed shores of Southern France – the only place that has ever truly felt like home. For the first time ever, Natalie is determined to forget all about men and follow her dreams!

…head to the French coast!

Only, avoiding the male population isn’t quite so easy, especially when she meets smooth-talking Philippe and gorgeous fisherman, Remy! But then Natalie, quite literally, bumps into brooding millionaire Mark whilst swimming in the glittering azure-blue bay – and her life is turned upside-down.

Love might be off the cards for Natalie, yet suddenly she finds herself in her dream job and working with her dream man! But is it all too good to be true…?

My review…

Oh to have been on a sunlounger whilst reading this as it is a summer holiday in book form! As soon as I started I felt myself relax and very quickly became involved with the lovely Natalie as she leaves behind her boyfriend in the UK to go and live with her beloved French grandmother, whilst evaluating her life and deciding what to do next. As soon as she arrived in France, I could feel all her tensions start to melt away (as did my own!!) as she met up with the gorgeous millionaire Mark and his adorable Labrador, Barney. For me, Barney was the star of the show and stole every scene he was in! There certainly is nothing like a dog for bringing people together!

This was a lovely, gentle romantic comedy that was so beautifully written with characters that I really engaged with. Although there were many paths for Natalie to travel down, you are never quite 100% sure exactly what she will do especially when some rather exciting job opportunities appear on the horizon! I especially liked the way it was interspersed with historical facts as Natalie shows Mark around various places of interest in her role as his research assistant, my favourite being Carcassonne which is a place that I’ve always wanted to go, even more so after reading this! And as I absolutely love France, having holidayed there many times, the whole setting of this book along with all the descriptions of the delicious French delicacies really appealed to me and I wasn’t disappointed.

So for an easy to read beach read this year, you’d be well advised to take a copy of What Happens at the Beach with you and feel your tensions melt away….until you realise there are going to be NO MORE LABRADORS!

What Happens at the Beach… is available to buy now from Amazon UK.

 

About the author…

Firstly, my name isn’t T A. It’s Trevor. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…
I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.
I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.
I’ve been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she’s right.

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You can find out more about T.A. Williams on his social networking sites below
Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon author page

Many thanks to Karen Elani at #KEPRTours for organising this blog tour!

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When Only Cupcakes Will Do by Daisy James **Guest post and review**

I am over the moon to welcome Daisy James to My Chestnut Reading Tree today especially as it is publication day for the e-book of When Only Cupcakes Will Do! Now, my Nana was the most wonderful baker of cakes and pastries but unfortunately she did not hand this skill down to me! I have tried my best but apart from my amazing Tunnocks Teacake traybake (no baking required but a weeks calories per square!) I have to admit I’m never going to be on The Great British Bakeoff. Thankfully Daisy seems much more at ease with a food mixer than I am and has written me a lovely guest post about her baking adventures!

Guest post by Daisy James…

When life gives you lemons, make lemon drizzle cake!”
I’m an avid baker. One of the best parts of researching my brand new novel – When Only Cupcakes Will Do – was experimenting with new recipes and exotic ingredients. A rainy afternoon spent in the kitchen, elbows deep in flour and sugar, brings back many happy childhood memories of doing exactly the same thing with my grandma during the school holidays. My sister and I would stand on a little wooden stool mixing, stirring and beating – and then came the best bit – being allowed to lick the bowl. Are we even allowed to do that nowadays?
Whenever I indulge in a baking session in my own kitchen now, the fragrance of warm caramel and melted chocolate sends my thoughts zooming back to those carefree times of butterfly buns and jam tarts made from left-over pastry from my grandma’s apple pies that she made with fruit from the garden.
For When Only Cupcakes Will Do I tested out a more contemporary selection of cupcakes such as coconut flavoured sponge with chunks of dried pineapple topped with rum-infused buttercream, raspberry cakes with prosecco icing and edible petals and blackcurrant sponges with vodka-tinged toppings. I also experimented with a twist on the carrot cake recipe and made beetroot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting – a sort of red velvet version. I wasn’t sure about those, but they still disappeared within minutes of coming out of the oven. There’s never a shortage of willing samplers in my house!
As the main character, Lucie Bradshaw, is an Italian pastry chef by profession I also had to create a number of Italian desserts, so I called in the experts – my friends Gino and Kate. My favourite was Cannoli – a thin, crispy shell made by wrapping the biscuit around a broom handle – crammed to bursting with sweetened ricotta cheese which can be flavoured with whatever takes your fancy. I added fresh cherries and white chocolate chips to mine.
If I haven’t already whet your appetite here’s a lemon drizzle cake that’s just come out of the oven.
Fancy a slice?

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About this book…

The delightfully heartwarming romantic comedy from Daisy James!
When life gives you lemons, make lemon-drizzle cupcakes…
Lucie thought that proposing to her boyfriend in Tiffany’s would be the best day of her life. Until he said no. In just a few seconds, her whole world is turned upside-down! And when she accidentally switches cocoa powder for chilli powder at work, she finds herself out of a job, too…
Baking has always made life better in the past, but can Lucie really bake her way to happiness? Starting her own company, selling cupcakes out of an old ice cream van might just be the second chance that Lucie needs!
Of course, she never expected to find love along the way…

You can follow Daisy on Facebook or on Twitter

My review…

Oh my days! Daisy James is fast becoming my favourite “go to” author when I want an uplifting, feel good read and I have to tell you that this one is my favourite so far! And it contains the most amazing cakes!!! What more could a girl ask for?? I honestly think I put half a stone on just reading this book, I want Lucie to be running her cupcake business right here, right now!! In fact this book contains all the ingredients for your summer holiday beach read with a strong willed female chef, a gorgeous food critic with an adventurous streak, cakes, families and Tiffanys!!  Actually, one of those little blue boxes containing a diamond encrusted cupcake would be my idea of heaven!

All of the characters were well written but I loved Lucie the best. Her journey of self discovery starts after she loses her job due to a rather uncharacteristic loss of temper with a food critic in the Italian restaurant where she works. As is the norm nowadays, every word and gesture is captured and spreads like wildfire on social media sites and so Lucie returns to her hometown to lick her wounds (and lots of flavoured buttercreams!!) Her decision to start her own cupcake business leads to an inspired choice of name and transportation. And I found this to be my favourite part as she investigates further the type of cupcakes she will sell and the parties she plans to hold where those cupcakes will be the star attractions! Having worked for a children’s cookery school for a few years, I have to say that Daisy got the reactions of the children to their baking experiences spot on! Kids and cakes are a match made in heaven and now we are back in a salmonella free egg world, the next generation are also able to experience the best bit of baking….licking the spoon and scraping that mixing bowl!

And then added to the mixture are the usual romantic misunderstandings and family dramas which all combine to make this a sweet and deliciously understated romance. For me, the icing on the top is the wonderful epilogue which is set in one of my most favourite places in the whole wide world!

I just loved this book from page one and haven’t stopped smiling since I finished it! I couldn’t have put it down even if I wanted to…not even for my favourite lemon meringue cupcake. More please Ms James!

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

When Only Cupcakes Will Do is published by Carina UK on 4th August 2016 and is available to buy from Amazon UK.

The Blacksmith’s Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes

Local Author Review for August…

So once a month I read a book by a local author and for the month of August that author is Elisabeth Hobbes. Now I met Elisabeth at the monthly meeting of The Knutsford Literary Society when she came to do a reading from The Blacksmith’s Wife. I found her backstory of how she became a published author fascinating and so I have a little Q&A here with her to find out more and share that with you. She also very kindly gave me a signed paperback copy of her book to review which was an absolute pleasure to read! I was a HUGE Mills and Boon fan as a teenager and it has been a revelation for me to be reintroduced to a genre that now publishes books monthly to suit all fans of romance from every time period possible! There is Viking romance, Regency romance but Elisabeth writes Mediaeval romance and a damn fine job she does of it too!

About this author…

You live in Macclesfield. Are you born and bred there or are you originally
from somewhere else?
I’m originally from York (a great city for historical inspiration). I moved to Macclesfield in 1999. I’d been teaching in Greece and my husband had got a job in Wilmslow. The car broke down here when I was house hunting and we never left.

How did your publishing deal come about?
I started writing my first story when my husband was working away. I was at home alone in the evenings with young children and wanted something to keep me busy. A writer friend who I met through Wattpad told me about Harlequin’s annual So you Think You Can Write contest in 2013 so I entered the first chapter in secret (I hadn’t even told my husband that I’d written it). Against all my expectations I finished in third place. The editors said they loved the story but I would need to make some changes to fit in with the series guidelines- focusing more on the emotional conflict and bringing the characters together on the page more. I revised it and sent the manuscript back and was thrilled when I got the call to say that not only did they want it, but they were offering me a two book deal. Since then I’ve been offered two further contracts, had four books accepted for publication in total (The Blacksmith’s Wife is my third) and am now well into writing my fifth book.

When did you find out you had got the deal?
It was February half term. The contest had finished in December and I’d been working on revising the story. Just before going on holiday I’d sent my revised manuscript to Sarah at Mills & Boon and kept everything crossed that the changes I’d made were enough to fit with the series expectations. I was on a cross-channel ferry heading back to Dover in rough seas when I got the call so I was completely taken aback (and seasick) and not really in the position to be able to celebrate.  Once I got over the initial surprise I was over the moon. The first thing I did once I was on dry land was call my mum and tell her. Friends and family have been thrilled for me, despite a bit of teasing about the subject matter- they say I’m the last person they’d expect to write romance!

Do you write full time?
Not yet. I teach three days a week which I enjoy as it’s great to interact with the children and have some adult conversation. Of course if the writing really takes off I’d love to be able to devote more time to it.

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About The Blacksmith’s Wife…

A passion forged from fire

Rejected by her favoured knight, Joanna Sollers knows she will never love again. Especially when the man she’s now forced to marry is none other than her beloved’s half-brother!

For blacksmith Hal Danby, marrying Joanna makes his life-long dream of entering the Smiths’ Guild possible, even if the secrets in his past mean he’ll forever keep his distance. But everything changes with one stolen night, and in the arms of his new bride, Hal wonders if this loveless arrangement could transform into something real…

My review…

If you are a fan of romance then I will start with a warning that once you pick this book up, you better have nothing else to do for the rest of your day because you will want to devour it in one passionate sitting! Although I was a Mills and Boon fan throughout my misspent teenage years, I hadn’t read one for quite some time. So imagine my surprise and utter delight to discover that historical romance has moved on a bit since those days!

This is a medieval romance that is full of rich and authentic descriptions of the characters we meet and the setting of York and the North Yorkshire moors is brought to life so vibrantly that you feel like you are almost there with Joanna as she battles against misunderstandings on her path to true love. This is no soppy tale with an insipid heroine, Joanna is a strong minded and talented woman who has met her match in the ambitious but kind hearted blacksmith. I just loved her! And Hal too, whom I imagined in my head to look just like the gorgeous cover picture (and it may have helped that he bore an uncanny likeness to a certain actor who have been bearing his chest aplenty in recent BBC dramas!!!) and who would have had me swooning in his arms if I had been around in those days! And I have to mention Sir Roger as we all love a bit of a scoundrel don’t we?!

Elisabeth has really found a fabulous niche for her writing here. She has obviously done a huge amount of in-depth historical research and this shows in the way her writing just flows off the page. Her characters are instantly engaging and the interactions between them are realistic and believable. And being an old romantic at heart, I just loved them all, especially Hal and Joanna, and was egging them on to achieve their “happy ever after”.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for future books by Elisabeth and due to those gorgeous covers I think paperbacks are the way forward for me from now on! Many thanks to Elisabeth for providing me with a review copy of The Blacksmith’s Wife and this is my unbiased review based on that book.

The Blacksmith’s Wife (Mills & Boon Historical) is available to purchase at Amazon UK

If the Dress Fits by Daisy James

Today 14th July is the day that If The Dress Fits by Daisy James comes out in paperback! Just in time to pack for your summer holidays so check out my review below.

About this book… 

The only romance novel you need this summer, perfect for fans of Jane Linfoot, Caroline Roberts and Debbie Johnson!

She might be the most famous person in the country, but no one even knows her name…

Callie’s exquisite, glittering silk gown has been shortlisted for the celebrity wedding of the year. But just as all her dreams are coming true, disaster strikes!

Leaving behind the bright lights of London, Callie is forced to return home to sleepy Althorpe. And there’s one man she hopes to avoid – the childhood sweetheart who turned her life upside down. But now she’s back, is it finally time to stop running?

Yet, as Callie faces her past, a Cinderella-like hunt begins for that perfect, pearl-embroidered dress, mysteriously submitted without a name…

My review…

What an absolutely adorable book this was! I just loved it from the first moment I saw that gorgeously simplistic cover until I read the final beautifully hopeful last line. If you want a feelgood romance full of colourful and likeable characters then this book is a must buy. I feel all soft and fluffy and sweet now I’ve finished it, rather like one of Tom’s delectable cupcakes!

The plot for this was based around Callie who is a well respected wedding dress designer. She has made the shortlist to design a dress for Yorkshires wedding of the year but after tragedy strikes, the dress is left unlabelled and so the hunt is on “Cinderella style” to find the lucky anonymous winner.

The wedding dress design and the wedding of the year is only a small.part of this lovely story. Callie is still longing for her first love Theo, now a famous rock star and a trip away from London back to her home town brings them together again. But for me the love affair was with the village of Allthorpe and the fascinating local people we meet there. I LOVED Gingerberry Yarns and the Cupcakes and Couture crew. I found it very touching in a personal way as well. I also like in a small village where the High Street has changed so much due to the out of town shopping experiences that have put so many small local shops out of business. So I  was cheering out loud for all the talented local craftspeople and traders to triumph.

The first thing I did when I finished this book was to pre-order When only Cupcakes Will Do by Daisy James that is due out next month as I just love her style of writing, it makes me smile….A LOT!

Thank you to Carina UK for providing my advanced copy in return for an unbiased review. 

If The Dress Fits: A heartwarming romantic comedy guaranteed to sweep you off your feet!is available to buy now at Amazon UK

When Only Cupcakes Will Do is out on 4th August in e-book and is available to pre-order on Amazon UK