Tag Archives: romance

Book review: Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo

13 Jun

kim izzoAs the First World War rages in continental Europe, two New York heiresses, Sydney and Brooke Sinclair, are due to set sail for England. Brooke is engaged to marry impoverished aristocrat Edward Thorpe-Tracey, the future Lord Northbrook, in the wedding of the social calendar. Sydney has other adventures in mind; she is drawn to the burgeoning suffragette movement, which is a constant source of embarrassment to her proper sister. As international tempers flare, the German embassy releases a warning that any ships making the Atlantic crossing are at risk.

Undaunted, Sydney and Brooke board the Lusitania for the seven-day voyage with Edward, not knowing that disaster lies ahead. In London, Isabel Nelson, a young woman grateful to have escaped her blemished reputation in Oxford, has found employment at the British Admiralty in the mysterious Room 40. While she begins as a secretary, it isn t long before her skills in codes and cyphers are called on, and she learns a devastating truth and the true cost of war. As the days of the voyage pass, these four lives collide in a struggle for survival as the Lusitania meets its deadly fate.

I love reading novels that shed light on events and periods of history that I know little about. The sinking of the Lusitania is one such event – I knew very little about the circumstances and theories surrounding the tragedy when I started this novel and I learned a lot from reading it. Kim has certainly done her research and evocatively brings to life both the ship itself and the activities of the British Admiralty in Room 40, some of which are still shrouded in mystery today.

Kim has created three excellent and very different female characters to lead Seven Days In May; Sydney and Brooke are rich American heiresses but as different as two sisters could possibly be. Sydney’s belief and active participation in the suffrage movement contrast sharply with her sister’s desire to be the leading light of New York society and Izzo sets up an excellent friction between the two which plays out throughout the story.

We also meet Isabel Nelson as she takes up a new post, working for the Admiralty in London. Izzo uses Isabel to give us a tantalising glance at the inner workings of the war effort. I’d never heard of Room 40 but have always been fascinated by the code breakers of World War Two and was surprised to learn of this predecessor. Isabel is also hiding her own secret past and this added another layer to the intrigue of the story.

Key issues of the time, particularly women’s rights, are brought to life through Isobel, Sydney and Brooke and this makes Seven Days in May a very readable and even relatable novel. I’ve enjoyed both of Kim’s previous novels but the combination of mystery, social history and the tension of an impending disaster make this my new favourite of her books.

Starting in January 1915, the story moves chronologically, charting the days to that fateful day in May and then following the aftermath of the sinking. Chapters are narrated in turn from  the viewpoints of Sydney, Isabel and Edward – the man Brooke is engaged to and the reason that the sisters are crossing to England. Edward is also an interesting character  who didn’t appeal to me much at first but I warmed to him as the novel progressed.

Building on rich historical detail, Izzo also packs plenty of drama and romance into this story which took me through the full range of emotions. The scenes from the sinking were just heartbreaking and I read with my heart in my mouth waiting to see which of the passengers survived. Seven Days in May is a gripping historical fiction read from Kim Izzo, perfect for fans of Gill Paul and Hazel Gaynor.

4/5

Seven Days in May is released on 15th June in paperback and ebook formats from Harper Collins.

Find out more about Kim and her writing at: http://kimizzo.com/wdp/

I’d like to thank Emma Dowson for providing a review copy of this book.

Book review: Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

7 Jun

come sundownLove. Lies. Murder. A lot can happen… COME SUNDOWN

Bodine Longbow loves to rise with the dawn. As the manager of her family’s resort in Western Montana, there just aren’t enough hours in the day – for life, for work, for loved ones. She certainly doesn’t have time for love, not even in the gorgeous shape of her childhood crush Callen Skinner, all grown up and returned to the ranch. Then again, maybe Callen can change her mind, given time…

But when a young woman’s body is discovered on resort land, everything changes. Callen falls under the suspicion of a deputy sheriff with a grudge. And for Bodine’s family, the murder is a shocking reminder of an old loss. Twenty-five years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice vanished, never to be heard of again. Could this new tragedy be connected to Alice’s mysterious disappearance?

As events take a dramatic and deadly turn, Bodine and Callen must race to uncover the truth – before the sun sets on their future together.

Nora Roberts is one of my favourite authors that I’ve discovered since becoming a blogger and over the last seven years I’ve read many of her novels. They always hook me from the first page and hold me gripped as I read, whether I’m reading about the search for a mythical gem on a sun-soaked island or about love and drama in a thriving city. Come Sundown is no exception and is filled with great characters, romance, drama and suspense – another sure fire hit for Nora!

The story takes place in the beautiful setting of Montanna where we meet Bodine Longbow and her family. Bodine is the manager of her family’s very successful five star resort which sits alongside the family ranch. I loved Bodine from the very start; she’s a great business woman, a successful and caring boss and loves her family and friends. The descriptions of the resort, ranch and Montanna are just wonderful and if there are any horse-lovers reading this review, you will love this book!

But within the picturesque beauty hides a shocking secret. The novel opens with a short prologue set in 1991 as Alice makes her way home to her family after a long absence. Alice doesn’t make it home that night and what happens to her gives the story a series of shocking twists and turns.

The contrasts between Alice’s story in the past and Bodine’s in the present are stark and some parts of this novel were difficult to read and I couldn’t predict what would happen (although I enjoyed developing my theories and trying to guess!). As a murder is discovered on resort land, past and present collide and I could not put this book down until I found out what the outcome would be!

Nora sets the pace brilliantly. I found myself swept up in Bodine’s story and her developing romance with childhood crush Callen and also holding my breath every time the narrative moved back to what happened to Alice. Come Sundown is dramatic and tense. wild and romantic; a sweet and suspensfull mix of a page turner.

4/5

Come Sundown is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats from Piatkus.

Find out more about Nora and her writing at: http://www.noraroberts.com/

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

 

Guest post: Triplets in Pop Culture By Carla Caruso

25 May

I’m delighted to welcome author Carla Caruso back to One More Page today. Carla was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James.Visit www.carlacaruso.com.au. to find out more about Carla and her writing.

Carla Caruso, author pic, HarperCollinsHi. My name’s Carla Caruso and I’m an Aussie author of several romance and rom-com novels. My latest one is Run for the Hills, out today in ebook with Harlequin Escape, yay!

The story revolves around a runaway bride who escapes to a small town and winds up working for triplet wedding photographers. Yup, triplets. Naturally, one in particular catches her eye…

Ever since I’ve had twin boys (now three years old!), I’ve had a penchant for including ‘multiple birth’ characters in my tales. Which got me pondering multiple-birth characters in pop culture. And while I can think of plenty famous twins (fictional or otherwise)—hello Bros, Sweet Valley’s Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, and The Simpsons’ Patty and Selma—I was scratching my head to think up many such triplets.

So I thought I’d do some digging and see what I could come up with. Here’s a bit of list, as below. While it may not be as exhaustive as it would be for well-known twins, it shows that sometimes three can be even better than two…!

  • In the Disney flick, Parent Trap 3, tricky teen triplets (played by Leanna, Monica and Joy Creel) try to match their father with an interior decorator (Hayley Mills) who has a twin. When I watched this movie in the eighties, I wanted to BE one of the gorgeous, curly-haired Creel triplets! Each of the characters has a distinct identity: ‘Lisa’ is the wild and fun one, ‘Jessie’ the quiet but sweet one, and ‘Megan’ the nice and truthful one.
  • Heard of Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck? Well, who really realised that the trio of animated ducks are identical triplets? The threesome reside with their famed uncle, Donald Duck, in the fictional city of Duckburg and can be a little wild and unruly. Rather than each being very different like the aforementioned Creel triplets, a running joke sees the ducklings finishing each other’s sentences as they’re so identical in appearance and personality. However, you can tell them apart by the colour of their outfits—Huey is known for dressing in red, Dewey in blue, and Louie in green.
  • In TV sitcom Friends, Phoebe agrees to be a surrogate for her bro and his wife who can’t conceive – and ends up carrying fraternal triplets. There are some funny lines when the trio arrive on the scene, such as, “I like the middle one best!” and “Don’t worry I won’t let the other two know.” After the labour, Phoebe has a heart-to-heart solo with her new nieces and nephew and says she wishes she could take them all home, but will settle for being their fave aunt. Then the four of them cry together. Pass the tissues!
  • Recall the 1988 movie, Twins, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as a mismatched duo? Well, the pair are working on a sequel called—you guessed it—Triplets, and it’ll reportedly star Eddie Murphy as a third brother!

Enough triplet trivia for you? Well, I did mention my new ebook features triplet brothers, and you can read more about it here: www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9781489241474  ;)

Thanks kindly for reading!

Thanks Carla!

Run for the Hills by Carla Caruso is released today in ebook formats from Escape Publishing.

RunForTheHills-C CarusoThe Belshaw brothers are back in Balkissoch…

Bridie Porter is wearing her Vera Wang gown and veil in the back of her wedding limo when she receives a compromising text about her hotelier groom. Panicked, she tells the driver to keep going and she flees from Melbourne to the small town of Balkissoch in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s the perfect pit-stop to hide from her ex and the press and to earn enough cash to stay out of sight. Unfortunately, the admin job she gets is for a wedding photography business and she’s had her fill of weddings lately. But it’s slim pickings on the work front in a town so teeny. And her new boss is strangely compelling…

After the rush and adrenaline of his job as an LA paparazzo, the last place Cody Belshaw wants to be is back in the small town where he grew up. But thanks to a clause in his father’s will that amounts to blackmail, Cody and his two brothers are stuck running a wedding business for at least a month. If there’s one thing that he’s learned in LA, however, it’s to keep business and pleasure very, very separate. Which makes his new admin employee the definition of temptation.

Bridie is desperate to stay anonymous. Cody seeks out secrets for a living. As they delve into the world of brides, boutonnières and dogs-as-best-men, both Cody and Bridie will have to decide if this is a fling…or forever

Book review: Spandex and the City by Jenny T Colgan

23 May

spandex and the cityLOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET

Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.

But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.

Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

I’m on a bit of a roll at the moment with quirky, geeky romantic books, the latest of which Spandex and the City looks at what it might be like to date a superhero! Jenny T. Colgan will be very familiar to many readers as the author (minus the T.) of hits such as The Little Beach Street Bakery  and The Little Shop of Happily Ever After. Having read and enjoyed jenny’s other books I was so pleased to see that she is taking her writing in a fun new direction and I very much enjoyed this book which is witty, action packed, quirky and romantic.

Holly is a twenty-six year old publicist who works at the Mayor’s office. Whilst out drinking with a friend one night she finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes the target for a villain who is targeting the city. Holly is rescued by ‘Ultimate Man’ and it’s the start of an intriguing relationship! Holly is a fun character with a penchant for sarcasm and she is a bit of a magnet for trouble! Colgan gets the mix of insecure twenty something, pop culture references and dating disasters just right and this makes for an engaging and surprising read.

I loved that I was wrong footed a number of times as I read and the pleasure Jenny T Colgan gets from the fantasy elements of her story just bounces off the page. There’s dastardly twists, implausible situations and excellent comic timing but underneath all of that there’s also a little bit of a message about our society and the way that technology is influencing our lives.

If you love rom-coms but would like to try something different; dream of having your very own superhero or if you’re just looking for a fun escapist read this summer then Spandex and the City could be just the book for you!

4/5

Spandex and the City is out now in paperback, ebook and audio formats from Orbit

Find out more about Jenny and her writing at: https://www.jennycolgan.com/

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

Book review: The Forever House by Veronica Henry

19 May

forever coverWould you know your forever house if you found it?

Hunter’s Moon is the ultimate ‘forever’ house. Nestled by a river in the Peasebrook valley, it has been the Willoughbys’ home for over fifty years, and now estate agent Belinda Baxter is determined to find the perfect family to live there. But the sale of the house unlocks decades of family secrets – and brings Belinda face to face with her own troubled past.

The Forever House is another absolute treat from Veronica Henry. Whether set by the sea or in the beautiful Cotswold countryside as this book is, Veronica’s books always offer a perfect reading escape. In this book we get to visit the charming village of Peasebrook and a beautiful house called Hunter’s Moon, the home of the Willoughby family. Hunter’s Moon is so beautifully described and I loved how Veronica wove the history of the house into the history of the family giving their home its own character.

The story moves between the present where estate agent Belinda Baxter has been commissioned to sell the Willoughby’s beloved home and the late 1960’s when a young girl called Sally visits Hunter’s Moon for the first time and becomes housekeeper for the family. I loved the dual timeline storylines for this book as difficult events in the present force the sale of the house and prompt its residents to reflect on the past and how the house became the home it is today.

Veronica evokes a wonderfully glamerous and spontaneous history for Hunter’s Moon with the eccentric bestselling romance author Margot Willoughby, her daughter Phoebe who creates fabulous fashion designs from the dining table and handsome son Alexander who is very much the dashing man about town. These parts of the story had a brilliant ‘Mad Men’ feel to them and I loved the contrast between the chaotic Willoghbys and Sally who just wants to put everything in order and create a homely atmosphere following the heartbreaks of her own past.

In the present Belinda is also coming to terms with past events that have left her heart bruised. I loved her dedication to her career and the boutique business that she has built from scratch and I was in heaven with all of the wonderful decor and design details of the houses that Belinda sells and her attention to detail – I only wish she was real and could find me my dream home!

Veronica Henry builds this story beautifully with events in the past and present bringing dramatic surprises and keeping me as a reader on my toes! Both parts of the story have excellent pace and plenty of to keep the reader thinking and each time the narrative moved between past and present I was left eager to find out what happened next so I flew through this book – I didn’t want it to end but I couldn’t put it down!

Belinda’s story runs perfectly alongside the story of Hunter’s Moon and Sally’s story in the past and I loved how the two stories came together as the book concluded. The characters are believable and interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them, especially Belinda and Sally. The Forever House is an entertaining, heartening read about family and the special places that we call home and I highly recommend adding it to your bookshelves!

5/5

The Forever House is out now in paperback, ebook and audio formats from Orion.

Find out more about Veronica Henry and her writing at: http://www.veronicahenry.co.uk/

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review  copy of this book.

A cup of tea with: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

17 May

Today I’m launching something new! I was contacted by the lovely people at Adagio Teas and they proposed a rather fab idea; that I pair some of the books I read with their teas! Who doesn’t love a good cuppa when they curl up with a book so of course I jumped at the chance and my new feature ‘A Cup of Tea With…’ is born!

I must admit, to this point I’ve not been very adventurous when it comes to tea – its usually a good strong cup of the Yorkshire variety and the occasional foray into green or herbal teas so when I opened the box of samples that Adagio sent me, it was like stepping into a whole new world and I’m loving it and so are my tastebuds!

The Tea: Earl Grey Moonlight 

IMG_8024

For this review I’ve paired Ashley Poston’s Geekerella with Adagio’s Earl Grey Moonlight.  This tea smells and looks amazing and I’m pleased to say it tastes just as good! It’s got a wonderfully creamy vanilla scent and was lovely to drink – I truly am converted! I chose to pair it with Geekerella partly because of the name – Moonlight fits perfectly both with the Cinderella and sci-fi fandom theme of the book and also  because this is such a clever surprising story and I felt the same about this tea :-)

The Book: Geekerella by Ashley Postongeekerella

Geekerella is one of my favourite books of the year so far. It’s quirky, funny, romantic and original and I fell in love with the two lead characters. This is a very clever retelling of the fairytale Cinderella – it stays true to the original story but is different enough to keep the reader guessing and I loved that it had a story within a story with the world of Starfleet and the story of Prince Carmindor.

Ashley Posten has created a new sci-fi fandom for this book; the Starfleet fans are as passionate, committed and loyal as any other fandoms and Starfleet with it’s ‘Look to the Stars. Aim. Ignite’ call to action sits believably amongst the scifi series’ like Starwars and Startrek that we know so well already. Ashley has crafted a fabulous and uplifting love letter to fans everywhere and I was enchanted by the story.

Seventeen year old Elle grew up on Starfleet. Her parents were superfans – her Dad even started his own Con dedicated to his passion. Having sadly lost both parents too young, we meet Elle as she is living with her stepmom and twin stepsisters in a miserable existence (you know the story).  Elle has a secret passion and is one of the leading Starfleet bloggers with her blog Rebelgunner read by thousands. When a big screen reboot of the series is commissioned and teen heart throb Darien Freeman is chosen to play the male lead Prince Carmindor Elle writes a scathing blog post in reaction sharing many fans’ thoughts that the producers have gone for heartthrob over a true believer.

Darien has his own set of problems. He’s recently found fame in TV series Sunset Cove but wants to break onto the big screen and Starfleet is the perfect way for him to do that but can he live up to the fans and his own expectations? Darien also has a secret; he’s a massive Starfleet fan; this is the role of his dreams but will his controlling father and the fickle movie industry let him be who he wants to be?

Narrated in turn by Elle and Darien, the story had me gripped and I so wanted them to both find their happy ever after! As the Cosplay contest approaches both will get a lot more than they bargained for! There are a lot of wonderful heartfelt truths in this book and it’s also a brilliantly diverse read with more than a few surprises up its sleeve as Elle enlists her Magic Pumpkin co worker (the brilliantly named Sage) to help her.

If you’re looking for a book that is sweet, geeky, romantic and clever, this is the one that you should be reading this summer!

5/5

Geekerella is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Quirk books.

Find out more about Ashley and her writing at: http://www.ashposton.com/

I’d like to thank Jamie for sending me a copy of this book to review.

I’d also like to thank Danielle at Adagio Teas for providing the tea that accompanied this review! Do check out the ‘Fandoms’ section of the Adagio website for some brilliantly fandom inspired teas: http://www.adagiotea.co.uk/signature_blend/fandoms.html

 

Book review: Catch Me If You Cannes by Lisa Dickenson

10 May

9780751565171Jess has decided it’s time to get out of her comfort zone and live a little. So when her best friend Bryony, a journalist on a gossip magazine, is sent to cover the Cannes Film Festival, Jess decides to seize the day and go along for the ride. Two weeks of sun, glamour and exclusive entry into celeb-filled parties is just the kind of adventure Jess needs.

Reality soon bites though when Jess and Bryony find they’re staying in a dingy hotel far away from all the action and Bryony’s expenses budget barely covers a glass of local wine. Undeterred, the two women are determined to live like the elite and enjoy one fancy night out to begin their holiday. So what if they have to tell a few white lies along the way? It’s just this once. No harm done . . . right?

Are you looking for a little escape? Well, I have the perfect escape right here for you – and you don’t even have to move to enjoy it! Lisa Dickenson’s sunny new novel, Catch Me If You Cannes has just been released in paperback format. The novel was originally released as a four part serial in ebook format and has now been packaged up with this fab summery cover, just in time for some holiday reading!

Last summer Lisa took us to Italy with You Had Me At Merlot and this year we’re heading to the South of France with Jess and Bryony for a fun and funny adventure at the Cannes Film Festival. With two fabulously funny leading ladies, a potential love interest (or two) and is buckets of quick wit and spur of the moment adventure this book is so much fun!

Lisa is great at creating characters that will make you laugh but also have more than just fun banter going on underneath and as I read this book and learned a little of each girl’s history, I took them both to my heart.  Jess runs a cafe in Cornwall and is taking the opportunity to escape some of the worries that have been preoccupying her lately by escaping for a holiday with her best friend.

Bryony is more than happy to have her friend along for the ride as she sets out to report on the film festival for the gossip mag that she works for whilst dreaming of the day that she’ll be taken seriously as a journalist. From horrible bosses, feeling stuck in a rut, dealing with failed romances and wondering what the future holds, Lisa hits on issues all readers will identify with whilst keeping the story light and making us laugh.

As the girls seize the chance to live a glamerous life of cocktails, parties and beautiful places and people for just a night or two they are forced to throw in a few little white lies. As the fibs build, Jess and Bryony find themselves caught in a number of tricky situations that I had no idea how the were going to get out of and kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.

The descriptions of Cannes and the surrounding areas made me wish I could go there and a visit to the playground of the rich and famous, Monaco also features. As a reader who loves travel and discovering new places, I really enjoyed the descriptions of beautiful new places. As Jess gets to know hunky love interest Leo, the exotic locations couldn’t provide a better backdrop and combined with a little mystery the story really sparkles and has some excellent twists.

Lisa certainly knows how to write a killer one-liner and Catch Me If You Cannes is full of them – I defy anyone to not smile while reading this book. I loved enjoying sunshine, smiles, glamour and romance with Jess and Bryony at the Cannes Film Festival and the ending of the book was the icing on the cake!

5/5

Catch Me If You Cannes is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Sphere.

Find out more about Lisa and her books at: http://www.lisadickenson.com/

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Book review: The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick

9 May

returning tideTwo sisters and one betrayal that will carry across generations . . .

In wartime Cornwall, 1943, a story between two sisters begins – the story of Adele and Amelia, and the heart-breaking betrayal that will divide them forever. Decades later, the effects of one reckless act still echo – but how long will it be until their past returns?

The Returning Tide is something a little bit new for Liz Fenwick; her first departure into historical fiction. The novel is a time slip set partly in the present and partly during World War Two. It’s also set across two continents with characters from England and America which adds an extra dimension to the puzzle of how past and present are connected.

Liz’s trademark Cornish and coastal settings are of course breathtakingly present and add beautifully to the poignancy of the story with the natural beauty of England’s coast contrasting sharply with the wartime events of the story. I love wartime historical fiction and I was fascinated by the story that Liz uncovers in The Returning Tide having never given much consideration to coastal defences during the war. The story is all the more striking for being partly based on the recollections of one of Liz Fenwick’s relatives.

In the present we meet Lara who journeys to Cornwall from Cape Cod following the death of her beloved grandfather to find out more about her English family connection and solve the mystery of his final word the name ‘Adele’. In Cornwall Peta is preparing for her wedding which will take place in the family home: Windward. As the preparations play out, her grandmother recalls an earlier wedding and the heartbreak it caused her. As she dwells on the events of the past we go back with her to relive them and I was completely swept up in this story which has romance, adventure and drama. Love, heartbreak and family mysteries woven into it. 

Liz has created a complex and varied plot that kept me guessing as to exactly what had happened between twins Adele and Amelia. Told partly in letters between the two, Liz writes with emotion and I felt like I really was reading history. I part read and part listened to the audio version of this book and it is as beautifully narrated in the audio version as it is written. I do hope Liz decides to write more historical fiction as these were my favourite parts of the book. As past and present come together there is both regret and hope in this bittersweet story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading as the actions of the past and the full truth were finally revealed.

4/5

The Returning Tide is out now in paperback, audio and ebook formats from Orion.

Find out more about Liz and her writing at: http://lizfenwick.com/

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

 

 

Author interview: Fiona Harper

7 May

I’m delighted to welcome Fiona Harper to One More Page today to talk about the inspiration for her latest novel, The Other Us. Fiona’s first book was published in 2006 and The Other Us is her twenty-fifth novel. She started her career writing heartfelt but humorous romances for Mills & Boon, but now writes romantic comedies and feel-good women’s fiction for Harper Collins, as part of their HQ imprint.

She is a previous winner of the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award, has had five books shortlisted for an RNA Award and won the ‘Best Short Romance’ at the Festival of Romance three years’ running. Fiona lives in London with her husband and two teenage daughters. Welcome Fiona!

Fiona HarperWhat was your inspiration for writing The Other Us?

I first had the idea for this book more than a decade ago – a seedling of an idea about following one woman through different possible futures to see if the grass really was greener on the other side of the fence. It rumbled around in my head for all that time until finally I just had to write it! It was so long ago, I can’t remember exactly what sparked it, but maybe a moment of personal reflection when I was wondering what my life would be like if I’d made different choices.

This is your 25th book, does it become easier or harder to think of plots?

Funnily enough, I think it’s easier now than it used to be. I think I’ve trained myself not only to have my story radar switched on, searching for little interesting nuggets to store away for later use. (That makes me sound a bit like a story ‘squirrel’ and I suppose I am!) Also, I have learned to write these snippets of ideas down. I always think I’ll remember them, but I discovered that they can easily flit away and be forgotten – a bit like a dream that was clear just after waking but fades throughout the day.

How did the idea for this book develop?

Initially, I had decided to just watch Maggie, my main character, in three different lives with three different men and see how each turned out, but I felt that maybe three realities would get confusing, so I whittled it down to two. As I was developing it to show my editor, I decided it might be interesting to send forty-something Maggie back in time, and then I thought it would be a funny opening scene if, when that happened, she thought she’d died and gone to heaven. Somehow, from that I arrived at the idea of letting her be fully conscious of her hopping between the two lives, rather than just seeing how the two realities would have played out.

What have you learnt from writing 25 books?

I’ve learnt loads, but these are the top three important things:

  1. That I need to write even when I don’t feel like it, and that the first ten minutes of making myself sit in the chair and type will be like wading through porridge, but if I keep going suddenly the creative urge will kick in and the words will start to flow.
  2. That about 25% of the way through I will get stuck and that when I reach the halfway point I will think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written and that I should flush it down the toilet. However, I know now I hit these stumbling blocks in every single book and that I should ignore those thoughts and just keep writing.
  3. That each book is different and that I learn something new about writing with each one – wish I’d kept a note of exactly what, though, because sometimes that would come in really handy!

Thank you Fiona!

The Other Us is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

The Other UsIf you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?

Forty-something Maggie is struggling to come to terms with her only child flying the nest. Without her daughter in the house, she’s beginning to realise that her life, and her marriage to her husband Dan is more than a little stale.

When she sees a post on Facebook about a university reunion, her mind wanders back to Jude Hanson – a brief university fling. The same night that Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him. How different might her life have been if she had broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer?

One morning, the fantasy turns into a reality and Maggie wakes up in 1992, aged twenty-one and given the chance to make all those decisions again. 

Is Maggie brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?

Two men and two very different possible futures. But does Maggie only have one chance at happiness?

Find out more about Fiona and her writing at: http://www.fionaharper.com/home

Follow Fiona on Twitter @FiHarper_Author

Book review: The Hourglass by Tracy Rees

5 May

hourglass2014. Nora has always taken success for granted, until suddenly her life begins to fall apart. Troubled by anxiety and nightmares, she finds herself drawn to the sweeping beaches of Tenby, a place she’s only been once before. Together with a local girl she rents a beautiful townhouse and slowly begins to settle in to her new life. But Tenby hides a secret, and Nora will soon discover that this little town by the sea has the power to heal even the most painful memories.

1950. Chloe visits Tenby every summer. She stays with relatives, and spends the long, idyllic days on the beach. Every year is the same, until she meets a glamorous older boy and is instantly smitten. But on the night of their first date, Chloe comes to a realisation, the aftermath of which could haunt her forever.

The Hourglass is a moving novel about finding love even after it seems too late and the healing power of a magical place by the sea.

I read my first Tracy Rees book, Florence Gracelast year and absolutely loved it so I was very excited to be sent a copy of Tracy’s new novel, The Hourglass. Tracy’s two previous books have both been historical novels so The Hourglass is a little bit of a new direction as it’s set partly in the present (2014) and partly in the 1950s. I wondered how Tracy’s writing would move to the timeslip format and I have to say she’s aced it!

Tracy has a wonderful way of making you feel that you’re ‘there’ in her writing, whether ‘there’ is a desolate moor in the 1700s or a sunny beach in 1950s and I was completely swept up in her descriptions of Tenby in the 1950s and today. The Hourglass follows the stories of Chloe and Nora. Chloe is Welsh a teenager who visits her Auntie Susan in Tenby for three weeks every summer starting when she’s ten.

Rees perfectly captures the excitement of a summer seaside holiday from a bygone era and I loved following each summer Chloe as she grew up, went to the much coveted ‘Tenby Teens’ dances and spent long happy days exploring with her best friend Llew. Tracey evokes an era of Famous Five style adventures and I couldn’t get enough of these parts of the book.

In contrast, Nora as we meet her is very unhappy. She’s just about to turn 40 and is very successful at her job as an administrator for the history department of a big London University, has recently dumped her boyfriend and is suffering from severe anxiety attacks. Her free-spirited mother Jasmine thinks she’s having some sort of mid-life crisis and for the first time their close relationship begins to falter. Nora finds herself wishing for open beaches and space and finds herself drawn to Tenby, a place that she visited once as a child.

I could identify so much with Nora; for me, turning forty earlier in the year has made me evaluate where I am in life and where I’m going! My life is very different to Nora’s but I loved that Tracy captured that sense of a turning point in a book and coincidentally captured my own desire to live by the sea (which has been stronger than every this year) rather than to remain in London forever!

As regular readers will know, I love books set by the sea and especially the British seaside so the setting for this book ticked all the boxes for me and I enjoyed how Tracy captured the wonderful sense of calm that can come with being at the coast. As Nora begins her own adventure in Tenby, the story moves back and forth between her story and Chloe’s and links begin to emerge. The Hourglass is very cleverly written to drip feed clues to the linkages between the stories as the novel progresses and I was absolutely hooked!

As with all good books, on the one hand I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to Chloe all those years ago and what would happen to Nora in the present but I also didn’t want the story to end! I said in my review of Florence Grace that the book had a philosophical air to it and was peppered with timeless and insightful advice and the same is true of The Hourglass.

The Hourglass has gone straight onto my list of favourite books of 2017 and I can’t wait for more from Tracy!

5/5

The Hourglass is out now in  paperback, ebook and audio formats from Quercus.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.