Tag Archives: summer reads

Book review: Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses by Carole Matthews

18 Apr

paper hearts cover

Christie Chapman is a single working mother who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job in London and looking after her teenage son, Finn.

It can be tough just getting through the day but Christie has always found comfort in her love of crafting and any spare time she has is spent in her parents’ summerhouse working on her beautiful creations. From intricately designed birthday cards to personalised gifts, Christie’s flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it’s not long before opportunity comes knocking. 

All of a sudden Christie sees a different future for her and Finn – one full of hope and possibility, and if the handsome Max Alexander is to be believed, one full of love too. It’s all there for the taking.
And then, all of sudden, Christie’s world is turned upside down.

Christie knows that something has to give, but what will she choose? Will she give up her dreams and the chance of real love? What price will she pay for doing the right thing? Can Christie find her happy ending in . . . Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           I’ve read a number of Carole Matthews’ books over the years and they are always lovely, heartwarming reads but Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is, for me, Carole’s best book yet. It has all the characteristics that I love in a good story; realistic characters that I could root for, a leading lady that I could identify with, lovely family relationships, emotional ups and downs and of course, a little romance. Not to mention the crafting – I loved learning about paper craft from Christie’s story and crafting fans will definitely enjoy this book.

Christie endeared herself to me straight away and I liked her more the more I read. She’s a single mum to fifteen year old Finn and the pair have a very close bond which was a joy to read. I loved that Christie is around the same age as me and as she did the dreaded commute into London each day, there was a lot that I could identify with. Christie has a great sense of humour as she tries to keep on top of holding down a full time job at a city law firm and caring for Finn who has been having some health problems and I admired her determination. Carole has based the character on her real life friend ‘Christine’ and her love and admiration for her and her son shines through on the pages.

Christie’s support network is wonderful and she has a brilliant relationship with her parents who live nearby. It was so lovely to read a story with such a positive emphasis on family – I wanted to move in with Christie’s Mum and Dad as I read! As Christie gets the opportunity to take her craft hobby to the next level by working with an American company, her family and friends rally round to support her – her law firm boss Robyn is another brilliantly written character who got a big thumbs up from me.

But just as things begin to look up, there’s more bad news on the way and this book certainly played with my emotions – it was only too easy to put myself in Christie’s shoes and to think how I’d feel if one of my sons was in Finn’s situation. I was on the edge of my seat rooting for both Finn and Christie to have the happy ending they deserved.

In addition to the family drama, Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses has a wonderful romantic thread to it too as Christie meets handsome American CEO Max and her fellow commuter Henry and they both show an interest in her. I loved Christie for staying true to herself as both men vied for her attention and Carole conjures up some seriously romantic ‘dates’ in very glamorous locations whilst keeping the reader guessing!

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is a fab and inspiring read about weathering the many ups and downs that life can throw at us – a lovely uplifting read that left me with a smile on my face.

5/5

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is out now in paperback, ebook and audio formats from Sphere.

Check out Carole’s fab website for more information on her books and the background to this story: http://www.carolematthews.com/

Please do check out the other stops on the blog tour and stop by here again later today for the chance to win a copy of this lovely book!

Guest post: My out-of-the-box son, Giliam Johan by Elsa Winckler

30 Mar

Today I’m very excited to be the first host of Elsa Winckler’s blog tour for her new novel, The Whisperer. Elsa has been reading love stories for as long as she can remember and when she ‘met’ the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James and The Brontë sisters during her Honours studies, she was hooked for life.

Elsa married her college boyfriend and soul mate and after forty-one years, three interesting and wonderful children and three beautiful grandchildren, he still makes her weak in the knees. They are fortunate to live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty’s Bay, South Africa, with the ocean a block away and a beautiful mountain right behind them. The Whisperer is Elsa’s debut novel for HarperImpulse – welcome Elsa!

11050805_958380304240339_6859404579255618787_o (1)I have dedicated this story to our second son, Giliam Johan. He was the one who taught me to think outside the box.

Our oldest son was a text book baby. At the time I had a baby book I consulted whenever I had a problem with him and whatever advice I got, worked. So I thought, hey, I can do this again, let’s have another baby. So two years later, Johan arrived. And nothing in any of the many, many baby books that I read, helped. What worked for number one, simply didn’t work for him.

Johan was a curious, busy, creative little boy. In grade one he was chosen to play Spick, a naughty kid who lives on the moon. And when he walked on to that primary school stage, something magical happened. That was what he was suppose to do for the rest of his life, I knew.

As a teenager, he caused me many a sleepless night. And that curiosity I mentioned? Well, he was curious about just about everything. He challenged our ideas of how things were supposed to be and we had many, many stand-up fights.

He has a heart for the marginalized, for anyone who differs from the rest. He doesn’t see colour, size or position, he treats everyone the same. We finally came to accept he does things differently, because in Thoreau’s words, he hears a different drummer. And it took me a long while ‘to let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.’

And when I finally stopped trying to get him to fit into a box, I was able to learn from him. And one of the things knowing him taught me was that we cannot explain everything, some things just are. And talking about doing things differently, at the moment he teaches English in China. I would have liked for him to be closer, to get that big role he dreamt about when he was little, but he’s doing his own thing in his own way. Outside the box.

Not everyone will believe in Cilla’s intuition, in her ability to communicate with animals. Cameron struggled with it but when he opened himself up, when he finally listened to his instinct, he was able to let go of his fears.

So I hope you can let go of your ideas of how things are supposed to work, and enjoy Cilla and Camerons’ story!

The Whisperer is out now in ebook formats from HarperImpulse

Winckler_Whisperer_EbookLoving him could destroy her…
High school teacher Cilla Stevens has always been different, especially in how she connects with animals. When she calms a stray dog during an incident at school, she’s asked to help a nearby farm with a difficult horse.Cameron Rahl has had a very different relationship with animals since his mother died in a horse riding accident. But now he’s inherited his family’s farm, he’s determined to never let anyone affect him that way again.Until he meets Cilla. He tries to stay away from the gorgeous horse whisperer with the potential to tame him, but something keeps pulling him close. And as much as Cilla tells herself she can keep it casual, she knows they’re too connected to be ‘just a fling.’Will Cilla’s heart win out? Or will it take history repeating itself for Cameron to realise just how much he needs her?

Find out more about Elsa and her writing at: http://elsawinckler.com/

Exclusive cover reveal! Catch Me If You Cannes by Lisa Dickenson

18 Jan

I’m a HUGE fan of Lisa Dickenson’s laugh out loud rom-coms so I was VERY excited to be asked if I’d like to reveal the gorgeous new cover for the paperback release of Catch Me If You Cannes. Of course I said yes so here without further ado is the beautifully sunny new cover for this fabulous book which will be published by Sphere on 4th May!

Cannes

 

WARNING: reading Catch Me If You Cannes may result in embarrassing outbursts of belly-aching laughter on public transport. Romantic, funny and full of Cannes Film Festival magic, it’s perfect for fans of Giovanna Fletcher, Paige Toon and  Mhairi McFarlane.

Jess 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?

Full of hilarious one-liners, sparkling blue seas and plenty of romantic moments, Catch Me If You Cannes is the story of two friends, a few white lies and one very sticky situation . . .

lisa dickensonLisa Dickenson is the pseudonym for Beyoncé. OK, FINE, THAT’S NOT TRUE.

Lisa lives by the Devon seaside, stuffing cream teas in the gobs of anyone who comes to visit, and writing stuff down that she hopes is funny.  Her first novel was the copyright-infringing Sweet Valley Twins: The Twins Holiday Horror, which she wrote in primary school and gave up on after five pages. Twenty-ish years later Lisa went on to be a *real author* and wrote the Novelicious Debut of the Year, The Twelve Dates of Christmas. In summer 2016 out popped You Had Me at Merlot, and in winter 2016 she released the fabulous Mistletoe on 34th Street. Catch Me if You Cannes will be her fourth book available in paperback.

Chat to Lisa (and tell her how much you love her new cover!) at:

www.lisadickenson.com
Twitter @LisaWritesStuff
Facebook /LisaWritesStuff
Instagram lisawritesstuff

Book review: Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

11 Jan

meet me at beachcomber bayLove is in the air in St Carys, but you’d never know it – the people of this seaside town are very good at keeping secrets…

The man Clemency loves belongs to someone else. She has to hide her true feelings – but when she ropes in an unsuspecting friend to help, wires start to get crossed.

For the first time in Ronan’s life his charm has failed him in winning over the woman he wants. Loving her from afar appears to be his only option.

Belle seems to have the perfect boyfriend, but something isn’t quite right. And now a long-buried secret is slowly rising to the surface.

The truth has a funny way of revealing itself, and when it does St Carys will be a very different place indeed…

Meet me at Beachcomber Bay is my favourite of Jill Mansell’s novels to date. As regular readers will know, I do LOVE a seaside set novel and Beachcomber Bay gets top marks for a sunny seaside read with romance, heartwarming storylines and lovely characters. The only downside of reading a book like this as I sat on a crowded commuter train in rainy London is that it made me want to give it all up and move to the seaside even more than usual!

Clemency and Belle are stepsisters and are basically chalk and cheese. Clem is the type of character that I’d like to be friends with – the opening scenes with Clem at the airport gift shop and then on a plane home to England, show her personality very well and I couldn’t help but smile as I read. A brief but ultimately doomed connection with a handsome stranger leaves Clem feeling more than a little annoyed but I loved that in the first few chapters Jill clearly demonstrates that Clem does not suffer fools gladly!

The story then skips forward three years to find Clem living back in her hometown of St Carys in Cornwall. Now I’ve read many books in recent years set in Cornish seaside towns and I constantly marvel at the ability of authors to come up with something unique and new. But Jill Mansell has certainly done that and as I met Clem’s fellow estate agent Ronan, postwoman Kate and artist Marina, I couldn’t help fall in love with St Carys and its community. Jill’s characters are so believable and I was soon caught up in the different story lines involving them. When Bell flies (literally) into town, the tension moves up a notch as her rich new boyfriend looks for a place to live and sets off a life-changing turn of events for Clem and her friends.

As much as this is Clem and Belle’s story it’s also Ronan, Marina, Sam and Kate’s stories and for once in a novel I actually liked all of the leading characters – even Belle who took a little while to grow on me! Jill really shows her experience in crafting a story that will keep the reader guessing and I loved that the surprises just kept coming. No spoilers here but I will say that I could not have predicted the endings and I spent a large part of the book wondering if the characters that I wanted to end up together would actually do that!

Beachcomber Bay is just the sort of feelgood read that you need at this time of year to chase away the January blues. I’ve just one thing left to add – Jill,  please can we have a follow up?!

5/5

Meet me at Beachcomber Bay is released on 12th January in hardback, ebook and audio formats by Headline.

Find out more about Jill Mansell and her novels at: http://jillmansell.co.uk/

Exclusive extract: Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

2 Aug

I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for Susan Wiggs’ new release, Family Tree, today. Susan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lakeshore Chronicles series which I absolutely love. She is the proud recipient of three RITA awards for Lakeside Cottage, Lord of the Night and The Mistress, and is often a finalist for the prestigious award. She lives in Washington. Later today I’ll be sharing my review of this lovely book but first I have an exclusive extract to share with you.

family treeAnnie Rush seems to have it all, a handsome husband and their fabulous life in Manhattan. But all of that is snatched away when she is involved is a life-changing accident. Awakening from a coma a year later, Annie finds that the life she knew has crumbled away.

In the throes of grief, Annie grasps her new reality – she has to start over from scratch, which means heading home. Annie couldn’t wait to escape the small town where she grew up, but now she finds herself warming to the close-knit community and its homespun values.

There’s also a face from the distant past − Fletcher Wyndham − and all the reasons she’s never quite forgotten him come flooding back. Annie expects to pull herself together and return to the city, but fate has other plans …

Chapter 2

So, Dad,” said Teddy, swiveling around on the kitchen barstool, “if the water buffalo weighs two thousand pounds, how come it doesn’t sink in the mud?”

Fletcher Wyndham glanced at the show his son was watching, an unlikely choice for a ten-year- old kid, but Teddy had taken a shine to The Key Ingredient. Most people in Switchback, Vermont, tuned in to the cooking show, not because of the chef or the hot blond cohost. No, the reason was behind the scenes—a quick blip in the credits that rolled while the slightly annoying theme song played.

Her name was Annie Rush—the producer.

The most popular cooking show on TV was her brainchild, and she’d been born and raised in Switchback. Teddy’s fourth-grade teacher had gone to school with Annie. A while back, the show had filmed an episode right here in town, though Fletcher had kept his distance from the production. Since then, Annie held celebrity status, even though she didn’t appear on camera.

That was just as well, Fletcher decided. Seeing her on TV every week would drive him nuts. “Good question, buddy,” he said to his son. “That one looks like he’s walking on water.”

Teddy rolled his eyes. “It’s not a guy buffalo. It’s a girl buffalo. They make mozzarella cheese from the milk.”

“Then why not call it a milk buffalo?”

“’Cause it lives in the water. Duh.”

“Amazing what you can learn from watching TV.”

“Yeah, you should let me watch more.”

“Dream on,” said Fletcher.

“Mom lets me watch as much as I want.”

And there it was. Evidence that Teddy had officially joined a club no kid wanted to belong to—confused kids of divorced parents.

Looking around the chaos of the house they’d just moved into, Fletcher pondered an oft-asked question: What the hell happened to my life?

He was able to precisely locate the turning point. A single night of too much beer and too little judgment had set him on a path that had changed every plan he’d ever made.

Yet when he looked into his son’s face, he did not have a single regret. Teddy had come into the world a squalling, red-faced, needy bundle of noise, and Fletcher’s reaction had not been love at first sight. It had been fear at first sight. He wasn’t afraid of the baby. He was afraid of failing him. Afraid to do something that would screw up this tiny, perfect, helpless human.

There was only one choice he could make. He had shoved aside the fear. He had given his entire self to Teddy, driven by a powerful sense of mission and a love like nothing he’d ever felt before. Now Teddy was in fifth grade, ridiculously cute, athletic, goofy, and sweet. Sometimes, he was a total pain in the ass. Yet every moment of every day, he was the center of Fletcher’s universe.

Teddy had always been a happy kid. The kind of happy that made Fletcher want to enclose him in a protective bubble. Now Fletcher realized that, despite his intentions, the bubble had been pierced. The end of his marriage had been a long time coming, and he knew the transition was hard on Teddy. Fletcher wished he could have spared his son the pain and confusion, but he needed to end it in order to breathe again. He only hoped that one day Teddy would understand.

“The water buffalo is a remarkable feat of nature’s engineering,” said the cohost of The Key Ingredient, who served as the sidekick of the life-support system for an ego, aka Martin Harlow.

“Why is that, Melissa?” asked the host in a phony voice.

She gestured at the sad-looking buffalo, standing in a small pen against a none-too- subtle computer-generated swamp. “Well, the animal’s wide hooves allow her to walk on extremely soft surfaces without sinking.”

The host stroked his chin. “Good point. You know, when I was a kid, I thought I had a fifty percent chance of drowning in quicksand, because it happened so much in the movies.”

The blonde laughed and shook back her hair. “We’re glad you didn’t!”

Fletcher winced. “Hey, buddy, give me a hand with the unpacking, will you?”

The big items had all been delivered, but there were several loads of unopened boxes.

“The show’s almost over. I want to see how the cheese turns out.”

“The suspense must be killing you,” said Fletcher. “Hey, you know what they make with the

mozzarella cheese?”

“Pizza! Can we order pizza tonight?”

“Sure. Or we could just eat the leftover pizza from last night.”

“It’s better fresh.”

“Good point. I’ll call after we unpack two more boxes. Deal?”

“Yeah,” Teddy said with a quick fist pump.

The new house had everything Fletcher had once envisioned, back when he’d had someone to dream with—a big kitchen open to the rest of the house. If he knew how to cook, delicious things would happen here. But the person who made the delicious things was long gone from his life. Still the old dream lingered, leading Fletcher to this particular house, a New England classic a century old. It had a fireplace and a room with enough bookshelves to be called a library. There was a back porch with a swing he’d spent the afternoon putting together, and it was not just any swing, but a big, comfortable one with cushions large enough for a fine nap—a swing he’d been picturing for more than a decade.

They tackled a couple of boxes of books. Teddy was quiet for a while as he shelved them. Then he held up one of the books. “Why’s it called Lord of the Flies?”

“Because it’s awesome,” Fletcher said.

“Okay, but why is it called that?”

“You’ll find out when you’re older.”

“Is it something dirty I’m not supposed to know about?”

“It’s filthy dirty.”

“Mom would have a cow if I told her you had a dirty book.”

“Great. Here’s a thought. Don’t tell her.”

Teddy put the book on the shelf, then added a few more to the collection. “So, Dad?”

“Yeah, buddy?”

“Is this really where we live now?” He looked around the room, his eyes two saucers of hurt.

Fletcher nodded. “This is where we live.”

“Forever and ever?”

“Yep.”

“That’s a long time.”

“It is.”

“So when I tell my friends to come over to my house, will they come to this one or our other house?”

There was no our anymore. Celia had taken possession of the custom-built place west of town.

He stopped shelving books and turned to Teddy. “Wherever you are, that’s home.”

They worked together, putting up the last of the books. Fletcher stepped back, liking the balance of the bookcases flanking the fireplace, the breeze from the back porch stirring the chains of the swing.

The only thing missing was the one person who had shared the dream with him.

Family Tree is out now in paperback, ebook and audio formats from HarperCollins.

Find out more about Susan and her writing at: http://www.susanwiggs.com/

Serial spotlight: Sunshine and Secrets: Willow Cottage Part One by Bella Osborne

17 Jul

It’s the final stop of the Willow Cottage blog tour today and I’m reviewing part one of the book which has just been released as part of my serial spotlight. Author Bella Osborne has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. In 2016, her debut novel,  It Started At Sunset Cottage, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award. Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. For more about Bella, visit her website at www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on Twitter – @osborne_bella

willow cottageBeth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

I’m a big fan of serialised novels and when I saw that Bella Osborne was adding her name to the fab list of authors that have written serials recently, I was very excited. If you’re a fan of Cathy Bramley, Cressida McLaughlin and Rachael Lucas then you should definitely give Willow Cottage a try.

The story focuses on Beth and her six year old son Leo. Beth is trying to escape and wins the bidding for the idyllic-sounding Willow Cottage in a Cotswolds village. As might be expected when bidding on a house that she hasn’t seen, the reality is very different to the dream country escape that Beth had imagined. Beth is very much the city girl as she arrives at the cottage and quite a demanding city girl at that! If I’m honest, I wasn’t too sure about the emphasis that her character puts on the wonders of her London life where everything is available but it did serve to make a strong contrast to village life!

Beth won me over with her relationship with little Leo and she clearly wants to make the best life for her son. I also liked the way that she got on and made the best of the situation – her stubbornness and determination to sound like she knows what she’s talking about lead to some very funny moments and part one of Willow Cottage strikes a good balance between humour and the more serious side of the story. There are lots of questions raised which definitely make me want to read the next part of this book.

There’s also an interesting second thread to the story featuring Beth’s best friend Carly and her relationship with her boyfriend. It was very refreshing to have a deaf character in a romantic lead role and I thought this aspect of the story was very well done – although I didn’t think Carly’s treatment of him was particularly nice! It will be interesting to see how that works out as the series progresses!

I’m much more hopeful for Beth’s relationships in the village as there are some fab characters with a lot more story to tell and I’m hoping for a little romance maybe with Jack!

A good start to a new ‘seasonal’ series and I’m already looking forward to the Christmassy episode which will be released in October!

4/5

Sunshine and Secrets: Willow Cottage Part One is out now in ebook formats.

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

 

Guest post: The appeal of seaside locations by Lisa Jewell

16 Jul

Today I’m delighted to welcome Lisa Jewell to One More Page to talk about the coastal setting for her new novel, I Found You and why seaside locations appeal so much. I’ve been a huge fan of Lisa’s books for many years so it’s a real treat to have her visiting the blog today.

Lisa had always planned to write her first book when she was fifty. In fact, she wrote it when she was twenty-seven and had just been made redundant from her job as a secretary. Inspired by Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, a book about young people just like her who lived in London, she wrote the first three chapters of what was to become her first novel, Ralph’s Party. It went on to become the bestselling debut novel of 1998. Thirteen bestselling novels later, she lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Lisa writes every day in a local cafe where she can drink coffee, people-watch, and, without access to the internet, actually get some work done. Welcome Lisa!

Lisa+Jewell (3)Considering I’m known primarily as a ‘London’ writer, I’ve used a fair few seaside settings. I chose Broadstairs in Kent as Bee Bearhorn’s secret hideout in One Hit Wonder without ever having visited the place. By the time I wrote the Truth About Melody Browne, two of my old London friends were living in Broadstairs and I was pretty familiar with the town so it seemed natural to choose it as the setting for Melody’s forgotten childhood. Ralph goes to visit Smith in LA in After the Party and again, I chose a seaside setting for those scenes. In Before I Met You, Betty moved to Arlette’s clifftop house on Guernsey, overlooking the English Channel, and Adrian’s first wife, Susie, from The Third Wife lives in a cottage in Hove. So clearly I have a penchant for writing about coastal locations, and when I started thinking about I Found You and realised that my main character is found sitting on a beach I did actually think to myself; really? Can I really write another seaside-set book?

And that was when I remembered a town I’d visited briefly on a coastal road trip many years ago; Robin Hood’s Bay in East Yorkshire, a higgledy-piggledy town of tiny ancient cottages, spilling down into the mouth of a sparkling bay. It occurred to me that I’d never set a book in the north of England and that really, it was about time! I couldn’t organise a research trip to Robin Hood’s Bay so I decided to create my own fictional bay. I christened it Riding House Bay and I could see it clearly in my mind’s eye.

Alice’s cottage came first. She’d moved north from Brixton six years earlier, escaping a toxic relationship. She arrived in a hurry and put her Riding House Baymoney down fast and I envisaged the cottage, small and impractical, ceilings too low, cramped rooms, but with this extraordinary view across the sea, the multi-coloured fairly lights slung across the promenade, the ornate Victorian streetlights outside. I had a very strong physical feeling writing about this location; I could smell the salt and the brine, feel my feet slipping against the slimy causeway, hear the pump organ music coming up the coast from the steam fair. As in my last novel, The Girls, where the communal garden was a central character in the story, so too was my little fictional seaside town. We see the town in two time frames; during the height of summer in the flashbacks and then during a cold and windy April in the present day. I loved writing about the contrasts between a small town like that when it is awake and when it is asleep.

I’m writing my fifteenth novel now. So far it is all set in London. But I’ve already managed to send two of my characters on a day trip to Deal in Kent, and now another pair of characters are set to move to rural Ireland. I feel pretty certain that when I start to write those scenes I might just find myself in another fictional seaside town. The lure of the ocean is just too strong, even for a city girl like me.

Thank you for a lovely post Lisa. I grew up not far from Robin Hood’s Bay and now live in London so really miss the seaside. I’m a big fan of visiting coastal locations in the books I read!

I Found You is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats.

i found you‘How long have you been sitting out here?’

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Author interview: Cathy Bramley

8 Jul

Today I’m delighted to be the latest stop on Cathy Bramley’s blog tour for The Plumberry School of Comfort Food. Fellow blogger Zarina interviewed Cathy and the answers to the different questions are appearing each day on the tour stops so please do check out the other blogs that are taking part.

Cathy BramleyCathy is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm, Conditional Love, Wickham Hall and The Plumberry School Of Comfort Food. She lives in a small Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two teenage daughters and Pearl, the Cockerpoo.

Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has always been an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Luckily her husband has now bought her a Kindle with a light, so that’s the end of all that palaver.

Cathy loves to hear from her readers. You can get in touch via her Facebook page or on Twitter.

Cathy Bramley’s quick fire choices:

Reading or writing?

Reading

EBook or paperback?

Paperback

Victoria sandwich or lemon drizzle cake?

A small piece of both

Twitter of Facebook?

Facebook

Ivy Lane, Appleby Farm or Wickham Hall?

Ivy Lane for humour, Appleby Farm for gorgeous Lakeland setting, Wickham Hall for secrets.

Thanks Cathy and Zarina!

PlumberryThe Plumberry School of Comfort Food is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Verity Bloom hasn’t been interested in cooking anything more complicated than the perfect fish finger sandwich, ever since she lost her best friend and baking companion two years ago.

But an opportunity to help a friend lands her right back in the heart of the kitchen. The Plumberry School of Comfort Food is due to open in a few weeks’ time and needs the kind of great ideas that only Verity could cook up. And with new friendships bubbling and a sprinkling of romance in the mix, Verity finally begins to feel like she’s home.

But when tragedy strikes at the very heart of the cookery school, can Verity find the magic ingredient for Plumberry while still writing her own recipe for happiness?

 

Book review: Florence Grace by Tracy Rees

3 Jul

florence graceFlorrie 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 fifteen, 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.

Florence Grace is Tracy Rees’s second novel, following the Richard and Judy bestseller Amy Snow. This is the first of Tracy’s books that I’ve read and I enjoyed it so much that I’ll definitely be reading her other novel as soon as possible. I love historical fiction and Tracy makes a wonderful new addition to the genre. Florence Grace is entertaining, romantic and captivating; a novel that will sweep you away to nineteenth century London and Cornwall and introduce you to characters that you won’t want to leave when the story ends.

Florrie Buckley is an orphan who lives with her Nan on the Cornish moors. The novel follows her journey from childhood to adulthood; sea and countryside to the big city and from having very little to being part of a wealthy and notorious family as she becomes Florence Grace. I loved the contrasts of this novel and immediately took Florrie to my heart. Florrie is a wonderful character; spirited, clever and insightful; adventurous, loving and kind – a stark contrast to many of the other characters in the book.

The descriptions of Cornish moorland are beautiful and Tracy captures the sense of freedom and Florrie’s connection with her homeland beautifully. There’s a touch of magic to this story, very subtly done as Florrie grows up using her senses to read the people she meets and to make the most of the natural world to help those around her through her friendship with Old Rilla. There’s also a philosophical air of timeless and insightful advice to the story that sees Florrie learning lessons in life and love that can equally apply today as to a couple of hundred years ago and I loved this aspect of the book.

A chance meeting with two handsome, rich, but very different brothers begins Florrie’s path towards her fate and two years later, fifteen year old Florrie finds that she is in fact part of the famous Grace family and is soon swept away to London to join them. The London part of Florrie’s story as she joins the Grace family is less Cinderella-style transformation and more dark fairytale as Florrie struggles to accept the rules and demands placed upon her in her new life. The Grace’s are a mysterious and enigmatic group from patriarch Hawker to ethereal Calantha and of course the two very different cousins Sanderson and Turlington and as the book progresses it’s clear that everyone in the family has their secrets.

Florence’s attraction to her rebellious cousin Turlington is brilliantly written and Tracy develops that thread of the story tantalisingly – readers who like their heroes dark and brooding will love Turlingt0n and I was on the edge of my seat as I read wondering what would happen to the pair. As the novel came to its conclusion the pace of the story didn’t let up as Tracy kept the surprises coming! Florence Grace is one of my favourite historical novels of the year so far and I can’t recommend it highly enough for readers looking for an unputdownable book this summer.

5/5

Florence Grace is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Quercus.

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

Author interview: Lisa Dickenson

21 Jun

The sun is shining (at last!) and I’m delighted to welcome Lisa Dickenson to One More Page today to talk about her fabulous summer read You Had Me At Merlot which has just been released in paperback. Lisa was born in the wrong body. She was definitely meant to be Beyoncé. Despite this hardship, she grew up in Devon attempting to write her own, completely copyright-infringing versions of Sweet Valley High, before giving Wales a go for university, and then London a go for the celeb-spotting potential. She’s now back in Devon, living beside the seaside with her husband and forcing cream teas down the mouths of anyone who’ll visit. She is sadly still not Beyoncé.

Lisa’s first novel, The Twelve Dates of Christmas, won the Novelicious Debut of the Year award and was an instant hit with readers who were won over by her wit, charm and naughty sense of humour – she’s got her fingers crossed that everyone feels the same about You Had Me at Merlot. Welcome Lisa!

lisa dickensonI loved reading You Had Me At Merlot when it was released as a serial (read my reviews here!), but for those who haven’t discovered its fabulousness yet, please could you tell us a little about it and your inspiration for it?

Thanks for being there from the start, Amanda!  You’re such a champion :-)

Okay, in a nutshell, You Had Me at Merlot follows two friends who go on a singles holiday to a Tuscan vineyard.  One is excited, one is reluctant, but both are looking forward to some Italian sunshine and some wine.  And as they get to know the other guests, they get to know themselves a little better also.

The novel is set in a vineyard in beautiful Tuscany; how did you go about your research and what was the most interesting fact you found!?

I researched the book before it even existed, by visiting a few vineyards over the past ten years.  So when I started writing a book about wine, the memories all came flooding back.  I also drank a lot of wine, and gazed at Italian holiday brochures, all in the name of research.  The most interesting facts I found out while researching were a) that chili in wine is flippin’ AMAZING, and b) that one of the Assassin’s Creed games is set in a beautiful little medieval village in the Tuscan countryside.

 Laurie persuades Ellie to go on holiday to Italy with her; what are your top 3 tips for holidaying with friends? 

  1. Have lots of nibbles and drinks to consume during frantic chatter (now is not the time to diet).
  2. Pick a place a little out of all of your comfort zones, so one person doesn’t end up feeling like they have to be the holiday-mum/dad.
  3. Laugh and laugh and be kind and complimentary to each other at every opportunity.  Enjoy the sunshine or the snow or the storms and take time to remember why you LOVE these friends.

There are some mouthwatering descriptions of food (and wine!) in You Had Me At Merlot – what would the menu for your merlot 3dideal Italian meal look like?

And I can’t have a pizza starter, pizza main and pizza desert?  FINE.  Mmmm, I love Italian food.  I think the starter would have to be some Parma ham, some hard Italian cheese, some olive oil and garlic breads and chili jam… that kind of thing!  ALL OF IT.  Then pizza would be the main course, because pizza is heaven.  Then affogato – ice cream with espresso poured over the top.  And then a cheeky limoncello to finish up with :-)

Laurie and Ellie made me laugh and I loved their stories; by way of introduction, what would their Twitter Bio’s say?

Wow – good question!

Elle’s would be something like ‘Single and really not bothered about mingling, please stop pity-eyeing me.  Views are my own.’  And Laurie’s would say ‘Cracking photographer.  Always looking for hunky male models.  Master of disguise.’

But whether their profiles would change by the end of the book remains to be seen…

Who was your favourite character to write and did they throw any surprises your way as the story developed?

Lothario George was a fun guy to write because he was so vom-inducing until he showed me his true colours and then I started to kind of love him.  I didn’t know his back story when he first appeared at the vineyard, but he opened the door to me a few glasses of wine in.

And finally … what can we expect next from Lisa Dickenson?

Next up is Mistletoe on 34th Street, which comes out in ebook in September and paperback in October of this year.  And I’m just putting the final touches to it now!

Yay! A new Christmassy book to look forward to! Thanks Lisa!

 

Follow Lisa on Twitter for all her book news and Beyoncé -related chatter: @LisaWritesStuff.

And don’t forget to check out Lisa’s site at: http://www.lisadickenson.com/

9780751561937Elle and Laurie are the last ones standing: they’re single, they’re not having babies any time soon and their weekends aren’t filled with joyful meetings about mortgages. For Elle, this is fine. She likes her independent life, but Laurie wants love and she wants it now.

So when Laurie begs Elle to come with her on a singles holiday to a beautiful vineyard in Tuscany, Elle is reluctant. She has no intention of swapping her perfectly lovely life for someone else’s idea of her Mr Perfect, but ten days under the Italian sun with her best friend and lashings of wine? How bad could that be?

Full of sultry summer nights, hilarious moments and plenty of adventure, You Had Me at Merlotwill warm even the most cynical of hearts and have you believing in the magic of romance (and the power of a decent glass of wine).

You Had Me At Merlot is out now in paperback and ebook fomats.