Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Guest post: My three favourite author memories by Rowan Coleman

7 Feb

Today I’m welcoming the very lovely Rowan Coleman to One More Page on the final stop of her blog tour for her beautiful new novel, The Memory Book. Rowan lives with her husband, and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. The Memory Book is Rowan’s eleventh novel. Others include The Accidental Mother, Lessons in Laughing Out Loud and the award-winning Dearest Rose, a novel which lead Rowan to become an active supporter of domestic abuse charity Refuge, donating 100% of royalties from the ebook publication of her novella, Woman Walks Into a Bar, to the charity. Today Rowan is sharing her three favourite author memories with us. Welcome Rowan!

Rowan has very kindly filmed a video just for readers of One More Page to tell you about the book!

My three favourite memories as an author

1) The moment I heard I had my first book deal. Picture the scene, it was 2001, I was working in my office-slash-cupboard in putting information into a data base, when my agent Lizzy Kremer called to tell me that I had been offered a two book deal, for my very first novel ‘Growing Up Twice’. The dream I’d had for most of my life had just come true, and it took a long time for it to sink in and seem real. I don’t think I stopped smiling for a year, including in my sleep. And that thrill of seeing the finished copy of your book in your hands never goes away, its always just as exciting at the first time.

2) Winning the RoNA award for Epic Romance Novel of the year for ‘Dearest Rose,’ last year. I had written that book during an intensely difficult time in both my personal life and my career. It was the first time in a decade of writing that I had thought about giving up. But something about telling that story made me determined to keep going. Its the book that made me a stronger person and, I hope, a better writer. The award was a great moment of happiness, the proved to me that you should never give up on what you believe in, no matter how hard it might seem. And also I finally got to use my generic award acceptance speech that I had been practising since I was nine.

3) My first reader feedback of ‘The Memory Book.’ When you are working on a novel you can only hope that it is going to work out the way that you envision it. I’d had the idea for ‘The Memory Book’ almost two years before I was able to start writing it, and it was an idea that I held very close to my heart. But a lot of things changed during that two years, perhaps most dramatically the arrival of my twin boys, and I was writing it when they were very tiny, only 12 weeks old! It was a constantly evolving process, and a difficult one to navigate my way through. When the first reader feedback started to come through, and was very positive – I felt an enormous sense of relief. As a writer you can’t ever hope to please all the people, all the time. But to know you’ve pleased some of them, especially when a book matters so much to you, well that’s pretty special.

Wonderful memories – thank you Rowan.
The Memory Book is out in hardback and ebook formats now. Find out more about Rowan and her writing at: http://www.rowancoleman.co.uk/
Do check out the other stops on Rowan’s blog tour!

Event write up: Harper Collins Bloggers Event

8 Jul

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to attend my second blogger event of the summer. Hosted by Harper Collins (thank you Kat and Elinor!) the first part of the event found me enjoying a delicious ‘Not Afternoon Tea’ at the Oxo Tower with fellow bloggers  and authors David Nobbs and Fanny Blake. I reviewed Fanny’s debut novel What Women Want back in April and was very excited to get my copy signed. David was celebrating a new release, It Had to be You which I’m looking forward to reading soon having really enjoyed one of his previous books Going Gently.

With lively chat covering blogging, twitter and writing it was a lovely afternoon with two great authors and a nice opportunity to catch up with Mel (High Heels and Book Deals), Talli (http://talliroland.blogspot.com/) and Jackie (Farm Lane Books) who I’d met at previous events and to meet fellow bloggers Elaine (Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover), Simon (Stuck in a Book) and Claire (Paperback Reader).

Following tea we hopped (ok, stepped slowly in my case) onto the river taxi and headed to the Tower of London where we attended the launch event for Sarah Gristwood’s debut fiction novel The Girl in the Mirror. Sarah gave a fascinating talk on the latter days of Elizabeth I’s reign and her relationship with the Earl of Essex including some delightfully horrific details of the beheadings that took place not far from where we sat that evening! Of course I couldn’t resist buying a copy of the book and getting Sarah to sign it too and went home one very happy blogger.

As well as the books featured above there are some fantastic titles being released by Harper in the latter half of 2011 so I thought I’d share with you my July-December highlights (click on the thumbnails to see the full covers)

Last Dance with Valentino by Daisy Waugh (August)

One night. One dance. One love to last a lifetime. 1916. Leaving war-ravaged London, Jenny Doyle sets sail for New York where she is to work for the de Saulles family. Their home, Gatsby-like in elegance, is rife with intrigue and madness. Only Jenny’s friendship with dancer Rodolfo offers escape… until, one tragic day, the household is changed forever. 1926. America booms, prohibition rules and Rodolfo has taken his place on the silver screen as Rudolph Valentino. Will the world’s most desired film star and his lost love have their Hollywood happy ending, or will the tragic echoes from their time with the de Saulles thwart them one last time?

The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff (September)

A forbidden love, a life-long secret, and one chance to make the right decision. Ella has always been an artist, jotting down pictures from a young age, and now in her thirties she has made it her profession. Commissioned to capture memories, fading beauty and family moments, her sitters often reveal more about themselves than merely their outward appearance. When Ella’s younger sister Chloe asks her to paint a portrait of her new fiancé Nate, Ella is reluctant. He is a brash American who Ella thinks has proposed far too fast, so the thought of spending many hours alone with him fills her with dread. But before long Ella realises there is more to Nate than meets the eye. Inter-weaving the stories of Ella’s sitters – from the old lady with a wartime secret, to the handsome politician who has a confession to make – with Ella’s own hunt for her real father and slow realization that she is falling in love with the wrong man; a truly unforgettable portrait of the many aspects of love.

The Noble Assassin by Christie Dickason (October)

Court beauty, Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford, feels frustrated by life with her weak husband. Poverty stricken, they are confined to their country estate and excluded from court life in London after he disastrously allies himself against Elizabeth I. Now, some years later, James I is seated on the English throne. His daughter, Elizabeth Stuart, former confidant of Lucy, has married the King of Bohemia. The precarious political situation in Europe is fraught, setting father against daughter. When Elizabeth and her husband are deposed, exiled and forced on the run, James is in no mood to come to Elizabeth’s aid. Hearing of Elizabeth’s predicament, Lucy sees an opportunity to re-establish the Bedford name and offers herself as a peace envoy between the two parties. Setting out on a daring mission across the channel, Lucy discovers she is being manipulated by unscrupulous men, not least the calculating and darkly handsome Duke of Buckingham. Can Lucy tread this most dangerous path, or by risking everything, will she pay the ultimate price?

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern (November)

Dear Lucy Silchester, You have an appointment for Monday 27th July 2011. Yours sincerely, Life. Lucy Silchester has received an appointment card. Actually, she’s been invited along a few times to this appointment, but she keeps brushing the gold embossed envelope under the shag pile carpet. She’s taken her eye off the ball and has busied herself with work (a job she doesn’t love), helping out friends, fixing her car, feeding her cat, seeing her family and devoting her time to their life dramas. But Lucy is about to find out that this is one appointment that she can’t miss. And she can’t escape it either. Her Life is about to catch up with her in the most surreal of ways…

It Started With A Kiss by Miranda Dickinson (November)

How far would you go to find the man of your dreams? Romily Parker is a woman on a mission. On the last Saturday before Christmas, (shortly after disastrously declaring her undying love for her best friend, Charlie) Romily has a sudden, brief encounter with a gorgeous stranger who might, just possibly, be the man of her dreams. It only takes two small words – ‘Hello, beautiful’ – and one, heart-stopping kiss to make up her mind: she has to find him again. Giving herself a deadline of the following Christmas Eve, Romily commits to spending a year searching for the stranger – a decision which divides her family and friends. A sparkling, romantic comedy about an English girl who won’t give up on her dream of love.

The Scarlet Contessa by Jeanne Kalogridis (November)

Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased. Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the ‘triumph cards’ – the predecessor of modern-day Tarot. As Dea tries to unravel the truth about her husband’s murder, Caterina single-handedly holds off invaders who would steal her title and lands. However, Dea’s reading of the cards reveals that Caterina cannot withstand a third and final invader – none other than Cesare Borgia, son of the corrupt Pope Alexander VI, who has an old score to settle with Caterina. Trapped inside the Fortress at Ravaldino as Borgia’s cannons pound the walls, Dea reviews Caterina’s scandalous past and struggles to understand their joint destiny, while Caterina valiantly tries to fight off Borgia’s unconquerable army.

I Heart Vegas by Lindsey Kelk (December)

Angela Clark loves her life in New York. She loves her job, her friends and her gorgeous musician boyfriend, Alex, who is finally ready to move in with her and start planning their future together. Everything is perfect. But, after Angela loses her job, her world starts to crumble around her – her visa is revoked and she’s given the disastrous news that she must leave New York and her life behind and go back to London. Confused, heartbroken and desperate to stay, the last thing Angela needs is a girls’ trip to Vegas just before Christmas – especially when Manhattan at Christmas is so perfect that she never wants to go home…

Book Review – Happier Than She's Ever Been by Menna Van Praag

4 Jul

May Fitzgerald suddenly has everything she’s ever wanted. After years of feeling fat and frumpy and looking for love in all the wrong places, she finally has the life and man of her dreams. It all should be so perfect – she had followed her inner voice and it led her to the magical life she had dreamt of. But as her new life as a successful author starts to take off, May’s old demons start to creep back to haunt her. Her insecurities begin to kick in and she starts to fall for the praise and glitter of fame. Her behaviour pushes her boyfriend to the edge and looks set to destroy their relationship. Can she turn it all around and prove that it really is possible to have it all? This is a story about making choices and not losing yourself, but most importantly, this is a story about following your dreams!

I reviewed Menna Van Praag’s debut novel, Men, Money and Chocolate last month and having really enjoyed it moved straight on to read the sequel, Happier Than She’s Ever Been which was published last week. I absolutely love the cover for this book with its silhouette of the San Franciscan skyline; one of my favourite covers of the year so far!

Happier Than She’s Ever Been revisits Maya Fitzgerald (now known as May) and picks up the story a year after the end of Men, Money and Chocolate. May is now happily settled in San Francisco, living with her boyfriend Ben and helping him with his bookshop whilst still promoting the self-published book that brought her to America in the first place.  I was pleased to see that the book has the same tone and style as its predecessor and continues the lovely mix of chick lit,  fairytale, philosophy and spirituality that I enjoyed so much in the first book. Although I’d recommend reading Men, Money and Chocolate first, its not essential to have read book one before reading this one as any gaps in the background are filled in as May recalls her old life and reflects on how far she’s come.

At the start of the novel, May really is ‘happier than she’s ever been’ but of course, nothing stays the same forever and as events and relationships begin to move on, May finds that she begins to doubt and question her situation again. Whilst Men, Money and Chocolate focused on May learning to love herself, this book examines her relationship with Ben more closely and the impact of May’s career on both of them by looking at the notion of Soul mates and what exactly is a ‘perfect’ relationship?

May is a very believable character; and continues to make mistakes throughout the novel; she lets her success go to her head and her relationship with Ben begins to change leaving her wondering why she doesn’t feel happy even though she technically has everything she’s ever dreamed of! This time May finds guidance in some familiar places and also through some serendipitous meetings with strangers which give the book an almost magical feel at times and I love the way Menna Van Praag drops gems of useful advice into her tale.

I thought the conclusion to the book was perfect and it left me with a big smile on my face. Happier Than She’s Ever Been certainly makes an impact; it’s a quick read but with a lovely message about following your dreams and what true love is really all about and I’m already looking forward to Menna’s next book!

4/5

Happier Than She’s Ever Been is out now and I’d like to thank Jessica at Hay House Publishers for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Menna and her books at: http://www.mennavanpraag.com/

Book review – Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

26 Jun

Olivia Bellamy has traded her trendy Manhattan life for a summer renovating her family’s crumbling holiday resort. Tempted by the hazy, nostalgic memories of summers past – childhood innocence and the romance and rivalries of her teens – it’s the perfect place to flee after her broken engagement. But what began as an escape, may just be a new beginning… As Olivia uncovers secrets buried thick with dust, one by one her family return, their lives as frayed at the edges as the resort. Her father and the mystery woman in the tatty black and white photograph. Uncle John, who’s trying to be a father again to his teenage kids. Connor Davis, the first love she never forgot. Laughter is ringing around Willow Lake once more. This could be Olivia’s summer of a lifetime!

Summer at Willow Lake is the first book in The Lakeshore Chronicles series and a really relaxing and enjoyable summer read. Originally published in 2006, Summer at Willow Lake has been given a fresh new look for summer 2011 and was re-released earlier this month. The story focuses on Olivia Bellamy as she returns to ‘Camp Kioga’ the summer camp her great-grandfather created in the 1940’s to try to restore it to its former glory in order to celebrate her grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. I liked Olivia immediately; both grown up Olivia who runs her own successful business in Manhattan and the young Olivia depicted in flashback trying to find her place in the world.

As Olivia finds her feet she encounters an old flame from her childhood, Connor Davis which instantly adds a ‘will they/won’t they’ frisson to the story. The book begins in the present but chapters flash back and forth to reveal detail of Camp Kioga and its occupants through the years. From Olivia’s own difficult childhood and teenage years in the late 1980’s and early 90’s and her fledgling romance with Connor, to her fathers summer of love in 1977 and the story of her grandparents who defied opposition to marry at the camp they loved in the 1950’s; the history of the Bellamy family and in particular of Olivia’s childhood, drew me in and kept me gripped for all of Summer at Willow Lake’s 535 pages and I’m so glad this is only the first in a series of stories about the Bellamys and the community in Avalon.

There are a lot of different threads to the story, involving various members of the Bellamy family, residents of Avalon the town where Willow Lake is set and their own families. As well as plenty of drama and romance, there are elements of mystery and plenty of surprises from the residents of Willow Lake. I love family sagas/community dramas and the strong element of community entwined with the life of the Bellamy family in this story reminded me of one of my favourite television series – the Gilmore Girls. The stories of early camp life and the romance element of the plot also reminded me of Dirty Dancing which is another of my favourites so you can see why this book appealed to me so much!

I’d highly recommend Summer at Willow Lake to anyone looking for a summer read that is a little bit different from the usual beach reads. With a perfect mix of nostalgia, romance and drama this is a well written book with characters that will draw you in and have you coming back for more – I’m already looking forward to the next installment!

5/5

Summer at Willow Lake is out now and I’d like to thank Christabel at Midas for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Susan Wiggs and her books at: http://www.susanwiggs.com/

July new book release preview – on my wish list

25 Jun

Here are my six ‘hot picks’ from the July releases:

The Raising by Laura Kasischke
Released 1st July
Published by Corvus
Website:
http://www.corvus-books.co.uk/

This book sounds so intriguing – I can’t wait to read it!

A sudden death.
In Godwin Honors Hall, the walls are draped in black. The college is in mourning for Nicole Werner, a blonde and beautiful prom queen who died in a car crash last semester. She was a straight-A student, and a prized member of the Virgin Sisters, the most powerful sorority on campus.

A feverish obsession.
Nicole’s boyfriend Craig was at the wheel that night. He has no memory of the crash, but he is plagued by guilt. For as winter sets in and the nights darken, Nicole’s death dominates college life. Candlelit vigils and fetishistic rituals become nightly events –and then the hauntings begin.

A flicker of suspicion.
Craig’s roommate, Perry, doesn’t believe in ghosts. A no-nonsense type who always thought Nicole was as manipulative as she was charming, he refuses to be swept up by the hysteria. But when he and his fellow sceptics join forces, he too sees Nicole’s spirit in the crumbling college halls.

Something very strange is going on…

David by Mary Hoffman
Released 4th July
Published by Bloomsbury
Website:
http://www.maryhoffman.co.uk/

I haven’t read anything by Mary Hoffman before but I intend to change that with David!

Michelangelo’s statue of David is renowned all over the world. Thousands flock to Florence to admire the artistry behind this Renaissance masterpiece, and to admire the beauty of the human form captured in the marble. But the identity of the model for this statue that has been so revered for over five hundred years has been lost . . .

In this epic story Mary Hoffman uses her persuasive narrative skills to imagine the story of Gabriele, an eighteen-year-old who, by becoming Michelangelo’s model, finds himself drawn into a world of spies, politicking, sabotage and murder. Set against the backdrop of Florence, this is a rich, colourful and thrilling tale.

All For You by Sheila O’Flanagan
Released 7th July
Published by Headline
Website:
http://www.sheilaoflanagan.net/

I really enjoyed Sheila’s last book, Stand By Me and this one sounds like another great read.

As TV’s favourite weather forecaster, Lainey is good at making predictions. But what she doesn’t foresee is that her own life is about to hit a stormy patch. With a string of failed relationships behind her, surely history isn’t about to repeat itself with her beloved Ken? To add fuel to the fire, her estranged mother announces that she’s returning to Dublin. Deanna has always been dismissive of Lainey’s choices – particularly in men. And Deanna’s lectures are the last thing Lainey needs now.

Yet is there more to her mother than she knows? Uncovering some long-concealed family secrets, Lainey begins to reassess her life. Is the happy-ever-after she’s always dreamed of really what she wants after all?

California Dreamers by Belinda Jones
Released 21st July
Published by Hodder
Website:
http://www.belindajones.com/

I’ve always wanted to go to California and I loved Belinda’s last book Living La Vida Loca. This sounds like an ideal summer read.

Ever wished you could make-over your life?

Make-up artist Stella is an expert at helping other people change their images, but when it comes to transforming herself, she doesn’t even know where to start.

So when her new friend, glamorous Hollywood actress Marina Ray, summons her a movie set in California, Stella can’t resist the chance to start afresh – it is the land of sunshine and opportunity after all!

But are they really friends or does Marina have an ulterior motive? What is the secret that both women are hiding about the nautical (but nice) men in their lives? And what will it take to really make both of their California dreams come true?

Baby Be Mine by Paige Toon
Released 21st July
Published by Simon and Schuster
Website:
http://authors.simonandschuster.co.uk/Paige-Toon/62701361

I don’t really need to say much more about this do I? I’ve been looking forward to the release of this book for so long!

‘He’s not mine, is he?’
That’s the question I fear the most.
You see, I have a secret. My son is not fathered by my boyfriend, but by one of the most famous rock stars that ever lived. And he doesn’t even know it.
One-time celebrity personal assistant to wild boy of rock Johnny Jefferson, Meg Stiles is now settled and living in the south of France with her doting boyfriend Christian and their son Barney. But they’re living a lie – a lie that will turn their lives upside down and inside out – because as Barney reaches his first birthday, Meg can no longer deny that her son is growing to look more and more like his rock star father every day, and less and less like Christian, and sooner or later, the world is going to realise . . .

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
Released 26th July
Published by Atom
Website:
http://www.andreacremer.com/

Another eagerly awaited sequel (to Nightshade) – I can’t wait to find out what happens next to Calla, Ren and Shay!

‘You’re an alpha, a leader. That’s what we need. It’s what we’ve always needed.’ When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. Then the Searchers make her an offer, one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save her pack – and the boy – she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? Will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials love can endure.


Book review – Men, Money and Chocolate by Menna Van Praag

16 Jun

Maya spends her days dreaming of a perfect life, a life filled with love, success and pleasure. She tries to find fulfilment in the pursuit of men and money, and when this doesn’t work she looks for comfort in chocolate. But this only leaves her feeling empty and lost. Then Maya meets a mysterious, magical stranger and is set on a spiritual journey to discover what she’s been missing all this time…

I was offered this book for review because the sequel is coming out this month and as soon as I read the synopsis I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued when I looked it up on Amazon and it had thirty four five star reviews so I agreed to start at the beginning of Maya’s story and I’m very glad I did. Men, Money and Chocolate is hard to categorise. It’s part chick lit, part modern fairytale, with elements of philosophy, fable and spirituality that really make it stand out as different from any of the books that I’ve read recently.

A short book at just over two hundred pages, this was a quick read but certainly made an impact. Maya is in her thirties and runs a cafe left to her by her mum but as soon as we meet her we learn that she isn’t really happy; she doesn’t particularly enjoy her work, the man she fancies barely knows she exists and she’s overweight from drowning her sorrows in sweet treats all of which are combining to make her more unhappy and her life seems to have become a vicious circle. There’s a lot here for readers to identify with as I’m sure the majority of us have had issues with either relationships, careers or weight at some point (I know I have!) and Menna van Praag has certainly tapped into some key topics.

The book follows Maya as she tries to work out how to put things right and make herself happy. Maya meets Rose, a wise old lady who visits the cafe one day and sees straight to the heart of Maya’s problems. Rose becomes a sort of mentor/fairy-godmother to Maya, prompting her to ask herself some difficult questions about her life and what will really make her happy. I don’t want to give away the plot of the book so suffice to say Maya goes on to meet several other characters that make a big impact on her and she takes some truly life changing decisions and actions. The story is told in the third person and I really liked Menna’s tone and style of storytelling. The writing treads just the right line between reflection and action and although Maya makes some big physical changes during the course of the novel, there is just as much to be learned from this book about change from within.

What I liked most about this book was that it didn’t come across as a preachy self-help manual, nor was it a Bridget Jones style diary of disaster but it managed to combine an interesting fictional story with genuine good advice. Maya doesn’t always get it right and I loved that about her and I thought she was a genuinely believable and likeable character. Men, Money and Chocolate really made me think and made me smile. It’s a life affirming positive read and a lovely story. I moved straight on to finish the second part of Maya’s story; Happier Than She’s Ever Been which I’ll be reviewing next week.

4/5

I’d like to thank Jessica at Hay House Publishers for sending me a copy of this book to review.

You can find out more about Menna and her books at: http://www.mennavanpraag.com/

Book News: Cover revealed for The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff

7 Jun

I’ve been a fan of Isabel Wolff ever since my flatmate lent me her first book The Trials of Tiffany Trott over ten years ago! I loved her last book A Vintage Affair and am eagerly awaiting the publication of Isabel’s new novel in September so I was excited to spot her latest cover on Amazon last night. It’s a bit of a change from her previous covers and a little pale for my liking but The Very Picture of You sounds gripping and I can’t wait to read it:

A forbidden love, a life-long secret, and one chance to make the right decision.

Ella has always been an artist, jotting down pictures from a young age, and now in her thirties she has made it her profession. Commissioned to capture memories, fading beauty and family moments, her sitters often reveal more about themselves than merely their outward appearance.

When Ella’s younger sister Chloe asks her to paint a portrait of her new fiancé Nate, Ella is reluctant. He is a brash American who Ella thinks has proposed far too fast, so the thought of spending many hours alone with him fills her with dread. But before long Ella realises there is more to Nate than meets the eye.

Beautifully inter-weaving the stories of Ella’s sitters – from the old lady with a wartime secret, to the handsome politician who has a confession to make – with Ella’s own hunt for her real father and slow realization that she is falling in love with the wrong man.

Book review – Love and Freedom by Sue Moorcroft

2 Jun

New start, new love. That’s what Honor Sontag needs after her life falls apart, leaving her reputation in tatters and her head all over the place. So she flees her native America and heads for Brighton, England. Honor’s hoping for a much-deserved break and the chance to find the mother who abandoned her as a baby. What she gets is an entanglement with a mysterious male whose family seems to have a finger in every pot in town. Martyn Mayfair has sworn off women with strings attached, but is irresistibly drawn to Honor, the American who keeps popping up in his life. All he wants is an uncomplicated relationship built on honesty, but Honor’s past threatens to undermine everything. Then secrets about her mother start to spill out … Honor has to make an agonising choice. Will she live up to her dutiful name and please others? Or will she choose freedom?

As regular readers of my blog will know, I love a pretty cover and this is one of my favourites so far this year. I’m a huge fan of the British seaside, having grown up by the coast so I love the image of Brighton Pier in the sunset and I think the starry heart encircling the plane just shouts fantastic summer romantic read! I’m pleased to say that the contents of the book didn’t disappoint; Love and Freedom is a sweet summer romance with a good dose of drama that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The story focuses on Honor Sontag as she arrives in Brighton for the summer. We soon learn that Honor has fled her home, friends and family in America to escape to England but the full reasons and details behind her uncharacteristic departure from the people she loves and her life in Hamilton Drives, Connecticut  are only revealed as the story progresses. My interest was certainly caught trying to work out what or who could have caused Honor, who comes across as sensible and reliable, to flee her life and I liked the twists in the story as the full truth was revealed. I particularly liked the twist that gives more meaning to the title of the book and thought it was very clever.

Honor rents a bungalow for the summer from Clarissa Mayfair which acts as her introduction to Brighton and the Mayfair clan; a family with its own set of interesting secrets that also surprised me. Clarissa and her sisters are fairly minor characters in the novel but well written and keep the story moving. It is the only male member of the Mayfair family, Martyn, who dominates, immediately cast as the hero of the novel and he certainly lives up to the publisher Choc Lit’s promise that the heroes in their books are “like chocolate – irresistible!” Martyn is classic hero material; tall, dark, handsome and intelligent with a caring side that is on display from the start as he rescues Honor at their first meeting. The chemistry between Martyn and Honor is good and I really enjoyed reading as their friendship developed with the twists in the story making sure that the relationship never had a smooth run.

In addition to the plot line following Honor’s love life and the reasons she fled America, Honor is in England to try to find the mother that abandoned her as a young baby. This particular storyline didn’t have as big a presence in the first half of the novel as I expected it to but, there is a strong family theme running through Love and Freedom and the idea of who or what ‘family’ and particularly ‘motherhood’ means is examined through a number of mother child relationships in the novel giving it quite a serious and at times heartbreaking undertone and also providing the setting for some of the key twists in the story.

As the identity of Honor’s mother and the full reasons for her flight from America are revealed Love and Freedom comes to a dramatic conclusion which had me turning the pages as fast as I could. A good summer read for those looking for a mix of romance and drama with a delicious hero! I loved the fact that this novel is set at the good old English seaside and kept me guessing as I read. I’ll look forward to reading more from Sue Moorcroft in the future!

4/5

Love and Freedom was published on 1st June and I’d like to thank the publisher, Choc Lit for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Sue Moorcroft and her books on her website at: http://www.suemoorcroft.com/ and on the Choc Lit website at: http://www.choc-lit.co.uk/

Cover compare: The Birthday Party by Veronica Henry

25 May

Delilah Rafferty has lived out her tempestuous marriage to hell-raiser Raf in the full glare of the media spotlight. Now, from the luxurious comfort of her beautiful kitchen, Delilah is planning her birthday party, a night that will see a star-studded gathering of friends and family celebrate in traditional Rafferty style. But she has more on her mind than just invitations… Raf has been offered a part in a movie he can’t refuse. But will that mean he’ll succumb to the temptations he’s struggled so hard to resist for the last ten years – beautiful women and too much wine? And Delilah’s three daughters, Coco, Violet and Tyger, are building careers of their own, only too aware that the press are waiting for them to slip up. For although the Rafferty girls might look like angels, they are only human. As with all families, there are secrets and rivalries bubbling away, and on one gloriously starry night, it’s all going to come spilling out This is your invitation to a birthday party of the year…

I treated myself to the hardback of this book when it came out and thought it was a cracking read. I really loved the purple sparkly cover (it as one of the main reasons I splashed out on the hardback!) so I was surprised to see such a change in style for the paperback release which is out on 21st July. On the one hand I like that the paperback cover matches that of The Beach Hut which came out last summer but I think the hardback cover goes with the story better. Either way The Birthday Party is a great summer read but which cover do you prefer?

June new book release preview – on my wish list

24 May

 

There are lots of fab summer books being released in June but I’ve narrowed it down to six of my favourites …

Love and Freedom by Sue Moorcroft
Released 1st June
Published by Choc Lit
Website:
http://www.suemoorcroft.com/

I absolutely love the cover for this book and the story sounds great too!

New start, new love. That’s what Honor Sontag needs after her life falls apart, leaving her reputation in tatters and her head all over the place. So she flees her native America and heads for Brighton, England. Honor’s hoping for a much-deserved break and the chance to find the mother who abandoned her as a baby. What she gets is an entanglement with a mysterious male whose family seems to have a finger in every pot in town. Martyn Mayfair has sworn off women with strings attached, but is irresistibly drawn to Honor, the American who keeps popping up in his life. All he wants is an uncomplicated relationship built on honesty, but Honor’s past threatens to undermine everything. Then secrets about her mother start to spill out … Honor has to make an agonising choice. Will she live up to her dutiful name and please others? Or will she choose freedom?

 

The Beach Cafe by Lucy Diamond
Released 2nd June

Published by Pan
Website:
http://www.lucydiamond.co.uk/

I’ve not read anything by Lucy Diamond before but I’ve heard lots of good things about her books and I love Cornwall so this sounds like a good summer read.

Evie Flynn has always been the black sheep of her family – a dreamer and a drifter, unlike her over-achieving elder sisters. She’s tried making a name for herself as an actress, a photographer and a singer, but nothing has ever worked out. Now she’s stuck in temp hell, with a sensible, pension-planning boyfriend. Somehow life seems to be passing her by. Then her beloved aunt Jo dies suddenly in a car crash, leaving Evie an unusual legacy – her precious beach cafe in Cornwall. Determined to make a success of something for the first time in her life, Evie heads off to Cornwall to get the cafe and her life back on track – and gets more than she bargained for, both in work and in love…

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors
Released 6th June
Published by Bloomsbury
The bright cover for this book initially caught my eye but having read the synopsis the plot sounds gripping and this is a ‘must read’ for me!
When you’re the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalised for mental illness. After putting on a brave face for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue and the Queen can’t write it. Alice needs a story for her mother – and she needs one fast.That’s when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol’s voice in her head and see things she can’t explain, she must face the truth – that she’s either inherited her mother’s madness, or Errol is for real!

 

The Single Girl’s To-Do List
Released 9th June

Published by Harper
Website
: http://www.lindseykelk.com/

The third book on my ‘Most Anticipated Chick Lit Books of 2011‘ list. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time – it sounds like a perfect summer read :-)

Meet Rachel Summers: a twenty-something make-up artist whose life is very much going to plan. She has a job she loves, a lovely long-term boyfriend, a great flat in north London and some fabulous friends. The next phase in her masterplan is to buy a house, have a baby, move to a bigger house, have another baby, get a 4×4. Simple.

Well, not quite as Simon, Rachel’s boyfriend, suddenly decides that they should take a break. Rachel’s convinced it’s just a three-year itch but, four months later, they are still living under the same roof but sleeping in separate bedrooms.

It’s time for an intervention as Emilie and Matthew, Rachel’s best friends, can no longer bear to watch Rachel suffer anymore. As they try to convince her to move out and move on, they come up with the ultimate break-up cure – the single girl’s to-do list. A list of of all the things Rachel should see and do in her newly single life.

But nothing could have prepared them for the hilarious adventures that are about to unfold as the to-do list takes them around London and abroad, and proves to them all that love is out there if you’re willing to take a chance on it…

Witches of the East by Melissa de la Cruz
Released 21st June

Published by Sphere
Website
: http://www.melissa-delacruz.com/

I’m a huge fan of Melissa’s Blue Bloods series so was very excited when she announced a spin off adult series about witches set in the same world.

It’s the beginning of summer in North Hampton, and beautiful Freya Beauchamp is celebrating her engagement to wealthy Bran Gardiner, the heir to Fair Haven and Gardiners Island. But Freya is drawn to Bran’s gorgeous but unreliable brother Killian, and sparks fly when the two decide to play a dangerous game, following an ancient story of love, betrayal and tragedy that harks back to the days of Valhalla.

Witches of East End follows the Beauchamp family—the formidable matriarch Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid. Freya, a sexy bartender, has a potion to cure every kind of heartache, while Ingrid, the local librarian, solves complicated domestic problems with her ability to tie magical knots. Joanna is the witch to see when modern medicine has no more answers; her powers can wake the dead. Everything seems to be going smoothly until a young girl, Molly Lancaster, goes missing after taking one of Freya’s irresistible cocktails. As more of the town’s residents begin disappearing, everyone seems to have the same suspects in mind: the Beauchamp women.

About Last Night by Adele Parks
Released 23rd June

Published by Headline
Website
: http://www.adeleparks.com/

The plot for this book has me really intrigued – I can’t wait to read it!

For thirty years, best friends Stephanie and Philippa have been practically inseparable. There’s nothing they would not do for one another. Until a few simple words change everything. I need you to say that I was with you.’ Steph, eternally solid, considerate and dependable, is begging her best friend to lie to the police as she’s desperately trying to conceal two shocking secrets to protect her family. Pip, self-consigned to the role of scatty, frivolous hot-head is overwhelmed; she’s normally the one asking for help in a crisis although never anything as catastrophic as this. Both women have always believed that friendship is built on mutual selflessness, compromise and trust. Are those beliefs now to be tested beyond endurance?

Those are my hot picks for June – what are you looking forward to reading next month?