Merry Go Round by Sarah Toll @zooloo2008 #zooloosbooktours

About the Book:

Lily Montrose has endured a white-knuckle ride during her on-off affair with Nathaniel Deighton. She is sitting alone in a coffee shop when a brief but devastating call brings the whole thing to a crashing halt. 
Fleeing her job and flat in London, she retreats to a farmstead on the shores of the north Devon coast to repair her broken spirit and regain her sense of self. 
Here she finds an unlikely soulmate in Adam, a somewhat homespun but handsome local with unexpected qualities.

As the months pass by, Lily begins to put her troubled past behind her and – despite harbouring the most intimate of secrets – her relationship with Adam deepens. 
But when Nat suddenly resurfaces, the malevolent merry go round begins to revolve once again, revealing the ugly truths that lie deep within Lily and unleashing a chain of events that will threaten not only her sanity, but everything she holds dear…

About the Author:

One fact that people may no know about Sarah is that she was an Olympic Torchbearer…She ran her leg of the relay in St Albans, Hertfordshire on July 8th, 2012. ‘It was the most wonderful day of my life, followed closely by the release of Merry Go Round. Carrying the torch was an honour and I’m so proud to be able to say I carried it.’

Sarah was born in Hertfordshire, where she lived and worked for many years in the NHS. She attended Oxford Brookes University and graduated with a merit in Creative Writing (MA).

Sarah now lives in rural Northamptonshire with her partner Keith, their dog and cats. She continues to write, paint and work as a Reiki Practitioner and Macmillan Volunteer.

Merry Go Round is her first novel, however, the next is already in progress. It is a ‘sidequel’ or re-write of Merry Go Round, following the same year but revealing the lived experiences of Adam and Lou whilst Lily was having such a bad time of things.

Contact Sarah:

Goodreads :
Website :

Amazon UK –
Amazon US –

My Review:

Lily Montrose has been through so much and more during her rocky relationship with Nathaniel Deighton, or Nat as he’s known.

She thinks this is all there is to life. One moment they’re in love, the next they’re not.

I found myself questioning him and whether he really loved her when things were good or if it was just manipulation on his part.

I was angry, frustrated sad for them both but also scared and anxious for Lily.

I felt hopeful for her when she had to leave London and also anxious. My hope went up a notch when she met Adam and I was relieved for her.

Sometimes dark and disturbing, chilling then loving, Merry Go Round will surprise you again and again as it gets into the core of human relationships and represents how some people have many facets to them like Jekyl and Hyde but much more sinister.

It will make you ask how much we really know those who say they love us. What is love really?

Merry Go Round is so aptly named in its title and plot because it really is an emotional roller coaster, not just for Lily but for the reader. The pacing is good and I enjoyed it because it is not your usual romance or mystery.

Thanks to Zooloo’s Book Tours and Sarah Toll for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars.

Sarah’s second book will be available on 08/08/2021 at 20:21. As mentioned throughout Built for Life Sarah does like to play with words and numbers, therefore 08-08-2021 at 20:21 will be the perfect time to launch it. It will be available via the Kindle store on Amazon.

Unprecedented times often mean uncertainty; life is a bubbling cauldron of change, but nature and humour will often bring a pause or a smile. Sarah’s illustrated book of poetry takes you on a short wander that will give you some moments of respite from the burdens of the day.

The author has created this first edition solely as an eBook. She decided that a simple book of words would be quite a singular reading experience. To enhance this, she has designed each page to look like that of a personal journal, complete with pictures and doodles.

Nature:Sarah’s poems about nature will introduce you to the relationship between the sun and moon, as well as the gentle chatter and imagined gossip which goes on amongst flora and fauna.
Drabbles:A drabble is a 100-word story. It is a complete work and like any wonderful story it has a beginning, middle and an end. What the author achieves here by adding her own twist to the drabble is quite remarkable. It is picture painting and storytelling in one verse.

Life:In stark contrast, the chapter on life brings about a moment or two of reflection for the reader. Accounts of life in its raw form can often drain the spirit and even though the subjects in this section are frank, the author imparts undeniable positivity.

Humour:The author, determined to leave you with a lightness in spirit, takes a light-hearted look at being human. Using rhyme for most of the poems in this section she undresses the fragility of each of us in such a way you beaming for the rest of the day.

Playing with words is something the author does throughout this pamphlet. Look closely and you will find her poems littered with little games. In the poem ‘Upon Ageing’, each line in every verse begins with the same words.

And listen out for rhyming words at the end of the lines in ‘What was this Poem Called?’Sarah’s poem ‘The Light at the End’ of the Tunnel, a poem about the Covid pandemic, appears in BBC Radio 4’s Covid Chronicles archive stored in the British Library.

Blog Tour: Patience by Victoria Scott @AuthorVScott @Aria_Fiction

I posted a review of this back in April this year after I’d finished it as I couldn’t wait to start it after getting the ARC from Aria & Aries. I am thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour today for this wonderful book so I am reposting my review.

My Review:

Patience is many things: a HUGE fan of Take That, a person with long blonde hair that many people envy. She’s direct, funny observant and a sister and daughter.

Patience also has Rett Syndrome. She is dependent on carers and family in every aspect of her life. Unable to communicate verbally, she gets her feelings, wants and needs across.

Patience by Victoria Scott goes deep into the lives of Patience and her family and carers. She lives in a residential care home with others with disabilities.

As a person with Cerebral Palsy and Hydrocephalus who, like Patience, requires care and support in every aspect of my life, I was immediately able to identify with her. I cannot give an opinion on life in a care home, but can about the difficulties and challenges with finding care, support and services that meet my needs.

I identified with, and was glad that, author Victoria Scott included people with a variety of disabilities (Cerebral Palsy included) in the plot as this had me saying “yes, that’s me!” and the succinct description was spot-on with the specific needs it mentioned.

Patience’s parents are fighters, and there’s a very real conflict between them about her needs and their ability to provide the best they can for her. She is at the forefront of their lives, as is her sister Eliza.

There’s no jealousy or conflict between the sisters though, and they have a very good relationship which is tender and beautiful. One moment in particular is very raw when Eliza goes to Patience late at night.

Eliza has her own struggles, with life and love so it was great to see her “slice of life” too.

Their dad, Pete, was largely absent through work as he works in Qatar for the higher salary and his journey to get any type of job, even in construction, to help his family is really humbling. I longed for the moments when he came back. Even in absence, he’s thinking of his family.

There are some real conflicts though between him and his wife due to the circumstances of their life.

What would you do if you had the chance to work with the doctor who wanted to do a medical trial that could improve the lives of many children and adults with Rett Syndrome? Patience’s mum jumps at the chance but this creates conflict with her husband.

Her determination is heartwarming in a heartbreaking yet hopeful situation. Their pre-diagnosis journey was breathtaking and really made me stop and think. The place that had in the story was perfectly thought out.

There are parts that made me smile and others that made me identify so much with Patience’s life. The mix of frustration, worry happiness and big dreams.

Patience is a heartwarming, raw emotional amazing portrait of a life some families could not have imagined, but that they embrace.

Patience and her family are people I just wanted to hug and who I would love to actually meet.

I have not come across many novels about life with disabilities, and they are something I have felt sorely lacking in the book market since I was young.

Patience is a real unforgettable treasure of a novel and I loved every page. Those who don’t have insight into what it is to have complex needs and use a wheelchair like Patience and like me and so many others with disabilities soon will after finishing this.

I already knew about Rett Syndrome before I found this book but I found myself on YouTube wanting to know more. It’s a very current novel as the medical trials are a real thing and that made it even more powerful for me.

Thanks to Victoria Scott and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

5 sparkling stars.

One of, if not my favourite books of the year. I congratulate Victoria Scott hugely for writing a novel that is so immersive and real about disability and the fears, hopes and struggles that those of us who have severe disabilities face. I hope it goes a long way in the never-ending fight to change societal attitudes.

Patience is a novel everyone should read. It’s raw and emotional, but also an enlightening pick-me-up.

If you, or someone you know has disabilities and has ever felt alone, you are not with this book.

It’s like a huge comforting hug that says “welcome to my world and I understand you.”

I would LOVE this to be made into a film, I think it would be amazing. The book has also left me rooting for the trials for Rett Syndrome, but it also brings home the importance of accepting people just as they are.

There are so many life lessons in this novel, and I felt as if I were living the family’s experience.

If I could recommend a novel to the people who made my life difficult as they did not understand what I live through, Patience would definitely be it. Even though I don’t have Rett Syndrome, my challenges are similar to Patience’s in terms of mobility and care.

The novel makes me feel extra happy for what I can do, even thought it’s in a different way to others.

I think it will spark debate about care facilities and the role of family in care as well as shedding light on what people really live through.

Patience is not one to be pitied and I will never forget the day I discovered her and this book.

Cornish Gold at Summer’s End by Laura Briggs @rararesources

About the Book:

Rumors of a ghostly presence haunt Julianne’s Cornish autumn in the series’ charming fourth installment. What began as a bit of teenage mischief in the village quickly became stories of spooky lights and ghost sightings in the wood. Being sensible, Julianne is more worried about whether she can finish her kids’ costumes in time for the annual Halloween contest—and whether husband Matt and his eager assistants will be selected for the exclusive Brookshire Garden Design Competition. So when everyone in town begins flocking to the local ‘ghost walk’ tours Julianne assures her wide-eyed children it’s just a case of imagination run wild…until she experiences her own brush with the supernatural, that is.Real or imagined, Julianne can’t shrug off what she saw, or even bring herself to confide in sympathetic Matt for advice. Best friend Kitty is on hand to help, despite her usual family battles, including that of her cousins’ shady new scheme to profit from the town’s ghost mania. But even Julianne’s friends can’t fully understand her need to find a solution this time, one that leads her on a quirky quest from local lore, to meetings with the village’s ragtag paranormal club, and even a creepy abandoned cottage hiding secrets in the woods. Join Julianne for suspense, surprises, and (of course) heartfelt moments as book four in the series brings an autumn like no other to sleepy Ceffylgwyn.

Where to Buy:

About the Author:

Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

Contact Laura:

Find Laura on Facebook at Follow her on Twitter at
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Thank you so much to Katherine for the chance to share an extract from my newest book with her lovely readers. Titled Cornish Gold at Summer’s End, it’s the fourth book in my new series about Julianne, an event planner living in a charming village where there’s never a dull moment. I hope you’ll enjoy the scene below, where Julianne learns a bit about the village’s old ghost tale while chatting with her business partner Kitty at their quaint shop.

“Brought some candy, and some extra tea,” I said, emptying the sack into the jar. “I meant to be here earlier, but the kids didn’t leave until the very last minute. I needed to stop at the shops for these things and some extra supplies for class projects. They’re both ‘practicing’ their artwork full time for the school autumn mural.”
“Sounds like fun,” she said, closing the book.
“One of the many things you have to look forward to in the coming years,” I teased her. “My two are full of random craziness with the change in the season. Now they’re talking about some story they heard at school about an old-time ghost haunting the village backroads.”
“I know that one,” said Kitty.
“You’ve heard it, too?” I said.
“Yeah. It’s an old story in the village,” she said. “People use it to scare kids. Me Mum used to tell me the ghost would get me if I didn’t finish my dinner.”
“That’s nice,” I commented.
“It was scarier to think of Mum punishing me,” said Kitty, sarcastically.
The shop door opened, and local innkeeper Dovie entered. “I brought back those lovely vase thingies you loaned me for the tea,” she said. “They were a proper smash with the ladies — not literally, of course.” She chuckled. “I put those reddish lilacs in them, and those puffy green hydrangeas that Marian recommended, and it was quite lovely, if I do say so myself.”
“Thanks, Dovie,” said Kitty. “Just leave them on the table in the seating area, and I’ll put them in the back in a bit.”
Dovie set them down, puffing a quick breath. “Lovely window scene,” she commented. “Those dried corn husks look almost like paper, don’t they? You trimmed them so nicely, they’re like white feathers in that little wreath. Coochie coo, little dolly dear,” she said, waggling her fingers with a squinch-faced smile — this wasn’t for me but for Tige, who was in her reclining baby seat, wearing a somewhat crooked knit outfit her grandmother Bets had made for her.
“I told Kitty that next year we should make a haunted house out of gingerbread, and light it up,” I said. “She was just telling me that her mother used to scare her with the old village yarn about the ghost.”
Dovie’s expression turned serious. “That isn’t a fish wife’s tale, dearie. It’s as true as yesterday’s weather,” she said, with almost as much seriousness as Heath earlier today. “My grandmother saw it once, walking home from a dance when she was a girl.”
“She saw a ghost?” I said, skeptically. “Are you sure?”
“She told the story all my life. A dark night and she passed by the very spot where he died, and there was a ghostly figure in the wood. It disappeared between the trees in the blink of an eye. She said it was all white, with glowing eyes.” Dovie lowered her voice for this detail. “Anyway, there were lots more who saw it over the years, too. It hasn’t been spotted in years, but people used to see it whenever the weather was about to turn — people used to say it was a harbinger of bad luck in the village.”
“So it’s a real local legend.” I began wrapping the candlestick vases in packing paper for storage.
“Kitty here knows,” said Dovie. “She’ll tell you. Her folk have been in these parts long enough.”
“I knew about the ghost, but I don’t know the old story,” said Kitty. She sneaked a piece of the new candy, although I knew Kitty wasn’t very fond of sweets. This was probably as much about staving off the fatigue of work and motherhood as feeding the new cravings.
“Well, it was two hundred years ago, so I don’t suppose anybody does now,” said Dovie.

Escape to the Hummingbird Hotel by Daisy James @daisyjamesbooks @rararesources

About the Book:

Welcome to the Hummingbird Hotel!
When florist-to-the-stars Abbie Coleman catches a glimpse of her boyfriend through the window of Tiffany’s, she couldn’t be more excited. Keen to share her happiness, she organises a huge surprise party for all their family and friends… except things don’t quite work out as she expected, and instead of planning a flower-filled wedding, she finds herself single, and fired from a job she loves.
Desperate to escape her heartbreak, she jets off to her aunt’s quirky Hummingbird Hotel on the gorgeous island of Corfu. Little did she know that instead of spending her time lounging by the pool, drinking cocktails, and soaking up the sun, she’d be stepping into the role of the island’s newest hotelier.
The arrival of unexpected guests sends Abbie into a tailspin of panic, and she’s forced to turn to snippy, but charismatic, vineyard owner-turned-chef, Nikos Angelopoulos, for help. Why does the kitchen fill with smoke whenever she makes coffee? Why is there a naked man swimming in the pool? And why do the hotel’s toiletries turn their guests’ hair pink?
Despite all the chaos, the Hummingbird Hotel works its magic on Abbie, and she finds herself with a decision to make. Will she return home to the drizzly grey skies of London? Or will she take a leap of faith and embrace the new opportunities that little corner of paradise has to offer, and maybe, just maybe, discover a sprinkle of romance along the way?

Where to Buy:

UK –
US –

About the Author:

Daisy James loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. She especially likes to create sunshine-filled settings in exotic locations – the Caribbean, Tuscany, Cornwall, Provence – so she can spend her time envisioning her characters enjoying the fabulous scenery and sampling the local food and drink.When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
Daisy would love to hear from readers via her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter @daisyjamesbooks or on Instagram @booksdaisyjames.

My Review:

I am no stranger to Daisy James’ novels and have loved each one that I have reviewed so far. Sunshine and Secrets (The Paradise Cookery School #1) Mistletoe and Mystery Summer at Villa Limoncello A Wedding at Villa Limoncello Confetti and Confusion.

In Escape to the Hummingbird Hotel, Abbie inherits her aunt’s quirky hotel in Corfu. She is all too ready to escape London after being cheated on and wants a new start. But can she do it?

She thinks Greece will be poolside relaxation, cocktails and sun but life has other plans for her. Will she get used to Greece? How will she like working at the hotel?

Then there’s vineyard owner-turned-chef, Nikos Angelopoulos to contend with…..

Will love and happiness be hers again? Will she stay or will it be back to London?

As always, Daisy James impresses me with her attention for detail and passion for writing romances set in paradise locations. She fleshes every character out well and paints a mean picture of a nemesis.

Thanks to Daisy James and Rachel’s Random Resources for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

5 stars.

The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell @HarlequinBooks

Author: Marcella Bell
ISBN: 9781335773227
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
Publisher: HQN Books

Where to Buy:
Barnes & Noble

Contact Marcella:

Author Website
Facebook: @MarcellaBell

About the Author:

Marcella Bell was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She is a registered yoga teacher, an avid reader, a honeybee enthusiast, and a lover of travel, corvids, and karaoke. A wife, mother, and child of a multicultural household, Marcella is especially interested in writing novels that reflect her family history, as well as the people and places she’s known throughout her life. 

About the Book:

Marcella Bell delivers a bold, uplifting romantic novel in THE WILDEST RIDE (August 10; $16.99). Rodeo meets reality-TV with this never-before-seen Closed Circuit competition, where an undefeated city-boy champion goes head to head with his world-class, kick-ass female rival. Romance ensues as they battle for the million-dollar prize.

At thirty-six, undefeated rodeo champion AJ Garza is supposed to be retiring, not chasing after an all new Closed Circuit rodeo tour with a million-dollar prize. But with the Houston rodeo program that saved him as a wayward teen on the brink of bankruptcy, he’ll enter. And he’ll win.
Enter, Lilian Sorrow Island. Raised by her grandparents on the family ranch in Muscogee, OK, Lil is more a cowboy than city-boy AJ will ever be. It shows. She’s not about to let him steal the prize that’ll save her ranch, even if he is breathtakingly magnificent, in pretty much every way going.

The world watches on as reality-TV meets rodeo in a competition like no other. In front of the cameras they’re each other’s biggest rivals. Off screen, it’s about to get a whole lot more complicated…



On their own, the sheep weren’t that bad. It was the goats that were the problem. They gave the sheep ideas.
And what the hell sheep needed with ideas, Lilian Island did not know.
The dogs, Oreo and Carrot, had gone in opposite directions, each pulling wide to flank the scattered sheep on the left and right while Lil and her horse harried them from behind. As they picked up speed, her heart caught the rhythm of her horse’s hooves thundering against the ground as they chased the lead ewe together, two beings becoming one in motion.
The wind whipped across the shaved sides of her head, drowning out all other sounds beneath its gusty whoosh. It deposited traces of prairie dust in the loosely braided column of black hair that trailed back along the center of her head to hang down the midpoint of her spine.
Lil transferred the reins to her left hand in order to wrap them around the pommel of her saddle, steadying herself with her thighs as she did.
With her right hand, she reached for the rope coiled at her hip.
Her tornado-gray eyes, both narrowed beneath two thick black eyebrows, locked on the sheep like a missile on target.
Woman and horse flanked the sheep. Lil uncoiled the rope with a snap of her wrist while releasing the pommel with her other hand, letting her body tilt down the side of the horse until she was level with their quarry.
This close, she recognized the sheep as BB, or Bossy Betty, the herd’s matriarch.
It just went to show: a fierce woman could be counted on to keep everybody in line, but watch out when they got wild.
Lil surprised herself by laughing out loud as she leaped from the side of her horse to tackle the sheep. Catching three of its legs in her left hand, she quickly roped them off with her right.
She might not be quite as fast as she once was, but there was no denying she still had it.
After a few half-hearted attempts at resistance, BB heaved a huge sigh and slumped against the ground. To the tune of the occasional disgruntled bleat, Lil freed the defeated but unharmed animal.
She made the rope into a makeshift lead and tied the wayward leader to her saddle, giving her a consolation pat along the way, making a mental note to tell Piper that the herd was coming due for shearing.
Still smiling, Lil said to the sheep, “Inconvenient, BB, but it’s been a long time since I did any mutton bustin’.” With a final pat and chuckle, she added, “A damn long time.”
The lingering rush of the chase was familiar—once it got you, the thrill of the ride never really let go—but the wish to do it again, that was unexpected. She was a grown woman, well past her rodeo days.
Sharp barking approaching from her right signaled that Carrot and Oreo were on their way back with the rest of the flock.
Soon they would have the whole herd of them back in the yard, and then Lil could start her actual workday.
Feeding the barn stock was supposed to be her meditative morning ritual.
One that might need reconsideration, she thought as she hooked a foot into her stirrup and swung onto her horse.
The horse was the same stormy gray color as Lil’s eyes, with a black mane and tail matched to the inky midnight tone of Lil’s hair. Fanciful, Lil had named her Aurora, the most beautiful thing she could think of at the time, but everybody called her Rory.
Rory had been Lil’s twenty-fifth birthday present from her granddad. The last one he ever gave her.
Leaning forward, she pressed the side of her face against Rory’s warm neck, breathing deep that unique-in-all-the-world scent that was horse.
Oreo and Carrot brought in the remaining six sheep, and Lil led the group back toward the yard.
The coyotes could have the goats for all she cared. They had been the ones to open the fence.
She turned to Oreo, on her left, “With my luck, they would just eat the coyotes, and then we’d still have the stupid things, plus an enormous vet bill, to boot.”
Oreo gave a cheerful whuff, and Lil tried not to wonder what it meant that the response satisfied her.
Lil led the sheep and dogs back into the barnyard and tied the gate shut with the backup rope. The broken lock needed replacing—another task she added to her mental list. Once a goat figured out the mechanism, you had to get a whole new style lock.
Shaking her head, she unsaddled Rory, brushed the horse down, gave her a pat of hay, and tossed her a handful of oats.
Wrapping up her morning routine, Lil spread feed out in the yard for the chickens. They’d eat bugs and other bits around the farmhouse throughout the day, but it was always a good idea to start the day with a hearty breakfast. Besides, there was comfort in the action of spreading feed, especially after the chaotic morning.
The familiar action finally brought her heart some of the calm she typically found in doing the morning chores. She might spend her days chained to a desk running the business end of things, but she was still a hands-on rancher at heart.
The chickens settled into contented clucking and rooting just in time for Lil to hear her grandmother shriek from the kitchen.
Lil was across the yard in four seconds, up the stairs, and into the kitchen in another two.
Her eyes and muscles worked faster than her mind. Before she knew what she was doing, her rope was out, its tail end lashing out to snake around the delicate wrist of the arm raised against the woman who had raised her.
A flick of Lil’s wrist and the stranger—a woman, after a second more processing—flipped into the air before landing hard on her back on the kitchen floor.
“Lil.” Gran’s voice was cross.
Lil crossed the kitchen in three strides, crouched at the stranger’s side, and rolled her over.
The woman’s face had gone pale and sweaty, all the more unfortunate for being paired with a green three-piece skirt suit with a little too much square in the shoulders. She was probably in her midforties and had a tight perm shorn close to her head. Based on the faint traces of grow-out, the woman was a natural sensible brown that she had dyed an even more sensible brown.
Lil considered the woman for a second longer before saying, casually, “I could shoot you, you know.” Granddad had always said calm was scarier. “You’re in my home, uninvited, and this is Oklahoma.”
“Lil.” Gran’s voice turned up a notch, breaking through the cold rage in her mind. “Apologize.”
Lil’s chin angled up, and her heels dug down, “I’m not saying sorry to this stranger. She was about to hit you.”
Gran’s face cracked with a smile that had a hint of bite in it. She patted the front pocket of her apron before pulling out her mace key chain. It was the color of a purple highlighter. “I might have said a few provoking words about her mother… But that’s beside the point. I had the situation under control. I’ve got my mace. Carry it everywhere since Granddad passed.”
Lil groaned, her mind filled with images of Gran spraying innocent fools in the face, all of which were more comfortable than knowing that carrying mace around was just another sign that Gran felt a little less safe in the world without Granddad around.
“Gran. You know that doesn’t make you any safer. And were you planning to wait until after she hit you to use it?”
The woman cleared her throat, the disapproving sound instantly transporting Lil back in time to her second grade teacher’s class, Mrs. Donkin. Students in Mrs. Donkin’s class were guests in her realm and were expected to act accordingly.
Lil hadn’t liked the sound coming from her teacher, and she certainly didn’t like it coming from a stranger in her own kitchen.
“I’m with the Bank of—”
Lil cut her off with a raised hand. “We all know you’re from the bank—” There were certain professions a person couldn’t hide, no matter how hard they tried—cops, bankers, lawyers, teachers, pastors, and cowboys—each one was obvious a mile away. “As modern bankers aren’t known for door-to-door recruitment, it then seems pretty safe to assume you’re from the bank we do business with, the Bank of Muskogee. Now, we don’t have much in our accounts, so we wouldn’t be the kind of clientele they’d send a representative out all this way to for a friendly check-in. That means you’re here about our larger investment, this ranch. I run the books here, so I can think of a whole host of reasons you might be interested in paying us a visit regarding the ranch. What I can’t think of, though, is a single damn reason you would be in my kitchen, in my home, lifting a hand to my grandmother. I find that so stupefying that it seems only natural to assume you’re capable of anything, moving me toward my only recourse—the use of force to protect myself from attempted injury.”
The woman huffed at Lil’s words but refrained from commenting until she’d risen to her feet, straightened her skirt, dusted off her suit jacket, and patted her hair.
Then she said, “I am with the Bank of Muskogee, and Miss Lilian—I assume you are the Miss Lilian described in my file—I would be happy to explain myself to the authorities, including how you assaulted me, so go ahead and call them.” She had patted her file when referencing it and now stood tapping her foot on the tile flooring. Lil and Granddad had spent weeks one achingly hot summer installing the incredible discontinued turquoise tile. Gran had gotten them for a steal, importing them direct from a Jamaica-based tile maker she’d met in an online forum about beading. The labor had been hard, the result worth it. No one else in Muscogee had a kitchen floor like Gran’s, which was just how she liked it.
The woman’s tapping was becoming irritating, so Lil smiled her mean smile and said, “Nobody said anything about calling anybody. I rather think I’d drive leisurely down to the station to let everyone know what happened after-the-fact if you understand what I’m saying.”
The woman’s mouth made a little O of outrage, and she clutched her file in front of her. “I assure you, I will make a note of this hostility in my file.”
Lil rolled her eyes before crossing her arms in front of her chest. “What’re you here for?”
The woman lifted her nose in the air. “As I was getting to before your grandmother verbally attacked me—”
Lil let out a low growling noise, and the woman stopped talking to take an audible gulp.
“As. I. Was. Saying. The Bank of Muscogee sent me to deliver the news that your bereavement grace period has ended. I am also to remind you that, as per the terms of the agreement, you, the heirs of Herman Island, may, without a down payment, begin making adjusted mortgage payments beginning November of this year. Alternatively, with a new down payment, an adjusted payment set at a rate equal to that of the average final six payments of the previous mortgage is available to you. If none of those options are feasible, you are free to leave the ranch and all of its associated troubles—my file indicates difficulties securing improvement permit approvals and equipment rentals, as well as challenges with making timely mortgage payments—to the bank.”
“Now, what nonsense are you talking about?” Lil asked, eyebrows and nose screwed up in genuine bewilderment. “That file of yours might paint a part of the picture true, but without a doubt, this ranch has one thing going for it, and that’s the fact that it’s paid for.”
The woman shook her head, the movement mechanical like a clock, her expression a blend of smug and pleased that Lil’s mind immediately coined smleased. “Not for the last six and a half years since your grandfather walked through the doors of the central street branch and applied for a reverse mortgage.”
“What?” Lil’s mouth dropped open this time. “You mean those things sleazy banks use to prey on lonely old folk without kin?”
The woman had the gall to look affronted. “Reverse mortgages are an important mode of financial freedom for seniors without traditional options!”
Lil shook her head, amazed. The woman moved like a clock and spoke with all the heart of a robot. “You’re telling me that the Bank of Muscogee somehow fooled my granddad into signing his land away?” Heat built in her chest, making its way upward toward her neck and face.
“The Bank of Muscogee was merely the facilitator. Your grandfather walked in, submitted the appropriate paperwork, and walked out with 1.2 million dollars.”
Lil laughed. “$1.2 million? Lady, you had me going. You truly did. But you lost me at 1.2 million dollars. I spent nearly every day of the last two years of his life with my granddad. If he’d have had a million dollars, I would have known about it.”
Gran, having been quietly observing the exchange, chose the moment to reenter the conversation. “She’s telling the truth, Lil.”
Lil’s head whipped around to face her gran. “That’s crazy, Gran. Where’d the money go if he did it?”
“I found the money.”
All the heat building inside abandoned Lil as swiftly as it’d arrived, leaving her shivering in the morning warmth of the kitchen.
“He set up a separate account. Most of it’s gone. Spent on the ranch before you go worrying,” Gran said, looking severe and firm. “Your granddad was a good man. I haven’t worked it all out yet, but the secret was his only sin.”
Some of the tightness left Lil’s chest at her gran’s words, but she mumbled, “It’s a big enough sin.”
“Lilian Island, I’ll not have you speaking ill of the dead.”
“How could he have done this?”
For a moment, it was as if the bank representative had disappeared, and it was just the two of them, a bewildered granddaughter trying to understand the world from her weary widowed grandmother.
Gran shook her head, the motion small for all the volumes it spoke. “He must have had a good reason.”
The woman from the bank cleared her throat. “Yes. Well. Your grandfather’s motivations notwithstanding, it is my task to get your signature on this paper, which states I’ve informed you of the terms of the reverse mortgage.” She held up a multipage form, the top few pages folded back to reveal a signature line at the base of a long page, which she jabbed with a finger Lil knew had done more than its fair share of pointing.
Gran’s eyebrow ticked up, and Lil’s stomach tightened on reflex—years spent under the woman’s watchful eye had taught her to be wary of that look.
Gran was irritated and through with the woman’s presence in her kitchen.
Without speaking a word, with barely even a glance in the woman’s direction, Gran’s arm flashed out and signed the paper, the whole motion eerily like the one she had so often reached back and used to smack some sense into her old fool cowboy of a husband.
Lil wondered if the millions of tiny memories she stumbled into each day on the ranch would always hurt. This deep into them with no sign of abating, she’d nearly reconciled herself to the fact that chances were they would.
On a groan, Lil said, “Gran, you can’t just sign like that. You didn’t even look at the document.”
The bank woman virtually salivated. “Thank you, Mrs. Island. I’m sure the bank will be pleased with your response.”
Gran scoffed, still not looking at the woman. “I’m sure they will be SherriDawn Daniels, but, as I was saying before you so rudely lost your temper after I invited you into my home, it won’t get you any closer to knowing who your real daddy is.”
Lil grimaced, and SherriDawn—old enough to be Lil’s mother and, who had, according to Gran, been one of the wild girls Lil’s mother had palled around with as a teen—actually growled.
Lil’s hand tensed at her side, ready to repeat the scene from earlier if need be.
But this time SherriDawn held her temper, instead, plastering a broad smile on her face, saying through clenched teeth, “I’ll just be on my way, now, Mrs. Island. It was nice seeing you again.”
Gran cackled. “Don’t you lie to me, SherriDawn. I’ve seen right through you since you were fifteen years old, and don’t pretend like it isn’t true.”
The growling sound moved lower down into her throat, but this time SherriDawn took the wise course: she shut her mouth, clasped her briefcase, and swiveled narrowly to the door.
Watching her walk away, so prim and proper that it seemed anally uncomfortable, it was hard to imagine SherriDawn might have been wild enough to ride with her mother. In Lil’s mind, her mother represented all that was wild and dangerous, as well as what happened when you chased after it. She’d been wild enough to run around and have herself a baby by a mystery man she refused to name at sixteen. Wild enough to run off and never come back, leaving that baby to be raised by her grandparents.
SherriDawn didn’t seem like she had the balls for all of that.
After the door slammed shut, the old screen let to fall without care by SherriDawn on her way out, Gran gathered herself with a shuddering breath, which she then let out on a long theatrical sigh.
Lil’s Spidey senses tingled.
Given what Gran already seemed to know about things, the whole scene with SherriDawn now seemed put on. And Gran’s long sigh was telling. That meant that all of it—goading the bank woman, the dramatic reveal, perhaps even the sheep and the goats, now that Lil was thinking about it—was part of one of Gran’s plots then.
If she knew her gran, and she did like the back of her hand, this one would be related to the reverse mortgage but would be no less outrageous for being grounded in their real problems.
Gran put on a sober look before sighing. “Everyone ought to be here—I only want to say this once.” Then she opened her mouth and hollered at the top of her considerable lungs, “PIPER! TOMMY!”
Piper, their petite red-haired farmhand, came running in first, clearly having grabbed the closest thing at hand to use as a weapon if needed—a horseshoe.
Tommy, Lil’s live-in cousin from Granddad’s side, had a rifle.
Steady, dependable, Tommy.
“What’s going on?” they asked in unison.
“You’re all going to want to sit down for this,” Gran said with an arm toward the kitchen table and more weariness in her voice than the unveiling of a scheme usually allowed.
Following her grandmother’s gesture, Lil noticed for the first time the plaid thermos of coffee that sat in the center of the round table.
It wasn’t the new stainless steel one.
Gran had taken out the plaid one. She reserved the plaid thermos for tough conversations.
Four chairs sat around the table, each with an empty coffee mug in front of it.
Lil’s seat, where she sat now that she knew what was going on, was the east point of the compass of their table.
Gran sat in the north, Tommy the south, and Piper the west.
Granddad had always been in the northeast, a steady anchor between Gran and Lil.
Without him, they held each other as best they could, but both had become more prone to drifting.
Gran waited for everyone to pour a cup before she spoke. “I’ll start with the good news. We have each other. We have our stock, and, for the moment, we have the land.”
“Not a promising start, Gran,” Lil observed.
“It is when it might be all we’ve got,” Gran said simply. “Unbeknownst to me, Granddad took a reverse mortgage on the ranch in the years before he died. I received a letter informing me of this in the mail last week.”
Lil frowned. That Gran had sat on information this critical for a week settled about as well as lemon juice in cream.
Gran continued, “After some digging, what I can piece together is this: about five years ago, Granddad lost the Wilson drive contract.”
Lil shook her head. “That’s impossible. He went right up until he died. That’s half the reason he got sick in the first place.”
Gran placed a hand on Lil’s wrist, just below where the hand attached to it had clenched into a fist.
Gran, never one to pull her punches, said: “He didn’t go. He kept a separate bank account for the money, and he tracked his expenses. He spent the time in Tulsa at a hotel renting movies and ordering room service.” A half smile broke through the frustration. “Greedy old cuss.”
But it wasn’t an endearing foible to Lil’s frame of mind. He had lied to them, and, in his own words, like all lies, it had spiraled into an avalanche of deceit.
“In the agreement, he included a provision to give us extra time before we had to make a decision, but that time is up. We have sixty days to come up with a down payment for the ranch, following which the bank will establish monthly mortgage payments. Every way I’ve looked at it, it’s our only option. We would never be able to afford the payment the bank offered without the down payment. But nobody is going to evict us from land my husband’s family has held on to, hardscrabble as it’s been, through hell on earth.” The last she directed specifically to Lil and Tommy. Through their granddad’s line, Tommy and Lil were Muscogee Creek Freedmen, the descendants of enslaved people under the double burden of being property during the relocation and later forced removal of the Muscogee from their homelands in the southeast. And after the tribe disenrolled the freedmen in the seventies, their citizenship revoked in a blow her granddad had never quite recovered from, this land, this dry patch of Oklahoma allotted to their family after the Civil War—insignificant dust mote of a ranch that it was—was the only proof they had left, the only hint as to how their family had ended up in Oklahoma in the first place. Tearing folks from their history was one of the ways to break them, so Lil’s family had held on to theirs through their land—through cultural hostility, the dust bowl, outright deception, attempts to steal, and everything else that time and life had thrown their way.
They had refused to sell even when their neighbors, cousins, and relatives packed up and left, seeking the green of other pastures and the heat of other suns. The Islands had stuck it out, and the reward was being able to say they’d held on to the first and only thing they’d ever been given.
Until now.
Lil was glad she had taken Gran’s advice to sit down. The floor had become somewhat less substantial beneath her boots.
It occurred to her that they were nice boots. She could probably sell them for some quick cash. It wouldn’t be anywhere near enough if what she thought might be true was true.
Sixty days wasn’t enough time at all. Lil frowned. They had a cash reserve of five thousand to keep them and the stock fed through a pinch, and they had the value of their stock itself, which could bring in another eighty thousand in a quick sale at auction, but as far as she knew, they didn’t have any other assets.
Her 1980s Toyota was too beat up to be worth anything, and she didn’t own any personal items of value.
Finally, she found her voice. “But why would Granddad do something like that?”
Gran sighed. “I don’t think that he could admit he was too old to do it all himself anymore. Looking at his paperwork, in addition to withdrawing the amounts it took to look like he’d still been going on the drives, it looks like he’d been dipping in those funds rather liberally.”
“Rory…” Lil grimaced. She had wondered where he’d scrounged up the money for a papered Arabian filly.
Now she knew.
Gran nodded. “And Gorgeous,” she said, referring to the brand new Subaru station wagon that sat in her driveway, souped-up with every safety and luxury feature available.
Lil brought her fingers to her temples and rubbed. “So how much is left in his secret pot then?” she asked.
Gran shook her head. “Just ten thousand.”
“What?” Lil gasped.
Whining wasn’t her usual way, but, as the woman from the bank had gone, and there was no one left to throttle, it was the only option available.
“Don’t be theatrical.” Gran’s comment was automatic, so much so that Lil wasn’t even sure the woman noticed she’d made it, nor that, as far as statements went, it was the pot calling the kettle. “They want twenty percent for the down payment. We don’t have that.”
Lil groaned. “Nor enough for the mortgage payments after that. We’re barely making it by as is.” Lil couldn’t tell the truth: they weren’t making it. She had been contemplating selling equipment to stretch the final distance to make ends meet. Every month it was a struggle, but Lil had been somehow managing, just eking it out of the red. A mortgage payment, any mortgage payment, would break them.
Gran waited a beat after Lil’s interruption, punctuating the unspoken admonishment with a lifted eyebrow and communicating clearly without words: Are you done yet?
Lil blushed.
“But—” Gran continued. “We have each other. And we have Lil.”
The way her gran said her name made the hair stand up on the back of her neck, but when she opened her mouth to question, her grandmother lifted her palm to her, a signal to Lil to hold her tongue.
Out of respect, she did.
“Lil. You’re on temporary reassignment.”
“What are you talking about?” Lil asked.
“I’m the owner, aren’t I?” she asked.
“Yes, but we agreed that I was in charge of daily operations.”
“I’ve changed my mind.”
“I can do your job. Nobody but you can do what we need you for now.”
Here was the plot then. Lil’s skin crawled with a warning, but she asked anyway, “And what is that?”
Gran handed her a glossy quarter sheet flyer in response. Lil read the largest print and then set it facedown on the table and brought her fingers to her temples.
Gran’s voice was soft when she next spoke. “We need the money, Lil. I don’t see any other way.”
Lil groaned.
Gran added, “You’re the best there’s ever been.”
The old woman wasn’t pulling any punches.
Lil’s voice flirted with the edge of hysteria. “Says a nobody’s grandma with a stopwatch and pasture.”
“‘Nobody’s grandma?’ Excuse you.” She pointed to the third line of the flyer, “Did you see the prize? There are no points required, just a qualifier. It’s part of the whole thing. Like American Idol.”
Lil went ahead and dove fully into hysteria. When she spoke, her voice squeaked high to low like a pubertal boy. “American Idol?”
Gran’s next words had the same effect as being hit by a bucket of cold water: “You could ride a bull.”
Lil’s body froze and tingled at the same time.
She hadn’t stepped foot in an arena in years and never competed in a PBRA-sponsored rodeo.
She had walked away a junior champion and ridden pro a few times in the Indian National Rodeo rodeos. Still, the world of rodeo mostly had forgotten about her—except for the few administrators who would always remember her as the girl who had tried and failed, over and over, to get women into the PBRA’s, the Professional Bull Riders Association, rough stock events. Because in Lil’s mind, what did it matter if she won every other event if she couldn’t win on the back of a bull?
She was skilled enough to have made a good living between women’s events in the PBRA and the Indian rodeos, but if she couldn’t ride a bull under the banner of PBRA, she didn’t want any of it.
So she rode for a college scholarship and then quit when she graduated instead. And then she’d come back to the ranch. End of story. And that was good enough for her.
Since her retirement, rodeo had opened up a lot, and she was happy for the younger generation. A handful of girls had even been allowed on top of bulls. None had made it far, but Lil knew it was only a matter of time.
She shook her head with a sigh. “I can’t, Gran. I’m rusty as an old nail, and there’s just too much to do around here. Besides, the ranch is too much for Tommy and Piper to run on their own.”
Gran snorted. “You work in the office most of the day, anyway.”
“Gran, you don’t have the energy for it,” Lil insisted.
“Energy? Hell, after more years of doing it than you’ve been alive, I could do the ranch’s books half asleep—and have! I just let you take over because it’s a snoozefest.”
“Snoozefest? Gran, do you hear yourself?” Lil turned to Piper and Tommy for help, “You don’t support this, do you?”
Both shrugged.
Piper said, “We trust Gran.”
Gran crossed her arms in front of her chest and lifted a brow. “They trust me.”
“It’s a lot more work,” Lil tried.
Tommy said, “We’ve been doing more and more of it while you’ve been up there pinching pennies.”
Lil’s cheeks heated, but she didn’t contradict him. He and Piper had been pulling more and more of her weight as she tried to do the impossible.
The impossible that she wasn’t very good at. The impossible that Gran could do in her sleep—which was true. Gran ran a tight ship, whatever ship she came to, and she had been far more organized in running Swallowtail Ranch than Lil could ever hope to be.
They had supported her through the last sad and stumbling years. Participating in this crazy scheme was what they were asking of her in return.
Mentally sweating, Lil pushed her chair back, its legs screeching across the floor, and stood up. Turning around, she headed to the door without saying another word.
“Where are you going, Lilian?” Gran only used her full name when she got stern.
Lil stopped mid-step. “I’m going to clear out my desk,” she said.
Behind her back, Gran smiled. Lil didn’t have to see it to know it was true. Gran always smiled when she got what she wanted, and she always got what she wanted.
“Don’t worry about that now. You’ve got training to do. Gotten a bit out of shape, if you ask me.”
Piper erupted in a fit of witchy cackles as Lil stormed out of the kitchen. Ignoring them all, Lil went to her office.
On the second floor of the farmhouse, the room used to be her gran and granddad’s bedroom, but she and Gran had turned it into the office after he passed. Gran said she couldn’t bear to sleep in there alone.
It made a lovely office—wide and bright, with delicately framed French doors that led to a weight-bearing balcony. Weight-bearing because Lil’s summer project last year had been to reinforce the support beams, replace the decking, and weather coat the whole thing.
She figured that should get her five years’ worth of good use of Muskogee’s extreme annual mood swings before she’d need to do any repairs. That is if she kept up on refinishing it every year, which she had planned to, since walking out on the balcony had preserved her sanity after a long stint of pushing paper many a time.
She walked through the doors and stood there now, enjoying it while she could still call it hers. There were bills to pay, orders to fulfill, and emails to respond to, but that wasn’t her job now. Now her job was to enter a rodeo contest and try to win some money to save the ranch.
And to think she’d thought the goats were bad.

Excerpted from The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell, Copyright © 2021 by Marcella Bell. Published by HQN.

I Let Her Go by JA Andrews @JasonA1980 @rararesources

My Review:

I Let Her Go is my first novel by J.A. Andrews.

When Lucy is abandoned by her mother, she ends up in a foster home. She thinks Amber, a girl she meets there, will be a friend for life after they make a pact. Josh is at the home, too. Linda is the foster carer. Amber and Lucy want to get away from her and they try to one day. But Amber doesn’t return.

Where is she? Suspicions rise. Was Lucy really the good friend to Amber she claimed to be? I was wondering if she helped her escape or if she hurt her in some way as the story unfolded and was eager to see what would happen.

I did not like Josh and Linda, they seemed strict and self-centered. I did wonder if they had done something and also if Lucy was innocent.

Who is innocent and who is guilty? The tension is well built up and I liked the alternating points of view as a chapter structure because they helped go deeper into each character’s experience and helped the already fast pace. The pacing was fast but not so fast I could not keep track of what was going on.

I Let Her Go is a twisty, at times slightly dark thriler that is gripping. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thanks to J.A. Andrews, as well as the publisher and Rachel’s Random Resources for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars

Surprise Reunion for His Cinderella @HQNBooks @rararesources

About the Book:

Can one week in paradise……heal ten years of heartache?
When the elite M dating agency sends wealthy Freddie Highgrove to the Seychelles for a weeklong “date,” the last person he’s expecting to be matched with is Jasmine Walker, his first love and ex-fiancée! Ten years ago, his family’s expectations for a high-society marriage sent housekeeper’s daughter Jasmine running. Can one week in paradise bring them back together?

Where to Buy:

About the Author:

Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heartwarmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.She’s been writing since she could put pen to paper as the stacks of scrawled on A4 sheets in her loft will attest to, and the lovingly bound short stories that her father would run off at work and proudly share out with his colleagues. Thinking it was a pipe dream to be published one day, she pursued a sensible career in business but she was really play-acting, achieving the appropriate degree and spending many years in the corporate world where she never truly belonged. Always happiest when she was sat at her laptop in the quiet hours tapping out a story or two. And so here she is, a published author, her full-time pleasure, a dream come true.A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she’s not glued to her laptop, she’s wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.

Contact Rachael:

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Giveaway to Win Prize bundle of 2 Rachael Stewart paperbacks plus assorted goodies (Open INT)
Prize Contains – – Paperback of Tempted by the Tycoon’s Proposal

  • Paperback of Surprise Reunion with His Cinderella
  • Mills & Boon Notebook
  • Rose Gold Pen
  • Cute Placemat
  • Lip balm
  • Sweets
  • Heart post-its
  • Author Swag

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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My Review:

Freddie and Jasmine were once engaged and they thought what they had was in the past. Each has got on with life, or tried to, but they have not been lucky in love again.

“M” Dating Agency is known for sweeping potential love matches off to exotic locations. When Freddie is one of the chosen ones, the last person he ever expects to see is Jasmine.

I love Mills and Boon romances. I know there are so many by different authors. Rachael Stewart is a new author to me, and how talented she is!

I felt a book with this type of plot could have gone either way and been hot and engrossing or written in a less engaging manner since I have had different experiences with books with similar plots.

Fortunately, I was hooked by it. I immediately got inside each character and loved the way their past came out in inner thoughts. All the conversation surrounding them meeting again was natural for the circumstances and I got the feeling pretty early on that both Jasmine and Freddie were complex characters.

Freddie is Scottish but has moved to the US and I liked how we learnt so much just from a small mention of the changes to his accent. That was enough for me to understand how Jasmine felt at his moving on.

The initial meeting was so well done that I could feel the awkwardness, the not knowing if they wanted to be in the same room but having to be because of the date circumstances. The wanting to remember some things and not others. It was just so true-to-life.

A lot of the book is inner dialogue, but I didn’t mind that as the characters are so well fleshed out. I wanted to know every little thing about them.

Jasmine is the more sensitive of the two, and I was proud of the way she pulled herself together when tears threatened. I identified with being sensitive. This to me shows she’s real.

Surprise Reunion with His Cinderella is the second book in the Billion-Dollar Matches series, and I so want to get a copy of the others. I was really looking for a gripping excapist read with characters to root for and that’s what this is.

I was wondering fom the start if Jasmine and Freddie would have a HEA (Happily Ever After) whether it be as lovers or friends and wondering about that had me racing through the book. The writing style is contagiously gripping and I loved the blind date will-they-won’t they premise.

The Seychelles is a beautiful location on my dream vacation list and that came alive in this novel too.

Whether you yourself have been lucky in love or not as I have been, Freddie, Jasmine and the Seychelles will captivate you.

I have had some disaster dates that were blind dates but I enjoyed this all the same.

Surprise Reunion with His Cinderella is a standalone novel within a romance series.

Thanks to Rachael Stewart, Harlequin Mills and Boon and Rachel’s Random Resources for my ARC in exchange for sn honest and voluntary review.

5 stars

Finished Products and Life Update: July

My finished products this month are:

W7 Lemon Meringue anti-redness eyeshadow primer

Cien Volume Mascara in Black

Cien Argan Oil Body Milk 400ml

L’Oreal Elvive Colored Hair Shampoo 750ml

Beauty Formulas Coconut Milk Facial Scrub 150ml

I hit pan on my Kiko Cream Crush eyeshadow in shade 05, Silver Rose.

July, as always, is Camp NaNoWriMo month. I wasn’t convinced about which project to work on and I couldn’t think of anything new so I edited some short stories I have.

I emailed some magazines as I am still wanting to publish my work. I am trying with short stories first as well as still looking for a publisher for my novels.

I want my writing projects to reach the disability organisations who helped me in my life as well as anyone else who may be interested.

I feel happy that I have started contacting magazines and that some of the disability organisations got back to me.

I didn’t get into the AutoCrit Writing Challenge Anthology, but it was fun working on my story for it this year. I will keep trying to get into the anthology.

I watched the video for the AutoCrit Destination Unknown Challenge, which I did last year. I am glad it’s back again. I saw all the videos that followed and took part in the challenge. I chose 1000 words as my goal to keep it short as I didn’t want to do anything longer. I finished my story in the first week and edited in the second. The story doesn’t require submitting anywhere through this contest.

I am 142 books into my Goodreads Challenge and since I originally thought I’d get through 50, I am pleased to have discovered so many good books.

I have decided to do the Dewey’s Reverse Readathon again. There are eight optional pre-Readathon prompts and the event itself is on August 6th and 7th, starting at 8PM EST on August 6 and ending at 8AM on the 7th, instead of going from AM to PM like the Readathon usually does.

I have now had the two doses of the Coronavirus vaccine, as has my husband. More about that in another post.

Overall, it has been a pretty productive month, especially when I wasn’t sure how productive I’d end up being.

Sun, Sea and Summer Vibes by Zoe Allinson @zoeallisonauth1 @rararesources

About the Book:

Sometimes first impressions are far from the truth…
Nina Darwish is a scientist who likes to proceed with caution and careful deliberation. When she arrives at the party destination of Ibiza to play PA for her best friend and international pop sensation Isla Starr, she has trouble adapting to the carefree and easy-going vibe on the island. The situation isn’t aided by Isla’s seemingly surly yet irritatingly attractive music producer, the world-renowned dance DJ Logan Wild, known by his real name—Cameron—to his friends. Plus, Nina’s run-ins with, and repeated rebuttal of, an extremely entitled and very annoying male singer named Zac don’t help to aid her mood.
Unbeknownst to Nina, Cameron remembers her from the past, when he was a geeky student who admired her from afar. Unfortunately, it’s clear that Nina considers him ill-natured, no doubt due to his natural awkwardness, which he masks using a stage persona. However, even if that weren’t the situation, he’s involved in a dead-end relationship with his celebrity girlfriend Ash. Plus, Nina’s eye appears to have been drawn onto Ash’s no good ex-boyfriend, Zac, therefore there’s no point in believing anything could ever happen between them.
But despite all of that being the case, for some reason, he just cannot stop thinking about her.

Where to Buy:

First for Romance (Totally Bound’s bookstore):
Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

About the Author:

Growing up, Zoe Allison loved stories about falling in love. But rather than being rescued by a knight in shining armour, she imagined herself fighting dragons alongside him, battling supervillains as heroic allies, or teaming up to dive into perilous waters in order to save a loved one from drowning. Once Zoe did grow up, she became a doctor. But as time went on, she craved a creative outlet to counter the soul sapping burnout that her career inflicted upon her, and also to achieve those happy endings that were so often lacking in the real world. She wanted heroes who truly love and value women, who find their true love inspiring, are fascinated by her, want to connect with her as a soulmate and fully open themselves to her on an emotional level. And so, Zoe began to write her romances.

A Zoe Allison novel promises a heroine who is not only her hero’s equal in ability and intellect, but whose hero equals her in emotional intelligence. Her characters overcome conflict infused with spine tingling sexual tension to forge a deep connection as soul mates as well as lovers, and ultimately, they both rescue each other emotionally. Even if they might begin their journey as enemies…

Contact Zoe:


Worn Out Wife Seeks New Life by Carmen Reid @thiscarmenreid @carmenreidwrites @bookandtonic @rararesources

About the Book:

Tess Simpson needs a break!
Under appreciated at home, overlooked at work and now her beloved dog Bella has died. Tess has simply had enough!
So in a spur of the moment act, Tess books a holiday of a lifetime for her, her two grown up kids and useless husband Dave. Maybe they can use the break to reconnect with each other?
But when the kids refuse to go, and Dave breaks his leg, Tess’s dream holiday looks seriously in doubt. And then there’s River Romero, the glamourous LA screen writer who is supposed to be house-sitting for Tess whilst she’s away….
Everything about River sounds so much more exciting than Tess’s boring life in Stratford Upon Avon. From her beautiful LA condo and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Tess wonders whether a bit of River’s LA life might be exactly what she needs? So when River suggests a house swap, Tess jumps at the chance!
With Dave happily ensconced in the summer house at the bottom of the garden, the kids not needing mum anymore, Tess packs her bags and heads off for the adventure of a lifetime.
But real life isn’t like the movies, and when Tess arrives in LA, things aren’t exactly as they seem.
Will Tess find what’s she’s looking for or is getting away from it all isn’t all perhaps not all it’s cracked up to be?

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About the Author:

Carmen Reid is the bestselling author of numerous woman’s fiction titles including the Personal Shopper series starring Annie Valentine. After taking a break from writing she is back, introducing her hallmark feisty women characters to a new generation of readers. Her first title for Boldwood will be published in July 2021. She lives in Glasgow with her husband and children.

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My Review:

Worn Out Wife Seeks New Life is the story of two women who want more from life.

Tess Simpson is a wife and mother who feels like no-one appreciates her at home or work.

River Romero is a scriptwriter from LA who wants an escape.

From the synopsis, I was reminded of the film The Holiday which I loved, for this book has the same escapist vibe. I did find it was easy to get into for the first few scenes and then felt let down when I realised this was a daydream. It was so atmospheric.

Then much of the first chapters was work-centered which I didn’t find that enthralling as it took away from the fun opening but which did provide some of Tess’s workplace backstory and a sense of “this is my dream life versus this is the reality. ” It did feel very drawn out.

I was much more interested when Tess and River ended up in their respective hose swap properties. For River, it was Tess’s rural home and Tess ended up in LA. Once the swap begins, it’s fun, and there are some funny parts but we also experience each character’s reality in life before, during and after the house swap. Will they appreciate what they really have? Will they want to come home? Will others in their life appreciate them more?

I did find it hard to relate to Tess and River at times.

Worn Out Wife Seeks New Life is an escapist book and it’s well-written but I would have liked less chapters filled with exclusively work-related situations for Tess and I expected the swap to take place sooner.

Thanks to Carmen Reid, Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

3.5 stars