Blog Tour: What Happens in France by Carol Wyer

Title: What Happens in France

 

Author Name: Carol Wyer

 

Previous Books (if applicable): TBC

 

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 

Release Date: 28th January 2019

 

Cover Image:

Book Blurb:

She stood and took her place in front of the camera… It was now or never”
Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.

With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.

Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…

This heartwarming romantic comedy of friendship, family and laugh-out-loud adventures is perfect for fans of Kirsty Greenwood, Colleen Coleman and Marian Keyes.

My Review:

I was introduced by this book’s title so downloaded it straight away. The cover is very eye catching and I was hooked by the synopsis. However, as soon as I started it I realised that the book has very sad undercurrents, with Bryony’s father’s health being far from good because of a stroke. I have my own chronic health issues and live with disabilities so I immediately identified with the family.

I’m a very sensitive person and was very moved by the sadness that Bryony’s father’s stroke caused her and her mum. I just wanted to appear in the book and hug them. On top of that, Bryony’s sister Hannah has not been part of the family since she went missing at age 16, which was 30 years ago. I found Bryony’s attempts to search for her humbling and was touched by the blog entries she wrote. The tone in which they were written was as if she were talking to her sister face to face and were moving and at times frank and very true to life.

Hannah was a real fan of reality TV shows and Bryony sees the game show, What Happens in France, as an opportunity to find Hannah and finally reunite the family.

She and team mates Lewis jet off to rural France to participate. There, Bryony sees she is in for a real adventure. Will she and Lewis hit it off? Is love on the cards and will she find Hannah? Read this if you want to know. Bryony is courageous, strong driven and pours her heart into everything she does. There’s a real sense of the importance of family in this novel which I loved and it really begs the question: What would you do to reunite your family?

The book will make you feel, think, smile and cry. Such an amazing tale. The writing just flows so well too.

What happens in France was suspenseful, sweet and, far from being a slushy romance, I’d say it is “a romance with edge.” The plot has an excellent pace and so many layers. This was the perfect introduction to Carol Wyer’s books for me and I really want to discover more of her books. 5 stars.

Thanks to Carol Wyer and Canelo for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review and my blog tour slot for this title.
Links to Book:
Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio:


As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Twitter: @carolewyer

CHAPTER ONE

THURSDAY, 6 JULY – AFTERNOON

 

Bryony drew up outside Melinda’s house. The gaily coloured yellow front door stood out boldly among the row of identical houses, all of which had brown doors. The door was much like Melinda herself. Melinda was a one-off and she didn’t much care if others thought her odd or different. It was one of the things Bryony loved about her. In Bryony’s opinion, her friend’s front door was far more inviting than the others in the street. Someone – no doubt Sean’s father – had planted clumps of marigolds in the garden. A grinning garden gnome in a ridiculous costume and bright red hat dangled his rod into the flowers. The wooden sign hanging from a nail on the front door read: ‘Forget the Dog. Beware of the Wife,’ adding to the impression that this was a house filled with fun and frivolity.

Bryony rang the doorbell and waited. The door opened wide and there stood Melinda, a huge smile on her round face as always. Her smooth chestnut bob clung to her head like a helmet but her large brown eyes sparkled with youthful enthusiasm.

‘Come in,’ she said, wiping her hands on a faded tea towel. ‘You’ve arrived at just the right time. I’ve finished putting the final touches on the casserole and it’s ready to go in the oven. We’d best go in the kitchen. Freddie’s off school. He had a temperature this morning so I let him stay at home. He’s been playing with his Lego again and there are bricks everywhere in the lounge. I daren’t clean in there. Sean had to fix the vacuum cleaner last time because I hoovered up several yellow bricks and they got stuck in the pipe. Anyway, I’ve finished my housewifely chores and am ready for a glass of wine. Make that a very large glass of wine. Care to join me?’

‘It’s only one o’clock,’ protested Bryony.

‘And? You haven’t got to go back to work, so why not?’

Bryony laughed. ‘Only a small one. I have to drive, remember.’

Melinda led the way into the kitchen, a friendly space that oozed warmth and contentment. The fridge was covered with plastic letters spelling ‘Freddie’, ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’. Several drawings had been added to the side of it: one of a large sun shining over a house, one of a large dinosaur and another of three stick figures holding hands. Plastic animals adorned the shelf above the sink and a piece of pottery showcasing the small handprint of a child took pride of place; next to it stood a photograph of a grinning boy with dark hair and chocolate-brown eyes who looked exactly like his mother.

Melinda swept away small pots of herbs into a cupboard and extracted two glasses from another, all the while moving plates and pans into the sink so they were out of view. Bryony sniffed the air. It smelt of warm dough and lemon essence. A rack of scones stood cooling next to a sponge cake. Melinda had indeed been busy.

The bright room was dominated by a huge dining table protected by a plastic, floral tablecloth. A chubby face peered out from under the table.

‘Hello, Briny.’

‘Hello, Freddie. What are you doing under the table?’

‘I’m not under the table. I’m in a boat. This is my sky,’ replied the boy, solemn-faced, pointing to the underside of the kitchen table. ‘It’s night-time. I’ve been travelling all day. I’m sailing to Zanzibar.’

Bryony lifted the cloth to get a closer look. Freddie was seated in a large cardboard box, his mother’s egg whisk in one hand and red spatula in the other, ‘paddling’ from one end of the table to the other. He wore a pirate’s hat made of newspaper and somebody had painted a black moustache under his nose.

‘Are you looking for treasure?’ asked Bryony.

The boy shook his head. ‘I’m looking for a new country to live in. Daddy says he’s fed up of this one,’ he said then set about rocking his body to make the box slide along the floor. Melinda shrugged her shoulders in a display of astonishment and passed a glass of wine to Bryony. Melinda took a sip and sighed with pleasure. Freddie crawled out from under the table and handed Bryony his whisk.

‘Mummy, I’m going to get my dinosaurs. They want to go to Zanzibar too,’ he shouted as he scurried off.

‘Zanzibar?’ Bryony said.

‘I’ve no idea where that came from. Maybe it was from one of his bedtime books. I expect it’s sunny there and the roads have no potholes. Sean spent an hour complaining about the state of the roads last night. He hit an extra-large pothole on his way home. I don’t think the van’s too damaged but Sean wasn’t happy. He went on about England being a third-world country and grumbled that we should all move to a better one. He wasn’t serious but obviously our little earwigging child decided he was.’ She slugged back the remainder of her wine. ‘I needed that. It’s been a long day. I envy these younger mums. It’s tough racing after a hyperactive five-year-old when you’re well into your thirties.’

‘You do a fantastic job. Freddie is a credit to you. He’s a well-balanced, healthy boy and that’s all down to your parenting skills. You’re always there for him and you spend loads of time with him. You’re a fantastic mother.’

Melinda blushed. ‘Being a mother wasn’t exactly what I planned but it is the best job ever,’ she admitted.

‘Who’d have thought the career-minded, hard-nosed Melinda Ashbrook would become a full-time mother, eh?’

‘Less of the hard-nosed, thank you. I loved being a crime scene investigator but I’m so lucky to be in a situation where I get to be a stay at home mum.’

Singing from the room next door indicated Freddie had now abandoned his plans to row to Zanzibar and was watching television.

Bryony regarded her friend, whose face had taken on the look of maternal pride that accompanied a child’s achievement. There was no doubt that Sean and Freddie had transformed her. Bryony recalled the first time Melinda had brought Sean back to their flat, eyes glittering with mischief but still nervous in his ill-fitting suit he’d worn to impress them both.

Sean had succeeded in exposing Melinda’s gentler side that hitherto had been well and truly concealed. Being the only daughter in a family of four boys, and the youngest sibling to boot, she had learnt to stand up for herself at an early age and give away nothing in the emotion department. Her brothers had signed up for the Armed Forces but Melinda had followed in their grandfather’s footsteps, studied forensic science, and become a crime scene investigator with the police force.

Bryony had all the time in the world for her friend. Without her, Bryony’s time at school would have been even more horrendous than it already was. Melinda had been her friend and protector on more than one occasion, and in return Bryony had offered her unwavering affection and friendship that would always stand the test of time.

Melinda pointed at the small television screen on the wall above the kitchen table. ‘Ooh! Turn it up, Bry. It’s Professor David Potts, the gorgeous host of Mate or Date? Now, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed. He could charm me with that Irish lilt of his alone. Makes me go weak at the knees thinking about it.’

‘Behave yourself, woman. You’re happily married to Sean. If anyone should be thinking about such nonsense, it’s me.’ She pointed the remote at the set. ‘You’re right though. Professor Potts is absolutely divine. Lovely accent, piercing blue eyes, charisma. I wouldn’t want to be on a dating show but I’d happily spend all night listening to him explain the Theory of Relativity or even the offside rule in football. He is one very sexy man.’

Bryony turned up the volume and both women watched Professor Potts talking about the importance of protecting elephants in the wild. Once it was over, Melinda turned off the set.

‘I’d definitely trade in Sean for that man. He makes my toes tingle.’

Bryony laughed again. ‘That’s never going to happen. You and Sean are soulmates. I can’t imagine you ever trading him in. You and he are great together.’

‘We are, although some days I feel like I need an adventure – a whole new sexual adventure. A girl can dream, can’t she?’

‘Get a grip, woman. You two should spend more time together, without Freddie. Remind yourselves of what it was that attracted you to each other. Freddie arrived so quickly after you got together you didn’t have many opportunities to enjoy life as a couple. Why not have a date night? I’ll babysit Freddie for you.’

‘You and your sensible suggestions. You’re right, of course. We ought to light candles, play soft music and rip each other’s clothes off with unbridled lust but to be honest we’re both a bit tired these days. My mind is willing but my flesh is wobbly and not up for it. Talking of babysitting Freddie – he’ll be staying over at my mum’s at the weekend. He loves Granny Brigitte. She cooks him pancakes and lets him eat jelly beans. So, do you fancy coming around for booze, crisps and a bit of a murder mystery game?’

Bryony shook her head. ‘Shouldn’t you and Sean be enjoying some time together? Alone.’

‘Nah, honestly we’re fine. I’m crazy about Sean. And we see enough of each other. If I needed time away with him, I’d take it. The grandparents are always willing to have Freddie. It’s me. I don’t like parting with Freddie or being away from him.’

Bryony felt a small pang of envy. Although she didn’t begrudge her friend any happiness, she would like to have experienced the same herself.

‘A murder mystery night will do us both good. Sean bought me the game for Christmas. It’ll give us the chance to open it at last. Go on. Remember the fun we had when we did them way back in Birmingham?’

‘Okay. Why not?’

Melinda beamed at her. ‘It’ll be a hoot. Maybe I’ll arrange it so I get to be the elegant lady of the manor who is looking for a bit of rough and passionate sex with the gardener. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure Sean is the gardener,’ she added, shutting her eyes and tilting her head back, playing out her fantasy in her mind. ‘He could be one of those beefcake sorts – strong, silent, muscular. I’m liking this idea already.’

‘Is it a murder mystery night or a weird sexual fantasy version of events?’

Melinda ignored the comment and said, ‘We could all do with a fun night. I’ll phone around and arrange it. I’m sure I can rustle up a few guests at short notice. There’s the new chap, Lewis, who moved in a couple of months ago.’

Bryony’s mouth opened in surprise. ‘You’re trying to match me up with someone again, aren’t you?’

Melinda giggled. ‘Might be. And why not? You’re young – thirty-six is still classified as young – free and single. He appears to be on his own too. He’s renting number forty-one, the Shepherds’ place. I’ve waved hello but not spoken to him. Sean met him at the gym a couple of weeks ago. They both like running, so Sean’s enjoyed having someone to talk to while he jogs along on the treadmill. It makes the time go quicker. He says Lewis is a really good guy with a quirky sense of humour.’

‘That’s a good start. I bet he won’t like me though. The last guy I went out with said I surrounded myself with an invisible, impenetrable force and I frightened him.’

‘When you stop trying to do a million things at once, you might actually meet someone. You’re always too occupied to get involved.’

Bryony pursed her lips but gave up the idea of arguing. Her friend was right. She wondered if she didn’t deliberately keep herself occupied to avoid meeting men. She rubbed at her forehead, her fingers lightly grazing the scar there, hidden now by a fringe but still evident when her hair fell away from her face. ‘Okay. Count me in for the party. I could do with a laugh.’

‘Great! I’ll get onto it immediately.’

Advertisements

Blog Tour: Spotlight and Review- A Very Lucky Christmas by Lilac Mills

Title: A Very Merry Christmas 
Author Name: Lilac Mills
 
Previous Books (if applicable): Summer on the Turquoise Coast, Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm and Love in the City by the Sea
 
Genre: Women’s Fiction
 
Release Date: 20th August 2018
 
Cover Image:

Book Blurb: Things can’t get worse for Daisy Jones… can they?
Christmas is meant to be the happiest time of year so why is absolutely everything going wrong for Daisy? Reeling from a bad breakup, moving back in with her parents and hounded by trouble at work she really shouldn’t be surprised when things go from bad to worse..and she ends up in A&E!
Her great-grandmother persuaded her to plant a silver sixpence in the Christmas pud for luck but choking on the coin isn’t the ‘change’ she’d wished for. Yet when dashing Dr Noah Hartley saves the day things finally start to look up. With Christmas Day just around the corner Daisy’s determined to make her own luck…and hopefully bag herself a dishy doc in the process!
A heart-warming christmas romance perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Debbie Johnson and Daisy James

My Review

Thirty year old Daisy Jones is happy and the fiancé of Freddie, her boyfriend who she lives with. It’s the run up to Christmas and life should be peachy, right? Wrong.
Daisy’s festive preparations are interrupted when she and Freddie break up when she finds him in bed with another man. This is definitely not what she expected. 
This is a wake up call of the worst kind for Daisy and the last thing she needs at this time of year. Daisy finds herself forced to move back in with her mum, Sandra and her grandmother, Elsie. Daisy,and her younger brother David, a dentist, are living completely different lives. He and his wife Zoe live in a house he saved up for long and hard. 
With Daisy’s family, especially her mother and grandmother being severely lacking in sympathy and support for Daisy’s new situation due to they themselves not trusting men, Daisy feels far from great. 
Inevitably, there’s a moment when they must have a Christmas meal. During this, Daisy’s Gran suggests planting a sixpence in the Christmas pudding. 
A short while later, Daisy is in A&E and being treated by a handsome doctor. Is he the answer to her problems in life? 
A Very Lucky Christmas was SO funny and true-to-life. I automatically liked Daisy and identified with her in her enthusiasm for shopping and pampering. The Christmas preparation and atmosphere was so cosily and accurately described that I wanted to be there with Daisy. The family situation and how they acted was so realistic too. 
When things started to go wrong for Daisy, I felt angry at Freddie and was glad Daisy got out of the situation as soon as possible. I was also glad her family was there for her and she was able to go back to her mum’s. I identified with the feeling of feeling less than family members or starting to compare oneself. 
This book had a romantic theme yet was very Christmas-orientated and, I felt, the best of both worlds. It has humour, realism, great character development and really made me feel for Daisy. I was cheering her on and would have loved to have been Christmas shopping with her. 
A Very Lucky Christmas is everything a good Christmas book should be, heartwarming, hilarious and true-to-life. The atmosphere is amazing. Christmas decorations, the very English feel of the Christmas meal, and even the air freshener smelt festive. The book oozes Christmas charm and mishaps in equal measure and the cover is absolutely GORGEOUS. Eye-catching and colourful. I’m always ficusing on covers before choosing a novel and this just said REVIEW ME! I am glad I did. 
Lilac Mills writes in a way which makes her words flow off the page and she gets right to the heart of the characters and their relationships and the desceiptions of the Christmas tree, decorations and excitement over wrapping gifts resonated with me as, no matter how many years pass, I am like a big kid when it comes to Christmas. I was relishing in the book. 
Thanks so much to Lilac Mills and Canelo for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 5 sparkling stars. Loved it! 
A perfect Christmas feelgood novel. This is the second novel by Lilac Mills I have reviewed.

 
Links to Book:
Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio:


Lilac Mills writes feel-good romantic women’s fiction, and is the author of Love in the City by the Sea, A Very Lucky Christmas, Summer on the Turquoise Coast, and Sunshine at Cherry Tree Farm. Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework! Home for Lilac is Worcester, England.

Twitter: @LilacMills

Blog Tour: Spotlight and Review- Mistletoe and Mystery (Paradise Cookery School #3) by Daisy James

Title: Mistletoe & Mystery 

Author Name: Daisy James

 

Previous Books (if applicable): Sunshine & Secrets and Confetti & Confusion

 

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 

Release Date: 8th November 2018

 

Cover Image:

Book Blurb: Welcome to the Cotswolds Festive Feast cookery course…
Fresh off the successful opening of the Paradise Cookery School in St Lucia, Millie Harper is headed to the Cotswolds for Christmas!

Co-presenting Claudia Croft’s famous Festive Feast cookery course at Stonelea Manor is a dream come true for Millie…as is reuniting with gorgeous estate manager Zach Barker.

But arriving in a winter wonderland Millie learns the manor is under a mysterious threat. It’ll take a holiday miracle, but Millie is determined to save the school and get Zach under the mistletoe to finally finish what they started in the Caribbean!

Cosy up with this fun, festive visit to the Cotswolds premier cookery school! Perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver and Sarah Morgan

If you loved Mistletoe & Mystery, why not read the first two stories in The Paradise Cookery School series? Sunshine & Secrets and Confetti & Confusions are both available now!

My Review: 

What an excellent return to the Paradise Cookery School series! I absolutely adored the other two books in the series, Sunshine and Secrets and Confetti and Confusion, both of which I was lucky enough to be on the blog tour for. 
In this third and final, instalment, Daisy James takes us off to the Cotswolds where Claudia has another cookery school and this time she needs Millie’s help in teaching her Festive Feast cookery course. 
In this book, Millie is desperate to see Zach again as he is back from Saint Lucia. They originally met there when Millie ended up at Claudia’s cookery school there. 
 In the first book, I found him not that likeable but here we see a much softer side to him which I did like.
I really felt for Millie as she had to come back from somewhere she loved but also curious to see what would happen as she was coming home.
Daisy James does not waste any time in describing the mouthwatering sweet treats that Milly and friends have to rustle up in the kitchen. 
Poppy is a great friend of Millie’s and they get on so well. I really like the way they are when they are together. I am happy for her that she has Poppy.
Zach and Millie have to catch up where they left off in the love department and things are very much alive still for them. I really enjoy them as a couple and the Christmassy atmosphere in this book is wonderful. I was dying to try the Christmasy cupcakes mentioned at the beginning!
This book will appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth and indeed anyone who is in need of a book about sweet romance well fighting for your dreams.
After I finished this, I was actually quite sad because I have really loved this series. 
To me, a good book is one that just blows and one that makes you feel like you are not having to concentrate too much for the story to take hold. Oh well, I’ll have to go through them again lol (something I think I will end up doing time and time again – they are that addictive)

I don’t mean to say that the stories are simple in this series. They are not, they are so intricately woven with plot details sights and sounds of the surrounding locations and specific to each place.
 The Paradise Cookery School series overall is a real cultural journey, with influences from England France and the Caribbean. I love how all the way through we get a sense of Millie’s French heritage and are also drawn into the world of her mother’s house there.
What starts off for Millie as a fairly simple premise of going to the airport to catch a plane to France in book 1 of the series turns into a whirlwind adventure by the that ultimately is just so passionate detailed and beautiful that you will not want this book, (or series) to end.
I do know that Daisy James has a whole wealth of books which I have on my list and am wanting to delve into right now. Daisy James is an author who has such a talent for a moving visual story that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last and that really stays with you.
Sometimes, I really feel like I have to force myself through a book to get to the end. Daisy James’ writing style just leaps of the page at you and it feels like you don’t have a book at all – in fact, it feels like you are living the plots. It feels like you are there in France or in the Caribbean or in England with all the characters experiencing what they experience feeling what they feel seeing what they see and doing what they’re doing.
 I can honestly say that the Paradise Cooking School series was one of my favourite series of 2018. 
Utterly absorbing! Five stars for every book in the series and also for the series as a whole.
Thanks to Daisy James and Canelo for my ARC in excgange for an honest and voluntary review as well as a spot on the blog tour for the title.

Links to Book:
Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio:


Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
Twitter: @daisyjamesbooks

Paradise Cookery School #1 Sunshine and Secrets 

Paradise Cookery School Book 2: Confetti and Confusion

Dreaming of Christmas by T.A. Williams

Title: Dreaming of Christmas

Author Name: T.A. Williams

Previous Books (if applicable): Dreaming of Venice, Dreaming of Florence and Dreaming of St Tropez

Genre: Women’s Fiction, romcom

Release Date: August 2018

Publisher: Canelo

Cover Image:


Book Blurb:

It’s the dream Christmas: snow, mountains… and, er, an ex-boyfriend. But can Zoe still find love in the Alps?
Dumped on Christmas Eve by her long-term boyfriend, it’s been a rough year for Zoe Lumsley. But then she gets an invitation she can’t refuse: an all expenses paid skiing holiday with old university friends.

The bad news: her ex, Grant, will be there with his new girlfriend. But so will her former flatmate Billy, the organiser, and in the meantime he’s done rather well for himself. As Christmas in the Alps approaches, it’ll be great to see the old gang. Some more than others…

Perfect for readers of Tilly Tenant, Holly Martin and Philippa Ashley, this is the perfect magical Christmas getaway from the bestselling T.A. Williams.

My Review:

I adore T.A. Williams’ books! The atmosphere and locations in each are all so incredibly detailed. I have reviewed Dreaming of Florence, Dreaming of St Tropez and now Dreaming of Christmas

In Dreaming of Christmas, .Zoe Lumsley was dumped on Christmas Eve by her long-term boyfriend, Grant. Will an-all expenses paid skiing holiday with old university friends help? But, the last person she wants to see is there…..

Skiing and snow, romance, a beautiful holiday location (a ski resort in Austria which is very vividly detailed) as well as humour realistic characters with struggles and happiness in their lives and of course Christmas is the perfect combination in T.A. Williams’ latest novel.

I identified with the feelings of having studied and lived with people during university and then wondering what became of them years later. And the slightly uncomfortable atmosphere upon seeing people again who had not been in your life for years.

I quite liked Zoe and her friend Juliet and the story moves quickly. The book oozes Christmas atmosphere and is very true-to-life with ups and downs. Beautiful cover too, as with all the books by T.A. Williams,

Thanks to T.A. Williams and Canelo for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review and an opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the title.

 

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

About the Author: 


T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

Author Social Media Links

Twitter: ‎@TAWilliamsBooks

 

Blog Tour: Review and Spotlight- The Cornish Village School Second Chances (The Cornish Village School #2) by Kitty Wilson.

Title: The Cornish Village School – Second Chances

Author Name: Kitty Wilson

Previous Books (if applicable): The Cornish Village School – Breaking the Rules

Genre: Women’s Fiction, romcom

Release Date: 5th October 2018

Publisher: Canelo

Cover Image:


Book Blurb: Ex-ballerina and single mum Sylvie is in trouble. Juggling her ballet classes in the nearest town, preparing shy Sam for his first day at Penmenna Village school and trying to finally move out from the farm she shares with her cantankerous Uncle Tom means life is anything but easy.
Television Journalist Alex is facing challenges of his own. Seeking a calmer environment for his newly adopted daughter, Ellie, he’s swapped reporting in war zones for the school PTA in quiet Penmenna, where his best friend Chase has persuaded him to start laying some roots.

Fireworks ignite when Sylvie and Alex meet but as Ellie and Sam become instant best friends, will they be able to keep things strictly platonic for the sake of the children?

The second book in the feelgood and rib-tickling Cornish Village School series. Perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant, Holly Martin and Cathy Bramley.

My Review:

Sylvie and her 4 year old son Sam are heading down to the beach as they do on a regular basis (I love the detail of how they kicked their flip flops off, that was cute). They find their usual spot taken by Alex and his adopted daughter Ellie who is 5. Naturally, this is a talking point and leads to them all meeting. The kids hit it off but will the adults too?

The summer vibe is in every pore of this book: beaches, ice creams and suntan lotion are at the ready and as I was listening to it in decidedly autunmal weather, I found myself longing for summer again, The book will appeal to anyone who is from, or has ever been to Cornwall and the scenic descriptions are very enticing. Sam is due to go to school soon and Sylvie has lots of other issues to sort out.

Will the meeting with Alex and Ellie blossom into something more?

The book is a quick, atmospheric and relaxing tale of summer fun, friendship and never giving up on what and who you want in your life. Kitty Wilson has a magical ability to transport the reader to Penmenna in the first few sentences of the book and a great attention to detail and the nuances of relationships that will keep you there. It was lovely seeing the bond between Sam and Ellie so quickly.

Thanks to Kitty Wison and Canelo for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review as well as a spot on the blog tour for this title.

4 stars. I’m glad I have now reviewed both books in The Cornish Village School series.

 Where to Buy:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

About the Author: 


Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Author Social Media Links:

Twitter: @KittyWilson23

Click here to read my review of The Cornish Village School Book 1: Breaking the Rules



 

 

 

Spotlight: Martinis and Memories (Martini Club #3) by A.L. Michael

Title: Martinis and Memories

Author Name: A.L. Michael

Previous Books (if applicable): Cocktails and Dreams and Prosecco and Promises

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Release Date: 13th August 2018

Publisher: Canelo

Cover Image:


 

Book Blurb: A fun, feisty novel of love and chasing your dreams

Bel Hailstone has spent the past decade building her dream – Soho’s best burlesque club – from the ground up. But now The Martini Club is under threat and it will take everything in Bel’s power to resist encroaching developers and save her pride and joy.
Amidst the chaos Bel’s past comes knocking with the unexpected arrivals of her still-not-quite-ex-husband, her estranged mother and Brodie Porter – the boy who got away all those years ago.
To keep her beloved club afloat – not to mention her sanity – Bel will have to accept help for the first time in a long time, put the past to rest and claim the happy ever after she once thought was lost for good.
Author Bio:


 

A. L. Michael is the author of 13 novels. Almost all of them are snarky love stories where difficult women learn to embrace vulnerability. Andi works as a content writer, so no matter what she’s doing, she’s all about the words. She has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Creative Business and an MSc in Creative Writing. She is represented by Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn.

Author Social Media Links:

Twitter: @almichael_

Website: http://www.almichael.com

Katherine’s Book Universe Q&A:

1. Where did the idea for the plot come from?

Martinis and Memories is the third in the series, so I knew it would be set in the Martini Club. Bel, the owner, has been a bit of an enigma, but right from the first book we knew that she wasn’t all she seemed to be. I spent a lot of time wondering where she came from and how she became the person she is.

2. Who is your favourite character? Why?

I love Jacques, I have throughout the series. He works at The Martini Club and has been a good friend to each of the main characters. He’s a bartender, a performer, a museum lover, occasionally an old fuddy duddy and always a good time. Jacques is the friend you need when you’re going through a crisis – he’ll be there for you, but won’t let you get away with anything. I’m glad he gets his own happy ending in this book.

3. Who is your least favourite character? Why?

Bel’s not quite ex-husband Euan is a bit of a character. Half the time I couldn’t decide if he was loveable or not, and I think that’s how Bel feels too. He’s a continual problem, always thinks he deserves more than he works for, and in all honesty, he’s a conman. But he doesn’t have a code of honour.

4. Which is your favourite scene in the book? Why?

I loved writing the nostalgic memories of Bel’s teenagerdom in Eastbourne – how she was completely different to the woman the readers have come to know, and how her relationship with Brodie developed.

5. What do you most like to do when you are not writing?

Writing is pretty much my favourite thing in the world. But if I honestly can’t be writing, I’d be reading, doing yoga, snowboarding, bike riding or baking.

6. What’s the story behind why and how you became an author?
I always planned to become an author – writing was the only thing I loved doing. I wanted to write stories and did so from an early age. I wrote fan fiction, plays, poems, anything at all! I wrote a novel whilst I was studying, and once I knew I could write one, I did it again and again.

7. What is your favourite movie? Why?
I have no idea – there’s so many great movies out there! Picking one is hard! I love High Society, and His Girl Friday and any of those old movies where the women are sassy and the men underestimate them.

8. Do you have a favourite book?

Shadows of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. It’s about the power of a book over a young boy, and how his life intermingles with that of the author. It has secret societies, hidden libraries, beautiful descriptions of Barcelona, and the characters are so human that they always make me laugh.

9. Can you give me any advice to write romance and/ or wedding themes into my own book?
Don’t go with the expected – romance looks different to different people! Depending on what your characters need and want from their lives, the romance they need will be different. Personally, I think being brought your favourite flavour cupcake on a bad day is pretty romantic, but I’m low key. Anything that shows how much your character has thought about the other person is romantic in my book.

10. How about some advice for me to reach my dream of publishing?

Don’t give up, firstly, and don’t take rejection personally. Figure out why your book is special and what it’s trying to say. What message have you got for your readers? Is it about not giving up on your dreams, conquering fears, trying new things? When you know what your theme is, you can explain your book more easily. Instead of saying ‘it’s a story about a girl who does x, y and z’ you can say ‘it’s a story of redemption’ or ‘forgiveness’ or ‘loving yourself.’ Know your message.

11. Martinis and Memories is such a feel-good book and has realistic themes. Do you have any plans for another book?

This is the last in the series and I feel like it’s been tied up neatly, with all the women moving forward into new stages in their lives. In the same way, I’m moving onto a new stage, writing slightly different books. I’m hoping it’ll be out sometime next year, but I’m not allowed to say anything just yet!

12. I have now read and reviewed all the books in the Martini Club series. Which was the most fun to write, or do they all mean something special? Why?
They do all mean something special – Cocktails and Dreams was my first book for Canelo, and was a fresh start for me. Prosecco and Promises was a story I’d stored away for years, wanting to write it, and the fact that I went to Ischia where I set it makes it pretty special to me. Martinis and Memories is my goodbye to the series, and my love letter to the characters, so it’s bittersweet.

My Review:

Martinis and Memories is the third and last installment in A.L.Michael’s Martini Club series. I really enjoyed the first two books and could not wait for this one. Anabella “Bel” Hailstone moved to London a decade ago to start again and found herself managing The Martini Club, a burlesque club in London’s popular and thriving Soho area. She is a hard boss who secretly loves her work. She is a very strong, centred person who really values those who treat her right.

Life is interrupted for her when her ex Euan, then her mother and also a valued past love arrive throughout the story. These characters all have different effects on Bel and her mother is really annoying. She is critical, outspoken and self-centred which contrasts with Bel’s personality. Will she and Bel ever be able to have a decent mother-daughter relationship?

Sam, Bel’s American, ex-rockstar turned photographer landlord, resident in London for the past 20 years and Jacques are favourite characters of mine. I also really liked Aria, who has just arrived to work at the bar. Sam and Jacques are so approachable and caring, they are the kind of people I would like to know. I like Bel too.

There’s another hiccup in Bel’s life when the restaurant gets a bad review and Bel struggles to step back and see what other people see. She was struggling with the club’s inner workings and the image she wanted it to portray and instead finds herself trying to fix things about herself in addiition to that.

Martinis and Memories is a tale of friendship, secrets lies priorities forgiveness and finding your true road to happiness. As with all A.L. Michael’s books, this one has a pace that sucked me in all the way through and feels just like real life so much so that I almost forgot it was a book. A.L. Michael goes so deep into the characters’ lives, hopes fears and insecurities that you can’t help but not identify with, and feel for, them. I was rooting for them all but especially Bel. I was so glad she had Sam to confide in after work was done for the day.

I cannot praise this book, or the series, enough. The writing, characters and pace are exquisite. I had thought that this book could be a standalone as there are references to past events and people, but if you want all the ins and outs of the goings on at the Martini Club and the people involved in the series, start at the beginning. I love this series so much that I could just go right back through it over and over. There are some especially powerful memories between Brodie and Bel, who were best friends as a teenager.

A huge thanks to A.L. Michael and Canelo for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I’m honoured to take part in the blog tour for this title. I’m sad the series has ended and it, as well as the entire Martini Club series, is one of the best in its genre in my opinion. 5 stars for the book and the series.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)
Kobo (UK)
Google Books (UK)
Apple Books (UK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour- Spotlight, Review Extract and Q&A- The Mistress of Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble

Title: The Mistress of Pennington’s

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Previous Titles (if applicable) : None- this is a debut novel. 

Publication Date: 1st July 2018

Published by: Aria

Price: £2.99

Author: Rachel Brimble

About the book:

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth’s forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

Cover Image: 


Buy now! 
Amazon: mybook.to/MistressofPenningtons
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2MqoAra
iBooks: https://apple.co/2JPfnKz
Google play: http://bit.ly/2LLV2Dl

About the author:


Rachel Brimble lives in Wiltshire with her husband of twenty years, two teenage daughters and her beloved chocolate Labrador, Tyler. Multi-published in the US, she is thrilled to have a new beginning writing for Aria in the UK.
When Rachel isn’t writing, she enjoys reading across the genres, knitting and walking the English countryside with her family…often stopping off at a country pub for lunch and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Love Books Group
Interview Questions April – July 2018

Thank you for taking part in our Interview feature.

1. What book from your childhood still has a place in your heart today?
The entire Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton – I was obsessed, and it was these books that started me on my journey to become a published author one day. Around the age of eight or nine, I started writing my own stories and binding them with ribbon. I really wish I’d kept them now!

2. Which fictional character stayed with you long after you finished the book?

Hetty and Sarah from The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – one of my friends chose this book for our book club two years ago and the characters and story still stay with me. An amazing book and highly recommended.

3. Can you tell us a little about your journey with your new release?

The Mistress of Pennington’s came to be from my fascination with the Edwardian period, and inspired by The Paradise and Mr Selfridge. I loved both series but wanted more focus on the women, their professional and personal lives. Something was missing for me so I thought ‘Why not write a series of your own?’ so I did!

When Aria Fiction offered me a four-book contract on the basis of the first book (The Mistress of Pennington’s), I was thrilled. Book 2 is currently sitting on my editor’s desk and I’ve just started writing book 3. I absolutely love spending time in Pennington’s Department Store and exploring the lives of the people who work there J

4. Do you get an emotional connection to your character’s?

Always! I think it’s impossible to write a good, engaging book without the author showing how much the characters mean to him or her. A lack of connection between the author and the characters comes through on the page, I think. If I am struggling to empathise and sympathise with any of my characters, whether main or secondary, I know I have to let them go.

5. Can you please, share a photo with us that tells a story.

6. What was your favourite read of 2017?

I read a lot of good books last year but two that still linger are Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt – this is the first in a series and the first book I’d read by this extremely popular author. It was a fabulous story with memorable characters and the love scenes were explosive. What’s not to like? For non-fiction, Write Naked by Jennifer Probst – lots of advice, encouragement and tips for aspiring and published authors alike. If you are just starting out on your writing journey or multi-published, this is a must read!

7. If your book came with a theme song what would it be?

Ooh, tough question! I know a lot of authors use a playlist while writing but I never have – I write in silence and rarely, if ever, hear a song when I’m constructing a scene. For The Mistress of Pennington’s, it would have to something that portrayed female empowerment because that’s the theme of the entire series. Suggestions??

8. Is the genre you write your favourite to read?

I actually write historical romance, contemporary romance and romantic suspense so yes, these are three of my favourite genres to read, but I also read LOTS of historical fiction and non-fiction and crime. I’m a reading nut!

9. If you could ask your readers anything, what would you want to know?

What is it about my books that affects you the most and what characters have stayed with you?

10. What are you working on now?

I am working on the final draft of a new romantic suspense story which I’m hoping to start submitting to publishers very soon as well as writing the first draft of Pennington’s book 3. This book will be a Christmas book and it’s such fun writing about cold weather, presents and decorations when it’s summer!
Thank you so much for taking part, it would be lovely if you could follow the website http://www.LoveBooksGroup.com and you can find us on Twitter @LoveBooksGroup

My Review:

Bath, England 1910- Elizabeth Pennington is heir to Pennington’s, a department store in the city of Bath. Times are hard with the Suffragette movement happening and also, more personally, her father’s control being an ever- present part of her life. Elizabeth’s dream has always been to work in the Women’s Department of Pennington’s. She has finally achieved that and loves her job. But her father, a traditional man, has other desires for his daughter’s future. He wants her to marry and have children.

Joseph is the owner of a small hat and glove shop which he’s fighting to keep going. He sees the shop’s future as doomed because of the dominance of the department store. Can he and Elizabeth work together to ensure the best outcome for their businesses, or will tension, and maybe other feelings, get in the way and jeopardise things too much?

The Mistress of Pennington’s is a wonderful debut by author Rachel Brimble. It’s an incredibly welcome one. I’ve reviewed a few great historical fiction titles by Aria lately, and this does not disappoint. I was captivated by the plight of the realistic characters, shocked and angered by Elizabeth’s father’s attitude and concerned for Elizabeth and Joseph. I wanted things to work out for them.

I’m so glad I requested this book, it’s a good mix of romance and struggles and shows what life was like in 1910. Bath is a city I have visited and I have family in the area. That was another reason I requested this, it was my curiosity to delve deeper into Elizabeth ‘s reality. I love shopping too, and so any story about a shop is bound to grab my interest. This had me hooked!

Thanks to Rachel Brimble and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. Honored to take part in the blog tour for this title.

Chapter One
City of Bath – January 1910
Elizabeth Pennington turned off the final light in the ladies’ department of Pennington’s Department Store and wandered through the semi-darkness to the window. She stared at Bath’s premier shopping street below. Christmas had passed three weeks before, and all the excitement and possibilities of the New Year beckoned.
Nineteen ten.
Even the year held the ring of a new beginning. A new start for something bigger and better. Yet, how could she revel in any possible excitement when her plans to advance her position within the store were still halted by her father? She crossed her arms as, once again, her frustration mounted. Would this be yet another year where she remained static? Her father holding her caged and controlled?
As the only child born to Edward and Helena Pennington, Elizabeth had been a happy child under her mother’s care, home-schooled by a governess, before being launched into society. Yet, the balls and teas, at home visits and theatre, had soon grown tiresome and she had longed to accompany her father on his days at work.
Edward Pennington, amused by his daughter’s emerging passion for all things retail, had consented to her coming along whenever possible, teaching her the basics of merchandising and marketing, allowing her to serve as a shop girl.
A role that had satisfied Elizabeth for a while…
Until, in 1906, her father had opened the largest department store fashionable Edwardian Bath had ever seen. From the moment she’d stepped into its sparkling, breath-taking foyer, Elizabeth would not be shaken from working as the head of the new ladies’ department.
Having finally won her father’s agreement two years ago, she’d launched herself into the role with determination and commitment, proving her worth through steadily increasing sales, footfall and morale amongst her staff.
Now, she wanted more… deserved more.
Elizabeth breathed in deeply as she stared at the hatted men and women who streamed back and forth on the busy street; the trams slowing to pick up or allow passengers to disembark. How many of these women had she dressed and accessorised? How many had she helped to spend their father’s or husband’s money? Did they, too, long to stand tall and proud and spend their own earnings, from their own success?
Although Bath was still only a small-scale industrial city, it was identified by its social elite. A city that was a bustling oasis of the firmly established upper class, but also a newly emerging middle class. It was these people that Elizabeth grew more and more determined to entice through Pennington’s doors, thus demolishing its reputation of being a place where only the moneyed belonged.
She turned from the window. Twenty-four years old and still she had nothing to call her own, nothing to hold onto as evidence of her enthusiasm, vision and skill. If her father’s belief stood that women had no true place in business, why introduce her to retail’s excitement and possibility? Why pretend she was even needed at Pennington’s?
The entire country hummed with the underlying fever of women’s progression. The right to vote was on the minds and lips of the majority of women who frequented the store, teashops and boutiques. How could her father continue to ignore such impassioned determination? Women were finally making a stand and, sooner or later, Edward Pennington would have to admit defeat or risk losing the very gender that made up the bigger ratio of his profits.
Time and again, Elizabeth suspected his employment of her had been nothing more than a way to control her wilfulness. A calculated plan, allowing him to witness her predicted failure in order to be proved correct in his view that women were little more than vessels in which to bear children.
Tears of frustration pricked her eyes and Elizabeth swiped at the them as she strode from the department and into the main corridor, battling the debilitating fear that her father’s treatment of her might one day force her to take her life… as it had her mother.
Helena Pennington had once been a beautiful, intelligent and gregarious socialite. A woman wanted by men and emulated by women. Her deep red hair and startling green eyes were revered throughout her social circles. The way Helena raised her only child, teaching Elizabeth about compassion, love and empathy, as well as enjoying her daughter’s happiness to work beside her father, had been something admired, rather than frowned upon.
But as close as Elizabeth had thought she and her mother were, Helena hadn’t the strength to fight her husband’s continuous disparagement, verbal torment and disdain.
Not even for her only child.
For a long time, Elizabeth had struggled to forgive her mother for leaving her alone with Edward but, four years on, she understood her mother’s desperation and had entirely acquitted her. After all, her mother’s death had given Elizabeth the resentment and passion needed to fight every inch of her father’s dominance.


Follow Rachel:

Website: http://www.rachelbrimble.com/
Twitter: @RachelBrimble
Facebook: @rachelbrimbleauthor

Follow Aria:

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction