Lil’s Bus Trip by Judy Leigh @JudyLeighWriter @bookandtonic @rararesources

About the book:

It’s always a good time for a road trip…
When 82-year-old Lil decides to book herself, her 65-year-old daughter, Cassie, and her friend Maggie on a bus trip across Europe, she hopes for a little adventure to counteract the monotony of life in sheltered accommodation.
Along with three members of the Salterley Tennis Club and the Jolly Weaver five-a side football team, whose ideas of a good time are rather different to Lil’s and strikingly at odds with each other’s, the merry band of travelers set out on their great adventure.
From moving moments on the beaches of Normandy, outrageous adventures in Amsterdam, to the beauty of Bruges and gastronomic delights of France, the holiday is just the tonic Lil, Maggie and Cassie needed.
And as the time approaches for them to head home, Lil makes an unexpected discovery – even in her advancing years, men are like buses – there isn’t one for ages then two come along at once. Is Lil ready to share her golden years, and can the ladies embrace the fresh starts that the trip has given them. Or is it just too late to change…

Where to Buy:

About the Author:

Judy Leigh is the bestselling author of A Grand Old Time and The Age of Misadventure and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.

Contact Judy:

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My Review:

After Heading over the Hill, and Chasing the Sun, I was really looking forward to another Judy Leigh book. In her latest book, 82-year-old Lil, her 65-year-old daughter, Cassie, and her friend Maggie are in for an adventure when she books them on a bus trip across Europe. They aren’t alone and have members of a tennis and football club on board.

I thought “Oh, this sounds fun” and what fun it was. I loved this journey and book at a time when travel is still not easy around the world. This helped me forget about that and focus on their journey.

I liked Lil, Cassie and Maggie and thought how spontaneous Lil was. How her decision to have fun came into being. The locations they visit are varied and I felt as if I were there with them. By now, I know that Judy Leigh is si skilled at showing human interaction and making a setting visual.

I have been to Normandy and Bruges. It was good to revisit them and get to know other places. Perfect uplifting escapism with lots of laugh-out-loud moments for the summer or any other time of year. The book has come at the perfect time for me.

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

4.5 stars

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.

Contact Carmen:

Bookbub profile

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

The Beach Reads Book Club by Kathryn Freeman @KathrynFreeman1 @rararesources

About the Book:

Welcome to the Beach Reads Book Club…where love is just a page away…
When Lottie Watt is unceremoniously booted out of her uptight book club for not following the rules, she decides to throw the rulebook out the window and start her own club – one where conversation, gin and cake take precedent over actually having read the book!
The Beach Reads Book Club soon finds a home for its meetings at Books by the Bay, a charming bookshop and café owned by gorgeous, brooding Matthew Steele, and as the book club picks heat up, so too does the attraction between Matt and Lottie.
If there’s anything Lottie has learned from the romances she’s been reading, it’s that the greatest loves are the ones hardest earned.
A love letter to chicklit, romance, romcoms, whatever you want to call them!

Where to Buy:


About the Author:

A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a sexy hero. With a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

Contact Kathryn:

Please use all the blurb and author details on your all possible can your review (if you are reviewing) go onto Amazon and Goodreads, as the more Amazon reviews on a book, the more visible it becomes to others on Amazon, and increases eligibility for promotions.

My Review:

I loved the title and synopsis of The Beach Reads Book Club and couldn’t wait to get started with it. I have always wanted to join a book club and this is the kind of club I want to belong to. Books, gossip drink and cake.

I have reviewed The Kiss Quotient on my blog and I enjoyed it. It was nice seeing a book I have featured in the book club. I identified with Lottie over not getting on in some clubs, but it’s not book clubs I didn’t like.

Lottie is the kind of person I’d like to know in person. Bubly, helpful and thoughtful, she’s the opposite of serious Matt. Will opposites attract in this novel?

The bookshop has a catchy name and I loved the atmosphere there. The characters are certainly unique in this novel. The only thing that did make me feel bad was the use of the term Asperger’s which could offend people who have it. I don’t but as a person with severe physical and visual disabilities, I feel strongly about how people with any disability are portrayed or referred to in books.

Apart from this, The Beach Reads Book Club is a relaxing novel with a good pace. If you’re looking for steamy romance though, you won’t get it here as the romance is cute and slow burn. If you like slow burn romance, then this is the novel for you. I like both types of romances but would have liked this to be hotter. That said, I find it unique that the book is summer-themed but has a slower pace to the romantic scenes. Many summer novels have a quick summer fling and it is nice that there’s more than that here. The pacing helps the reader linger over the romance scenes.

Thanks to Kathryn Freeman, Rachel’s Random Resources and One More Chapter for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars.

The Castle by Anne Montgomery @amontgomery8 @annemontgomery

Anne Montgomery Contemporary Women’s Fiction TouchPoint Press

About the Book:

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six- hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.
One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.
Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.
One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target.
In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic
presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.

About the Author:

Anne Butler Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. Her first TV job came at WRBL-TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC-TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP-TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award-winning SportsCenter. She finished her on-camera broadcasting career with a two-year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archaeological pieces. Her previous novels are A Light in the Desert, The Scent of Rain, and Wild Horses on the Salt. Montgomery taught journalism and communications at South Mountain High School in Phoenix for 20 years. She is a foster mom to three sons, and spent 40 years officiating amateur sports, including football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball. When she can, she indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, musical theater, and playing her guitar.


Why write a novel about rape? For author Anne Montgomery the reason was personal. While attending college, Montgomery was sexually assaulted. She became a statistic. Today, one out of every six women in the United States will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Like 80% of those victims, Montgomery never went to the police.
“I believed they would have blamed me. I was on a date with a sweet-faced farm boy who played for my university’s football team. I’d had a few drinks. I willingly followed him into his dorm room. What did I expect would happen? So, I said nothing.”
Add to that experience the fact that Montgomery spent 20 years teaching in a Title I high school, where the vast majority of her students lived in poverty. It was during that time she came to understand another sad statistic: Four out of five rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.
“I kept meeting young girls who’d been sexually assaulted, always by a family member or friend. Sadly, many of these teens were ostracized by their loved ones when they came forward, told they were lying, or that the assault was their fault.”
In The Castle [Touchpoint Press, September 13, 2021] Montgomery introduces Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, who is recovering from the gang rape she suffered in the Coast Guard. The reader follows Maggie through her depression, anger, and ultimate healing.

A reporter in TV and print for 15 years, Montgomery investigated the behavior and psychology of rapists, the profile of a victim, and the ways sexual assault survivors can heal. Engaging and influential, Montgomery is available for interviews, Q&A’s, and byline articles around the launch of The Castle focusing on topics that include:
• The signs of sexual violence and how to help someone in need
• Surviving and thriving after sexual violence
• The need to change the way society addresses sexual assault and its victims
• Channeling life experience – both traumatic and joyous – through the fictional
characters in her work.

My Review:

TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, a missing child and battle with depression

Maggie is a park ranger who is back at work after taking time off. The Castle is not my first novel by Anne Montgomery. I loved A Light in the Desert and was really happy when Anne contacted me to offer a review copy of The Castle as I so wanted to experience her writing again.

The Castle deals with depression rape and a missing child as I stated in the trigger warning at the start of this review, so if you stay clear of themes like these, this is not the book for you.

The Castle is first and foremost women’s fiction, with Maggie experiencing a hunt for a child she sees in the dramatic landscape where the book is set. The plot then turns dark and the novel becomes a twisting thriller with turns as tight as a road full of hairpin bends.

I was gripped from start to end. The synopsis is very self-explanatory so I won’t cover more of that.

Anne Montgomery is, in my opinion, a master storyteller and I have only reviewed two of her books. Her writing is at once refreshing, gritty and absorbing and leaves me shocked, concerned for the characters yet satisfied at an amazing novel.

The way the tough subjects are dealt with is humbling and brave on the part of the author and Maggie.

I felt true fear for Maggie, but she is also a strong person to be admired.

The worldbuilding in the book is amazing, as is the attention to detail.

Thanks to Anne Montgomery for an ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars

“HOLY CRAP!” MAGGIE DROPPED the phone. Someone peered from outside the darkened window. A child. Big eyes in a bronze face. “Hey! You can’t….” But the boy—nine maybe ten—disappeared. She heard a laugh, a light tinkling sound like tiny brass bells on the breeze.
Maggie scrambled for the phone, punched in the number, and made her report. Then she grabbed a flashlight from under the counter and bolted out the back door of the Visitor Center.
A half-moon lit the concrete trail. There was no sign of the boy. The wind pushed through massive Arizona Sycamores, their star-shaped leaves fluttered, the sound mimicking a stream rushing over small river rocks. Maggie rushed down the path. Her Nikes would have served her better than the brown ankle boots that were part of her uniform.
The laughter came again, this time from the wild land amidst the rocks—huge slabs of fractured white limestone that over the centuries had tumbled down the escarpment. Striving to avoid the vicious prickly pear that dotted the slope and the jagged pieces of stone that could slice skin like a honed blade, Maggie left the safety of the trail and pushed past the mesquite and pungent creosote bushes toward the base of the cliff, boots crunching on the rocky rubble that littered the ground.
Her gaze drifted up the sheer stone wall to The Castle, a prehistoric edifice almost iridescent in the moonlight. She could make out the small windows and even ancient logs that jutted from the structure, all of which had been felled and carted up the cliff face many hundreds of years earlier.
Maggie gasped. To her horror, she saw the boy ascending the wall. She flashed on the day she’d scaled the precipice with archaeology students from New Mexico State University. A seasoned climber, she was comfortable in the harness and helmet, but the ladders were touchy. The feel of rock beneath her hands and feet provided a much more solid sense of security. But there were no ladders propped against the ragged limestone now, nor was the child dressed in any protective gear. In fact, he didn’t appear to be wearing clothes at all.
Frozen, she watched the boy mount the wall like an animal, arms and legs working with almost preternatural ease. Then Maggie saw the child hoist himself over the ledge before he disappeared into the cave that held The Castle in its belly.
AT SIX-FOOT-THREE, Jess Sorenson towered over her friend. She folded the slim spiral notebook and tucked the pad into the back pocket of her uniform pants. Like Maggie, Jess sported a gray button-down short-

sleeve shirt and forest green slacks. But Jess was a National Park Service Law Enforcement officer, so she also wore a sidearm.
“You don’t believe me.” Maggie slumped into a desk chair in the office at the Montezuma Castle Visitor Center.
“Look, sweetie…”
Maggie glared.
“I’m just saying that we’ve had a search team out here for,” Jess checked her watch, “five hours now.
And they’ve found nothing. And you have to admit….”
“They think I’m still crazy, right?” Maggie jumped from the chair and paced the room, a palm pressed
against her forehead.
“I didn’t say that, but….” Jess creased her brow. “You know I have to ask.”
“No, I’m no longer medicated, if that’s what you’re curious about.” Maggie turned toward the east-facing
windows of the Visitor Center, where the morning sun had yet to offer even a hint of illumination.
Jess nodded and reached again for the notebook. She jotted the information in blue ink, stuck the pen in her breast pocket, and ran her fingers through short, shockingly white hair. “Maybe you need some more
time off,” she said softly.
Maggie closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “I know what I saw.”
Jess stared for a long time. “I believe you. But the other guys….” She spread her hands wide.
“I have to work, Jess. Sitting around is doing me no good. I just think too much when I’m alone. When
I’m here, I feel better. I can’t go back to the house.”
“I know.” Jess perched on the corner of a nearby desk. “So, what do you want to do? Should we file a
report with the local authorities? Ask if any young boys are missing?”
“They’ll send me home.”
“They might.”
“But what if a child is out there injured?” Maggie pointed toward The Castle, unable stop tears from
spilling down her cheeks.
“Do you think the child was hurt?”
Maggie blew out a breath and closed her eyes. She pictured the boy scaling the wall like one of the
ubiquitous brown lizards that scampered among the rocks, his tinkling laughter playing on the breeze. Suddenly the memory seemed wrong. How could the vision be real? She stared at Jess, frowned, and collapsed into a chair.
Jess got up, walked over to Maggie, and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I’m gonna call the guys off. Let’s get you to bed.”
Maggie lifted her head and peered from bleary eyes. “What about the report?”
“I think we need to err on the side of caution and tell the local folks, just in case. But maybe we can make it sound not so….”
“Crazy?” Maggie finished the sentence.
“Come on, now.”
Maggie allowed Jess to help her from the chair. Then she picked up the straw-colored hat with the flat
brim and dark leather band that symbolized her profession. Her job was all that mattered now. By making the report Maggie was putting her employment at risk. But what if a child was lost or injured, and they stopped the search because she chose to say nothing? Maggie couldn’t live with that.

MAGGIE DRAGGED HERSELF from bed. After slipping on a pair of khaki shorts and an overly large navy-blue T- shirt bearing the words Plant Lady: I dig dirt, she made a cup of instant coffee, heavily laced with sugar and milk.
Maggie pushed through the screen door to the tiny porch that fronted her one-bedroom apartment, let the door snap shut behind her, and placed the steaming mug on a round wrought iron table. She’d slept until noon—not a surprise considering her run in with the boy/spirit/hallucination—so the sun was directly overhead. Birds chattered noisily in the surrounding bushes and trees. A speckled brown and white roadrunner, who sprinted about the grounds frequently and exhibited little fear of humans, tilted his head as she sat at the table, then went back to pecking among the rocks in a search for insects and lizards.
The apartment, one of several in a tidy row, sat on National Park land, just a short walk from The Castle. One of the benefits of being a National Park Ranger was the opportunity to live at work. Maggie had recently requested one of the simple flats—a bedroom, kitchenette, tiny living room, and bath—because the thought of returning to her house on Beaver Creek was overwhelming. Memories lingered there, once vibrant and joyful, now nothing but dust and shadow, thoughts that clawed at her gut like a small rodent anxious to eat its way out. She fingered the ragged scars that bisected her wrists—cuts that were partially concealed by a pair of colorful tattoos—then stared at the cerulean blue of the high desert sky.
Maggie, who’d grown up in the bulging metropolis of Phoenix, Arizona, had enjoyed the small-town feel of the Beaver Creek area, which encompassed the communities of Lake Montezuma, Rimrock, and McGuireville. On the way home from The Castle, she’d pass Vickie’s Grill—where a sign proclaimed you could get good home cooking—the Feed Store, and Candy’s Creek Side Cottage with its colorful kitschy décor that always made her smile. Further down the road stood the Montezuma-Rim Rock Fire Department, the town post office, and the most popular spot in town, Flora’s Bakery, where indescribably delicious confections came in pink boxes tied with twine. Then Maggie would turn onto the unpaved, dusty lane with the long row of metal mailboxes, mostly black and white and green, some with their red flags at attention, signaling mail within. Maggie’s was the fourth box from the right, turquoise with white flowers and a yellow butterfly that Charlie had insisted on.
Her tiny house was embraced by an ancient Arizona Sycamore, some of the tree’s branches having kissed the earth untold years earlier, after which they’d rebounded into the high desert sky, massive in their height and breadth. She’d felt connected to the tree with the mottled skin—pale green, brown, and white—cool to the touch, verdant star-shaped leaves. She couldn’t wrap her arms completely around the trunk, though she’d tried.
Charlie had loved the tree. Maggie stopped worrying as he’d grown older, no longer concerned that the boy might fall from the enormous limbs.
Bits of Charlie’s life assaulted her as she sipped her coffee. A hand-painted wooden frame clutching a picture of the two of them, smiling on a hike when he was six. A small pair of boots, laces untied, caked with dried red mud. The collection of minerals on the bedside table, including the strange geometrically-shaped white rocks called pseudomorphs, they’d found sifting through the sandy bottom of the open-pit salt mine in Camp Verde.
Maggie forced the thoughts away, not wanting to think about the house she still owned but dared not enter. For six months she’d stayed away. Jess periodically checked on the property and picked up the mail. Maggie continued to pay the mortgage, but the water and electricity had long since been turned off.

A half an hour and two cups of coffee later, Maggie stared at a Queen butterfly that rested on the wooden porch railing. The creature lazily opened and closed white-spotted orange and black wings, and flitted to a nearby patch of milkweed.
Maggie jumped, startled by the sound of a vehicle. A late model green Jeep Wrangler pulled to a stop in front of the last apartment in the complex. A tall man wearing a Colorado Rockies baseball cap unfolded himself from the driver’s seat and spoke into a cellphone as he slammed the door. He ended the call and slipped the phone into his back pocket. Then, he opened the rear of the vehicle and hoisted a large silver cylinder to his shoulder. His phone rang.
“What!” He walked up the wooden steps to the apartment. “I’ll call you back.” He put the cylinder on the porch floor and fumbled with a key.
Maggie recognized the object, strangely incongruous in the desert. It was a scuba tank.

Author Q&A: The Lily Garden by Barbara Joselsohn @BarbaraJoss @chicklitcentral @bookouture #booksontour

About the Book:

Caroline remembered how her mother would head to the garden as the first signs of spring approached, rolling up her sleeves and planting wildflowers as the sun set. But there was a lot she didn’t know about her mother, and the family secrets hidden in her hometown that would change everything…

When Caroline left Lake Summers thirty years ago, she thought she’d never go back to the place where she lost her parents. But when she finds out that the town’s lily garden lovingly built by her mother is going to be destroyed, she knows she must return from Chicago to save it.
Welcomed by the warm smile of her mother’s best friend Maxine, and piles of pancakes at her cozy little restaurant in town, Caroline and her daughter Lee immediately begin their campaign to save the garden. And Caroline soon learns that she isn’t the only person invested in their plan: handsome historian Aaron is new to town but he sees how special the garden is too. As Caroline gets to know him, strolling along the sparkling lakeshore, she can’t imagine anywhere else she’d rather be.

But then Caroline learns a terrible secret about the day her mother died. If she continues fighting to save the garden, she may uncover more painful truths that will affect her whole family. But if she leaves now, she will have to give up a future with Aaron, and the beautiful town that has always been in her heart…

An utterly uplifting and heart-warming story about forgiveness and family. Perfect for fans of Carolyn Brown, Debbie Macomber and Mary Alice Monroe.

Where to Buy:


About the Author:

Barbara Josselsohn is an award-winning writer who loves crafting stories about strong protagonists facing a fork in the road. Her novels include The Bluebell Girls, The Lilac House, The Last Dreamer, and her newest release, The Lily Garden. She has published hundreds of articles about family, home and relationships in national and regional publications, and also teaches novel writing at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She lives just north of New York City and enjoys escaping to the beach or the mountains whenever she can. Other than writing, her biggest passion is her family: her husband, her three kids, and her indefatigable shih-poo! Visit her online at, @Barbara_Josselsohn_Author (Instagram), @BarbaraJoss (twitter) or


  1. Where did the inspiration for the book come from?

The central relationship in THE LILY GARDEN is between a mother and her seventeen-year-old daughter as they embark on a college road trip, which quickly becomes an even more consequential journey for both of them. So the main inspiration came from my own relationships with my two daughters. I’ve found it really hard sometimes to see my daughters growing up. I love that they’re becoming independent adults, but I also miss having them as babies! Those months before a daughter moves out on her own are so intense and emotional. I wanted to explore how a mom and daughter can struggle to rework their relationship — and come out smiling on the other side! So that was the original seed for the book. As I began to let the story unfold, however, the book became about so much more. It became about family — the one your born into and the one or ones you choose to create at various times of your life.

  1. Do you have any tips for how I can hook people from the beginning in my own books?

For me, books start with a character and a deep “want” — something a character yearns for with her whole heart. Wanting to be heard, wanting to be acknowledged, wanting to be accepted, wanting to be loved — these are universal, and very relatable. These “wants” motivate us to take action — sometimes productive and sometimes not so helpful. Give me a unique character, a strong want, and a plan that may or may not work, and you’ll have me hooked from page one!

  1. How can I create a beautiful and visual setting (like a garden) for a book?

I take lots of pictures when I’m researching a book. For example, I live twenty minutes away from the extraordinary New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and I go there all the time and take pictures of plants and flower that move me, that sing out to me, that connect with me. I print these out and put them on a bulletin board in my office, and then I begin to find the words to describe them, and to convey how they make me feel. I also use scented candles, music playlists, and scented lotions to help me get deep inside my imagination. Smells and sounds can be so evocative when you’re trying to create a setting and a mood!

  1. Which was the hardest part of writing this? And the easiest? Why?

In the book, my main character – Caroline – is trying to save her hometown from destroying the lily garden that her mother created and cared for many years earlier. She faces a lot of roadblocks and resistance, and for me, those were the hardest scenes to write. I was so invested in Caroline’s quest, so it was hard for me to see her struggling. These easiest scenes to write were the romantic scenes between Caroline and Aaron, the handsome college professor she befriends. It makes me smile, to put myself into the shoes of a character who’s falling in love. I sometimes write with my writing group on Zoom, with the camera on while I’m working on a scene. My critique partners tell me that they always know when I’m writing a love scene, because I look so happy!

  1. How can I make my writing emotional and people love the characters?

People love characters who are real to them. So don’t be afraid to make your characters flawed, to have them misbehave sometimes or act out of jealousy or fear. The more human they are, and the more they struggle to do the right thing or to prevail against enormous odds, the more we will become emotionally invested in their story.

  1. What do you love to do when not writing?

I love to spend time with my family doing fun things — going to the beach, hiking, eating out at fun restaurants. I also love New York City, which is about a half-hour drive from where I live. I’m so happy to see the city opening up again. I cannot wait for Broadway shows to come back — and it looks like they will in just a few weeks!

  1. What is the best thing about being an author?

The best thing is that I get to make up stories! I truly think that’s the most fun thing in the world to do. I love inventing characters and putting them in different locations, with different challenges and experiences and memories. I also have to say that I love speaking to readers. There’s no better feeling than hearing that a story you wrote touched someone’s life or expressed something they always felt but didn’t know how to articulate.

  1. What is your favourite scene in the book? Why?

My favorite scene is the evening Caroline takes Aaron to the lily garden for the first time. She brings him up to the little footbridge in the middle of the garden, and it’s there, with the moon above reflecting in the inlet below, that she begins to tell him about her memories of the garden and her mother, who died so young. I just love that moment when a character realizes she’s found someone she can trust, someone she can open up to, someone who wants to hear everything she wants to say. I love the tingle Caroline feels when she thinks about kissing him!

The Orange Grove by Rosanna Ley @QuercusBooks @RosannaLey #OrangeGrove @MillsReid11

Praise for The Orange Grove and Rasanna Ley

24th June 2021 | Quercus | Paperback Original | £7.99

‘The perfect holiday companion’

‘A gorgeous, mouth-watering dream of a holiday read’ Red

‘The ultimate feel-good read’

‘A wonderfully relaxing sun lounger read’
Sunday Express

‘Sun-soaked escapism’

‘Unabashedly romantic’

‘4 of the best escapist delights’– Woman & Home

‘Evocative prose adds to the novels charm. You can almost smell the lemons on the tree in the hotel grounds’– My Weekly

‘This is the perfect read to get you into the warmer weather’– Magic Radio

‘Sun-soaked escapism’ – Best

‘Beautiful, evocative writing’ – The Sun

About the Book:

A mouth-watering holiday romance, perfect for longer nights. Set in sunny Seville, The Orange Grove is the wonderfully evocative new novel from the bestselling author of The Lemon Tree Hotel.
An unforgettable story of past love and family secrets, set in sunny Seville
Holly loves making marmalade. Now she has a chance to leave her stressful city job and pursue her dream – of returning to the Dorset landscape of her childhood to open Bitter Orange, a shop celebrating the fruit that first inspired her.

Holly’s mother Ella has always loved Seville. So why is she reluctant to go back there with Holly to source products for the shop? What is she frightened of – and does it have anything to do with the old Spanish recipe for Seville orange and almond cake that Ella keeps hidden from her family?

In Seville, where she was once forced to make the hardest decision of her life, Ella must finally face up to the past, while Holly meets someone who poses a threat to all her plans. Seville is a city full of sunshine and oranges. But it can also be bittersweet. Will love survive the secrets of the orange grove?

About the Author:

Rosanna Ley works as a creative tutor and has written many articles and stories for national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea.

My Review:

After having loved Rosanna’s previous novels, Bay of Secrets, Return to Mandalay and The Villa, I was happy and in need of feel-good escapism when I found the Orange Grove on NetGalley.

Holly lives in Dorset and wants to set up a shop, Bitter Orange. The name is so appropriate since she loves making marmalade.

Many people know that Seville oranges are great for marmalade. Holly knows what that means…that a trip to get the “real thing” will be needed.

Her mother loves Seville, but events and secrets are keeping her from going back…

I adore fiction novels set in Spain, and this latest one by Rosanna Ley is no exception. The sunny setting and the oranges as well as the culture and way of life are so vivid.

I was immediately transported to Seville and found myself wanting to travel there.

This is wonderfully relaxing and has an amazing pace and attention to detail, just like the other ebook and audiobook novels of Rosanna’s I own. I definitely need to get more books by her.

Thanks to Rosanna Ley and Quercus Books for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

5 stars

Redemption on Rivers Ranch by Kathy Douglass @kathydouglass7

Redemption on Rivers Ranch by Kathy Douglass is available on May 25.

About the Book:

The return of his childhood friend

leads to the fresh start he never expected

Horse rancher Carson Rivers has his own emotional demons. There’s no place in his life for a divorced single mom pulling at his heartstrings. But when Gabriella Tucker and her adorable children move next door—the place of her favorite childhood memories—Carson’s tempted to help the heart-guarded beauty make more adult memories. Maybe Gabriella and her kids are the healing balm he’s been yearning for…

Add Redemption on Rivers Ranch to your Goodreads!

Where to Buy
Barnes & Noble:
Apple Books:
Google Play:

About the Author:

Kathy Douglass came by her love of reading naturally – both of her parents were readers. She would finish one book and pick up another. Then she attended law school and traded romances for legal opinions.

After the birth of her two children, her love of reading turned into a love of writing. Kathy now spends her days writing the small town contemporary novels she enjoys reading.

Kathy loves to hear from her readers and can be found on Facebook.

Contact Kathy:


My Review:

Gabriela is off to spend the summer at her aunt’s horse ranch. Carson taught horse riding and they both have difficult pasts to get over. Gabriela is back at the ranch after 15 years and a divorce.

She now has two kids, Sophia and Justin, who are very cute.

Carson’s relationship with Raven ended and he still has memories of the summers when Gabriela went to the ranch often.

Is the spark between Carson and Gabriela still there?

I have now reviewed three books by Kathy Douglass and I love them all. I would like to catch up on the rest of the series.

Kathy Douglass’ writing is atmospheric, romantic and detailed. She goes well into the depths of each character’s emotions and thoughts and has a great eye for detail.

Redemption of River’s Ranch is slow burn but brilliantly crafted and a gripping sweet romance.

Another excellent book by Kathy Douglass. Highly rated if you are after a quick yet powerful book. I have now reviewed books 7 (The Single Mom’s Second Chance) 8 (A Soldier under her Tree).

Thanks to Kathy Douglass for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars


Discovering the truth about his father had been a shock, one Carson had only begun to get over. He couldn’t believe the father he’d idolized as a child, the father who’d held Carson in front of him on a horse as a toddler and who’d taught Carson everything he knew about ranching, had taken another man’s life. It was impossible to reconcile the two sides of his father. Losing Raven had been another staggering blow, knocking him off his center.
Before all of this came to light, Carson had been a successful horse trainer. He’d worked with previously abused animals as well as teaching horses to accept the saddle. He’d branched out and begun giving riding lessons to local kids. He’d enjoyed it as much as they had and business had begun to take off. But then a whisper campaign had started. Rather than wait for his students to back out, he’d closed the school. Besides, dealing with the fallout from his father’s actions and running the family’s cattle ranch had left him little time for anything else.
Luckily a forensic audit revealed that the business operations were 100 percent legal and aboveboard, so Carson had been able to keep running it with a clear conscience. Which was good, considering the ranch employed over two dozen people, many of whom supported families.
Lately he’d been toying with the idea of restarting his riding school, but something held him back. Would people really trust him to teach their kids? His reputation had been impeccable before, but being the son of a killer scuffed up the shine. At least to hear some people tell it.
Did he need the pain and aggravation? He had plenty to keep him busy.
He passed his neighbor’s house and automatically glanced at it. He’d promised Mrs. Johnson that he’d keep an eye on it when she moved to Willow Creek. She’d been considering putting it on the market but hadn’t made up her mind yet. She said she liked knowing the house was there in case she got tired of her new lifestyle. It wasn’t a problem for him. Mowing her lawn was easy enough and oddly soothing. She only had a handful of acres and he had a riding mower, so it didn’t take much time.
He slowed. Lights were blazing in the house. No one was supposed to be there.
Carson considered calling the sheriff but decided against it. Only the world’s worst criminal would turn on every light in the house and hope nobody noticed. He’d assess the situation and go from there.
Pulling into the driveway, he noticed an SUV with out-of-state license plates. He peered inside. Empty. Mrs. Johnson had given him a key to the house, so he headed up onto the porch, opened the door and stepped inside.
Apparently whoever was inside had made themselves at home. They’d uncovered the furniture and dropped suitcases and backpacks by the stairs leading to the upstairs bedrooms. Loud music was blaring from the back of the house. Someone was singing a popular song at the top of her lungs. The fact that she was nowhere in the vicinity of the right key didn’t stop her from singing with gusto. Her attempt to hit a high note pierced his ears and propelled him forward if only to save his hearing.

A child laughed.
What in the world was going on here?
Mrs. Johnson would have told him if she’d sold or rented the house. She hadn’t mentioned it when they’d spoken a couple of weeks ago. And the gossips of Sweet Briar would have said something. He might not hang out in town any longer, but his employees did. One of them would have told him if they’d heard anything about his closest neighbor.
The woman laughed and the sound struck a chord inside Carson. Something about the sound stirred a distant memory inside him, awakening a long-forgotten feeling. He silenced the echo, focusing on the matter at hand.
The intruders were so wrapped up in each other that they hadn’t noticed him yet. He twisted the knob on Mrs. Johnson’s ancient radio, silencing the music, and then cleared his throat.

Blue Hawaiian (Blackwood Cellars #1) by Carla Luna @casacullen@rararesources

About the Book:

The first rule of serving as the maid of honor at your perfect sister’s destination wedding?
No mistakes. The second rule? No drama.
For Jess Chavez, a week in Maui is hardly a dream vacation—not when her sister expects her to be the perfect maid of honor. Not only does Jess have to fake perfection, but she can’t let anyone know she’s unemployed and barely scraping by. Above all, she needs to steer clear of Connor Blackwood, the sexy groomsman who broke her heart five years ago.
A family wedding offers Connor the ideal opportunity to convince everyone he’s no longer an irresponsible playboy. If they see he’s changed, they might support his decision to leave the family winery and strike out on his own. With so much at stake, the last thing he needs is an alluring distraction like Jess.

When Jess and Connor end up together, exploring the island’s lush, tropical beauty, the sparks between them become impossible to ignore. Throwing caution to the wind, they decide to make their own rules.

Five days of passion. No strings. No tears. No promises.

What could possibly go wrong?

Where to Buy:

UK –
US –

About the Author:

Carla Luna writes contemporary romance with a dollop of humor and a pinch of spice. A former archaeologist, she still dreams of traveling to far-off places and channels that wanderlust into the settings of her stories. When she’s not writing, she works in a spice emporium where she gets paid to discuss food and share her favorite recipes. Her passions include Broadway musicals, baking, whimsical office supplies, and pop culture podcasts. Though she has roots in Los Angeles and Victoria, B.C., she currently resides in Wisconsin with her family and her spoiled Siberian cat.

Contact Carla:

FB Author Page:

My Review:

Jessica Chavez, aka Jess, is invited to her sister0s destination wedding in Maui. She does not think she’ll see Connor Blackwood, her love from the past, but when she does, things get interesting.

I liked Jess and Connor a lot. I didn’t like Jess’s sister much, but the conflicts added a richness to an already gorgeous novel.

The setting was a paradise location that is so richly described I could really imagine the palm trees, sun and cocktails. Maui is a place I have never been to, but I have been to Barbados, and this novel had me thinking back fondly to my time there.

I am glad this is a first in series and I am eager to review the rest of the series as it becomes available.

Pack your bags, jet off to Maui (virtually) and escape current world events with this novel that i did not want to end.

Carla Luna has a gripping writing style that perfectly captures the atmosphere and well-fleshed out characters. Add this to your summer to-read list now. I also think it will be a great feel-good pick-me-up any time of year if a summery novel is what you need.

Thanks to Carla Luna, Moon Manor Press and Rachel’s Random Resources for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars

The Last Days of Us by Caroline Finnerty @cfinnertywriter @Boldwood Books @bookandtonic @rararesources

About the Book:

They say if you love someone, you have to let them go. But what they are your child?All Sarah McIntyre has ever wanted was a loving, happy family.  So when her husband JP announces on Christmas Day that he is leaving her and their two children, 9 year old Harry and 4 year old Robyn, Sarah is left reeling.But things are set to get worse when Robyn is diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.Can JP and Sarah unite to fight their biggest battle yet? or will they be on opposing sides once again?With the couple at loggerheads and with Robyn’s condition deteriorating day-by-day, precious time is running out and JP is getting desperate…The Last Days of Us is a tender story of hope and forgiveness that asks the question how far would you go to save your child?

Where to Buy:

About the Author:

Caroline Finnerty is an Irish author of heart-wrenching family dramas and has published four novels and compiled a non-fiction charity anthology. She has been shortlisted for several short-story awards and lives in County Kildare with her husband and four young children. Her first title for Boldwood is The Last Days of Us, to be published in June 2021.

Contact Caroline:

Bookbub profile:

My Review:

What would you do if life as you knew it was suddenly ripped away from you?

That’s what Sarah has to deal with. After trying to get pregnant and IVF, she has three children and life seems great.

Then, her husband JP picks Christmas of all times to shatter Sarah’s and her kids’ world.

How will she cope as a single mum?

Then a cancer diagnosis hits and it’s up to Sarah and JP to figure out a way to fight if they are to get through all this…Will they pull through?

I have never reviewed any of Caroline Finnerty’s novels and thoroughly enjoyed this.

It is heart-warming, heartbreaking hard hitting yet tender and realistic.

Best to have the tissues ready

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

5 stars

The Love Island Bookshop by Kate Frost @katefrostauthor @rararesources

About the Book:

A dream job, two handsome men, one destructive act. Will Freya’s opportunity of a lifetime end in tears?
When Freya leaves her publishing job in London to be a barefoot bookseller in the Maldives, it’s the push she needs to move on from her sadness and reignite her passion for life.
While resort owner Zander is charming, it’s handsome dive instructor Aaron who befriends her when she needs it most. But all is not what it seems and there’s trouble brewing in paradise.
Taking a chance on happiness is harder than she imagined. Can Freya let go of her heartache and allow herself to fall in love again?

Where to Buy:

About the Author:

Kate Frost is the author of best-selling romantic escape novels (The Baobab Beach Retreat, A Starlit Summer, The Greek Heart and The Amsterdam Affair), character-driven women’s fiction (The Butterfly Storm series and Beneath the Apple Blossom), and Time Shifters, a time travel adventure trilogy for children. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she also taught lifewriting to creative writing undergraduates.
Kate lives in Bristol with her husband, young son, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Frodo. As well as writing novels, she’s also the Director of Storytale Festival, a new city-wide children’s book festival that she co-founded in Bristol in 2019 with the ethos of making books accessible to all and encouraging children and teens to read, write and be creative. Kate feels incredibly lucky to spend her days writing and being immersed in books.

Contact Kate:


My Review:

I have purposefully been searching for feel-good escapist novels and I was immediately drawn to the title of The Love Island Bookshop. All the words elicit things that make me feel good: love, travel and a bookshop.

Freya works in London and is feeling overwhelmed by work and life.

The Maldives is a dream location for many people, and one that I would love to go to.

Freya arrives in the island paradise determined to start afresh in life and love.

Books are a comfort and passion of hers. Selling them in Paradise may provide an income for her, but what about matters of the heart?

She meets two hunks: Zander, the resort owner and Aaron, a dive instructor. Who will be the perfect match? Will any of them be?

I was cheering Freya on in her exploits and loved the banter and suspense over who she may end up with. The island was stunning and the visuals were so strong that I could imagine myself there. The plot is incredibly immersive.

The Love Island Bookshop is a heady mix of sun, sea books and love and had me hooked from the first page to the last.

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

The Love Island Bookshop is my first novel by Kate Frost, and it certainly will not be my last! I am keen to catch up with the rest of the A Romantic Escape series as this is the fifth book and I know I am coming into the series late.

That said, this novel is completely absorbing.

5 sparkling summer stars