Synopsis

Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’llstill be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a readymeal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?

My review

What a sweet and magical Christmas tale! And very clever.

The mysterious Natalie breezes into town to take over at the bakery and café temporarily. However, it soon becomes clear that she has an ulterior motive.She’s looking out for some people in particular in the town. Natalie is a warm and charming person, and we can’t help suspecting there’s more to her than meets the eye.

The four other main characters, Meredith, Stanley, Rebecca and Jacob,are as different as it’s possible to be, yet each is fascinating and memorable.I think hard-nosed Meredith is probably my favourite although she’s truly ghastly! She leaps off the page.

Events work to bring our characters together so that Natalie can try to work her unique magic in making their Christmas, and beyond, somewhat more jolly and rewarding. But she’s got a tough job on her hands. Helped by Jacob,she gets busy at the café, which is the centre of operations.

This is a joyous, optimistic, uplifting book, like just Christmas itself. The touch of magic is the icing on the cake. Wonderful.

Purchase Links

http://amzn.to/1gcpTrc (UK) & http://amzn.to/KUArMU (US)

Author Bio

Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children. She is the author of four novels: Return of the Christmas Spirit, The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game,and Sign of the Times. She is currently working on books five and six: TheProposal and Just One Day.

Susan is also a proofreader, editor and translator,and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows and eating out – not necessarily in that order!

Social Media Links

Facebook – www.facebook.com/susan.buchanan.author

Twitter – susan_buchanan

Blog – Sooz’s journal – www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk

Giveaway – Win e-copies of Sign of the Times and The Dating Game (Open Internationally)

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

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494170/

Some fun today! I’m taking part in a sort of mini advent calendar-cum-twelve days of Christmas party for this wonderful little book, The Magical Christmas Do-Over, so I have a short piece from the author about baking, which is something she loves to do at Christmas time – and every day of the year!

But first the official poster:

And then a quick review. I absolutely adored this book. It’s funny, moving, magical and uplifting. Three women get a chance to relive a Christmas from the past and that makes all the difference to the dead-end lives they’ve found themselves in. Macy, Samantha and Naomi have good hearts but have all allowed themselves to be backed into corners they don’t wish to be in. But thanks to a blue moon and some extra-special cookies it’s time for a new beginning. A beautiful, sweet story but with grittiness here and there. It’ll make your Christmas.

So, now lets open that third window on our ‘advent calendar’ and hear from Linda:

 

Baking.

Food, baking and family feature heavily in all my books. I was born to it I’m sure! I opened up my own restaurant out of my basement in Buffalo with my easy bake oven and my Barbie burger grill. I actually had customers, daily.

Who would come to eat in a blizzard to a seven year olds’ basement, I ‘ll never know. But after that, I made all the Christmas dinners, and finally opened up my own restaurant when I was full-grown. Around 50 lol.  In Malibu California where I had movie stars like Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hanks in everyday.

 

Purchase links 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magical-Christmas-Do-Over-Heartwarming-ebook/dp/B07K81Z36R

https://www.amazon.com/Magical-Christmas-Do-Over-Heartwarming-ebook/dp/B07K81Z36R

 

Author bio

Linda West is the best selling author of the adorable and enchanting “Christmas Kisses and Cookies.” It is a delightful series of holiday romances based around the town of Kissing Bridge and the magical Landers sisters who are the reigning blue ribbon cookie queens thanks to their mothers’ ‘special’ recipe book.
Linda was the owner of Mayberry – a celebrity-filled restaurant in Malibu where many of her recipes enchanted the regulars such as Tom Hanks and Anthony Hopkins to name a few. Her recipes are sprinkled throughout her fiction books much to the delight of her fans.
Her newest venture is in the cozy mystery and humor genre. With – Death by Crockpot – the first in her newest series -Linda takes her favorite known characters from Kissing Bridge and throws them into some side-splitting funny adventures.

 

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/Morningmayan

http://www.morningmayan.com/

Plenty more days to go in this Christmassy bonanza so do follow the rest of this fun tour:

 

Synopsis

Jane Hewitt had been miraculously healed—cured of a terminal cancer that had been eating away at her body for months. After one meeting with an incredible young woman, Jane rose from her wheelchair and walked out, believing that her lifetime of devoted faith had been rewarded.

The next day, Jane died in her husband’s arms, devastated that her God had deserted her. Her husband, Ian, blames her hastened death on the faith healer she visited. But that faith healer is a teenage girl called Megan, who has been in a coma for five years, and has no say over how her gift is used.

When Ian is arrested after being accused of breaking in to Megan’s house and trying to tamper with her life support, he turns to the only person he knows can help clear his name, and stop this family deceiving any other victims—Dr Alex Ripley, the so called Miracle Detective.

Fascinated by Megan’s case, and needing a distraction, Ripley finds herself on Holy Island, off the coast of North Wales, caught up in an investigation that will prove more sinister and dangerous than she could have imagined. Ian is not the first person to complain about Megan and her supporters, but he seems to be the only one left alive. For now.

A Hollow Sky is the second Alex Ripley Mystery.

 

My review

A Hollow Sky is a thoughtful and thought-provoking mystery with a definitely unsettling undercurrent of menace. It unrolls slowly to begin with, but as it gains momentum it really begins to sweep you along as the tension mounts. This is the result of excellent, careful writing.

As well as the mystery involving comatose Megan and a cast of scarily obdurate and arrogant people adhering to somewhat extreme religious beliefs, there is a personal interest story line involving Alex  Ripley, who is an intriguing and complex character. She’s certainly courageous and determined and I wouldn’t want her on my trail!

The setting in the close-knit village is almost claustrophobic, exactly as the author intends. I mentioned that feeling of menace earlier, and it lurks. stagnating in every corner. Alex comes in like a breath of fresh air, but will she be enough to recharge the oppressive atmosphere and chase the evil away?

In summary, an excellent, absorbing, slightly disconcerting mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat right to the end.

The book is the second in a series but works fine as a standalone, and is an enticing introduction to this author.

 

Purchase Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hollow-Alex-Ripley-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07H9DTFM8

US – https://www.amazon.com/Hollow-Alex-Ripley-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07H9DTFM8

Direct from Red Dog Presshttps://www.reddogpress.co.uk/shop

 

Author Bio

Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, M. Sean Coleman developed a love for reading and writing novels in his early teens, thanks to two incredibly passionate English teachers who infected him with their love of words and stories. Over the intervening years, he has written film and television drama, cross-platform series, an interactive children’s storybook and a graphic novel series.
He finally found his niche as a thriller writer when he was asked to write a novel as part of the cross-platform project, Netwars. His first book, The Code, was published six months later, with the sequel, Down Time, hot on its heels. There was no going back.
He is obsessed with crime, mystery and thriller stories, especially those with a fresh or surprising angle. He writes novels from his home in The Cotswolds, where he lives with his husband and their three red dogs.

Social Media Links –  

www.facebook.com/mseancoleman.author

www.twitter.com/mseancoleman

Giveaway to win paperback copies of The Cuckoo Wood and A Hollow Sky, a cool tote bag with book quote from the publisher, a branded bookmark and some chocolates (Open INT)

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

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494165/

 

Synopsis

Erin and Heather Douglas are struggling. Their mother’s death has left a void in their family and everyday life has side-lined their dreams.

Erin has buried herself away in the family home and left her stage career. By hiding away, she is evading the pain of returning to London and the acting world where her ex-fiancé is enjoying success and a new relationship. When she meets charismatic Texan Jackson McGee, she wrestles with her feelings for him. Should she trust another man?

Heather is juggling babies, work, a rocky marriage and running on wine. An overheard conversation makes her wonder if husband Mark would cheat on her.

Can the sisters help one another to face their fears, dust off and revive those dreams and find joy in life?

 

My review

This is such a delightful book. There is so much happening – a mother dying early, a miscarriage, alcoholism, postnatal depression, an extra-marital relationship. But don’t panic! If that makes this book sound heavy and pretentious, it absolutely isn’t. These various problems are there but handled gently and subtly woven into the plot, rather than shoved in the reader’s face. It adds so much richness to what’s already a beautifully written and touching story.

It’s a book largely about the excuses we make for ourselves and our loved ones when we know that either we or they are not behaving the way they should. ‘My sister’s the one with all the free time since she’s unemployed so she can look after Mum on her own.’ ‘I don’t have time.’ ‘I know I shouldn’t but I deserve another drink.’ ‘Where’s the harm in flirting with another woman – my wife’s so busy with the new baby.’  ‘I can’t face doing that today because I’m tired.’ And so on. We’ve all convinced ourselves we’re doing the right thing when we know we’re not, and the characters in the novel are no different.

It’s also about family relationships, those all-pervasive bonds that support yet can also shackle us. Erin and Heather spar and argue, like so many sisters, but they love each other deeply. Their brother Fraser is well-meaning and kind, but now much help. Families have their ups and downs, and we some storms being weathered in the novel until a balance is found.

Our heroine, Erin, is sweet and sympathetic, but not a pushover by any means. She shows strength and resolve, and we see her blossom in the novel. The hero, Jackson, is exactly the sort of man we want him to be, a foil to the unpleasant Damien who’s presence is felt throughout.

So much to enjoy and relish in this touching story.

 

 

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Barn-Buried-Dreams-When-daylight-ebook/dp/B07GY3YFQ7

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Barn-Buried-Dreams-When-daylight-ebook/dp/B07GY3YFQ7

Author Bio

Chrissie, 2016 winner of the Romantic Novelist’s Elizabeth Goudge writing trophy, is a seasoned tea drinker and a tenacious trainer of her welsh terrier, Oscar. She has always loved match-making a book to a reader. Writing the kind of book she loves to read takes this a step further. When Chrissie is not writing or reading, you will find her walking Oscar on the beach, trying to avoid the gym and spending time with her family and friends.

Her new release, THE BARN OF BURIED DREAMS – when will they see daylight?, is a contemporary story about two sisters who are struggling after the death of their mother. It starts in Dunleith, the same Northumbrian setting as her debut novel ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’, and some characters cross both books. Readers can enjoy either book as a stand alone

Chrissie enjoys tweeting to readers on @ChrissieBeee
Her instagram account is chrissie_bradshaw_author
Her blog is newhenontheblog.com
and she has a Chrissie Bradshaw author page on Facebook.
She would love to hear from readers

 

And hooray, there’s a giveaway!

A giveaway. A read, a cuppa and a treat.

Win a Paperback copy of ‘The Barn of Buried Dreams’, limited edition mug featuring both of Chrissie Bradshaw’s  novels and  a box of fresh macarons delivered from ‘Urban Cakehouse’.  (Open to UK Only)

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

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494162/

 

Follow the rest of the tour:

 

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for this truly intriguing novel.

Synopsis
Laura is happy and content, she has a new boyfriend and loves her job teaching primary school pupils in London. But when she inherits a rundown house from a stranger on her 30th birthday, memories of her prom night come flooding back, memories of a scary encounter and an antique mirror in the very same house.

Laura visits the house with all its secrets and as she unravels the clues she reveals the biggest secret of all: her own destiny. But how can you change the future if it’s already written in the past?

My review
At some time or other in our lives, we’ve all wanted to travel back in time and give a message to our younger selves in order to save ourselves considerable heartache in the future. In real life we can’t do that, but thankfully in novels anything is possible!
Reflected Destinies has an ingenious plot involving moving through time, thanks to a mysterious and ornate mirror in the property, Hampton Cottage, Laura inexplicably inherits on her thirtieth birthday. She’s baffled and somewhat alarmed when she finds out the house is hers, as she had an unnerving experience there when she was a teenager. She thought she’d seen a ghost, and it took her a long time to get over the fright. Now the ‘ghost’ is back, with protestations of love, but also dire warnings…
Florence Keeling is excellent at creating atmosphere. Initially we find Laura, now thirty, in a positive, happy, calm place. It’s easy to like Laura as she’s friendly, genuine and the sort of friend we’d all be happy to have. Her life in London is ordered and her boyfriend Jack seems t be just what she needed. However, when she goes to the Hampton Cottage to take possession of it and start renovations, the sense of menace begins to steadily grow in the background. Laura begins to doubt herself, and those around here. Objects take on great significance, not just the mirror but an antique cameo brooch and, although he’s not really an object, a well-fed ginger cat!
The paranormal element is subtly handled and, given Florence Keeling’s easy style of writing, seems perfectly normal in this novel, which has very realistic settings and convincing, modern characters and language. The plot is fabulous, and really does keep you on edge, but in a tingly excited way, right to the end.
In summary: an intriguing and immensely enjoyable read.

 

About the author

Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her Great Grandmother’s name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool’s Day.  She is married with two teenage chidren.  Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton.  Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/florence.keeling.7

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KeelingFlorence

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/florence.keeling/

Follow the rest of the tour:

Maddy feels unfulfilled. The kids have left home, her husband is obsessed with golf and life has become rather boring. She’s a teacher and one of her colleagues and a good friend is Leanne, a bit of an oddball character but with a good heart. She’s looking after her mother, and boy, does she need a break. Both of them do, so when they scoop a Lottery win, they’re decide to go on a road trip to the south of France. Maddy’s husband Tom disapproves, as does her mother-in-law, but she disapproves of everything. And anyway, Tom is planning a trip of his own to play in a golf tournament.

Both women have lurking ulterior motives – Leanne wants to track down her father, Erik, and Maddy desperately needs some thinking time and wouldn’t mind looking up Ludovic, her first real boyfriend.

They have some very amusing  adventures and encounters, including one with Bridget the poodle with royal connections, as they try to rediscover their real selves and get out of the rut that life has somehow shunted them into without their fully realising. They do seem to have found their goal when they reach Nice, only they discover there are goats in it. Their happy endings aren’t quite there for them yet. So it’s onwards with their travels and, you have to hope, they’ll have plenty more adventures for us to share. ‘The Boat Trip’ is the next book in this series.

This is sharply and beautifully written. Maddy and Leanne are wonderful, colourful, imperfect characters trying to do their best and make the most of their lives. We feel they fully deserve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity their win has given them, and share their enthusiasm and optimism for the future. There are many clever, comical touches, but there’s tension, insecurity and doubt there too. Our characters have responsibilities and have tough decisions to make. But the background is a feel-good one of hope and expectation. Readers’ expectations won’t be disappointed by this lively, touching novel.  

Synopsis

It is May 1968. Students are rioting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three ordinary women in Lisbon, London and Washington life must go on as usual. For them, just to survive is an act of courage. How much has really changed in fift years?

 

My review

The title quotation comes from something Amalia observes about her son, Ricardo – how he sleeps so soundly, how he can “sleep through war”. Our three lead characters, Amalia, Rose and Mrs Johnson, all experiences ‘wars’ of one sort or another, whether it’s war between cultures, races or actual military conflict. It seems that the whole world is at war in 1968 in one way or another with so much turbulence, social unrest and hostility as well as battles between soldiers. This is what unites these three disparate women.

It’s fascinating to have three such different characters woven together: we have a young Portuguese mother who is doing whatever it takes to earn money to educate her father less son and give him the best start in life she can. Then there is a West Indian nurse who has come to England to work, but isn’t always appreciated. And we have a mother whose son is fighting in Vietnam. She writes newsy, chatty letters to her son, but you can see she’s racked with worry about him.

News reports are interspersed throughout the women’s narrations which give the wider, factual background to their stories.

This is a gentle, poignant read, but that’s not to say that shocking things and cruel twists of fate don’t happen. However, our heroines take events in their stride. Each woman is brave, although each considers themselves to be perfectly ordinary, in the difficult circumstances they find themselves in and cope in what ways they can. It’s the contrast between their apparent normalness and the upheavals they tackle without fuss in their daily lives that is so powerful.

The author has a deft way with words and a sharp eye for detail. It’s the little touches, the smallest o brushstrokes, to the broad canvas of this book that make it so convincing. If you enjoy a book that is rich with imagery, touching, thoughtful, firmly rooted in reality yet imaginative and innovative, then this is one for you.

Just one negative comment, which concerns the book’s presentation and most definitely not its creative content. The narrations of two of the women are delivered in italic text, which I didn’t feel was necessary but which accounts for about two thirds of the book. Personally I don’t find italic text the easiest thing to read and it is a little off-putting when used for long passages.

 

Purchase links

https://wordery.com/sleeping-through-war-jackie-carreira-9781788038539?cTrk=OTI4NjYyNTF8NWIzNGE4OGEyMTcwNzoxOjE6NWIzNGE4ODE5OTMzZjQuMDY5MzQ4MzE6NTNkMGNjYzU%3D

https://www.waterstones.com/book/sleeping-through-war/jackie-carreira/9781788038539

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Through-War-Jackie-Carreira-ebook/dp/B078XF7351/

About the author
Jackie Carreira is a writer, musician, designer, co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company, and award-winning playwright. She mostly grew up and went to school in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood with grandparents in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Her colourful early life has greatly influenced this novel. Jackie now lives in leafy Suffolk with her actor husband, AJ Deane, two cats and too many books.

Social Media Links –  FACEBOOK: @SleepingThroughWar
WEBSITE:
jackiecarreira.co.uk

 

Dating Down

Suddenly single and unexpectedly poor, it’s definitely safe to say that Alexis Harland is not living the life of her dreams.

Although she’s determined that nothing, not one little thing, will stop her return from poverty. Well, almost nothing. Her pride might get in the way a little. And possibly her family. And maybe the fact that she hasn’t got a clue where to start.

Many years ago, Alexis was swept away from life on a caravan park and introduced to a world of riches and glamour. All thanks to a wealthy man who married her, reinvented her… and then dumped her for a younger model at the first sign of cellulite.

Now Alexis is stranded, struggling to keep her head above water and her history a secret from her highbrow friends.

As if that isn’t enough for a woman to deal with, one night she comes home to find a sexy man has landed, quite literally, on her doorstep. A man hell-bent on testing everything Alexis thinks she knows about true happiness.

Caught between the life she knows and her blossoming love, can Alexis afford to let go of her unwavering pride, kiss her social status goodbye and accept that stepping back to square one is sometimes a huge leap forward?

My Review

I’d planned to read this book over  few evenings, but once I’d started I couldn’t put it down. It’s such a wonderfully funny and clever book. Alexis is a truly engaging heroine. She’s the narrator of this story so we see things from her point of view, which adds a layer of irony. She’s not aware there’s anything wrong with her view of the world – where looking unfashionable or being poor are totally unacceptable.  She’s dismissive, opinionated and blinkered.

But not entirely. Her feckless, irresponsible sister might frustrate her, and they bicker with and make digs at each other all the time, but there is affection there too. Both stick up for their sibling when they need to.  They’re chalk and cheese in most ways though. Candy sees their upbringing in the caravan park as one of love, of their parents always being there for them. Alexis sees it as deprived and Spartan. She’d have rather had the latest fashion item than a mother cheering her on at sports day. Appearances have always mattered far too much to her.

But that changes when Bob arrives in her life. He’s quiet, unassuming and deliciously handsome, and through him Alexis begins to see that you can live well on a much smaller budget. In fact, probably better. But can she really give up on her old life? Especially when the wealthy Vincent turns up. Just as she finds it incredibly hard to part with her unnecessary possessions, parts of her prior self are tough to remove. They’re externalised in the form of the three witches, her one-time best friends: Cordelia, Gio and Margot. They embody all that is false and pretentious. Can Alexis get out of their shadow?

There is oodles of humour in this book. For example, the Crave Cave, an utterly tasteless painting, which Alexis doesn’t mean to buy at an auction but does, keeps cropping up throughout the story. There’s comedy in the situations Alexis finds herself in and in her interactions with others, in her sharp and biting observations of ‘inferior’ people around her, in her initial obliviousness to who and what she is and where she herself ranks on the ghastly scale. But will she ever learn to laugh at herself?

Brilliant writing. I can’t wait to read the promised novel that stars Candy, who is an equally absorbing character as her big sister. I hope Alexis will figure large in that too.

Purchase Links (I totally recommend that you hit the ‘buy’ button now!)

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dating-Down-Diane-Louise/dp/1719883521

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Dating-Down-Diane-Louise/dp/1719883521

Author Bio

Diane Louise is a dairy farmer’s wife from the UK who doesn’t know a Holstein from a Hereford.

But what she does know is how to write a funny story. Three years ago she tried to write steamy romance and sucked at it. Honestly, her stiff upper lip made her heroes more wet blankets than wet dreams. With a steely determination to avoid milking the cows, she turned her hand to Romantic Comedy and a star was born. Well, in her mind at least.

Fancy getting to know the woman behind the words?

She hangs around Facebook daily, desperately avoiding housework, and loves nothing more than chatting to fellow lovers of Romantic Comedy over at Di’s Romantic Comedy Club. Or, if you don’t do Facebook, that’s cool, because she also sends a monthly email to her readers, making sure they never miss a new release and sharing behind the scene info about her books. You can join The Monthly Club here.

Social Media Links

Facebook Group – Di’s Romantic Comedy Club – https://www.facebook.com/groups/954521864707822/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16873120.Diane_Louise

Mailerlite Newsletter Sign Up – https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r9i1b8

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/DianeLouise12

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

Newly minted lawyer Corrie Locke has taken a vow of abstinence. From PI work, that is. Until her best friend Michael finds his bully of a boss stabbed in the back after confronting him earlier that day. Michael panics, accidentally tampering with the crime scene…which could lead the cops to Michael instead of the real culprit. He turns to Corrie to track down the killer. She doesn’t need much coaxing. Her late great PI dad taught her the ropes…and left her his cache of illegal weaponry.

They return to the scene of the crime, but the body’s gone missing. Racing against time, Corrie dredges a prestigious Los Angeles college in pursuit of clues. All she finds are false leads. Armed with attitude and romantic feelings toward Michael, Corrie dives into a school of suspects to find the slippery fugitive. Will she clear Michael’s name before he’s arrested for murder?

My review

This is book 2 in the Corrie Locke series, but you don’t have to have read the first book to be able to enjoy this one. You quickly work out who’s who.

This is an enjoyable, fast-paced cosy mystery. Corrie makes for a very likeable heroine in that she’s not perfect at what she does, but she always gives things her best shot and, above all, she’s a loyal friend. Her friend Michael finds himself in a tricky situation, and so Corrie does what she can to prove his innocence.

The author is very good at creating atmosphere. When Corrie was investigating the crime scene, I was on tenterhooks, thinking she’d be discovered at any moment! There’s lot more tension in the novel, but also plenty of humour and ingenuity. You’re kept guessing right to the end, thanks to clever red herrings and false trails that the author throws in.

The characters we meet are interesting and rounded. All in all this is a very entertaining and fun read. If you enjoy quick-witted heroines and lively cosies, then you must put this on your TBR list.  

Synopsis

One long summer changes Faith forever…

Faith Coombes should be over the moon when her long-term boyfriend proposes to her. But instead, she breaks up with him. Rob is safe, reliable, nice and … boring. Nothing like the only person who has ever broken her heart…

Unable to afford the rent on another flat and desperate for a new start, Faith takes the plunge and moves back to the village she grew up in, returning to the house that holds so many memories for her. Hollyhock House, the family home of her best-friend Minel, also belongs to the boy who meant so much to her all those years ago…

As Faith falls back in love with the sprawling surroundings at Hollyhock she also finds herself falling all over again for the only person who has truly hurt her.

Can Faith come to terms with her past? Did she make the wrong decision in breaking up with Rob? Or does her heart really lie at Hollyhock House?

 

My review

There’s been a mass blooming recently of romcoms in settings with flower names – bluebell hills, rose cottages, primrose bays and so on. And why not! Everyone loves flowers, and who doesn’t love a romcom. And flowers and romance go hand in hand. But this book, Summer at Hollyhock House, for me is the cream of the crop, the brightest bloom in the meadow.

Two things make it stand out: the flowing writing that’s just so easy to read and filled with marvellous descriptions and imagery, and the courage of many of the characters we meet. Several of them are in unsatisfactory relationships or positions but they have the resolve and strength to break out of the rut they find themselves in. As many of us might know from experience, that is a difficult and frightening thing to do. There’s an atmosphere of positivity and self-belief in the novel which is very uplifting.

Faith is a wonderful heroine. She’s down to earth, genuine and very empathetic. She knows the now Rob-free path ahead won’t be easy, at least initially, but she grits her teeth and gets on with it, ignoring the disapproval from her mother. Fortunately she has supportive friends, and the chance to sink those gritted teeth into an exciting new project: redesigning the garden at Hollyhock House. This brings her into contact with her ex, Rik, and his flighty new girlfriend Lucinda. However, Faith copes well, on the whole, but her heart is heavy.

We get the ending we want, which is de rigueur in romcoms, of course, but the twisting path we have to follow we get there is clever and tantalising. A truly enjoyable,  rewarding and, appropriately, heartening novel.

 

Author Cathy Bussey is a novelist, non-fiction author, journalist for The Telegraph, cycle commentator and editorial consultant. She has a website at www.cathybussey.com.

Summer at Hollyhock House is published by Sapere Books and is available at all Amazon stores.

 

 

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