Synopsis

As if it weren’t enough to be cheated on by her husband of ten years, Yorkshire lass Hannah Davis is losing her beauty salon business too. Luckily, her big sister is there to pick up the pieces, but Hannah is desperate to find some independence.

Impulsively, Hannah applies for a spa job…on a cruise ship! Christmas in the Caribbean, springtime in the Mediterranean, what’s not to like? But, despite being in her thirties, Hannah has never done anything on her own before, and she’s terrified.

As the ship sets sail, Hannah has never been further from home…or closer to discovering who she is and who she wants to be.

 

My review

This book makes for lovely, lively reading. The opening is quite brutal though, as we find Hannah just recovering from what’s pretty much a total breakdown after her husband of many years suddenly leaves her. She’s neglected her business for too long to save it so things look very bleak. Her stalwart of a sister, Jen, is there for her and helps her start to find her feet her again.

An expected nail-mending job introduces Hannah to the idea of working in a cruise ship, which Jen encourages her to do. So Hannah courageously decides to take this career leap, and with her we travel to many locations, deal with frustrations and tribulations, and possible heartache.

Hannah is a great character. She’s fun and feisty, but flawed in that, as her sister says, it’s a crisis if she misses her favourite TV soap. In this novel she faces a real crisis, and while it floors her to start with, she does cope, and with humour and fortitude. You can’t help but like and admire her.

The author has a lively sense of fun too, and creates some great people, places and happenings to entertain us. She gives both sides of the coin when it comes to the cruise ship – it’s not all excitement and glamour, in fact, there’s a lot more drudgery and rule-following.

This is an easy and enjoyable read, light but not without sharp comment here and there, and a super book to while away a few hours.

 

Purchase linksmybook.to/TheHolidayCruise

Author bio

Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, ‘The Secret to Falling in Love,’ in 2016

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaCookeAuthor/

https://twitter.com/VictoriaCooke10

https://www.instagram.com/victoriacookewriter/

 

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

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.

 

 

See what other book reviewers think of Summer at Hollyhock House by visiting their blogs too.

 

 

I’m delighted to be featuring ‘The Continuity Girl’ by Patrick Kincaid today as part of the book’s blog tour. This novel is sparkly, sophisticated and impossible to put down.

Synopsis
1969. Hollywood descends on a tiny Scottish village for the making of Billy Wilder’s most ambitious picture yet: a sprawling epic detailing The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. But the formidable director and his crew soon come into conflict with Jim Outhwaite, a young scientist seeking evidence for monsters.
2014. Stuck just a short walk from the East London street where she grew up, ambitious Film Studies lecturer Gemma MacDonald is restless and hungry for change. A job offer in the Highlands seems to offer escape – but only at a cost to her relationships with family and an equally ambitious American boyfriend. Then a lost print of Gemma’s favourite film turns up, and with it, an idea… Two stories, separated by 45 years, are set on collision course – on the surface of Loch Ness, under the shadow of a castle – by the reappearance of the continuity girl herself: April Bloom.

My review
Two worlds collide in this novel in a number of ways. Firstly, in the form of academia and the film industry, and two timelines run throughout, not quite in parallel as there are links between the two. Yet another contrasting pair is found in how fact and fiction interweave throughout the story and occasionally crash headlong into each other. Let’s not forget our main hero Jim and heroine Gemma who don’t have the smoothest relationships with their respective partners. We see a contrast between grey, crowded London and the beauty of the Scottish highlands. The prehistoric Loch Ness monster is having quite an impact on twentieth-century life, and finally the moon, shining down on the earth, has a part to play too.

In the modern day timeline of 2013/14, lecturer Gemma McDonald has stumbled across some reels from Billy Wilder’s film ‘The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’. She’s also applied for a job in the film studies department at the University of Aberdeen. She can’t quite find the right time to tell her boyfriend David, who has just accepted a post in Chicago. In the 1969 thread, Jim and the others in the Loch Ness Research Group have their ordered, focussed existence overturned when the camera crew, actors and support staff, including the all-important continuity girl April, turn up to film the relevant parts of the film. True to her name, April brings continuity not only to the film script, but also to the novel as she turns up in both timelines. There’s a backing cast of fascinating personalities too.

You don’t need to be a film buff or an obsessive Nessie fan to enjoy this novel, since we’re told all we need to know about these key features of the story. However, if you can be bothered to spend a little time on Wikipedia reading up about Billy Wilder and his films, and about Loch Ness and its famous purported inhabitant, you can appreciate more fully just how much research has gone into this novel. The author’s hard work adds extra depth and sparkle. There’s no info dumping, just a richer text as a result. For readers like me who were there in 1969 the mention of Golden Wonder crisps, and the descriptions of the clothes people are wearing and the music they are listening to is a lovely trip down memory lane, not to mention the overawing excitement of huddling around someone else’s TV to watch those grainy black and white pictures of Neil Armstrong taking his giant leap on behalf of mankind.

This is a delightfully different and thoroughly enjoyable novel about discovery, friendships and love, about following your dream, about how life can be unfair and force choices on you that you don’t want to make. But happy endings take many forms and ultimately, I think, the book is a celebration of being true to yourself and doing what you have to do. And that is a pretty major achievement.

• Paperback: 224 pages
• Publisher: Unbound Digital (9 Mar. 2018)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 191158698X
• ISBN-13: 978-1911586982

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Continuity-Girl-Patrick-Kincaid/dp/191158698X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532380325&sr=1-1&keywords=the+continuity+girl

About the author

Like April in the novel, Patrick is an Anglo-American. He was born to an English mother in Amarillo, Texas, but moved to the UK when his American father was stationed in Oxfordshire with the USAF in the mid-1970s. Unlike his older brother, Patrick was sent to a local rather than a base school, and very quickly went native. He eventually gained a PhD in English Literature at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. For the past 14 years, he has taught English to secondary school children in an inner-city comprehensive in Coventry.

Long a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Patrick contributed one of his own, ‘The Doll and His Maker’, to MX Publishing’s SHERLOCK’S HOME: THE EMPTY HOUSE, an anthology of pastiches put together to raise funds for the preservation of one of the author’s former homes. As well as writing fiction, Patrick is a keen poet. He was short-listed for the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2012 and long-listed for the Fish Poetry Prize in 2013.

Twitter @patrickkincaid

I’m thrilled to be one of the first stops in the blog tour for Little Pink Taxi by Marie Laval, an enchanting, heart-warming and very modern novel.

Description

Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline.

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too.

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …

 

My review

This is a delightful and lively novel, which is romcom with a touch of the supernatural, history and mystery. Our heroine, Rosalie, is bubbly and bright, as cheering as the bright pink anorak she wears. She’s like a breath of fresh air or a sunshiney day. In complete contrast is Marc Petersen, the dour client she collects from the airport. He’s irritable, humourless and critical. He’s a dark cloud on her horizon, in more ways than one. He’s not just miserable company, but he’s come to Raventhorne Castle, which has belonged to Rosalie’s boss Geoff and where she’s lived for a long time, to sell it. Marc has recently inherited the castle from his father, to whom Geoff had sold it without saying a world to anyone. And  it’s not just the castle, but also Rosalie’s taxi company that he’ll be getting rid of. That could spell disaster for the whole community of Irlwick.

Rosalie is a wonderful character, so charming and genuine. In fact, everyone we meet, likeable or otherwise, is rounded, convincing and human! No stereotypes or cardboard cut-outs here. Marc is particularly complex and it’s fascinating to see how he develops through the book, but not without a few stumbles on the way.

The setting in Scotland is picturesque and portrayed in great detail. It’s exquisite. We also get a powerful sense of community which is warm and inviting. There is so much to enjoy in this story!

The writing flows and you get swept away by the action. There’s tension, humour, puzzles, a little ghostly intervention, romance, the inevitable misunderstandings  – every thing you need to thoroughly engage and entertain you from the catchy front cover to the back one. The author mixes them together in an unusual and clever way and the result is a truly enjoyable novel. 

Purchase Links

Kindle UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Pink-Taxi-Choc-Lit-ebook/dp/B078KCQ5G3/
Kindle US:
https://www.amazon.com/Little-Pink-Taxi-Choc-Lit-ebook/dp/B078KCQ5G3/
Kobo:
https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/little-pink-taxi-choc-lit
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/little-pink-taxi/id1326824583

Author bio 

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire with her family. She works full-time as a modern languages teacher, and in her spare times loves writing romance and dreaming about romantic heroes. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and her historical romance The Lion’s Embrace won the Gold Medal at the Global eBook Awards 2015 (category Historical Romance). She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her native France, as well as her passion for history and research, very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!

Social Media Links –

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/MarieLaval1
Blog: http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/

Synopsis

Genre: Sweet romance/cosy mystery

Release Date: 1 February 2018

Publisher: Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus)

Packed full of French flavour and idyllic settings this is a romantic, heart-warming and unputdownable new novel about life and love, perfect for anyone who loves Milly Johnson, Lucy Diamond and Debbie Johnson.

Suddenly unemployed and single, Anna escapes to her parents’ beautiful house in France for a much-needed recharge – and to work out what she wants to do next with her life now her carefully mapped out plan has gone out the window.

Anna gives herself 6 months to recuperate, all the while helping renovate her parents’ adjoining gites into picturesque B&Bs. But working alongside the ruggedly handsome Sam on the renovation project, she didn’t expect for life to take an unexpected, if not unwelcome, twist…

 

 

My review

Everything about this book makes it a perfect summer read from its pretty, perky cover to its happy ever after ending.

We follow Anna from England, where she ends her relationship and job on the same day, to France where she seeks sanctuary with her parents who are working together contentedly to build themselves a new life abroad. Anna allows herself time to mend and re-prioritise her own life. She’s in for some surprising and unforeseen changes!

Back in England Anna worked alongside Karl in a strained atmosphere where it’s all about getting the right results, but in France she works alongside Sam companionably. She made what Karl called an ‘unbeatable’ team, but also an unhappy one. In England, Anna’s experience was that language deceived. People said what they didn’t mean. Karl said he loved Anna, but he didn’t mean it. He also lied when challenged over his relationship with her. In France, she finds that life is less about appearances and impressing others. People are true to their feelings and to their word. Can Anna learn to be true to herself?

The book is divided into months with further chirpily named subdivisions – for example, New Day, New Me and Getting Down and Dirty. The use of the present tense makes the writing crisp and immediate, and the author’s style is flowing and easy to read. I especially love how the author’s own cat Ziggy stars in the story!

Something that surprised me is that, as far as I can make out from her bio, the author’s never lived in France, although she’s obviously visited. She seems to have soaked up the French rural atmosphere so easily and in such detail I was sure she must have spent a lifetime there.

Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to this lovely novel. It will transport you to France in an instant, and introduce you to some fascinating characters and places, and warm the cockles of  your heart at the same time. 

 

Excerpt

The L Word

Two weeks today will be the first anniversary of our first real date. Being wined and dined in a chic little French restaurant was a gigantic step forward; it signalled the beginning of a new era in my relationship with Karl. Even though at least half of the meal was spent talking about work, his intentions were clear – we were no longer simply colleagues and romance was in the air.

Since then, Karl must have told me that he loves me more than a thousand times. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I can assure you that’s not the case. He usually manages to slip it into the conversation at least three times a day. The first time he said the L word to me, it slid off his tongue so easily I could almost have missed it. It wasn’t a staring into each other’s eyes moment of discovery, just a casual ‘love you, babe’.

As the months rolled by, I pushed aside my growing fear that it was only a word to him. Because it means so much more to me, I freeze whenever he tacks it onto a sentence.

And, yes, I’m very aware that my air of disapproval does make me sound ungrateful and undeserving. But it’s all about self-preservation, you see. I’ll never utter that word again until I’m one hundred per cent certain that the man I’m saying it to believes I’m their soul mate too – the perfect fit.

The last time I uttered the L word, was six years ago. It was to a guy I’d known since childhood and the man I genuinely believed I would marry when the time was right. He was handsome in a rugged way, fired up with ambition and exciting to be around. Sadly, everyone we knew thought we were the perfect couple too, except the guy in question, as it turned out…

 

BUY LINK

http://smarturl.it/TheFrenchAdventure

 

GOODREADS

https://goo.gl/k3hEkq

 

 

ABOUT LUCY COLEMAN

Lucy Coleman always knew that one day she would write, but first life took her on a wonderful journey of self-discovery for which she is very grateful.

Family life and two very diverse careers later she now spends most days glued to a keyboard, which she refers to as her personal quality time.

‘It’s only when you know who you are that you truly understand what makes you happy – and writing about love, life and relationships makes me leap out of bed every morning!’

If she isn’t online she’s either playing with the kids, whose imaginations seem to know no bounds, or painting something. As a serial house mover together with her lovely husband, there is always a new challenge to keep her occupied!

Lucy also writes under the name Linn B. Halton.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/LinnBHaltonAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanauth

Goodreads Author Page: http://ow.ly/mk3H30atV5h

Website:  http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

 

And look, there’s a competition!

Enter here:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017301/?

 

 

 

 

This is a light and easy-to-read novel with plenty of humour as we join three very different couples in the run-up to their weddings. This is such an exciting time for the future brides and grooms, but also something of a minefield. So many things can go wrong…

Charlie and Sienna have plenty of money, but this bride-to-be intends to set her standards very high. Can Charlie meet her expectations? Is she putting too much store on appearances and forgetting what a wedding is really about?

Thomas and Bryony are our next couple. Bryony is nothing like as demanding as Sienna, but there are problems bubbling under the surface that may spoil her big day.

And then there’s Agnes and Simon. Surely the wedding of these two unassuming people, although with parental pressure in the background, will go without a hitch?

We encounter a lovely variety of characters and situations in the novel, which makes for an enjoyable summery read.  

About the author

Bettina Hunt lives in England with her husband and two sons. Without A Hitch is her second novel. She blogs about beauty, afternoon tea, spas and travel, as well as sharing poems and short stories at www.beautyswot.com. She can be found on Twitter most days – join in the chat @BeautySwot.

 

 

 

 

 

The book details

Title: Without A Hitch

Publisher: CreateSpace/Amazon Media

Publication Date: October 2017

Formats: Kindle and Paperback

ISBN: 978-1978270053

Genre: Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit/ Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Page Count: 286

Buy Links: Kindle – https://amzn.to/2rATgfP

Paperback – https://amzn.to/2wxndTJ

‘The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay’ is a wonderful example of kick-lit – ‘chick-lit with a kick’, as the author likes to describe it. That kick comes from the strong heroine we have in this story. Rosa Larkin has had plenty of knocks in life and so she’s built up a tough shell around herself. She’s thus rather cynical about the mysterious inheritance she receives: the Corner Shop in a Devon seaside town. However, with the support of her friend Josh, and Hot the sausage dog, she heads down to see what the story is. She intends to sell it and get on with her life without this millstone round her neck.

However, that plan is soon scuppered but, out of work and with time on her hands, she decides to give running a shop a go. Of course, it’s not going to be easy and she faces obstacles and resistance, but unexpected friendships crop up along the way and Rosa’s soft centre starts to emerge from that hard shell. Rosa learns a lot about herself in this lively, uplifting story that’s original, touching and totally enjoyable.

The writing is wonderful and sweeps you along, much as events do Rosa. It may appear to be a quiet seaside town but there’s a lot going along under the surface. Cockleberry Bay comes alive for us in the detailed descriptions of the place and its residents as well in the exciting action we encounter.

This is an accomplished and heart-warming romcom from a talented author.

Follow Nicola as she goes on tour with this super novel.

 

This book makes for perfect reading at this meteorologically challenged time of year as it takes us from the cold, snowbound days of Christmas into joyous, warm springtime and then summer. Ellie Browne, landlady of the Dog and Duck, and her partner Max, owner of the country mansion Braithewaite Manor, are our central characters. There’s great excitement at the beginning of the book, when their baby Noel makes his precipitous entrance into the world, but the action keeps going as life is busy for Ellie and there’s also Polly’s wedding coming up. Polly is Ellie’s best friend so she wants to put on a really good show. However, deep down there’s another wedding she’d rather be planning for, but she’s the one who keeps throwing the spanner into the works where that one’s concerned.

There’s a fascinating cast of characters in the book. We get to meet Ellie’s parents, now back from Dubai, and they add some drama of their own to proceedings. Max’s family supplies a few surprises too.   

As well as the feel-goodness of the story, the author’s writing raises your spirits as it’s warm and inviting. Jill Steeples tells her romantic comedy in a friendly, flowing fashion. There’s humour, drama, tension, heartache and joy, all the compelling ingredients we need to keep us hooked to the very end.

This is the last in the Dog and Duck trilogy, and it’s been a pleasure to read them all. The previous books were ‘Christmas at the Dog and Duck’ and ‘Summer at the Dog and Duck’. What’s more, all three have wonderful, eye-catching covers. Author and publishers have worked hard to produce a real treat for their readers.    

Help yourselves to a festive feel-good freebie from me!

Anna is house-sitting for family friends in a very cold cottage in the middle of snowy France. She’ll be there for a fortnight over Christmas. It’s all rather quiet and unexciting until, on Boxing Day, a pheasant gets tangled in the pear tree in the garden. Anna can’t possibly leave it there but her rescue attempt goes wrong, leaving her the stuck one. All she can do is wait for a knight in shining armour, or at least a passing Frenchman…

Anna Partridge in a Pear Tree is available in a variety of ebook formats for free from Smashwords here. And please spread the word!