Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Blog Tour Review: Dreaming of Florence by T.A. Williams


Dreaming of Florence by T.A. Williams
Published: 8th January 2018
Publisher: Canelo
Pages: 254
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Today it's my stop on the Dreaming of Florence blog tour organised by Ellie from Canelo. Thank you Ellie for inviting me to be part of the tour and sending me a copy of this wonderful book to review. 

Blurb
Fresh pasta, red wine, fine art… and love? Find enchantment this year in the magical city of Florence When Debbie Waterson’s bicycle crashes into handsome doctor Pierluigi, she wonders if her luck has changed. Determinedly single after ending a long relationship, at last, a man worth bumping into, Inspired to visit Florence, she soon runs headlong into that old foe: reality. But is Pierluigi the man of her dreams? Then there’s her booze obsessed boss, his forbidding secretary and her noisy inconsiderate neighbours. But could her luck be about to change? Will she find love after all?

Review
I’ve never read anything by T.A. Williams but when I saw Dreaming of Florence was up for review I knew this was the book to try out this new to me author. I’m so glad I did as Dreaming of Florence is a book which has many things to love in it, a great setting, adorable characters and a storyline which had so much more than your average romance novel.
Deborah Harper or Debbie as she likes to be known is a language teacher specialising in teaching foreigners English. Her small language school in Cambridge is struggling and Debbie is on the verge of losing her job. When Debbie quite literally runs into Doctor Pierluigi Masino she’s distraught, not only has she made a fool of herself in front of a handsome stranger, she’s also ruined her bike and with no spare money it means she’ll be walking to work from now on. She can’t believe her luck when later he turns up on her doorstep with a new bike. He’s her dream man, not only is he super handsome, he’s Italian and from Florence, the place which holds special meaning for Debbie. Believing Pierluigi to be the man for her Debbie decides to follow her heart and sets off for a new life in Florence. Despite not having the dream start she was longing for Debbie’s move to Florence turns out to be the best thing she’s ever done.
I have a love affair with Italy just through books so anything set in Italy immediately piques my interest and this book captured the essence of Italy perfectly and had me wishing that I could be Debbie and pack my suitcase and simply start a new life.  It was so wonderful to experience Florence through Debbie’s eyes and feel her enjoyment as she takes in the sights, the sounds, the smells and the tastes of Italy. Reading this book has made me long to visit this beautiful city even more.
Debbie’s a character you can’t help but adore. She has such a naïve attitude towards people, particularly men believing that their intentions are as good as hers and time and time again she finds herself broken-hearted and disappointed. But she also has a resilience about her which makes her dust herself down and get on with the next thing in her life. She has such a caring and helpful nature which sometimes leads her into trouble but also opens the gate to some marvellous opportunities.
This is a book which I enjoyed immensely. I loved following Debbie on her journey to happiness and reading this book has left me feeling very inspired. Debbie has taught me that its not enough to dream about the life you want, you must take a risk and go and find it for yourself. So that is what I intend to do and if anyone is needing some inspiration or motivation then Dreaming of Florence is the ideal book to read.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Faking Friends by Jane Fallon


Faking Friends by Jane Fallon
Published: 11th January 2018
Publisher: Penguin 
Pages: 448
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb

Amy thought she knew everything there was to know about her best friend Melissa. Then again, Amy also thought she was on the verge of the wedding of her dreams to her long-distance fiancé.
Until she pays a surprise trip home to London. Jack is out, but it's clear another woman has been making herself at home in their flat.
There's something about her stuff that feels oddly familiar . . . and then it hits Amy. The Other Woman is Melissa.
Amy has lost her home, her fiancé and her best friend in one disastrous weekend - but instead of falling apart, she's determined to get her own back.
Piecing her life back together won't be half as fun as dismantling theirs, after all.

Review
Faking Friends is the latest twisty chick lit novel from Jane Fallon exploring the effects of a toxic friendship. In this book we meet best friends since childhood Amy and Mel, who’ve shared their hopes, dreams, secrets and stood by each other for years, or so Amy thought. Amy has been working away as an actress in New York leaving fiancé Jack alone in their London flat. With Mel’s fortieth about to happen and Amy’s contract in New York over she decides to make a surprise visit home. On entering the flat she shares with Jack its immediately obvious to Amy that another woman has been there. Her clothes and beauty products and are scattered all over the apartment and to top it off the place is spotless, something Amy knows Jack is not capable of managing himself.
When Amy works out that the other woman is Mel she decides not to get upset but get even. All throughout their friendship Mel has taken what she wanted and left Amy to pick up the pieces, but this time its different, this time Mel is going to get what she deserves.
With the help of friends Kat and Greg, Amy manages to inflict sneaky acts of revenge on Jack and Mel whilst finding herself a new flat, a new job and a blossoming new romance. This is a great and addictive read full of twists and turns as sometimes Amy’s revenge plans have a habit of back-firing.
Amy’s a very resilient character who is quite easily able to pick up the pieces from this devastating news and move on with her life. I feel a little sad for Jack really, as although he’s behaved badly Amy doesn’t even seem to give him a second thought once she’s decided on her revenge plan, surely, she must have had some regrets over all their years together.
Written mostly from the point of view of Amy it was refreshing to finally get Mel’s take on things when about half way though her voice is added to the narrative. This may come as a shock to some readers as there is no indication of this in the book. But having read previous Jane Fallon novels it was something I was expecting to happen and after a couple of pages its pretty clear which character is narrating.
At times I did start to feel sorry for Mel (a little) but then you turn the page and read more of the devious things she’s done in the past and think she’s getting everything she deserves. Does Amy manage carry out the ultimate revenge or does Mel get the last word as usual, read it for yourself and find out.
From the author of Strictly Between Us and My Sweet Revenge, Faking Friends is another fantastic not to be missed read from Jane Fallon.



Thursday, 7 December 2017

Blog Tour: The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan



The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan
Published: 1st Deceber 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages: 298
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5
Blurb
Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn't be more different.

Amanda seems to have it all, absolute perfection. She projects all the accoutrements of a lady who lunches. Sadly, the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.

By comparison, in the basement flat, unwanted tenant Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.

It takes a bossy doctor, a handsome gardener, a pushy teenager and an abandoned cat to show these two women that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.

Review

Tess Cuffe and Amanda King have shared the same house for almost twenty years and yet they know nothing about each other. Amanda has lived in the top three floors of their Georgian townhouse with husband David and their children Casper and Robyn. Tess has lived alone in the basement flat, an unwanted tenant that Amanda and David have battled to be rid of.  But both of these women have one thing in common they’re both lonely and as the new year beckons they both begin to question their life choices and slowly the hostility between them begins to thaw.

Helped along by a stray cat, a sexy gardener named Carlos, a meddling Doctor and Amanda’s caring daughter Robyn and  the pair begin to form an unlikely friendship as they set about resolving the mistakes from their past.

This was an incredibly well written story and I can’t believe Faith Hogan is an author I’ve not come across before, her story-telling is so heartfelt and engaging. I loved the journey that Tess and Amanda went on in this book. At the beginning Tess comes across as a grumpy and rather sarcastic old woman and Amanda as a preened and polished airhead, luckily through the flashbacks to their earlier years we realise this is not the case. Both women have deeply hidden passions which have been crushed by unthoughtful men in their lives.

This is a wonderful story of friendship, family, love, loss and betrayal. It’s a story about second chances and how it’s never too late to change your life, no matter how old you are. It’s about forgiveness and following your dreams. It’s one of those books where you find yourself just reading one more chapter because you just need to know what happens next.  I loved every page of this book and can’t wait to devour more of Faith Hogan’s writing.

Thank you so much to Melanie at Aria for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Blog Tour Review: Just One Time by K. S. Hunter



Just on Time by K.S. Hunter
Published: 7th December 2017
Publisher: VAD Publishing
Pages: 182
Available on Amazon
Rating: 3/5


Blurb
Desire can have dire consequences

Two years ago, David Madden made a mistake that almost cost him his marriage. His wife, Alison, gave him another chance, but she has not forgotten, nor has she forgiven.

She is irresistible

Then David meets the alluring Nina at a theatre in London. When he loses his phone in the dark, she helps him find it, and by giving her his number he unwittingly invites her into his life.

What David initially views as an innocent flirt turns into a dangerous game of deception. His increasingly suspicious wife thinks something is up, and each lie he tells pushes them further apart.

She is insatiable

Nina pursues David relentlessly, following him to New York where she gives him an ultimatum: sleep with her, just one time, and then she’ll get out of his life forever; or she’ll ruin everything he holds dear.

She is unstoppable

Of course, once won’t be enough for Nina, and what David hoped would be the end is merely the beginning.

A modern-day Fatal Attraction, Just One Time is a steamy psychological thriller that will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath until its shocking conclusion. 
Review
David is married to Alison and two years ago he did the worst thing and cheated on her, Alison forgave him but has not forgotten and the last two years life has been hell for David who feels he’s constantly walking on eggshells trying not to upset Alison. One night he meets Nina an incredibly attractive young woman who he can’t help but flirt with, after all flirting is harmless right? Wrong, even though David gives Nina a false name she won’t leave him alone, following him everywhere and driving him nuts she says she won’t give up until she gets one night with David and then she’ll be gone or will she?
This is a very intense read which drops the reader straight among the tense atmosphere between David and Alison which doesn’t let up until the end of the story. The intensity heightens when Nina joins the story and you will probably have that feeling of dread in your stomach while the plotline reaches its peak. For me this happened in New York as after that I felt the plotline fell apart a little and wasn’t quite as believable and gripping for me.
The characters in this book are not the likeable kind. David is selfish, arrogant and does exactly what he wants and then wants forgiveness and reassurance when things don’t go exactly his way. Alison was hurt by David but she’s still bitter after two years and does everything to make him feel inferior, perhaps giving us an understanding as to why he wants comfort elsewhere. I just found Nina obsessive and insecure and would have like more understanding of why so was so psychotic.
I found this an okay read but didn’t feel it had the ending to match the beginning. This is an intense read full of sexually explicit scenes and language to match but for me was more of a plotline. I will still look out for whatever the mysterious K.S. Hunter writes next.
Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on this blog tour.
About the Author
K.S. Hunter is the pseudonym of an international bestselling author. The identity of the author, who lives in the United Kingdom, will remain a mystery.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Blog Tour: It Started With A Tweet, Guest Post from Author Anna Bell



It Started With a Tweet by Anna Bell
Published: 7th December 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 416
Available on Kindle

Blurb
Daisy Hobson lives her whole life online. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall . . .

Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy's problems - a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria. Soon, too, Daisy a welcome distraction there in Jack, the rugged man-next-door.

But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village?

And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone?

Today I'd like to welcome the wonderful Anna Bell to my blog to talk about one aspect of her fabulous new book It Started With A Tweet, out on Thursday. So over to Anna:






Social Media And Me



I adore social media. Being a British expat living in France I love the fact that I feel connected with the UK with a simple swipe. From a work perspective I love that I can talk to readers and other authors. From a personal perspective I love that I can lose hours watching Instagram stories and finding out everything I ever needed to know in an instant.  But I also hate social media. I hate the fact that I am always tempted to check my phone. I hate the fact it can cripple with me anxiety that my life doesn’t look as fun as everyone else’s. And I hate the fact that I ignore people who are actually in the room with me to speak to virtual strangers. I’ve started to wonder is it possible to find a balance between love and hate.



When I started to write my main character Daisy in my latest novel It Started With a Tweet, I was laughing at the way she acted when she was forced offline and the ridiculous lengths she went to find the internet. Only the more I started to write her, the more I started to see myself in her and I began to notice how obsessed with my phone I actually am. I started to track the time I spent on it and was amazed that those little email refreshes here and that scan of Twitter there actually added up to hours during a day.



Shocked to discover my addiction, I was determined to do something about it and I ended up doing a three day digital detox. I prepared myself for tears, tantrums and misery, only they didn’t come. It was as if I knew that I wasn’t allowed it so I didn’t even reach for it. I felt freer than I have in a long, long time and for once I didn’t have major FOMO (fear of missing out) as I wasn’t seeing what everyone else was up to.



Realising that I treated my phone like another person in the room - always giving it priority over everyone and anything else - I decided I needed to change. I’ve

now deleted Facebook off my iPad and phone. I’ve off all my notifications from all my apps and now the only way to know now if someone’s got in contact with me is if I check. I no longer jump to the beat of my phone as it’s pretty much silent all day. I’ve started to tweet more as I’m trying to be more of an active participant rather than just a reader, in the hope that I’ll get more out of it. I’m also trying to wean myself off Instagram stories, as yet with no success - but you’ve got to have one achilles heel, right?



I think writing the novel was great for me to remind me that there’s a world away from my phone. Life goes on whether I’m on or offline and I don’t always have to know what’s happening all the time. My great love affair with social media isn’t over, but like all love affairs I’m beginning to think perhaps it’s healthier not to spend all your time together!

Thank you so much Anna for sharing your social media thoughts with us and look out soon for my review of the hilarious It Started With a Tweet.


Monday, 4 December 2017

Blog Tour Review & Extract: Winter at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin



Winter at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin
Published: 1st December 2017
Publisher: HQ Digital
Pages: 403
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5



Blurb
This winter it’s time to fall in love at Cedarwood Lodge…

After years of dreaming, Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen and turning it into the perfect destination for celebrations, weddings and extravagant birthday parties. The huge property used to be a bustling holiday camp, now Clio wants to bring it back to its halcyon days – which will be a lot of hard work!
Returning back to the small town of her youth she’s glad to have one of her best friends still around to lean on, Micah who is just as solid as he used to be. But with her own secrets pushing her to run from her glamorous life in New York, she’ll have to tread carefully, especially when the far-too-handsome-for-his-own-good contractor, Kai, shows up on her doorstep…

Sure she’s here in Evergreen to change her life, but there is no way she’s falling in love!


Review


Winter at Cedarwood Lodge is the new title for three novellas Rebecca Raisin wrote last year Celebrations and Confetti, Brides and Bouquets and Midnight and Mistletoe, which I was lucky enough to read last year. In this new version all three stories have been edited together and given a final ending which I think finishes off Clio’s story perfectly. I’m a huge Rebecca Raisin fan and have loved re-reading Clio’s story again and feel it’s now even better than before.

Clio has just bought Cedarwood Lodge and returned to her home town of Evergreen. Along with help from best friend Micah, irresistible project manager Kai and shy but sweet Isla Clio plans to renovate the lodge in time to re-open at Christmas. With an anniversary party, a wedding and a New Year’s Eve party to plan Clio has her hands full, will she manage to pull it all off despite the many obstacles which keep appearing.

Clio is a lovely character who is always willing to help others, especially if that helping involves a little match making. She’s determined that love is not for her even when her feelings for handsome Kai can’t seem to be controlled, so perhaps her friends need to do some matchmaking of their own. There is also a more serious thread running through the story as Clio tries to rebuild her relationship with her mother and work out what secrets she is hiding. This gives the story some balance and makes it even more enjoyable.

I adored reading these separately last year but as one whole novel they make a perfect story which has everything you could wish for friendships, romance, Christmas, a little magic and that thing Ms. Raisin has mastered scrumptious sounding food. Another winning book from Rebecca Raisin and one which will bring joy to anyone who reads it.

Thank you so much to LLR Promotions for inviting me on the blog tour and sending me a copy to review.

Extract
“And what about Timothy? That fine specimen of young love? Have you reconnected?”
I groaned. I’d forgotten her earlier directive about catching up with him for coffee. “Well, we’re all supposed to be going out on Friday. But that’s only because I literally bumped into him in town…”
She cut me off. “Bumped into him? Like meet-cute bumped into him? Like the beginning of every single decent romantic comedy?”
“If I eye-roll any harder I’ll see my brain. Yes, but it wasn’t like the movies at all. It was painful and all sorts of awkward because he had his two children with him, who were so frosty they were practically snowmen. The little girl made the finger-across-the-throat gesture behind his back. And she’s only, like, four, or eight, or something!”
“OK, OK, that’s interesting. We don’t know enough about kids to translate the meaning. It could be anything! Did he say where their mom was?” Her voice rose with excitement and I knew I had to put a stop to her scheming. Before I could answer she was off again. “Was he wearing a wedding ring?”
I debated whether to lie, because if I told her the truth there’d be no going back.
“He wasn’t, was he?” she said triumphantly.
Dang it! “No, he wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean anything! He could have been swimming, or at the gym and taken it off for safekeeping. Besides, I’m not interested in revisiting the past.” I didn’t know which way was up at the moment and definitely couldn’t be trusted with matters of the heart unless they related to someone else’s heart. Someone like Micah and Isla.
“Did you have butterfly belly? Yes or no?”
“Possibly, but I think that was because I had a traumatic bump to the head…”
“Yes or no?”
“It was more nerves…”
“So that’s a yes. Did he give you that same special smile from back in the day?”
Damn it.
“I’ll take your silence as an affirmative. And who invited who out? Actually, don’t bother answering that – it was him.” The clack of laptop keys clattered down the phone line.
“What are you doing?”
“Research.”
“His Facebook page is locked down.”
Her curse rang out and the keys clacked furiously once more.
“He doesn’t use Twitter.”
I was met with silence.
“Or Instagram.”
“Are they so remote they can’t communicate? I mean, how do these people survive?”
I giggled. “I think they meet face to face.”
She gasped. “Bloody hell. OK, so if we can’t stalk him online, I suppose you’re going to have to do this the old-fashioned way.”

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Blog Tour Review: A Wedding at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke


A Wedding at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke
Published: 1st December 2017
Publisher: Aria
Pages: 274
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb 

Love, marriage, birth, death and betrayal in the East End of London make up life in Mulberry Lane. Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Cathy Sharp and Donna Douglas.

Maureen Jackson knew life as a trainee nurse wouldn't be easy, but she didn't expect her hospital to be badly bombed on her first shift. Plus Maureen still has her family and friends in Mulberry Lane to keep her busy – she's needed as much there as she is by her patients.

Running the pub on the corner of Mulberry Lane, Peggy Ashley is used to taking in all sorts of waifs and strays. But the arrival of a dashing American captain has got tongues wagging about Mulberry Lane's favourite landlady...

Janet Ashley's husband is back from the frontline. Which is more than so many of the wives of Mulberry Lane. But her beloved Mike is a completely different man from the one she fell in love with – and what's more he doesn't remember her, or their young daughter. How do you cope when your darling husband is a virtual stranger?

As WW2 continues around them, the women of Mulberry Lane know that community spirit and friendship is the key to surviving the Blitz.

Review


A Wedding at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke is the second book in her popular Mulberry Lane series and I think it was just as absorbing and heartfelt as the first. If you haven’t read the first book then don’t worry you’ll soon be totally immersed in Ms. Clarke’s amazing storytelling and the lives of Maureen, Peggy and Janet.


Maureen has left Mulberry Lane to train as a nurse despite her injured sweetheart Rory begging her to stay by his side in London. For the first time in her life Maureen is doing exactly as she wants following her dream of helping others through her nursing, but with Rory begging her to marry him every time she visits her heart begins to be torn in two.


Peggy is still running the Pig and Whistle pub at the end of Mulberry Lane and is providing comfort for all those around her. Things with husband Laurence are particularly cold and all Peggy wants is someone to give her some comfort.


Janet has been reunited with missing husband Mike but their reunion has been bittersweet as Mike has no memory of his wife or young daughter Maggie.


Each of these women faces moments of heartbreak and joy throughout this book and the way Ms. Clarke writes it’s as though I was right there with them feeling every emotion with them.  I was a glad that one of them manages to find happy ending but for how long nobody knows.


I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to spoil this wonderful read, just that I highly recommend it to anyone who is fans of Lynsey Hutchinson, Nadine Dorries or Diney Costello. I adored every page and am so looking for the next instalment with these wonderful characters.


Thank you so much to Aria for sending me a copy to review and inviting me to be part of the blog tour.


About the Author

Rosie Clarke was born in Swindon, but moved to Ely in Cambridgeshire at the age of nine. She started writing in 1976, combining this with helping her husband run his antiques shop. In 2004, Rosie was the well-deserved winner of the RNA Romance Award and the Betty Neels Trophy. Rosie also writes as Anne Herries and Cathy Sharp. Find out more at her website: www.rosieclarke.co.uk