Saturday, 27 August 2016

Book Review - Made in Nashville by Mandy Baggot - Back Catalogue Books

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it! 

My back catalogue review this week is Made in Nashville by Mandy Baggot, which I read as part of a Summer Impulse readathon at the start of August. 

Amazon UK
Title: Made in Nashville
Author: Mandy Baggot
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 6th February 2014
Rating: 5 Stars

An on-stage attack left Honor Blackwood with more scars than just the one on her face. It's been ten years since she left her spot as Nashville's brightest country music star. Is now the time to return? And is she brave enough to do it?

Country rebel and rock star, Jared 'Jed' Marshall is hot property on the Tennessee music scene in more ways than one. He's wild, he's sexy and everybody wants a piece of him. But when he sets his sights on Honor, is it pure attraction or just distraction on his mind? 

Honor's record label sign the ex-boyfriend that dumped her and suddenly going back to her old life is harder than she thought. And when a secret from the past becomes public knowledge it's no longer just about the music. Are all the people in her life lying to her to get what they want? 

Join the country scene to find out! 

Made in Nashville - where the off-stage action's as hot as the music!

I'm still in disbelief that a little over a year ago, I had never read a Mandy Baggot book, and now I am slowly working my way through her back catalogue as well  as being keen to read her newest releases and every single time, I am astounded at the quality of the writing, the way she writes her leading characters, and in some cases the picture of the location that is built up. 

I am delighted to say that Made in Nashville is no exception to this. This is a fast paced roller coaster ride of a book, taking in the country music scene in Nashville, Tennessee. Now I don't know a lot about country music, but I would suggest that if you can read and listen to music simultaneously then to set up the suggested play list at the start of the book to really enhance your enjoyment of the book. Unfortunately I didn't and thats only because I knew if I started listening to music, I may have lost track of what I was reading, and I didn't want that!  

Honor Blackwood is a country singer who hasn't recorded or performed for 10 years, after she was attacked on stage at one of her concerts. Understandably it takes some getting over that, and now she has settled down to an ordinary life, and tries to ignore country music, despite it being part of her. However in a series of coincidences her manager tries to persuade her to return to produce new music for a Greatest Hits album, and current star Jed Marshall happens to hear her singing to herself and wants her to be the support act on his latest tour. 

All of this leaves Honor needing to make some very brave decisions, and I loved seeing her thought processes. I also loved how the view point alternated regularly even within chapters, between Jared (Jed) and Honor, allowing the reader to have a well rounded view of what is going on. 

There is a clear chemistry between Honor and Jed, and its wonderfully charming to see that Jed has been brought up with a respectful attitude toward women and with strong personal justice values that lead him into some sticky situations. 

Made in Nashville has a lovely story, which shows that true love doesn't run smoothly, and as we learn more about the main characters, some more in depth storylines are dealt with, within their back stories, which justs to my respect and love for both Honor and Jed. 

Thank you so much to Mandy Baggot for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A with Isboel Blackthorn

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it! 

This week we have Isobel Blackthorn talking about her previous welcome.

I’m a Londoner originally and I’ve spent almost half my life in the UK. I’ve also lived in Spain and the Canary Islands.  Now I’m in Melbourne, Australia. I have two daughters, twins, all grown up and leading busy lives. I’ve been a high school teacher, a market trader and PA to a literary agent. I have a PhD in Western Esotericism.

Please tell me about your first book, and what started you writing in the first place

I’ve wanted to be a creative writer since I was eleven. My passion for it grew in my late teens and early twenties and a few people around me thought I had some talent for it, but I had no confidence at all and I was too caught up with the challenging workings of my own mind to consider other people’s, even in fiction. I was one of those young people told to ‘get a real job’. I waited and waited and when finally my daughters reached 18, the creative passion in me reared up and demanded my attention. 

My writing started out intensely autobiographical. It’s taken years to transcend this. My first novel, Asylum, began as memoir. It was so dour my beta readers were left depressed for days. So a year later I hacked into it, deleted over half the content, created a character that definitely wasn’t me, and re-wrote it. I slaved and slaved over the story. I wanted to portray what its like to be a British-born visa overstayer in Australia. I wanted to tell a story from a perspective that was critical of this country. A story of alienation. 

How many books have you written and what are they?

I am working on my fifth novel. I had two novels published last year, Asylum, a work of contemporary women’s fiction, and The Drago Tree, a literary love story set on Lanzarote. I also have a short story collection, All Because of You, released in May this year (2016).  My next novel, A Perfect Square, a literary thriller, is out in August. 

Which book are you most proud of writing?

I am most proud of my short story collection, All Because of You. I started writing short stories in 2010.  They are my most autobiographical works. Although each story is carefully crafted and shaped, they are almost all based on real events and experiences. I pitched each story to every literary journal in Australia. I got little post-it notes saying ‘Well done’, and twice a story was short listed, but none made the cut. It was unbelievably demoralising. Then in 2012 a small press picked them up. I’d made it! My current publisher, Odyssey Books, loves the collection so much she re-released it, with an additional three stories. 

Which book was your favourite to write?

The Drago Tree, without a doubt. I wrote this novel in 2013, after the break up of my last relationship. I needed to escape so I took myself off to Lanzarote in my mind, immersed myself in memories, in images on the Internet, and I took Google maps man out on long tours (I clicked my way round the whole island). The writing was not without its challenges and the construction is complex with two points of view and a lot of backstory, but I was so entertained by the three main characters that sprang to life on the page. So much so, that I am now at work on a whole series based on them.

Who are your favourite characters from your books and why?

My favourite characters are geologist Ann Salter, hack crime author, Richard Parry, and indigenous potter, Domingo, all of The Drago Tree. These characters have become my best friends.

If you could go back and change anything from any of your books, what would it be, and why?

I would change some parts of Asylum, in keeping with current circumstances concerning refugees. I wrote this novel in 2012/13, before the Syrian exodus, before the huge refugee crisis in Europe. In Asylum I was focussed solely on the situation of offshore detention centres and boat turn backs, protagonist Yvette Grimm comparing her migrant situation with that of real asylum seekers, but now things have become far more critical and there is a lot more Yvette would have thought and said as a result. 

Which of your covers if your favourite and why?

I think my publisher produces great covers and I love them all. But my favourite is the one she created for All Because of You. I think it captures the mood of the collection perfectly.

Have you ever thought about changing genres, if so what else would you like to write?

This is my pet subject. I change genres all the time. I started out with literary aspirations, which was a good jumping off point because it forced me to work really hard on my craft. Each story I write sits in a different genre. I’ve just completed a work of dark fiction, tinged with domestic noir. And I’m at work on a crime series. I don’t imagine I’ll ever write fantasy or science fiction, or a traditional romance, but I really embrace the challenges of writing in different genres. It keeps an author on their toes!

Looking forward can you let us know what you are working on next?

I am very excited about my current work. Set on Lanzarote, with Ann and Richard and Domingo from The Drago Tree, it’s a quirky cosy mystery, at times hilarious but mostly gripping and intriguing. I can’t say any more than that. 

I dare not ask for a favourite author, but is there any author’s back catalogue you admire and why?

Iain Banks. I have learned more from Iain Banks than from any other writer. He is the father of my muse. He was a master storyteller, an adept, and a risk taker too.  Through him, I have developed a real affection for Scotland.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your back catalogue of books?

All my books to date have been published by Odyssey Books, a small press based in Canberra, Australia, and are available in English worldwide.

You can purchase all my books in paperback or e-book formats from Amazon.

Thank you so much Isobel, loving the idea of setting books in Lanzarote, and I'm very impressed at your ability to write in multiple genres.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Book Review - Wildflower Bay by Rachael Lucas - #20BooksofSummer

Amazon UK
Title: Wildflower Bay
Author: Rachael Lucas
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied review copy
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Publication Date: 11th August 2016
Rating: 4.5 Stars

This little island has some big secrets...

Isla's got her dream job as head stylist at the most exclusive salon in Edinburgh. The fact that she's been so single-minded in her career that she's forgotten to have a life has completely passed her by - until disaster strikes.

Out of options, she heads to the remote island of Auchenmor to help out her aunt who is in desperate need of an extra pair of scissors at her salon.

A native to the island, Finn is thirty-five and reality has just hit him hard. His best friends are about to have a baby and everything is changing. When into his life walks Isla . . .

I think I need to start by saying how good it was to return to Auchenmor, previously seen in Rachael Lucas' Sealed With A Kiss (& Christmas sequel), the rather remote Scottish island, full of warm hearted locals and we get to catch up with old friends too. 

That being said this is not a sequel of any sort, and although has the same setting as previous books, can easily be read as a book by itself, and what a book it is! I adored this story from its first rather funny incident, to Isla's initial opinions of the island and all the character development as the novel progresses. 

Isla makes a mistake in the first chapter which leads to her being put on gardening leave for 2 months from her top hair salon in Edinburgh. This coincides with her aunt needing someone to take over her salon in Auchenmor, somewhere that Isla has visited once and vowed never to go to again. 

Isla takes an instant dislike to the island and even buys a cheap calendar to count down the days, her aunt's salon is worse than she was anticipating, but after a couple of weeks you can see attitudes start to change. This is in part due to a growing friendship with one of her older customers, who she almost sees as a surrogate grandmother. 

Then there is Finn, who Isla keeps running into everywhere, and the scenes with the pair of them at Lilly's new retreat are hilarious, as are any involving Lily's son Lucien (although there is similar sounding name that describes him better!). 

This is a slow burning romance, with growing friendships, and personal growth foremost at the centre of this book, as well as small remote Scottish island life. I love the setting of Auchenmor, as well as its inhabitants, and I really hope there will be more books set here in the future. 

Wildflower Bay is a wonderful story that I found a pleasure to read, and gave me a warm feeling on a rainy & cold summer's evening. If you like warm hearted, cosy stories set in remote island locations then Wildflower Bay is definitely an excellent choice. 

Thank you so much to Lucie Twiggs at Pan for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Guest Post - Top ten things to do in New York City by Elle Field - Blog Tour

The latest and final book in the Arielle Lockley series, Found, takes place in New York, so I’m thrilled to share Arielle’s top ten things to do in New York City on Rachel’s Random Reads today: 

1. OK, you have to go and see New York from up high. I don’t care whether it’s from the Top of the Rock, aka the Rockefeller Center, or from the Empire State Building’s viewing platform – you can only truly appreciate New York from above.

2. If you find yourself in New York and, say, the airline has lost your luggage... or not! Head to Macy’s. The iconic store is one of my favourites, though the cellar is where Piers tends to hang out whilst I’m trying on clothes. If you’re a foodie like him, head downstairs.

3. If someone told me to visit Paddington train station in London, I’d look at them like they were a little strange, but trust me when I say that a visit to Grand Central Terminal is well worth it. It’s not just trains there. You’ll find market stalls, restaurants and bars tucked away in this historic building that was saved by Jacqueline Kennedy. Yes, that Jacqueline Kennedy.

4. Piers, my other half, loves a good musical – I won’t even tell you how many times we’ve seen The Lion King on the West End – so, if you’re also a fan, you must see a show on Broadway. School of Rock is at the top of our to-see list.

5. If you don’t make it to a show, head to Ellen’s Stardust Diner instead – it’s a fun fifties diner where the super talented waiters all sing Broadway numbers. I recommend the chocolate chip pancakes!

6. I’ve always been a bit weird about Central Park because I see it all the time on TV shows and in movies – Gossip Girl, Enchanted, Cruel Intentions and Home Alone II, to name a few of my favourites – but after spending quite a bit of time there this summer, it’s now one of my favourite places in New York. Don’t forget to visit the zoo!

7. Cruising down the River Thames has nothing on cruising across to Liberty Island to visit the Statue of Liberty. It’s worth braving the stairs and going up to Lady Luck’s crown for the view, but maybe give that climb a miss if you’re scared of heights or don’t like tight spaces.

8. Fancy feeling like a teenager again? Hop on the D, Q, F or N train and head to Luna Park at Coney Island and make yourself sick by mixing the rickety rides with lashings of wispy pink candy floss and mustardy onion-laced hotdogs. 

9. The High Line is an elevated park on an old train track that offers both awesome views and greenery as you walk along it. It’s pretty cool and brings you out near the Whitney Museum of American Art – the perfect gallery to visit if you like modern art.

10. Finally, if you’re in the city in the summer and fancy getting away from the sweltering heat without leaving the state of New York, hop on the Cannonball train. It will get you to the Hamptons in around 90 minutes. It’s well worth the journey to soak up the sunshine in these quaint colonial seaside towns.

If you’ve been to the Big Apple, do you agree with Arielle? If not, where are your favourite places to go in New York?

Thank you so much Elle for this fabulous guide to New York. I would love to visit so many of these places, when I get to New York one day. 

"How did people even come up with the idea of these dizzying skyscrapers, let alone work out how to make them possible? Whoever built the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, their legacy will live on forever. What sort of a difference will I ever make?"

Who knew one flight could change everything? When Arielle Lockley stepped on the plane at Heathrow, she never realised how different her life would be when she touched down in New York City. Now she's dealing with that aftermath, as well as trying to find common ground with Etta, her new and unexpected business partner. 

But, trying to sort out business in London whilst her fiancé, Piers, recovers from surgery in New York, is starting to take its toll on their relationship. Can Arielle and Etta work together to continue Felicity's legacy without destroying it, and will Arielle and Piers even make it down the aisle to say "I do"?

Find out whether Arielle gets her happily ever after in the final part of the warm and wonderful Arielle Lockley series.

Author profile:

Elle Field writes coming of age romantic comedies, and is the author of the Arielle Lockley series and Geli Voyante's Hot or Not. She grew up in Yorkshire, then moved to Scotland to study International Relations and Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews.

Elle now lives in London with her boyfriend and their cat. She's a massive fan of sunshine, giraffes, The Killers, Audrey Hepburn movies, playing Scrabble, musicals and tea. Oh, and reading, of course! 

You can buy Elle’s books here: 
Visit her website: 
Follow her on Twitter: 
Like her on Facebook: 


To celebrate the publication of Found, I’m running a giveaway. Prizes are an Amazon voucher, paperback copies of B-Side and Found, plus two handmade necklaces from Vaux Street.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Funday Friday - Truth or Lie? - Camilla Isley - Month 4 Week 4

Welcome to the latest edition of Truth of Lie. My name is Rachel and I will be your host, for this exciting new game show. Each Friday, I will have one contestant, and they will be answering at least 14 questions. There is of course one small twist...

For three of the answers, they have to lie. It is your task as the viewer to guess which three answers are lies. You are allowed 3 guesses and I want them posted into the comments field. 

Every 4 weeks, I will close the guessing, count up how many correct answers each of you has, and create a leaderboard. Anyone who is top of the leaderboard, will go into a draw for a paperback of the winners choice (open internationally). 

Please do include a way for me to contact you (email or twitter or similar), so that I can let you know if you have won. 

The weekend after a 4 week period closes, not only will I produce a leaderboard, and announce a winner, I will also let you know into the true answers, and which were the lies.  

Closing date for the fourth month is 11pm on 1st September 2016. 

So without further ado, let's meet today's contestant. 

Good morning contestant, please can you tell me your name and a little bit about yourself?

Hi, I’m Camilla and I’m a Bookaholic. My passion for writing came directly from my passion for reading. I love to write books that are sweet and romantic, and that will leave readers with a dreamy smile (sometimes also some LOL moments) on their faces. 

Please to meet you Camilla, I hope you will have fun today! 

Now onto the show, and remember everyone, Camilla hasn't been entirely truthful with three of these answers, so it is up to you to guess which ones they are (only 3 guesses per person though). 

1) Who is your favourite author?

J.K. Rowling. She created a magical world, made us speak a new language (muggles, squib, Azkaban, animagi, snitch, Quidditch …) they even had to put a 9 and ¾ platform at King Cross station. Harry Potter is my favourite series.

2) What book do you wish you had written?

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. This is one of my favourite classics. I love everything about it, the story, the struggle, the characters. Heathcliff had me fascinated since I was a teenager. I re-read this book at least once a year.

3) What was your most memorable holiday ever?

The island of Santorini in Greece. The island is beautiful, the Mediterranean Sea special, and everything just aligned to perfection during this vacation. Perfect hotel, perfect weather, and great food.

4) Please name a cocktail that would describe you perfectly, and what’s in it?

Lemon drop martini. It has Vodka, Triple Sec, lemon juice and sugar. I like to think of it as sweet (sugar rim) and sour (lemon twist). Just like everyone else I suppose, I have sweets moments and bitchy ones.

5) If you could only read one author for the rest of your life (and I’m aware that’s a very scary world), who would you choose and why?

I’m going to have to go back to answer number one and say J.K. Rowling. I never tire to re-read a Harry Potter book, and they’re definitely the most re-read in my library. Whenever I’m in a reading slump I go back to Harry Potter. I just re-started the whole series with the excuse that The Cursed Child is coming out this summer. I mean, I have to re-read the other seven books first, right?

6) If you could only look at one view for the rest of eternity, what or where would you like to be to see this view?

I would like it to be a view of Central Park from my condo huge terrace. (Even if I suppose I would have to win the lottery first to achieve that)
But if I really had to be stuck in one place for the rest of my life I’d like it to be New York. It’s such a vibrant, lively city. I’d love to be there for eternity.

7) Besides reading, which I am guessing is a given, what other hobbies do you have?

My biggest passion besides reading and writing is running, I’m currently training for my first half-marathon. My dream is to one day run (and finish) the New York marathon.

8) Who is your ideal Disney character?

Belle, because she’s a book junkie.

9) If you could be an animal what would you be and why?

I would like to be my cat. My biggest problems would be I’m over-cuddled and meowing for more food.

10) Can you describe for me what your perfect day would involve?

Get up at 11.
Head to Starbucks for a croissant and a Caramel Macchiato.
Kneading a pizza dough for later in the day.
Write 5000 words.
Prepare the Pizza.
Have a homemade pizza dinner with the hubby.

11) If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money?

I’d buy a house, go on a cruise around the world, give huge presents to my family and friends, give to charity, and I would open a cat shelter…

12) What superpower would you love to have?

Magic tiding finger snap. Imagine snapping your fingers and the House cleaning and tiding itself.

13) What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to music?

Listening to Pitch Perfect 1 and 2 soundtracks.

14) What is your best childhood memory?

When my cat gave birth to four kittens. I had a whole cat family. Dad, mom, and kittens. Those were three glorious months, two cats and four kittens all for me… it was a dream

Thanks so much for agreeing to take part Camilla, I also love Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and I'm so envious you got to go to Santorini, it looks so pretty in the pictures. 

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Truth or Lie? I will be back next week with another episode, and in the mean time...
Don't forget to guess the lies, to be in with a chance of a prize! 

What if the man you've always loved isn't the right one for you?

Rose Atwood has been in love with her best friend since she was twelve years old. The only problem is, he's the biggest player to have ever landed on Earth. Rose has waited forever for Tyler to grow up, all the while keeping her feelings under wraps for fear of getting hurt. But after watching Tyler go through girl after girl, Rose has lost hope he'll ever change.

Being Tyler's best friend is becoming more difficult with every passing year and every new woman in his life--especially when the girlfriend du jour is Georgiana, a snotty, beautiful girl who's in Law School with them and who never leaves Tyler's side.

When Rose, dumped by her long-term boyfriend, moves temporarily into Tyler's apartment, tension spikes. Georgiana wants Rose out of the house. Rose wants Georgiana out of Tyler's life. And Tyler ... well, he doesn't really know what he wants.

As an unexpected argument brings Rose and Tyler closer than they've ever been, they must decide if there's more to their relationship than being just friends. And they must do it quickly, as Georgiana is determined to do everything in her power to keep Tyler and Rose apart. After all, all is fair in love and war.

Will Rose make a leap of faith and trust Tyler with her heart?
Will Tyler make the right choice, or will he be too late?

Let's Be Just Friends is a fast paced, captivating college romance that will keep you glued to the pages with humor, heartbreak, and romance. It's a story about friendship, love, and the choices we make.

Tyler and Rose are two best friends, who end up tangled in a college love triangle when they become friends with benefits. Enjoy this light new adult read.

About Camilla Isley
Hi! I’m a writer of romantic comedy, cat’s lover, coffee addict, and shoes hoarder.
Besides writing, I love reading (surprise, surprise), cooking—and eating—especially pasta, going to the movies and obviously ordering a gigantic bowl of popcorn, and watching too much bad TV.
I understand that mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem as a part of other animals’ diet, and I don’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but I could really live without them!

Social media Links
Twitter: @camillaisley

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Guest Post - How to Write a Swoon-worthy Hero by Samantha Tonge

Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun has two swoon-worthy heroes – if I do say so myself. Poldark- lookalike Lucas, with his brooding moods, his shoulder-length raven curls and dark, dangerous eyes. And then there is Tremain with his strong build and demeanour with eyes that hint at a tragic back story... I adore writing heroes and nothing pleases me more than when a reader falls in love with them as much as I have.

So how do you write a hero that is seriously swoon-worthy? Well... looks come and go and the appearance of all the heroes in my books varies greatly, so I would say, first and foremost, it is personality that counts. And to have your reader really connecting with your character, I’d say you have to write from the heart. What turns you on about a man and makes you want to get to know him better?

For me, firstly, it is crinkly eyes that look as if they are affectionately laughing at you, whilst you talk.  I find that unbelievably sexy and it goes hand in hand with a man who can find humour in the world and himself. It shows he is confident. Perhaps a little cocky, which is fine in good measure. It reveals a man who is happy with whom he is and that self-assurance is so appealing. I also like a vulnerable side which takes me by surprise as I get to know him better. The killer combination for me is superman/Clarke Kent - a hero who is strong and determined and forthright – but who also has a sensitivity which makes him a gentle giant.

So once you have established characters traits to woo and ensnare your readers’ heart , think about appearance. I ran a very interesting thread on my Facebook page once, asking friends to tell me what they found attractive in a man. I was amazed that forearms came top! I suppose they hint at strength and capability – and hugs. Large hands were also popular – personally I find that a little scary! And shoulder-length hair. Tattoos. Plus a big nose. It was a long discussion AND NOT ONCE did a six-pack or V-muscle come up. So this moves me onto my next point: flaws.

To be truly swoon-worthy, I honestly believe a hero needs flaws. I mean, in real life I wouldn’t want to date Peter Perfect. And imagine dating a model? I’d be forever obsessing about my bikini line and muffin top! Plus flaws go back to the vulnerability – a bit like Poldark’s scar. Flaws hint at a back story; perhaps something challenging that the strong hero has overcome.

Finally, remember to explore all the senses to turn your reader on. During my Facebook discussion a man’s smell came up quite often. I personally like nothing better than a musky aftershave. Plus sound – deep voices are attractive. Or what about a Cornish accent like Tremain has in Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun? And then touch – how does he make the heroine feel  as he just brushes up against her or gives her a hug? Does her pulse race? Her cheeks blush? Showing her reactions, in detail, will add to the hero’s kudos and therefore swoon-worthiness.

Thank you so much Samantha for another wonderful post and for coming back yet again to feature on Rachel's Random Reads!  I do love your swoon-worthy heroes!

About Samantha Tonge

Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it's a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels is her passion.

Samantha has sold over 80 short stories to mainstream women's magazines. Her debut romantic comedy novel from HarperCollins (CarinaUK), bestselling "Doubting Abbey", was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Romantic Ebook award, 2014. The bestselling summer novel, Game of Scones, won the Love Stories Awards 2015 Best Romantic Ebook category. Her new novel, Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun is out July 2016!

Breakfast Under A Cornish Sun is published in paperback today! Happy publication day! 

Amazon UK

Dreaming of the perfect man?
Kate Golightly needs to move forward and what better way to do that then with a trip to the Cornish coast with best friend and boss, Izzy.

The sea wind is just what Kate needs to finally relax and begin to let go of her past. Except she’s suddenly got one big reason to panic! She RSVP’d ‘yes’ to the Queen Bee of her high school’s wedding saying she’s bringing her boyfriend (she doesn’t have one) who looks just like Ross Poldark!

With only two weeks to find the Poldark look-alike of her dreams Kate is under a lot of pressure for the Cornish coast to deliver…

Book Review - Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

Amazon UK
Title: Saving Sophie
Author: Sam Carrington
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 12th August 2016
Rating: 4 Stars

A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?

Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?

When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.

Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found.

Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.

As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another – Sophie.

Saving Sophie is a taut thriller where although I was gripped and couldn't really  put it down, I also didn't feel any fear like I often do with a psychological thriller, nor did I have any theories running through my head as I was reading it as to what really happened. 

There are some shocks and surprises but nothing that really made me gasp out loud, or make me catch my breath. 

The story is told by three view points, one of which is very unreliable in terms of information, one of the others is a character I should have sympathy with but just couldn't find it, and the other was the police which I did really enjoy. 

Sophie is returned home one evening by the police quite early, appearing drunk and out of it. In the morning she has no recollection of the night before, but her best friend is missing. Her mother Karen is agoraphobic and suffers all sorts of anxieties, and comes up with all sorts of theories about what happened that night. 

Saving Sophie is a strong debut novel by Sam Carrington that I managed to read in an evening. It held my attention at all times, and had a narrative that retained my interest while building a good picture in my mind.  I'll be very happy to keep an eye on this talented author to see what they come up with next. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Avon for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Book Review - Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas - #20BooksofSummer

Amazon UK
Title: Late Summer in the Vineyard
Author: Jo Thomas
Format reviewed: Paperback 
Source: Bookbridgr
Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: 11th August 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

Emmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it's time to put down roots of her own.

Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn't know a thing about wine - beyond what's on offer at the local supermarket.

There's plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy's new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there's her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.

But Emmy will soon realise that in life - just as in wine-making - the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there's romance in the air...

Every now and then I will receive a book for review, that I know I have to start at the earliest possible convenience. At its always a pleasure when I follow my gut feeling like I did with Late Summer in the Vineyard as it was pure delight to read. 

I have spent a memorable half day, transported to Bordeaux, and been taught all about the wine making process, from Emmy who needs to learn to follow her instincts. 

Emmy is a wonderful main character, she makes a brave if not stupid decision as early as the prologue which acts as the catalyst for the rest of the book. She gets onto a work placement in France for 3 months, to learn how to sell wine, and gets into all sorts of situations. But she has a heart of gold, having seen an old woman leave her purse behind, she tracks down where the woman lives, and sets off to return it, regardless of the lady's reputation. 

Madame Beaumont is formidable, she runs the Clos Beaumont vineyard by herself, and keeps a low profile in her local town. However she seems to see something in Emmy and takes her under her wing, and starts to teach her about wine. 

With two leading men, neither of which I could really get to grips with, Emmy's family and the colleagues in France with her, there is an excellent set of characters that will keep you hooked. I lost all track of time as I found myself absorbed in the story. 

This is the third book I've read by Jo Thomas, and I can safely say  this is my favourite, and they are becoming more and more accomplished each time, and even more compulsive to keep reading,, which is saying a lot as I still remember the feeling of wonder after reading The Oyster Catcher, her debut novel. 

Don't let the vineyard setting put you off if you aren't particularly a wine fan, as there are all the trademark characteristics of a fabulous women's fiction novel, with romance, friendship and family all featuring highly. Late Summer in the Vineyard is a triumph, and I have no idea how my next book will compete in my affections with this! 

Thank you to much to Frances Gough and Bookbridgr for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Promo Post & Giveaway - A Wedding in Cornwall by Laura Briggs

It’s the career move of a lifetime, and Julianne can’t believe it’s hers: a position as an event planner at a country house in Cornwall, England, beginning with the wedding of a celebrity! If her old firm's senior planner back in the States hadn't fallen suddenly sick with the chicken pox, Julianne would never have found herself chosen for a life in one of England's most beautiful coastal counties, surrounded by rugged shores, quaint cottages, elegant gardens and a house to die for. 

But life in Cornwall isn't exactly as Julianne imagined it. Her first bride-to-be is a resentful, petted snob, the groom is immature and bored, and the Cornish staff of Cliffs House has a difficult time believing that an event planner from a mid-level position can handle a wedding this big. And then there's a personal matter -- the handsome, sometimes charming, sometimes standoffish gardener Matthew Rose. He and Julianne have a strangely complicated relationship somewhere between friendship and attraction. But with a secret in his past, and a scheming bridesmaid plotting to have Matthew all to herself, will Julianne find a way to untangle her feelings and the problems of planning a perfect Cornish wedding? 

A Short Excerpt 

One of Cornwall's milder breezes swept across me as I found my way past the formal hedgerows to the winding little path to the sea. I buttoned my green pea coat as I climbed down, gradually moving from the craggy slate walkway carefully built like a natural stair to the soft, wild grass growing alongside it. I angled my way towards the view of the water below, hearing it surge and crash against the cliff's walls.

The wind rose and batted my hair across my face. I could see the Channel below, washing its way between the shores. I could see the beach, the stones and sand lost along the shallow edge whenever water rushed up from the sea. I sucked in my breath, imagining the power of the waves if I were below, walking along the strip of white foam instead of the soft grass and delicate purplish flowers around me.

That's when I noticed I wasn't alone. A man was kneeling near the edge of the cliff a few yards away at the foot of the stone path, watching the water also. Wind swept his dark, unruly hair back from his brow, and fanned the edges of his worn brown canvas jacket. Between his fingers was a sprig of something dark green, a plant or a leaf of some kind.

Sensing my gaze, he turned towards me. I felt my breath catch. He was attractive. But more than that, he was… familiar.

The handsome stranger from the railway station, his dark good looks even more impressive against the stunning backdrop of the cliffs and water below. A day’s worth of stubble made his well-formed features even more pleasing:  features that were accented by eyes that I imagined as dark as coffee beneath those perfect lashes and sculpted brow. For a moment, we stared at each other. Then he spoke.

"Do you mind getting off the heath?" A gruff, commanding voice that was filled with disgust — even though he was practically shouting over the ripple of wind and tide, I could detect that much.

I gaped at him. "What?" I asked. His manners weren’t as pretty as his looks, apparently. I felt a surge of annoyance along with my confusion for the accusation in his voice. Why was he talking this way to a perfect stranger? Who did he think he was anyway? Besides a good-looking…but no. That wasn’t enough to justify the rudeness etched in his perfect face, or the scowl he offered my shoes. 

"You're standing on it," he said. "The heath. What are you doing off the footpath? Can't you see you're trampling it with those spiky shoes of yours?"

Author Bio

Laura Briggs’ first stories were written in crayon about a rooster named Henry–but she was pretty young at the time, so it’s understandable. She eventually graduated to writing more complex plot lines and characters and writing her stories on a laptop. She tends to write stories with a romance theme, but as a reader she has a soft spot for mysteries, including those by Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart. She also enjoys books by Jane Austen, Anne Tyler, Amy Tan, and too many others to name. In her free time, she likes to experiment with new recipes and tries to landscape her yard (a never-ending project).

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Giveaway - Win an e-copy of A Wedding in Cornwall (Open Internationally)

Laura Briggs has kindly donated an e-copy of A Wedding in Cornwall for one lucky winner.  

Giveaway open Internationally, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 30/8/2016. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

Win an e-copy of A Wedding in Cornwall (Open Internationally)
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