I am delighted to share my review today for Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage by Samantha Tonge. This is a fabulous read and perfect now that we have more sunny days and the weather is warming up.
My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for arranging my e-copy of this gorgeous book. I would also like to wish Sam a very Happy Publication Day 🙂
Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage
A new start can come from the most unexpected places…
It’s been years since Lizzie Lockhart spoke to her parents. But she was safe in the knowledge she knew everything about them. Once upon a time, they were as close as could be. Until they weren’t.
After receiving the earth-shattering news of their passing, Lizzie decides it’s time to unearth some family secrets and find out just who her parents really were… starting with Streamside Cottage. A cottage Lizzie never knew existed, in a place she’s never heard of: the beautiful English village of Leafton.
Leaving behind London, and the tattoo parlour she called home, Lizzie finds herself moving to the countryside. Faced with a tight-lipped community, who have secrets of their own, Lizzie is at a loss for what to do, until her rather handsome neighbour, Ben, steps in to help.
As Lizzie finally begins to piece together the puzzle of her family history she realises she has to confront the truth of the past in order to face her future.
Oh my goodness what a fabulous read Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage was. Lizzie discovers her parents owned a cottage when their will is read. The cottage is left to her Aunt Fiona, Lizzie knows nothing about the house.
The village of Leafton has that wonderful community feel and Lizzie feels at home after living in the buzz of London. She had led quite a sheltered childhood as her parents were overly protective, and I mean really over the top protective. Leaving home to go to Uni was an ey opener and this led to her starting to stand on her own two feet causing a rift between daughter and parents. Staying in the secretive property will give Lizzie a chance to find out more about her past and parents. But are the locals of the village willing to share their secrets?
This is such a wonderful read that I absolutely adored from the first few paragraphs. It is told in a now and past format, the way the past is told works well with the Now part of the story. It is told in gradual back steps through the years and links in with Lizzie’s discoveries. There are more secrets to be unearthed than the obvious and these cause more than a few emotional discoveries and admissions for some of the characters.
I really liked how the author used a tattooist as the main protagonist. Even though tattoos are more accepted there is still a stigma attached. It would have been easy to give Lizzie a harder time as she does have artwork adorning her skin, but the author went down a more acceptable route and I liked how it was woven into the story with explanations. I am slightly biased about tattoos as I do have three of my own.
The sense of things being secretive and hidden was wonderful, at times with the sense that there was something much deeper to come. Weaving the locals and their stories into the story of Lizzie was a really good way of adding intrigue. While the locals are supportive there is a feeling that there is more that needs to be told.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, it is one of family and accepting the past, of heartbreaking discoveries. While it is a rom-com and it has a nice romantic thread, this feels more serious as there are some more serious issues that are dealt with. It is one for those who like a romance with a touch more suspense to it and it is one I would definitely recommend.
About the Author…
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK and studied German and French at university. She has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris, and has travelled widely. She has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.
In 2014 her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Ebook Award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Award. In 2020 she won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award with her novel Knowing You, from publisher Canelo.
It is no surprise to regular visitors that I do love Rich Amooi‘s books, his latest one, Uncork My Love is a fabulous bit of literary escapism and as always it put a smile on my face.
My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of the book.
Uncork My Love
A sweet romantic comedy set in beautiful Napa Valley!
Ivy needs a miracle and a drink—not necessarily in that order. With a struggling winery, the only hope of keeping her dream alive is snagging a gold medal at the annual wine competition. She’s determined to win, but she can do it without the help of Ted Jacobs, aka Mr. Know-it-All.
Ted wants to catch lightning in a bottle and create the world’s greatest wine, but he’s smart enough to know he can’t do it alone. When he heads to Napa to keep his grandma from ending up in jail (don’t ask), he meets Ivy. She’s as complex and intoxicating as his award-winning cabernet, but as stubborn as the mule next door when she stomps on his offer to collaborate.
Ted knows it’s risky to mix business with pleasure, but if Ivy would only listen, they might just be the toast of the town.
If you like a good romantic comedy, that is full of heart-warming moments and quite a few chuckles then this is the author for you. Rich’s latest book Uncork My Love is set in the Napa region and is about two winery owners.
Now, I am the first to admit that I adore this authors books and this one is another fabulous light-hearted escapism read that is perfect for losing yourself in for a couple of hours or so. I often mention that his novels are a little bit cheesy and tongue in cheek and this is what makes them so good.
Uncork My Love did feel a little different, it did have some of the cheesiness as the two main characters danced around “not liking each other”, but the joy of this story was the hilarious moments of the two, well, I suppose you could call them “interested others”, and I am not saying much about them at all.
Having a business head is all well and good but sometimes you need to step back and take a risk. This is something that Ivy is reluctant to do and the last thing she needs is some no it all man telling her how to do things properly. Ted does know his stuff and wants to help, but he and Ivy clash and are at loggerheads much of the time.
The author uses his magic to create yet another story that had me grinning and also sniggering several times. There is also some detail about wine, mixing, the flavours and these are expertly combined into Ivy and Ted’s story. I like wine, I don’t know much about it apart from if I like it I will drink it!
This is a wonderful rom-com from an author who knows just how to hit all the right notes. A bit cheeky with wonderful characters and an all-round cracking read. I adored it and would definitely recommend it.
About the Author…
Rich Amooi is a Taleflick Discovery Winner, Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Recipient, Holt Medallion Finalist, and the Amazon Bestselling author of 16 romantic comedies, including It’s Not PMS, It’s You, Dying to Meet You, There’s Something About a Cowboy, and Madam Love, Actually.
A former radio personality and wedding DJ, Rich now writes romantic comedies full-time in San Diego, California, and is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.
There is also a GIVEAWAY as part of the Blog Tour and you can enter HERE for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card (Open Internationally). Good Luck xx
Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx
I am delighted to share my review today for Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman. Many thanks to Allen And Unwin who granted my request to read this via NetGalley.
Happy Publication Day to Rebecca as well xx
I do have to mention this cover. As I have read this book I can look at it and it just makes me smirk. A moody teen, a rebel Grandmother and a son who is at his limits 👍😂
Meet the Gogartys; cantankerous gran Millie (whose eccentricities include a penchant for petty-theft and reckless driving); bitter downtrodden stepson Kevin (erstwhile journalist whose stay-at-home parenting is pushing him to the brink); and habitually moody, disaffected teenage daughter Aideen.
When Gran’s arrested yet again for shoplifting, Aideen’s rebelliousness has reached new heights and Kevin’s still not found work, he realises he needs to take action. With the appointment of a home carer for his mother, his daughter sent away to boarding school to focus on her studies and more time for him to reboot his job-hunt, surely everything will work out just fine. But as the story unfolds – and in the way of all the best families – nothing goes according to plan and as the calm starts to descend into chaos we’re taken on a hilarious multiple-perspective roller-coaster ride that is as relatable as it is far-fetched.
Good Eggs is a heady cocktail of that warmth and wit of Marian Keyes, Caitlin Moran and TV’s Derry Girls.
This is such a lovely story of three generations of the Gogarty family. Millie, the 83-year-old grandmother, Kevin her son and then the teenage grand-daughter Aideen.
The synopsis does give a good idea that this is a story that is going to have a few chuckles, and it certainly does. Right from the get-go, I adored Mille, she is an elderly rebel and poor Kevin does have his hands full with her. Aideen is a troubled teen, she feels overlooked as her twin sister does tend to get more of the attention.
Between the antics of Millie and the antics of Aideen, Kevin is definitely stuck in the middle. I did feel for him as he is pulled from pillar to post. From one situation to another with often quite funny events in the midst.
This is a story that has a good heart to it, no matter what age you are or generation there is always something that you wish you had done. In some ways, this feels like a coming of age for all the generation involved. Realising that there are options and choices, that changes and chances are part of life.
This was a lovely contemporary fiction novel about a normal family, dealing with situations as they rise. At times it was quite serious as there are topics that the author deals with, but at the same time with a snigger of humour interlaced in between. It did make me chuckle as well as giving me that lovely warm heart-warming feel. One I would recommend to those who like a feel-good story.
Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx
Kathryn Freeman is an author who I regularly read and her latest book Mr Right Across The Street was another fabulous read. My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this fabulous book.
Mia Abbott’s move to Manchester was supposed to give her time and space from all the disastrous romantic choices she’s made in her past. But then the hot guy who lives opposite – the one who works out every day at exactly 10 a.m., not that Mia has noticed thank-you-very-much – starts leaving notes in his window…for her.
Bar owner Luke Doyle has his own issues to deal with but as he shows Mia the sites of her new city he also shows her what real romance looks like for the first time. And when he cooks up a signature cocktail in her honour, she realises that the man behind the bar is even more enticing than any of his creations. And once she’s had a taste she knows it will never be enough!
This was a really fun book that I sat and read over the course of an afternoon. Mia, a newcomer to the Manchester area eagerly awaits 10 each morning when she can watch the gorgeous hunk in the opposite flat work out.
She has decided it is time to start over and stand on her own two feet. She has been a bit of a recluse since moving into her flat, her mum and sister want her to go out and meet people and find friends. Mia not so much, she isn’t one for socialising, doesn’t appear to like letting people find out much about her. But then her last relationship has left her doubting herself so its no wonder really.
Good job she walks into the local bar and finds people to talk to then, especially when one of them is the guy opposite who works out. She soon discovers from others that he is a player, he doesn’t do relationships and he, being the cool guy isn’t going to be interested in her, the nerd!
This is such a lovely story about opposites attracting, but when you have a reputation then its hard for anyone to see past that. Wanting to find herself and gradually into a new life in a new area, Mia finds herself making a deal to get to know the area a little better. As she gets to know people Mia finds that not everyone is quite as they seem. Not quite as shallow as she originally thought, so is she going to take a chance!
The author created as tory with some very likeable characters and with plenty of will they/won’t they moments. It was a story that was easy to get into and provided a light-hearted literary escape, ideal for fans of rom-coms and contemporary romance. One that has some serious moments but also plenty of chuckles. One I would thoroughly recommend.
About the Author…
A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a sexy hero.
With a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.
I am delighted to share an extract today for Wartime With The Tram Girls by Lynn Johnson . I wish I had got the time to read this rather than just offering an extract as this book sounds great. Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the tour and for arranging my extract for the final day of the tour.
This is the second book in the two book series.
July 1914: Britain is in turmoil as WW1 begins to change the world. While the young men disappear off to foreign battlefields, the women left at home throw themselves into jobs meant for the boys.
Hiding her privileged background and her suffragette past, Constance Copeland signs up to be a Clippie – collecting money and giving out tickets – on the trams, despite her parents’ disapproval.
Constance, now known as Connie, soon finds there is more to life than the wealth she was born into and she soon makes fast friends with lively fellow Clippies, Betty and Jean, as well as growing closer to the charming, gentle Inspector Robert Caldwell.
But Connie is haunted by another secret; and if it comes out, it could destroy her new life.
After war ends and the men return to take back their roles, will Connie find that she can return to her previous existence? Or has she been changed forever by seeing a new world through the tram windows?
Constance and her mother were sitting in the morning room taking their tea. There was a knock on the door and Mrs Williams, along with a tearful Alice, entered.
‘Sorry to trouble you Mrs Copeland, but Alice here’s had a problem at the butcher’s.’
‘Whatever’s the matter, Alice?’ asked Constance.
‘They have put up the meat we ordered but won’t give it to me unless I pay for it. Oh Miss Constance, they say we’re behind with the bill. I dunno what to do.’
‘She’s right, ma’am, I have checked the book. Nothing’s been paid since October,’ said Mrs Williams.
Constance turned to look at her mother. ‘Surely that can’t be right?’
‘Mrs Williams, would you and Alice mind leaving us, and I’ll get it sorted?’ Mother asked.
When they were alone, her mother continued. ‘I will speak to your father immediately.’
‘Before you go, Mother, I would like to understand a little more about our finances. We have a very nice lifestyle, but I have no idea how it’s funded.’
‘Your father deals with all of that, but I can tell you a little. The proceeds from the sale of the business and our house in Manchester enabled us to buy this house,’ her mother waved her arms about her, ‘and renovate it.’
‘I remember, it looked very sad when we moved in. I imagined it to be haunted or fancied some other terrible event had taken place!’
‘It’s a substantial property and your father could see its merits. The remainder of the money was invested equally in Government Bonds and shares in solid British companies.’
‘What are Government Bonds?’
‘I believe it’s money lent to the government by people like ourselves. In return, we get guaranteed interest periodically. The shares pay dividends which are not guaranteed but the income we get is higher, so it makes sense to have a mix of both. We live on the interest and dividends.’
‘I think I understand.’
‘Things have not gone too well for us recently. The war has had a considerable effect on our income. Many companies are paying very low dividends or none at all.’
‘Is that why he hasn’t replaced any of the servants?’
‘In part. We would have had considerable difficulty finding anyone when factories are paying such high wages for women, and conscription has taken most able-bodied men.’
Constance’s cheeks felt tight. How could they be in such a predicament without her knowing? She might have helped in some way. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
‘We didn’t want to bother you. You had enough on your plate. Your father thought we could manage without selling investments which are perfectly sound and will pay out again once the war is over and things get back to normal. We didn’t think that the war would last so long and it is affecting all incomes. Add this to the increase in living costs and we are feeling the strain of it all.’
‘My wedding fiasco hasn’t helped, has it?’
‘In all honesty, no. But we shall manage.’ Her mother got to her feet. ‘I must talk to your father.’
Constance didn’t understand much of what her mother said, after all financial matters were the domain of the man of the house and her education had done nothing to change that. All this information about shares and bonds and equities was beyond her current understanding, but that could be resolved in time and Constance decided that would be her first priority.
She could understand now why her father had been so eager to see her married, but she was not and never would be another commodity to be bought and sold. She would get a job as soon as she possibly could, where she could start immediately, and get paid. She might not earn very much initially, but at least she would make a contribution.
A job that was different, where the pay was the same for men and women. A job that gave her some freedom.
About the Author…
Lynn Johnson was born in the Staffordshire Potteries and went to school in Burslem, where the novel is set. She left school with no qualifications and got a job as a dental nurse (and lasted a day), a nursery assistant, and a library assistant before her ambition grew and she enrolled at the Elms Technical College, Stoke-on-Trent and obtained six O’levels. She obtained a Diploma in Management Studies and a BA Hons in Humanities with Literature from the Open University while working full-time.
Most of her working life was spent in Local Government in England and Scotland, and ultimately became a Human Resources Manager with a large county council.
She started to write after taking early retirement and moving to the north of Scotland with her husband where she did relief work in the famous Orkney Library and Archives, and voluntary work with Orkney’s Learning Link. Voluntary work with Cats Protection resulted in them sharing their home with six cats.
She joined Stromness Writing Group and, three months after moving to Orkney, wrote a short story which would become the Prologue to The Girl From the Workhouse.
I am delighted to share my review today for Dreaming under an Island Skye by Lisa Hobman. My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for my e-copy of this gorgeous book.
Is there really such a thing as a second shot at true love?
After three wonderful years of marriage, librarian Juliette Fairhurst’s heart is shattered when her husband, Laurie, is taken from her much too soon. Devasted, Juliette decides to take a sabbatical and reconnect with her mother’s birthplace, the village of Glentorrin on the picturesque Isle of Skye. Welcomed by most of the villagers, Juliette throws herself into an idyllic community life, taking on the role of temporary summer guardian at The Lifeboat House Museum; a role that offers her the perfect escape from the tragedy of her real life. During her time on the island, Juliette clashes with brooding single dad and artist, Reid Mackinnon and is befriended by his son Evin and dog Chewie. It’s clear that divorced Reid is struggling and scarred by his own painful experiences. Can these two lost souls find a lifeline to rescue each other? Or will their pasts scupper their second chance at real happiness?
When I read the synopsis for this book I knew it was one that I definitely wanted to read. I wanted a book that would whisk me away and give me a good story with a sense of place. This book definitely did that!
This is the first time I have read anything by this author and I absolutely fell in love with her descriptions of Skye. It is a place that is on my list of places to visit one day. Her descriptions are gorgeous not just of the island but also of the community that she has created, warming, welcoming and one that sounds idyllic, well for the most part. As with any community, there is always the odd soul who likes to put a dampener on things.
Juliette finally realises that she needs a break from her life and those around her. She has been going through the motions of living after the death of her husband and while people have been supported she feels the time is right to take time out for something different. Skye is very different from her life in the Cotswold’s where she is a librarian.
A few months will give her a chance to be herself, to be in a place where no one knows that she is still grieving and where people feel lost for words when they meet her. She makes arrangements to visit and it not just a random visit as she does have family connections to the island from years ago.
It is often mentioned that when you have been at your lowest, you are more likely to see the signs of it in others. This is the case for Juliette when she actually looks at Reid for the first time. Well, I say the first time, but it wasn’t. They didn’t exactly hit it off the first time! But she can recognise the signs of someone who is struggling and so as is her nature she tries to reach out to him.
A story of friendship and understanding, as well as misunderstanding, follows. A story of hard choices and heartbreak gives a wonderful story to escape into. The characters that the author has created sound, on the whole, to be a wonderful lot and I could see myself really enjoying the odd night at the pub with them!
This is such a wonderful book that delivered so many good things and also had such a wonderful sense of understanding to it. Dealing with loneliness, guilt, apprehension and loss and yet at the same time having a sense of wanting to move forward. Given what could have been a hard storyline for a reader, the author has taken it in a more positive way making it an uplifting read. I adored this book and if you love your contemporary romance then this one should be right up your street. It is one I would definitely recommend.
About the Author…
Lisa Hobman has written many brilliantly reviewed women’s fiction titles – the first of which was shortlisted by the RNA for their debut novel award. In 2012 Lisa relocated her family from Yorkshire to a village in Scotland and this beautiful backdrop now inspires her uplifting and romantic stories.
I am delighted to be helping out Jennie Ensor with the relaunch of her book Not Having It All. THis was a book I read last year and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Jennie is also holding a GIVEAWAY over on her Facebook Page, more details below.
Here is the new cover and I absolutely love it 😍
This is the story of four middle-aged people who are definitely NOT having it all. Meet Bea, Kurt, Maddie and Colin.
Senior lecturer Bea Hudson juggles her job at the ‘Psycho Lab’ with looking after her demanding five-year-old daughter, badly-behaved dog and next-to-useless au pair. When her chief exec husband is sent overseas and she’s left without childcare, Bea turns to best friend Maddie for help.
Kurt, downing whiskies in his hotel room as he imagines what his wife is up to, is convinced that Bea is becoming a little too friendly with Maddie. With characteristic obsession he enlists his neighbour’s help in a secret surveillance operation.
Found-object artist Maddie longs for a child of her own with a man she can trust – and he must love cats.
Divorced, risk-averse Colin is a senior manager at ‘the nation’s number one pussy insurer’. When he meets Maddie in a lift he’s smitten, and resolves to displace Maddie’s feline companions on her sofa. But he starts to fear that Maddie sees him only as ‘a handy stud with a fat wallet’.
Can Bea and Kurt find happiness again? Can Maddie and Colin risk falling in love?
A story about love, relationships and second chances, perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Jojo Moyes, and anyone who loved Bridget Jones’ Diary or Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. If you enjoy novels with depth, heart and laugh-out-loud humour, you’ll love this razor-sharp romantic comedy like no other.
How on earth does Bae Hudson juggle being a neuropsychologist on the brink of a breakthrough with being a wife, mum and friend? Well, I soon found that it isn’t easy for her as I read Not Having It All!
Bea is fraught and struggling. A serious career and research means she has to spend time at work to be seen as someone serious about her career. If she reduces her hours she could very easily be side-lined and her funding may disappear. Her husband also has a demanding job, often working away from home for periods. This time he is in Turkey because “he is the best man for the job”. With both of them in full time careers the housekeeping and looking after Fran, their daughter falls to Polish au pair Katie.
Along the way, I also met Madelaine, Colin, Nigel and Allie. They all have roles to play in one form or another. It seems they are also having some sort of crisis in their lives. This is at times a hilarious read as it includes such a cross-section of people. Whether they are having a midlife crisis, feeling guilty about working too much or feeling downright unappreciated, they all seem to be having problems of some sort. Life can be a pain sometimes as pressures easily mount, making mountains out of molehills and often just needed to be looked at from a different perspective or to have recognise the struggles of others. The author has taken everyday worries and wrapped them into a fabulous story that held my attention.
I liked the format or this book as it is told in journal entries, notes or emails from each of the respective characters. It felt that it added to the busy lives of those concerned. Yes, it is unusual but, it worked very well as I got to see different sides to each of the characters. It also meant that the story moved along at a good pace but also that it didn’t feel rushed.
I really enjoyed Not Having It All. I liked how it reflected today’s modern and fast world and also was upbeat and had a good level of humour that kept it from falling into a more serious read. I loved that I actually laughed out loud on several occasions.
Not Having it All is one I would Definitely Recommend.
Sorry to hear that my suggestion re gradual exposure didn’t work. Those emus sound nasty, it might be better to stay well away from now on.
Today’s crisis as follows:
I was trying to make Fran eat more than three spoonfuls of Rice Crispies and at the same time trying to find my laptop with the slides for the presentation I’ve cobbled together about the Phobia Group’s latest non-findings before rushing to catch a fast train to Birmingham.
Me: What are you playing at, Francesca? I’m in a hurry. I can’t wait here forever while you finish that. If you don’t hurry up, you’ll have to go to Little Lanes without your breakfast.
F: (banging her spoon on table) No!
Me: What do you mean, no?
F: I don’t like Little Lanes. I want to stay here!
Me: You can’t, I have to be at a conference in three hours.
She picks up her beaker of orange juice and chucks it at me. I’m standing next to the table, three feet away, an easy target. The beaker bounces off my collarbone and rattles to the floor. A gush of cold liquid drenches my shirt.
I’m so shocked I can’t utter a word, let alone a shriek. Fran leaps up from her chair and runs out of the kitchen faster than I’ve ever seen her move. The juice seeps under my bra, down my stomach into a puddle at my feet. My white linen shirt is covered in several large, bright orange splodges. I pull off shirt and skirt and fling them in the sink, then have an urge to run upstairs after Fran and slap her.
How dare she do such a thing? Whatever happened to the smiling, affectionate little girl who used to jump onto my lap and hug me as we watched Mr Bean, or grab my hand and kiss it at the Waitrose checkout?
I lean on the sink, head in hands, not giving a toss that I’m in the kitchen with the blinds open wearing only a bra and knickers in full view of the neighbours. When I finally go upstairs, Fran is sitting on the floor playing with a headless Barbie.
Me: Why did you do that?
Me: Come on, tell me. I want to know.
F: I don’t know, Mummy.
Me: (yelling) How can you not know!
F: (looks at me in horror)
I take a deep breath, imagining a tropical beach and a gentle breeze cooling my bare skin.
Me: You must not throw things at people on bicycles – and you must not throw orange juice at Mummy. Especially you must not throw orange juice at Mummy! She loves you very much and tries to do what is best for you and Daddy. Sometimes what she does won’t make sense to you, but you must know that she is doing the best she can. Do you understand?
Fran: (looks at me as if I had thrown juice at her)
Me: I love you very much, Frannie. I’m not going to hurt you. But I’m not going to let you behave like that in my house. (That last bit is what Kurt says when he’s angry with her.) Don’t you dare do that again, or there’ll be no more trips to the beach.
I got out Fran’s picture book, made a cup of tea and took a shower. I couldn’t think straight, didn’t know what to do – I couldn’t face trying to get Fran in the car again after what happened last time. I was about to call Katie and ask her to come over early, then remembered her 10.30am hospital appointment (NHS, so no telling how long she’d be).
So I called Maddie.
Maddie drove over (took less than an hour, so must have been at 90mph), told me I must go to the conference. She would stay and look after Fran, so I could call Katie and tell her she wasn’t needed this afternoon.
Thank heavens for Maddie! When I got back to Godalming this evening, Fran was a sweet little girl again, eating out of Mad’s hand – in both senses! They were sitting side by side on the sofa sharing a plate of bread with peanut butter. I’m not sure who was enjoying it most. Mad likes her food, that’s for sure. Actually, I was a bit taken aback to see them sitting so companionably together. Not jealous, exactly. Well, just a little.
Fran jumped up and wrapped her arms round me and said she was sorry she had been so horrible. I was touched, though I think Maddie put her up to saying it.
The three of us spent the evening together. Maddie cooked dinner and Fran showed me drawings she’d done. Mad had got her drawing deep sea fish from photos on the web, scary-looking creatures with enormous serrated snouts. I told her they were fabulous and she looked so pleased. She was a totally different child to the one I was with this morning – it’s so confusing.
Maybe she feels bad about throwing the juice. Or maybe it’s because Maddie is great with children. She has so many child-friendly skills that I lack. She talks to Fran differently to me, as if she’s a child herself. Yet she can be firm enough to get Fran to do what she wants, even helping to dry the dishes!
I sat in a daze, letting Mad take over, enjoying the peace – no fighting about how much ice cream Fran can have, how much TV she can watch or when she has to go to bed. And M’s such a wiz at practical things – on top of looking after Fran, she fixed the wonky gas ring, wound up the kitchen clock, put the damp remover thingies in the cupboards and swept away the bits of cobweb hanging from the hall ceiling that I keep forgetting to tell Katie about.
After we’d said goodnight to Fran, Maddie joked that I should be married to her instead of Kurt. I said yes, a wife would be much handier – Kurt does nothing around the house except watch TV, make a mess and demand food, back rubs and sexual favours (gross exaggeration, of course). We couldn’t stop laughing. It was almost as funny as years ago when the chemistry teacher at St Mary’s stopped in the corridor, blew her nose and farted (even louder than Dad used to after a helping of Mum’s stew).
Just at that moment, Kurt rang. I couldn’t speak so Mad answered, still chortling. She said I was busy, could he wait a minute? He said, ‘Please, I’d like to talk to my wife, is that too much to ask?’ and hung up.
He still hasn’t called back, which is just as well. He can stew in his own sour juice, imagining whatever he likes. By now he’s probably cooking up visions of Mad and I in bed together, getting up to no good 😨
Anyway, Maddie has offered to come over and look after Fran whenever I need her to. She loves the space and light here, she can paint out on the terrace and do her yoga in the living room. I might take her up on her offer next month, when preschool ends. Then (thank God) there’s only the summer to get through before Fran starts school full-time in September.
About the Author…
A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor began her writing career as a journalist, obtaining a Masters in Journalism (winning two awards) and covering topics from forced marriage to accidents in the mining industry. She isn’t afraid to tackle controversial issues in her novels, either: Islamic terrorism, Russian gangsters and war crimes in her debut BLIND SIDE (a psychological mystery blended with a love story), domestic abuse and sexual exploitation in her second, THE GIRL IN HIS EYES.
Her third novel NOT HAVING IT ALL, a relationship comedy, is an excursion to the brighter side of life. A new edition was published in January 2021.
Ms Ensor’s poetry has appeared in many publications including Poetry Salzburg Review, Ink Sweat and Tears. Her poem ‘Lost Connection’ placed second in the Breakout Prose category of the Fish Lockdown Prize in 2020. In her spare time (?) she reads, walks and attempts twice-weekly yoga. She regularly cycles the punishing hills of north London and at the end of the day enjoys collapsing with a bar of chocolate/glass of strong alcohol in front of a TV crime drama.
I am delighted to share my review today for The Good Wife by Eleanor Porter. This is a follow on book from The Wheelwright’s Daughter that I read last year. You can read my full review HERE.
My huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the Blog Tour and for my e-copy of this historical fiction novel.
Where will her loyalty lead her?
Once accused of witchcraft Martha Spicer is now free from the shadow of the gallows and lives a safe and happy life with her husband, Jacob. But when Jacob heads north to accompany his master, he warns Martha to keep her healing gifts a secret, to keep herself safe, to be a good wife.
Martha loves Jacob but without him there to protect her, she soon comes under the suspicious eye of the wicked Steward Boult, who’s heard of her talent and forces her to attend to him. If she refuses, he promises to destroy the good life she has built for herself with Jacob.
Desperate and alone, Martha faces a terrible decision: stay and be beholden to Boult or journey north to find Jacob who is reported to have been killed.. The road ahead is filled with danger, but also the promise of a brighter future. And where her gifts once threatened to be her downfall, might they now be the very thing that sets Martha free…?
The brilliant follow-up to Eleanor Porter’s first novel of love, betrayal, superstition and fear in Elizabethan England. A story of female courage, ingenuity and determination , this is perfect for fans of Tracy Chevalier.
This is the second book that follows the story of Martha, she was once accused of being a witch. After her marriage to Jacob Spicer, they both move and start a new life together, a fresh start with a chance of a good life and where they are unknown.
Life is indeed good until Jacob is asked to travel with his master and this means he will be away for a couple of months. Martha tries her best to continue as normal, but it seems her reputation for healing has followed her and she is called to heal again. Something that Jacob didn’t want there doing again. She gradually gets drawn into a situation that she can see no good end to. She also hears that Jacob has been killed and her only option is to stay or to leave to find Jacobs body.
The author takes Martha on a journey that sees her in a dangerous predicament. A woman travelling alone is not good, it is full of danger and yet the author has a plan for our main protagonist. While this plan is not without its own danger it is a very good option and one that allows Martha more freedom than she has had before.
She finds a companion of sorts, not completely trust-worthy but one that is at times more help than a hindrance. Martha’s travels take her into villages and towns and she is made aware of how naive she really is.
This is a story not just of love and finding the truth but also one that is bound up in superstition and the use of natural ingredients to heal. Set in the Elizabethan era when witchcraft is definitely frowned upon, it lends itself to the story of Martha.
This is a historical fiction novel that I really enjoyed, it continues on from The Wheelwright’s Daughter and shows the world through the eyes of a young woman. It has a feel of being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea as Martha is caught between two choices. The author creates a story that I found to be very addictive and while there is a desperation to Martha there is also a glimmer of hope. A lovely read and one that I would recommend reading if you like good historical fiction.
About the Author…
Eleanor Porter has lectured at Universities in England and Hong Kong and her poetry and short fiction has been published in magazines. The Wheelwright’s Daughter was her first novel. Social Media Links – Twitter – Facebook – Instagram – Sign up for Eleanor’s newsletter HERE
Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…
Many thanks for reading my post a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx
I am absolutely delighted to share my review today for The Jam Factory Girls by Mary Wood. I was so surprised and absolutely delighted when a copy of this book landed on my doormat, so my huge thanks to Pan Macmillan for my amazing book post.
Any regular visitors to my blog may be aware that I am a big fan of Mary’s work, she also writes under the pseudonym Maggie Mason. This author definitely knows how to write a saga, so if you love your historical fiction then you need to check out some of her books.
Let’s look at the first in this new trilogy by Mary…
The Jam Factory Girls is an uplifting and emotional novel of friendship set in the heart of pre-WWI London from bestselling author, Mary Wood.
Life for Elsie is difficult as she struggles to cope with her alcoholic mother. Caring for her siblings and working long hours at Swift’s Jam Factory in London’s Bermondsey is exhausting. Thankfully her lifelong friendship with Dot helps to smooth over life’s rough edges.
When Elsie and Dot meet Millie Swift, they are nervous to be in the presence of the bosses’ daughter. Over time, they are surprised to feel so drawn to her, but should two East End girls be socializing in such circles?
When disaster strikes, it binds the women in ways they could never imagine. Long-held secrets are revealed that could change all their lives…
Purchase from Amazon UK – Mary’s book are very accessible and you usually see them in the supermarket and you can of course order them from your local book seller.
It is always an absolute treat to read a book by this author, especially when I get to read the first book in a new trilogy. The Jam Factory Girls is the first in this new trilogy and it is a wonderful book from start to finish.
This book introduces two Eastend girls Elsie and Dot, and also the Jam factory owners daughter Millie. An unlikely friendship blooms between these girls, they just get on so well. Millie’s friendship would be looked down upon by her parents just as the girls’ friendship with Millies would be. In an era when social classes are still very evident, and classes should not mix it is an unusual relationship, to say the least.
For me, Elsie was the main character of the three and her story is told more so than the others, but the author knows how to weave a tale that involves the three. Hardship, poor working conditions and living conditions are described and show that even when times are tough, there are always those that are in a worse condition.
The over-riding feeling through this book is one of friendship, loyalty and wanting to do the right thing. Not always easy when a good deed can be seen as charity and pride is a priority. The story tells of not just the friendship between the girls but also includes the going on in the factory, the rise of women calling for their own rights in the workforce.
This is an absolutely fabulous book and one that I adored. The author has once again transported me back in time and delivered such a heartbreaking at times story, but one that also injects hope for the future into it. If you are a fan of sagas and historical fiction then this is a book that is definitely one that should be on your list. If you have read any of this author’s books then you know you are going to be in for a wonderful read. The Jam Factory Girls is a book I would definitely recommend.
About the Author…
Born in Maidstone, Kent, in 1945, the thirteenth child of fifteen children, Mary’s family settled in Leicestershire after the war ended.
Mary married young and now, after 54 years of happy marriage, four children, 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, Mary and her husband live in Blackpool during the summer and Spain during the winter – a place that Mary calls, ‘her writing retreat’.
After many jobs from cleaning to catering, all chosen to fit in with bringing up her family, and boost the family money-pot, Mary ended her 9 – 5 working days as a Probation Service Officer, a job that showed her another side to life, and which influences her writing, bringing a realism and grittiness to her novels
Mary first put pen to paper, in 1989, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she finally found some success by self-publishing on kindle.
Being spotted by an editor at Pan Macmillan in 2013, finally saw Mary reach her publishing dream.
I am delighted to share my review today for Stormy Days on Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke. This is an author who I absolutely adore, I have read several of her books and featured my reviews on here. For me, this is a must-read author for those who love historical fiction and romance sagas.
Here is more about her latest book…
Stormy Days On Mulberry Lane
London 1950 Peggy Ronoscki is happily settling into life running her guesthouse on Mulberry Lane, surrounded by close friends and family. Life just seems too good… But then disaster strikes. Pip, her beloved son is left in a coma following a devastating car crash and a young girl collapses in the market leaving Peggy no option but to nurse her back to health. As things begin to go awry, Peggy worries she has brought trouble to her doorstep? Can her life ever return to normal? Or has Peggy’s good nature led her astray?
Stormy Days on Mulberry Lane continues the story in the series, the focus is again on “Peggy of the Lanes” and her family and friends.
Life is starting to return to normal after the end of WWII, but certain things still remind them that things still have a way to go. Some things are still in short supply, but things are moving forward. Peggy and Abe are settled into running the guest house, cakes, pies and pastries are made on a daily basis.
The community who live in the Lanes or visit are made very welcome by this close-knit community. Peggy and Abe are well thought of and respected, and both work all hours. Peggy’s return to the Lanes has been a godsend for some and the warm, friendly reputation that he had is once again there for all to see. She meets people new and old.
The author has once again written a story that continues with the thread of family, friends, community and spirit. It is great to return to the series with this new book and catch-up with the old characters as well as meeting the odd new one.
The series has moved on and is set in the ’50s, things are moving forward as characters grow up, new babies are born and different challenges are to be overcome. The author has created such a wonderful and heartwarming series that really does feel like reuniting with old friends. I do think you could read any of these as stand-alone books, but to be perfectly honest I would advise reading in order to get the full impact of what each of the main characters has been through.
This is a book that would definitely appeal to readers of sagas, historic fiction and want a read that is full of warmth, hospitality and a sense of belonging. A gorgeous read and one I would definitely recommend.
About the Author…
Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is an RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire.