Christmas at The Cafe at the End of the Pier by Helen Rolfe @HJRolfe #BookReview

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I am absolutely over the moon to be sharing Christmas at The Cafe at the End of the Pier by Helen Rolfe with you today. This is the final installment in The Cafe at the End of the Pier series that I have reading through the year. It may come as no surprise to those that read my blog that I absolutely adore this series. I usually read the books within a couple of days of them being released, but I have a couple of reasons for holding back for 11days… yes a whole 11 days until I read this one.

Reason 1… I didn’t want to make a final visit to the cafe for the first time.

Reason 2… I realised I was coming close to reaching my Goodreads target for the year, I couldn’t think of a better book to reach my target with and after reading the book this morning I knew I had made the perfect decision. This is the 200th book I have read this year 🙂

Oh and the Danish pastries were for research purposes only…(she says,gently brushing crumbs off her face)… honestly they were 🙂 🙂

Synopsis:

Looking for love this Christmas? You’ll find it at The Café at the End of the Pier… A feelgood novella and the continuation of the Café at the End of the Pier series.

With her grandparents taking a long-awaited holiday, Jo finds herself completely in charge of the Cafe over the festive season. Salthaven-on-Sea is brimming with Christmas cheer – the pier is decked with tinsel and twinkling with lights, and the Cafe is full of the delicious aromas of Jo’s mulled wine and freshly-baked cinnamon rolls.

Love is in the air, too, and when another mystery postcard arrives, it’s finally Jo’s turn for a blind date… But who will be waiting underneath the mistletoe?

As the whole community is brought together on the sands of Salthaven for a frosty Christmas Day swim, will Jo finally find her own happy ever after?

The perfect feel-good festive read for fans of Cathy Bramley and Holly Hepburn

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Readers love The Café at the End of the Pier series:

‘Brings a smile to your face and a tear to your eye’ – Goodreads reviewer

‘Heartwarming and made me smile… I can’t wait to read more’ – Goodreads reviewer

‘Perfectly charming and totally yummy’ – Amazon reviewer

My Thoughts:

From its outset, in February I have followed Jo as she decides to make the trip back to Salthaven. Initially helping her Grandparents running the Cafe at the End of the Pier and then the mammoth task of running it. Over the months Jo has taken everything in and added her own twist while still keeping the essence of what makes the Cafe the place it is.

It is a place for friends, families, visitors, and residents and all are made welcome. One of the twists Jo has is her night of love where she picks two people and invites them to a meal for two. For some it is the start of a relationship, for others, it is a friendship. For Jo it is a way to bring people together, but what about Jo herself? I had a couple of possibles that I would love to see her with but she has never had the time or the nerve to ask. Someone, however, has been playing Jo at her own game, sending her little cards and leaving messages. Finally, the who is revealed and I am not going to lie, I was delighted.

This series is not just romance, though there is that to it as well. It is about a community and discovering who you are. Jo takes a risk in taking on the cafe, she is unsure of herself at first, but with the help of her friends, customers and grandparents she gradually accepts and fits into her role.

The recipes and mentions of cakes, shakes, soups, coffee, and hot chocolate have littered these stories throughout the year, bringing a seasonal deliciousness to the story. If you have not read this series yet you are in for a real taste bud tantalising treat.

This is a book that brings the year to an end and what a year it has been. Each time I pick up a new episode I feel like I am going back to join friends and catch up on the gossip and chit-chat. By the time I got to the end of this book, I had happy tears running down my face as I read the updates from Jo’s friends as they go about their lives and then Jo’s postcard…OMG I was then a sobbing wreck …

A series that is a perfect read for romance, contemporary and general fiction readers. One that I would absolutely, highly and definitely recommend 🙂

About the Author:

Helen J Rolfe writes romantic fiction and contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Location is a big part of the adventure in Helen’s books and she enjoys setting stories in different cities and countries around the world. So far, locations have included Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Connecticut, Bath and the Cotswolds.

Helen writes some books in series as listed below, but all can be read as standalone books:

Magnolia Creek Series
1. What Rosie Found Next
2. The Chocolatier’s Secret
3. The Magnolia Girls

New York Ever After Series
1. Christmas at the Little Knitting Box
2. Snowflakes and Mistletoe at the Inglenook Inn
3. Wedding Bells on Madison Avenue
4. Christmas Miracles at the Little Log Cabin – coming December 2018!

Helen J Rolfe also writes for Orion Books under the name Helen Rolfe. Her new series, Cafe at the End of the Pier, is out in 2018 and begins with a free Valentine’s short story. The series can be read in the following order:

Valentine’s Day at the Café at the End of the Pier
Spring at the Café at the End of the Pier
Summer at the Café at the End of the Pier
Autumn at the Café at the End of the Pier
Christmas at the Café at the End of the Pier

The Little Café at the End of the Pier is the bind-up version of all the Café at the End of the Pier stories in one and will be released January 2019.

Born and raised in the UK, Helen graduated from University with a business degree and began working in I.T. This job took her over to Australia and it was there that she studied writing and journalism and began writing for women’s health and fitness magazines. She also volunteered with the PR department of a children’s hospital where she wrote articles and media releases. Helen began writing fiction in 2011 and hasn’t missed the I.T. world one little bit, although the I.T. skills have come in handy of course, especially when it comes to creating and maintaining a website.

After fourteen years of living in Australia, Helen returned to the UK and now lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and their children.

To learn more about Helen and her writing, find her at:

WebsiteFacebook
TwitterInstagram

The Cafe Series, follow the links to buy your own copies and to read my reviews

Amazon UK Links

Valentine’s Day( This novella is FREE on kindle)

Spring

Summer

Autumn

Christmas

Pre-order the book The Little Cafe at the End of the Pier it has all the stories. I have had my copy on pre-order since June… 🙂

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My Reviews

Valentine’s Day at The Cafe at the End of the Pier

Spring at The Cafe at the End of the Pier

Summer at The Cafe at the End of the Pier

Autumn at The Cafe at the End of The Pier

Many thanks for reading my rather long post today,

a like or a share would be magical 🙂 xx

Christmas Spirit by Nicola May @nicolamay1 #rararesources #BookReview #Giveaway (Open Int’lly)

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I am delighted to be sharing my review of Christmas Spirit by Nicola May as part of the blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. Huge thanks to Rachel for the invite and to Nicola for my e-copy of the book.

Synopsis:

It’s two days before Christmas – and Evie Harris finds herself both manless and jobless. After a chance encounter with handsome Greg (and egged on by her toy-boy-eating friend, Bea) she agrees to work at a homeless shelter on Christmas Day.
Striking up an unlikely friendship with homeless Yves, Evie begins an unwitting journey of spiritual awakening, all set against the sparkling winter backdrop of London landmarks.
A New Year’s Eve revelation is on its way . . . but will it leave Evie with a happy heart, or will she allow the pre-Christmas past to dictate her future?

Purchase Links: – Amazon UKAmazon US

My Thoughts:

When Evie gets dumped by Darren just before Christmas she takes up the rather unconventionally offered alternative. Greg helps out at a local homeless shelter and wants Evie to volunteer her time. While there she meets Yves, a homeless man who is mysterious but gives her some priceless advice. Sometimes gifts cost nothing…

For a little story,76 pages, this is a beauty. It definitely evokes the spirit of Christmas, the feeling of helping others and reaching out is something that comes across very strong. Evie finds that by helping others she, in fact, starts to help herself, she realises that not everything is meant to last and that she can move forward.

The story flows at a lovely pace and is the perfect novella for getting into the fictional festive feeling. Yves is something of an enigma, I wasn’t sure quite what to make of this character initially and thought they had ulterior motives, maybe this is the cynic in me 🙂

By the end of the book, I had definitely been convinced that not everything should be viewed with suspicion, that things can happen for a reason. It is a novella with morals and what lovely morals they were too.

By the last line of the story had me gobsmacked and left me with a huge emotional lump in my throat. It is an emotional festive story that makes a wonderful read snuggled up under a blanket with a mug of something hot.

One I would recommend to readers who are after one of those really nice and uplifting reads, with a wonderful cast of characters and a good dash of hope, love, and romance.

About the Author:

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Nicola May lives near the famous Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan. Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks – and, naturally, enjoying a flutter on the horses.

Nicola likes to write about love, life and friendship in a realistic way, describing her novels as ‘chicklit with a kick’.

She has written eight novels, with Christmas Spirit being her first novella.

Follow Nicola May on WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram

Now for a GIVEAWAY

Giveaway – Win 5 x PDF copies of Christmas Spirit (Open Internationally)

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

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Aphrodite’s Closet by Suzy Turner @suzy_turner @rararesources #BookReview

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I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my review of Aphrodite’s Closet by Suzy Turner with you all today. Huge thanks to Rachel for the invite onto the Blog Tour for this book and also to Suzy for my e-copy of this book.

Synopsis:

Agatha Trout didn’t even know she had a Great Aunt Petunia, so imagine her surprise when she finds Petunia left her a corner shop in her will. But it’s not just any old corner shop—it’s a corner shop that needs something unique, something the town of Frambleberry has never seen before.

Influenced by her confident best friend, Coco, Agatha is soon convinced that there’s only one way to go: an adults-only sex shop.

While some of the townspeople are clutching their pearls in horror, others are open to the new experiences this shop offers. But not everyone in Frambleberry is convinced. Will the women soldier on in the face of violent threats or will their fears get the best of them—and their new venture—before it even gets off the ground?

Purchase Link – Amazon UKAmazon US

My Thoughts:

Aggie Trout dresses far older than her years, she is a librarian and certainly fits the old, clichéd stereotype. She is left a shop by her mysterious Great Aunt Petunia. When her flamboyant friend Coco suggests going into business with Aggie, I don’t know who was more flabberghasted when Aggie agreed to open a sex shop. Here begins a story of transformation as the shop will test the girls resolve to some opposition.

Oh my goodness, what an absolute corker of a read, it had me laughing and giggling at so many moments throughout. Aggies family and friends really do compliment her and the story so well and the author has done such a great job creating them. Along with various innuendos there is the mysterious Petunia, yes she is dead but her story and why she is a mystery gradually comes out, like a skeleton from a family closet, along with a few other little titbits.

The descriptions of this classic, old style shop were marvelous and soon had me wishing I had a Great Aunt Petunia loitering around somewhere… though I don’t think an adult only shop would be my choice…

This story is about how important family and friends are. There are several secrets and stories that are teased out through the pages. It is also about how Aggie, who was the quiet, invisible one who has been wrapped up in her comfort blanket too long, finally starts emerge. The devious tactics of Aunt Petunia and the energetic Coco soon pull her out into the world and get her to experience life.

It was an absolute pleasure and delight to read this book, it is such a fun, and humorous story and I absolutely loved the lightheartedness as well as the romance and slightly more serious aspects of it. A book that I would definitely recommend to other readers.

About the Author:

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Born in England and raised in Portugal, Suzy lives with her childhood sweetheart Michael, their two crazy dogs and three cats.

Shortly after completing her studies, Suzy worked as a trainee journalist for a local newspaper. Her love of writing developed and a few years later she took the job of assistant editor for the region’s largest English language publisher before becoming editor of a monthly lifestyle magazine. Early in 2010 however, Suzy became a full time author. She has since written several books: Raven, December Moon, The Lost Soul (The Raven Saga), Daisy Madigan’s Paradise, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, The Temporal Stone, Looking for Lucy Jo, We Stand Against Evil (The Morgan Sisters), Forever Fredless, And Then There Was You, Stormy Summer and her latest, Aphrodite’s Closet.

In 2015 she launched her popular 40+ lifestyle blog which continues to go from strength to strength, while just over a year later, she trained to become a yoga instructor. Suzy continues to write, blog and teach yoga in one of Portugal’s loveliest settings – the Algarve.

Social Media Links

Lifestyle BlogInstagramGoodreadsFacebookTwitterPintrest

See what other readers think by following the Blog Tour

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Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman @LucyColemanAuth #BlogTour @rararesources #BookReview #Giveaway (Open Int’lly)

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I am delighted to be sharing my review of Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman. This is part of the Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources and I wish to say a big thank you to Rachel for the invite and to Lucy for my eBook.

You can purchase your own copy of SnowFlakes Over Holly Cove HERE

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Synopsis:

As the snowflakes start to fall, Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…

For lifestyle magazine journalist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around…’

So, Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air and rugged stranger, Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart.

Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Christmas wishes might just come true…

Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly beautiful Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands, where the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.

As cosy as a marshmallow-topped mug of cocoa, fall in love with a heart-warming festive story from the bestselling author of The French Adventure.

My Thoughts:

Tia is a lifestyle journalist for “Love A Happy Ending” magazine. She has been struggling emotionally following the recent death of her mum. Tia’s boss Clarissa is concerned for and decides that Tia’s next assignment can be done at a little cottage at Holly Cove. A picturesque setting on the Gower coast in Wales was just the thing Tia needed.

This is the first time I have read anything by this author and I absolutely loved this book. It is a beautiful story of relationships within families as well as finding love. This theme is something that is mirrored in Tia’s assignment as she is tasked with writing articles about how couples and families celebrate Christmas and the New Year. As she is working for a magazine the articles are written months in advance, so there is a span between the assignment and Christmas.

This will be Tia’s first Christmas with her Mum and she knows it will be hard. Tia has a brother and is they have just been getting back to familiar ground after a disagreement left them not speaking for a few years. Christmas is a time for family and being together, not everyone is able to do this for various reasons.

While at the cottage Tia meets Nic, and does he have the weight of the world on his shoulders. He initially comes across as moody, but actually, he and Tia seem to have a few similarities. As he divulges little snippets about his life and how he is reluctant to trust people, she can see that she also has the same issue. Then there is Max, an ex-serviceman who has decided that a simple life is the way to go. The mother hen of this little group is Olwen fussing and keeping an eye on everyone is what she does best.

This is a fabulously addictive book that looks at families and relationships and the challenges that can appear. Allegations can be made and they can cause rifts, sometimes a moment to see another person’s perspective or just to listen to the other side of an argument is a way to understand the whole story.

With its wonderful setting descriptions of cottages, rugged beaches and a wonderful cast of characters bring some great imagery and a feeling of warmth. The characters are wonderful and I got the chance to see the different sides to certain individuals.

This is a book I could have happily read in one sitting and is an author I am definitely going to be reading again.

I adored this book from the start and although it came to a natural ending that felt complete, I couldn’t help feeling a little sad that I had actually turned the last page. A story that would appeal to readers who like to delve into family life, relationships, misunderstandings, and romance and is a really wonderful festive uplifting read and one I would highly recommend.

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About the Author:

LBH

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Follow the author on

FacebookTwitter for Lucy ColemanTwitter for Linn B Halton

Giveaway

Tour prize

Giveaway Win a signed paperback of A Cottage in the Country and a rustic wooden heart decoration (Open Internationally)

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

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Joseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck @sueroebuck @rararesources #BookReview #Giveaway

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on Joseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. This book is available to purchase from  – Amazon UK –  Amazon.com

Synopsis:

Stand by your beliefs – even if it means going to the end of the Earth

By standing up for his principles to save the life of a prize racehorse, farrier Joseph Barnaby loses everything. Now, a personal vendetta has become too deep to fight and he escapes to the island of Madeira where he finds work on a small farm at the foot of a cliff, only accessible by boat. The balmy climate and never-ending supply of exotic fruit, vegetables and honey make it sound like paradise but, for Joseph, it’s the ideal place to hide from the world. Can the inhabitants of Quinta da Esperança, who have more grit in them than the pebbled beach that fronts the property, help Joseph find his self-worth again? And can he escape the danger that draws ever nearer?

My Thoughts:

Joseph Barnaby stood up for his beliefs and what he believed in. It cost him his job and career as a farrier. Not able to deal with the guilt or shame any longer he runs and starts a new life in a small community in Madeira.

Oh, this is a book that really captured my attention from the outset. I discovered what Joseph (Joe) was all about, how he was manipulated and basically made out to be the bad guy in this story. Joe is such a principled character and he believes that having his anonymity will be the answer to live his life.

His arrival in a fishing community seems to be the perfect fit for him. He is able to avoid tourists and questions as he finds employment at a local vineyard, as well as helping in the local community.

This book has such a great story, and as I am now writing my review, I realise that it does have a moral as such. No matter how far you run the truth will follow, (or words to that effect 🙂 ) It is very much a case of not getting all the facts before making a decision. While he has found new friends, he has left behind his father and other people that he got on well with in the racehorse world. Yes, he has discovered a community that has accepted him for what he appears to be, an honest and hardworking man.

The Madeiran community spirit is something that is very strong in this book and is important. As Joe starts to trust other people he also begins the journey of trusting himself. Letting people get close to him is part of the healing process and this is where Sophia comes in. She is one person that he does trust, he can be himself with. She is very distrusting of strangers and with good reason, and she also goes through similar acceptance steps, though for her she has a different set of circumstances.

This story was really good for watching two characters gradually work through their problems and it didn’t take long for me to care about what they were dealing with. The author really such a great job with all the characters in fact. There are some amazing descriptions of Madeira, a place I have never been, and yet I could visualise the sights. Add to this the various local dishes and I was in heaven, it adds that extra special something to a story.

A wonderful story that I read quite happily in one sitting. The author took me into a world of farriers and racing, fishing and vineyards. A story of emotions and repercussions, of standing up for your beliefs. Heartwarming and an absolute joy to read and is one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author:

I was born and educated in the UK (I am British!) but now live in Portugal. I’ve been an English teacher for many years with the British Council and also the Portuguese civil service where I developed e-learning courses.

My first love is, of course, my husband, my second writing, and my third painting. And now I have time to be able to indulge in all three.

My debut novel, “Perfect Score” was published by Mundania Press on Sept 21, 2010 and the paperback launched on May 11 2011. It was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC e-book Awards in the Mainstream Category.

My second novel is a dark thriller/fantasy called “Hewhay Hall”. It won an EPPIE award in the 2013 EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) e-Book Awards in the Horror Category.

Next comes “Rising Tide”, published in 2015. Set in Portugal, published by Mundania Press. It is set in a tiny fishing village that the world, and most of Portugal, has forgotten. Read about the wonders of the ocean and see if Piper from Norfolk UK and Leo from Alaska, USA, can find what they’re searching for in the little village of Luminosa.

“Forest Dancer” was published on 20th February 2018 by CrookedCat Books. This is novel number 2 set in Portugal but this time in the forests outside Lisbon, Portugal. Instead of the sea (as in Rising Tide), now find out about the wonders of the forest and whether classical ballerina, Flora, can find what she’s searching for in the small village of Aurora.

On 5th October 2018 CrookedCat Books published my newest novel, “Joseph Barnaby”, another romance/suspense which is set on the island of Madeira.


Social Media Links – 

 Blog & Website –   Facebook –  Facebook Author Page – Twitter –  Amazon Page


How would you like to enter the Giveaway to win one of three fabulous prizes? Enter below (after the T’s & C’s) Good Luck 🙂 xx

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

Giveaway – Win

  1. 1st prize an Amazon book token (£10) 
  2. 2nd prize – 2 x signed paperbacks of Joseph Barnaby
  3. 3rd prize – 2 x ebooks of Joseph Barnaby

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The Makings of a Lady by Catherine Tinley #Extract @rararesources

The Mills & Boon cover Makings of a Lady

I am delighted to be sharing an extract for The Makings of  a Lady by Catherine Tinley today as part of the Blog Blitz with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. I have not had the chance to read this yet, the extract is a glimpse into a book that is definitely going to be one I want to read and I just love this cover.

Synopsis:

Be calm, she thought.
Be gracious. Be twenty-two.

Lady Olivia Fanton is eager to prove she’s no longer a child. However, just as she thinks she’s found a suitable match in the suave Mr Manning, charismatic Captain Jem Ford walks back into her life, bringing with him all the embarrassment of her infatuation four years before! She’s determined to appear mature, distant, friendly. But does she dare hope he’ll notice her as the lady she’s become?

Purchase Link: Click Here

The Extract:

This extract is taken from chapter one. It highlights Lady Olivia’s frustration with her well-meaning but over-protective family, and her desire for adventure. She’s also nervous about the fact that Jem Ford will be visiting the family the next day. Olivia had an embarrassing crush on Jem a few years before. Just to complicate things, a new man then appears in her life…

Olivia stared at her own reflection. Stormy grey eyes, dark curls, fashionable habit. What is the point of wearing fine things, she was thinking, when no one ever sees me but my own family? I could wear my oldest muslin and nobody would care.

Rejecting the matching hat, she stated firmly that she would ride today with her head uncovered. Someone will see you tomorrow, an inner voice murmured. Jem will be here. After four years, you will see him again.

Ignoring the thought, she focused instead on her current frustration. This year they were not in London for the Season, because of Charlotte’s condition. Oh, but it was hard to be two-and-twenty and stuck in the country! At least in London there were balls and routs, and trips to the theatre, and people who realised you were a grown-up young lady. Not a child. And there were ways to avoid seeing certain people, if you did not wish to spend time with them. A house-guest in the country could not be avoided.

Olivia absent-mindedly thanked Susie and made her way to the stables, enjoying the feel of the May sunshine on her shoulders. As always, she felt a rush of love when she saw her fine-looking mare, Dahlia.

‘Hello, my beauty!’ She nuzzled the horse’s delicate cheek and slipped her a treat. Dahlia pranced impatiently and had to be told to hold still while the groom handed Olivia up and into the side-saddle.

‘I shan’t need you, Joseph!’ Olivia waved away the head groom, who was just about to offer to accompany her. ‘I won’t leave our lands, I promise!’ He looked disapproving, but refrained from chastising her.

‘Where do you plan to go, miss?’ He was always concerned when she rode alone, though why he should be, Olivia could not fathom. Nothing ever happened here.

‘I’ll go to the river,’ she said decidedly, ‘and the Bluebell Woods.’

She could feel the groom watching her as she trotted out of the stable yard. She really felt it today—how much she was watched and protected, and imprisoned. It was an itch between her shoulder blades and it seemed as though it had been there her whole life. Her brothers. The servants. Great-Aunt Clara. Her sisters-in-law. Why could they not see she was no longer a child? And how was she supposed to appear different to—to other people—if her own family treated her as though she was still a debutante?

Stop it! she told herself sternly. This is no prison and they all care about you. That is why they do it—they are just trying to protect you.

The words failed to quell the burning inside her and so she did the only thing she could—she let Dahlia build from a trot to a canter, then to a full gallop through the deer park. She steered Dahlia eastwards through the fields and lanes of the estate farms, until at last she reached the Bluebell Woods. At this time of year, bluebells were everywhere—along the hedgerows, around the estate workers’ cottages and there was a good sprinkling of them in the Home Wood. But here, at the most easterly edge of the Chadcombe estate, here was where they grew in abundance.

Olivia directed Dahlia into the woods. Slowing to a walk, she savoured the coolness of the air, the smells of luxuriant foliage and fertile soil, and the magical colours of the woodland. Sturdy browns and greys mingled with lush green, and everywhere the indigo-purple beauty of the nodding bluebells. The canopy of ash and elm, oak and maple filtered verdant sunlight to warm the ferns and flowers on the forest floor. To her left, a startled squirrel raced up a tree, its tail a flash of rich bronze. Birds chirruped and called, and small creatures rustled in the undergrowth.

Olivia felt the tension leave her shoulders. This place never failed to calm her.

She made her way to the river and allowed Dahlia to drink. She dismounted, leaving her overskirts tied up, and tethered the mare to a nearby sapling in the cool shade. The horse promptly tilted one hind hoof and rested, her tail twitching at flies.

The next half-hour was delightful. Olivia wandered through her favourite part of the woods, up and down along the riverside, gathering bluebells as she went. Clara would love them. The day was warm, so, greatly daring, she removed her half-boots and silk stockings and sat down, dabbling her feet in the coolness of the sparkling river. She allowed the idyllic peace of her surroundings to soothe her, and—briefly—put tomorrow’s worries to one side. The sun gently warmed her shoulders, the river babbled to itself, and the woodland whispered and swayed, oblivious to its own beauty.

All it needs, she thought, a little wistfully, is for a romantic hero to appear…

The small river marked the edge of Chadcombe’s lands, forming the boundary with their neighbours at Monkton Park… From here, Olivia could see a mass of white flowers on the far riverbank. On impulse, she stood and gathered her skirts. Leaving her stockings and boots with the small pile of bluebells, she ventured across the stepping stones barefoot, lifting her petticoats to make sure she was putting her feet in the right places. Reaching the far side safely, she began plucking handfuls of sweet-scented lily-of-the-valley—they would be the perfect foil for the bluebells.

Monkton Park’s owners, Mr and Mrs Foxley, were Olivia’s friends. Indeed, Mrs Foxley—Faith—was Charlotte’s cousin. Olivia had nothing to fear from being on the wrong side of the river. Or so she thought. Old fears run deep, so when a man’s voice suddenly spoke nearby, Olivia’s heart leapt in alarm.

‘“The summer’s flow’r is to the summer sweet,”’ the voice intoned.

Olivia whirled around to face the speaker.

‘Ah,’ he said, ‘a rose indeed!’

His cultured accent – and his knowledge of poetry – proclaimed him to be a man of information and learning. She took in his appearance at a glance. My, she thought, he is handsome!

He looked to be a few years older than her – possibly around Harry’s age. He had expressive brown eyes, thick, dark hair, and an unfashionably swarthy complexion – as if he had been in a warmer climate than England. His clothing proclaimed him the gentleman – a crisp white shirt open at the neck in a way which Adam would have abhorred, well-fitting unmentionables, boots that gleamed with a polished shine, and a well-cut Weston coat. He was, in every detail, the embodiment of a romantic hero.

Olivia’s jaw dropped. Just moments ago, she had been wishing for just such a man to appear. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck spring to attention. Fate had never yet noticed her, or interfered in her life. Was this to be a turning point? Was this, in fact, the beginning of a story that would be truly hers?

About the Author:

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Catherine Tinley writes heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, NHS management, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now works in Sure Start. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cat, and dog and can be reached at catherinetinley.com, as well as facebook.com/CatherineTinleyWriter  and @CatherineTinley on twitter.

Social Media Links – Facebook – Twitter

Don’t forget to take a look at Catherine Tinley’s Social media accounts.   She is running a giveaway to win a copy of the book, along with two other (surprise) romance novels by other writers.

2 x UK/Ireland Winners and 1 x International Winner.

For all the details look out for Catherine Tinley on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bear With Me Jessica Redland #BookReview @rararesources

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I am sharing my thoughts today on Bear With Me by Jessica Redland as part of the tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. My thanks to Rachel for the invite and also to Jessica for my e-copy of the book.

You can purchase a copy of your own HERE 

Synopsis:

Jemma has the job of her dreams as curator for the children’s section of a museum in London. She spends each day surrounded by the one thing she’s absolutely passionate about: teddy bears. When boyfriend, Scott, shows a genuine interest in her passion instead of laughing at her for “playing with teddies all day”, she knows he’s a keeper.

Returning home to the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay to celebrate her birthday, Jemma thinks she’s heading for her happy-ever-after when Scott unexpectedly proposes. So, a few days later, why isn’t he retuning her calls or responding to her texts?

Julie has always been a wonderful single mother to Jemma and her little brother, Sean. As owner of specialist teddy bear shop, Bear With Me, and the creative genius behind the successful range of Ju-Sea Bears, she inspires Jemma with her ability to balance a demanding career with home life. So why is the shop now in disarray and why is Sean so upset?

Sam thought he had his future all worked out. With a promising neurology career, a home, and a devoted fiancée, life was looking good. But now he’s all alone in a strange city, far from everyone and everything he cares about, struggling to rebuild the tatters of his life. Did he do the right thing by running away? What does the future hold and is he strong enough to face it?

Sometimes love finds us when we least expect it. But sometimes love leaves us, just as unexpectedly. When you’ve loved and lost, can you bear to let love in again?

Bear With Me, as all will be revealed …

 

My Thoughts:

Jemma works with Teddy Bears, her whole life has been surrounded by them and is a passion she shares with her mum. Jemma has a boyfriend Scott, they have been together several months, after their engagement he suddenly stops calling her. While Jemma goes through the upset of being abandoned and not knowing why, her Mum starts acting out of character. Then there is Sam, lonely, avoiding the past and trying to ignore the pain of past memories.

This story is told from the perspective of the main characters. I like this view as it gives me an added insight into the way a character works and also feels. The emotions run high with Jemma and Sam as they both try to deal with the emotional wrecking ball that is [art of their lives. They are strangers and as their stories are told you get an idea of what they are going through, the pressure of past and current problems that they are trying to avoid or deal with.

This story has several themes running through it, I am not going to say anything much about these as that would spoil it for other readers. I found that the author worked these in and around very well as she incorporated them into the story.

I read this book in one sitting and didn’t notice the time ticking away. I found myself caught up in an emotional story, but one that was told with sympathy. While I did have a lump in my throat on a few occasions I did manage to hold the tears at bay. This is a story that is more about dealing with emotions to begin the chance of moving forward.

As Jemma and Sam are initially strangers I did wonder how the story would be developed and how things would link together and along the way several things caught me by surprise (in a good way) and then started to come together. I should also mention that tis book is not all sad and emotional, it has some great fun moments and a few bear puns along the way.

This is a really good read that had me wondering and musing as I read. Would things work…and if so how? It is a read that would be ideal for those who like light romance and women’s fiction. This is a new to me author and one I look forward to reading more of. Bear With Me is one that I would recommend.

About the Author:

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Jessica had never considered writing as a career until a former manager kept telling her that her business reports read more like stories and she should write a book. She loved writing but had no plot ideas. Then something happened to her that prompted the premise for her debut novel, Searching for Steven. She put fingers to keyboard and soon realised she had a trilogy and a novella!

She lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast – the inspiration for the settings in her books – with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the dog has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs!

Jessica tries to balance her time – usually unsuccessfully – between being an HR tutor and writing. 

Social Media Links – Twitter –  Facebook –  Website

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Mrs Bates of Highbury by Allie Cresswell @rararesources #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Mrs Bates of Highbury by Allie Cresswell as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. My huge thanks to Rachel for the invite and also to Allie for my ecopy of the book, my thoughts are my own. You can get your own copy of this book from AMAZON UK.

Synopsis:

The new novel from Readers’ Favourite silver medalist Allie Cresswell.

Thirty years before the beginning of ‘Emma’ Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.

Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.

Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.

Mrs Bates of Highbury is the first of three novels by the Amazon #1 best-selling Allie Cresswell, which trace the pre-history of Emma and then run in parallel to it.

My Thoughts:

Mrs Bates is widowed and with her daughters Hettie and Jane they find their circumstances have changed. Instead of the Vicarage, they now live above a shop in Highbury. This story is set 30 years before Jane Austen’s Emma and is written as a prequel.

I am a little bit of a Classic Literature fan and I am a little nervous about approaching a book that involves the well-known Classics, but I always have an open mind. Well I have to say Allie Cresswell had me hooked with this story from the very first pages. The general feel of the those first pages just felt right, the words, the descriptions, society at the time… yes everything felt as it should be.

The Bates family were well thought of through the community of Highbury, mixing in many different social circles and never seemed to pay any heed to wealth or status. This however could not be said for the incoming Winwood family at the Vicarage.

Mrs Winwood and her daughters made their feelings about their class and status felt very early on. They are not there to be part of the community but instead to show off and drag their fellow residents up to their own standards.

With the shenanigans of the Mrs Winwood and the more reserved Mrs Bates I got to see a brilliant comparison between two very different women, and also how other people were to see them as well.

No story of this style would be complete without a local landowner, dinner parties, rogue characters, a love interest and grand estates and this story does include them. I loved the gentle flow as I was taken around the streets, grounds and lanes meeting the locals along the way.

This story is about Mrs Bates but also about many other things that make up the community in which she resides. The stories intertwine and meander giving a great read.

If you like a gentle story set in days gone past then you really do need to read this one. It was an absolute joy and pleasure to read and left me eagerly awaiting the next in the planned series. Mrs Bates of Highbury is a book I would absolutely recommend.

About the Author:

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Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

You can contact her via her website at www.allie-cresswell.com or find her on Facebook

Social Media Links – FacebookTwitter

For the duration of the blog tour, Allie Cresswell has five hard copies of Game Show and five hard copies of Tiger in a Cage, all signed, available for £5 plus p & p to UK addresses. If you are interested then please get in touch.

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Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason @Authormary #Giveaway #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Blackpool Lass by Maggie Mason. Maggie Mason is the pseudonym for Mary Wood and is being published by Sphere Publishers. The Blackpool Lass is available in various formats from AMAZON UK and good book shops.

I have read The Street Orphans by Mary Wood and you can find my review HERE

Synopsis:

Orphaned and destitute, will Grace find her own way in the world?

When Grace’s Ma passes away and her Da’s ship sinks with all hands, Grace is utterly alone in the world. She’s sent to an orphanage in Blackpool, but the master has an eye for a pretty young lass. Grace won’t be his victim, so she runs, destitute, into the night.

In Blackpool, she finds a home with the kindly Sheila and Peggy – and meets a lovely airman. But it’s 1938, and war is on the horizon. Will Grace ever find the happiness and home she deserves?

My Thoughts:

Starting in 1924 near Blackpool and then continuing through the 30’s, then World War II you get to meet Gracie (Grace) who looses not only her parents, but also her home and is forced to move away as there is no family willing to take her in. She is instead taken to an orphanage, a place that is far from the safe haven it should be. After leaving the home she returns to Blackpool, can she overcome her past ordeals and start a new life?

Oh my goodness this author knows how to write her characters. Gracie is as tough as old boots and has had to be to just get through life. She is a wonderful character who knows how tough living can be, yet she is warm, generous , fun and supportive. She deals with what life throws at her with a certain dignity even when things look really bad.

This is an era of change, women are more outspoken but often are still unheard. This is a time when men still rule the roost, their women are expected to behave in a certain way because that it the way it has always been. But since the end of Worlds War I women have found a foothold. They were needed to help while the men were away at war. This foothold gave women something to hope for and as World War II approaches they are needed once again and their courage to be treated fairly gains in volume.

This story touches on many of the things that girls and women had to deal with and while it is never pleasant to read about some of these aspects of life at that time, I think it is important that they are still acknowledged as being something that happened and I think the author has done a great job telling the story and without being graphic.

There were many things in this story that really stood out for me, but I am going to briefly focus on the sense of community as this was the one that shined through and complimented Gracie’s story so well. When things look so bad that you have nowhere to turn it is the kindness of strangers that can often show more support than you can imagine. Being accepted into a community is something that Gracie found and it allowed her to heal. People pulling together and letting differences aside was essential during the war and the author again instils the sense of pride that people had, giving love, time and resources when they were thin on the ground. But as Grace was to find out, not everyone has shares the same sense of community mindedness.

I loved Gracie and her friends and felt that even though they worked hard and some had been dealt “a bad lot” they still found warmth, love and comfort in their friendship, and also I bet they would have been a noisy bunch as well…

If you are after a historical saga then you will not be disappointed in The Blackpool lass, it is about family, friends, community, life, loss, love, despair and hope, dealing with many aspects of social history relevant to the time. This is a story that would definitely appeal to readers of historical fiction, family saga, and general fiction and one that I would definitely recommend xx

About the Author:

MM Maggie Mason is a pseudonym for saga author Mary Wood. Mary was born the thirteenth child of fifteen and throughout her life had various factory, office and home-based jobs, finally becoming a Probation Service Officer before she retired.

Mary married in 1963 and with her husband Roy has four children, eight grandchildren, and five step-grandchildren. She got her first book deal in 2013 and has not looked back since.

You can follow Mary on Twitter – Website Facebook

There is a giveaway being run by the author.

Follow her Facebook Page to get all the details.

*Please note I am not responsible for this giveaway, this giveaway is the responsibility of the author.*

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The French Escape by Suzie Tullett @SuzieTullett @bombshellpub #BookReview

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I am delighted today to be sharing my thoughts on The French Escape by Suzie Tullett as part of the blog blitzby Bombshell Books. My thanks to Emma Welton for the invite to join and Bombshell for my ebook. You can buy a copy from AMAZON UK in either paperback or e-book format.

Synopsis:

It’s fair to say that Flick has had a terrible year. Her beloved father died, she had the wedding of her dreams and only hours after the ceremony her husband ran out on her.

Brenda, fed up with her daughter living like a hermit, decides to drag Flick off to France to stay in a chateau. What could be better than an idyllic escape?

But when they arrive Flick discovers the chateau is all but abandoned.

The only upside of her French escape is the handsome and mysterious neighbour, Nate.

Nate loves his life living in the cottage on the grounds of the abandoned chateau but that is about to be put in jeopardy…

Can Nate and Flick ever learn to come to terms with the past and find love again?

My Thoughts:

Flick and her Mum Brenda, are on their way to France. Flick has no idea where she is going as Mum has made all the plans, and Flick also has no idea what Mum has planned until they arrive at a slightly run down chateau. Nate is a neighbour who seems to be a little moody, maybe secretive even… Flick has her own problems and Mum thinks this is the break her daughter needs to help her get her life sorted.

I love Brenda, the way she keeps her daughter in the dark about various things is great, I can see she has Flick’s best interests at heart. Brenda is concerned that Flick has lost her spark and is becoming lifeless and lost, as the story unfolds I got to discover why. As much as I had sympathy for Flick, I had to agree with Brenda, Flick needed a kick up the backside to get her life going again.

Now throw into the mysterious neighbour Nate. Well he has some interesting skeletons that he tried to keep hidden, though not hidden from everyone it seems. Yet another character I really liked, he has an interesting story and one that I didn’t quite expect.

As well as these three, there are also some other characters from the surrounding area that have an interest in the chateau and its new visitors, there reasons why soon become obvious. As do various other developments that the author has cleverly woven in.

This is a really great read and I soon found myself caught up in this story, the descriptions of the area were vivid, I could easily imagine the chateau in its surroundings. As much as I liked Flick’s story I found it was Nate’s story that really caught my interest, a little bit different and also sad.

This is a story about starting over, moving on from the past, making the decision to try things and also there is a bit of romance. The story has a great mix of personalities that compliment the main cast and also each other as well. It is an uplifting story that is captivating, idyllic and one that I would definitely recommend xx

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