Thursday, 1 October 2020

Book review and Extract: The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain


The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain

Will love bloom this winter?
 
Freya Fuller is living her dream, working as a live-in gardener on a beautiful Suffolk estate. But when the owner dies, Freya finds herself forced out of her job and her home with nowhere to go. However, with luck on her side, she’s soon moving to Nightingale Square and helping to create a beautiful winter garden that will be open to the public in time for Christmas.
 
There’s a warm welcome from all in Nightingale Square, except from local artist Finn. No matter how hard the pair try, they just can’t get along, and working together to bring the winter garden to life quickly becomes a struggle for them both.
 
Will Freya and Finn be able to put their differences aside in time for Christmas? Or will the arrival of a face from Freya’s past send them all spiralling?



My thoughts...

Some authors you don't even need to read the blurb for their latest book....you just dive in with blind faith as you know you're in safe hands. Well Heidi Swain is one of those authors for me. From cover to cover I'm fully immersed in pure escapism bliss and I look forward to each and every new release.

Heidi's talent for creating gorgeous little pockets of the world, filled with character you wish you could meet, is alive and thriving as we return once again to Nightingale Square. Characters we have come to know and love are gracing the pages and gearing up for the winter festivities. But what story would be complete without the introduction of new characters and this tale introduces the lovely Freya and Finn into the fold.

From the outset Freya was an utter joy of a character with an instant likeability that had me fully invested in her life and love of gardening. But what was noticeable was her penchant to self doubt and underestimate her talents. So I found myself getting those all important pom-poms out to cheer her on as I turned the pages that unveiled this gorgeous story.

Shall I talk about Finn now? This hunk of a mountain with an incredible artistic talent. Well he was certainly an intrigue to say the least....his complexity was ever revealing and kept this story on its toes on how events will play out. But I did find a soft spot for him in my heart and desperately hoped a happy ending would be on the cards - I mean it is Christmas after all and it would be rude not to end on a glittering note.

The Winter Garden is a festive delight and the gift that keeps on giving and this Swainette is one happy little camper after reading this true delight. As always Heidi you have created a gem and I'm back to waiting patiently for my next story to dive into. So make sure you grab your nearest copy of this new beauty - you will not be disappointed. 




Here is an extra little treat for you......I have a sneak peak extract from chapter one to really get you excited about this gorgeous book. So grab that coffee, sit back and dive in.....I can guarantee you'll be wanting more once you've finished.  



 Chapter one – extract

 

Before I moved to the Broad- Meadows country estate in Suffolk, I’d never celebrated either the summer or the winter solstice, but meeting octogenarian estate owner Eloise Thurlow- Forbes had soon changed that, along with a lot of other things.

‘In order to garden successfully,’ she had told me the day we met, which just happened to fall on the summer solstice three years ago, ‘one has to be in tune with nature, the seasons, Mother Earth, the moon and all their cycles.’

I had been tempted to mention how the human race, global warming and the rising sea levels were set to change all that, but thought better of it. Even though I’d only just met her, Eloise Thurlow- Forbes, with her elegant white bun and refined features, looked to me like a woman who knew her own mind and I wasn’t long in her company before I realised my hunch was right. It came as something of a surprise however, to discover that she knew my mind too.

‘Come on Nell,’ I said, pulling my thoughts back to the present and climbing out of my van. ‘We need to hurry or we’ll miss it.’

With much stretching and yawning, the fawn- coloured Bedlington Whippet cross reluctantly levered herself out of the passenger seat and trotted along behind me. We weren’t the only ones who had taken the journey to Ness Point, the most easterly spot in the UK, to watch the sunrise, but we stood a little apart from everyone else and I gazed in awe as the sky turned gold before the sun appeared majestically over the horizon, the few clouds in front of it turning the beams into something akin to an art deco sunburst.

‘What shall we do now?’ I asked Nell once the spectacle was over. She responded by leaning heavily against my legs and pushing her damp nose into my hand. ‘Shall we go and see Eloise?’

Her tail thumped and her eyes brightened a little at the sound of her mistress’s name.

‘Come on then,’ I said turning back to where I’d parked the van. ‘Let’s go.’

By the time we arrived, I had mixed feelings about the visit. I couldn’t talk to Eloise without mentioning what it was that I had lay awake half the night trying to find the words to say, but I knew I couldn’t put it off much longer, no matter how unpalatable it was.

‘I really hope I’m mistaken about this, Eloise,’ I swallowed, pulling my thick, dark plait over my shoulder in a gesture she was sure to recognise as me seeking courage and comfort, ‘but I have a horrible feeling that Jackson’s gearing up to sell the estate. I might be wrong,’ I quickly added, ‘but there’s a couple of things he’s said during the last few weeks and I get the feeling . . .’

My words trailed off and I flicked my hair away again. Eloise was a great one for trusting her instincts and she had taught me how to rely more on mine, so there was really no point trying to sugar- coat the situation. Nell sighed, rested her head on her paws and stared at me. Her gaze struck me as reproachful.

‘It’s no good looking like that,’ I told her. ‘It’s nothing to do with me. I’m hardly going to be able to change his mind, am I?’

I wondered what would happen to Nell if Jackson did sell up and move back to America. I couldn’t imagine for one second that the comfort of his great- aunt’s rescue dog would be high on his list of priorities.

Given that if he did cut and run, I could well lose not only my job but my home too, I really had more pressing things to worry about, but I was fond of the dog and, unlike me, she had no say over her fate.

Little had I known when I first went to visit Eloise that fate had led me to her beautiful house and garden not to size the place up as a potential venue for my forthcoming wedding as was the original plan, but as somewhere, for want of a less clichéd phrase, where I could find myself.

Within hours of my arrival I had broken off my engagement and accepted Eloise’s offer of a gardening job and a place to live. The last three years had been an education, both personally and professionally, and even though I didn’t feel ready to graduate, circumstances, this time beyond my control, suggested that I was going to be moving on again.

‘I’m sorry not to come with better news,’ I said, leaning over the grave to rearrange the flowers I had brought the week before and which were still holding their own in spite of the hot September days. ‘But I wanted you to hear it from me Eloise, and I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you have any thoughts as to what I’m supposed to do now, I could really do with a sign because I have absolutely no idea at all.’

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Book review: Accidentally in Love by Belinda Missen


In the space of a week, Katharine Patterson has quit her job, decided to move back home, and broken up with the guy she thought was the one.

No big deal.

Because Katharine has a plan. She’s going to open her own art gallery, just like she’s always wanted. What she’s not going to do is worry about boyfriends.

​Then she meets Kit, a handsome and talented local artist. He might be the most stubborn person Katharine has ever met. He might also make her feel like no one ever has before.

​And Katharine might be about to fall accidentally in love…



My thoughts... 


Since lock down I have found it extremely difficult to concentrate and read a book and was putting far too much pressure on myself for not being able to wizz through stories like I used to. But hold on a moment....books are to be enjoyed with time taken to indulge in the stories that come alive on the page in front of you. So wizzing through them is no longer the order of the day for me anymore. My reading style is currently that of a snail but I'm embracing it for all it's worth.


But can I just talk to you for a moment about Belinda Missen's new book which has quite frankly made me fall in love with reading again.


Belinda has this wonderful way of creating stories that reach out and grab your attention. Her writing style is warm with humour at the turn of each and every page. The moment I dived into this book I knew I was going to love it. With instantly likeable characters I was sucked into the story and I'm still a little bit put out that the book had to eventually come to an end (sheer rudeness). I don't think I was mentally prepared for the event having invested so much in the book. Can I request a sequel please? I'm just not ready to part with Katherine and Kit yet.


Character creation was by far the highlight of the day. Each and every person who graced the pages were vivid and animated and I felt a range of emotions from outrage to out right love. Our two leading lovers were the cherry on top of this delicious number and I loved the way the story played out between the two and I was living for each and every moment.


I think I've gushed enough about how much I loved this story. But all that's left to say is that this is one book not to miss. I'm a huge Missen fan and this did not disappoint.





Thank you to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me to review this book.


#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogger #bookreview #booklove




Sunday, 2 August 2020

Book review: As Luck Would Have It by Zoe May





As Luck Would Have It by Zoe May


Natalie Jackson might keep up appearances on Instagram, but in reality her fiancĂ© has just jilted her after the birth of their baby and she’s moved back in with her mum. Life isn’t exactly going to plan!

So when she enters the village raffle for the holiday of a lifetime, she thinks she has no chance of winning. But her name is pulled out – and, as luck would have it, so is a ticket bought by her childhood nemesis: Will Brimble.

Surely a romantic holiday for two is the worst idea ever…right?





My thoughts... 

I have read many a Zoe May story and have never been left disappointed. So I knew that I was in safe hands when diving into this delight. From the word go I fell in love with our leading lady Natalie. She was incredibly endearing and I think I would have been equally as happy had she sat and read the phone book, never mind jetting off to Marrakesh.

The narrative is vibrant and full of life and I simply adored the witty, yet awkward moments presented. I mean it would have been very hard not to fall into a book with such an exotic backdrop, but I was living for every cringe incident that happened between Natalie and Will.

Our main characters created such an enigmatic pull in this story. Their growing chemistry allowed the pages to almost turn themselves as I was speed reading in an attempt to get to that sort after happy ending. All in all this summer sizzler is a true delight and the perfect pool side pass time for any break away.



Thank you so much to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this gorgeous blog tour.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove


 


About the author... 

Zoe May is an author of romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She worked in journalism and copywriting in London before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

Perfect Match was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting, and, of course, reading! She adores animals and if she’s not taking a photo of a vegan meal, she’s probably tweeting about the dairy industry. She is half Greek and half Irish and can make a mean baklava. Zoe has a thing for horror films, India, swimming, hip hop, and Radiohead. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of handbags having spent several years working in fashion copywriting and could probably win Mastermind if this was her specialist subject!

Zoe loves to hear from readers, you can contact her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

She posts updates and blogs on her website, www.zoemayauthor.co.uk

Social Media Links –

https://www.twitter.com/zoe_writes

https://www.instagram.com/zoe_writes

https://www.facebook.com/zoemayauthor/

 

 

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Book review: The Middle-Aged Virgin in Italy by Olivia Spring



The Middle-Aged Virgin in Italy by Olivia Spring


Can a holiday romance lead to long-term love?

When Sophia moves to Tuscany to be with Lorenzo, she dreams of finally having it all: the amazing boyfriend, the baby she’s always wanted, the great career and the fairy-tale life in an idyllic town. But the reality is very different…

The only Italian Sophia seems to have mastered since arriving is pastaprosecco and gelato. She suddenly finds herself dealing with Lorenzo’s meddling mother and juggling caring for her son with running a business hundreds of miles away, and there’s a problem in the bedroom department…

Despite Lorenzo being hotter than chilli sauce, since becoming a mum, Sophia has zero desire to get jiggy. None. After several months without any action, she’s in danger of becoming a Middle-Aged Virgin. Again.

Can Sophia get her sex life back? Will her holiday romance go the distance so she can find her happily-ever-after in Italy?

Join Sophia on her laugh-out-loud Italian adventures today as she steps out of her comfort zone and attempts to relight her fire and enjoy la dolce vita with hilarious encounters along the way.




My thoughts... 

Italy is my all time favourite destination so I jumped at the chance to dive into this stunning sequel with an Italian backdrop. I just knew that pasta, pistachio gelato and delicious men would be the order of the day and I certainly wasn't wrong. 

Joining Sophia in her new life in a village on the outskirts of Florence was an adventure and a half. I mean talk about difficult. Here she is in a new country with a language barrier, trying to negotiate motherhood, a nightmare mother in law and a sexy husband to satiate. So there was plenty of highs and lows dictating the narrative. But as I've come to expect from a Spring story, comic relief was found weaving nicely throughout the tale to lift spirits and quite frankly make you laugh out loud. Never a dull moment to be had that's for sure. 

I won't dive into narrative details as I'd hate to give away any spoilers but be warned that everything but the kitchen sink is thrown at this story so you won't be disappointed. This book is jam packed to perfection and is the perfect summer story to brighten up these trying times of late. 



Read and reviewed with kind permission by the author. 

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove 




Monday, 20 July 2020

Book review: The Casanova Papers by Kate Zarrelli



The Casanova Papers by Kate Zarrelli

Ellie Murphy takes a contract teaching English at a school in Venice, Italy. There she meets the sexy enigmatic Professor Piero Contarini, from an ancient Venetian family, and agrees to help him in his work curating a new edition of the memoirs of the famous seducer, Giacomo Casanova. Taking their task seriously, they start to enact his adventures with each other, ecstatically revealing their own kinks as they do so. But who is watching them from the shadowy alleyways of Venice?




My thoughts... 

Venice has been the backdrop of many a thrilling story over the years and never seems to disappoint. This is the exact reason why I chose to read this book....that and the exciting delights of the roving Casanova. Laced in historic detail this book brings to life Venice, Casanova and two extremely intoxicating characters.

What was clear from the start was that this author is finely versed in the art of suspense. The flame that arose between our two characters simmered so long i think the book was in danger of bursting into flames. But the erotic elements were well worth the wait with passion burning through the story once that flame was ignited.

I must say though that this story delighted on more than just the passion front. The historical hues that weaved amongst the saucy scenes were captivating in their own right and I'm inspired to learn more on the subject that is Casanova.

The Casanova Papers is both hot and historical in turn, a true delight for all the senses.



Thank you so much to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this exciting blog tour.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove
 


About the author... 

Kate Zarrelli is the Devine Destinies pen name of Katherine Mezzacappa. Kate is Irish but now lives in Carrara in Northern Tuscany, between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea, with her Italian husband and two teenage sons. She writes historical, erotic, feel-good and paranormal fiction, set all over Europe, and in her spare time volunteers with a used book charity of which she is a founder member.

Under her own name her short fiction has been published by The Copperfield Review, Ireland's Own, Erotic Review, Henshaw Press and Severance Publications.

Writing as Katie Hutton, her historical novel The Gypsy Bride will be published by Bonnier Zaffre in 2020 with a sequel to follow in 2020.
As Katherine Mezzacappa she is also a member of the Historical Novel Society (she reviews regularly for The Historical Novel Review) and of the Irish Writers Centre. She is represented by Annette Green Authors' Agency.




Sunday, 19 July 2020

Book review: New Rules by Lily Hayden



New Rules by Lily Hayden

Kate Miller has it all; a glittering career, a wonderful home life and a promotion in the bag. She knows the rules for success, and nothing will stop her from getting to where she wants to be.Ellie Stephens, on the other hand, can’t catch a break; she’s trapped in a vicious circle of dead-end jobs and red-flag relationships until she’s paired with Kate in their company’s brand-new mentoring scheme.Ellie just can’t seem to get to grips with Kate’s ruthless recipe for success no matter how hard she tries, leaving her wondering if she’s the problem. Two new men in her life, affable-but-mysterious Freddie and Kate’s drop-dead gorgeous ex Liam try to help her muddle through and figure out how to get ahead.Meanwhile, Kate’s perfect life is unravelling and where once everything she touched turned to gold, it’s suddenly falling apart. Her work nemesis is throwing obstacles in her way at every turn, her home life is in tatters and her first love is suddenly back in her life. Kate is more confused than ever; is it time to break those rules?





My thoughts... 

The corporate world is a gruelling and gruesome game where the female of the species not only has to strike each ball out of the park, but do so in heels. Stereotypes are the state of play and no one is performing a fair game and this book displays all for sport. From the opening moments, characters were stuck in the hamster wheel of corporate exhaustion, battling their way to elite success. Determination was tunnel visioned and only the strongest will survive. These characters drained my spirit with their relentless life button pressed firmly on 'go' but this story is anything but dull.

The narrative was filled with relevant issues facing any career minded individual. The battle of the sexes opens up a Pandora's box of issues and this book explored several avenues in depth. Our attention is tuned in to two female characters at opposite ends of the career ladder to great intrigue. I can't say that I overly liked Kate because there was several moments when she let her female side down. But I did enjoy her character arc that traversed the storyline immensely to reveal a transformed woman in the final pages. But I had no issues liking the loveable Ellie. Her journey was tough and tiring to witness but as always I brushed off my pom poms and cheered her on.

New Rules definitely hits the spot from start to finish. It's relentless and at times unforgiving, but there's an underlying heart to it that pulls you in.



Thank you so much to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogger #booklove





About the author... 

Lily Hayden writes chick lit with a kick.

Modern day women want modern day heroines and Lily's characters want sizzling romance, rewarding careers and equal partnerships, but like all of us, they face many challenges and it isn't always easy.

A mother to four children, Lily graduated with a degree in Business in her hometown in South Wales and enjoyed a successful career in Financial Services before fulfilling a lifelong ambition to write books.



Thursday, 9 July 2020

Book review: Flying Solo by Zoe May




Flying Solo by Zoe May


Rachel Watson has it all worked out. By 30, she's ticked off most of the goals on her Life List. She's a home owner, a partner at her law firm, she has a gorgeous boyfriend, lots of hobbies and loads of good friends. The only thing that's missing is a ring on her finger.

According to her Life List, Rachel should be getting hitched around now, so when her boyfriend, Paul, plans a romantic date, Rachel's pretty confident he’s going to propose. Except Paul has other ideas. He's jetting off to India to find himself.

Distraught, Rachel doesn’t know what to do. Not one to easily admit defeat, she embarks on a mission to win him back.

Flying solo to India is definitely not part of Rachel's plans, but could her trip teach her unexpected lessons about love, life and herself? Could she realise that perhaps her Life List wasn't exactly what she wanted, after all?




My thoughts... 

Zoe is a writer who lays her heart on the page for you. From the opening moments I was pulled into the narrative at 150 miles per hour and didn't come up for air until the concluding full stop.

The entire book just made me smile it's as simple as that. I felt each and every last emotion that out heroine went through and I loved the journey from start to finish. May's writing is witty and full of personality and the entertainment factor was on display at the turn of each and every page.

Being an Ashram novice I wasn't sure what the order of the day would entail. So let's just say I was surprised, amused and outright shocked at some of the incidents this story served up. Which only went on to fuel my enjoyment levels.

If you're looking for a fun and witty read packed full of exciting and exotic episodes then this is definitely the book for you and I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.



Thank you to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this exciting blog tour.

#StacyRecommends #literaryadventure #bookblogging #bookreview #booklove 




About the author... 

Zoe May is an author of romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She worked in journalism and copywriting in London before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe couldn't resist writing a novel about dating since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!
Perfect Match was one of Apple's top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as 'a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery - fresh and very funny'.
As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading! She adores animals and if she's not taking a photo of a vegan meal, she's probably tweeting about the dairy industry. She is half Greek and half Irish and can make a mean baklava. Zoe has a thing for horror films, India, swimming, hip hop and Radiohead. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of handbags having spent several years working in fashion copywriting and could probably win Mastermind if this was her specialist subject!
Zoe loves to hear from readers, you can contact her on Twitter and Instagram at: @zoe_writes. Zoe's Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/zoemayauthor/ She posts updates and blogs on her website, www.zoemayauthor.co.uk