Dinner Party by Tracy Bloom

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Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Never has an unexpected guest caused such chaos!

Three couples take it in turns to host a monthly dinner party.

Beth, Sarah and Marie have been friends forever. Now they are grown up, with busy lives, busy husbands, busy kids… but they still find time to meet up over dinner once a month. A cosy, comfortable gathering of happy couples – or so they thought.

Until one night, someone brings along a last-minute guest whose wife has just left him.

Simon is standing on the doorstep in floods of tears. While the women do their best to console him, their husbands feel the need to mark their territory.

And as Simon becomes more involved with the group, his presence changes everything these three couples thought they knew about each other, leading to a final dinner party that no-one will ever forget.

From Amazon chart bestseller Tracy Bloom, Dinner Party is a funny and moving read that will make you see your marriage and friendships in a whole new light… and make you think twice about inviting your best mates round for dinner. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes, Nick Spalding and Gill Sims.

The Review: So I reviewed The Last Laugh only the other day but I felt the need to get straight to this, The Dinner Party, which sounded like exactly what I was int he mood for. And it totally was! Sorry to tell you but the link will lead you to a pre-order link, so you’ve a little bit to wait before its release, but I think, at that time of the year, ie end September, a comedy such as this will be a treat to randomly arrive into your Kindle in-box, so I’m thinking of you here;)

As you see above, Beth, Sarah and Marie are old friends, but ones that don’t catch up that often anymore. There may be a reason for this as we are given three very different women, all with their own insecurities and all with ranging personalities. The book leans more towards Beth than the others, but we are nicely put into the shoes of the others and, in a nice twist, we get to meet their husbands too. Now I know people who read my reviews are about to say ‘oh no, here we go again,’ but it has to be done. I love love love multiple povs and a cast of characters that’s done well and they most definitely are here! Depending on your personality you’ll empathise with different people, but I have to say that the people I considered bang on were the husbands, and in particular Chris and Duncan. The women, on the whole, weren’t really my cup of tea and I have to say I was so disappointed that I leaned towards a full on dislike of Beth and could not get what everyone was saying about her being so amazing. Beth was one of these people who decided that everyone only saw her for her weight, and we heard about it very regularly. We were constantly told how lovely and helpful she was, but actually all I saw was someone who was meddling and way too critical of everyone else. Her blurts were mean and cruel at times and I got a bit tired of everyone acting like it was endearing that she was so upfront. Marie, was an, um interesting character, obsessed with how she looked and Sarah, well actually I loved Sarah who was having a crisis of confidence of her own.

The guys were brilliantly done, from Chris, who was so underappreciated, to Duncan who reminded me of one of the side characters in Notting Hill to Tony who played his role to a tee! Then there was Simon, lovely Simon, who I nodded along with. I loved the concepts of the dinner party and laughed along with the guys as they were aghast at all the etiquette involved (reminds me of previous rants I’ve had on how things have gone so crazy in terms of food and drink, how Gin and Wine are treated as if they’re not alcohol, breadsticks are acceptable while your sliced pan isn’t, people use the term ‘pan-fried’ and ‘rustic’ to make things sound posher -that sort of thing!) and the comedy flowed along. I’ll admit that (in the same way someone on eg the X Factor might give someone who sings like Leona Lewis a bit of advice-they know she’s the best at what she does but it’s just a little aside), the ending was a bit rushed or something, I’m not quite sure what it was, but I felt it could have been a bit more neatly parceled, and I think Duncan’s story could have flowed a little bit more and been rounded up nicer so we saw it happening, but as I’ve just said, this is just an opinion and all in all I loved this book. Very much recommended. Thanks so much to Bookouture and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom

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Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Jenny discovers her days are numbered at the same time she discovers her husband is having an affair…

Frankly, she had enough on her plate already. Two tricky teenagers, her mother’s constant complaints, friends who aren’t up to the job and a career which has been spiralling downwards since she won ‘Sunseeker Tour Rep of the Season’ twenty years ago.

And now this. Enough is enough! Jenny vows to keep both revelations a secret. She takes her life into her own hands and decides to live as she did when she was happiest… in 1996. She plans a spectacular 1990s themed party in place of a wake that she herself will attend. But will she be able to keep her secrets for long enough to have the party of a lifetime?

The Review: I have to admit I put this book off and off (very oddly as I agpred Ms. Bloom’s ‘No On Has Sex on Christmas day’ read review  here

). I dreaded the fact that most people seemed to be laughing through the tears, and had had a few weeks of tough things happening to all of those around me, and this coupled with a lack of sleep had left me both fragile and not feeling very ‘me.’

The odd thing, so, was that I should choose the ten year anniversary of my dad’s death and a weekend of knocks and bumps in general to say ‘eff it’ and read both this and The Happiness List by Annie Lyons (another excellent book- read the review here ). Maybe I thought I was all cried out. Maybe I was challenging myself. Either way I’m so happy I read both. But enough about me-this is all about Emma. Lovely Emma who we meet first in the prologue on the 25th June 1996 in Bataria Beach Kassiopi in Corfu, where she is celebrating her 25th birthday and having the time of her life. It actually is the time of her life because fast forward to present time and she uses that day as a placemark for when she was at her happiest. The prologue leads you with a one-liner that says ‘boom! You’re in for one hell of a ride!’ (It doesn’t ACTUALLY say this, but you know what I mean).

Now, twenty years later she’s at her birthday dinner and it isn’t quite as special. We get the impression that the love of her life is the same guy from before, but things aren’t so rosy and Emma has potentially devastating news. This book drops a large cold boulder into your stomach with Emma’s health, her lovely dad’s dementia, a mother who doesn’t realise her daughter’s worth, a daughter who needs a mother and a son who’s growing up. As Emma decides to make the end count, you are met with a cacophony of images that bring you back to your own old friends, your own life, while making you appreciate what you have.  It is fun, funny, beautiful and devastating and reminds me that Tracy Bloom is at the top of the pile for rom com authors. Thanks so much to Bookouture and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

 

Escape to Oakbrook Farm: A wonderfully uplifting romantic comedy (Hope Cove Book 2) by Hannah Ellis

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Length: 322 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Village life is supposed to be quiet…

Josie Beaumont is a free spirit. She changes jobs about as often as she changes her relationship status. Frequently! The only constants in her life are the comfy old shoes that she refuses to part with.

When unemployment looms again, she’s intrigued by a job opportunity at a dog kennels in rural Devon. As someone who thrives on change, a move to the sticks doesn’t faze her at all. She’s expecting life in the country to be quiet and uneventful.

What she’s not expecting is Sam.

The charming, sensitive neighbour makes life much more interesting. In fact, when she gets involved in the local community, things really aren’t as dull as she anticipated. But just when she finally feels settled, she’s offered the job of her dreams back in London. It’s time to move on.

Or is it?

Being part of a small community has stirred something in Josie and she begins to question what she really wants. Can she turn her back on her new life and say goodbye to Sam? Or is she ready to hang up her running shoes and stay put? Maybe she’s finally found something worth sticking around for…

The Review: There are a multitude of ways you can see an author’s writing spring to life that isn’t just from the book itself, in fact, this is the reason that I buy more books on the basis of guest posts or interviews or a writer’s review of a book. Here, the dedication itself was enough to make me swoon and settle down, glad I was reading another one of Hannah Ellis’ gorgeous books (Note: the dedication was “To Dua, You deserve the world … here’s a book instead.” Isn’t that so lovely!)

And indeed we are back to another gorgeous book, amazing given that Hannah ( I know her well from being an all round helpful and motivational writerly person on social media and in a writer group we both inhabit) has been probably one of my most reviewed authors on this blog. (You would assume at some stage I wouldn’t connect with a book, as what are the chances I feel so smiley and excited after all her books, but there you go!!)

Here is the story of Josie who we meet at a wedding at the start of her book, dressed in her bridesmaid’s dress and a pair of Converse, speaking to the best man, Sam. Josie has just broken up with her boyfriend and is shocked that she feels a sort of pull towards Sam, given that she’s assuming the break up is just another glitch and they’ll be back together very soon. I have to admit the banter, and Sam in particular, drew me in and I was keen to see where this would go.

Josie was a lovely character too, only changing when we see her with her on/off boyfriend, which reminded me a little of the film ‘The Break Up’ (it always gets me thinking about balancing being naggy and not having to do everything yourself), but soon her and her boyfriend are back together even though she’s agreeing to move to Devon during the week to work in Annette’s dog kennels.

This was another lovely touch. Happy as I was to move to the countryside and enjoy the quirks of country life (in particular the creepy laneways when walking home from the pub and indeed the pub itself with a whole new range of friends for Josie), I was THRILLED that she was going to be working with dogs. The book moved nicely for me and I enjoyed the new friends, the banter, the settings,the drama and the many, many smile along moments. I will admit that just after middle I felt a lull and was afraid nothing would happen but then we went to the one place I’d forgotten we could go and one of the character’s reactions smarted and shocked me! In terms of comedy there were a few very well done, nicely timed moments that had me nodding along. All in all a great book but I’d advise you to move back to the start of the series, to book 1  just to savour it all and meet some other characters that pop up here (here’s my gush about  The Cottage At Hope Cove which seems to be FREE at the moment-get it here on Amazon!). Thanks so much to the author for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the author

Hannahellis

Hannah Ellis lives in Munich with her husband and two little boys. She’s originally from England and has also lived in America, Australia and Ireland. As well as writing, she also teaches English to kindergarten kids. In her spare time she likes to read books, drink tea and eat chocolate. She goes jogging regularly but hasn’t decided if she really enjoys it or not. She’s a huge fan of sunshine and the many Munich beer gardens.

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Previous posts on this blog

#BlogTour Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman #BookReview

I am so thrilled to be part of the blog tour for this today, ‘Oh Crumbs’ a romance designed to never allow your eyes to leave the page!

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Purchase Links

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What they say: Sometimes life just takes the biscuit … Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag. Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her. But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is. 

The Review: Onto a book that I’m sure I’ll remember for some time to come because of characters that leapt off the page, and romance and heat that took my breath away!!! So this is the story of Abigail Spencer, who stole my heart from page one, where she showed how willingly she took up the role of surrogate mother to a huge household and I knew she was something very special. Abby is one of those characters that only comes along in books every so often, a girl with a big heart that evolves into a woman that’s not only enthusiastic about everything in life, but wants everyone else to be happy too. I read so many books that try to be Abby, but then you meet the happy, over the top, accident prone ‘real life’ version and you sigh in happiness, because she is ‘The One!’ Abby has a fire in her to better herself and be the best she can be and we see her graduate form night school and end up at an interview for Crumbs, the biscuit manufacturer.

Enter Doug, the millionaire Managing Director, who against everything his gut tells him, hires Abby, although he worries afterwards that he has just hired a disorganised, chatty, tell-it-too much like it is scatterbrain. A word of warning, if you’re not a fan of not only the ‘will they, won’t they’ scenarios, but also the ‘when will they?’ notion, then this book is most definitely not for you! Blowing hot and cold is as rampant as moments when you have to fan yourself for the expectation of them not only getting but deciding to be together. The chemistry from the off with the two of them was mesmerising and blew me away! This book was like a lesson in how to do romance and heat and I willed them together from the off, unable to take my eyes away.

I loved not only the banter between two of the most likeable characters I’ve read in some time, and their alternating povs, but the everyday in the ‘Crumbs’ biscuit factory and how the power structure was playing out with Doug’s dad, the owner of the business. There is tension and drama aplenty, in fact it is thrown at us from all angles, work, home and Doug’s family too, and I was never bored or even contemplating having to push my eyes back to the book. I will tell you that there’s cliches aplenty, but if you’re willing to accept them they’re impeccably done, the millionaire in his flashy car saving the day, some over the top baddies, Abby stepping in to help the company, that sort of thing, and I devoured it all!

Actually there was a hint of ‘Me Before You’ by JoJo Moyes about this book, in relations to characters, circumstance and Abby’s huge and larger than life (I adored them all!) family, and that being one of my favourite books, I took it excitedly. My only issue at all was that there’s some books out there that I find myself editing (just a little) as I read, substituting one word for another along the way, and unfortunately I was doing that sometimes here, finding eh odd word repeated, or a word I would have rathered but when I thought back over it it didn’t in any way take away from the enjoyment of a book that kept my heart and senses racing on a cliff edge throughout. A book that has you smiling from the start, I have to say this is a book that is going to stay with me for some time to come and I can’t wait to read more from Ms. Freeman. Thanks so much to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Win a paperback copy of Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman (Open Internationally)

And, now, before we meet the author, how about a Giveaway?! (Click here!)

*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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About the author

authorimageohcrumbs

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 hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and 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.

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Madame Love Actually by Rich Amooi #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Today I am so so excited to bring this gem to your attention: Madam Love Actually by Rich Amooi. Oh and there’s a giveaway too!! Thanks so much to Rachel’s Random Resources for the book in return for an honest gush. (I mean review!)

Madam Love Actually

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To buy:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

 

What they say: Lance Parker is an arrogant know-it-all. As author of the bestselling book Your Soulmate Doesn’t Exist, he says love is for losers. Madam Love is a fortune teller and matchmaker who has brought hundreds of couples together.

When the two clash during a radio interview, she admits even someone as irritating and impossible as Lance has a soulmate. He says she’s delirious and a fraud. Then the gauntlet is laid down: Madam Love has two weeks to prove Lance wrong and find him a soulmate.

When Lance meets wonderful Emma by chance, he doesn’t know what to think anymore. But Emma has a secret. She’s Madam Love, actually. And it’s going to take a whole lot more than a crystal ball to get her out of this mess.

About the book: This is the story of Emma Wright, known as Madam Love to her clients in San Francisco. Madam Love tells her clients how about meeting ‘the one.’ She has a step of instructions for her to get to the person of her dreams, but can’t tell her the specifics. I cannot tell you how taken I was with Emma straight away in both iterations, both as herself, and as the talented Madam Love. As Madam she is the totally together, wig and fortune teller garb adorning, tell it like it is because I’m totally right, fortune teller, but as Emma things are a bit more difficult, with bills to pay, rent increases and a decision made that she herself will never meet the love of her life.

Enter arrogant Lance Parker. I loved him too and was practically jumping up and down when I met him on air, speaking about his book ‘Your soulmate doesn’t exist.’ (Guess what it’s about). He was sarcastic and cheeky and yet rational and lovely and if I hadn’t been in before (I was, from the get go), I was most definitely all in when Emma rang in as Madam Love to put her two cents in and we found out that he’s also fully against fortune tellers too. And so a challenge is put to Lance; take Madam Love’s advice and NOW try to prove there’s no such thing as a soul mate and that fortune tellers are frauds.

So now it’s up to Madam Love to send Lance off to meet his perfect match, only she doesn’t realise that fate has made a decision for her too! The magic in this book, the intervention of fate, is genius, as wee see how one decision changed, can suddenly impact others and yet one thing knocking on to another, was very likely always decided.

I do see what I’ve done here, I’ve just told you all about the book and not gone into the characters (swoonerific, not just the mains, but her landlord and partner in crime Randy), the pacing (perfection, what with the back and forward between Emma, Madam Love and Lance that you watched with, jaw slightly dropped , as if watching a movie heading to a climax that had me holding my breath), the settings (oh and what a dog festival, especially because I got to meet the lovely Typo!) and the general perfectness of the romance and zingy chemistry. I defy people not to read this book and smile, laugh, gasp and swoon and will never be able to recommend it enough-totally up my street and beyond recommended and I cannot WAIT to get to the author’s back catalogue!

Rating: A million out of five (that’s a five;))

About the author

Rich Amooi -Author Photo

Rich Amooi is a former radio personality who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. They live in San Diego, California with their very hairy daughter, a mini goldendoodle puppy. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

Social Media Links

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And now for the Giveaway!

 

Win a Sterling Silver Lucky Charm Pendant, plus an autographed paperback copy of Madam Love, Actually. (Open Internationally).

Rich Amooi Prize

To enter click here 

*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.

And now, how about you head off to follow the rest of the blog tour!

Madam Love Actually Full Tour Banner

 

Mine by Suzi Fox

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Length: 352 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: You wake up alone after an emergency caesarean, desperate to see your child. And when you are shown the small infant in the nursery, a terrible thought takes root: this baby is not your baby.

No one believes you. Not the nurses, your father or even your own husband. They say you’re confused and delusional. Dangerous.

But you’re a doctor – you know how easily mistakes can be made. It’s up to you to find your real child, your miracle baby, before it’s too late.

With everyone against you, is it safe to trust your instincts? Or are memories from your past clouding your judgement? This can’t all be in your head . . . can it?

The Review: Oh my wowzers what a book (yes, this is kind of a flurry of gushy reviews, and there’s still a fair few to come,  sorry about that!)!

This is the story of Dr Sasha Moloney, who wakes up after an emergency cesarean to find her baby gone . Only (phew) he’s in the nursery so wait a minute we’ll bring you up. So she waits and waits and already you know know know that this book is one that has you so hooked that your poor stomach will not be able to unclench until it’s fully over.

When Dr Moloney finally meets her child she’s shocked at how sure she is that the child isn’t hers. From the start I was rooting for Sasha, and indignant that, as expected, she was being told that she just wasn’t bonding. When this didn’t settle with her there were hints that her own mother had issues and we soon began to wonder where exactly her mother was (actually this part for me was as important as the baby, as I worried over where she might be now and wondered what it had to do with Mark and Sasha).

I was fully ready to fight for Sasha but then every so often the author expertly made you   wonder about her, perhaps it was this all in her head. There was a chance people were just trying to do the right thing for her by keeping her away from other mothers and babies by putting her in the basement with some other mothers who may have believed her but who had their own issues (one in particular broke my heart, I adored her but got that sinking feeling every time she sided with Sasha).

This book is made up of alternating timelines, with her husband Mark’s story being told (I had my ups and downs with him let me tell you!!), as well as getting said insight into Sasha’s mother.

The entire cast of characters were real and flawed, with actions that were perhaps warranted in places, not in others in terms of their perceived cruelty, i.e. you couldn’t tell when it was cruel to be kind or when it was just that the job/ issues had hardened them. As for pacing there was always something to make you sit up straighter, and I savoured the race to the point where all would be unearthed and we came to the ‘is she crazy or not’ point. All in all one I will be recommending and remembering for some time to come!

Thanks so much to Penguin and Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Shame on You by Amy Heydenrych

 

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Length: 400 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Have you ever reached the New Year and thought it’s time to reinvent yourself?
Have you ever lied about who you are to get more likes?
Have you ever followed someone online who you think is perfect?

Meet Holly.

Social media sensation. The face of clean eating.

Everyone loves her. Everyone wants to be her.

But when Holly is attacked by a man she’s only just met, her life starts to spiral out of control. He seemed to know her – but she doesn’t know him.

What if Holly isn’t who she seems to be? What if Holly’s living a lie?

YOU THINK YOU KNOW HER . . .

The Review: I can’t BELIEVE I’ve had this sitting there waiting to be read so I’m reviewing straight away. Here was a book I gobbled up in a night, absolutely LOATHE to put it down. So we start in McDonalds, where we are sitting watching all the usual madness that comes at night time and suddenly all eyes are on the young woman running towards the counter. Some phones begin to film as

“Something about her hair, her stance, the way she moves, suggests that something is about to happen”

And so we enter Holly’s world, where everything is about clicks and likes and people wanting to see a filtered image of a person they think they can become. Holly is famous for being the girl who beat cancer purely through clean eating, and everyone wants a piece of her, even now, when she has become an object of pity due to her destroyed face and mental health issues. It is a book that demonstrates how tough and cruel modern day living and people are, and how everyone is quick to judge. It shows us both Holly and her attacker’s past, as we see his rationale for the attack and subsequent haunting of Holly. I have to admit his pov grabbed me as much as Holly’s, and I found some of his later issues to be almost comedic as his mindset morphed and unravelled. The ending didn’t quite rank alongside the rest of the book but it didn’t matter. Very much recommended and beyond enjoyable. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green #BlogTour #Extract

It’s a pleasure to bring to you today an extract from Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green (if you remember I’ve a very soft spot for the first of this series, Spring at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by the lovely Rosie Green- read review here!)

Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe Blog Tour
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Purchase from Amazon UK

What they say: Jaz Winters stuck a pin in a map and fled to the village of Sunnybrook, looking for a brand new life – and after a rocky start, it’s beginning to look as if she made the right decision. Her blossoming friendship with Ellie and Fen has seen her through some dark times, and she’s managed to land two jobs – waitress at The Little Duck Pond Café and working as a weekend tour guide at Brambleberry Manor, the country house that’s been in Fen’s family for generations.

Sure, life isn’t totally perfect. There’s the irritating know-it-all guy who keeps popping up on her manor tours, for a start. He seems determined to get under Jaz’s skin whether she likes it or not. But she supposes it’s a small price to pay for the relative peace she’s found, living in Sunnybrook.

But just as Jaz is beginning to think rosier times are on the horizon, a shock encounter looks set to shatter her fragile happiness.

Will she be forced to flee from Sunnybrook and everyone she’s grown so fond of? Or will she find the strength to stand her ground and finally face up to the nightmares of the past?

This novella is part of a trilogy:

Spring at The Little Duck Pond Café
Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café
Winter at The Little Duck Pond Café

The Extract: ‘What’s going on over there?’ I ask, suddenly spotting what looks like a TV crew and their gear ambling over the grass towards us.

The man at the head of the posse comes over and says, ‘We’re here from the local news.’

‘The TV?’ asks Fen.

The man nods. ‘We were told it’s happening at four-thirty?’

Fen looks puzzled. ‘Oh, well, it’s been happening all day, really. But Mum will be so chuffed. She’s been pestering you – er, I mean calling you about the event for ages.’

The man frowns and scratches his head. ‘It wasn’t Lady Redpath who called in with the story.’

‘Oh? Who was it, then?’

‘Lord Redpath?’

‘My dad? But he’s not even here.’

The man grins and looks away, across the parkland. ‘Er, I think he might be just arriving.’

We all look over to where he’s pointing and our mouths collectively drop open. A man on a beautiful white horse appears between the trees, stops for a moment, then starts cantering across the grass towards the lake. He’s dressed in full Georgian regalia, pale breeches, dark jacket and riding boots.

‘That’s Dad?’ breathes Fen in wonder. Then a second later: ‘Christ, that’s Dad. What on earth’s he doing?’

The man refers to his notes. ‘According to this, he’s re-enacting the scene from Pride & Prejudice where Mr Darcy gets his kit off and dives into the lake?’

‘Nooooooo!’ Fen gasps, half in disbelief, half delight. ‘But he’s the shyest man I know. He must be doing this for Mum!’

We all start laughing and cheering and walking down to the lake, as Lord Redpath jumps off his horse – with surprising agility for a sixty-plus man – and strides towards the water.

‘Mum has to see this!’ shouts Fen and she turns, ready to run back to the house.

‘I’m here. What’s all the fuss?’ asks Lady Redpath, joining us. She suddenly sees what’s happening over by the lake and her mouth drops open. ‘Will?’

‘Right, let’s get down there!’ The crew are off, not wanting to miss the main event. And after a second, we all follow, Lady R linking arms with Fen and leading the way down to the lake.

‘Will?’ Lady R calls as she gets near, and he hops on one leg and looks around, having just removed one boot. Locating his wife in the crowd, he shrugs. ‘It was the best idea I could come up with. I bloody hope this lake isn’t freezing.’

‘Go, Mr Darcy!’ shouts Fen suddenly, with all the power in her lungs, and we all turn and stare at her in amazement. She glances at Ethan, who’s standing nearby, and he gives her a huge grin and takes up her words, chanting, ‘Mis-ter Darcy! Mis-ter Darcy! Mis-ter Darcy!’ And then the whole crowd are joining in.

Pulling off his other boot, Fen’s dad stands at the edge and glances back at the TV crew as if to say, Are you ready for this because I’m not sure I am! He rips off his jacket to reveal a white, flowing-sleeved shirt underneath. Then, curling his body forward, he executes a perfect dive into the waters of the lake.

I glance at Lady R. The disbelief on her face is almost comic.

Lord R is emerging from the water, shaking himself off like a dog, and everyone is cheering.

‘He needs a towel,’ murmurs Lady R, coming to her senses. ‘I’ll get you a towel, Will!’ she shouts and starts back across the grass to the house.

Author Bio

Rosie Green has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all, unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred on life in a village café. Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café, published on 18th June 2018, follows the first in the series, Spring at The Little Duck Pond Café.

Follow Rosie on Twitter 

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If He Wakes by Zoe Lea

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Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: You can always trust your best friend… can’t you?

When Rachel discovers a Twitter message arranging a romantic liaison she assumes her husband is having an affair, and follows him. What she witnesses is so much worse: a hit and run using his car.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie is increasingly worried about her fiancé, who’s not been in touch for days. When Suzie learns of huge debts racked up in her name she fears he has run out on her, but then the threatening calls start and she thinks something terrible has happened.

Rachel and Suzie are both about to learn shocking things about the men they love, worse than they could ever imagine… Can their friendship survive?

The Review: First off yay to the fact that the blurb actually tells you what happens! We open with Rachel who has just seen her husband knocking someone down with his car AND DRIVING OFF! Actually probably more to the forefront is-what a premise! It’s one thing if you find out your husband has done something illegal on purpose, murder, an attack … but here is something that is an accident but it’s his reaction, his reflex to the accident which is key. How can the person you adore be a person who’s gut instinct isn’t to get out, help and admit culpability?

What follows,the realisation that he had reported his car missing and so it may not have actually be him threw you, as it did or protagonist, who finds everything unravelling as we wonder whether it was her husband and what he’s going to do to keep her quiet (where my mind went). This goes on as she tries to continue her business and cope with the everyday, including two children, (one of whom, I found unlikable even to the end of the book)  At the same time her partner Suzie finds out her own life is falling apart. Suzie’s story was equally gripping and I enjoyed both tales.

I won’t tell you too much because this book needs to be read as is, with no hints as to the suffocating truth, which is tough and one I couldn’t have predicted. I do feel obliged to tell you is that I read this at a time I was down, disillusioned and by no means in the mood to read or blog so the fact that this not only kept my attention but also made me want to read on and see what happened and then share is some testament. Very much recommended. Thanks so much to Canelo and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating : 4.5/5

#Excerpt The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw

Today I have an excerpt from The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw, which is FREE on Amazon at the moment (have downloaded my copy and am looking forward to reading!)

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Length: 399 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is about how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, but how we can sometimes get a second chance.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions.
It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN, because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… or does God have a higher purpose after all?
Despite that, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is neither sci-fi nor fantasy. It is a book about memory and how, if we could remember things slightly differently, would we also be changed?

In HVN, Lorna can at first remember nothing. But as her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that, maybe, she can find a way back home.

The Excerpt: The old man was as good as his word and a tray was swiftly brought by a male nurse in white clinical overalls who looked spookily like a young James Bond. On it was a plate of grilled lamb cutlets, string beans and sautéed potatoes. There was also a warm bread roll with a knob of butter and, under a silver dome, a bowl of chocolate profiteroles with cream. In short, exactly what she would have ordered in an expensive restaurant, given the choice, and if she’d ever been able to afford to eat in one. Also on the tray was a small metal jug of white wine, which made no sense. During her coma, had it become health service policy to keep patients inebriated? And why the metal jug?<

“The boss says that you’re up and about now,” he remarked, placing the tray down and making sure it was well balanced on her knees. The jug of wine and glass he placed on her bedside table. Why wasn’t there a bunch of flowers in a vase? That’s the first thing her mother would have brought. It was the first thing she always took to friends and relatives in hospital, even the ones who suffered from hay fever.

“Who was the old man? The one who was here a minute ago?” she asked, as if there might be several old men in her wing of the hospital. “Grey hair. Beard. Beads,” she added.

The nurse merely gave a small shrug. “He’ll tell you himself the next time you meet. Anyway,” he added, making for the door, and looking uncomfortable, “if there’s anything else I can do, just ask.”

“I’d like to know how long I’ve been asleep.”

“Asleep?” The nurse raised one eyebrow.

“Yes, asleep. I mean, how long have I been here?”

He didn’t reply for a few moments, hands clasped behind his back. “Not long, as far as I know.”

“And how long is not long?” she asked. “Look, if you don’t know, could I please speak to someone who does.” Lorna, running out of patience, had raised her voice. The nurse took a step backwards towards the door.

“All in good time,” he assured her and indicated the tray. “For now, you need to eat. Get your strength back.”

“Look, I really need to know how long I’ve been here. Can I see a doctor? Actually, I shouldn’t have to bloody ask that, should I? What kind of useless hospital is this?”

The nurse, perhaps unused to being shouted at, had backed himself to the door. “Anything you need, just ask. Okay?”

Lorna wanted to scream at him. “But how?” she asked instead, looking around the blank walls for a call button. “And what did he mean by not feeding the little brutes?”

“Just ask, that’s all. Your room is sound-activated so don’t worry, I’ll hear.” He touched a blank place on the wall that somehow made the pneumatic door hiss open. “But he’s right about not feeding them,” he added as the white door closed again, leaving Lorna utterly exasperated.

About the author (couldn’t help taking this from his website because it’s such a  good bio!!!)

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Charlie Laidlaw (me) is the author of two novels, The Herbal Detective (Ringwood Publishing) and The Things We Learn When We’re Dead (Accent Press).  

I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault.  That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father.  That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland (quite near Paisley, but thankfully not too close) and graduated from the University of Edinburgh.  I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist.  I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics.  I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries.  Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa.  What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember.

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then.  However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in East Lothian.   And that’s about it.

 

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