Blog Tour: Matchmaking At Port Willow by Kiley Dunbar #BookReview

Matchmaking at Port Willow

I am so happy to be on this blog tour today, as I loved, loved, loved the first book in this series! (You can read my review of Summer at the Highland Coral Beach here.) My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting to take part, and to the author and publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purposes of review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

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Beatrice Halliday has been working hard at the Princess and The Pea Inn, loved up with landlord Atholl and enjoying planning events for the locals. But at Christmas there’s a kick – as she realises she’s expecting.

Despite being fearful of the future, Beatrice is graced with a distraction: the prospects of helping a romance flourish when a married couple spend their first child-free holiday at the Inn – and it becomes clear they need some help rediscovering each other. In true Beatrice fashion, she can’t help meddling.

I couldn’t wait to get back to Port Willow and find out what was happening to Beatrice and Atholl after the end of Summer at the Highland Coral Beach, as I had fallen in love with all of the characters and the setting in the last book. Beatrice’s story is particularly close to my heart, having been through a similar experience myself, so I have a real soft spot for this couple and I wanted to see what Kiley had in store for their future, hoping it was a happy one. Sure enough, they are still loved up and working on improving and building up the business at The Princess and the Pea Inn, and Beatrice has lots of ideas about how to bring in new customers, including trying to find other people the happy-ever-afters she has discovered with Atholl. But, of course, life is never plain sailing and, when Beatrice gets some unexpected news, it stirs up the past and lots of emotion. I can’t say much more without spoiling the story for people who are new to the series but, suffice it to say, Kiley’s handling of this sensitive storyline continues to be delicate and true and I thought it was beautifully done.

And then we have a new character to bring new drama to Port Willow. Poor Nina, she’s like a fish out of water. Transported from a life of glamour in New York to this tiny Scottish village, recently dumped, demoted and spending Christmas amongst strangers, she can probably be forgiven for being a bit miserable and unpleasant, but she is definitely a hard character to like at the beginning. She doesn’t even try and endear herself to the locals, so intent is she on her own misery, but Port Willow and its inhabitants creep under skin anyway. Especially Mutt. Who wouldn’t fall in love with Mutt? (Anyone else got pictures from the first few seasons of Schitt’s Creek in their heads when they hear this name, which isn’t in any way a bad thing as you’ll know if you’ve watched it. I wonder if Kiley is a fan?) Surely Nina can’t be immune to his charms for long? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

There are other guests that arrive in need to Beatrice’s matchmaking skills, the return of my favourite character, Seth, and plenty of and lots of fun going on that feels uniquely Port Willow. If you enjoy Kiley’s writing, all of her usual trademarks are here – gentle humour, great characterisation, a rolling good plot, and serious topics handled with care and charm. I haven’t yet read a book by this author that I didn’t love, and this is no exception. In fact, her writing feels to me like it is getting better and better and I can’t wait to read more. I particularly hope that we will be coming back to Port Willow in the future because I am not ready to leave these characters or this place behind yet. And here I will make my persistent plea to the publisher, please, please, please can we have paperback copies of Kiley’s books for our bookshelves (or just a single copy of each for me will do!) I am determined to wear them down on this issue eventually because these novels really need to exist in physical format for posterity!

Matchmaking at Port Willow is out now in ebook format, and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure to visit some of the other blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

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Kiley Dunbar writes heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places, with One Winter’s Night being shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2021.

Kiley’s five novels include: The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday (May 2021), One Winter’s Night (September 2020), Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), Christmas at Frozen Falls (2019) and One Summer’s Night (2019).

Connect with Kiley:

Website: http://www.kileydunbar.co.uk/

Facebook: Kiley Dunbar Author

Twitter: @KileyDunbar

Instagram: @kileydunbarromance

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Friday Night Drinks with… Isabella May

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Tonight’s guest is definitely someone who enjoys a good chat session over food and drink, as exhibited by her wonderful foodie-based romance novels. So I am delighted to be having Friday Night Drinks with author… Isabella May.

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Welcome, Isabella and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

As it’s Friday night and we’ve only just left summer behind, I’ve plumped for a goblet of Aperol Spritz in the hope of hanging onto the sunshine for a little longer…

Cheers!

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’d teleport you to Spain and we’d go to an amazing cocktail bar in Estepona, just down the coast from where I live, to enjoy refreshing drinks and a beach view – with the rock of Gibraltar and Morocco putting in an appearance in the distance if it’s not too hazy.

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

That would have to be Prince and Nigella.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

It’s been quite a busy book year as I’ve released two novels in fairly quick succession. Bubblegum and Blazers was published in July, and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar (my first Christmas novel) was published a couple of days ago. I also have my 9th book on the go: The Custard Tart Cafe launches on April 1st 2022, and I’m busy adding to my word count for that.

I was always writing funny little stories as a small child, accompanying them with quirky drawings, but growing up, I never perceived that as a sign that I’d go on to become a romcom author; I mean lots of children were doing the same thing at that age – if only at school during lessons! 

In my late twenties, the storytelling bug began to bite at my heels again, and I invented a couple of children’s characters called Poodle and Noodle… and did nothing with them (in hindsight, they really weren’t all that innovative; I think I just got carried away after watching Toy Story at the cinema!). Then I had a few comedy script writing ideas which I sent off to TV production companies… only for them to be rejected. 

A few years after escaping a very bad relationship, I knew I had to use my experience to help other people, and so the seed for my debut novel, Oh! What a Pavlova, was planted. But I wanted to write the book differently. I wanted it to reflect the double life I was living whilst working in international publishing at the time. I felt this two-tone aspect of domestic violence was rarely portrayed and that more awareness of it was needed. I was one very down-trodden person behind closed doors, and a whole other version of myself (the true version of myself, at least most of the time) from the moment I stepped out of my front door. That’s how Kate Clothier’s character was born. Essentially, ‘Pavlova’ is a cross-genre title as it had so many elements to it: romance, comedy, food and travel writing, and magical realism. It is as dark as it is light.  

In other words, I took to breaking ‘the writing rules’ with book one like a duck to water… and I have never looked back. This has been as much a source of joy as it has disappointment. 

On the one hand, I have a true USP, and I have built up a distinctive brand by remaining true to myself and refusing to tick the boxes required by most publishers. On the other hand, I have faced crushing rejection. The latter has been really hard to accept at times. I know I write well because my loyal and growing readership, and their fantastic reviews, reflect that back to me. And yet… whenever I try to take my books to a wider audience via an agent or a large digi publisher, I am met with the same old perceived problem of a dichotomy:

‘You write really well but you are trying to do too much and we just aren’t sure how we’d market you.’

In July 2020, fed up with the gate keeping, I decided to walk away from subbing for good and take my destiny in my own hands. I genuinely haven’t looked back, although it is very much a marathon, not a sprint.

I have a solid brand and so many more titles lined up, and I am super-charged and inspired by all of the indie and self-published trailblazers who are shaking up the industry in all of their various genres. It honestly feels like anything is possible and I am just excited to see where the journey takes me and my books.

Brave and exciting! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I like to celebrate the little wins so there isn’t one defining moment – with the exception of getting that first novel out there, of course. That said, I do think, particularly as an indie, knowing your books are genuinely being loved and devoured by bookworms who aren’t just family and friends, is a huge turning point! 

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I spent 15 years working in foreign rights, selling children’s books all over the world in 45 languages – from Norwegian to Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese Simplified to Afrikaans, Thai to Basque. It was a fascinating job and knowing all of the hard work that goes into the sale and production of foreign rights, it would be an absolute dream to see my own books translated into just one foreign language! Don’t get me wrong, the NYT bestseller list and hitting the UK Amazon Kindle number 1 spot would be lovely… but as a linguist, I would take so much more joy from seeing my books out there on sale for readers in other countries. I hope those authors who are in such a situation view their good fortune as more than a ‘cherry on the cake’. It’s a huge privilege to see your novel ‘travel’.

What have you planned that you are really excited about?

I am very eager to become a fully-fledged indie author as of the end of this year. The rights for all 3 of my traditionally published books revert this year, with the final book of that trio, Costa del Churros (and a brand new and beautiful cover), returning to me at the very end of December. Then I plan to start the marketing of my Foodie Romance Journeys in earnest. Until then, things have been a little in limbo as it’s only really made sense to market organically. But once all of my books are in my hands as a self-published author, I plan to ramp the marketing up and treat this whole gig as a business.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I love to travel too! It’s been really disappointing to have to cancel so many trips over the past eighteen months, hasn’t it? 

My obsession with travel, and the perks of my former career, have taken me to some amazing places, but nowhere was been quite as chocolate box beautiful as New Zealand – particularly its south island. I also have a huge soft spot for Italy. All of it! It’s just everything you could ever want from a travel destination, and so much more. I could never tire of Italy.

I will need to save up for the place that is probably top of my future travel list (overlooking my burning desire to get back to the UK to see my family!), and that’s Melbourne, Australia. Since becoming an author, I have made a number of really good author friends in the city, and I really want to visit them and hang out at all of the trendy eateries they have on their doorstep! Coinciding it with the tennis would be amazing.

I love Italy too, I’m hoping I can get over there for my big 5-0 birthday trip as planned next year. (Well, I’m hoping it’s planned, maybe this will give my OH another nudge. I’ve been dropping hints since I planned EXACTLY what he wanted for his fiftieth three years ago!)

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I speak four languages: English (well, sometimes that’s a little more Somerset, a little less Queen’s BBC… especially after all these cocktails!), French, German, and Spanish.

I understand written Italian and Portuguese too.

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

My favourite book (so far) this year has to be The Orange Grove by Rosanna Ley. Rosanna is a very well-established author, but a new author to me. TOG is superbly written, emotional, sensual, life-affirming, thought-provoking, and full of the sights, sounds and smells of Seville. An absolute page-turner of a romance. One of those novels that will stay with me for a long time. I’d highly recommend it!

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Holly loves making marmalade. Now she has a chance to leave her stressful city job and pursue her dream – of returning to the Dorset landscape of her childhood to open Bitter Orange, a shop celebrating the fruit that first inspired her.

Holly’s mother Ella has always loved Seville. So why is she reluctant to go back there with Holly to source products for the shop? What is she frightened of – and does it have anything to do with the old Spanish recipe for Seville orange and almond cake that Ella keeps hidden from her family?

In Seville, where she was once forced to make the hardest decision of her life, Ella must finally face up to the past, while Holly meets someone who poses a threat to all her plans. Seville is a city full of sunshine and oranges. But it can also be bittersweet.

Will love survive the secrets of the orange grove?

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I try to make sure I have a glass of water in-between each cocktail! If this hasn’t worked and I’m feeling ropey the next day, then there is always CAKE 😉

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Seeing as we’re in Spain, we’d have a late breakfast of churros (books in hand), hit the beach (books still in hand!) and brave the sea for a quick dip, then take ourselves into Gibraltar for afternoon tea on the Sunborn Yacht and a spot of tax-free shopping, before driving back into Spain and inland to Ronda for dinner overlooking the glorious and ancient Puente Nuevo bridge which is built into the cliffs of a dramatic gorge.

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The next day we’d pop down to Malaga city for arty-farty sightseeing, Antonio Banderas spotting and tapas, finishing up with a champagne sunset cruise setting off from nearby Marbella. The perfect way to finish reading our books!

That sounds amazing, I’m jumping on a plane as soon as I can! Thank you so much for chatting with me this evening, I have had the best time.

Isabella’s latest book, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar, is her 8th novel and it was published on 21 September. You can buy a copy here.

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River and Alice miss Somerset. Christmas isn’t Christmas without family and friends, even when you live in quaint Cornwall.

 

When River’s Aunt Sheba dies unexpectedly, leaving him her ancient VW campervan, nostalgia nudges him and Alice back to Glastonbury – and the surrounding villages – to rediscover their roots whilst serving the most decadent hot chocolate and delectable gingerbread from their renovated ‘bar on wheels’.

 

A bar on wheels complete with a fold-up stage to host local talent competitions rivaling anything Simon Cowell could dream up, even if he’d gorged on a truckle of Cheddar cheese!

 

As the villagers sip their cocoa and ice their gingerbread houses amidst the festive backdrop of song, dance, and slightly more unconventional talents, River and Alice find themselves in an unexpected race against time:

 

Zara, their chocolate supplier is leaving Glastonbury on the twelfth day of Christmas, keen to put a string of disastrous relationships behind her to make a fresh start.

 

Bruno, their gregarious and gorgeous baking supplier is secretly smitten with Zara – ticking every box on her New Year’s wish list.

 

If only they can get them together for one experimental kiss under the mistletoe…

 

They’ve even enlisted their customers’ help in their mission to wrap this budding romance up in all the jingle bells and whistles. How hard can it be?

 

So, ho, ho VERY tricky, as it turns out…

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic, as well as a Pranic Healer.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of romcom, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

You can find out more about Isabella and her books on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Blog Tour: The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt #BookReview

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I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Forbidden friendship, political conspiracy and incendiary passion draw Australian woman Annie Brand deep into the glamour and turmoil of 1920s Shanghai.

Leaving behind the loneliness and trauma of her past in country Australia, Annie Brand arrives to the political upheaval and glittering international society of Shanghai in the 1920s. Journeying up the Yangtze with her new husband, the ship’s captain, Annie revels in the sense of adventure but when her husband sends her back to Shanghai, her freedom is quickly curtailed.

Against her will, Annie finds herself living alone in the International Settlement, increasingly suffocated by the judgemental Club ladies and their exclusive social scene: one even more restrictive than that she came from. Sick of salacious gossip and foreign condescension, and desperate to shake off the restrictions of her position in the world, Annie is slowly drawn into the bustling life and otherness of the real Shanghai, and begins to see the world from the perspective of the local people, including the servants who work at her husband’s Club.

But this world is far more complex and dangerous than the curious Annie understands and, unknowingly, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue and conspiracy as well as a passionate forbidden love affair she could not have predicted: one with far–reaching consequences…

I was very eager to be on the tour for this book, as this is a time period and setting that I know very little about, and one of the great joys for me in reading is learning. I have to say, this book really opened my eyes to a fascinating time and place in history and am now keen to read more about it. You can’t ask much more from a book than inspiring curiosity in you whilst it entertains.

This book is an intriguing mix of history, social commentary and thriller, and I was drawn into the exquisitely drawn setting as soon as I started to read. The book opens with a young wife, Annie, as she travels up the Yangtze river with her new husband, a boat captain. The couple are still getting to know one another, and the scenes between them are sweet and tender. However, China in the 1920s is a place of political upheaval and danger, with rioting in the cities and banditry in the hills, and Alec, fearing that the journey is too dangerous for his wife and sends her back to the relative safety of the International Settlement in Shanghai.

Annie is an unusual character in the community, young and rebellious, having run away from home in Australia, she does not fit in easily with the constraining social rules of ex-pat society in China, and she displays an unseemly (in the eyes of the other women) interest in the local issues and grows too close to some of the Chinese community. She is very naive, and meddles in things she doesn’t really understand, whilst out of her husband’s immediate supervision, and ends up in a dangerous situation.

I found Annie’s story fascinating. From the perspective of a modern woman, I can sympathise with her feelings, and understand her frustrations, whilst recognising how inappropriate and unwise her actions are. You can see that the situation is not going to end well, and, boy, is this author cruel to her protagonist. This book is an emotional rollercoaster that the reader is propelled along with Annie by the power and beauty of the author’s writing. She has painted a rich and exotic world here, that you can practically touch through the pages and it feels very alive. I absolutely loved being caught up in the machinations of the ex-pat community in Shanghai at this time.

If I had any criticism of the book, it would be that the final segment unravelling the thriller aspect of the plot felt a little rushed, and I got slightly confused. I felt that the author had really luxuriated in the historical and romantic aspects of the plot earlier on, but was less invested in this aspect and just wanted it sorting out. It didn’t feel as richly developed as I would have liked, and it gave the book an uneven cadence in the final quarter. I also didn’t really understand what was the issue between Annie and her father, and this didn’t get resolved to my satisfaction.

These niggles aside, this book is a beautiful exploration of an experience in history that is ripe for story-telling and provides the reader with a feast for all of the senses. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would not hesitate to pick up another novel by this author. If you love historical fiction, you will want to give this a go.

The Shanghai Wife is out now in all formats and you can get a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

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Emma Harcourt has worked as a journalist for over 25 years, in Australia, the UK and Hong Kong. In 2011, she completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and The Shanghai Wife was borne. Emma lives in Sydney with her two daughters. She is currently working on her second novel.

Connect with Emma:

Facebook: Emma Harcourt Author

Twitter: @emma_harcourt

Instagram: @emmaharcourtauthor

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Desert Island Books with… Mick Arnold

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Today’s strandee will be better equipped to deal with isolation on my desert island than many, I think, as he has certain useful practical skills. However, he will still need intellectual and emotional stimulation, so let’s see what books he is taking with him to provide that. He is author… Mick Arnold.

Book One – The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

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This is a story of many different things.

Of a terrible war and an occupied land

Of the Balicki children who are determined to survive

Of a dangerous journey from war-torn Poland to Switzerland

Of a paper knife that gives them the courage to carry on when nearly all hope is lost.

The Silver Sword is the first adult novel I recall reading, and it’s stuck with me ever since. First published in 1956, this is the deceptively simple story of how a group of Polish children traipses across war-torn Europe in search of their father, picking up a troubled stray boy along the way. None older than 16, this is such a moving story which kept me guessing right until the end. For a novel seemingly aimed towards what would now be called the YA audience, this is such a powerful story full of the best and worst of humanity during the terrible conflict, which was World War 2.

Book Two – Guards! Guards! By Sir Terry Pratchett

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‘It was the usual Ankh-Morpork mob in times of crisis; half of them were here to complain, a quarter of them were here to watch the other half, and the remainder were here to rob, importune or sell hotdogs to the rest.’

Insurrection is in the air in the city of Ankh-Morpork. The Haves and Have-Nots are about to fall out all over again.

Captain Sam Vimes of the city’s ramshackle Night Watch is used to this. It’s enough to drive a man to drink. Well, to drink more. But this time, something is different – the Have-Nots have found the key to a dormant, lethal weapon that even they don’t fully understand, and they’re about to unleash a campaign of terror on the city.

Time for Captain Vimes to sober up.

I was already a huge fan of the work of Terry Pratchett by the time this novel came out. It didn’t need it, but I knew I had to read this novel as soon as read the tag – Captain Sam Vimes is searching for a dragon he believes could help him with his enquires. Who wouldn’t want to read on to find out what happens? Pratchett’s creation of the Discworld surpasses that of Tolkein’s Middle Earth – or at least it does in my opinion. To this day, if I need to cheer myself up, I’ll pick up a Discworld novel and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read Guards! Guards!; and I never get tired of it. Pratchett creates such vivid pictures of each and every character, no matter how minor they are to the plot, which means I always find something new each time I read the book.

Book Three – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling

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‘Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board and we can take you anywhere you want to go.’

When the Knight Bus crashes through the darkness and screeches to a halt in front of him, it’s the start of another far from ordinary year at Hogwarts for Harry Potter. Sirius Black, escaped mass-murderer and follower of Lord Voldemort, is on the run – and they say he is coming after Harry. In his first ever Divination class, Professor Trelawney sees an omen of death in Harry’s tea leaves… But perhaps most terrifying of all are the Dementors patrolling the school grounds, with their soul-sucking kiss…

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. IMHO, the novel in the series which transformed it from purely a children’s series and into the worldwide phenomenon it became for all ages.  Barely giving you a chance to catch your breath, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a roller coaster of a story, full of mystery and suspense, and more action than you could shake a stick at. This is still one of my favourite reads when I need to relax my mind.

Book Four – Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

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Rumour has it Artemis Fowl is responsible for every major crime of the new century.

Just twelve years old and already he’s a criminal genius, plotting to restore his family’s fortune with a spot of corruption and kidnapping.

Kidnapping a fairy for ransom, to be precise.

Artemis Fowl has discovered a world below ground of armed and dangerous – and extremely high-tech – fairies. But he may have underestimated their powers. They will fight back. Is the boy about to trigger a cross-species war?

Let the misadventure begin.

I know it may seem that I’ve picked a lot of non-adult books, but just because a book is written with one audience in mind, doesn’t mean it can’t appeal to another. Think an evil twelve-year old James Bond, but with magic and fairies! This book takes you from Vietnam to the city of Haven inside the Earth, via Ireland.  Forget the awful Disney film, this is a rock ‘n’ roller of  book which will make you believe in fairies.

Book Five – The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

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On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.

Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.

So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…

I am a huge fan of Christmas romance and they don’t come any better than this novel. Sue Moorcroft is one of my favourite authors and this is one of her best. A story about someone who hates the Christmas period, this hits all the right spots. Laugh-out loud one minute, pass-me-the- tissues, the next. Forget watching The Sound of Music this coming yuletide, treat yourself to a copy of The Christmas Promise and learn why you should love Christmas.

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I’m going to be practical for my one item. For me, it’s essential, especially as it’s a desert island. I must have a good-sized hat. I burn in the sun easily, so I’d need something like a fedora to protect the back of my neck and the top of my head.

About the Author

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Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elizabeth II in the Royal Air Force before putting down roots and realizing how much he missed the travel. He’s replaced it somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and supporting fellow saga and romance authors in promoting their novels.

He’s the proud keeper of two cats bent on world domination, is mad on the music of the Beach Boys, and enjoys the theatre and humoring his Manchester United-supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick is a full member of the Romantic Novelists Association. Wild Blue Yonder is the second novel in his Broken Wings series and he is very proud to be a part of the Vintage Rose Garden at The Wild Rose Press.

Mick’s latest book, Wild Blue Yonder, is available here.

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Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Doris Winter is accused of stealing a valuable item from a famous Hollywood movie star, now a Captain in the US Army Air Corps, after a dance at the air base in England where he’s stationed. Gathering her close friends together, she’s determined to clear her name.

Ruth’s POW son suffers a life-changing injury just as her own cottage takes damage in an air raid and Penny’s estranged little sister unexpectedly turns up, having run away from school. Together with the ongoing thefts of items of clothing and surprise personal revelations, these all threaten to hamper their investigation.

In spite of the worsening war situation, they must band together to rise above their troubles and prove love and friendship is worth fighting for.

Connect with Mick:

Facebook: M W Arnold Author

Twitter: @mick859

Instagram: @mick859

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Publication Day Review: A Thousand Tiny Disappointments by Sarah Edghill #BookReview

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Martha is being pulled in too many directions, trying to be a good mother, a loving wife, and a dutiful daughter. Despite it all, she’s coping. But then her elderly mother is rushed to the hospital and dies unexpectedly, and the cracks in the life Martha is struggling to hold together are about to be exposed.

When she discovers her mother has left her house to a stranger, she’s overwhelmed by grief and hurt. Getting no support from her disinterested husband or arrogant brother, Martha goes on to make some bad decisions.

If she were a good daughter, she would abide by her mother’s final wishes. If she were a good daughter, she wouldn’t destroy the evidence . . .

I am delighted to be publishing a review today for A Thousand Tiny Disappointments, the debut novel by Sarah Edghill. Today is publication day for the book, so massive congratulations on your debut, Sarah, I hope you have a fabulous day! My thanks to the author for asking me to review her novel and for providing me with a digital copy of the book for the purpose of review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

Very often the books we read about the break down of relationships involve some kind of huge event that is the catalyst for a marriage to explode. An affair, a lie, a deception – murder, madness and mayhem are the order of the day in fiction. Entertaining for sure, but very far from reality for most of us.

The truth of the disintegration of love is usual much less exciting. A gradual erosion of affection by the endless daily grind of life and the small, personal but no less difficult, struggles of ordinary people. This is the world that Sarah Edghill reflects in her novel, A Thousand Tiny Disappointments, and this will make the book all the more relatable for the majority of its readers.

Whilst I myself have not dealt with the particular problems Martha and Simon are dealing with in this story, I recognised my story so clearly between the pages. A personal tragedy that does not lead immediately to crisis and divorce, but which changes two people, to which two people react so differently, that eventually they become so separated there is no way back. The story was so familiar that I felt seen, and it made me immensely sad. This story is a fact for so many people, I know another friend of mine who will be able to relate to it herself, because of a different set of circumstances. The fact that it will be so familiar to so many is very sad in itself.

Sarah Edghill has captured here a very truthful portrayal of the life of an ordinary middle-aged woman. There isn’t anything particularly extraordinary about Martha or her life, which is why she will feel like so many of us. Her life isn’t terrible, or great. She has difficult things to deal with in her family, but also a life that some would envy and good friends. She makes some poor decisions in the face of adversity, just as we all have, but then her conscience kicks in and she tries to right the wrongs she has caused, just as we all hope we would. She has fraught family relationships, insecurities, delays in facing up to reality. She is so the every woman, it is a brilliant portrayal.

Despite the fact this book made me feel quite melancholy, I enjoyed it for its honesty and accuracy. I was with Martha every step of the way, feeling as she felt, crying and laughing with her. I was hugely cheering with her on the very last page for her final act of the book (which you’ll have to read if you want to know what I’m talking about!) Martha is me, you and every one else.

This book is a great achievement in truthfully reflecting modern life for the average woman of today. I defy you to read it and not feel moved. This is the kind of stuff I love to read. Bravo, Sarah.

A Thousand Tiny Disappointments is out today and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Sarah Edghill worked as a journalist for many years, before turning to fiction. She attended the Faber Academy Novel Writing course and won the Katie Fforde Contemporary Fiction Award for an early novel Wrecking Ball. She has been long- and short-listed in several short story and novel competitions and won 1st prize in the National Association of Writers’ Groups Short Story Competition. She lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, three children and far too many animals and her debut, A Thousand Tiny Disappointments will be published by Bloodhound Books on 21st September.  

Connect with Sarah:

Website: http://edghillsarah.weebly.com/

Twitter: @EdghillSarah

Instagram: @sarah.edghill

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Friday Night Drinks with… Sarah L Campbell

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Friday keeps coming around quicker and quicker, doesn’t it? Or is that just me? I have had a really packed week, so that could explain why it has flashed by I suppose. But hey, the weekend is here, yay! Time to relax and enjoy a drink and a chat with another bookish friend. Tonight I am delighted to be joined for Friday Night Drinks by author… Sarah L Campbell.

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Thank you for joining me tonight, Sarah and welcome to the blog. First things first, what are you drinking?

Pink Prosecco or a lovely cocktail like a passion fruit martini.  

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Yum, two of my favourites. Passionfruit is my go-to flavour in cocktails at the moment. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

We’d definitely have to have pre-dinner drinks at a cocktail bar, then on to an Italian restaurant, I love pasta. After that to a bar or small music venue to watch some live music. I like indie music, Jazz and folk etc. Also, 70’s and 80’s music… anything as long as it’s not dance! 

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Sounds like we are on the same wavelength for a perfect evening! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I’d probably invite Stephen Fry for good conversation and witty banter and also Charlotte Bronte. I wrote my MA dissertation on her and I’d love to discuss themes in her books!

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

At the moment, I’m writing the third novel in The Leaves of Change Café series. It will probably be the last book in the series and I wanted to tie up what’s been going on with the characters’ lives across the other books. 

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

The proudest moment since I started writing for me was actually pressing publish on my first book. It took a lot of courage and I thought a lot about it beforehand, but I’m glad that I did it.  

My biggest challenge has been getting people to read my books as an indie author. It’s certainly been a steep learning curve, but it has all been worth it for that moment when someone leaves a review saying they enjoyed your book. 

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

Oh well, I’d love for The Leaves of Change Café series to get made into a tv series or films. A girl can dream, right?

I’d like to write some mysteries, maybe that’s more achievable.  

Definitely achievable! What do you have planned that you are really excited about?

I’ve started a dual time story set in the first world war and the 1970’s. It’s completely different from what I’ve been writing. 

Sounds like your have diverse talents when it comes to writing! I guess that is one of the big advantages of being an indie author, no agent or publisher telling you that you have to stay in one niche! I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

Norway was one of my favourite places, such beautiful, breathtaking scenery and lovely towns. I had this gorgeous pancake style cake with milk there – I can’t remember what it was called, but it was delicious. 

I’d love to do a tour of Italy, I’ve never been. 

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I once raised money for Marie Curie by taking part in a swimathon. I had to train everyday but it was worth it in the end. I really should get back into my swimming. 

Sarah's Swimathon

I’ve just started open water swimming myself, it’s a great workout and exercise in mindfulness! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

If you’re looking for a laugh out loud read, I recommend Escape to Honeysuckle Hall by Rebecca Raisin. 

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A fresh start brings a second chance at love…

When Orly’s boyfriend and business partner dumps her for a celebrity fling, she finds solace in tacos, tequila and tears. One terrible hangover later, she’s packed her bags and swapped her London apartment for the overgrown grounds of Honeysuckle Hall.

After years spent catering to others’ whims, Orly is going after what she wants: a simpler life, surrounded by nature. Her plan to set up countryside retreats for burned-out city-dwellers means she soon has the social life she’s been dreaming of – and gorgeous carpenter Leo is always around when she needs something fixed…

As Orly’s new life blossoms, so does her friendship with Leo, and she wonders if she’s finally found somewhere to put down roots – until she discovers a series of anonymous notes, warning her off. Was she wrong to trust Leo? Or is someone else trying to sabotage her future?

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

A cup of tea before bed and a snack like chips to soak everything up. I think above everything, sleep is the way to go, failing that, coffee and a fry up. 

Oooh, chips (I’m on a diet, I dream of chips!) After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Out for lunch somewhere artsy, browsing quirky shops like vintage and antique places or chilling out with a good book on the beach, or with a picnic at an historic house. 

That sounds absolutely perfect, we should definitely hang out in real life! Thanks for joining me tonight, it has been great fun and best of luck with your upcoming projects.

Sarah’s latest book is A Proposal for the Leaves of Change Cafe and you can buy a copy here.

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Things are going well for Michael and Aurora in Green Leaf until his ex-girlfriend shows up and starts causing trouble between them. Aurora begins to suspect that there is something more between the two of them than organising a book launch.

She comes to a drastic decision about the future for her and her baby daughter Robin. A return to acting sounds promising for her but is it worth moving away from everyone for? Can Michael offer an explanation for his behaviour and stop her from leaving?

Meanwhile the lives of those around Aurora begin to fall apart. When her mum’s partner Colin becomes ill, her mum, Catherine makes a decision about her future. No-one, especially Aurora saw that coming…

There’s trouble when Darren leaves Rachel, just at a time that she needs him most. She’s going to need her best friend Aurora more than ever.

After completing a variety of roles including working in libraries, the theatre and even training to be a teacher, Sarah L Campbell settled on writing in her early thirties. She decided that self-publishing was the right route for her and set about writing her first ever story, a children’s book about a muddled fairy. Since then, she’s self-published 4 more children’s stories and a teenage novel. She has written two books so far in The Leaves of Change Café Series.

She lives in the northeast of England with her family and beloved cat Louie, a one-time stray now king of the castle. When she’s not at home trying to work with the cat on her knee, she loves meeting friends for a coffee and having a good old natter, or visiting somewhere new, like an historic house or museum.

You can connect with Sarah via her social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Blog Tour: The Dating Game by Sandy Barker #BookReview

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Dating Game by Sandy Barker. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Once upon a time, twelve women joined the hottest reality TV show looking for love. Except one had a secret identity . . .

Abby Jones is a serious writer. Or at least she will be, one day. Right now, she spends her time writing recaps of reality television under a secret identity.

When a recap for The Stag – the must-watch dating show – goes viral, her editor thinks she should be on set, writing the drama as it happens. The good news: the next season will be filmed in Sydney. Sun, sea and a glamorous trip abroad, this could be Abby’s big break.

The bad news: the producers don’t just want Abby to write the recaps, they want her to be on the show. Abby can’t think of anything worse than being undercover and followed around by cameras. But her career depends on it, and when she meets gorgeous producer Jack, Abby begins to wonder if this job might not be so bad after all . .

Even if I had never read a previous book by Sandy Barker and she hadn’t become one of my favourite romcom authors of recent years, I would have wanted to pick up a copy of The Dating Game, just based on the premise of the book alone. I’m not a devotee of reality TV shows as such, except the annual car crash that is Love Island, but the idea of a book set behind the scenes in that world was too delicious to pass on.

So, I was frothing with anticipation when I started this book, but I have to say this book exceeded even my extremely high expectations. This book is absolutely perfect in every single way and I can remember when I last enjoyed a romcom as much as this one. I devoured it in what was basically a single sitting, interrupted only when I physically could not stay awake a moment longer and I dropped my Kindle on the floor as I fell asleep, and revelled in every single moment.

Even if you have never seen a single episode of The Batchelor, (the reality show that The Stag of the book is clearly based on), you will immediately be drawn into the ridiculously fake world of so-called ‘reality tv’ which is about as far from reality as you can get and the whole scenario is scripted to play out for maximum drama and ratings. This book explores in great detail and with excoriating commentary the ludicrous notion of trying to make real people behave in a scripted way to make other people watching it believe that it is all true. When you step back and look at it, the absurdity is clear and the author plays this to the max in the book.

The main character, Abby, is very likeable and carried the story, and the reader, easily, but the person I really loved is her wicked alter ego, Anastasia Blabbergasted, an online commentator on reality TV. This woman is a total goddess with the wickedest wit and the fastest mouth in the west and her recaps on the episodes of The Stag were my favourite parts of the book and had me laughing out loud every time. In fact, Sandy could make an absolute fortune on any reality TV show doing the commentary, if Ian Bentley retires and TV companies weren’t overly worried about being sued. I’ve set myself a reminder to check out Sandy’s Twitter feed next time an reality TV show comes on. I wonder what she could come up with for the new series of Bake Off that starts on Tuesday.

There is a romance involved in the book, with the geeky but cute Jack, but for me this was a secondary plot concern compared with Abby’s dilemmas of pretending to be two things she isn’t, her struggles over her friendships in the programme with the part she is forced to play in the show, and the blurring of fiction and fact in reality TV-land. There is so much to unpack and enjoy in this book that the pages fairly flew by and it was obver well before I was ready for it to be, I was enjoying the story so much.

As I said early on, I am a massive fan of Sandy’s writing but these is by far and away my favourite of her novels yet. A big, fat five stars from me and I urge you all to go out and buy it immediately if you are looking to be amused and entertained.

The Dating Game is out now in ebook format (currently 99p!) and will be published in paperback on 9 December. You can get your copy here.

Please do check out some of the reviews of the book by the many other excellent bloggers taking part in the tour. You can find them listed below:

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About the Author

Author Photo Sandy Barker

Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob. She lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins. 

Connect with Sandy:

Website: https://sandybarker.com/

Facebook: Sandy Barker Author

Twitter: @sandybarker

Instagram: @sandybarkerauthor

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Publication Day Review: Love Life by Nancy Peach #BookReview

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Today is publication day for Love Life, the debut novel by Nancy Peach. Happy publication day, Nancy. I have been lucky enough to have received an advanced copy of the book for the purposes of review, and am delighted to share that review with you today. Huge thanks to the author and her publisher for providing me with a digital copy of her book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Palliative care doctor, Tess Carter, is no starry-eyed heroine. After all, if your dad left without a backward glance and you found your last boyfriend in bed with another guy, you wouldn’t believe in romance either. And the voices in Tess’s head – you know, the ones that tell you you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough – well, these voices are very loud. Very loud indeed. Especially when the disagreeable son of one of her patients starts challenging her every decision.

Edward Russell might have a big job and a posh voice, but Tess is determined not to let him get to her, especially if she can get her inner monologue to stop with the endless self-sabotage. And Edward, it turns out, may be less of a prat than he first appears…

In the real world, where gentlemanlike manners and out-of-the-blue declarations of love are a story-book fantasy, it’s up to Tess to decide whose voice to listen to … and how to make her own heard.

A romance book set in a hospice might not be something many feel-good book lovers would rush to pick up but, like the tag line in the book says, ‘Love can be found in the most unexpected of places’ and, similarly, a moving and uplifting love story can be found in the most unexpected of plot lines.

The main character is Tess, a young doctor working in palliative care in a hospice. Tess has been very hurt and let down by most of the men in her life (except her brother, Jake, who I was kind of in love with by the end of the book), so she is swearing off love and concentrating on her career. This approach is tested by the reappearance of a face from the past, which sets in motion the romantic escapades of the book.

Tess will be a very relatable character to most readers of the novel. Despite everyone around her being able to see that she is a capable, caring, genuine, accomplished human being who anyone would be privileged to know, she is riddled with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy and is constantly at war with these feelings which hold her back from having the kind of life she dreams of. This is amusingly illustrated by the warring voices she has in her head, one always telling her what an abject failure she is, the other trying to buoy her up. The fact that the second voice is that of Jane Austen added an extra layer of amusement for me, as the author has captured her voice perfectly. Whilst we may not all have voices literally talking to us as Tess does, we can all relate to what the author is trying to demonstrate – how loud and persuasively our inner critic can seem to us and how much they can influence how we feel and act.

There is no getting away from the fact that the book deals with a difficult topic, that of grief, and how grief again affects the way we act towards those around us. However, the topic is obviously something that the author is experienced in, understands and manages to deal with with a light and sympathetic but authentic touch. She manages to capture the emotion without the book straying into the realms of the terribly depressing, which I think is quite a skill, and may be unexpected to people who are taken back by the blurb. Readers should not let the idea that the book deals with end-of-life issues put them off. As someone who has dealt with a tragic and deeply personal loss in her life, I found the writing relatable and also slightly comforting. The scene in the church near the end, in particular, resonated deeply with me but in a positive way. It’s a hard sensation to describe but I did not come away from this book feeling maudlin.

The chemistry and relationship between the two main characters was believable and charged with heat. I had worried that it might feel inappropriate, given the circumstances of the plot, but it didn’t, even when a scenario in the book WAS inappropriate (people who have read this will know what I mean!) I really wanted Tess and Ed to end up together, I cared deeply about the outcome. The author did a good job of leaving the question of whether it would work out or not hanging, and it caused me real pain to think they wouldn’t. You cannot possibly ask for more from a romance novel that to create this kind of investment by the reader in your characters and their story.

If I had any complaint at all about this book, it would be that I felt the author slightly over-egged the pudding on the use of colloquial dialogue for the Yorkshire-based characters (and I speak as a native of the county) and I wish this has been dialled back slightly. Also, I took the quote in Chapter 8 about people whose well-read and well-loved books remain looking pristine being untrustworthy as a personal affront, as my books always look like they have just come from the shop no matter how many times I have read them! However, if you are a serial book-abuser from any other county in the UK, none of this will bother you at all, I’m sure.

Joking aside, I really loved this book. It dealt sensitively with some difficult issues, portrayed a believable and enthralling relationship, and walked the line between humour and pathos beautifully. I have no hesitation in recommending the book at all and back up this recommendation with the fact that I have purchased a copy of it myself for future re-reading. There is no better accolade I can give a book than spending my hard-earned cash on it.

Love Life is out today as an ebook, and will be available in paperback and audiobook formats on 9 December. You can order you copy here and anywhere else great books are sold.

About the Author

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Nancy is a writer of commercial women’s fiction, a mother of three and an owner of various ridiculous looking pets including a dog who unexpectedly grew to be the size of a small horse. She is also a practicing doctor working for both the NHS and a national cancer charity. Over the years her medical job has provided her with an insight into many aspects of human behaviour, across all walks of life, and she is endlessly fascinated by the people she meets. She has always loved to write and finds the process incredibly therapeutic as well as being a welcome diversion from some of the less glamorous aspects of her other roles. Being a medical doctor, her sense of humour is already quite dark; she prides herself on being able to find comedy in challenging scenarios and has found this to be an essential skill in both her domestic and working life. Love and laughter are the best of medicines and she tries to channel as much of them as possible into her blogs www.mumhasdementia.com  and www.nancy-peach.com as well as her books – casting a wry and discerning eye over the human condition and tackling heavyweight issues with a light comedic touch. 

Nancy’s work has been longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize and shortlisted for a Harper Collins / Gransnet competition. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and is represented by Tanera Simons at Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Her debut novel Love Life is published by One More Chapter at Harper Collins.

Connect with Nancy:

Website: https://nancy-peach.com/

Facebook: Nancy Peach Writer

Twitter: @Mumhasdementia

Instagram: @nancy.peach

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Nancy Peach

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Today’s guest on Romancing The Romance Authors is a debut author whose publication journey I have been following closely so I’m very interested to see her take on writing romance. Pleased to welcome to my blog for the first (but surely not the last) time… Nancy Peach.

Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I’m just beginning my publishing journey so haven’t really fixed on a type yet, but my debut Love Life is published with One More Chapter and probably sits in the rom-com category. Love Life has a Pride and Prejudice style plot, but it’s also set in a hospice, which I think gives it a different perspective. I suppose that if I have a style of writing it is to tackle hard topics with a light touch. I am a big fan of finding humour in dark places and was longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print prize last year for my novel Sandwich which deals with dementia. 

Why romance?

Because love and romance are at the heart of all universal stories – in a way I think it’s impossible to write books and not write about romance. All the greatest authors have known that the most direct route to a reader’s mind is via the heart and many of the fictional characters we hold dear are the ones who have been affected by a doomed romance or a grand passion. Every genre, whether it be crime, historical or dystopian science fiction, has romantic themes running through it and without a hint of a love interest a story loses depth and fails to engage a reader. 

All of the above, plus I like writing sex scenes.

What inspires your stories?

Daily life – I enjoy finding inspiration hidden in the mundane, whether that be at home or at work. Being a doctor means that I am fortunate enough to witness many elements of human behaviour and interaction. It is a great privilege to have this level of access to people’s lives and relationships and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about my job. I am obviously very careful never to break confidentiality and none of my patients’ details will ever make it directly to the page, but a lot of what forms the basis of my books comes from making general observations about the human stories I see unfolding in front of me every day. 

Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?

Generally, those who introduce an element of humour in their writing. Whether it be sharply satirical like Jane Austen or gently comical like Beth O’Leary, or full-blown hilarious like Helen Fielding, Marian Keyes, Mhairi McFarlane and Lucy Vine. 

Having said that, some of the most deeply affecting love stories I’ve read recently have not fallen into the comedy category – Delia Owens’ ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ and Anthony Doerr’s ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ had me in absolute bits.

If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?

That is such a hard question to answer (frantically tries to narrow down enormous shortlist). I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect package than Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare as an example of a modern contemporary romance, but the gold standard for me will always be Pride and Prejudice. I can’t possibly say anything about this book that hasn’t already been said, but each line is a masterclass in wryly observed understatement, like a permanently raised eyebrow. Jane Austen is a genius.

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The pride of high-ranking Mr Darcy and the prejudice of middle-class Elizabeth Bennet conduct an absorbing dance through the rigid social hierarchies of early-nineteenth-century England, with the passion of the two unlikely lovers growing as their union seems ever more improbable.

Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?

I would jump into bed with Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy and likely never be seen again.

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(PSA: Anyone who ever chooses Mr Darcy as the answer to this question will invoke the gratuitous photo of Colin Firth in a wet shirt. you have been warned.)

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?

The RNA was my first introduction to fellow writers. Before joining I had no idea about the publishing industry, no knowledge of writing technique and no concept of how to turn my idle scribblings into a real piece of work. I stumbled across the New Writer’s Scheme in 2019 when I had completed a very rough draft of what was to become Love Life and couldn’t believe that there was a way of having my manuscript critiqued by people working in the industry and for it to be included in my membership fee. More specifically, the RNA was an invaluable source of advice during that first year when I was hopelessly naïve about publishing deals. If I hadn’t had their support at that critical point in my writing journey, I think I would be in a very different place now.

What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?

Keep writing and make sure you are always doing it for fun. It’s easy to get bogged down with whether you’re going to get an agent, whether you’ll be published, and whether you’ll be able to give up the day job and pursue a career as a writer. This makes the whole thing feel terribly pressurised and the reality may be that an ultimate dream of being a professional writer is either unattainable or takes an extraordinarily long time to realise. So, whilst you are waiting for international fame and glory, my advice is to treat writing like a brilliant, gloriously fulfilling hobby. By saying this I am in no way intending to diminish the experience or the process, but I see writing as a release valve, its primary function is to do me good and to make me happy. If what I produce makes other people happy too then great, but I try not to lose sight of why I write – I do it because it love it, anything else is a bonus.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Love Life is a romantic comedy featuring a hospice doctor, Tess, who is having difficulty recovering from the shock of finding her boyfriend in bed with another man. Whilst at work she encounters Edward, a man who is in denial about his mother’s terminal illness and who, as a result, hates the hospice and all it stands for. Unsurprisingly Tess and Edward dislike each other in the beginning, despite having met before in entirely different circumstances, but as Edward’s mother becomes more unwell, they begin to discover common ground. The story also features a daytime television host battling it out with a Jane Austen character as dual narrators, an absent father, an over-protective mother, a problem with binge-eating, a blind date with an estate agent, a veterinary emergency, a brush with the General Medical Council and a fair bit of shagging. You can buy a copy of the book here.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Yorkshire lass in possession of a career, a house, and a cat, must be in want of a husb—
Oh get a grip!

Dr Tess Carter is no starry-eyed Jane Austen heroine. After all, if your dad left without a backward glance and you found your last boyfriend in bed with another guy, you wouldn’t believe in romance either. And the voices in Tess’s head – you know, the ones that tell you you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough – well, these voices are very loud. Very loud indeed. Especially when the proud and disagreeable son of one of her patients starts challenging her every decision.

Edward Russell might have a big job and a posh voice, but Tess is determined not to let him get to her, especially if she can get her inner monologue to stop with the endless self-sabotage. And Edward, it turns out, may be less of a prat than he first appears; he’s certainly handy in a crisis.

In the real world, where gentlemanlike manners and out-of-the-blue declarations of love are a story-book fantasy, it’s up to Tess to decide whose voice to listen to … and how to make her own heard.

About the Author

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Nancy is a writer of commercial women’s fiction, a mother of three and an owner of various ridiculous looking pets including a dog who unexpectedly grew to be the size of a small horse. She is also a practicing doctor working for both the NHS and a national cancer charity. Over the years her medical job has provided her with an insight into many aspects of human behaviour, across all walks of life, and she is endlessly fascinated by the people she meets. She has always loved to write and finds the process incredibly therapeutic as well as being a welcome diversion from some of the less glamourous aspects of her other roles. Being a medical doctor, her sense of humour is already quite dark; she prides herself on being able to find comedy in challenging scenarios and has found this to be an essential skill in both her domestic and working life. Love and laughter are the best of medicines and she tries to channel as much of them as possible into her blogs www.mumhasdementia.com  and www.nancy-peach.com as well as her books – casting a wry and discerning eye over the human condition and tackling heavyweight issues with a light comedic touch. 

Nancy’s work has been longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize and shortlisted for a Harper Collins / Gransnet competition. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and is represented by Tanera Simons at Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Her debut novel Love Life is published by One More Chapter at Harper Collins.

Connect with Nancy:

Website: https://nancy-peach.com/

Facebook: Nancy Peach Writer

Twitter: @Mumhasdementia

Instagram: @nancy.peach

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Friday Night Drinks with… Tobias Bukkehave

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Time for another Friday Night Drinks and, after a very long and busy week, I am ready to kick back and relax by chatting with author… Tobias Bukkehave

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Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

I’m having a good old G’n’T. If made correctly its just the best. So refreshing.

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My favourite drink. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’d take you around my home town of Copenhagen, Denmark and show you a good time. It’s a wonderful city with a lot of great places to go out.

Somewhere I have always wanted to visit. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I’d invite the recently deceased John LeCarre to pick his brilliant brain on my favorite genre, clever spy literature. And then, just for kicks, I’d bring Steven Spielberg too, just because he is the greatest cinematic storyteller of our times and maybe me and John could convince him to make our books into films ; )

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Well, I had a breakthrough with my spy novel For King and Country last year and right now I’m writing the second instalment of the series. We just sold the movie rights and my agent is working hard to get the book published in the states and UK. So things are busy but great.

Sounds exciting. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was probably when For King And Country got its first major review. It was a 5 star in the leading Danish newspaper and it just accelerated things massively. The biggest challenge is right now. Getting a wrap on that sequel is pretty brutal and I’m really feeling the pressure.

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I really want my books to reach an international audience. Lockdown made the whole thing difficult but when the second book hits the market early next year we plan on making another big push in order to find strong publishers in the UK and US markets. Apart from that, I just wish to get my stories out there.

What are have planned that you are really excited about?

I’m super excited for the movie deal with Nordisk Film, the biggest Scandinavian production company. I cant wait to see what they do with my novel.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I love to go to the States. Its just so different and I have a lot of friends over there so visiting is always nice. Japan is on my bucket list for sure. 

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

Hmm.. I skateboard. Yes. I am a 41-year-old skateboarder..

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I could mention a ton of stuff here, but in order to say something a bit different i’ll go with James Clavells Tai Pan. It’s just amazing. 

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Set in the turbulent days of the founding of Hong Kong in the 1840s, Tai-Pan is the story of Dirk Struan, the ruler – the Tai-Pan – of the most powerful trading company in the Far East. He is also a pirate, an opium smuggler, and a master manipulator of men. This is the story of his fight to establish himself and his dynasty as the undisputed masters of the Orient.

Outside of my normal reading comfort zone, so I will add it to the list. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I drink water the last hour before I go to bed. If its bad, I chug a big glass of water with salt and 2 panodil (headache pill).

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Hang out at the canals of Copenhagen where I happen to live. Eat some good food, see the city and go for drinks again tomorrow : )

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Thanks for joining me tonight, Tobias, it has been a fun chat.

Tobias’ book, For King and Country is not currently available in English in the UK, but keep your eyes open for it in the future.

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He was betrayed by his country and by his father.
He did not swear to look back.
Now Denmark needs him.

For Rear Admiral Richard Cortzen, everything started and ended with the fatherland. However, that concept does not say anything to his son, Tom. After a traumatic experience as a fighter soldier in Iraq, he has turned his back on both his father and his homeland.

However, when the father dies and Tom has to hurry home for the funeral, something happens. An old fellow soldier taps him on the shoulder: Denmark needs Tom.

Divided between the father’s lifelong struggle for God, king and fatherland and his own.

Tobias Bukkehave (August 1980) is a Danish writer who started out in fantasy literature. His fist two books about the boy Elmer Baltazar who travels to the mystical world of Arkadia were both nominated as best youth book of the year in Denmark.
In 2029 Bukkehave signed with Politikens Forlag and in 2020 he published ‘Kongetro’ (For King and Country) a spy novel inspired by current geopolitical events and focusing on the Danish special agent, Tom Cortzen. The book spend 15 weeks on the Danish bestseller list and topped that list for three weeks. The film rights have been sold to Nordisk Film and a feature film is under development there. Right now, Bukkehave is finishing the second book in the series and has signed for a third.
 
Connect with Tobias:
 
 
Instagram: @tbukkehave
 
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