Friday Night Drinks with… Jessica Redland

FRIDAY NIGHT DRINKS

It’s the end of another week and time to catch up with someone from the publishing world over a drink. This week I am chatting with author… Jessica Redland.

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Welcome to my virtual bar, Jessica. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you so much for hosting me! Tonight, I’m indulging in a lovely chilled glass of White Zinfandel. I very rarely drink but, if I do partake, this is my drink of choice … or a Pino Grigio.

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?

In a non-Covid world, we’d be on a night out in Scarborough and I’d probably take you on the Whitsborough Bay pub crawl. I set most of my books in a fictional seaside town which is predominantly modelled on Scarborough and I mention quite a few pubs and bars across the nine books set there. I’d take you round the real-life pubs which have influenced my fictional ones. We might have to restrict it to a small wine or a half in each, though, as it could be quite a big crawl… although it’s downhill which is a good thing!

That would be great. My grandparents had a flat in Scarborough and I have many happy memories of holidays there, right up until I was in my early twenties. 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?

If you’d just said one male, it would have been Chris Hemsworth but I’m not letting another female get in there 😉 I would therefore draw from the past and invite A A Milne and Beatrix Potter because I’d love them both to know how beloved and enduring their words and images have been. That would be quite a gift to give someone.

Good choices, they would be fascinating to talk to. 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 all about the Hedgehog Hollow series at the moment which started with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow released in July this year. Hedgehog Hollow is a hedgehog rescue centre in the Yorkshire Wolds.

I’ve recently finished the final proofread on the second book – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollowwhich is available for pre-order and out on 7th January 2021. I’m currently doing my final read-through on book 3 – Life Begins at Hedgehog Hollow – as the deadline to submit to my editor is this week. It will be out on 4th May 2021.

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This was going to finish the series although it wasn’t going to be the end of Hedgehog Hollow as I have an idea for a prequel and a spin-off. However, as I got into the final quarter of writing book 3, a fourth one shouted at me and the as-yet-untitled book 4 in the Hedgehog Hollow series will probably be my January 2022 release.

I’ve also been editing the final couple of the books from my back catalogue. My publishers, Boldwood Books, have taken on all my books and, during 2020, six of them were re-released with a fresh edit, new title and new cover. The final two will be re-released in 2021.

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

Oh my goodness, so many proud moments. Although most people will understandably want to forget 2020 and will be relieved when it’s over, it has been the most incredible year for my writing career thanks to Boldwood Books and I’ll cherish that part of it forever. Some amazing achievements this year include:

  • #14 in the UK Kindle chart with New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms
  • #3 in the Australia Kindle chart with Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café
  • #32 in the USA Kindle chart with The Secret to Happiness
  • Bestseller tags on all ten of my books at the same time
  • Passing 1,000 reviews on Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes when my dream for this year was to hit 100 for one of my books
  • Having 3 x books in The Works
  • Being able to leave my day job to write full-time
  • Being offered a second 12-book publishing contract with Boldwood Books
  • Readers getting in touch thanking me for the heart-warming escapism that my books have given them during a busy year – so very humbling

This then links into my biggest challenge because it hasn’t always been like this. This time two years ago, I was so low about my writing that I seriously questioned whether to give it up. I’d originally secured a three-book publishing deal with my debut book but my publisher ceased trading and I got my rights back and became an indie author. With a demanding day job, I didn’t have the time for promotion and I struggled to make an impact on the charts. Those who discovered my books seemed to love them but not many people were discovering them and I was either going to need to continue to flounder and hope for a miracle or secure another publishing deal.

When I sought a publishing deal with my debut novel, rejections didn’t bother me too much but, eight books down the line when I tried again, they floored me. I seriously questioned my ability as a writer and whether I could continue pouring my heart and soul into creating novels nobody seemed to want. But someone did want them. Boldwood Books took me on and I found my writing home.

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 would absolutely love to achieve a top 10 in the UK Kindle chart. If I’m completely honest, I’d love a #1 – who wouldn’t?! But, for now, a top 10 is my goal. I came so close with New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms getting to #14. Whether I’ll ever get there is debatable but it’s good to have an ambitious goal.

And – because I’m being greedy and picking two – my other biggie is I would love my books to be made into films or a TV series. So many readers comment on this in reviews and I completely agree. They’d be amazing on screen!

What are have planned that you are really excited about?

I’m really excited about the next books in the Hedgehog Hollow series coming out. Book 2 is on NetGalley at the moment and, although reviews are coming in quite slowly (I think lots of reviewers are reading Christmas books just now), most of the ones I’ve had are extremely positive. We won’t talk about the two that were a bit mean and made me cry!

I’ll be starting on my 2021 Christmas book after Christmas and I’m really looking forward to that because I actually started writing it 3.5 years ago to be my first ever Christmas novella released in 2017. When I’d written about 10k words, it became apparent to me that the story was bigger than a novella so I parked it. I can’t wait to return to it.

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?

Right now, I’d happily travel absolutely anywhere! Don’t care where; just let me out of the house!!!! I’m sure most of us feel like that. Like so many, we had holidays cancelled this year and one of those was to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday.

I love travelling too and there are so many amazing places I’ve been and would love to re-visit, as well as places I’ve never been. We honeymooned in British Colombia in Canada and would love to go back and, twenty years ago, I went to New Zealand with a friend. I’d love to take my husband there and explore the parts my friend and I missed.

We went to Lapland last Christmas and it was one of the best holidays ever. It’s a dream to go back there again.

Top of my bucket list for places I’ve never been would be Iceland. It looks absolutely stunning.

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

Looking at me now, you’d never guess it, but I used to be pretty fit and liked to try out adventurous things in the great outdoors. By my late-twenties, I could tick off climbing, abseiling, gorge-walking, zorbing, sand-yachting, surfing, becoming a qualified scuba diver and doing a 43m bungy jump off a bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The bungy jump was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It was over a river and I was asked if I wanted to touch the water or avoid it. I said touch it but that basically gave them permission to dunk me. I had a baggy T-shirt on and when I got dunked, it got drenched and, hanging upside down, the weight of the water pulled it over my head. So I was basically bouncing up and down on a rope, flashing my bra to the world! Attractive!

You are much braver than me, I can’t jump off things! 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’?

Anything I’ve written!

Is that not allowed? I’m going to go really recent and select one book in the past month that I’ve loved. It’s a Christmas read called Christmas with Cary by Sharon Booth and it is so warm and lovely and simply gorgeous. It is the third in a series but they are absolutely all standalone with no connecting characters; the series is simply the connection of being home for Christmas.

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You never forget your first love.

Molly’s spent every Christmas she can remember surrounded by her family. But this year is different. This year, Molly’s all alone in a strange town. She’s left her family behind, and she’s not sure where she can call home any longer.

All Molly has with her are a few clothes in a suitcase, and a collection of her old friend’s Cary Grant films. Except, there’s one more thing she’s brought along – the whole reason for her Christmas visit.

In her possession is a small, crumpled piece of paper, and on it is written the address of the love of her life. 

Molly and Cary have had many chances over the years, but somehow life kept getting in the way and they always ended up apart once more. Yet Molly has never forgotten the first man she gave her heart to, and now she has one last chance to win him back.

But will Cary welcome her home, or will he tell her what she dreads to hear – that they’ve had their chance, and it’s all too late. That’s if she can even find him…

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 never used to get hangovers. At university, I was the envy of my friends as I might feel a little spaced the following day if we’d had a big drinking session but I was never hungover.

I got my first one in my late twenties and it was horrific, as though every hangover I’d never had had joined together to give me the biggest one a human could endure without their head actually exploding.

My answer to avoiding one now is I don’t really drink. I never drink at home and even pre-Covid would often go months without a drink as either we weren’t going out or I chose to be the driver. My only cure suggestion if it happens is fairly standard: paracetamol and lots of water. Or a strawberry McDonald’s Thickshake (do they even call them that anymore?) Mmmm

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

Right now, I’d say anything to get out of this house!!!! I work from home and did so for five years before becoming a full-time author in June so my home has been my workplace for a long time. I love it … but I miss venturing out soooo much.

Locally, I’d suggest a walk along the seafront in Scarborough. I like North Bay best where the brightly-coloured beach huts are. We could play crazy golf, have an ice cream (even in winter!) and walk along the promenade and through Peasholm Park. If we were venturing further afield, I’m a fan of castles and stately homes. This time last year, I visited the Christmas displays at nearby Castle Howard. They had a masquerade theme and it was incredible. I’d maybe take you there.

I love Peasholm Park, although I am very sad that the Tree Walk is no more, it used to be my favourite thing, especially the flea circus! Jessica, it has been so lovely chatting, let’s try and do it in person some time soon!

Jessica has two Christmas releases set in Castle Street in Whitsborough Bay – a cobbled street full of independent shops and cafés. Carly’s Cupcakes and The Chocolate Pot are both next door to each other and the owners, Carly and Tara, are good friends.

Fri Night Drinks - Christmas Covers

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… It’s December on Castle Street; the fairy lights are twinkling, snow has settled and the festive season is in full swing.

For Carly, the owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, it’s the busiest time of year getting everyone’s Christmas treats ready on time. However with her clumsy sister, Bethany, as a co-worker, it’s proving a difficult task. They say you shouldn’t mix work with family. Maybe they have a point…

As Christmas approaches, Carly is also eagerly awaiting the return of her best friend to Whitsborough Bay. Liam has no idea he’s been the object of her affection since their schooldays. After years of pining after him, can Carly pluck up the courage to finally tell him how she really feels by 25th December?

Could a little festive magic make all of Carly’s wishes come true this Christmas…?

You can buy Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes here.

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café

Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.

But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely. 

With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.

But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…

You can buy a copy of Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe here.

Jessica Redland lives in Scarborough on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast – the inspiration behind the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay – with her husband, teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel, Ella.

She’s a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn’t love her), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.

Her career has mainly been in HR as a trainer and recruiter but, in June 2020, she became a full-time author. She’s so very grateful to anyone who has bought or borrowed her books in whatever format, helping her fulfil a long-held dream of writing full-time. She still can’t believe she gets to spend every day chatting to her fictional friends and making stuff up.

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

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Emma Jackson

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today, I am delighted to welcome to the blog to discuss all things romance writing, one of my very good friends and fabulous author, Emma Jackson.

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

I write romantic comedies with (I hope) a touch of honesty and the bittersweet mixed in along the way to my characters’ happy-ever-after. My fourth book, One Kiss Before Christmas, has just released and I’m coming up to the one year anniversary of my debut novel, A Mistletoe Miracle, being published with Orion Dash! I’m not quite sure what the future holds at the moment, as I’m out of contract now – and it’s been one hell of a year! – but I do know I have many more romances to write and stories I want to share with readers.

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Why romance?

I became an official romance fan when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I was tired and I didn’t want anything that might unexpectedly upset me after having a bad experience with a Karin Slaughter book I’d been recommended. Great book but it gave me nightmares! So, I sought out stories with lots of emotion and guaranteed happy endings; where I could enjoy the thrill of falling in love again and again. All the different sub-genres of romance from historical to fantasy to contemporary, also mean there’s always something to suit my mood. I’ve always written stories, so it made sense for me to write what I enjoyed reading.

What inspires your stories?

It’s usually from one little ‘what if’ thought that comes to me. It could be from a place I’ve been or listening to a song or visiting a shop or reading a newspaper story. It then grows as more ideas come to me or characters become a little more solid. I’ve just started planning out and tentatively drafting another Christmas story, which weirdly came to me because of a comment another author (Isabella May) made about my debut in a review.

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

I love Tessa Dare and Mhairi McFarlane. They are auto-buys for me. They both write laugh out loud books but also cover some heavy themes with such skill.

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

This is so hard, but I think one of my favourite reads this year, Beach Read by Emily Henry, was fantastic. The hero and heroine are both writers of very different genres who challenge each other to try and write the other’s way. It’s very funny – extremely meta for romance readers and writers – but even if you aren’t a fan of romance already, I think it would do an amazing job of helping you understand why people love romance so much, and why it isn’t something fluffy or frivolous to try to have a bit of hope. It’s also very sexy and heartfelt. It works on so many levels!

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He doesn’t believe in happy endings.
She’s lost her faith that they exist.
But could they find one together?

January is a hopeless romantic who narrates her life like she’s the lead in a blockbuster movie.
Gus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.

But January and Gus have more in common than you’d think:

They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
And they need to write bestsellers before summer ends.

The result? A bet to swap genres see who gets published first.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…

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

Is it really terrible if I say one of my own heroes? I think I’d love to spend a weekend with Olivier from One Kiss Before Christmas because he’s so easy-going and fun, and also because he could take me to Paris to give me a tour around the museums and galleries, cook gorgeous food for me, and then we could snuggle up and watch old movies. Bliss.

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

The sense of community. I have found so many amazing friends since I joined and been given so much support. It’s transformed my knowledge of the industry because there is always someone willing to offer advice and it’s turned what can be a very lonely profession into one where I feel genuinely connected.

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

Keep going. Perseverance is as much one of the tools you need to keep in your arsenal as an ability to think up great hooks. From getting from ‘chapter one’ to ‘the end’, to sending out queries, it’s so important to find a way to keep yourself going that works for you.

Tell us about your latest book.

One Kiss Before Christmas is a gorgeously romantic festive read guaranteed to warm your heart this Christmas and you can buy it here! (I reviewed One Kiss Before Christmas on the blog a few weeks ago, and you can read my review here.)

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Could it be the start of her happy ever after?

Ashleigh could use a little Christmas magic. She’s still living in Brighton with her Nan – who could give the Grinch lessons in how to be miserable – her acting career has been reduced to playing one of Santa’s elves, and not even the prospect of a friend’s winter wedding can cheer her up…

That is until Olivier, the gorgeous French chef, reappears in her life. Or more accurately, next door.

When they were teenagers, Olivier would spend every Christmas with his mother, who just happens to be Ash’s neighbour and owner of the best chocolate shop in England.

If anyone can bring a little sparkle back to Ash’s life, it’s Olivier. All she needs is one kiss before Christmas…

About Emma Jackson

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Author of the Best Selling A MISTLETOE MIRACLE and contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. SUMMER IN THE CITY, was released in June, and her latest festive romance, ONE KISS BEFORE CHRISTMAS is now available.

Emma also writes historical and fantasy fiction as Emma S Jackson. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE was published by DarkStroke in February 2020.

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://esjackson.co.uk

Facebook: Emma Jackson Author

Twitter: @ESJackson1

Instagram: @emma_s_jackson

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Friday Night Drinks with… Natalie Normann

FRIDAY NIGHT DRINKS

So, another Friday has rolled around and I have has a helluva week so I am very much looking forward to sharing a Friday Night Drink with tonight’s guest, author….. Natalie Normann

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

I really don’t drink much alcohol, and my favourite drink is Ice Lattes, or if I’m celebrating, I’ll have an Ice Mocha.

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It being Friday is as good a reason for celebration as any! 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?

Since my latest book is set at Christmas, I think you have to taste some proper Norwegian Christmas food. I’m from the west part of Norway, and we usually eat ‘stick meat’, smoked mutton ribs, on Christmas Eve. In Oslo they traditionally serve pork ribs, with crackling and all the trimmings – not brussel sprouts, though. Most restaurants will serve both. This is rich food, so we’d have Christmas beer, a bit darker and sweeter than regular beer, and also ‘akkevitt’, or aquavit, if you want to taste. We are very traditional about our Christmas food, and most people would protest if the restaurant got fancy with the recipes. Me included.

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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 once interviewed Martina Cole, and I think she would be fun to talk to again. And then there’s Keanu Reeves. I have a suspicion he can be funny.

I love Keanu Reeves! 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?

I have been a historical writer for almost 12 years now, and now I’m also writing contemporary romance in English. I would like keep doing that and see what happens. I  have so much fun writing in English. I expected it to be so difficult, but mostly it has been interesting and challenging, and I like that. Writers need to challenge themselves, I think. It’s not a profession where you ever stop learning, and I love that. 

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

There’s been more than one proud moment, to be honest. The first book I published 25 years ago was a fantastic moment. Then again when I could finally be a full-time writer, writing a historical romance series in Norway – it was scary as hell. I signed a contract to write six books a year and I was completely overwhelmed, until I realised I had to take it one book at the time and just get on with it. And recently when I had the opportunity to write contemporary romance with One More Chapter. In English. I still have to pinch my arm about that. I recently found Summer Island in a bookshop in Oslo, and actually squealed.

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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!

My one big thing was to be published in English. Now that it has  happened, I would like to keep doing that. The next steps would be have one of my books made into a movie, have translations and a few bestseller flags wouldn’t be amiss. I’d enjoy that.

What are have planned that you are really excited about?

Well, I have several ideas that I’m working on, and that I’m thrilled with. I love the idea stage, when it’s all fresh and I keep getting scenes in my head. Right now, I have a deadline, and I can’t really write anything else, but I make notes and explore characters and settings, and have a great time doing that.

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 London. My dad was a sea captain, and he used to sail between London and Jamaica, and ever so often, we would go with him during the summer holidays. Back then, it would take two days to come from my hometown to London, and I loved every minute of it. London was vibrant and exciting, and I never wanted to go home. Still don’t.

On the top of my bucket list is New York. I have never been there, and I always wanted to go. Maybe next year, right?

I love New York. I’ve been four times now, it was the last place I managed to visit back in early February before the world changed. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

I’m Norwegian and I can’t ski. I’m great at falling, but that’s about it. 

Wow! 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’?

The one book that really surprised me this year, was Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch. It’s a serial killer story, set in Venice, and it’s well written, pretty dark and also hilarious. Not many writers can pull that off. 

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Award-winning crime novelist Bella Tyson has it all: a successful career, devoted fans – and a bad case of writer’s block. So when a fan sends her a book of Venetian ghost stories and offers her the use of an apartment near Piazza San Marco, Bella jumps at the chance to get her Eat Pray Love on, consume her bodyweight in gelato and explore the atmospheric canals of Venice.

She meets Will, a mild-mannered, middle class Interpol agent working in the city, and is swept away by him. And when a series of gruesome murders occur he’s on the case – with Bella in tow.

Her writer’s block is well and truly cured, her new novel is under way, and she’s madly in love. But Bella realises that not everything in Venice is as it seems…

I’ve not read this one, 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?

Drink lots of water and go to bed to sleep it off. 

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

I have written two books set on an island on the west-coast of Norway, so not surprisingly I love islands. I now live in Oslo, and if this weekend is in the summer, we’d take a trip on the Oslo fjord. I don’t have a boat, but there are places in the fjord that you can travel to without your own boat. There are some lovely islands with great beaches only a short ferry trip away. Buy some shrimps on the harbour, find someone who sells strawberries, and bring some coffee or white wine. And also pastry. They have some amazing pastry in this city. The water is usually really, really cold, so swimming is up to you.

In the winter, the best thing to do, is to take a drive up the mountains, to Frognerseteren, an old ski lodge, now a restaurant. If we take the underground, we have to walk down a forest path to get there. Usually there’s snow up there, and you get a feel of the fairy tales we have. Trolls are a plenty up there.

The restaurant have a huge fireplace where the fire will be roaring, making everything smell of smoke,  and warm an cosy, and they serve delicious Norwegian comfort food. Their speciality is hot chocolate with whipped cream, made with real chocolate, and their famous apple cake. If you’re adventurous I recommend trying the buns with brown cheese.

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Summer Island and Christmas Island are set on a fictitious island, but heavily inspired by the islands I have been on when I grew up. It’s filled with memories of summers swimming in cold water – it was always cold –  eating ice cream, drinking soda and eating hot dogs. The smell of the sea and the weather always changing. It’s wild out there, and that’s why I love it. I’d rather be outside in a storm or walking the beach when it rains, than most other places. Mostly I like to stay with my laptop, of course.

Natalie’s new book, Christmas Island, is out on 30 November and you can buy a copy here.

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In the bleak midwinter…
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable

After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.

Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.

Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.

Here is the fabulous trailer for the book

Natalie Normann grew up in a small shipping town on the west-coast town in Norway. She wanted to be a writer as soon as she realised that books were written by real people. Her debut novel was published in Norwegian in 1995. Summer Island and Christmas Island are her first books in English.

You can find out more about Natalie and her books via Facebook and Twitter.

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Blog Tour: One Kiss Before Christmas by Emma Jackson #BookReview

One Kiss Before Christmas - Blog Tour

I am delighted to be be taking my turn on the blog tour today for One Kiss Before Christmas by Emma Jackson. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s RandomResources for inviting me on to the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Could it be the start of her happy ever after?

Ashleigh could use a little Christmas magic. She’s still living in Brighton with her Nan — who could give the Grinch lessons in how to be miserable — her acting career has been reduced to playing one of Santa’s elves, and not even the prospect of a friend’s winter wedding can cheer her up…

That is until Olivier, the gorgeous French chef, reappears in her life. Or more accurately, next door.

When they were teenagers, Olivier would spend every other Christmas with his mother, who just happens to be Ash’s neighbour and owner of the best chocolate shop in England.

If anyone can bring a little sparkle back to Ash’s life, it’s Olivier. All she needs is one kiss before Christmas…

Gosh, these are stressful times, aren’t they? Another Covid-19 lockdown starts tomorrow. EU are sending final demands to Boris over Brexit. Terrorist attacks on our continental neighbours. And Election Night in the US with who knows what constitutional crisis looming over there, whichever side wins. It’s enough to give anyone sleepless nights.

The only thing to do is what I always do at such moments, and bury my head in a happy, stress-free, fictional world where none of the above things are happening and all the problems are of a romantic nature, which you just know will get resolved happily by the end of the novel. The book which has been fulfilling this need over the last few days is One Kiss Before Christmas by Emma Jackson, and what a beautiful job it did.

I was on board with this book from the first page where our heroine, Ash, is dressing as an elf. You heard correctly… an elf. She is going to spend the Christmas season working at a kind of Christmas pageant on a farm. This immediately reminded me of happy times as, every year I have taken my children to just such a place near Harrogate, where they have visited Santa, ice skated, Nordic skied through a forest lit with glowing, wintery light tableaux and solved a Christmassy maze. This book is the closest I will get to that experience this year I think, since Covid has killed all such frivolous, pleasurable activity stone dead, so thanks for allowing me that virtual experience, Emma!

Any character for whom the pinnacle of their year is dressing as an elf is going to have my sympathy, and Ash needs all the sympathy we can give her, as the rest of her life is a disaster. No real career (not sure being an elf counts, as it is fairly seasonal work!), not love life to speak of, a Christmas-hating Granny as a housemate and absentee parents. Not much to bring her comfort and joy this year. Until her childhood friend and neighbour, Olivier, rocks up from Paris to spend Christmas with his mum.

Ah, Olivier! He is everything you want in a sexy, three-quarters French romantic lead. Handsome, charming, courteous, slightly troubled and smelling largely of chocolate. Can’t think of much more to ask for there. Oh, and he can cook! Marry him on the spot, girl. It is like Emma has tapped into those fantasies you have in private moments. (Just don’t tell the Irishman, he is convinced he is my fantasy man!)

So all is set for a rekindling of childhood crushes, peppered with the problems of what will happen when Christmas is over, giving plenty of romantic tension to the plot. This is all set against the perfect, postcard backdrop of Brighton at Yuletide, with the glittering Pavilion, busy pier and quirky Lanes, all to be explored by our amorous pair as the reacquaint themselves. The author has wrung every bit of Christmassy joy from the setting, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking an armchair trip to the south coast for a few hours. Emma has come up with some great hooks for the story in this book. I particularly enjoyed their trip to the aquarium for inspiration for Olivier’s project (turtle poo, anyone?), and the drama of the covert Christmas lights operation. The book is full of sweet and funny moments that fulfil every wish you might have for a romantic Christmas story.

This is a charming, funny, touching and enjoyable festive romance that kept me occupied and distracted for a pleasant few hours this week. I loved all the characters, the plot and the setting, and relished every minute spent in the fantasy world that the author has created. If you are looking for a romance novel to transport you away from current, depressing reality, ease you gently into the Christmas spirit and fill you with romantic, Yuletide cheer, look no further. This is a great read.

One Kiss Before Christmas is out now as an ebook and you can buy a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:

One Kiss Before Christmas Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Author of the Best Selling A MISTLETOE MIRACLE and contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. Her latest romantic comedy, SUMMER IN THE CITY, was released in June 2020.

Emma also writes historical and fantasy fiction as Emma S Jackson. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE was published by DarkStroke in February 2020.

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://esjackson.co.uk

Facebook: Emma Jackson Author

Twitter: @ESJackson1

Instagram: @emma_s_jackson

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Tracy Baines

Romancing The Romance Authors

Today author Tracy Baines has kindly volunteered to undergo my grilling on what it means to be a writer of romance.

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

My books are WW2 sagas set in Variety Theatres. It’s something I know well but more importantly, something I love. I used to work in stage management and my husband was a variety entertainer.

My first two novels, The Variety Girls and Christmas With The Variety Girls, have been published this year by Ebury Press – an imprint of Penguin. For many years I wrote short stories and articles because our life was chaotic and I could always find time for them. All the things I learnt writing short stories have been invaluable in the long run – especially learning to get over the rejection. I learnt that it was nothing personal, I just hadn’t got it quite right that time.

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Why romance?

I think every story is a love story. Whether it is between two people or between a character and their dream. Passion in anything is attractive. The energy that drives you towards your heart’s desire is my idea of romance.

What inspires your stories?

My love of theatre, but mostly of my family and home. My books are set in Lincolnshire and Norfolk the place of my birth and that of my ancestors. I haven’t lived there for over 30 years but when I go back home to visit my mum and sisters everything becomes so clear and pronounced and I carry all the sensory memory back to Dorset with me. When I work at my desk I am hearing the voices of the past. It’s the sense of community, of people facing hardship and pulling together to overcome it.

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

I don’t have a particular favourite – I just like discovering stories. I’ve enjoyed so many great books over the years that it’s hard to choose.

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

Canopy of Silence by Margaret Graham. It’s set in Australia in the 1920s and covers the Group Settlement Scheme devised to develop a self-sufficient dairy industry. I was absolutely swept away by it. Those people endured such hardship and their struggle is conveyed so piercingly. My heart ached for dear Debs, that she world find love and happiness. It is brilliantly written with tension that keeps you turning page after page. It stirs my emotions just thinking about it.

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Deborah Morgan, an only child, is unwanted by her parents, who only have time for each other; as a result, she leaves Somerset and follows sheep farmer Patrick Prover to Australia, but finds herself an outsider there too, especially when Patrick leaves her to run the farm alone.

She embarks on an ill-advised affair but soon returns to her loveless marriage, pouring all her love into the care of her baby son.

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

It would have to be Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind as played by Clarke Gable in the film. Was there ever a finer hero? Devilishly handsome and undoubtedly dangerous. We’d go to the theatre, to a musical or preferably back in time to the golden age of the Crazy Gang and Gracie Fields. Dancing afterwards and then a meal in a cosy backstreet restaurant that stayed open just for us; then a walk through Hyde Park until the dawn broke. A day on the Thames and dinner at the Ritz the following day. It would have to be something perfectly glamorous – and so not me!

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

The support and encouragement is second to none. I have two local chapters within easy distance and it’s great to meet up and chat with people who know exactly what you’re going through.

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

Keep going and keep learning. Writing a book takes a lot of mental energy and it’s easy to get disheartened. Nothing is ever wasted. I learn more with every piece I write and I hope it always stays that way.

Tell us about your latest book.

It is the latest in my Variety Girls series, Christmas with the Variety Girls and you can buy it in all formats from Thursday here.

Christmas with the Variety Girls

Will Christmas bring an unexpected reunion?…

Frances O’Leary has always dreamed of being a dancer. But after war is declared and the theatres begin to close, Frances and the variety girls must search for work elsewhere.

However, Frances is hiding a secret. As far as her best friend Jessie knows, Frances is a young aunt who adores her niece, Imogen – but what she doesn’t know is that their relationship runs much deeper. Now, with the sweetheart who cruelly abandoned her returning to England, will her secret finally be revealed?…

About the Author

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From the age of sixteen, Tracy Baines worked summer seasons, pantomimes and everything else in-between at the local end of the pier show. She met her husband when he was appearing with the Nolan Sisters and she was Assistant Stage Manager.

Her knowledge of the theatre world from both sides of the stage and the hierarchy that keeps the show running really bring this saga to life. She’s also written articles and short stories for key publications for this audience including Woman’s Weekly, Take a Break, The People’s Friend and My Weekly.

Connect with Tracy:

Website:  www.tracybaines.co.uk

Facebook: Tracy Baines Author

Twitter: @tracyfbaines 

Instagram: @tracyfbaines         

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Blog Tour: A Perfect Paris Christmas by Mandy Baggot #BookReview

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United in grief. Pushed apart by tragedy.

Keeley Andrews knows more than anyone that you only live once. So when she receives an invitation to spend two weeks in Paris, all expenses paid, she jumps at the chance.

Ethan Bouchard has had the worst eighteen months of his life. He’s ready to give up on everything, including his hotel chain. So when he meets Keeley, it simply isn’t the right time.

As Keeley and Ethan continue to bump into each other on the romantic Parisian streets, they can’t help but wonder whether this is fate telling them to let go of the past and leap into the future…

My first Christmas read of the year! I don’t normally do them this early, but who could resist the lure of a new Mandy Baggot Christmas novel? Certainly not me! So I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for A Perfect Paris Christmas and I am very grateful to Victoria Joss of Head of Zeus for allowing me to be part of the tour and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

What a great one to start with. I absolutely adored this story from the opening pages right through to the end. Everything about it is warm and appealing and uplifting, just the way a Christmas story should be and anyone who loves this kind of festive fiction will not be at all disappointed if they pick this one up.

It has everything you might want from a Christmassy romcom. Appealing and sympathetic heroine? Check. Hot, sexy but troubled hero? Check. (Bonus points for being French awarded in my not-at-all arbitrary marking system.) Beautiful, romantic, escapist setting? Check. Family drama to cause chaos? Check. Nemesis at whom to direct our ire? Check. Misunderstandings and false victories? Check. Happy ending. Of course. Check, check, check, this book has it all.

Mandy manages to imbue every page of this novel with romance and joy and festive cheer. I was transported to Paris and immersed in a gorgeous, Christmas dream. I totally believed in the characters, their story and their relationship. I thought the novel dealt with some interesting and evocative topics beautifully, and it gave the story that bit of punch that makes it all the more satisfying.

I’ve yet to be disappointed by a Mandy Baggot book. She is fabulous at creating emotion in her readers, and her books are always truly transportive in every way. This might be my favourite yet, and fans of her work will not be disappointed by her latest book. If you have never read one of her books before, this is the ideal one to start with, I guarantee that if you are a lover of festive romcoms with real heart, you will immediately fall in love with this book.

A Perfect Paris Christmas is out now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 1 October, and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure to check out the other blogs taking part in the tour:

About the Author

Mandy Baggot

Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Mandy:

Website: http://mandybaggot.com

Facebook: Mandy Baggot Author

Twitter: @mandybaggot

Instagram: @mandybaggot

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Single All The Way by Karen King #BookReview (@karen_king) @bookouture @NetGalley #NetGalley #SingleAllTheWay

 

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Snow is falling, bells are ringing… and my heart is broken. I pick up the phone to tell my mother about Oliver and me. Then right after I explain, she says, ‘I don’t exactly know how to tell you this, but you’re not the only one who is single again.’

Single together for the first time, 34-year-old Meg and her warm-hearted mother Sally decide to cancel Christmas, and run away to a tiny cottage on the Cornish coast. For Meg, it is the perfect place to heal, away from all the mistletoe, while for her mother it has a special, and secret, place in her heart – from a love story that seems a lifetime ago…

Meg and Sally find they’re getting to know themselves, and each other, better than ever before. But as they are unable to resist getting involved in the village Christmas celebrations, they encounter two handsome local strangers.

Sometimes, it’s being away from home that helps you realise where your heart is. What neither woman knows is that, by the time the new year rolls around, one woman will have fallen in love with their ex all over again, and one relationship will be over for good…

My thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of this book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is another ‘catch up’ post, where I try and review all the books I neglected in December! The only problem with this tardiness is, of course, that this is a Christmas book and it isn’t Christmas any more! Still, some people read festive books all year round. Or, maybe you are just looking for a nostalgic read to take you back to the sparkling, joyful days of the holidays and away from the depressing gloom of January. Or maybe you are starting a list for next Christmas. Hopefully this will help somebody, somewhere, somehow!

There are quite a few ‘running away from Christmas’ books around, but I have never read one that involves both a mother and daughter running away together. This USP of the book gives it a really interesting and different dynamic, and explores issues that are perhaps not something much of us give much thought to on a daily basis, beyond the normal mother-daughter relationships to thinking of our parents as separate human beings who have their own relationship problems. This leads to some awkward issues for the pair which the author thoroughly exploits to the benefit of the story.

I loved the location of a cottage in a Cornish village (always a winner!) and the couple getting involved in the local village celebrations. The book has a gorgeous, cosy, festive feel that is just the thing to warm your cockles on a cold, winter day, even when it isn’t Christmas. Beyond the festive fun, though, the book explores some difficult relationship issues with affection and sensitivity. It really moved me in parts, these are extremely common problems that people are dealing with on a daily basis, so I am sure the difficulties experienced by the characters will resonate with readers and give back a little more than festive froth.

The author’s voice is warm and approachable, the book was an easy read, but rewarding as well. A welcome addition to my roster of Christmas reading. I highly recommend it next time you are in mood for a festive book, whatever time of year that is.

Single All The Way is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Karen King is a multi-published, award-winning author of romantic novels and children’s fiction. She has had eight romance novels published to date, 120 children’s books, and several short stories in women’s magazines. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women  Writers and Journalists.

Connect with Karen:

Website: http://www.karenking.net

Facebook: Karen King Romance Author

Twitter: @karen_king

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar #BookReview (@KileyDunbar) @HeraBooks #ChristmasAtFrozenFalls

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Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.

When they meet, Stellan’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable Husky puppies). But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

I know the time has passed for many people for reading Christmas books, but some people read them all year round (including the author of this one!) and, if you don’t, you need to add this one to your list for next year before you forget.

This might be the most perfect Christmas romance book I’ve ever read. It has every ingredient that you need in the recipe for a wonderful Christmas story. Girl miserable/jilted/disappointed at Christmas? Check. Trip to idyllic wintery setting? Check. Hot but brooding man to provide love interest for under the mistletoe? Check. Numerous, seemingly insurmountable hurdles to romance? Check. Fun but wise best friend to provide sounding board/sage advice? Check.

So what makes this one different? Makes it stand out from the crowd? Well, if I knew the answer to what makes one Christmas book rise above the others, I’d be writing best-selling festive romance books myself, instead of reviewing other people’s, wouldn’t I? No, but seriously, it has a certain magical ingredient that has just made everything come together perfectly to produce a book that will give you the warm fuzzies and imbue you with that delicious, happy Christmas glow that we are all looking for when we pick up a book like this.

Kiley’s characters are warm and likeable, but not too perfect, and she puts them in situations which are extreme but not beyond the realms of our empathy. The setting is rich in every detail of a perfect winter getaway. Log cabins, roaring fires, snow, reindeer, wintry forests, northern lights, hot chocolate – but the attention to detail is marvellous and she remembers all the little touches that are the glittery icing on the Christmas cake. The book is also rippled through with a frisson of sexual tension that will warm even the frostiest of hearts under those thermal undergarments.

Chuck in a precipice of despair for tension, and you have yourself a winning formula. Any lover of Christmas romance should be asking Santa to slip this into their Christmas stocking next December – if you can bear to wait that long.

Christmas at Frozen Falls is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Kiley Dunbar is the author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. Shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Debut Romantic Novelists 2019 for One Summer’s Night.

Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.

Connect with Kiley:

Facebook: Kiley Dunbar Author

Twitter: @KileyDunbar

 

Friday Night Drinks with…. Kiley Dunbar @KileyDunbar @HeraBooks @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #ChristmasAtFrozenFalls

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It’s the A Little Book Problem Christmas Friday Night Drinks party tonight. I’m in a festive mood so, who better to be joining me for a knees up on the blog tonight than author of my current Christmas read, author and fellow RNA member…..Kiley Dunbar!

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Kiley. welcome and thank you for joining me for Christmas drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Hi Julie! Thanks for having me! Nice place you’ve got here! Since it’s Christmas I’ve gone for some bubbly, by which I mean ALDI prosecco (my usual Friday night drink, to be honest.) I might go mad and add some cranberry juice to it. Cheers!

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Slainte! I think I’ll have a mulled wine, it’s a bit nippy tonight. 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 think a nice bit of carolling round town with a few cups of mulled wine might be nice. Do you fancy that? I’ve always wanted to go carolling; never tried it.

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Nice idea although, I must warn you, I have the world’s worst singing voice! 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?

My idol Phoebe-Waller Bridge would be amazing on a night out. She’s so funny, she’s gorgeous and super smart and I bet she’d be good at belting out the loud bits in O, Come all ye Faithful (we’re still going carolling, remember?) And for festive eye candy purposes can we invite my latest celebrity crush, the gorgeous Hyun Bin? If you haven’t seen him in Memories of the Alhambra you are missing a treat! 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is totally my girl crush, so I would love to spend an evening with her. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

At the moment I’m celebrating my festive novel doing well this season. It’s called Christmas at Frozen Falls and is set in gorgeous, snowy Lapland over Christmas week. It’s a One That Got Away reunion story and is super romantic, properly funny, and the most festive thing you could ever hope to read! I wrote it because I can’t get enough Christmas romance novels. I read them all year round and I just had to try one myself! I hope to write many, many more love stories set at this time of year. 

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I’m also putting the finishing touches to my next novel for Hera Books, which is coming out in the spring. You can expect a gorgeous cover reveal soon. This one is set in the western highlands of Scotland and is achingly romantic and also a bit of a weepy, but there’s joy and real humour too. Ooh, I can’t wait to share the details with you all in the new year.

All sounds exciting, can’t wait for more details! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I was so proud when my debut, One Summer’s Night, launched in March 2019. I remember it going live at midnight and seeing my ebook and audiobook appear on my Kindle. It was overwhelming. I’d just turned forty and had been facing redundancy in my uni job (I lecture in English) and things had been tough for a long time, and then suddenly I’m a published author! It felt like a dream come true. Still does!

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The biggest challenge has been balancing writing, teaching, and looking after my kids all at once. Sometimes it’s exhausting and earlier this year I got pneumonia. I think I was just generally run down. It stopped me writing for a whole month and I learned a hard lesson about how important it is to look after myself when I’m pushing myself to work hard. So 2020 is going to be all about eating well, getting enough sleep, taking time off, drinking enough water; the basic stuff we all sacrifice when we’re busy, and we really, really shouldn’t.

What an exciting year. I absolutely loved your debut, and I’m starting the Christmas book today, which I’m really looking forward to. 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!

Since it’s just us, and we’re aiming high, I want what all romance authors want: a movie adaptation! Imagine Christmas at Frozen Falls as a Hallmark or Lifetime movie! That would be a dream come true. But mostly, I want to have a long career writing books that make people happy. 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’ve just begun work on the early draft of the sequel to my debut novel, One Summer’s Night. It’s so comforting going back to see how Kelsey Anderson is doing now she’s opening her own photography studio, and it’s wonderful being back in Stratford-upon-Avon with her, my happy place. The sequel is set over the autumn and winter after her big summer far from home finding herself (and finding love). It won’t be published for a good few months yet, but it’s on its way!

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’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot when I was younger. When I first met my husband we visited India, Morocco, Egypt, and travelled all over Europe too. By far my most favourite place on the planet is Finnish Lapland. 

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In December 2018 we took the Dunbar babies for the holiday of a lifetime to Saariselkä to meet Santa and his elves. It was magical from the second we touched down in the arctic twilight. I poured all of the magic and romance of that holiday into Christmas at Frozen Falls which is set in a fictional resort somewhere near Saariselkä. 

I love your bucket list idea! What would be on mine? I’d love to travel more in northern Europe and see an aurora sky over the fjords. Everything about Scandinavia is just so utterly appealing. And I’d really like to see more of the Scottish highlands and islands. I’m from near Edinburgh originally but don’t get back to Scotland nearly enough. Oh, and I’d love to visit Granada in Spain. That’s quite a long list, isn’t it?

Almost as long as mine! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I’m a huge BTS fan. Like HUGE. I love them!

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’?

You must read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca if you haven’t already! It is perfect. A masterpiece. Oh, and try her Frenchman’s Creek as well if you like hot, seventeenth-century, French pirates. And who doesn’t?

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Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .


Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

I LOVE du Maurier! Rebecca is fantastic, and I have a huge fondness for Jamaica Inn too. 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 know I should drink lots of water, take my make-up off properly, and have some Coke going nicely flat in the fridge overnight to help me recover tomorrow (only flat Coke will do when it comes to hangover cures), but I know I won’t remember to do any of that. Most likely I’ll wake up feeling rough with smudged panda eyes.

That’s how you know you’ve had a great night! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Wake up late (some chance with two kids under seven!), something nice for breakfast like square sausage on a roll with brown sauce (OMG!), a cosy start by the (electric) fire watching the Christmas tree lights twinkling while the kids play, then a stroll into town with Amos our Bedlington Terrier, a cuppa and cake in a nice café, a potter round the books shops, then home for a lazy afternoon with Cbeebies for the kids and a Christmassy romance novel for me. Perfect!

That sounds amazing! (Glad you went for the brown sauce and not the ketchup!) Kiley, this has been the most fantastic evening, thank you so much for coming out with me tonight. I’m off to curl up with your book now with a G&T in front of the fire.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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Christmas can thaw even the coldest of hearts…

Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.

When they meet, Stellan may be a bit grumpy but he’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable husky puppies).

But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

Kiley Dunbar is the author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. Shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Debut Romantic Novelists 2019 for One Summer’s Night.

Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.

You can read my review of Kiley’s debut novel One Summer’s Night here.

You can find out more about Kiley and her writing on Facebook and Twitter.

Next week I will be enjoying my last Friday Night Drinks of 2019 and seeing in a new blogging year with author, Julie Ryan. Until then, may I take this opportunity to wish all my readers a

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Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake #BookReview #BlogTour (@Juleswake) @0neMoreChapter_ @RaRaResources @NetGalley #RachelsRandomResources #NetGalley #NottingHillInTheSnow

Notting Hill In The Snow

Delighted to be one of the blogs opening up this tour for the new book by one of my favourite authors today, Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting to me on to the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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It’s mayhem in Bethlehem…unless they can work together!

Viola Smith plays the viola in an orchestra (yes really!), but this year she’s been asked to stretch her musical talents to organising Notting Hill’s local nativity.

Nate Williams isn’t looking forward to Christmas but as his small daughter, Grace, has the starring role in the show, he’s forced to stop being a Grinch and volunteer with Viola.

With the sparks between them hotter than the chestnuts roasting in Portobello market, Nate and Viola can’t deny their feelings. And as the snow starts to fall over London, they find themselves trapped together in more ways than one…

Apologies for posting this a little late in the day but a combination of an Irish road trip, a flat iPad battery and unreliable hotel Wi-fi have led to this situation and I hope it is a case of better late than never.

This book is a follow up to Covent Garden in the Snow insofar as it has some of the same characters, but it is a whole new story with the focus on a new set of main characters and is easily read as a standalone book. However, you should definitely use this new book to catch up on the previous one which is a great book and one of my favourite Christmas reads of the past few years.

Did this sequel live up to the previous book? Did it ever, and then some. This is an absolutely perfect Christmas story with a cast of warm and wonderful characters, a gorgeous wintry setting and an enticing story line to hold it all together.

Oddly, following on from yesterday’s review, this book also centres around the staging of a school nativity play. This time we are following the story of Viola, a musician at the London Metropolitan Opera Company who is tasked with helping out a a school as a favour to a patron. Viola could do without the added stress at a busy time of year when she has work and the demands of her own, rather inconsiderate family, to deal with. However, working alongside handsome and charming lawyer Nate takes some of the sting out of it and when you throw in some cute kiddies, Viola finds herself losing her heart in more ways than one.

Jules Wake’s writing is as approachable and engrossing as ever in this book and the story really held my attention all the way through. Jules has created a character in Viola who immediately steals the heart of the reader and draws us to her side and into her story from the first page. The situation she finds herself in with Nate and Grace really moved me, and was such a relevant and contemporary scenario, totally relatable to so many people, I was captivated from start to finish.

This is a rewarding and charming festive story that repaid the time that I invested in reading it. It left me feeling moved and warmed and satisfied. Fans of this author will not be disappointed and anyone new to her books will have the delightful prospect of catching up on her back catalogue. Lucky things.

Notting Hill in the Snow is out as an ebook now and in paperback on 12 December and you can buy a copy here.

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

Notting Hill in the Snow Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Jules Wake (2)

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her writing and creative skills penning copy on a vast range of subjects from pig farming and watches, sunglasses and skincare through to beer and stationery.  

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and under her pen name Julie Caplin, she writes the Romantic Escapes series.  

Between them, the two Js have written twelve novels, Notting Hill in the Snow being the latest. 

Connect with Jules:

Website: http://www.juleswake.co.uk

Facebook: Jules Wake

Twitter: @Juleswake

Instagram: @juleswakeauthor