Blog Tour: The Little Swiss Ski Chalet by Julie Caplin #BookReview

The Little Swiss Ski Chalet

I’m delighted to be one of the blogs opening the tour for the latest book in one of my favourite series by one of my favourite authors today. The Little Swiss Ski Chalet is the seventh book in the Romantic Escapes series by Julie Caplin. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the publisher, One More Chapter, for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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It’s time to pack your bags and head to the breathtaking, snow-covered peaks of the Swiss Alps for velvety hot chocolates, delicious cheeses and a gorgeous love story…

Food technician Mina has always believed that chocolate will solve everything – and it’s just what she needs when her latest relationship mishap goes viral!

So with her bags packed and a new determination to sort her life out, Mina decides to drown her sorrows with the best hot chocolate in the world at her godmother’s cosy Swiss chalet. Chocolate: yes. Romance: no. Until she has a run in on an Alpine train with a mysterious but oh-so-gorgeous stranger…

I don’t know about you but normally at this time of year I would be planning my travels for the upcoming months. Since lockdown has put the kibosh on booking any jaunts to foreign climes for the foreseeable future, the only travel I can currently do is from the comfort of my armchair via the pages of a book, and there is no better series than Julie Caplin’s Romantic Escapes to take you away for a short while.

So far I have travelled with Julie to Denmark, New York, Paris, Iceland, Croatia and Tokyo, and I have enjoyed every trip, so I was really looking forward to visiting Switzerland through Julie’s eyes. What would she make of the land of chocolate and cuckoo clocks? I can assure you I was not disappointed.

The book got off to a great start as the heroine, Mina’s life explodes in spectacular style as a romantic mishap goes viral and forces her to re-evaluate where she is and where she is heading. Mina is a spontaneous kind of girl who doesn’t really plan, but takes every day as it comes and often acts on a whim. Given the reaction to her latest spur-of-the-moment feat, she starts to wonder if this is the best approach to her future. She decides to head off to her godmother’s ski chalet in Switzerland for a holiday and a chance to take stock and decide what she wants to do with her life. No pressure there! I really loved Mina as a character from the start. She is so totally different to me in every respect that I adored living vicariously through her. If only I had had her gumption at that age!

A chance meeting with a handsome stranger threatens to derail Mina’s new level-headed approach before it really gets off the ground. But she is determined to get serious about her future, however tempting the alternative might be. The author does a great job of setting up sexual chemistry between Mina and the mystery man right from the start that it fizzes off the page and reminded me of how it feels when you first meet someone and there is instant electricity between you. It is perfectly captured here, and you will be wondering how Mina can resist! What willpower.

So, we follow Mina as she discovers her aunt’s cosy ski chalet and explores all the delights that surround it. Amelie has created a homely, welcoming guesthouse where her visitors are like family and return time after time. The lure of sampling delicious Swiss recipes and learning how to cook them, exploring the glorious alps on skis and snowshoes and taking a unique food-tasting trip soon draw Mina in to life in Switzerland, until she doesn’t want to leave, and who can blame her. I was totally in love with the setting and the characters by the time I had finished the book.

Julie Caplin is a genius at bringing the locations of her book to life using every sense available until you are absolutely there, experiencing it all, and this book is no exception. If you walk away from this book without a craving for fondue and hot chocolate, I’ll eat my hat. I could smell the pine and the minty fresh mountain air, feel the heat from the log fires and the crunch of snow under skis and hear the chatter of happy guests as they munched Amelie’s cakes. A 3D reading experience. To top it all off is the promise of a quirky love story at its heart to bring an extra glow to your cheeks.

This is a gorgeous hug of a book that will transport you to the Swiss Alps and then cheer you with food, friends and a happy ending. I can’t think of a more perfect way to while away a lockdown weekend, can you?

The Little Swiss Ski Chalet is out now as and ebook and will be published in paperback on 18 February. You can buy your copy here.

Please do make sure you visit the rest of the wonderful blogs taking part in the tour for more reviews:

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About the Author

Julie Caplin

Julie Caplin, formerly a PR director, swanned around Europe for many years taking top food and drink writers on press trips (junkets) sampling the gastronomic delights of various cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Copenhagen and Switzerland. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. 

These trips have provided the inspiration and settings for her Romantic Escapes series which have been translated into fifteen different languages.

The first book in the seven strong series, The Little Café in Copenhagen, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Connect with Julie:

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

Facebook: Julie Caplin Author

Twitter: @JulieCaplin

Instagram: @juliecaplinauthor

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Blog Tour: The Lake House by Christie Barlow #BookReview

The Lake House

I’m delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Lake House, Book 5 in the popular Love Heart Lane series by Christie Barlow. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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There’s a newcomer to the village of Heartcross and she’s never been more in need of a friend.

Ella is ready to start afresh ––and that could mean there’s love on the horizon in the form of the gorgeous Roman, the local water taxi driver. Every day Roman is there to ferry Ella to the restaurant on the other side of the lake and every night he makes sure she gets home safe. But Roman has secrets of his own…

Can the Love Heart Lane community offer Ella a chance of a new life? Or will the ghosts of her past catch up with her?

Although this is the fifth book in this series, you don’t need to have read any of the previous books in the series to be able to enjoy this one, it works perfectly well as a standalone. Although, I have to warn you that you will probably want to go back and read all the previous ones once you have finished this, so it could be dangerous for your bank balance!

At the beginning of the book, we meet Ella at the lowest ebb of her life. She has been betrayed and loses everything that is important to her, and has no idea what she is going to do with her life, until her best friend Callie swoops in and carries her off to the tiny village of Heartcross where Callie plans to help Ella get back on her feet. After all, Heartcross is a magical place.

This probably sounds very saccharine, especially if you are off a cynical disposition, but if you are a fan of light romances, I promise you that this book is heartwarming and absolutely full of charm, thanks to the skill of Christie’s writing. You won’t be able to help getting invested in Ella’s fate, and the goings on in Heartcross, especially once you get to know the other characters in the book.

Particularly Dolores. I absolutely loved Dolores. Christie has created someone so vivid and alive that she jumps off the page of the book and straight in to your imagination fully formed, and she is a total firecracker. She is one of those women that you hope you will turn in to when you get old, still full of life and joy and hope. I loved the way she is there to show Ella that there is so much for her to live for, even though she has been hurt and let down, and the end to her personal story really moved me. I had a tear in my eye at the culmination of her plot line.

Despite the fact that this is a light romance, Christie managed to create a lot of tension in the novel, because there were several ways that the story could have gone, although the main catalyst that began the book was actually the least fascinating mystery in the end. The story of Dolores, of how Ella integrates into the Heartcross community, the way she works to help them, whilst healing herself at the same time, and her friendship with Roman were all so wonderful and compelling that, by the time Ella’s old life rears it ugly head again, we barely care. We know Ella is better off where she is now, and we care more about her new life and her old. This is a joy of the book, we all develop and recover and move on just as Ella does, Christie really carries the reader along with the story.

This book was just the tonic that I needed to read after two very heavy, dark reads, dismal January weather and more tragic news. The real world is a bit of a crappy place to be at the moment, Heartcross is a much happier and warmer place to exist for a few hours. It is a place that really crawls under your skin and cheers you from the inside out. Pure escapism, which we all need a bit of at the moment. I have just downloaded Starcross Manor to my Kindle, I’m sure once you visit Heartcross, you’ll want to return too.

The Lake House is out now in ebook format and will be published as a paperback in April. You can buy a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the tour for alternative reviews and other content:

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About the Author

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Christie Barlow is the author of ten bestselling romantic comedies including A Home at Honeysuckle Farm, Love Heart Lane and Clover Cottage. She lives in a ramshackle cottage in a quaint village in the heart of Staffordshire with her four children and two dogs.

Her writing career has come as a lovely surprise when Christie decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. Christie’s dream was to become a writer and the book she wrote to prove a point went on to become a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.

When Christie isn’t writing she enjoys playing the piano, is a keen gardener and loves to paint and upcycle furniture.

Christie is an ambassador for the @ZuriProject alongside Patron of the charity, Emmerdale’s Bhasker Patel. They raise money and awareness for communities in Uganda.

Christie loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Connect with Christie:

Website: https://christiebarlow.com/

Facebook: Christie Barlow Author

Twitter: @ChristieJBarlow

Instagram: @christie_barlow

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Blog Tour: The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas by Cressida McLaughlin #BookReview

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Hannah Swan is looking forward to Christmas for the first time in years. Her new job as an eco-consultant is taking her – and her geeky colleague, Noah – to the beautiful Cornish village of Porthgolow for the first time.

They are helping the Crystal Waters Hotel to ramp up its green credentials, though after a bumpy journey, Hannah can’t shake off the feeling that Porthgolow is strangely familiar. Never able to resist a mystery, her interest is piqued when the hotel’s staff and customers report odd noises and sightings, believing the hotel to be haunted.

When bad weather cuts off Porthgolow, Hannah and Noah are looking at a Cornish Christmas. It gives them plenty of time to work out what is really going on, but will their yuletide escape send shivers up their spines? Or will it be as warm and toasty as a glass of mulled wine?

I’m delighted to to taking part today in the blog tour for the latest book by one of my favourite authors, The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas by Cressida McLaughlin. My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part and to the publisher, HarperCollins, for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

As a massive fan of Cressida’s books, and the Cornish Cream Tea series in particular, I was really excited to return to Porthgolow at Christmas and see what all my favourite characters were up to, and meet some new ones. The life of coastal towns in the winter when tourists are thin on the ground and the town is handed back to the locals is an entirely different proposition to the previous books which have been set during the busy months of the year, and I was fascinated to get a peep at what might, or might not, be going on.

The book is set largely in the spa hotel, where new character Hannah has come down from Edinburgh to stay for a week and help owner Daniel improve the hotel’s eco credentials. She is assisted by local freelancer, Noah, whom she has never met before, so both we and Hannah are getting to know him at the same time. Hannah was a character that I warmed to from the very beginning, which meant I felt invested in the book from the first page and I fairly flew through the story. This is the overriding genius of Cressida’s writing, she always manages to create believable characters that you care about and draw you into the story until you are fully involved and desperate to know what happens to them. I loved the way she managed to integrate them so seamlessly into the tight knit community she has already built in my head.

The Cornish setting is equally as beautiful and tempting in the winter – perhaps even more so – with empty beaches, cosy pubs and Christmas sparkle dangling from every spare twig. You can practically smell the pine coming off the page as she brings the setting to life. And the food, oh the food. The main character, Hannah, is a foodie, so there is ample opportunity to shoehorn in descriptions of delicious dishes and delicacies – in the hotel, the pub, the weekly food market and, of course, on the Cornish Cream Tea Bus itself. You will come away from the book either starving or feeling like you have eaten a twelve course meal, it’s a toss up.

There is plenty of action to keep the plot moving along with violent storms, a dramatic coastal rescue and a ghostly mystery running alongside the romance, so there are no slow patches in the story. Despite being 370 pages, the book raced past in no time and I was sad to get to the end, but satisfied with the conclusion. As with all Cress’s books, I was left with a warm, contented glow, underscored with a wistful longing for her next book. Not much more that a fan of romantic Christmas stories could wish for. Just remind me never to visit Portgolow in real life, it is the Cornish equivalent of the Hotel California. ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!’

The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

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

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About the Author

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Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David. When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful Norfolk coastline.

Connect with Cressy:

Website: https://cressidamclaughlin.com/

Facebook: Cressida McLaughlin Author

Twitter: @CressMcLaughlin

Instagram: @cressmclaughlin

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Book Review: The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

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Will all three women have their Christmas wishes come true?

Christmas is coming and best friends ChloeJules, and Lucy are needing change… so swapping homes for the holidays could be the perfect present for all of them!

Australian Chloe spends her Christmas in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England. She is totally star-struck when she discovers who lives across the road.

Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.

And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend her Christmas on a beach with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away is just what she needed.

The only thing better than one Christmas romance is three.

This week I am taking part in the One More Chapter Readalong for The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker and I’m delighted to be sharing my review with you today.. My thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I was just in the mood for an uplifting, festive read when I picked up this book, the news is quite depressing at the moment isn’t it, and what a perfect choice this is for anyone looking for something to warm their cockles and bring a sprinkling of Christmas cheer into their lives. It also addresses one of the burning questions of the age – is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

The book follows three friends who meet on holiday aged eleven and forge a bond that survives over the years, despite the fact they all live on different continents. Fast forward a couple of decades and all of the girls are at some kind of cusp in their lives with issues that need a shake up. Will swapping homes and Christmases for one year provide the catalysts they need to move to the next stage of their lives?

The premise of the book is charming and it works perfectly. Cue the opportunity for the author to transport us to three very different countries for three very different Christmases. In Oxford, Melbourne and Colorado, the three girls are taken in by their friend’s families and find out how the other half does Christmas. Warm beaches, snowy mountains and the English countryside provide the perfect backdrops against which the girls can explore unique Christmas traditions, and maybe make new friends, even of a romantic variety! The author does an absolutely fabulous job of drawing the different environments and transporting the reader there. This book is armchair travel at its most enticing and I felt like I had been transported to the locations in the novel. I defy anyone to come away from reading this book and not wish they could be snow-shoeing through a quiet, Colorado forest or doing a horseback tour of Australian wineries. My passport is itching just thinking about it, especially given my lack of travel this year.

For me, the most compelling thing about this book is the portrayal of the friendship between the three girls. Each of the characters was perfectly drawn and absolutely believable, and the dynamic between them realistic and charming to read. I have two very close groups of female friends who mean the world to me and are the first people I would turn to, in times of trouble and turmoil, but also in times of joy and success. I recognised immediately the workings of the friendship between these women, even went it was sent slightly off track, and it was such a joy to read. I so wanted everything to work out for them, shared their happiness and disappointment throughout and, by the end, I didn’t want to leave their company. I felt like they had become my friends, and I really want to know how things end up for them.

This is a really cheering read with the perfect flavour of Christmas to get you in the mood for the upcoming holiday. I would highly recommend it to all fans of romance looking for a bit of Yuletide cheer. And, as for that burning question at the beginning – is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Of course it is, and that is a hill I am prepared to die on.

The Christmas Swap is out now in ebook and paperback and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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I’m a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list. I love exploring new places, outdoor adventures, and eating and drinking like a local when I travel, and many of my travel adventures have found homes in my novels. I’m also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob.

My first novel, a romantic comedy set in Greece and inspired by my real-life love story, was published in June 2019 by One More Chapter (HarperCollins). In 2020, two follow-ups in the Holiday Romance series hit the shelves: That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney. My novel, The Christmas Swap, is a stand-alone inspired by some of my own Christmas adventures, and I am currently writing my 5th book (the 4th in the Holiday Romance series) and 6th book (a stand-alone), with plans for 7 and 8!

Connect with Sandy:

Website: https://sandybarker.com/

Facebook: Sandy Barker Author

Twitter: @sandybarker

Instagram: @sandybarkerauthor

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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.

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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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Book Review: Love in Lockdown by Chloe James

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Do you believe in love before first sight?

Lockdown is putting Sophia’s life on pause – just as she planned to put herself out there and meet someone. When the first clap for the keyworkers rings out around her courtyard, she’s moved to tears for all kinds of reasons.

Jack is used to living life to the fullest. He’s going stir-crazy after just days isolating. Until the night he hears a woman crying from the balcony under his. He strikes up a conversation with the stranger and puts a smile on her face.

Soon their balcony meetings are the highlight of Jack and Sophia’s days. But even as they grow closer together, they’re always kept apart.

Can they fall in love during a lockdown?

This book was reviewed at the request of the author. I received a digital copy via NetGalley, so my thanks go to Avon Books for supplying the book for review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

I am sure there are going to be a proliferation of romance novels set during these strange lockdown times we have been suffering over the last nine months and, I have to say, it was with some trepidation that I approached this book. I am not a fan of gimmicky books that are written just to take advantage of a current trend, they often lack in any passion or conviction. Having just finished Love in Lockdown by Chloe James, wiping tears from the corner of my eyes, I am delighted to say that this is definitely not one of those books and I absolutely loved it.

The book follows the stories of Sophia and Jack who live above one another in a block of flats. They have never met but, as the UK goes into lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, they introduce themselves during the Thursday night ‘Clap For Carers,’ and things move on from there. The question is, is it possible to fall in love with someone whom you’ve never seen.

The author has done an absolutely fantastic job of capturing a lot of the tiny things that became symbolic of the pandemic and the unique times we are currently living in. The sense of isolation, but also the new community spirit and idea of caring for others that has grown up out of necessity in recent months. All of the familiar goings on are here – the difficulty of getting supermarket delivery slots, lack of flour, trying to explain Zoom to the elderly generation, NHS rainbows, the importance of pets, antibaccing your shopping, bad haircuts, socially-distanced weddings, furlough, and everything else that is the new normal. Does anyone even remember what the world used to be like?

Despite the fact that she has shoehorned all of this into the book, it never feels contrived or unnecessary. The writing is done in such a sympathetic and understanding way that it is very difficult to believe this book was written while lockdown was going on, and not with the benefit of some distance from the experience. I am amazed that she has managed to achieve such balance and beauty in the writing in these circumstances; there is no doubt that the author is very talented.

There were so many really touching moments in the book that moved me to tears, and other moments of real humour. It is a very uplifting book, which I wasn’t expected, mired as we in this as an ongoing problem and something that is causing so much anguish still. I know that for many people it is going to be too soon to be reading about the situation in a piece of fiction, it is still too close and raw a pain, but if you do want to read a novel set in this time, you won’t do much better. If you are a fan of books such at Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare, this has a similar feel and I am sure you would enjoy this.

Love in Lockdown was an unexpected, positive pleasure and I would not hesitate to recommend it to romance fans everywhere.

Love in Lockdown is out as an ebook on 23 November, and in paperback in March 2021, and you can pre-order your copy here.

About the Author

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Chloe James is a pseudonym for Fiona Woodifield whose debut novel, ‘The Jane Austen Dating Agency‘ was published in February 2020.

Fiona writes uplifting romantic comedies. When not to be found with her head in a book, she is usually out in the countryside enjoying the changeable British weather with her family and three dogs.

Connect with Chloe:

Website: https://fionawoodifield.co.uk/

Facebook: Fiona Woodifield

Twitter: @FionaWoodifield

Instagram: @f.woodifield

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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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Friday Night Drinks with… Pernille Hughes

FRIDAY NIGHT DRINKS

I’m delighted to be welcoming to the blog tonight for Friday Night Drinks, fellow RNA member and author… Pernille Hughes.

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

Ooh, I’ll have an Aperol Spritz please. I spotted people drinking them on a trip to Venice many moons ago, was seduced by the colour and ensnared ever since.

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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 think we’d go to a Cringe night. Imagine the downstairs bar of a pub in a London square. There’s a stage and we are sitting with our drinks, listening to brave people read from their teenage diaries to enthusiastic strangers. Such a fun night out, and we’d laugh so much.

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Ooh, I haven’t heard of those, that sounds like fun. I’ve got an old one somewhere with a picture of Tom Cruise as Maverick stuck to the front. 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 think Dorothy Parker or Doris Day. I can’t quite decide, but they would be very different experiences, I think. Dorothy would bring the biting wit and Doris would just be super lovely at all times. And obviously George Clooney, because George Clooney.

Yes, George Clooney requires NO explanation! 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?

I’m just finishing a draft of a enemies to lovers romcom at the moment. It’s an idea my editor has asked me to write, so I’m really hoping she likes it! And then I’m revising a draft of another romcom, a ‘bristly neighbours’ plot which is one of my own ideas. It’s setting is somewhere akin to Highgate Cemetery, which is the most beautiful-in-a-rambling-way, story-rich place (I recommend to tour to anyone who loves a bit of social history) and while it’s probably an unusual romcom setting it was just somewhere I wanted to write about. I’m hoping they’ll go down well with my readers!

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

Overcoming my Inner Critic is definitely my biggest challenge, because maaan, she is a cow. My proudest moment is probably holding a copy of my first book in my hands and giving it a good hard sniff. Or else it was telling my husband that my second book Probably the Best Kiss in the World was number one in the Amazon Beer category.

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I have one of those bitchy inner voices too! 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!

Doesn’t every writer dream of their book on the big screen? Probably that, but on a smaller scale I’d love to have a foreign language version of my book in my grubby mitts. That would be special. And an audiobook too. Actually, just hit me up with an entire shelf of various versions. And more books to my name, of course – I just have to write them.

What are have planned that you are really excited about?

Well, here we are in the times of Corona, so all the plans I had have been shelved over the last months. My youngest daughter and I had a week in Copenhagen cancelled, so I am looking forward to having that with her one day, and later, when the world is safe and open again, I’d like to take a lot of city breaks. My critique partner of 7 years who lives in California and I were supposed to meet for the first time in Amsterdam at Easter, but that got cancelled too. Crossing fingers for next year …

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?

The British Virgin Islands were beautiful –  my husband and I sailed around the islands before we had children, and I’d love a revisit. Otherwise I love Mauritius, in fact anywhere where I can be warm and have barefeet. That said I’m always happy when back in Denmark where my parents live– and I get to have bare feet there in the summer too. I have a thing for canals in cities, hence I wrote a hero with a Copenhagen houseboat in Probably the Best Kiss in the World, so I would really like to go to Amsterdam and also Stockholm one day. In fact, my husband and I did plan to go to Stockholm for our honeymoon, but kids happened and 19 years on we have yet to go.

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

My publisher first introduced me on social media by having me jump out of a wheelie bin, because they couldn’t find a box or enormous cake. Such is the glamour of my life.

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’?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein knocked my socks off. Normally I would shy from a wartime book, but this is a fabulous story of female friendship between a spy and a pilot in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

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‘I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.’

In wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive.  When a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France, she is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in ‘Verity’s’ own words, as she writes her account for her captors.

Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they’ve ever believed in is put to the test . . .

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?

Not drinking Chardonnay is my preventative plan, and also having Paracetemol by my bedside for when I wake up in the night and feel the first twinges of what is to come. Going back to sleep on a painkiller seems to work for me. Go to cure is simply to revert to bed, lamenting ‘poor me’ and telling myself I am old enough to know better. That or a fry-up, with a hair-of-the-dog drink later in the day.

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

Brunch somewhere with Eggs Benedict (ham not bacon), and cosying up after, on a sofa with a romcom (film or a book) but this never happens ever, because I have a family with four teenagers and there is always stuff to be sorted. I can dream though …

Pernille, it has been so lovely chatting to you, thank you very much for taking the time to join me on the blog this evening.

Pernille’s latest book is Probably the Best Kiss in the World, a romcom part-set in Copenhagen. You can buy a copy of the book here.

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Jen Attison likes her life Just So. But being fished out of a canal in Copenhagen by her knickers is definitely NOT on her to do list.

From cinnamon swirls to a spontaneous night of laughter and fireworks, Jen’s city break with the girls takes a turn for the unexpected because of her gorgeous, mystery rescuer.

Back home, Jen faces a choice. A surprise proposal from her boyfriend, ‘boring’ Robert has offered Jen the safety net she always thought she wanted. But with the memories of her Danish adventure proving hard to forget, maybe it’s time for Jen to stop listening to her head and start following her heart…

Pernille (pronounced Pernilla) studied Film & Literature at uni and took her first job in advertising, having been lured by the temptation of freebies, but left when Status Quo tickets was as good as it got. After a brief spell marketing Natural History films, she switched to working in Children’s television which for a time meant living in actual Teletubbyland, sharing a photocopier with Laa-Laa.

Now, she lives in actual Buckinghamshire, sharing a photocopier with her husband and their four offspring. While the kids are at school she scoffs cake and writes RomCom stories in order to maintain a shred of sanity.

She’s written for the Sunday Times Travel section, and had two short stories published in the bestselling Belinda Jones SUNLOUNGER anthologies.

She currently has two books out with One More Chapter (HarperCollins); PROBABLY THE BEST KISS IN THE WORLD and PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (formerly Sweatpants At Tiffanie’s).

you can find out more about Pernille and her writing on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Desert Island Books with… Morton S. Gray

Desert Island Books

Today’s Desert Island Books have been chosen by Morton S. Gray. Morton, very naughtily, has tried to squeeze in extra books by sending me a picture of her ‘keeper shelf’ to include. I am on to you, Morton, it is five books only! No exceptions. Let’s see what she has picked.

Book One – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice, which opens with one of the most famous sentences in English Literature, is an ironic novel of manners. In it the garrulous and empty-headed Mrs Bennet has only one aim – that of finding a good match for each of her five daughters. In this she is mocked by her cynical and indolent husband.

With its wit, its social precision and, above all, its irresistible heroine, Pride and Prejudice has proved one of the most enduringly popular novels in the English language.

I’ve loved this book ever since I read it as a school text many, many years ago. I don’t think I could ever get bored of Austen’s wit.

Book Two – Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

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When the abandoned strays from a local dogs’ home are matched with brand new owners, it turns out it might not just be the dogs who need rescuing.

Rachel’s aunt has left her a house, a Border Collie and, despite knowing nothing about dogs, a crowded kennel. But since her life has collapsed she’s not sure she can deal with any more lost souls.

Zoe’s ex-husband has given their children a puppy. The kids are in love, but she’s the one stuck training Toffee the impossible Labrador. She’s nearly at the end of her tether – until Toffee leads her to a handsome doctor . . .

Meanwhile Natalie and Johnny’s marriage hasn’t been easy since they started trying for a baby. But is a fridge-raiding, sofa-stealing Basset hound like Bertie really the child substitute they’re looking for?

As the new owners’ paths cross on the town’s dog-walking circuits, their lives become interwoven. And they – and their dogs – learn some important lessons about loyalty, companionship and unconditional love . . .

I must have read this one three or four times, so it would be a good choice for the desert island. Full of real life highs and lows, love and loss, it makes me laugh and cry.

Book Three – North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

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Set in the mid-19th century, and written from the author’s first-hand experience, North and South follows the story of the heroine’s movement from the tranquil but moribund ways of southern England to the vital but turbulent north. Elizabeth Gaskell’s skilful narrative uses an unusual love story to show how personal and public lives were woven together in a newly industrial society.

Another classic – I don’t think new readers would guess how long ago this book was written. The television adaptation starring Richard Armitage as John Thornton was fantastic and true to the book, so I can always imagine Richard when I’m reading the book again on my desert island. Another book full of love, loss, emotion and real life.

Book Four – Wintercombe by Pamela Belle

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Sometimes we find light in the darkest of places…

Tortured by a cold, Puritan father, Silence has learned to conceal her passionate nature inside a prison like shell of passivity. Her eventual marriage does not offer her the escape that she longs for and she craves some semblance of autonomy. It is only the sweep of history that finally offers Silence the freedom she so desires.

Civil war has raged and her sombre husband has been away for two years. Wintercombe, once a tranquil bastion of family virtue, is transformed into an unruly, drunken, and licentious garrison. From this turmoil a still more subtle threat dawns in the handsome shape of Captain Nick Hellier.

As the battle for England is matched by the struggle within her soul, it’s not long before Captain Hellier starts to slowly unlock the chains around Silence’s fragile, Puritan heart…

I’m afraid I always mention this one if I’m asked about a favourite novel, but it is my all time favourite.

The period of English history that fascinates me most is the English Civil War. I’ve been to numerous talks about it and my bookshelves are full of accounts of the war. My son and I even used to go to battle reenactments by The Sealed Knot. I’m particularly interested in the role of women in the conflict and really must get around to finishing my own series of novels about this time.

Wintercombe is set in the period and I can easily imagine myself in the shoes of Lady Silence St Barbe, the heroine of the novel. This must be the book I have read more times than any other, at least ten times already.

Book Five – The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain

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

Morton let me pick her last book from a list that she had recently enjoyed, so I’ve chosen the new novel by Heidi Swain because I adore Heidi’s books and it would be great to have one to keep you company on a desert island.

My luxury item

I love my perfumed soaps! I went on a course to learn how to make them and I’m hooked. So, I guess I’d want a bag of different soaps. I’m now experimenting with putting a crystal in the middle of my creations and using flower essences in the soap mix, to combine crystal healing and mood enhancers with my shower. At least I’d be clean on my desert island.

About Morton S. Gray

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Morton lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K. She has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.

Her debut novel The Girl on the Beach was published after she won the Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition. This story follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s new headteacher, Harry Dixon. The book is available as a paperback and e-book.

Morton’s second book for Choc Lit The Truth Lies Buried is another romantic suspense novel, The book tells the story of Jenny Simpson and Carver Rodgers as they uncover secrets from their past. This book is available as an e-book, paperback and audiobook.

Christmas at Borteen Bay is Morton’s first Christmas novella. It is set in her fictional seaside town of Borteen and follows the story of Pippa Freeman, who runs the Rose Court Guesthouse with her mother, and local policeman Ethan Gibson, as they unravel a family secret as Christmas approaches.

Morton previously worked in the electricity industry in committee services, staff development and training. She has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. She also has diplomas in Tuina acupressure massage and energy field therapy. She enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.

Morton’s latest release is bestselling Sunny Days on the Beach, her fourth novel for Choc Lit. Now available as an e-book and audio download, this is what the book is about:-

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From party nights at the pub to sunny days at the beach …

Craft shop owner Mandy Vanes has always enjoyed a commitment-free singleton lifestyle — in fact, she’s well-known for her wild ways in her small seaside town on the coast.

But when local teenager, Nick Crossten, turns to her for help, Mandy has the opportunity to prove she can be a responsible adult. Although things get tricky when gin distillery owner Graham Frankley comes to town with some unexpected news.

Could this mean that Mandy the party girl is finally ready to grow up?

Connect with Morton:

Website – www.mortonsgray.com

Facebook: Morton S Gray

Twitter – @MortonSGray

Instagram – @morton_s_gray

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