Blog Tour: Blue Hawaiian by Carla Luna #BookReview

Blue Hawaiian

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Blue Hawaiian by Carla Luna. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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The first rule of serving as the maid of honor at your perfect sister’s destination wedding?

No mistakes. The second rule? No drama.

For Jess Chavez, a week in Maui is hardly a dream vacation—not when her sister expects her to be the perfect maid of honor. Not only does Jess have to fake perfection, but she can’t let anyone know she’s unemployed and barely scraping by. Above all, she needs to steer clear of Connor Blackwood, the sexy groomsman who broke her heart five years ago.

A family wedding offers Connor the ideal opportunity to convince everyone he’s no longer an irresponsible playboy. If they see he’s changed, they might support his decision to leave the family winery and strike out on his own. With so much at stake, the last thing he needs is an alluring distraction like Jess.

When Jess and Connor end up together, exploring the island’s lush, tropical beauty, the sparks between them become impossible to ignore. Throwing caution to the wind, they decide to make their own rules.

Five days of passion. No strings. No tears. No promises.

What could possibly go wrong?

I don’t read a lot of romance focused on the American market. Their tastes in love stories tend to towards the saccharine, which doesn’t always appeal to the more cynical British sensibilities, and I normally prefer something a little more realistic (I know some people will argue that UK-focused romance books are also unrealistic, that’s a debate for a different post!). However, Blue Hawaiian, is a different type of book, and one I enjoyed much more than the sugar-sweet options.

The story is told from the perspectives of two protagonists, Jess and Connor, who have known each other since they were children. The couple have a chequered romantic history, so being thrown together at a tense family wedding was always going to be stressful, never mind that they are both the black sheep of their respective families who have the burden of trying to show they are being responsible to their relatives for different reasons.

So far, so great. We have troubled romantic history, a wedding, family tensions and the beautiful setting of Hawaii to satisfy the armchair traveller in me. Jess and Connor are both young and attractive, and the sexual tension between them crackles off the page, so all the elements for a great romance are there.

The author has done a fantastic job in this book of drawing some wonderful characters. I absolutely loved Jess, who is ballsy and strong and independent, yet still riddled with flaws and doubts and behaves imperfectly. Connor is sexy and flawed, but fundamentally a good person, and they are obviously meant to be together, so watching them bumble about getting it wrong is frustrating and entertaining in the way all great romances are. I identified strongly with Jess’s stressed, perfectionist older sister Gabi, absolutely adored Brody, and thought the family relationships were drawn very honestly. The book had plenty of action and tension throughout, so it kept rolling along at an entertaining pace, with no flaccid periods.

The book is quite raunchy in places, so don’t be expecting a sweet romance and people who don’y like steamy scenes will need to avoid those. I personally enjoyed it and thought like it was an honest portrayal of how young people feel and behave. The whole book was a refreshing change for me, because it is obviously not a romance written by a British writer, but was not the overly-cute American love story that you often find. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fresh, sparky and sexy, a very entertaining read.

Blue Hawaiian is out now in ebook and paperback formats, and you can buy a copy here.

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

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About the Author

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Carla Luna writes contemporary romance with a dollop of humor and a pinch of spice. A former archaeologist, she still dreams of traveling to far-off places and channels that wanderlust into the settings of her stories. When she’s not writing, she works in a spice emporium where she gets paid to discuss food and share her favorite recipes. Her passions include Broadway musicals, baking, whimsical office supplies, and pop culture podcasts. Though she has roots in Los Angeles and Victoria, B.C., she currently resides in Wisconsin with her family and her spoiled Siberian cat.

Connect with Carla:

Website: https://www.carlalunabooks.com/

Facebook: Carla Luna Author

Twitter: @casacullen

Instagram: @carlalunacullen

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Desert Island Books with… Eva Glyn

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Today’s castaway choosing the five books and one luxury item to accompany her to her desert island home is a great friend of mine, author…. Eva Glyn, and I’m very excited to see what she has chosen. So let’s get on with it!

Book One – Last Dance in Havana by Rosanna Ley

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Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he’s the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro’s army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?

England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother’s untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulder to cry on – Grace’s career is in flux, she isn’t sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she’s begun to develop feelings for their best friend Theo. Theo is a Cuban born magician but even he can’t make Grace’s problems disappear. Is the passion Grace feels for Theo enough to risk her family’s happiness?

Rosanne Ley is one of my go to authors and Last Dance in Havana is my favourite of her books. She is a brilliant writer (and creative writing tutor) and has the gift of transporting you somewhere so completely, you can almost believe you are there – something very useful once you’ve been on a desert island for a while. This book is set mainly in Bristol, a city I know well, and partly in Cuba, and for me the characters are like old friends. Elisa, who left Havana in 1958 and now longs to return, is particularly memorable and I know I would look forward to seeing her again.

Book Two – The Hourglass by Tracy Rees

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How much can a place change your life?

1950. Chloe visits Tenby every summer. She stays with relatives, and spends the long, idyllic days on the beach. Every year is the same, until she meets a glamorous older boy and is instantly smitten. But on the night of their first date, Chloe comes to a realisation, the aftermath of which could haunt her forever.

2014. Nora has always taken success for granted, until suddenly her life begins to fall apart. Troubled by anxiety and nightmares, she finds herself drawn to the sweeping beaches of Tenby. But Tenby hides a secret, and Nora will soon discover that this little town by the sea has the power to heal even the most painful memories.

This is a book I didn’t immediately warm to but it ended up being one of my favourites. It’s a dual timeline with part in the 1950s, and it was this story which first entranced me, as young teenager Chloe arrives from the Welsh valleys for her annual summer stay with her cousins in Tenby. The way her sheer joy of being there cracks open her attempted veneer of sophistication as the bus starts down the hill into the town must be one of my favourite scenes ever. And of course I am Welsh, so reading this book would always remind me of home.

Book Three – The Story of England by Michael Wood

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In The Story of England Michael Wood tells the extraordinary story of one English community over fifteen centuries, from the moment that the Roman Emperor Honorius sent his famous letter in 410 advising the English to look to their own defences to the village as it is today.

The village of Kibworth in Leicestershire lies at the very centre of England. It has a church, some pubs, the Grand Union Canal, a First World War Memorial – and many centuries of recorded history. In the thirteenth century the village was bought by William de Merton, who later founded Merton College, Oxford, with the result that documents covering 750 years of village history are lodged at the college.

Building on this unique archive, and enlisting the help of the current inhabitants of Kibworth, with a village-wide archeological dig, with the first complete DNA profile of an English village and with use of local materials like family memorabilia, the story of Kibworth is the story of England itself, a ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ for the entire nation.

I may be Welsh but this book is all about England, and in particular one small corner of it – the village of Kibworth in Leicestershire – and that makes it a history like no other. By taking the focus down to this microscopic level, Wood creates real depth and also a fascinating narrative thread as we meet the same families again and again. But the lessons can be applied outwards to the whole country, and that is its genius. I love the history of ordinary people – and I’ve had a crush on Michael Wood since his Trojan War days – so double the reason to take this book with me.

Book Four – The Collected Poems of Glyn Jones

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This volume gathers together Glyn Jones’s previously published poems, together with a number that appear for the first time.

There had to be a poetry book and this one is very special to me, because I read from it to my mother the morning she died and we had a lovely time. Glyn was a good friend of my parents, and that’s the reason I took his name as my pseudonym. Apart from his absolutely wonderful way with words – perhaps just a little of it will rub off on me!

Book Five – One August Night by Victoria Hislop

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25th August 1957. The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony. And a moment of violence has devastating consequences.

When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart and, for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy.

In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.

I’m taking a bit of a chance on this one because I haven’t read it, but it would be great to have something new to look forward to. I love her writing and The Island was the first book of hers I read so her return to Spinalonga will surely be a treat.

My luxury item

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The essential item I couldn’t live with would be a notebook and pencil. I know it’s not original, but I’m an author. And all the better if the pencil has a little rubber on the end so I can keep only the very best of words!

About the Author

Eva Glyn on her travels

Eva Glyn writes emotional women’s fiction inspired by beautiful places and the stories they hide. She loves to travel, but finds inspiration can strike just as well at home or abroad.

She cut her teeth on just about every kind of writing (radio journalism, advertising copy, PR, and even freelance cricket reporting) before finally completing a full length novel in her forties. Four lengthy and completely unpublishable tomes later she found herself sitting on an enormous polystyrene book under the TV lights of the Alan Titchmarsh Show as a finalist in the People’s Novelist competition sponsored by Harper Collins. Although losing out to a far better writer, the positive feedback from the judges gave her the confidence to pursue her dreams.

Eva lives in Cornwall, although she considers herself Welsh, and has been lucky enough to have been married to the love of her life for twenty-five years. She also writes as Jane Cable.

The Missing Pieces of Us is Eva’s first novel for One More Chapter and will be published on 21st July. When Robin and Izzie meet again after twenty years they discover their memories of their brief affair are completely different. Who is right, and who is wrong? And how can they create a future when so many pieces of their past are missing? You can pre-order the book here.

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There are three versions of the past – hers, his, and the truth.

When Robin Vail walks back into widow Isobel O’Briain’s life decades after he abruptly left it, the dark days since her husband’s unexpected passing finally know light. Robin has fallen on hard times but Izzie and her teenage daughter Claire quickly remind him what it’s like to have family…and hope.

But Robin and Izzie are no longer those twenty-something lovers, and as they grow closer once more the missing pieces of their past weigh heavy. Now, to stop history repeating, Izzie and Robin must face facts and right wrongs…no matter how painful.

Connect with Eva:

Facebook: Eva Glyn Author

Twitter: @JaneCable

Instagram: @evaglynauthor

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Blog Tour: The Love Island Bookshop by Kate Frost #BookReview

The Love Island Bookshop

I am delighted to be one of the blogs kicking off the tour today for The Love Island Bookshop by Kate Frost. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for allowing me to take part in the tour and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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A dream job, two handsome men, one destructive act. Will Freya’s opportunity of a lifetime end in tears?

When Freya leaves her publishing job in London to be a barefoot bookseller in the Maldives, it’s the push she needs to move on from her sadness and reignite her passion for life.

While resort owner Zander is charming, it’s handsome dive instructor Aaron who befriends her when she needs it most. But all is not what it seems and there’s trouble brewing in paradise.

Taking a chance on happiness is harder than she imagined. Can Freya let go of her heartache and allow herself to fall in love again?

I am sure I am not the only book lover who saw the job advertisement for someone to run a book shop on a tropical island a few years ago and thought it was their dream job. I even thought seriously for a few moments about ditching my OH and the kids and applying anyway, then reality reasserted itself and I filed it away as a lovely daydream. Kate Frost took a different route and used it as inspiration for a book. A book through which I now get to live out my fantasy of running that bookshop in paradise.

Here we are whisked away to the Maldives, where Freya is the lucky person from thousands who has been hired by a handsome and wealthy resort owner to run a ‘barefoot bookshop’ at his luxurious couples-only hotel. It really is a dream come true, but Freya is also running away from problems in her life back home, and we all know how well that usually works! Of course, new friends, and attractive dive instructor, Aaron, may provide the distractions she needs.

Freya is very relatable as a character (aside from being the lucky one to get the job of a lifetime!) and I really felt for her and the pain she was in for various reasons. Of course, running away was never going to solve them, but it’s a glorious excuse to explore the idea of a bookshop in paradise, and her problems are very real nonetheless. The book was perhaps more serious in tone than I had been anticipating from the blurb and the cover, but this did not diminish my enjoyment of it.

The romance aspects play out quite quickly, and the book provides two very different, and enticing, love interests for Freya. There are surprising twists and turns along the way which kept me interested, and I didn’t see some of the events which happened coming. Again, there are some quite serious things that happen, that take this book out of the realm of the light and fluffy romcom. Having not read any of Kate’s previous Romantic Escape’s novels, I wasn’t aware of exactly where her books fell in the romance genre, I am sure her fans will know what to expect. For other readers, this book is a well-written romance novel, but not a romcom.

If I had a minor niggle, I probably would have liked more description of time spent in actually running the bookshop, as that concept was what attracted me to the book, but that would be a very minor niggle. What is done brilliantly is the descriptions of the resort in the Maldives, I had a really clear image of the whole island in my mind from what was written on the page and, if a trip to the Maldives doesn’t make it on to your bucket list after reading this, you are an odd fish!

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed The Love Island Bookshop, to the extent that, as soon as I finished it, I downloaded The Baobab Beach Retreat to my Kindle. (If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, as I am, all of Kate’s Romantic Escapes books are currently included in your subscription.) I really enjoyed her plotting, her characterisation and her voice and am keen to read more.

A perfect read for anyone who wants to go armchair travelling this summer, in place of an actual overseas holiday (which looks like most of us at this stage!). Highly recommended.

The Love Island Bookshop is out now in paperback and ebook formats, and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you visit the other marvellous blogs taking part in the tour for this book for alternative reviews:

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About the Author

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Kate Frost is the author of best-selling romantic escape novels (The Baobab Beach Retreat, A Starlit Summer, The Greek Heart and The Amsterdam Affair), character-driven women’s fiction (The Butterfly Storm series and Beneath the Apple Blossom), and Time Shifters, a time travel adventure trilogy for children. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she also taught lifewriting to creative writing undergraduates.

Kate lives in Bristol with her husband, young son, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Frodo. As well as writing novels, she’s also the Director of Storytale Festival, a new city-wide children’s book festival that she co-founded in Bristol in 2019 with the ethos of making books accessible to all and encouraging children and teens to read, write and be creative. Kate feels incredibly lucky to spend her days writing and being immersed in books. 

Connect with Kate:

Website: http://kate-frost.co.uk/

Facebook: Kate Frost

Twitter: @katefrostauthor

Instagram: @katefrostauthor

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Extract: Everyday Magic by Charlie Laidlaw #Extract

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Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it.  She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.

But something has been changing in Carole’s mind.  She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her.  She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.

Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.

Today is publication day for Everyday Magic, the fifth book by author Charlie Laidlaw and, to celebrate publication, I am delighted to be able to share an extract from Chapter One with you to whet your appetite.

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When Carole was little, she found a magic clearing in the woods near her home.She had been exploring, surrounded by oak, birch, and hazel trees, picking her way carefully between bramble and nettle.There was birdsong, squirrels darting across branches, and patterns of sunlight on the woodland floor.She had been looking for bilberries, and her hands were full of the small black fruit.She stopped to sit on an outcrop of rock by a wide stream that, in winter, could quickly become a torrent of brown water.In summer, it was comforting; in winter, treacherous.She ate her bilberries, the stream cascading over a small waterfall; the sound of water in her ears.It was summer and the stream bubbled crystal clear.The woodland rose in folds from the stream, and she climbed steadily upwards.Here, the trees crammed in on her; it was darker.When she looked up, she could only see sunlight trapped on leaves far above.It was a part of the old woodland that she’d never been to before, but she pushed on; she had a feeling that she was on an adventure and might suddenly come across a gingerbread house or wizard’s cottage.

At the top of the hill she found herself in a small clearing.It was only a few yards across, framed with oak trees, and perfectly round.Sunlight from directly above made the clearing warm, and she stood at its centre, wondering if she was the first person to have ever discovered it.Each of the oak trees around the clearing seemed precisely set, each one a perfect distance from the next, and she walked around them, touching each one, wondering if someone had planted the oak trees, or if the clearing really was a magic place.She still believed in magic.Then she stood again at its centre, wondering at its symmetry and why a long-dead sorcerer might have planted the oak trees.Then, realising that the sorcerer might not be dead and that she had walked uninvited into his private domain, she hurried away, not sure whether to be frightened or excited.But it was a place she often went back to that summer, and on following summers, sometimes alone and sometimes with her little brother.They would sit in the centre of the woodland circle, eating bilberries, hoping to meet the sorcerer who had built the clearing.She wasn’t frightened of him anymore; the clearing was too peaceful to have been made by a bad wizard.It was their secret place, but mainly Carole’s, because she had found it.It was a comforting place: it was somewhere she would go if she was sad or angry about something, because the woodland circle and its shifting half-shadows offered calm and new perspectives.She could almost hear the trees speak to her, the wind in their branches making the leaves whisper, but so softly that she couldn’t understand.She would listen, eyes closed, the leaves rustling, but she never understood what they were saying.The circle of trees stood solid and immovable, dark and stoic, old and wise, each one the colour of stone.

If you found this short extract enticing and you would like to get your hands on a copy of the book, you can buy it direct from Ringwood Publishing’s website here.

About the Author

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Author Charlie Laidlaw lives in East Lothian, one of the main settings for Everyday Magic. He has four other published novels: Being Alert!, The Space Between Time, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and Love Potions and Other Calamities. Previously a journalist and defence intelligence analyst, Charlie now teaches Creative Writing in addition to his writing career.

Connect with Charlie:

Website: https://www.charlielaidlawauthor.com/

Facebook: Charlie Laidlaw

Twitter: @claidlawauthor

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Leonie Mack

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This week on Romancing The Romance Authors, I am delighted to be quizzing author, Leonie Mack, on writing romance and what romantic fiction means to her.

Welcome to the blog, Leonie. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.

I write romantic comedies with big feelings and international locations. My second book, Italy Ever After came out on 11 May. My debut, My Christmas Number One was picked up by Boldwood Books in 2020 and released for Christmas 2020.

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Why romance?

The simple answer is: romance is what I most like to read. I love a story that focuses on a character’s internal journey to a place where they can commit to someone they love.

What inspires your stories?

All sorts of different sparks of inspiration go into each story. For Italy Ever After, for instance, the character of Nick Romano was inspired by a time I walked past a primary school and heard a violin ensemble rehearsing. I imagined the teacher and there was Nick. I wanted to write a real getaway, an escape from daily life, so I chose a place that had made a real impression on me and then I had Lake Garda. The rest of the story fell into place, when you have a teacher and a lake – perfect for a music camp.

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

I used to read every Nora Roberts book I could get my hands on and her writing style greatly influenced mine. I also lapped up the Bridgerton books (back in the 2000s, when they were only books!) and others by Julia Quinn. I love that romantic comedies are so popular at the moment and some of my favourites have been by Mia Sosa and Sally Thorne and I love Lucy Keeling’s romcoms set in Manchester.

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

Ooh, that’s a really difficult question for an author. I deal in complexity! But I’d probably recommend The Hating Game. It’s a very popular book, but I think that’s because everyone can enjoy it!

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Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person’s undoing. 3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman sit across from each other every day . . . and they hate each other.

Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. HATE. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight approach to his job and refusal to smile. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and desire to be liked.

Now they’re up for the same promotion and Lucy, usually a determined people-pleaser, has had enough: it’s time to take him down. But as the tension between Lucy and Joshua reaches its boiling point, it’s clear that the real battle has only just begun . . .

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

Ha! I’m personally not all that romantic in the traditional way. I think that’s why I like romcoms. You can make the relationship progress in all sorts of funny ways that are often misadventures that show love can win in the end. But right now, after the year we’ve had, I’d love to have a weekend in the mountains with my husband to just hike. But if we’re talking a romance hero, I’d say snowed in with a bad-boy rockstar (LOL).

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

Accessing the network at the RNA is so important, even though I only became a member in 2020 and haven’t managed to attend a conference, yet. There’s always someone who has experience of whatever you’re going through and we will always support each other’s books because we all love love stories.

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

Stick with it! The publishing industry has changed so much over the past ten years that if you just keep writing and submitting your work, you’re fairly likely to find someone who loves it eventually. It’s definitely slow and may take years of writing books that never see the light of day, but celebrate those books as part of the learning experience and you’ll get there eventually.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Divorced mum Lou accompanies her daughter Edie on a music camp by Lake Garda, determined to discover her own talents while Edie develops hers. In a series of misadventures, she finally gets to know Edie’s seriously hot but very reserved violin teacher, Nick Romano, and she learns she doesn’t need a special talent to be loved for who she is. Italy Ever After is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

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TV journalist Lou feels battered and bruised after her divorce from Phil, the father of her daughter Edie. Her confidence and sense of fun have steadily been drained away, and she isn’t sure who she is any more.

When the opportunity arises to accompany Edie on a music camp in Italy for a month in the summer, Lou jumps at the chance for new adventures, new horizons and new friends. The hazy warmth of the summer sun, shining brightly over the stunning Lake Garda, slowly brings Lou back to life.

Nick Romano, Edie’s music teacher, loves being home in Italy, but coaching his students for their concert in Milan, is bringing back difficult memories. His blossoming friendship with Lou is the perfect distraction, although a summer fling would be easier to conduct without the scrutiny of his mother Greta, not to mention the interference of his extended Italian family.

As the summer passes, full of sunshine and breath-taking scenery, gelato and delicious feasts, Lou and Nick get ever closer. But as the time for farewell creeps up on them, will they be able to say goodbye and leave their memories behind in the Italian sun, or can a summer romance last a lifetime?

About the Author

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Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great locations and big feelings. She loves a happy ending and shares that love in every book she writes! Leonie is a journalism graduate, a language nut and loves to travel, particularly on foot, by bike and by train. After growing up in Australia and living most of her adult life in London, she now lives in Germany, among the vineyards on the Main river.

Connect with Leonie:

Website: https://leoniemack.com/

Facebook: Leonie Mack

Twitter: @LeonieMAuthor

Instagram: @leoniejmack

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Blog Tour: Summer at the Chateau by Jennifer Bohnet #BookReview

Summer at the Chateau

It is my turn on the blog tour today for Summer at the Chateau by Jennifer Bohnet and I’m thrilled to be sharing my review. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for giving me a place on the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Every end has a new beginning…

When Pixie Sampson’s husband tragically dies, she inherits the beautiful Château Quiltu in Brittany, Northern France.

But unbeknown to her, she also inherits a mysterious lodger, Justine Martin and her 4-year-old son Ferdie.

Heartbroken and with her adventurous Mum, Gwen, in tow, they travel to France to put the Château on the market but are soon drawn into a quest to seek the Château’s secrets.

Who is Justine? Why is she living at the Château? How did she know her husband?

Over the Summer months, the Château fills with family and laughter and secrets are discovered and old wounds begin to heal.

Sometimes you are just looking for a gentle read that doesn’t demand too much from you, but just transports you to a distant place for a relaxed, armchair holiday where you can take in the sights and sounds of a foreign land without any strain, and meander through a quiet family story without too much drama. If this is the case, you could do a lot worse than pick up this delightful book by Jennifer Bohnet, but watch out for the hidden riptides of surprise and emotion seething below the surface!

We start just after the tragic death of Pixie’s husband and the discovery that she is the full owner of a small chateau in France. With her feisty mother in tow, Pixie decides to travel to France and prepare the chateau for sale. Once she gets there, however, she discovers there is a lodger in situ and begins to wonder what secrets her laste husband may have been hiding from her.

The first half of this book is laid-back read, albeit tinged with tragedy as Pixie tries to come to terms with her husband’s death and the discovery of things he hadn’t told her. We travel to France, and the author beautifully brings the countryside of Brittany to life for the reader. One of the reasons I really love Jennifer Bohnet’s writing is that she always manages to perfectly evoke the sense of place of her book’s setting so that you can enjoy it with each of your senses, as if you are really there with the characters.

In the second half of the book, the pace quickens as more family members turn up in France to join Pixie and her mum, and the secrets are gradually revealed. The family relationships are at the heart of this book, and are what really appealed to me about the plot. I loved the relationship between Pixie and her mum, Gwen, and the fact that the story centres around two older protagonists is refreshing and appealing. The dynamics between all of the relatives are honest and realistic and, as someone who comes from a large, rowdy and ever-changing family myself, it felt very familiar. This is a story all about family, love and how we can hurt and heal one another together and I loved that about it.

The book deals with some very painful problems for this family, and I could sympathise with the characters being put through the wringer as facts come to light. Of course, this being the type of book it is, all gets resolved before the end in a very satisfying way, but this does not lessen the anguish of the characters before they get there. Don’t let the cover and the genre fool you, there is some real meat on the bones of this story, and it gives you plenty to chew over amongst the pretty French countryside and within the walls of the charming chateau. This is no bubblegum novel, it is a rewarding read that offers plenty of emotion to anyone who slips between its covers.

Highly recommended to fans of this genre, this is another hit from Jennifer Bohnet that I enjoyed a great deal.

Summer at the Chateau is out now in all formats, and you can buy your copy here.

Make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

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Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

Connect with Jennifer:

Facebook: Jennifer Bohnet

Twitter: @jenniewriter

Instagram: @jenniewriter

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Lizzie Chantree

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Time for another heart to heart about all things romance with an author in the genre, and this week I am delighted to welcome back to the blog… Lizzie Chantree.

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

Hello everyone. I write contemporary women’s fiction about love, romance and feisty entrepreneurs with some pretty unusual businesses. I have eight books published so far and have two more ready to publish. I have both French and American publishers, but I also self-publish in between, so that my readers don’t have to wait too long for another story. I really enjoy both elements of publishing and I now run seminars, where I talk about networking and how authors can broaden their readership and keep isolation at bay.

Why romance?

I love romance! I grew up reading Mills and Boon books from the local library and I adore a mischievous heroine and a swoon-worthy lead man. Romance books are full of laughter and real life issues and they are a wonderful way to connect with readers. I have met so many amazing book lovers since I began writing. Romance stories give us time to step away from any worries for a while and jump into some fun and excitement.

What inspires your stories?

I can be inspired from anything from the way someone holds another person’s hand, to a look that might pass between them. One of my books, the little ice cream shop by the sea, was inspired by seeing an elderly lady who was visibly upset in a café and a young waitress who tried to help her. After the first woman had stopped crying and left the café, I asked the waitress if her friend was ok. The waitress said she’d never met her before and from that grew a story about the kindness of strangers. 

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

I have so many! Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Jackie Collins, Marian Keyes, Freya North, Lisa Jewell, Katie Fforde, Heidi Swain, Liz Fielding… I could think of so many more.

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

If I could only pick one, I’d always go back and read Pride and Prejudice, time and time again.

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Elizabeth Bennett has a keen mind, a sharp wit, and no desire to marry for convenience. When she meets Mr Darcy, her first impressions are far from favourable, and he shows little interest in her. Nor do their opinions improve with further acquaintance. There seems to be little hope of romance; indeed, it might be impossible unless they can confront the flaws in their own natures. Perhaps their first impressions were mistaken?

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

I’d choose Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, as he’s gorgeous, but also because he has principles and is adventurous at the same time. He’s a bit of a contradiction, which makes him mysterious. I’d love to explore his estate and find out more about his family history. It would be fun to see him being more relaxed and enjoying himself, like he is at the end of the book. I’d be quite happy sitting on his front lawn and writing for a few hours, with him beside 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?

I wish I had found the RNA sooner! It’s such a welcoming group to be part of and the support for new writers is second to none. If you are starting out, the RNA offer so much guidance, from courses to mentoring. For a more experienced writer, the RNA gives encouragement, room to learn and a feeling of being part of a huge and fun-filled team. 

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

I’d steer them towards the RNA for advice and guidance, then I’d tell them about networking and how to build up a readership through mutual support and the love of books. Author branding is also very important for customers to be able to see at a glance which genre you write in.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My most recent novel is called Shh… It’s Our Secret. Shh… It’s Our Secret, is about a shy woman called Violet, who is trying to silence her inner critic and step out of the shadows.  Her best friends and sister support her, but she feels like they don’t see the real her, or understand that she has ambitions of her own and skills that could help them all escape from poverty.

To them, she is reliable, slightly dull and not very talented, but she is hiding a secret that could blow this theory sky high. Violet will have to eliminate old demons, learn to stand up for herself and show the world who she really is. The book is out now and you can buy it here in your preferred format.

Shh...Its our secret by Lizzie Chantree

Violet has a secret that could change the lives of everyone she knows and loves, especially the regulars at the run-down café bar where she works. After losing her parents at a young age, they are the closest thing she has to a family and she feels responsible for them.

Kai is a jaded music producer who has just moved outside of town. Seeking solitude from the stress of his job, he’s looking for seclusion. The only problem is he can’t seem to escape the band members and songwriters who keep showing up at his house.

When Kai wanders into the bar and Violet’s life, he accidentally discovers her closely guarded secret. Can Kai help her rediscover her self-confidence or should some secrets remain undiscovered?

About the Author

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International bestselling author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

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Connect with Lizzie:

Website: https://lizziechantree.com/

Facebook: Lizzie Chantree Author

Twitter: @Lizzie_Chantree

Instagram: @lizzie_chantree

Pinterest: Lizzie Chantree

Goodreads: Lizzie Chantree

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Blog Tour: The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan #BookReview

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Three women. Three different stages of life. United by one thing: the chance to start again.

When Elizabeth’s husband dies, leaving her with crippling debt, the only person she can turn to is her friend, Jo. Soon Jo has called in her daughter, Lucy, to help save Elizabeth from bankruptcy. Leaving her old life behind, Lucy is determined to make the most of her fresh start.

As life slowly begins to return to normal, these three women, thrown together by circumstance, become fast friends. But then Jo’s world is turned upside down when she receives some shocking news.

In search of solace, Jo and Elizabeth find themselves enjoying midnight dips in the freezing Irish Sea. Here they can laugh, cry and wash away all their fears. As well as conjure a fundraising plan for the local hospice that will bring the whole community together…

Today, I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour for The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan. Huge thanks to Vicky Joss of Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Sometimes you read a book that just makes you want to call all of your girlfriends, get together for a soul-baring evening of gossip, laughter, tears, big hugs all round, and sharing with them a book that has really moved you because it captures everything that is magical, wonderful and life-affirming about female friendship. There has been far too little of that over the past 18 months and it is one of the things I have missed the most throughout the pandemic restrictions. The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club is one of those books. Faith Hogan has managed to distil the essence of all that is wonderful about female friendship within its pages.

There is a character in this book for everyone to relate to. Elizabeth, recently widowed, whose life has always looked polished and perfect to the residents of Ballycove, but who is struggling behind closed doors with secrets that blighted her marriage, and more than have come to light since her husband’s death. She is supported throughout, as she always has been, by her generous friend, Jo, but Jo is now bearing a huge burden of her own. Jo’s daughter, Lucy, has come to Ballycove to work out a new path in life after her divorce, but will she be able to find a happy ever after that works for both herself and her unhappy son, Niall? Then there is Dan, who has come to Ballycove searching for a ghost from his past and a new way forward. Somehow, these people find amongst themselves a community and a peace that will see them all through on their different journeys.

This book is soul-warmingly, heart-squeezingly wonderful from beginning to end. From the very start, the stories of each of these women moved me because they were so real and authentic. I absolutely believed every single thing they were going through and all of their responses. The issues that the author addresses in this book – which may not be easy ones for some people to read about because they are so relatable – are something that will have touched each and every one of us in some way or another over the course of our lives, whether directly or through someone we know and we will recognise some of the joy, fear, pain, anguish, love and happiness portrayed here. Faith has really got under the skins of these characters and portrayed what they are going through in a way that communicates every nuance to the reader, so the book carries you along on its tide.

The notion of the Midnight Swimming Club is what will attract a lot of readers to this book, and it plays out exactly the way you hope it would. I adored the scenes involving the women taking to the sea, the feelings the wild swimming evokes in them, the way they talk and share and heal in the water, I believed all of it and was slightly jealous of their experience, even though I know it is fictional. Being able to draw a reader so completely into a world in this way is the skill of a great writer, and the reason we read in the first place. These are the reasons I love Faith’s books.

This is a truly fantastic read for any fans of intelligent and believable women’s fiction. It really moved me, but also left me feeling hopeful and uplifted. If you are a fan of Calendar Girls or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this book will give you the same warm feelings that you get from those movies, whilst still feeling that you have read something containing real emotional truth and an insight into the challenges women can overcome in their lives with support, love, friendship and hope. A gorgeous book.

The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club is out now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 13 May, and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure to visit some of the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour for this book:

About the Author

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Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of five contemporary fiction novels. Her books have featured as Book Club Favorites, Net Galley Hot Reads and Summer Must Reads. She writes grown up women’s fiction which is unashamedly uplifting, feel good and inspiring.

She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!

Connect with Faith:

Website: https://faithhogan.com

Facebook: Faith Hogan Author

Twitter: @GerHogan

Instagram: @faithhoganauthor

Blog Tour: The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday by Kiley Dunbar #BookReview

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I am always delighted to be on a blog tour for Kiley Dunbar, who has fast become one of my favourite romance authors over the past couple of years, so I’m thrilled to be reviewing her new book, The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday, today. Huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for giving me a place on the tour, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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The Fully Booked Bookshop Café invites literature lovers to run their very own bookshop … for a fortnight.

Spend your days talking books with customers in your own charming bookshop and serving up delicious cream teas in the cosy café.

Bookworms, what are you waiting for? Your holiday is going to be LIT(erary).

Apply to: The Fully Booked Bookshop, Down-a-long, Clove Lore, Devon.

Jude Crawley should be on top of the world. She’s just graduated as a mature student, so can finally go public about her relationship with Philosophy professor, Mack.

Until she sees Mack kissing another girl, and her dreams crumble. And worse, their dream holiday – running a tiny bookshop in the harbour village of Clove Lore for two weeks – is non-refundable.

Throwing caution to the winds, Jude heads down to Devon, eager to immerse herself in literature and heal her broken heart.

But there’s one problem – six foot tall, brooding (but gorgeous) Elliot, who’s also reserved the bookshop holiday for two weeks…

As Jude and Elliot put their differences aside to run the bookshop, it seems that Jude might be falling in love with more than just words. Until she discovers what Elliot is running from – and why he’s hiding out in Clove Lore.

Can Jude find her own happy ending in a tiny, tumbledown bookshop? Or is she about to find out that her bookish holiday might have an unexpected twist in the tale…

Do you ever get the impression that an author has written their book just for you? That, as they have sat writing at their desk, they are thinking, ‘I wonder what Julie would like to read next? I know!’ and then they immediately start banging away on their laptop, summoning up the words for your perfect book. That’s how I feel when I read Kiley Dunbar’s books – it’s like she has been rummaging around in my brain, picking through all the things I like the most and then pulling out a bunch of stuff and piecing it together to make the perfect novel for me. This is definitely what has happened with The Borrow A Bookshop Holiday. Let’s examine the evidence, shall we?

Well firstly, the main character is called Jude. That’s almost my name, she’s just cleverly tweaked a couple of letters to avoid any pesky libel problems, clearly. Kiley’s description of Jude – short, curvy, unconcerned with her appearance – makes me think she has been stalking Facebook pictures of me from the early nineties. She’s got my love of books down to a tee (I am absolutely a person who would take a bagful of their own favourite books to a holiday in a bookshop), and my ideal holiday would be running a bookshop by the sea. I would absolutely love to own a bookshop, it is my dream job, the minute I win the lottery I am going to open one. I have its name, logo, colour of the bags… everything already picked out for when it happens. I can’t think of anything I’d love more than having a practice run (sadly, I don’t have a man who shares the same passion to take with me.)

And whilst we are on the subject of men, let’s talk about Elliot for a minute. Earlier this year I did a Facebook Live with a couple of other bloggers for the RNA (an organisation to which Kiley belongs), during which I clearly described my ideal romantic hero as someone who sounds ALMOST EXACTLY LIKE ELLIOT, right down to the tattoos. Coincidence? I think not. She’s flung everything into this book to tailor it precisely to my tastes, the crafty minx.

Joking aside, whatever your tastes in romantic fiction and literary heroes, you’d be quite hard pushed not to enjoy this gorgeous book. It’s got everything you could possibly want in a summery romance. Relatable heroine? Check. Gorgeous location? Absolutely. I so want Clove Lore to be real and to pay it a visit immediately. It made me think a little bit of St. Ives, one of my favourite places to visit in the UK and the real life location that Kiley has used as a basis for the village is now firmly on my radar for my next visit to that part of the world. Great plot hook? Definitely, let’s refer back to the dream of running your own little bookshop for a couple of weeks, what book lover could resist? Fun and engaging supporting cast? There is a matchmaking ice cream seller, pub-owning double act, twin fishermen, supportive best friend and a cute dog, what more can you ask. And then there is the love interest, who is going to give any hot-blooded soul palpitations.

On top of this, Kiley just has such a warm and engaging writing style, that I always feel like her books are embracing me in a warm hug of love and happiness. She clearly loves her characters and is fully invested in their story and giving them the best outcome. On top of this, I can just tell that she is having a ball writing the story, and this shines through in the finished article. The best writing comes from passion, and Kiley’s passion for this book beams from every page to wash over the reader and include them in the joy. If you don’t come away from this book happy and with a big smile on your face, I’ll eat Aldous’ ratty old jumper.

The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday is out now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 22 July (I already have my pre-order in!) and you can buy a copy here.

(This seems an opportune place to repeat the plea from my last review for one of Kiley’s books. Dear Hera, can you please bring out a paperback copy of Summer at the Highland Coral Beach, it is the only one missing from my shelf!)

If you would like to read some other reviews, or find more great content relating to the book, please do visit some of the other blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

Kiley Dunbar author portrait

Kiley Dunbar writes heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places.

Kiley also works as a senior lecturer, teaching creative writing at the Manchester Writing School. One Winter’s Night is shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2021.

Connect with Kiley:

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

Facebook: Kiley Dunbar Author

Twitter: @KileyDunbar

Instagram: @kileydunbarromance

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Helen Buckley

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Time to chat all things romance and the writing thereof with another RNA member, and this week I am delighted to be quizzing author… Helen Buckley.

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

I write thrilling, dramatic contemporary romances about people in the public eye. There are lots of twists and turns, shock revelations, slow-burn romance, and of course, happy ever afters! I currently have a three-book contract with ChocLit and my next novel is due out in July.

Why romance?

I daydream in romance, so I am simply writing down the stories that are in my head. I’m an old-fashioned romantic who loves nothing more than two characters who come together after lots of challenges.

What inspires your stories?

All sorts of things! Strictly on Ice, for example, was inspired by the TV show Dancing on Ice. As my current series involves people in the public eye, I get a lot of inspiration from popular culture and news stories.

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

I used to love reading Catherine Cookson when I was younger, but now I tend to read contemporary romances, by the likes of Lucy Keeling, Marie Laval, Jojo Moyes, Amanda Prowse, and Dani Atkins, for example.

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

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. That book broke me. It is one of the best books I have ever read.

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Will needed Lou as much as she needed him, but will her love be enough to save his life?

Lou Clark
 knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun teashop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

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

My husband is my real-life romantic hero and I’d choose him above anyone else. We’d go to Rome and eat mountains of gelato.

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

I’m a fairly new member but it’s a great way to meet fellow romance authors, find out what they are working on, and there are lots of learning opportunities too which I am looking forward to taking part in!

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

I would say read a lot of romance to help you understand the genre, and try to work on a series of books rather than just one – it’s more marketable.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

A former Olympic skating champion takes part in a new TV show to earn some cash, but she gets more than she bargained for when she’s partnered with a love-rat rugby player, and finds that her ex-boyfriend is on the judging panel! Strictly on Ice is a dramatic, romantic, thrilling read about the world of ice skating and reality TV. It’s available in ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here.

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When falling in love comes with the risk of falling flat on your face …

Former Olympic skating champion Katie Saunders is well known for her ‘ice queen’ persona in the press. On the face of it, perhaps Katie should have forgiven her former skating partner and ex-boyfriend, Alex Michaelson, for the accident that shattered both her ankle and their Olympic dreams – but she just can’t seem to let it go.

When Katie reluctantly agrees to take part in a new TV skating show, it’s only because she’s desperate for cash. What she didn’t count on is the drama – not only is she partnered up with infamous love rat rugby player Jamie Welsh, but one of the judges is none other than Alex Michaelson himself.

As the show progresses, will Katie be shown the hard way, once again, that romance on the ice should remain strictly off-limits?

About the Author

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Ever since Helen was little she wanted to be a writer, to turn daydreams into books. She’s fascinated by fame, in love with Happy Ever Afters, and enthralled by slow-burn romances. She squeezes in time to write around looking after her two sons.

Sign up to her newsletter to receive a FREE download of her novella, The Wrong One, a sweet contemporary romance about being true to yourself. https://BookHip.com/RZSDFSW

Connect with Helen:

Website: www.buckleybooks.org

Facebook: Helen Buckley author

Twitter: @HelenCBuckley

Instagram: @helencatherinebuckley

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