Blog Tour: The Daughter by Liz Webb

The Daughter by Liz Webb cover

I lean in and whisper the question I have never let myself utter in twenty-three years.

“Dad, did you murder Mum?”

Hannah Davidson has a dementia-stricken father, an estranged TV star brother, and a mother whose death opened up hidden fault lines beneath the surface of their ordinary family life.

Now the same age that Jen Davidson was when she was killed, Hannah realises she bears an uncanny resemblance to her glamorous mother, and when her father begins to confuse them she is seriously unnerved.

Determined to uncover exactly what happened to her mum, Hannah begins to exploit her arresting likeness, but soon the boundaries between Hannah and her mother become fatally blurred.

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Daughter by Liz Webb. My thanks to Helen Richardson for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Daughter before I started reading it and I have to say it took me a little while to get into the novel. The book is written in the first person, in the voice of Hannah as she is visiting her dementia-stricken father in hospital after he has had a fall. Hannah’s voice was not clear to me to begin with, I wasn’t even sure if the character was male or female at first and, as a result, it took me a little while to become invested in the story.

However, after a couple of chapters, things began to fall into place and my interest was piqued. Hannah is clearly a troubled young woman, engaging in destructive behaviours, and I was curious about what had led her to this place. As we find out more about her dysfunctional family and the tragic events that splintered their family decades before, the reasons begin to make sense, but I was left wondering if she was an entirely reliable narrator, which always makes a book more interesting. Not knowing whether you can believe what the main protagonist is telling you always builds tension, and even Hannah herself questions whether her memories are reliable when they conflict with those of other people present at the time. Who is mistaken? Who is lying to themselves, or others, to hide the dreadful truth?

This mistrust bleeds through to the other characters, particularly her father, who is in a fog of confusion and has begun to mix Hannah up with his long-dead wife, and her brother, from who she has been estranged for 14 years and is practically unknown to her now, and who practises make-believe for a living. Who is telling then truth and who will benefit from lying? These are the puzzles the engaged reader if left to solve.

The cast of characters is small and manageable, the plot engaging and tense and the writing easy to read and flows well. I thought this stood out as a story I hadn’t read before in the domestic thriller genre and, after a shaky start, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It is full of twists and turns and interesting ideas about families, how they work and how they can mess you up. A theme many people will be able to relate to on some level. This book has a different feel to many books in the genre, an interesting edge to it and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new author.

The Daughter is out now in all formats and you can buy your copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for other great reviews:

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About the Author

Liz Webb Finals-1524 (2) - Multi coloured top - Photographer Ben Wilkin

LIZ WEBB originally trained as a classical ballet dancer but had to give up following a back injury. She then worked as a secretary at the British Library whilst going to night school at the City Lit to get into Oxford University age 23. After graduating, she worked as a stationery shop manager, an art model, a cocktail waitress, stand- up comic, voice-over artist, script-editor, and radio drama producer before becoming a novelist.

Liz Webb was a stand-up comic for ten years performing at clubs across the UK and at festivals in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leicester and Cardiff. At the same time, she worked as a voice-over artist voicing many TV ad campaigns including The Times, Kellogg’s Just Right cereal and Organics hair products.

She also worked for fourteen years as a prolific radio drama producer for the BBC and independent radio production companies.

Liz lives in North London with her husband, son and serial killer cat Freddie.

Connect with Liz:

Website: https://lizwebb.co.uk

Facebook: Liz Webb

Twitter: @LizWebbAuthor

Instagram: @lizwebbauthor

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Blog Tour: The Meet Cute Method by Portia MacIntosh

The Meet Cute Method

I am delighted to be one of the blogs opening the tour for The Meet Cute Method, the new book by Portia MacIntosh, and on publication day to boot! Happy publication day, Portia. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

THE MEET CUTE METHOD

Do movie romances ever happen in real life…?

Frankie doesn’t believe in true love. As relationships expert at popular magazine Stylife, she has learnt that dating disasters are far more common than happy ever afters.

So when she is tasked to find out if meet cutes can work in real life she is up for the challenge – but whether it’s being a damsel in distress with a flat tyre, or spilling coffee over a stranger, she isn’t convinced this can really lead to love.

But little does Frankie know that the ultimate meet cute opportunity is just around the corner. As she is whisked off her feet (all in the name of her work project of course…) perhaps true love isn’t just for the movies after all…?

What a fabulous, fun, fast read this was! I fairly flew through this book, laughing all the way, so enjoyable was it. A really fresh, funny, frenetic book.

Okay, I’ve run out of adjectives beginning with the letter ‘f’ to describe this story now, so I better get in to the meat of the review. This is a really joyous, light-hearted romantic comedy that will whisk you from London to the sandy shores of Hawaii and the bright lights of LA, following the romantic catastrophes of Frankie George. Frankie is the dating columnist on a women’s magazine and her new boss is demanding fresh ideas from Frankie for her column, or the threat of unemployment dangles over her. But Frankie has exhausted all the tired dating routines, so what can she do. Explore some tired movie dating tropes instead, of course.

Frankie is a disaster area when it comes to love, so none of the things she tries run smoothly, which leads to much hilarity for the reader. Portia has a wicked imagination when it comes to awkward scenarios to drop Frankie into. The dog in the park and the date with Tom had me snorting into my tea. Snorting with laughter was a mainstay of this book, which is always a point in a novel’s favour. But alongside this runs the serious issue of why Frankie’s love life is so tragic, and the sweet relationship which builds between herself and Max.

The author does a really fab job of muddying the waters in the book as to who Frankie will end up with, in the middle I was convinced it might go a different way, but the ending made me very happy. There is nothing not to enjoy here, it contains all the perfect ingredients for the ideal romcom – high jinks, beautiful settings, relatable characters and an ending to melt the stoniest of hearts. Fabulous from start to finish. 

The Meet Cute Method is out in both ebook and paperback format today, and you can buy a copy here.

You can also read my recent interview with Portia here.

Many more great blogs coming up on the tour, make sure you visit a few:

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About the Author

Life Author

 

Portia MacIntosh is the bestselling author of over 20 romantic comedy novels.

From disastrous dates to destination weddings, Portia’s romcoms are the perfect way to escape from day to day life, visiting sunny beaches in the summer and snowy villages at Christmas time. Whether it’s southern Italy or the Yorkshire coast, Portia’s stories are the holiday you’re craving, conveniently packed in between the pages.

Formerly a journalist, Portia has left the city, swapping the music biz for the moors, to live the (not so) quiet life with her husband and her dog in Yorkshire.

Connect with Portia:

Connect with Portia:

Website: www.portiamacintosh.com

Twitter: @PortiaMacIntosh 

Instagram: @portiamacintoshauthor

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Blog Tour: We’ll Always Have Venice by Leonie Mack

Well Always Have Venice

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour today for We’ll Always Have Venice by Leonie Mack. I loved the first book in the series, A Match Made in Venice when I read it at the end of last year (you can read my review here), so I was eager to get back to Italy and catch up with what was going on with the York girls. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Who can resist the romance of Venice… 

When Norah arrives in Venice for a ten-week internship she is surprised to discover that her guide for her work trips around the lagoon is the undeniably gorgeous and kind Gianluca. She can’t help thinking he might be too good to be true, with his endless fascinating local stories, and his infectious laugh.

Norah is still bitter after an accident left her with a serious injury and also meant the end of her long-term relationship. And besides, she’s serious about her career and that means leaving Venice at the end of the summer. 

Gianluca has had a summer fling before that led to heartache for him and he won’t do it again. He enjoys the long hours out on the lagoon with Norah, but after a storm strands them on a picture-perfect island for a night, they agree they should just be good friends for the summer. 

But life doesn’t always go to plan, and when it’s time for Norah to go, they have to decide whether what they have between them is really just a friendship, and not something more… 

I was desperate to be whisked back to the romance of Venice when I picked up the new book by Leonie Mack, having enjoyed my last trip there with her so much. Last time it was winter in The Floating City, so it was fun to anticipate how different it might look when we take a trip there in summer with Norah, as she embarks on her summer internship studying the algae that grows in its famous lagoon. (Bear with me, this is way more interesting than it sounds!)

Norah is the younger sister of Didi, who found love with a Ventian glassmaker in the first book in this series. You don’t need to have read, A Match Made in Venice, to enjoy We’ll Always Have Venice, but I highly recommend picking it up anyway because it is a fantastic read. Norah is determined not to follow in her sister’s footsteps though – she has a career to focus on which requires her to leave Venice at the end of summer and, anyway, she’s been let down by people before, best keep herself aloof. It’s going to be hard, though, when she is in such close proximity to Gianluca all summer…

We all know what comes at the end of romance novels, it’s how we get there that is important, and the journey that Leonie takes us on in this book is full of charm, tenderness and truth. She really draws a portrait of two damaged souls who have been hurt so badly in the past that fear is preventing them admitting their feelings for one another in a way that feels very realistic and honest. Watching their relationship grow despite their best efforts in engrossing and immensely touching, and I was completely captivated by their story.

Aside from the romance aspect of the story, what draws me to Leonie’s books is the setting, and the very different and fascinating approach she always takes to showcasing it. Here, Norah’s profession takes us to areas of Venice that are well off the tourist track and ones we would never expect to see normally in this type of book. She has obviously put in a huge amount of research to make this career for Norah sound convincing, there was so much detail woven in to the writing, I was really impressed with how it was done. The way she has used this so integrally to the plot, as opposed to just a mechanism to get her to Venice and in to the arms of Gianluca, is brilliant and I think it makes this book stand out from the herd of travel romance novels.

I continue to be excited by Leonie’s writing and, early in her career as she is, I’m eager to see what she does next. To be so bold and confident at this stage bodes well for her future, and is promising for us as reader that there is more and better to come. Aren’t we lucky?

We’ll Always Have Venice is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here. It is also included in your Kindle Unlimited subscription if you have one.

Please make sure to follow the rest of the tour for more reviews and other great content:

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About the Author

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Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great international locations. Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children. Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!

Connect with Leonie:

Website: https://leoniemack.com/

Facebook: Leonie Mack

Twitter: @LeonieMAuthor

Instagram: @leoniejmack

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Blog Tour: A Sunrise Over Bali by Sandy Barker

A Sunrise Over Bali

I am taking part in the tour today for the latest book by an author who has fast become one of my favourites for fun, escapist travel romance writing. It’s A Sunrise Over Bali by Sandy Barker. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

A Sunrise Over Bali

Home is where the heart is . . .

When Jaelee Tan leaves her high-flying PR job in Miami for a sabbatical in Bali, the last thing she expects is for it to become permanent. But when her boss demands the trip be cut short, Jae does the only thing she can think of and quits on the spot.

With two months in Bali, a new group of friends and the gorgeous scenery and beaches, Jae is determined to make the most of her new-found freedom. And when she locks eyes with hunky Scot, Alistair, Jae wonders if she’ll lose her heart to more than just a Balinese sunrise.

As I stated above, I am rather a devotee of Sandy Barker’s travel romance novels. I know they are always going to cheer me up and whisk me away from cold, wet, dull February in Yorkshire, and all my problems, and drop me directly into some exotic location, with an array of interesting characters, add a scoop of steamy romance, and carry me along. This book was no different, and I thoroughly enjoyed it for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, it was the setting. This is the main reason I read Sandy’s books, for the armchair travelling aspect. Travel porn is what they are. This is particularly important at the moment, given the lack of travel opportunities we have had over the past two years, and I am a travel junkie. Getting my fix of other places and cultures on a regular basis feeds my insatiable curiosity and keeps me buoyant and I am missed it hugely during the pandemic. Books like Sandy’s, which allow me to experience it vicariously, have been my lifeline. Bali is a place I sent many clients when I ran my travel consultancy, but I’ve never been myself and this book brought Ubud right into my living room. I could see, hear, smell, taste and touch the place, such is her skill at bringing her locations to vivid life, and you can fully immerse yourself in the place from the comfort of your sofa. I particularly enjoyed the fact she does not shy away from portraying some of the less desirable aspects of the destination – she’s not writing copy for the tourist board here, but giving the reader a true picture of the place, which I appreciate. You will still want to book a trip as soon as you’ve finished reading it though.

Secondly, the characters. Now, Jaelee was not the easiest of characters to warm to in the beginning. She’s quite hard and brash, a little bit arrogant, quite unforgiving and hasty to judge others. However, over the course of the book, we gradually begin to realise why she is why she is, and we actively see her changing under the influence of her experiences in Bali and her new friends, and she grew on me greatly. This is the key to a great story, the transformation of the main character from beginning to end, and Jaelee in this book is one of the characters we can see this most obviously happening too. Sandy gives her some great supporting characters to help her along the way, with their own fascinating stories and journeys to go on in the book. Peta was a particular favourite. It made me wish I were in my twenties again (not almost 50!) so that I could take off travelling and have similar experiences.

Finally, I loved the theme of this book which is friendship, choosing your own family and finding your tribe. People sometimes just expect romance novels to only deal with romance, but they greatly underestimate the genre. The issues explored outside of the central romance are often equally or more important that the love story, and most readers will be able to find something or someone to relate to if they care to try. This theme certainly resonates with me, to whom friendships are the things that hold me up in life and encourage me to be my best self, and I thoroughly enjoyed Jaelee’s journey in this regard.

Sandy has knocked it out of the park again with this book. If you are already a fan of her work, I’m sure you’ll love this one too. If you are new to her books, come on, dive in..the water is lovely.

A Sunrise Over Bali is out in ebook format on 17 February and in paperback in May, and you can preorder a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the tour for more reviews from some great bloggers and other content:

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About the Author

Author Photo Sandy Barker

Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob. 

Sandy lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins. 

The series continues in That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney and there are two more to come in 2022. Her standalone novel The Christmas Swap celebrates her favourite time of the year, and next up is The Dating Game, a laugh-out-loud romcom set in the world of Reality TV.

Connect with Sandy:

Website: https://sandybarker.com/

Facebook: Sandy Barker Author

Twitter: @sandybarker

Instagram: @sandybarkerauthor

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Blog Tour: The Woman Who Came Back To Life by Beth Miller

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Pearl Flowers has been hiding away for so long that she has forgotten what real life is like. Her quiet routine in a woodland cottage in France is a sanctuary, far away from her past life running a beauty salon. But even when she is sitting at the foot of a beech tree with her drawing pad, surrounded by birdsong, her mind is never still. If she keeps herself distracted and far away, her past can’t hurt her… can it?

But then an unexpected phone call throws her calm world into chaos. Back in the UK, her estranged father Francis is dying. She hasn’t seen him for decades since he pushed her away and destroyed their family. And on his death-bed, Francis leaves her a gift – a diary, written in a code that only Pearl can understand.

As she begins to read her father’s diary, Pearl discovers that for forty years he had been thinking of her almost every day. And as she reads on, secrets begin to emerge from the pages causing her to question everything she thought she knew.

Reeling from the diary’s revelations, Pearl realises that the only way to heal and find true happiness is to face the past. But is she ready to confront her deepest secret, the one she’s been running from all this time?

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour for The Woman Who Came Back To Life by Beth Miller today. My thanks to Jess Readett at Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I never start reading a Beth Miller novel without making sure that I have a supply of tissues close at hand, and I’m really glad I took that precaution on this occasion as I needed them. This author has a real knack of getting to the heart of human emotions and displaying them vividly on the page in a way that will pierce even the stoniest of hearts. Since I am basically an emotionally susceptible ball of mush at the best of times, her writing always reduces me to a sobbing puddle.

In this book we meet Pearl, a woman in the middle of her life who is forced against her will to confront the problems that have been stalking her dysfunctional family for the past forty years when they are drawn back together by the death of her estranged father. Gradually, over the course of the novel, all of the families long buried secrets are exposed, faces and events from the past come back to haunt Pearl, and everyone is forced to deal with issues they were hoping could stay buried but which, now they are in the open, could provide opportunities for everyone to move on.

The exploration of human relationships, be those romantic, familial or between friends, are the foundations of all Beth Miller’s writing and she has a really acute eye for what makes people tick and how these bonds are forged, broken and what effect this has on people. Her characters are strong, rounded and always authentic and anyone who picks up one of her books will recognise themselves, other people they know, relationship dynamics they have experienced or life events they have gone through in her writing. This book in particular resonated very deeply with me because one of the events affecting Pearl is something that has also impacted greatly on my life and the reactions of herself and those around her were so familiar to me that it brought all the emotion relating to that event rushing back. In this way, reading can be a cathartic experience and is one of the things I most appreciate about authors writing authentically about difficult issues.

I love the fact that the protagonist in this book is a woman of a similar age to myself. As I get older, I love to see books featuring more mature characters and exploring all the wealth of life experience we have amassed by this age. When you are young, you think adults have everything sussed out and nothing exciting ever happens because life is sorted out. Once you get here, you know that this isn’t the case and all that has happened is that we have accrued a lot more baggage to sort through, which makes for fascinating reading.

This is the most fantastic, emotional, moving and mature novel and it really touched me. It is a beautiful illustration of how life and families work, it feels very real and honest without being maudlin and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this type of novel.

The Woman Who Came Back To Life is available now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure to check out some of the reviews by my fellow bloggers taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

Beth Miller for website

I have been told that I write like a tall blonde, so that’s how I’d like you to picture me.

I’ve published five novels. The most recent, ‘Starstruck’, came out in August 2021. The previous one, ‘The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright’, was a top twenty Kindle bestseller. I’ve also published two non-fiction books. I work as a book coach and creative writing tutor.

Before writing books, I did a lot of different jobs. I worked in schools, shops, offices, hospitals, students’ unions, basements, from home, in my car, and up a tree. OK, not up a tree. I’ve been a sexual health trainer, a journalist, a psychology lecturer, a PhD student, a lousy alcohol counsellor, and an inept audio-typist. I sold pens, bread, and condoms. Not in the same shop. I taught parents how to tell if their teenagers are taking drugs (clue: they act like teenagers), and taught teenagers how to put on condoms (clue: there won’t really be a cucumber). I taught rabbis how to tell if their teenagers are druggedly putting condoms on cucumbers.

Throughout this, I always wrote, and always drank a lot of tea. I’m now pretty much unbeatable at drinking tea.

Connect with Beth:

Website: https://www.bethmiller.co.uk/

Facebook: Beth Miller Author

Twitter: @drbethmiller

Instagram: @beth_miller_author

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Blog Tour: Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea by Cressida McLaughlin

Christmas Carols Cover

All Meredith Verren has ever wanted is to escape the holiday season without having to wear a Christmas jumper. Her new job at the cosy gift shop in a picturesque Cornish tourist spot is making it impossible for her to maintain her scrooge-like manner.

With their seasonal hampers on everyone’s wish list, Meredith must paste on a smile and fake some holiday cheer. Then she meets handsome new arrival, Finn, who wishes it could be Christmas every day and wants her to feel the same way too.

Can she embrace the holly and the ivy before the decorations are packed away for another year?

What could be more perfect for my first Christmas book of the season than the lastest book in one of my favourite series by one of my favourite authors? Nothing is the answer, which is why I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea by Cressida McLaughlin, which was published yesterday. Huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publicity team at HarperCollins for providing me with a copy of the book for purposes of review. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially as always.

This is the latest book in the Cornish Cream Tea series but the action moves in this book from Porthgolow to the nearby town of Port Karadow, where we meet a new character, Meredith, who is not a big fan of Christmas. This is a bit of a disadvantage when she works in a gift shop and is in charge of pushing and promoting products for the Christmas season. When her neighbour has her house decorated like the outside of the Rockefeller Centre and her best friend is planning the Christmas light display for the town. Christmas is everywhere, and there is no avoiding it, however much she might try.

There is nothing more delightful than a Christmas book set in Cornwall, and Cressida has milked the opportunities presented by this premise to the max. This book is bedecked with as much glitter, cosiness and festive cheer as you could possibly hope for, it is the knobbliest, fullest Christmas stocking of a book that you could possibly pick up and will get you perfectly in the mood for the Christmas season. There are lights, parades, carolling, parties and celebrations galore and you’ll wish you were spending Christmas at Port Karadow by the end of it.

On top of this, Meredith meets a man who charms, thrills and infuriates her all at the same time. Finn has come into Meredith’s life to teach her the real meaning of Christmas and show her that she can enjoy this time of year if she just starts to look at it differently. But Finn has issues of his own, can Meredith help him in return? I absolutely loved the way the relationship developed between Finn and Meredith. I was completely in love with both of them by the end of the book, to the point where I had a real lump in my throat and a tear in my eye at the denouement of the book.

This was only very loosely connected to the Cornish Cream Tea series, and for me this book had a different feel from the previous ones, but this isn’t a negative thing, it is nice to see Cressida taking the books in a fresh direction and I really enjoyed the new characters and setting introduced here. I am really looking forward to seeing what comes next since, in a recent interview, Cressida has confirmed that there are more stories to come in this series. Who wouldn’t want to pay more visits to the beautiful Cornish coast for more romantic encounters?

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

Please do check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for alternative reviews and other great content:

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About the Author

Cressida Author pic

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 Cressida:

Website: https://www.cressidamclaughlin.com/

Facebook: Cressida McLaughlin Author

Twitter: @CressMcLaughlin

Instagram: @cressmclaughlin

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Blog Tour: A Match Made in Venice by Leonie Mack

A Match Made In Venice

My turn on the blog tour today for A Match Made in Venice by Leonie Mack. I cannot tell you how much I have been looking forward to reading this book. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher and author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Escape to the breath-taking beauty of Venice – The City of Love.

When pragmatic, sensible and resolutely single Deirdre York (Didi to her friends) is sent to Venice for work she is determined not to be taken in by the romantic clichés. Winter in the floating city may be breathtakingly beautiful, but she’s here with a clear purpose and will not let the magic of Venice distract her.

Piero Zanetti is the epitome of the handsome yet tortured artist. Heart-broken by the end of his love affair with a glamorous opera singer, he has lost his ability to work, and his inspiration has drained away, along with his zest for life.

But Didi needs Piero working – she has been tasked with commissioning him to do a glass centrepiece for a luxury department store Christmas display – some how Didi has to cheer Piero up or at least find him a new muse…

As Didi and Piero slowly become friends, and as Venice starts to melt Didi’s heart and gently nudge Piero out of the blues, something special begins to happen. Can Venice – the City of Love – work a Christmas miracle and help Didi and Piero to find their happiness at last…

My first festive read of the year!

Or so I thought, but the cover of the book and the blurb are a little bit deceptive in this regard, because this isn’t really a Christmas book in the traditional sense of being set at, or revolving entirely around, Christmas. It begins shortly before the festive season and briefly touches on Christmas, and the design of Christmas window display is the hook that unites the male and female protagonists, but Christmas is not the main theme. This didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book, but don’t go into this book thinking you are settling down for a Christmas read.

The book is set in Venice mainly in the winter months either side of Christmas and, for me, exploring Venice at this time of year was one of the big positives of the book. Venice is a place I have only visited and read about and seen in movies in the summer time, so to read the descriptions of how it is in winter, when the streets are not rammed with tourists and the city takes on a completely different mantle, was fascinating. Also, we are guided around the city by Piero, a native Venetian, and we get to see the city as Didi does, through the eyes of an English girl exploring with a local guide. Leonie really brings the city to life, and the book is filled with evocative detail that immediately transports you to Italy, Venice and all the romance it promises. This is a place I am hoping myself to revisit soon (I have been dropping more than enough hints to The Irishman about where I’d like to go for my 50th birthday this year) so having this sneak, better-be-a-preview-or-someone-will-be-in-trouble was a real pleasure.

The characters in this book were easy to warm to immediately. Piero does sterling work as the handsome-but-tortured Italian artist that you would be disappointed not to have as the romantic interest. However, I found Didi, unconventional and down-to-earth, a refreshing protagonist. She did not come across as the typical heroine and I found her all the more charming for it. Both of them have troubled family dynamics that are played out in the book and which draw them together, and I found their relationship completely believable and utterly charming. I was carried along by their growing closeness from beginning to end and was left with a warm glow by the end of the novel, as much as I could possibly wish for in such a novel.

A Match Made in Venice is the perfect book to snuggle up with in these autumn months when the nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping. You will be transported to Venice, with all its romance and beauty, and be warmed by the developing romance between Didi and Piero amongst its shimmering lights. Totally delightful in every respect, just not a Christmas book.

A Match Made in Venice is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Please make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for more great reviews and features:

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About the Author

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Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great international locations. Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children. Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!

Connect with Leonie:

Website: https://leoniemack.com/

Facebook: Leonie Mack

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Blog Tour: The Forgotten Maid by Jane Cable

The Forgotten Maid

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for the latest book by one of my favourite RNA authors, Jane Cable. The book is The Forgotten Maid, a dual timeline novel set in picturesque Cornwall. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Two centuries apart, two lonely women seek a place to call home…

Cornwall, England, 2015

Nomadic project manager Anna Pritchard has arrived in the village of Porthnevek to oversee the construction of a trendy new glamping site. But with many members of the local community strongly opposed to the development, she quickly finds herself ostracised and isolated.

Seeking to ease her loneliness, Anna begins volunteering at a nearby National Trust house in Trelissick, once owned by the aristocratic Daniell family. In her new role, Anna soon feels her attachment to both Porthnevek and Trelissick deepening. And as she spends more and more time steeped in local history, it seems that the past and the present are beginning to collide…

Belgium, 1815

After losing her brother in the Battle of Waterloo, French army seamstress Thérèse Ruguel is taken to London by war artist Thomas Chalmers, becoming his reluctant muse. But with Thomas’s mother unhappy with the arrangement, Thérèse is soon sent to Cornwall as a lady’s maid to Elizabeth Daniell, a kindly relative of the Chalmers family.

Able to speak only a little English — and with the other servants suspicious of her — Thérèse feels lost and alienated. And when she discovers her brother may still be alive, she must decide whether to continue with her new life in England, or brave the dangerous journey back to her homeland…

What became of Thérèse? Can Anna unearth the ghosts of the past?

And has Anna finally found where she belongs…?

This book promises everything I love in a book. Gorgeous Cornish setting? Check. Dual timeline? Check. Exploring a fascinating period of history? Check. I went into it full of anticipation and I can tell you, the book fulfilled its promise in every respect.

The main protagonist is Anna, a rootless young woman who moves from project site to project site around the country with nowhere to call home and some unspecified trouble in her recent past that she can’t quite shake. When she arrives in Porthnevek, she is drawn to the wild beauty of the place, as well as its rich history, but is shocked at the hostility of the locals. She manages to carve out a little community for herself nevertheless, but becomes intrigued by one historical figure in particular.

Back in the Regency period, another young woman is feeling displaced, this time by war and loss, and is equally foreign and friendless in Cornwall. However, she has a saviour in her kind mistress and begins to settle into a new life, until her past also comes back to haunt her.

The parallels in the lives of Anna and Therese are subtly drawn but compelling, and I was equally entranced by the lives of these very different but connected women, separated by two hundred years of history. I had never really given any thought to what might happen to women affected by war in the 1800s, so Therese’s plight but an interesting and fresh spin on the Regency aspect of the story. We still get to read about all of the fabulous balls and social events that form the backbone of Regency novels, but the focus here in more on what happens below stairs and behind closed doors for women who have even fewer options than the monied classes. It is a sobering lesson in how far feminism has come in 200 years.

The detail of the effects of industrialisation on Cornwall, and the vast differences in benefits for the owners and the workers was also woven into the story beautifully and was enlightening. I personally love a book that I feel is teaching me something I didn’t know whilst I am reading it, and Jane has clearly done a lot of research for this book so it feels historically accurate. At the same time, you are not bombarded with historical fact, the balance the author has achieved is perfect.

This is also true in the division of the story between Anna and Therese. I liked the fact that the story switched between the timeline in chunks, rather than chapter to chapter. It allows the reader to develop and maintain a connection to each woman, rather than flitting between the two constantly, which can sometimes interrupt the establishment of relationship between the reader and the characters. I really felt immersed in each story and time period when I was reading those chapters. This was a book in which I did feel like I completely lost myself, and the read flew by very quickly, always the sign that I am engrossed in the tale the author is telling.

If I had any minor complaints they would be, firstly, that Anna is way too fickle with her affections, despite the fact that Jane was trying to persuade us she was exercising caution, and I wasn’t 100% buying it, particularly the first time. Also, I felt the storyline involving her family was not really committed to fully and should either have been developed more fully, or omitted altogether. These are me looking for things to criticise though, they did not detract in any meaningful way from my enjoyment of this book.

If you enjoy a dual timeline novel, and would be interested in a novel exploring the Regency period with a different spin, this is the book for you. It whisked me away and kept me entertained throughout, and I was left very satisfied with the whole reading experience. That’s a pretty good investment of 99p, if you ask me,

The Forgotten Maid is a beautiful time-shift romance set in Cornwall between the Regency era and the modern day. It is the first book in the Cornish Echoes Dual Timeline Mystery series and for a limited time is only 99p. You can buy a copy here.

Make sure you check out the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

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Jane Cable writes romance with a twist for Sapere Books, and The Forgotten Maid her first novel set in her adopted county of Cornwall. She is lucky enough to have been married to the love of her life for more than twenty-five years, and loves spending time outdoors, preferably close to the sea on the wild and rugged north Cornwall coast.

She also writes emotional women’s fiction as Eva Glyn, published by One More Chapter.

Connect with Jane:

Website: http://janecable.com

Facebook: Jane Cable

Twitter: @JaneCable

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Book Review: The Chateau by Catherine Cooper #BookReview

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They thought it was perfect. They were wrong…

A glamorous chateau

Aura and Nick don’t talk about what happened in England. They’ve bought a chateau in France to make a fresh start, and their kids need them to stay together – whatever it costs.

A couple on the brink

The expat community is welcoming, but when a neighbour is murdered at a lavish party, Aura and Nick don’t know who to trust.

A secret that is bound to come out…

Someone knows exactly why they really came to the chateau. And someone is going to give them what they deserve.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of review, for which they have my heartfelt thanks. As always, I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

I really enjoyed Catherine’s debut novel, The Chalet, when I read it last year (you can read my review here) so I was very much looking forward to this follow up, and I can tell you it didn’t disappoint.

The story is a dual timeline, narrated by a married couple, Aura and Nick, who have just purchased a ramshackle chateau in France to renovate. I’d say ‘happily married,’ except that wouldn’t be accurate. They have moved to France after some issues in the UK, the nature of which are gradually revealed through Nick’s narration of the past timeline and their marriage still seems a little shaky, or certainly it looks that way to Aura who is the narrator of the present tense timeline.

As well as the issues in their marriage, they have all the difficulties of integrating into a new community in a new country, and things are certainly a lot livelier and more interesting that a person might imagine life in a quiet rural area of France to be! There are plenty of surprising revelations gradually fed through the story in both the past and present timelines to keep the reader on the edge of their seat throughout.

The characters in the book are drawn in a very interesting way, because none of them are particularly likeable. This is quite a brave step by the author, because it is quite easy to lose the readers if you don’t love any of the characters, but she has given us enough intrigue to keep us hooked regardless. I had no idea really where the story was going, I didn’t see the ending coming and I think the denouement was a surprising and left field step by the author which really worked for me.

All in all, a gripping and entertaining thriller which will delight readers who enjoyed the author’s first book and new readers alike. Highly recommended.

The Chateau is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Catherine Cooper is a journalist specialising in travel, hotels, and skiing who writes regularly for the Telegraph and the Guardian among others. She lives near the Pyrenees in the South of France with her husband and two teenage children, and is a keen skier. The Chalet was her debut novel.

Connect with Catherine:

Website: http://www.catherinecooperauthor.com/

Facebook: Catherine Cooper Author

Twitter: @catherinecooper

Instagram: @catherinecooperjournalist

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Book Review: Sleepless in Sicily by Emma Jackson #BookReview

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Under the starry Italian skies, anything can happen…

For most women, getting locked into a storeroom with movie star and undeniable heartthrob Rowan during a pre-production shoot in London would be the stuff of dreams. But for shy makeup artist Lila, it’s more like a nightmare. It doesn’t matter that Rowan is kind, easy to talk to and even more gorgeous up close. With her social anxiety, she can’t bear the idea of being embroiled in gossip and rumours about what exactly they were doing together.

More scandal is also not an option for outspoken Rowan, whose agency is threatening to drop him if he doesn’t toe the line. After the two make their escape, they promise to keep the incident a secret, and when they meet again on set in stunning Sicily, they pretend not to know each other. But between the blue skies and sizzling Italian heat, it becomes impossible to ignore the attraction simmering between them…

Lila and Rowan couldn’t be more different… but can they find a way to bring their worlds together?

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of review, for which they have my heartfelt thanks. As always, I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

The cover of this book leads you to believe that is going to be a certain kind of holiday romance that you have seen many times before, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I absolutely love holiday romance stories, I read them by the stack in the summer and have several waiting for my attention as we speak that I can’t wait to sink back into my deckchair and devour in place of actually going on an overseas trip this summer. However, this book doesn’t fall quite comfortably into that niche, it is something a bit different, but no the less fabulous for it.

When you read the blurb, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is going to develop along the standard lines, and it does contain all the bits of those holiday romances you love. A trip to the sun-drenched shores of Sicily, a glamorous film set location, hunky leading man sets shy, ingenue makeup artist’s heart a-fluttering. However, the book goes beyond this superficial love story to delve deeply into the motivations and personality traits of the leading characters in a way that is painfully observant and so realistic that, if you have any of these traits yourself, it will make your heart hurt in empathy. Or that is certainly what happened to me when I read it.

Whether she meant to or not, it is clear to the reader that the author has left a big part of herself on the pages of this novel. Noone can truly write such an authentic character as Lila if they haven’t had some personal experience of what she is suffering, whether themselves or through a loved one. The portrayal in this book of what it is like to live with social anxiety is the closest thing to reality that I have ever read. Although this is something that I experience to a much lesser extent than Lila, her thought processes are something I recognised all too readily, which meant I felt complete sympathy for her throughout the novel, really living the highs and lows with her, feeling the pain and pleasure. Being so immersed in a character’s story is a rare and precious experience and only happens when the author has felt the same thing as they write. I could feel the author living this book as she created it.

This is a fantastic book that takes the sun lounger novel to a different place. I’m not sure if I felt this just because I could relate so closely to the main character, but it has all the elements I look for in a summer read, as well as a profoundly relatable character in Lila. It left me feeling moved and seen in a way that in unusual in a genre many people deem superficial and fluffy, which just goes to prove that the people who look down on romance, probably don’t read many. True gems are out there if you look hard enough, and this is one.

If you are looking for something both entertaining and insightful to add to your holiday reading, here it is.

Sleepless in Sicily is out now in ebook format and you can buy a copy here. What are you waiting for, go, go, go.

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. Following her debut, SUMMER IN THE CITY and ONE KISS BEFORE CHRISTMAS were released in 2020 and her next contemporary romance SLEEPLESS IN SICILY is scheduled for 29th July 2021.

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://esjackson.co.uk

Facebook: Emma Jackson Author

Twitter: @ESJackson1

Instagram: @emma_s_jackson

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