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

Notting Hill In The Snow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About the Author

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

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

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

Connect with Jules:

Website: http://www.juleswake.co.uk

Facebook: Jules Wake

Twitter: @Juleswake

Instagram: @juleswakeauthor

One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot #BookReview #BlogTour (@mandybaggot) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @VickyJoss1 @NetGalley #NetGalley #OneChristmasStar #Christmas

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Emily Parker is set to have the worst Christmas ever!

Her flatmate’s moved out, she’s closed her heart to love and she’s been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero musical ability.

Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick PR turnaround. Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.

Ray needs Emily’s help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show. As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance…

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the new Christmas book by Mandy Baggot, One Christmas Star. My thanks to Vicky Joss at Aria for inviting me to take part, and for my digital copy of the book received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

It’s no secret that I love a book by Mandy Baggot. Her writing is so approachable and comforting that I defy any fan of romantic fiction not to be charmed by her books.

That being said, this one stands out as being something particularly special. Much as I am a huge fan of romance novels and will fight to the (metaphorical) death its many ill-informed detractors, even I sometimes find Christmas romance books a little twee. Not this one. Despite the fact it contained all the usual elements readers expect to find in a book of this genre, this one felt a bit different. It really crept under my skin and into my heart and I was totally enchanted by it.

I have been trying to put my finger on exactly what it was about this book that made it particularly stand out. I thought it might be the central character of Emily, about whom I loved absolutely everything. She was fragile and vulnerable, but also brave and determined, as well as kind and considerate. We meet her as she has been through the mill and is dealing with a good many challenges, but still finds it in her heart to try and help people around her, for no reason other than it if the right thing to do. I think maybe I have made her sound a little sickly sweet, but that’s really not how she comes across in the book, she is not perfect but very down-to-earth and likeable.

Maybe it is the handsome heartthrob, singer Ray Stone, who has all the requisite attractions for a leading romance hero, but is oh so much more. Damaged and deeply vulnerable, he is the perfect foil for Emily and I defy any red-blooded woman not to fall in love with him. However, so far, so standard for a romance novel, so what made this one stand out?

The setting, in a wintry London in the approach to Christmas, is everything you would want and Mandy brings it to life beautifully. Emily’s job as a primary school teacher prepping the Christmas show gives us a cast of cute kiddies who provide comedy and drama and emotion in equal measure (fans of Nativity! will love this book). Emily’s parents are lively characters who create some cringe-worthy moments, and provide the perfect contrast to Ray’s more down-to-earth family. All of these elements add to the book’s appeal.

However, I think what made it extra special were the issues dealt with in the book. They are relevant, current and tricky dilemmas that are often shied away from in this genre of book, but which affect thousands of people on a daily basis and Mandy manages to weave them into the story with sensitivity, understanding and a lightness of touch that perfectly addresses the problems without making the tale too heavy for the genre but not making light of the seriousness of the issues either. It is skilful, truthful and moving and I was really impressed by how she achieves the balance.

Everything about this book comes together to make the perfect Christmas romance for people who want more than a fluffy read for the season, who are looking for a real story that will both move and entertain. I applaud the result wholeheartedly, a really rewarding and satisfying read.

One Christmas Star is out now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 14 November and you can buy a copy here.

Do check out the rest of the blogs on the tour as detailed below:

About the Author

Mandy Baggot

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

Connect with Mandy:

Website: http://mandybaggot.com

Facebook: Mandy Baggot Author

Twitter: @mandybaggot

Instagram: @mandybaggot

Tangled Roots by Denise D. Young #BlogTour #GuestPost (@ddyoungbooks) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TangledRoots

Tangled Roots

I am taking my turn on the blog tour today for Tangled Roots by Denise D. Young by featuring a guest post by the author. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for the guest post.

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A beautiful witch lost in time. A brooding farm boy with magic in his blood and a chip on his shoulder. Dark secrets and shadowy magic. Paranormal romance with a time slip awaits in the first book of this new series.

Cassie Gearhart casts a spell in the forest in the summer of 1974. The next thing she knows, she wakes up to find the world irrevocably changed.

It’s 2019, for one thing. For another, all of her coven members have vanished, leaving behind only one man who holds the key to their secrets.

Nick Felson has sworn off magic, until a confused Cassie knocks on his door in the middle of the night, somehow missing forty-five years’ worth of time. But Nick knows falling for the captivating witch means letting magic back into his life—and that’s one line he swore he’d never cross.

Can Cassie unravel the mystery that transported her decades into the future? And can Nick resist the powerful magic and heart-pounding passion that swirl in the air whenever he and Cassie are together?

*The Tangled Magic Series is intended for readers 18-plus who enjoy fast-paced reads, wild and witchy magic, swoon-worthy kisses, and small-town charm. The series is best read in order.

Why I Went Indie: My Journey to Being An Indie Author by Denise D. Young

In May of this year, I reached a milestone: I published my debut release, Tangled Roots, part of my Tangled Magic Series. But my writing journey, full of twists and turns, began 11 years ago.

I graduated with my master’s degree in creative writing in 2008. At that time, indie publishing was sort of this wild, newfangled notion—an experiment, really.

My first encounter with indie-authordom was with now RITA award-winning romance author, Kait Nolan. Kait’s smart, confident, no-nonsense yet approachable demeanor combined with her phenomenal writing chops were my first glimpse that indie authors could take the world by storm. That passion and determination inspired me.

But that was 2008, and I wasn’t ready. I had lessons to learn, skills to master, and confidence to gain.

I published a few short stories over the years, but I wasn’t quite ready to hit publish on my longer works. They languished in drawers as I proclaimed them in need of one last polish.

And then, in 2018, I saw indie author Sarra Cannon speak at a local RWA chapter. Her talk rekindled my fire to get my stories out into the world.

In January 2019, I made the decision official: I was going the indie author path. There’s no right or wrong path to being an author. Success can be found on many paths.

So, what led me to choose the indie author path?

First, I have the right blend of personality traits for it.

I’ve long had an entrepreneurial mindset, which I trace back to the first business I ever started: Vampires, Inc., a vampire-slaying business my brother and I co-founded when I was nine and he was eight. (Vampires, Inc. was also my first experience with the importance of market research, as we soon closed for business when unable to find a single customer in need of our services.)

I’m analytical and like to make data-driven decisions, but I also trust my intuition to help me make the final call. I’m fairly tech-savvy and enjoy learning new skills, which come in handy when learning anything from how to purchase ISBNs to Amazon keywords.

Second, I like being able to set my own production schedule and choose my own creative projects.

Like any writer, I do sometimes struggle with shiny-idea syndrome, but now that I’ve published book one of my series, I’m focused on sharing the stories of the Willow Creek Coven with readers. I want Nick, Cassie, Vivienne, Evan, Bailee, and the other characters in the series to triumph, save the day, and live happily ever after. Having Tangled Roots out there makes me that more focused on this series.

The truth is there is a lot of pressure on indie authors to write and publish extremely quickly—but not all indies publish at warp speed. (Kudos to those who do, though! Wow!) Indie authors publish at a variety of speeds, so despite the perception, there’s still plenty of space within the indie publishing world to publish at your own speed. Not, say, as slowly as a redwood grows, but at your own pace.

Third, I like being engaged at all steps of the creative and publishing process.

This might be a holdover from my magazine days, when I served as assistant editor and did everything from write feature articles to copyedit submitted materials to brainstorm cover design. I enjoy working with graphic designers, editors, and others who are part of the production process that takes a story from manuscript to published book.

Fourth, I like getting my stories into readers’ hand as quickly as possible.

There’s merit to the traditional publishing process, and I have friends who have found success beyond many writers’ wildest dreams on this path. For me, the idea of spending years from slush pile to release day felt stifling.

It’s not that I jumped too quickly into the process. Again, I’ve been writing paranormal romance since 2008. I spent over a decade learning the elements of craft, industry, and business I’d need to create a recipe for my indie author business.

I’m still only one book into this, but I know I’ve found the right path for me. People like Kait and Sarra and countless others are the trailblazers who paved the way for those of us who are just now beginning our indie-publishing journeys.

Who knows what magic awaits? As for me, I’m eager to continue sharing my Tangled Magic Series with readers, including Tangled Roots and the next book, Tangled Flames, which is coming soon!

Tangled Roots is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to read some reviews of the book and discover more fabulous content, make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the tour:

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About the Author

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Equal parts bookworm, flower child, and eclectic witch, Denise D. Young writes fantasy and paranormal romance featuring witches, magic, faeries, and the occasional shifter.

Whatever the flavor of the magic, it’s always served with a brisk cup of tea–and the promise of romance varying from sweet to sensual.

She lives with her husband and their animals in the mountains of Virginia, where small towns and tall trees inspire her stories. She reads tarot cards, collects crystals, gazes at stars, and believes magic is the answer (no matter what the question was).

If you’ve ever hoped to find a book of spells in a dusty attic, if you suspect every misty forest contains a hidden portal to another realm, or if you don’t mind a little darkness before your happily-ever-after, her books might be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.

Connect with Denise:

Website: http://www.denisedyoungbooks.com

Facebook: Denise Young Writer

Twitter: @ddyoungbooks

Instagram: @deniseyoungbooks

Let It Snow by Sue Moorcroft #BookReview #BlogTour (@SueMoorcroft) @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K @NetGalley #NetGalley #LetItSnow #Christmas

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This Christmas, the villagers of Middledip are off on a very Swiss adventure…

Family means everything to Lily Cortez and her sister Zinnia, and growing up in their non-conventional family unit, they and their two mums couldn’t have been closer.

So it’s a bolt out of the blue when Lily finds her father wasn’t the anonymous one-night stand she’d always believed – and is in fact the result of her mum’s reckless affair with a married man.

Confused, but determined to discover her true roots, Lily sets out to find the family she’s never known; an adventure that takes her from the frosted, thatched cottages of Middledip to the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, via a memorable romantic encounter along the way…

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for this wintery delight, Let It Snow by Sue Moorcroft. My thanks to Sabah Khan from Avon Books for inviting me on to the tour and for my digital copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This book surprised me from the off by tackling a situation I have never seen addressed in this type of book before so I knew I was in for something a bit different from this novel from the beginning. We are thrown straight in to the extraordinary life of Lily and her start riding the wave of her unusual circumstances along with her.

Once I got past the dramatic prologue and in to the story proper, I was enchanted by the setting of Middledip and the community that centres around The Three Fishes pub. Sue has created a cast of characters that are immediately warm and enchanting people to spend time with, and it was a joy to spend time here, learning about their lives. By this point I was in love with Lily and desperately wanted things to work out for her, and was delighted when the delicious Isaac came into her orbit, but of course the path of true love never runs smooth…

The inclusion of the snowy trip to Switzerland, with carol singing and Christmas markets, gives this book the perfect Christmas flavour and made me want to jump on the first plane to Zurich in a set of sexy thermals. My favourite romance books always include a wishlist travel experience and this book did not disappoint in this respect. I defy any reader not to be yearning after Swiss chocolate and cuckoo clocks by the end of the novel.

Aside from the Christmassy flavour and the lure of armchair travel, the heart of this book is the story of love and family. The family you are born into, the family you create and the family you find in the hearts and company of the people you choose to have around you. The story is warm and enchanting, addressing some difficult and unusual topics in an approachable and sensitive way, and giving the reader that warm, fuzzy, contented feeling we have come to expect from a Sue Moorcroft novel.

The perfect book to curl up with on a cold, autumn evening and escape into for a few hours. Fans of the author and the genre will not be disappointed.

Let It Snow is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to read some alternative reviews of the book, please visit the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

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Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author, an international bestselling author and has held the #1 spot in the UK Kindle chart. She writes contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes.

Sue has won a Best Romantic Read Award, received two nominations at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards and is a Katie Fforde Bursary winner. Her short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing ‘how to’ have sold around the world.

An army child, Sue was born in Germany then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She’s worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a digital prepress. She’s pleased to have now wriggled out of all ‘proper jobs’.

Connect with Sue:

Website: Sue Moorcroft, Author

Facebook: Sue Moorcroft Author

Twitter: @SueMoorcroft

We Met In December by Rosie Curtis #BookReview #BlogTour (@karamin) @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K @NetGalley #WeMetInDecember #NetGalley #Winter

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What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?

Unlucky in love Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling Notting Hill house‐share with four strangers. On her first night Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but as far as Jess is concerned, the connection is instant. She lets herself imagine how their relationship will grow over the following year.

But when Jess returns from a Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else – beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams… and the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and survive the next twelve months… but love has a way of hampering even the best laid plans…

I am excited to be taking part in the blog tour for my first wintery book of the season, We Met In December by Rosie Curtis. My thanks to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my ecopy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I thought this was going to be my first Christmas book of the year, but this actually contains only passing mentions of Christmas. However, it is a lovely book to read at this time of year, as it does feel very…autumnal…. to me, something to do with the change of the season heralding new beginnings and new challenges, which is one of the themes of the book.

We meet Jess and Alex as they are both undergoing big changes in their lives. Jess has moved from Bournemouth to London to start a new job in the city she has dreamed of living in. Alex has made a drastic career change, a decision that led to seismic changes elsewhere in his life that he is still coming to terms with. They both end up with rooms in the same house share and have an instant spark of attraction, but the path of true love never did run smooth, as we know.

This is a really, sweet, gentle and heart-warning story. it is told from the dual perspectives of Alex and Jess, and gives a great insight into how two people can get in a muddle when they don’t articulate their feelings and make assumptions about how the other person is feeling. It is a totally authentic portrayal of trying to negotiate the tricky world of romance, as anyone who has been young and besotted with be able to tell you. We’ve all been there, so the story is universal and everyone will be able to relate to parts of it.

The two main characters are both easy to like and relate to, so they carry the reader through the story effortlessly. I cared what happened to both of them, and really wanted things to work out, which is the make or break hook for a romance novel. This one worked really well. The story, whilst seeming ordinary, was very touching and true. Rosie also peopled the book with a host of other attractive characters to assist the plot along, the whole thing just meshed together perfectly.

The one thing that set this book a little apart from the mainstream of romance novels was its passionate portrayal of London. The author really brings the city to life, you can feel what a love story of London, as much as Jess and Alex, this is and she pretty much captured how I feel about the city. This was a London I recognised and love when I visit, and I really enjoyed experiencing a visit to the capital via the pages of this book. It did have a very ‘Richard Curtis movie’ feel about it, which no doubt was deliberate given the mention of Jess’s love for them, so if this is something that appeals to you, as it does to me, this is a great book for you to pick up.

This book was a very easy, pleasant and satisfying read that is perfect to carry you through the cooling days of autumn and towards winter. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a heart-warming romance to while away a few happy hours.

We Met In December is out now and you can get your copy by following this link.

To read some alternative reviews of the book, check out the rest of the stops on the tour:

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About the Author

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Rosie Curtis was born in the Highlands of Scotland, and now lives with her family in a 150 year old house by the sea in the north west of England. She loves travel, happy ever after stories, and daydreaming. Her favourite book character is a toss up between Anne Shirley and Jo March. Rosie also writes adult and teen fiction as Rachael Lucas.

Connect with Rosie:

Website: https://rachaellucas.com

Facebook: Rachel Lucas Writer

Twitter: @karamina

Instagram: @rachellucas

What Goes Around by Rachel Ellyn #BookReview #BlogTour (@disfunctionaldi) @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #WhatGoesAround

What Goes Around

Alice has been playing the perfect Southern wife for over twenty-five years. So when Bob dumps her for some blonde bimbo twenty years her junior, Alice figures she’s entitled to every dollar she can bleed from him. And, once she’s got the money, she’s entitled to use it on a much-needed vacation to Nanm Paradi, a Caribbean resort that sells itself as her “soul’s paradise”.

She’s never experienced anything as luxurious as Nanm Paradi. The staff know her every desire and cater to her every need before she even knows she needs it. She figures this is how the really rich live and she’s ready to take advantage of all of it–the fabulous drinks, the beautiful views, and the handsome men. And when she discovers that voodoo magic is also on offer… well, Bob hurt her bad. She can take some time away from paradise to exact a little pain. Alice would have been happy to leave things at that. 

But when she gets hit where it hurts–her bank account–Alice’s game changes. It’s no longer about post-divorce romance. Now it’s about revenge.

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for What Goes Around by Rachel Ellyn. My thanks to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a really fun, quirky little novella that was very different to my normal choice of reading material. A mixture of thriller, romance and travel with a dash of the supernatural, all overlaid with a gloss of Southern sass and you have a spicy cocktail of a read that you can’t help but enjoy.

The main character, Alice, is a feisty Southern belle who is smarting from her divorce from wealthy lawyer, Bob, who has dumped her for a younger model. She decides to take a luxurious holiday to the tropical paradise resort of Nanm Paradi to indulge in some sun, sea and maybe a bit of rebound romance. The resort exceeds all her expectations, especially when she stumbles on the secrets of some Creole voodoo. Well, what woman scorned wouldn’t be tempted to engage in a little mystical revenge on the ex who humiliated her and broke her heart? Perfectly understandable! But, as she finds out, it can be dangerous to meddle in forces which you can’t control.

I really liked Alice, she was funny and determined and completely outrageous, unlike anyone I have ever met. I loved the touch of Southern charm that ran through the book, and I think she came across very strongly. The story is quite mad, of course, but it is great escapism to suspend your disbelief for a while and just sink into the alternative universe of the story where waiters are mind readers and voodoo queens can help you live out your wild revenge fantasies. Throw in a perfect tropical paradise and an ideal rebound man, and you have yourself a story!

If I had a niggle, it was that there were a couple plot strands that weren’t quite tied up for me, and one aspect at the end that I did query as whether it followed through on the idea that had been set up in the story, but that is the pedant in me talking, and really this is not the book for pedantry. It is pure, fun escapist fiction and should be approached as such. There are much worse ways to while away and hour that with this unique, engaging story. Give it a go if you are looking for something a little different.

What Goes Around is out now and you can get a copy here.

Make sure you visit some of the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour and read their reviews of the book:

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About the Author

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Life and loves after the career.

With degrees in Finance and Economics, Rachel found wonderful success in the business world, which took her I.T. and financial process consulting international. However, with her mind focused on business, and with the lack of training and mentoring in her personal life, marriage success eluded her.

After foraging on a path of self-awareness and exploration with a determination to avoid repeating patterns again, she found the key to relationship bliss. Now, combining her passion for writing and storytelling with her skills, knowledge, and drive that led to her business acclaim, Rachel shares her off beat take on the world, and her findings where life, love, divorce, and children are concerned.

Rachel is determined to be a publicist’s nightmare by writing in multiple genres including children’s fiction, flash fiction, romance, and suspense/thriller.

After multiple divorces, she is now happily married and lives in the Kansas City Metropolitan area enjoying the household noise of her soon-to-be empty nest.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://www.rachelellyn.com

Facebook: Rachel Ellyn

Twitter: @disfunctionaldi

Instagram: @rachelellyn

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The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper #BookReview (@ItsEmmaCooper) @headlinepg @NetGalley @RNATweets #NetGalley #TheFirstTimeISawYou #FictionCafeWriters

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Lost:
Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin.
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.

Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey.
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.

When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be.
But fate has other ideas.

Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back.
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways than they ever expected…

I am delighted to be sharing my review today of The First Time I Saw You, by the author of one of my Top Ten Books of 2018, Emma Cooper. My thanks to Headline for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I am probably not alone when I say that I always approach follow up books to ones I have loved with some trepidation. When you have loved a book as much as I loved Emma’s debut, The Songs of Us, you want the next one to be just as good, but there is always the fear that it will not live up to the heights the last one achieved. I fell so in love with the story of Melody and her family and the book had such a huge impact on me, I really could not see how The First Time I Saw You was going to match it.

Well, Emma is a clever thing because the way she did it was to make this one feel completely different, but in a way that was still compelling and affecting. At least, that is how it felt to me. I found The Songs of Us extremely funny, whilst still being heart-breaking and plumbing real emotional depth. The First Time I Saw You is a horse of a different colour, with less of a comedy element but the same complex familial relationships, the same emotional rollercoaster and the same examination of personal relationships between two flawed people, put under strain.

It took me no time at all to fall in love with Samuel (it may have has something to do with  him being Irish, I may just have a little bit of a thing for Irish men). It took me a little longer to warm to Sophie. In fact, the situation was pretty much a reversal of the way I felt about the male and female characters in the last book, but this was very important for the story development. One of the most riveting parts of the plot for me was the development and softening of Sophie, the way she changes throughout the book and how she, and we, uncover the reasons she is the way she is, how her history has shaped her and how the events in the story shape her going forwards. Damaged characters, flawed characters, complicated characters – these are the things that gives books richness and depth and make them extraordinary.

Samuel’s plot arc, for me, was both devastating and uplifting. Because I fell in love with him from the first chapter and was totally on his side, what Emma did to him almost broke me, and seeing him go through his ordeal and claw his way back to where he wanted to be was excruciating. I lived every trial, every setback, every disappointment as if he were a real person I cared for deeply. I was willing him on, wanting him to get his happy ending, mentally begging Emma to help him. It is a rare gift for an author to be able to make characters come so alive and matter so much to readers in this way, and Emma totally has this. It is the thing I love most about her writing, what embeds it in my heart.

This book left me deeply affected, just as the last one did, but in a very different way. Despite the fact that this book turns out very differently (I am desperately trying to get my point across without spoiling either book for people who have not read them yet), in some ways it was a more difficult and melancholy read for me. That may not make any sense to people who have read them both, but it is how I felt. Some people may be disappointed that this book perhaps wasn’t as lighthearted as the previous novel. I say it shows bravery, diversity and a complexity of ability that makes Emma a talented author, who will continue to surprise and push her readers and I, for one, cannot wait to see what she does next.

The First Time I Saw You is challenging, heart-breaking and uplifting and will not disappoint anyone who recognises talent and enjoyed Emma’s previous book. New readers should grab both and indulge themselves in some excellent writing tout suite.

The First Time I Saw You is out now on Kindle and available for pre-order in audiobook and paperback and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Emma is a former teaching assistant, who lives in Shropshire, with her partner and four children. Her spare time consists of writing novels, drinking wine and watching box-sets with her partner of twenty-four years, who still makes her smile every day.

Emma has always wanted to be a writer – ever since her childhood, she’s been inventing characters (her favourite being her imaginary friend ‘Boot’) and is thrilled that she now gets to use this imagination to bring to life all of her creations.

The Songs of Us was inspired by Emma’s love of music and her ability to almost always embarrass herself, and her children, in the most mundane of situations. She was so fascinated by the idea of combining the two, that she began to write Melody’s story. Working full-time with a large family meant that Emma had to steal snippets of ‘spare’ time from her already chaotic and disorganised life; the majority of her novel was written during her lunchtime in a tiny school office. She never expected to fall so deeply in love with the King family and is overwhelmed that others feel the same.

She has three loves in life: reading, writing and her family…oh, and music, cheese, pizza, films – Maths is not one of her talents.

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://emmacooperauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook: Emma Cooper Author

Twitter: @ItsEmma Cooper

Instagram: @itsemmacooper