Promo Post: Kiss & Tell – An Amaryllis Media Anthology

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I’m happy to be bringing you news today of a new limited edition anthology of new adult college romance stories which is coming September 2022 and is currently  available to pre-order for the bargain price of only 99p!

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ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ɢᴏ ᴡʀᴏɴɢ ᴡʜᴇɴ ᴛʜᴇ ɢᴏᴏᴅ ɢɪʀʟ ɢᴇᴛꜱ ꜱᴛᴜᴄᴋ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀᴅ ʙᴏʏ? ᴀꜰᴛᴇʀ ᴀʟʟ, ɪᴛ’ꜱ ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ᴄʜᴇᴍɪꜱᴛʀʏ…
 
This limited edition collection takes readers on a whirlwind through new adult college romances where the good girl is stuck with the bad boy and she’s not happy about it, until their chemistry together makes her question everything she thought she knew about him.
 
This collection will include stories by the authors listed below:
☆ Mandy Melanson & Colleen Key ☆ H.M Shander ☆ C.A King ☆ Sofia Aves ☆ Lizzi Stone ☆ Kari Shuey ☆ Kira Cunningham ☆ Amy Stephens ☆ Sienna Grant ☆ Ainsley Jaymes ☆ Corinne M Knight ☆ Lynn Stevens ☆ Sarah Peis ☆ Sunny Abernathy ☆ TB Mann ☆ Rachel A. Smith ☆ Krista Ames ☆ Danielle Jacks ☆ C.N. Marie & Lizzie James ☆ Samantha Baca ☆ Zepphora ☆ Maci Dillon ☆ Lissa Lynn Thomas ☆ Adina D. Grey ☆ Jennifer Sucevic ☆ LJC Fynn & Hope Sherrill ☆ Leanne Davis ☆ Kaye Kennedy ☆ Lexi Noir ☆ Rhylie Matthews ☆ Helena Novak ☆ Kevin Berry ☆ Kira Cunningham
 
If this sounds like your cup of tea, make sure you pre-order it now. You can do so by following this link.
 
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Blog Blitz: The Secrets of Hawthorn Place by Jenni Keer #Extract

The Secrets of Hawthorn Place

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for the delightful new book by author, Jenni Keer, The Secrets of Hawthorn Place. I haven’t yet managed to read the book, but I will be reviewing it in a few weeks time. For now, I have an appetite-whetting extract to share with you. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to the author for allowing me to share this extract with you today.

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Two houses, hundreds of miles apart…yet connected always.

When life throws Molly Butterfield a curveball, she decides to spend some time with her recently widowed granddad, Wally, at Hawthorn Place, his quirky Victorian house on the Dorset coast.

But cosseted Molly struggles to look after herself, never mind her grieving granddad, until the accidental discovery of an identical Art and Crafts house on the Norfolk coast offers her an unexpected purpose, as well as revealing a bewildering mystery.

Discovering that both Hawthorn Place and Acacia House were designed by architect Percy Gladwell, Molly uncovers the secret of a love which linked them, so powerful it defied reason.

What follows is a summer which will change Molly for ever…

Now, over to Jenni to introduce her extract.

Thank you so much for visiting Julie’s blog today. Here is an extract from The Secrets of Hawthorn Place. In the contemporary story, Molly has just arrived in Dorset to stay with her grieving grandfather, and we get a feel for his unusual house through her eyes. Walter isn’t coping with the death of his wife and spoilt Molly is in for a shock as she struggles to take care of him. Little does she know, this is the start of a summer that will change everything, especially when she stumbles across an unbelievable secret in the very heart of the house.

I stood at the top of the steep stone steps and looked down into a dip of tree-shielded land. From the road you’d never guess there was a house nestled at the bottom. It reminded me of childish efforts to stop someone copying my work at school by covering the page – as if the trees were huge hands shielding it from prying eyes. In fact, the closest you could get a car was the main road above, where Brian’s ostentatious Audi was now parked ahead of Granddad’s ancient Fiat. 

We clambered down the steps and my breath caught in my throat as I looked over to Hawthorn Place. With one foot on the bottom step, and the other on the ancient herringbone brick path that curled around the house, I felt as if I was standing over the meridian line in Greenwich. It was a point where I was in two places at once – two different worlds. I could never understand why flint and brick had been used for the house, when the surrounding landscape was awash with scars of pale stone, exposed through the green of the fields and hills. Portland was only a few miles away, famous for its quarries, and the obvious choice of building material. The property was odd not only in its construction, but also its location. It simply didn’t belong here, even though I wasn’t sure where it did belong.

‘I could murder a cup of tea,’ I announced, as I tumbled into the hallway and threw my arms about my dear old Granddad. He looked slightly startled by my exuberance but I’m embarrassingly tactile. Probably the Italian in me.

I abandoned my shoes and hooked my rucksack over the quirky crenellated post at the bottom of the main oak staircase. Identical posts were dotted up the stairs, and always reminded me of tiny wooden castles in the air – all part of the charm and mystery of the house.

‘I’ll put the kettle on, love,’ Granddad said.

‘Molly is capable of doing that. You’re not to run around after her, Dad.’

It wasn’t said unkindly, but I still glared at him. 

‘I’ll make it, Granddad. Sorry. You don’t have to wait on me.’

‘Nonsense, I bet you two are gasping.’ He toddled off to the kitchen, as Brian parked my suitcase at the foot of the stairs and, neither of us commenting on the muddy trail over the cluttered floor, we followed behind… 

I hope readers are curious about the quirky house, and are also pulled to the historical thread, where we follow the Arts and Crafts architect, Percy Gladwell, and discover why Hawthorn Place is so special to him. Thanks so much for letting me share this extract.

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I’m sure, like me, you now can’t wait to read this book and, if so, you can buy a copy here.

Make sure to check out some of the other blogs participating in the blitz, as detailed on the poster below:

The Secrets of Hawthorn Place Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing commercial women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere, with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.

Jenni is also the author of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker and The Unexpected Life of Maisie Meadows.

Connect with Jenni:

Facebook: Jenni Keer

Twitter: @JenniKeer

Instagram: @JenniKeer

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Natalie Normann

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Today’s interviewee is a previous guest of the blog and lovely author and I am really looking forward to hearing more about her journey in romance writing. It is the fabulous… Natalie Normann.

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

I have been a published author since 1995. Most of my books in Norwegian have been historical romance series, but I’ve also written thrillers and children’s horror stories. Last year I published two contemporary romance books with One More Chapter, A Very Hygge Holidays series. Right now I’m working on a new story, and I’m having a blast with it. Never thought I’d be writing in English, so that’s a major change in my journey. 

Why romance? 

I love romance! I’ve always written what I love to read myself, and romance is my favourite genre. Nothing beats a well written romance with a happy ending. 

What inspires your stories? 

Food for one thing, I love writing about food. Not much of a cook myself, but I do like to eat. And I’m really thrilled to be writing stories set in Norway. Everybody knows about Nordic Noir, where the landscape is always dark and gloomy, and then someone horribly gets killed. I’m happy to write Nordic Romance that shows the beauty of Norway. 

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

I have a long, long list of favourites. I love Jane Eyre, have done since the first time I read it. I love the blockbusters from when I grew up; writers like Colleen McCullough and Barbara Bradford Taylor. After joining the RNA, I have discovered so many new and amazing writers. Jan Baynham writes wonderful sagas, Christina Courtney’s viking stories are just wow, Sue McDonagh’s contemporary romances set in Wales are a true delight, and I’m always looking forward to a new book by Fiona Leitch – to name a few. 

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

Actually I’d recommend another Scandi. Pernille Hughes wrote the delightful Probably the Best Kiss in the World, set in Copenhagen, one of my favourite cities. I’m really looking forward to her next book. 

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

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

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

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

Oh, that’s a tough one. I’m honestly the least romantic person you can imagine. But a man who can cook and handle a boat, would do me just fine. I haven’t decided on his name yet …

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

The RNA is  such a special place. When I came to my first chapter meeting, I was living in Cardiff, and the brilliant writers in Cariad Chapter couldn’t have been more welcoming. And during the pandemic, I’ve been able to Zoom with them from Oslo, so I still feel I belong to the chapter. I miss the conference something awful, I’ve only been to two, so fingers crossed there will be one next year. I love the support I have experienced from so many lovely people. I’m impressed at what the RNA has done, and I hope it will continue like that. 

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

Read a lot of different books so you find what you like. There’s a lot of subgenres and one is not like the other. Then, when you start writing, don’t take the three first chapters too serious. They will change. Also, the good thing about writing, is that you always learn more. It’s never boring. 

Tell us about your most recent novel.

A Very Hygge Holiday has two books, Summer Island and Christmas Island. The paperback for Christmas Island is out on October 14th. They are both set on a small, windy island on the Norwegian west coast. Summer Island tells the story of London Chef Jack who inherits a smallholding on the island, and has to find what what that means to him. In Christmas Island, Holly, Jack’s sister, needs to get away from her life, and decides that the island would do fine. She does not expect to be roped into celebrating Christmas the Norwegian way. 

We tend to take Christmas a tad too serious, I’m afraid. 

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

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

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

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

You can buy copies of the books here and here.

About the Author

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Natalie Normann grew up in a small shipping town on the west-coast in Norway. She wanted to be a writer as soon as she realised that books were written by real people. Her debut novel was published in Norwegian in 1995. Since 2007 she has written Historical Romance in Norwegian and recently published her 66th book. Summer Island and Christmas Island are her first books in English.

Connect with Natalie:

Facebook: Natalie Normann

Twitter: @NatalieNormann1

Instagram: @natalienormann

TikTok: @natalieromancewriter

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Blog Tour: The Cosy Cottage in Ireland by Julie Caplin #BookReview

The Cosy Cottage In Ireland

Followers of the blog will know I am the hugest fan of Julie Caplin’s Romantic Escapes series, combining as they do my two great loves of romance and travel, so I could not wait to get my mitts on the latest title, The Cosy Cottage in Ireland. I was even more excited than usual as many of you will know my partner is Irish and Ireland is a place I love. So huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for giving me a place on the tour and to the publisher and author for my digital copy of the book, which i have reviewed honest and impartially.

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Snuggle up in your favourite armchair and take a trip across the Irish sea for comfort food, cosy cottage nights and a heartwarming romance…

Talented lawyer Hannah Campbell is after a change in her workaholic Manchester life – so on an uncharacteristic whim she books herself a place at the world-renowned Killorgally Cookery School in Country Kerry. But on her first night in Ireland, sampling the delights of Dublin, Hannah can’t resist falling for the charms of handsome stranger Conor. It’s only when Hannah arrives at her postcard-pretty home at Killorgally for the next six weeks that she discovers what happens in Dublin doesn’t quite stay in Dublin …

Nestled amongst rolling green hills and breath-taking countryside, the cookery school throws Hannah and Conor together – for better or worse.

I’ve never thrown myself into a Julie Caplin book and not immediately been embraced by a cosy hug of a novel, and this book is no exception. In fact, I think this one might be my favourite yet (do I say this about every one of them? Probably!), although I was pre-disposed to like it because it centred around one of my favourite places in the world.

Starting off in Dublin and then heading west to Kerry, with a sojourn to the beautiful harbour town of Dingle, this novel takes you to some of the most beautiful parts of Ireland, and will make you feel absolutely like you are there. In fact, if you aren’t immediately whipping out the travel guides and planning your own trip to the Emerald Isle as soon as you’ve finished it, I will be mightily surprised.

Lawyer Hannah has pushed herself out of her comfort zone to take a cookery course at a famous school of cuisine in Ireland and, no sooner has she set foot on Irish soil, she begins to act very out of character, being bold and taking chances she never normally would. Well, travel can have that effect on us all, although my travels have never propelled me into the arms of anyone quite as scrumptious as Conor Byrne. (Again, I may be displaying some bias here, given my clear penchant for men with an Irish burr.) She comes to regret her hastiness later, but stories would be no fun if the participants behaved sensibly, now would they?

As with all of Julie’s travel novels, food plays a massive part in the story, and this one is no exception. Set in a cookery school and focusing on the connection between the ingredients, where they come from and the plate, it is a feast for all the senses, and feels topical for modern times. Foodies will revel in the descriptions of all the cooking processes, and I am sure many people will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of bread-making after the past 18 months, especially the travails of battling a sourdough starter. (If you follow Julie, you will know this is something she has been tackling herself, this is an author who believes in hands on research!)

The romance in this book is natural and spontaneous and passionate and seem to develop so believably on the page that I could not have accepted the two main characters not ending up together. The trials they face along the way were very understandable, they were not at all contrived and you could easily see how their misunderstandings could arise. They seemed to fit together like two puzzle pieces, and the chemistry between them flew off the page. Since the relationship is the heart of any novel calling itself romance, I can assure you that lovers of the genre will not be disappointed by this one.

My favourite part of the book was when Hannah takes a trip to Dingle and has an encounter with one of its famous residents. Dingle is my favourite place in Ireland, it is unique and beautiful and friendly and I absolutely adored it, can’t wait to go back. I had an encounter with that resident myself and the story took me back to one of my most magical memories.

This book is the perfect cosy romance to snuggle up with during this chilly autumn days. It will leave you happy, satisfied and with the warm glow of a Ready Brek kid (a reference that will only mean something to people of a certain age!) I’m looking forward to getting my paperback to add to my beloved collection of Romantic Escapes novels and am looking forward to seeing where this author will take me next. It is always a pleasure to take an armchair trip with her.

The Cosy Cottage in Ireland is out now as an ebook and will be released in paperback on 9 December. You can buy a copy here.

Make sure you check out some other reviews of the book by following the tour as detailed below:

The Cosy Cottage in Ireland Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Julie Caplin Bookshelf

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

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

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

Connect with Julie:

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

Facebook: Julie Caplin Author

Twitter: @JulieCaplin

Instagram: @juliecaplinauthor

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Rachel Gilbey is shortlisted for RNA Media Star of the Year Award 2021.

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As some of you may know, last year I was named the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Media Star of the Year, which is by far and away the biggest accolade I have received since I started blogging. Now it is time for the 2021 RNA Industry Awards, and I am waiting eagerly to see who is going to take the award this year.

One of the people shortlisted is my good friend, blogging superstar and a blog tour organiser I work with regularly, Rachel Gilbey. Rachel’s blog is called Rachel’s Random Readsand she organises blog tours under the banner of Rachel’s Random Resources. She is well known in the romance writing community as an enthusiastic lover and promoter of the genre. 

I am really excited that Rachel has been nominated this year, not for the first time, and look forward to seeing who is crowned at the ceremony on 28 October in London which I will be attending to cheer on Rachel and the other fabulous nominees in this and all the other categories. Whoever wins, the evening will be a great celebration of romance writing.

Here is the full press release announcing Rachel’s nomination.

Rachel Gilbey, Media Star, RNA IA21

London media star, Rachel Gilbey, has been shortlisted in the Media Star of the Year category for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual Industry Awards for 2021. The awards, which include four exciting new categories for this year, celebrate the hard work and talent of any person, group or organisation who has championed the broad genre of romantic fiction in a positive way.

Since starting her popular blog, Rachel’s Random Reads, over six years ago, Rachel has discovered just how much the book community means to her, and has even created her own ideal job of organising blog tours. She loves reading a wide range of genres, but particularly enjoys contemporary romantic fiction. She lives in London, which she says is useful for attending book events and indulging in her passion for West End musical theatre.

Rachel commented, “I am over the moon and completely shocked to be shortlisted for the fourth year in a row for this fabulous award. I never thought I’d be nominated for an award once, let alone four times, and maybe, just maybe this will be my year! Either way, my love of romance will never wane, and it truly is an honour to be nominated by the RNA which features so many authors that I love reading.”

Laura James, the RNA Industry Awards organiser, commented, “Despite the lockdowns, the isolations and difficult times we’ve endured over the last eighteen months, romantic fiction has continued to entertain, bring comfort, and provide an escape for our readers, and a substantial part of that is due to the dedication and calibre of the nominees in the Industry Awards categories.”

The awards have been held for the past seven years and are highly respected in the UK publishing industry. The shortlistees are nominated by the full and associate membership of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

The new award categories recognise the best Narrator, Named Cover Designer, Indie Editor, and Indie Champion of the Year. Along with the best Bookseller, Media Star, Agent, Publisher or Editor, Library or Librarian, and the Inclusion Award for championing inclusivity in romantic authorship and publishing, they spotlight the many professionals who promote and support romantic fiction.

The winners of the ten awards will be announced during the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Winter Party and Industry Awards ceremony, which is being held at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City, 8-14 Cooper’s Row, London EC3N 2BQ, on Thursday 28th October 2021 at 6.30pm.

ABOUT THE ROMANTIC NOVELISTS’ ASSOCIATION:

The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) is a professional body primarily for writers of romantic fiction. Founded in 1960 to provide a voice for romance authors and to be a network for writers, it continues to raise the prestige of romantic fiction and encourage romantic authorship. Their 1000+ membership includes writers across the spectrum of commercial and women’s fiction, along with publishing industry professionals, booksellers, and book reviewers. In addition to organising annual publishing awards, they also host a range of workshops, talks, networking events, a three-day annual conference, and provide support to unpublished authors through their New Writers’ Scheme.

For more information about the Romantic Novelists’ Association, please visit their website: https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org

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Friday Night Drinks with… Emma Jackson

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Oh how I wish I was kicking back and having Friday Night Drinks for real with this person (and the rest of the Bar Babes) because my guest tonight is one of my best writing buddies and fabulous author… Emma Jackson.

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

A vodka, lemon and lime. I’m not particularly sophisticated!

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’d love to go somewhere nice to eat, maybe Italian or Tapas. Not too posh, because I like the simple things in life, but quiet enough we can have a good chat, and then a bar where we could do some dancing.

I can organise ALL of those things if you come to Yorkshire! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

This is such a tough question but I think the Obama’s. They seem like they would have endlessly fascinating conversation and be so charming even when I act like an awkward idiot. 

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So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I just started working on another Christmas romcom. I always think, how could I possibly come up with another Christmas idea, but the plot for this one dropped almost fully formed into my head at the beginning of this year, and I’m now just starting working on it. This is the first one I’ll be writing from scratch now I’m signed with my agent, so mainly, I just hope she likes it!

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

Oh wow, it might sound really vain to say I’ve had so many proud moments, but I have! It was such a long road to being published, and then the road continues with new milestones and I try to stop every now and again to look at what I’ve achieved and remember that this was my childhood dream. Most recently, I’ve been bowled away by how Sleepless in Sicily has touched some readers and made their experiences of social anxiety feel seen, as I put an extra special piece of my heart in that book. The flip side of that coin has brought the challenge of not taking the inevitable bad reviews personally.  

Bad reviews? Who would dare! Point me at them! What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’d love to have a book signing one day. Even though I know I would be a nervous wreck, it’d be amazing to invite the friends and family who have supported me to come along and celebrate with them…and hopefully some readers too. 

What do you have planned that you are really excited about?

As well as my romcoms, I write fantasy romance. Myself and a fellow writer, Jessica Haines, met when we both volunteered to run the RNA Fantasy chapter and we hit it off in such a wonderful way that we are now launching a podcast to talk about the books we love. We’re also holding an online festival all throughout October to celebrate the genre.

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I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

My favourite place is a toss up between Sicily and Scotland. They’re both so beautiful and full of history. I would love to go on a tour of Italy too, stop off in Rome and Florence especially.

I love Italy, let’s go on a road trip! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

A surprising fact might be that, despite being a writer, I don’t drink caffeine. So, no cliché there, although I do now have a cat…

I don’t drink coffee either. I also have a couple of cats though. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I doubt I could recommend any books you haven’t already read, but, I adored Beach Read by Emily Henry and I think it’s the perfect book to showcase the appeal of romance novels.

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TWO WRITERS, ONE HOLIDAY. A ROMCOM WAITING TO HAPPEN…

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

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

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

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

Ha, ha! I haven’t read this one yet, so well done! It is on my TBR though, and I absolutely loved You and Me on Vacation by the same author, which I read over the summer. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I always try to remember to drink a pint of water before I go to bed, and if I wake up with a hangover the next morning, it’s more water and a bacon and egg sandwich.

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

After I’ve recovered (which would include sitting around in my pjs reading, of course), a walk in the forest or a bike-ride with the kids, then a big roast dinner and a family film. 

Thank you for coming tonight, Emma, I’ve had a great time and I really want to see you in person soon!

Emma’s latest book is the gorgeous romance, Sleepless in Sicily, which you can buy in both paperback and ebook formats here. The ebook is currently only 99p, practically free! You can read my review of the book here.

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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?

Author of the best selling romantic comedies A MISTLETOE MIRACLE and SLEEPLESS IN SICILY, Emma Jackson 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. 

You can find out news about Emma via her website, by signing up to her newsletter or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Twitter account for SFFRomCast is here.

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Romancing The Romance Authors with… Lynda Stacey

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This week’s romancing writing guest is my neighbour, good friend and amazing author… Lynda Stacey.

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

Hi Julie, thanks for having me. The books that I write are suspense, however they always have an underlying romance. I like to mix the two, because in normal life, none of us can tell what will happen from one day to the next. So, to ensure that my heroine has a great story, along with a varied lifestyle… I throw everything at her, all at once.

Why romance? 

Because in life, we all love to be loved. I honestly believe that people are like pack animals, they want to be part of a group, a tribe, a couple. So romance is a lovely way to show my hero and heroines softer side, even though most of the time I like to give them truly kick ass attitude.

What inspires your stories?

I really have no idea. It’s normally a house, a hotel, a landscape. There’s always a place, or moment in time that I like to grab hold of. Once I have a location, then I tend to build the story around it.

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

I grew up devouring Enid Blyton. All of my age group did. I read every book repeatedly. 

As an adult, I love Lesley Pearce, Kate Morton and Nora Roberts, I’ve read almost everything they wrote and to be honest, one of my favourite ever quotes that a reader gave to my books was that I wrote like Nora Robert. It’s an accolade which I find both amazing and terrifying at the same time, because I’d love to be compared to her.

This was the quote:

‘Lynda Stacey is up there with Nora Roberts when it comes to writing jaw-dropping, nerve-twisting and addictive tales spiced with intrigue, passion and suspense.’

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

Oh wow, that’s like asking if I have a favourite child. If I were pushed, I’d probably say pretty much anything by Nora Roberts.

Maybe, Sanctuary. It had quite a few twists and turns that I really loved the island setting, along with a ‘will they, won’t they’ love affair that set my spine tingling, that was balanced with the underlying thriller, where you were never sure who was the killer.

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Successful photographer Jo Ellen Hathaway thought she’d escaped the house called Sanctuary long ago. She’d spent her loneliest years there after the sudden, shattering disappearance of her mother. But now someone is sending Jo strange, candid pictures, culminating in the most shocking portrait of all – a photo of her mother, naked, beautiful and dead.

Jo returns home to face her bitterly estranged family, only to find an unexpected chance for happiness in the form of architect Nathan Delaney. But while Jo and Nathan hope to lay the past to rest, a sinister presence is watching from the shadows. And Jo will soon learn there is no peace at Sanctuary . . .

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 have to say, ‘my hero at home’, my husband Haydn is my everyday romantic hero. We’ve been together for 30 years, and I’m not planning on swapping him anytime soon. So, my perfect romantic weekend with him would be on the Maldives, where we could lie in the sun, scuba dive and drink cosmopolitan’s while watching dolphins leap through the waves and take in the sunset as it slips into the sea.

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

The RNA is amazing. I love everything about it. From the day I joined, I became part of a tribe. I got to meet and listen to some of the most amazing authors, who freely gave their knowledge, time, and wisdom. The small nuggets of information that you pick up are priceless and I can honestly say that being a part of the RNA put me on the right path. Without them I doubt I’d have ever become a published author.

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

Listen and learn, and no matter how busy you are each day, take a moment to congratulate yourself for every word you write. It’s one more word that counts and a word closer to writing ‘The End’.

And remember, every word you write means something – even if only to yourself.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

My latest book is called No Place Like Home. 

Sister’s Molly and Beth move to a remote, cliff top property that they inherit following their mother’s brutal murder. It’s a house that overlooks the beach, the sea, and the town of Filey and should be the most beautiful place on earth to live. But someone is out to kill them, and they have no intention of stopping. 

It’s a story of loss, of love and of family ties. A story that shows how extremely protective of her sister Molly is, but it also shows the way she struggles with the fact that she’s suddenly become an impromptu parent – to a very vocal teenager. 

Doing all she can to keep Beth safe, she realises that danger could literally be around every corner, she doesn’t know who to trust and, in the end, she finds herself living in a world where almost everyone around her could want her dead. 

Will Molly manage to survive, will she keep Beth safe? Or will life on the edge of a cliff suddenly become more dangerous than she’d thought?

It’s out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here. (You can read my review of No Place Like Home here.)

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He knows where you are…

Sisters Molly and Beth Winters thought the remote clifftop house would be the perfect place to hide away after their mother’s brutal murder. They were wrong….

He wants revenge…

Because someone from the girls’ past has already found their safe house and he is watching and waiting in the shadows ready to make them pay.

He won’t stop until you’re dead…

Their new home should have been the place the sisters were safe.

But no place is safe forever.

About the Author

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Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire,

Her own chaotic life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for almost 30 years.

Connect with Lynda:

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: Lynda Stacey Author

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

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Friday Night Drinks with… Isabella May

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Tonight’s guest is definitely someone who enjoys a good chat session over food and drink, as exhibited by her wonderful foodie-based romance novels. So I am delighted to be having Friday Night Drinks with author… Isabella May.

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

As it’s Friday night and we’ve only just left summer behind, I’ve plumped for a goblet of Aperol Spritz in the hope of hanging onto the sunshine for a little longer…

Cheers!

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If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’d teleport you to Spain and we’d go to an amazing cocktail bar in Estepona, just down the coast from where I live, to enjoy refreshing drinks and a beach view – with the rock of Gibraltar and Morocco putting in an appearance in the distance if it’s not too hazy.

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

That would have to be Prince and Nigella.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

It’s been quite a busy book year as I’ve released two novels in fairly quick succession. Bubblegum and Blazers was published in July, and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar (my first Christmas novel) was published a couple of days ago. I also have my 9th book on the go: The Custard Tart Cafe launches on April 1st 2022, and I’m busy adding to my word count for that.

I was always writing funny little stories as a small child, accompanying them with quirky drawings, but growing up, I never perceived that as a sign that I’d go on to become a romcom author; I mean lots of children were doing the same thing at that age – if only at school during lessons! 

In my late twenties, the storytelling bug began to bite at my heels again, and I invented a couple of children’s characters called Poodle and Noodle… and did nothing with them (in hindsight, they really weren’t all that innovative; I think I just got carried away after watching Toy Story at the cinema!). Then I had a few comedy script writing ideas which I sent off to TV production companies… only for them to be rejected. 

A few years after escaping a very bad relationship, I knew I had to use my experience to help other people, and so the seed for my debut novel, Oh! What a Pavlova, was planted. But I wanted to write the book differently. I wanted it to reflect the double life I was living whilst working in international publishing at the time. I felt this two-tone aspect of domestic violence was rarely portrayed and that more awareness of it was needed. I was one very down-trodden person behind closed doors, and a whole other version of myself (the true version of myself, at least most of the time) from the moment I stepped out of my front door. That’s how Kate Clothier’s character was born. Essentially, ‘Pavlova’ is a cross-genre title as it had so many elements to it: romance, comedy, food and travel writing, and magical realism. It is as dark as it is light.  

In other words, I took to breaking ‘the writing rules’ with book one like a duck to water… and I have never looked back. This has been as much a source of joy as it has disappointment. 

On the one hand, I have a true USP, and I have built up a distinctive brand by remaining true to myself and refusing to tick the boxes required by most publishers. On the other hand, I have faced crushing rejection. The latter has been really hard to accept at times. I know I write well because my loyal and growing readership, and their fantastic reviews, reflect that back to me. And yet… whenever I try to take my books to a wider audience via an agent or a large digi publisher, I am met with the same old perceived problem of a dichotomy:

‘You write really well but you are trying to do too much and we just aren’t sure how we’d market you.’

In July 2020, fed up with the gate keeping, I decided to walk away from subbing for good and take my destiny in my own hands. I genuinely haven’t looked back, although it is very much a marathon, not a sprint.

I have a solid brand and so many more titles lined up, and I am super-charged and inspired by all of the indie and self-published trailblazers who are shaking up the industry in all of their various genres. It honestly feels like anything is possible and I am just excited to see where the journey takes me and my books.

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

I like to celebrate the little wins so there isn’t one defining moment – with the exception of getting that first novel out there, of course. That said, I do think, particularly as an indie, knowing your books are genuinely being loved and devoured by bookworms who aren’t just family and friends, is a huge turning point! 

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I spent 15 years working in foreign rights, selling children’s books all over the world in 45 languages – from Norwegian to Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese Simplified to Afrikaans, Thai to Basque. It was a fascinating job and knowing all of the hard work that goes into the sale and production of foreign rights, it would be an absolute dream to see my own books translated into just one foreign language! Don’t get me wrong, the NYT bestseller list and hitting the UK Amazon Kindle number 1 spot would be lovely… but as a linguist, I would take so much more joy from seeing my books out there on sale for readers in other countries. I hope those authors who are in such a situation view their good fortune as more than a ‘cherry on the cake’. It’s a huge privilege to see your novel ‘travel’.

What have you planned that you are really excited about?

I am very eager to become a fully-fledged indie author as of the end of this year. The rights for all 3 of my traditionally published books revert this year, with the final book of that trio, Costa del Churros (and a brand new and beautiful cover), returning to me at the very end of December. Then I plan to start the marketing of my Foodie Romance Journeys in earnest. Until then, things have been a little in limbo as it’s only really made sense to market organically. But once all of my books are in my hands as a self-published author, I plan to ramp the marketing up and treat this whole gig as a business.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I love to travel too! It’s been really disappointing to have to cancel so many trips over the past eighteen months, hasn’t it? 

My obsession with travel, and the perks of my former career, have taken me to some amazing places, but nowhere was been quite as chocolate box beautiful as New Zealand – particularly its south island. I also have a huge soft spot for Italy. All of it! It’s just everything you could ever want from a travel destination, and so much more. I could never tire of Italy.

I will need to save up for the place that is probably top of my future travel list (overlooking my burning desire to get back to the UK to see my family!), and that’s Melbourne, Australia. Since becoming an author, I have made a number of really good author friends in the city, and I really want to visit them and hang out at all of the trendy eateries they have on their doorstep! Coinciding it with the tennis would be amazing.

I love Italy too, I’m hoping I can get over there for my big 5-0 birthday trip as planned next year. (Well, I’m hoping it’s planned, maybe this will give my OH another nudge. I’ve been dropping hints since I planned EXACTLY what he wanted for his fiftieth three years ago!)

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

I speak four languages: English (well, sometimes that’s a little more Somerset, a little less Queen’s BBC… especially after all these cocktails!), French, German, and Spanish.

I understand written Italian and Portuguese too.

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

My favourite book (so far) this year has to be The Orange Grove by Rosanna Ley. Rosanna is a very well-established author, but a new author to me. TOG is superbly written, emotional, sensual, life-affirming, thought-provoking, and full of the sights, sounds and smells of Seville. An absolute page-turner of a romance. One of those novels that will stay with me for a long time. I’d highly recommend it!

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Holly loves making marmalade. Now she has a chance to leave her stressful city job and pursue her dream – of returning to the Dorset landscape of her childhood to open Bitter Orange, a shop celebrating the fruit that first inspired her.

Holly’s mother Ella has always loved Seville. So why is she reluctant to go back there with Holly to source products for the shop? What is she frightened of – and does it have anything to do with the old Spanish recipe for Seville orange and almond cake that Ella keeps hidden from her family?

In Seville, where she was once forced to make the hardest decision of her life, Ella must finally face up to the past, while Holly meets someone who poses a threat to all her plans. Seville is a city full of sunshine and oranges. But it can also be bittersweet.

Will love survive the secrets of the orange grove?

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I try to make sure I have a glass of water in-between each cocktail! If this hasn’t worked and I’m feeling ropey the next day, then there is always CAKE 😉

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

Seeing as we’re in Spain, we’d have a late breakfast of churros (books in hand), hit the beach (books still in hand!) and brave the sea for a quick dip, then take ourselves into Gibraltar for afternoon tea on the Sunborn Yacht and a spot of tax-free shopping, before driving back into Spain and inland to Ronda for dinner overlooking the glorious and ancient Puente Nuevo bridge which is built into the cliffs of a dramatic gorge.

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The next day we’d pop down to Malaga city for arty-farty sightseeing, Antonio Banderas spotting and tapas, finishing up with a champagne sunset cruise setting off from nearby Marbella. The perfect way to finish reading our books!

That sounds amazing, I’m jumping on a plane as soon as I can! Thank you so much for chatting with me this evening, I have had the best time.

Isabella’s latest book, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar, is her 8th novel and it was published on 21 September. You can buy a copy here.

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River and Alice miss Somerset. Christmas isn’t Christmas without family and friends, even when you live in quaint Cornwall.

 

When River’s Aunt Sheba dies unexpectedly, leaving him her ancient VW campervan, nostalgia nudges him and Alice back to Glastonbury – and the surrounding villages – to rediscover their roots whilst serving the most decadent hot chocolate and delectable gingerbread from their renovated ‘bar on wheels’.

 

A bar on wheels complete with a fold-up stage to host local talent competitions rivaling anything Simon Cowell could dream up, even if he’d gorged on a truckle of Cheddar cheese!

 

As the villagers sip their cocoa and ice their gingerbread houses amidst the festive backdrop of song, dance, and slightly more unconventional talents, River and Alice find themselves in an unexpected race against time:

 

Zara, their chocolate supplier is leaving Glastonbury on the twelfth day of Christmas, keen to put a string of disastrous relationships behind her to make a fresh start.

 

Bruno, their gregarious and gorgeous baking supplier is secretly smitten with Zara – ticking every box on her New Year’s wish list.

 

If only they can get them together for one experimental kiss under the mistletoe…

 

They’ve even enlisted their customers’ help in their mission to wrap this budding romance up in all the jingle bells and whistles. How hard can it be?

 

So, ho, ho VERY tricky, as it turns out…

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic, as well as a Pranic Healer.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of romcom, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

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

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Blog Tour: The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt #BookReview

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I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Shanghai Wife by Emma Harcourt. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Forbidden friendship, political conspiracy and incendiary passion draw Australian woman Annie Brand deep into the glamour and turmoil of 1920s Shanghai.

Leaving behind the loneliness and trauma of her past in country Australia, Annie Brand arrives to the political upheaval and glittering international society of Shanghai in the 1920s. Journeying up the Yangtze with her new husband, the ship’s captain, Annie revels in the sense of adventure but when her husband sends her back to Shanghai, her freedom is quickly curtailed.

Against her will, Annie finds herself living alone in the International Settlement, increasingly suffocated by the judgemental Club ladies and their exclusive social scene: one even more restrictive than that she came from. Sick of salacious gossip and foreign condescension, and desperate to shake off the restrictions of her position in the world, Annie is slowly drawn into the bustling life and otherness of the real Shanghai, and begins to see the world from the perspective of the local people, including the servants who work at her husband’s Club.

But this world is far more complex and dangerous than the curious Annie understands and, unknowingly, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue and conspiracy as well as a passionate forbidden love affair she could not have predicted: one with far–reaching consequences…

I was very eager to be on the tour for this book, as this is a time period and setting that I know very little about, and one of the great joys for me in reading is learning. I have to say, this book really opened my eyes to a fascinating time and place in history and am now keen to read more about it. You can’t ask much more from a book than inspiring curiosity in you whilst it entertains.

This book is an intriguing mix of history, social commentary and thriller, and I was drawn into the exquisitely drawn setting as soon as I started to read. The book opens with a young wife, Annie, as she travels up the Yangtze river with her new husband, a boat captain. The couple are still getting to know one another, and the scenes between them are sweet and tender. However, China in the 1920s is a place of political upheaval and danger, with rioting in the cities and banditry in the hills, and Alec, fearing that the journey is too dangerous for his wife and sends her back to the relative safety of the International Settlement in Shanghai.

Annie is an unusual character in the community, young and rebellious, having run away from home in Australia, she does not fit in easily with the constraining social rules of ex-pat society in China, and she displays an unseemly (in the eyes of the other women) interest in the local issues and grows too close to some of the Chinese community. She is very naive, and meddles in things she doesn’t really understand, whilst out of her husband’s immediate supervision, and ends up in a dangerous situation.

I found Annie’s story fascinating. From the perspective of a modern woman, I can sympathise with her feelings, and understand her frustrations, whilst recognising how inappropriate and unwise her actions are. You can see that the situation is not going to end well, and, boy, is this author cruel to her protagonist. This book is an emotional rollercoaster that the reader is propelled along with Annie by the power and beauty of the author’s writing. She has painted a rich and exotic world here, that you can practically touch through the pages and it feels very alive. I absolutely loved being caught up in the machinations of the ex-pat community in Shanghai at this time.

If I had any criticism of the book, it would be that the final segment unravelling the thriller aspect of the plot felt a little rushed, and I got slightly confused. I felt that the author had really luxuriated in the historical and romantic aspects of the plot earlier on, but was less invested in this aspect and just wanted it sorting out. It didn’t feel as richly developed as I would have liked, and it gave the book an uneven cadence in the final quarter. I also didn’t really understand what was the issue between Annie and her father, and this didn’t get resolved to my satisfaction.

These niggles aside, this book is a beautiful exploration of an experience in history that is ripe for story-telling and provides the reader with a feast for all of the senses. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would not hesitate to pick up another novel by this author. If you love historical fiction, you will want to give this a go.

The Shanghai Wife is out now in all formats and you can get 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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Emma Harcourt has worked as a journalist for over 25 years, in Australia, the UK and Hong Kong. In 2011, she completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and The Shanghai Wife was borne. Emma lives in Sydney with her two daughters. She is currently working on her second novel.

Connect with Emma:

Facebook: Emma Harcourt Author

Twitter: @emma_harcourt

Instagram: @emmaharcourtauthor

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Desert Island Books with… Mick Arnold

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Today’s strandee will be better equipped to deal with isolation on my desert island than many, I think, as he has certain useful practical skills. However, he will still need intellectual and emotional stimulation, so let’s see what books he is taking with him to provide that. He is author… Mick Arnold.

Book One – The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

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This is a story of many different things.

Of a terrible war and an occupied land

Of the Balicki children who are determined to survive

Of a dangerous journey from war-torn Poland to Switzerland

Of a paper knife that gives them the courage to carry on when nearly all hope is lost.

The Silver Sword is the first adult novel I recall reading, and it’s stuck with me ever since. First published in 1956, this is the deceptively simple story of how a group of Polish children traipses across war-torn Europe in search of their father, picking up a troubled stray boy along the way. None older than 16, this is such a moving story which kept me guessing right until the end. For a novel seemingly aimed towards what would now be called the YA audience, this is such a powerful story full of the best and worst of humanity during the terrible conflict, which was World War 2.

Book Two – Guards! Guards! By Sir Terry Pratchett

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‘It was the usual Ankh-Morpork mob in times of crisis; half of them were here to complain, a quarter of them were here to watch the other half, and the remainder were here to rob, importune or sell hotdogs to the rest.’

Insurrection is in the air in the city of Ankh-Morpork. The Haves and Have-Nots are about to fall out all over again.

Captain Sam Vimes of the city’s ramshackle Night Watch is used to this. It’s enough to drive a man to drink. Well, to drink more. But this time, something is different – the Have-Nots have found the key to a dormant, lethal weapon that even they don’t fully understand, and they’re about to unleash a campaign of terror on the city.

Time for Captain Vimes to sober up.

I was already a huge fan of the work of Terry Pratchett by the time this novel came out. It didn’t need it, but I knew I had to read this novel as soon as read the tag – Captain Sam Vimes is searching for a dragon he believes could help him with his enquires. Who wouldn’t want to read on to find out what happens? Pratchett’s creation of the Discworld surpasses that of Tolkein’s Middle Earth – or at least it does in my opinion. To this day, if I need to cheer myself up, I’ll pick up a Discworld novel and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read Guards! Guards!; and I never get tired of it. Pratchett creates such vivid pictures of each and every character, no matter how minor they are to the plot, which means I always find something new each time I read the book.

Book Three – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling

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‘Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board and we can take you anywhere you want to go.’

When the Knight Bus crashes through the darkness and screeches to a halt in front of him, it’s the start of another far from ordinary year at Hogwarts for Harry Potter. Sirius Black, escaped mass-murderer and follower of Lord Voldemort, is on the run – and they say he is coming after Harry. In his first ever Divination class, Professor Trelawney sees an omen of death in Harry’s tea leaves… But perhaps most terrifying of all are the Dementors patrolling the school grounds, with their soul-sucking kiss…

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. IMHO, the novel in the series which transformed it from purely a children’s series and into the worldwide phenomenon it became for all ages.  Barely giving you a chance to catch your breath, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a roller coaster of a story, full of mystery and suspense, and more action than you could shake a stick at. This is still one of my favourite reads when I need to relax my mind.

Book Four – Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

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Rumour has it Artemis Fowl is responsible for every major crime of the new century.

Just twelve years old and already he’s a criminal genius, plotting to restore his family’s fortune with a spot of corruption and kidnapping.

Kidnapping a fairy for ransom, to be precise.

Artemis Fowl has discovered a world below ground of armed and dangerous – and extremely high-tech – fairies. But he may have underestimated their powers. They will fight back. Is the boy about to trigger a cross-species war?

Let the misadventure begin.

I know it may seem that I’ve picked a lot of non-adult books, but just because a book is written with one audience in mind, doesn’t mean it can’t appeal to another. Think an evil twelve-year old James Bond, but with magic and fairies! This book takes you from Vietnam to the city of Haven inside the Earth, via Ireland.  Forget the awful Disney film, this is a rock ‘n’ roller of  book which will make you believe in fairies.

Book Five – The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

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On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.

Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.

So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…

I am a huge fan of Christmas romance and they don’t come any better than this novel. Sue Moorcroft is one of my favourite authors and this is one of her best. A story about someone who hates the Christmas period, this hits all the right spots. Laugh-out loud one minute, pass-me-the- tissues, the next. Forget watching The Sound of Music this coming yuletide, treat yourself to a copy of The Christmas Promise and learn why you should love Christmas.

My luxury item

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I’m going to be practical for my one item. For me, it’s essential, especially as it’s a desert island. I must have a good-sized hat. I burn in the sun easily, so I’d need something like a fedora to protect the back of my neck and the top of my head.

About the Author

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Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elizabeth II in the Royal Air Force before putting down roots and realizing how much he missed the travel. He’s replaced it somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and supporting fellow saga and romance authors in promoting their novels.

He’s the proud keeper of two cats bent on world domination, is mad on the music of the Beach Boys, and enjoys the theatre and humoring his Manchester United-supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick is a full member of the Romantic Novelists Association. Wild Blue Yonder is the second novel in his Broken Wings series and he is very proud to be a part of the Vintage Rose Garden at The Wild Rose Press.

Mick’s latest book, Wild Blue Yonder, is available here.

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Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Doris Winter is accused of stealing a valuable item from a famous Hollywood movie star, now a Captain in the US Army Air Corps, after a dance at the air base in England where he’s stationed. Gathering her close friends together, she’s determined to clear her name.

Ruth’s POW son suffers a life-changing injury just as her own cottage takes damage in an air raid and Penny’s estranged little sister unexpectedly turns up, having run away from school. Together with the ongoing thefts of items of clothing and surprise personal revelations, these all threaten to hamper their investigation.

In spite of the worsening war situation, they must band together to rise above their troubles and prove love and friendship is worth fighting for.

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