Friday Night Drinks with…. Giulia Skye @GiuliaSkye @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #WhenAdamMetEvie

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I have been looking forward to this evening for weeks because tonight I am welcoming to the blog for Friday Night Drinks my fellow RNA NWS member, very good IRL friend and soon to be debut author (which I am SO excited about)…..Giulia Skye.

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Giulia, it is so lovely to have you here! Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. I hope you are feeling better after our aborted lunch date back in November. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks for inviting me!  I’m drinking a crisp Pinot Grigio mixed with sparkling water and ice, and it’s so cold condensation is forming on the glass. (Although in reality, it’s more likely to be a cup of tea once the kids are in bed).

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?

To a restaurant serving a variety of lush dishes from around the world. I love food and I love travelling, so it would be a “tour the world in one evening” restaurant, giving us a taste of different specialties.

Sounds fabulous, we should do that one night! 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?

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, the stars of one of my favourite films, It Happened One Night (Capra, 1934). This film was the initial inspiration for my first book, When Adam Met Evie. I’m a sucker for a road trip romance. I’d love to cut through the myths and get to know what these two great stars of classic cinema were like in real life. Having spent the past two decades working in the TV industry, I’ve worked with celebrities – some match their on screen persona and some don’t, but at the end of the day, they’re just people earning a living. I wonder if the same was true about these two legends? And was Claudette Colbert’s skin always sheer perfection?

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

I’m frantically gearing up for the release of When Adam Met Evie, and also frantically trying to finish the first draft of my second novel, The Summer of Sebastian, which I’ve scheduled to release in August/September 2020. I decided to become an indie author after realising that producing a book wasn’t that much different to producing a TV show. Although the amounts of money involve differ greatly! I gave the traditional publishing route a try, and was even lucky enough to get an agent but it didn’t work out, the reason being that I wanted to retain all the control. Since then, I’ve become very passionate about self-publishing. I love it and it’s been very rewarding already even though I’m only just starting out on the “selling books” bit. I have plans to write more and more books which I’m very excited about. I wish I could write them all in a day because I can’t wait for them to be out in the world.

I am so excited to finally read When Adam Met Evie! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

The moment I finished the first “proper” draft of When Adam Met Evie!! For days, I wandered around the house muttering to myself, “I’ve finished. I’ve finished.” There were so many, many times when I truly believed I would never ever finish writing a book and so THAT moment will always be my proudest. I succeeded in achieving a huge personal goal. Everything else that has come from that moment since has been a bonus.

And my biggest challenge? Deciding to become an Indie Author. It’s funny to think now that it was such a big challenge because I feel so at home with it now but back then, I didn’t think “someone like me” could do it. What a load of old bobbins to think that way! That said, I’m constantly encountering big challenges. Self-publishing is full of them. So much so that I don’t consider them challenges at all – they’re just a way of life!! 

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!

Like most (if not all) writers, I’d love to appear on a best seller list. But honestly, I’m not after world domination with my novels. At the heart of my writing motivation is to give people pleasure when they read my stories, just like I’ve had great pleasure in reading my favourite books. I’d love a stranger to come up to me and say, “I stayed up all night reading your book”! How amazing would that be? 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

My next book is called The Summer of Sebastian but unlike my first book, which is mainly set in the Australian tropics, this book is set in Somerset and Bristol, a city very close to my heart as I had the best time working there in my twenties. I’m excited about it as it’s been an idea I’ve been tinkering with for so many years and it’s great to see if finally taking shape. I love travelling to exotic places but I also absolutely love the English countryside. It’s stunning on a perfect summer’s day and I’m really excited about writing it into this novel. I hope I can do it justice and bring my love of it alive on the page as I did with Australia in my first book.

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 travelling too! My husband and I (before the children came!) took a year off work to backpack across a few countries. I have a lot of favourite places! But the one that is part of my very fibre is the little village in the mountains just outside of Rome, where my father is from. We spent so much time here as children but I rarely get to go there these days. The views are stunning and I often crave to go back there and hear the tall pine trees sway in the wind. As for a bucket list, I don’t actually have one but if I did, at the top would be to have a spotlessly clean house – like, showroom standard – and to keep it that way for more than a few hours. 

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I love Italy, that looks gorgeous. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

This virtual wine’s gone to my head so I’ll spill the beans on a secret. I am in love with… waterproof over-trousers!! They are the best thing EVER. I keep chickens and have an allotment so I spend a lot of time getting very mucky and these totally unattractive garments have changed my life.

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Okay, I think you win the award for ‘weirdest secret fact’ we’ve had on this feature so far! 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’?

Only one? Okay, I’m going with Rachel Gibson’s I’m in No Mood for Love. I’m not a fan of the title but I love the story. It’s so simple and exactly the character driven romance I love. I read it about 10 years ago and I still have the hots for the hero, Sebastian Vaughan.

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What is Clare Wingate doing? One minute she’s suffering in the bridesmaid dress from hell, and the next…she’s waking up beside Sebastian Vaughan, her girlhood crush turned sexy, globe-hopping journalist. Somewhere between the toast and the toss of the bouquet she’d got herself into a whole lot of trouble. But then how else are you supposed to deal with finding your fiancé in a compromising position with the washing machine repair man?

Right now Clare’s in no mood for love – not even for lust – and wants to forget about Sebastian ASAP. But he isn’t in the mood to go away, and his kiss is impossible to forget…

Not an author I have come across before, I will have to check it out. 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?

The only cure for a hangover is sensible drinking the night before!! Sorry, it’s a really annoying thing to say but it’s the only thing that works for me, although I’d never say it in front of a hungover person. That will guarantee getting a shoe thrown at my head! 

Very wise, no one likes to hear an ‘I told you so!’ After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

At the allotment (wearing my over-trousers), tending to my plants, then picking the veg and cooking them up for dinner. Then a family bike ride along the river near our house. We’re very lucky to live on the edge of town along a gorgeous stretch of the river which leads out into the countryside. 

That sounds very idyllic and ‘Good Life’ (showing my age now!) I shall forever think of you as Felicity Kendal.

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Giulia, as always it has been a huge joy to spend time with you, so thank you so much for joining me this evening. I am so looking forward to reading your book and I wish you huge luck with it.

Giulia’s debut novel, When Adam Met Evie, will be published as an ebook on 7 February 2020 and you can get your copy here. I will be reviewing Giulia’s book on its publication day, so check back on the blog on 7 February to see what I thought of it.

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When former Olympic Swimmer, Michael Adams—now reluctantly Canada’s hottest reality TV star— insults his fake showbiz wife on social media, he escapes the ensuing scandal and jumps on the first flight to Australia. Desperate to experience ordinary life again—if only for a few weeks—he becomes “Adam”, just another tourist traveling through the Outback. But with a reward out for his safe return and his fame’s nasty habit of catching up with him when he least expects, he needs a disguise… and he’s just found it.

Sweet and scruffy British backpacker, Evie Blake, is taking a year out of her busy London life. Tired of lies and liars, she’s looking for adventure to heal her broken heart. So when the hot Canadian she meets at the campground offers to be her travel partner through Western Australia’s wild Kimberley region, she grabs the chance, unaware he’s got the world out looking for him.

He’s just a down-on-his-luck traveler, right?

Italian-born Giulia Skye spent her childhood watching classic Hollywood films and thinking up her own romantic stories. After two decades working in TV production, she knew turning those stories into novels would be much more enjoyable – and far cheaper – than turning them into films. She still keeps her hand in TV production but is at her happiest being a stay-at-home mum, spending time with her family, growing her own vegetables, and conjuring up sizzling stories about sexy heroes meeting feisty heroines who aren’t always as they at first appear. When Adam Met Evie is her first novel, Book 1 of her “Take a Holiday” series.

You can find out more about Giulia and her writing on her website, and by following her on Twitter.

Next week, I hope you will come back and join me when I will be having Friday Night Drinks with book blogger and author, Bernadette Maycock.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Els from B for Bookreview Blog @BookreviewB #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

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I’m kicking off a brand new year of Friday Night Drinks with fellow book blogger…. Els Ebraert from the wonderful B for Bookreview blog.

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Els, welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening and starting a new year on the blog. First things first, what are you drinking?

Well, normally I do not drink very often, but because this is a special time of the year you will find me with a glass of Kir Royal.

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Oh, lovely. I am afraid I am doing Dry January, so it’s Diet Coke for me but I hope you enjoy it. 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?

First we would go to the airport, hop on a plane to a tropical destination. On arrival we would grab a bite to eat. Nothing fancy but tasty. Afterwards to a bar and of course we would go dancing the night away.

Fabulous, I wish I were somewhere warm right now! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I am a big fan of Cristiano Ronaldo and Madonna. Those two would be my guests as well.

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

Nothing new at the moment to be honest. Still trying to make my blog as attractive as possible and enjoy as many books as possible. 

I am also managing a book group on Facebook together with a very good friend. It’s in Dutch because I am from Belgium and our members (over 14.500) are also or Belgian or Dutch. The group exists 7 years already and it’s still going strong. We don’t sell but we promote have competitions and people share reviews or what they are reading, … It’s fun.

Maybe the new year will bring a new challenge, but nothing on the horizon yet.

Sounds busy! What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment. Hmm. I think I would say being asked by authors/publishers to review their books. My biggest challenge is to make it work and to try and fit in as many posts as humanly possible. 

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!

It’s maybe not very ambitious but I think it would be great. I see a lot of things going on book-related in the UK. In Belgium it’s a lot less. I would like to visit some events and meet authors I have enjoyed reading. 

Let’s hope you can get over here soon then. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

At the moment it’s something not really book related, but my dog died in the beginning of August and I bought a new puppy. He is already 6 months old now but it’s still a lot of work but so much fun as well. 

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 Tenerife. I had a wonderful time there a few years ago with people we met over there and we stayed in touch for a long time afterwards. Unfortunatley a tragic accident made the group fall apart, but I still smile when I think back.
On the top of my bucket list is visiting Australia. One small problem, I don’t really like flying. LOL

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Whether it’s interesting or not, I leave it up to you, but I have lived in Tenerife for about a year and I have worked in a transport company as a dispatcher. It was lovely to ‘boss’ all those men around. LOL. No, that’s a joke. I had the most wonderful relationships (this sounds strange lol) with the drivers and the people in the warehouse. I hear from some of them regulary.

I’m always envious of people who have spent time living overseas, it’s something I’ve never had the opportunity to do but I would love to. 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’?

The Forever Gift by Brooke Harris (now available under the title My Daughter’s Choice.)

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I remember you learning the alphabet, the first time you rode a bike… and the first time I realised something was wrong. I look at you, my daughter, my beautiful sparky daughter. I would do anything to keep you safe.

Heather’s beloved daughter, Kayla, is her world. She’s fifteen, smart, energetic and a fierce friend. They’ve always had a special relationship. For so many years it has been just the two of them, watching Friends, baking cupcakes and laughing together.

But now Kayla is sick. Heather knows she can’t fall apart – she must stay strong and do everything she can to make sure Kayla gets well again. What she doesn’t know is that Kayla wants to give something back to her mother. A gift that could change Heather’s life. Just in case.

But as mother and daughter fight for each other, a devastating turn of events leaves Kayla with a terrible choice. Nothing will ever be the same again, but can Kayla’s gift save them?

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?

Grab a snack and a soft drink in between the Kir and I don’t have a go-to cure. I feel to sick when I have a hangover that I try to avoid it at all costs.

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

Because I would have taken you to a sunny place, we would go for breakfast on a terrace and enjoy a whole day at the pool or the beach enjoying the time off.

That sounds like just what I need after the Christmas madness. Els, thank you so much for joining me on the blog today and I look forward to enjoying another year of celebrating books on your blog.

Make sure you check out Els’ wonderful blog over at B for Bookrview and you can also catch up with her on Twitter.

Next week I am having Friday Night Drinks with author, S. M. Stevens, so please come back then.

 

Merry ‘Twixmas! Looking back, looking forward @TheFictionCafe @RNATweets @lord_dodo @moleskine #RomanticNovelistsAssociation #NewWritersScheme #bookblogger #bookbloggers #bookblog #amreading #amwriting #readinggoals #writinggoals #blogginggoals

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It’s a funny time of year, isn’t it, the week between Christmas and New Year? No one knows what day of the week it is or what they should be doing. Everything seems to come to a standstill, the world taking a breath between the excitement of Christmas past and the promise of the new year yet to come. A great time for a bit of introspection, muse on the year past, plan for the one about to start.

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That’s what I have been doing the past couple of days, anyway. My girls were staying with their dad, the Irishman flew off to Dublin for a few days with his parents, I had the house to myself and some time for contemplation and organisation. I tidied up the Christmas detritus, got out my new diary and calendar ready to fill with blogging and writing goals for the year ahead, and had a think about what I want to achieve and how I’m going to do it.

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2019 was a very busy year on the blog. I did loads of blog tours, read a massive 165 books in total. Friday Night Drinks grew in popularity and I had some great guests and I increased my following. On the downside, my TBR grew ever more massive and out of control, I neglected the travel and writing areas of my blog and failed miserably to complete my two reading challenges because I over-faced myself with blog tour commitments and could not devote as much time as I wanted to free reading. My NetGalley backlog also grew to the point where I got turned down for a couple of books because of my abysmal ratio. Something needs to be done.

So, bearing all of this in mind, what lies in store for 2020 and what are my plans?

My Friday Night Drinks and Tempted by… features are both fully booked and planned to June, so they will be carrying on as before. I will be setting my Goodreads Reading Challenge target at 150 again, with the hope that I can exceed it as I have the last two years. I have decided against doing any other external reading challenges, as I don’t need the pressure. Instead, I will make a second attempt at doing my Desert Island Books (more detail on that to come in January.) I am also determined to be more diligent with the Travel, Bucket List and Writing areas of my blog and have diaried in some regular features for these. I’m looking forward to getting a bit more variety in to the blog.

In an attempt to get some control over my NetGalley ratio and TBR, I have decided to go back to the original aim of the blog as set out in my first ever blog post and buy no new books in 2020, or request any more from NetGalley. I’ll just be reading the ones I already have. Unfortunately, these means cutting right back on blog tours to free up reading time. I’m limiting myself to a maximum of two per month after January and February (where I have already committed to more than two!). I am allowing myself to receive my one Book Club book each month, and spend my monthly Audible credit. I have a few books on pre-order which I will let stand. Other than that, I’ll not be buying anything new, but reviewing what I already have, as randomly selected from my book jar. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge. I got a few book-themed Christmas gifts to see me on my way too.

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(Fear not, dear authors with books being published in 2020, I will be making a list ready for when the ban is lifted!)

I had a bit of an epiphany back in the spring when I had Bell’s Palsy and could not read for six weeks due to issues with my left eye. I had always been a little snobby about audiobooks not being ‘proper reading’ and had never counted them in my reading totals. Well, I have to say, audiobooks were my lifeline during those long boring days of illness and now I am as zealous a convert as St. Paul on the road to Damascus. I am listening to them at every opportunity and, in fact, my favourite book of the year was consumed in audio format. So, in 2020, I will be listening to even more audiobooks and reviewing more of them on my blog.

After a couple of lax months at the end of the year, I also plan on making sure I review every book I read or listen to next year (unless I hate it) and being more engaged with other people’s blogs in the new year.

On the writing front, I’m back in the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme for the third year, and I am determined that this is the year that I start submitting my book to agents and publishers. I’m planning on attending some RNA events again this year, including conference in July, so I hope to share some of that journey with you. My very kind and wise friends have supplied me with some lovely Christmas gifts to help me along, including this gorgeous Story Box gift from my lovely friend Mary-Louise and a Smithson notebook from the Irishman (a hint to get the book finished, perhaps?)

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As far as travel goes, I currently have nothing booked, which is unusual, but I have last year’s trips still to share and I am sure there will be things planned soon, so watch this space!

All in all, I am excited for the coming year, and all that it is going to bring for me, and for the blog. I hope you will continue on this journey with me, share the highs and the lows and, most of all, the book love. After all, it is fairly meaningless without all of you. Thanks for being here and

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Friday Night Drinks with…. Kiley Dunbar @KileyDunbar @HeraBooks @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks #ChristmasAtFrozenFalls

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It’s the A Little Book Problem Christmas Friday Night Drinks party tonight. I’m in a festive mood so, who better to be joining me for a knees up on the blog tonight than author of my current Christmas read, author and fellow RNA member…..Kiley Dunbar!

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Kiley. welcome and thank you for joining me for Christmas drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Hi Julie! Thanks for having me! Nice place you’ve got here! Since it’s Christmas I’ve gone for some bubbly, by which I mean ALDI prosecco (my usual Friday night drink, to be honest.) I might go mad and add some cranberry juice to it. Cheers!

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Slainte! I think I’ll have a mulled wine, it’s a bit nippy tonight. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I think a nice bit of carolling round town with a few cups of mulled wine might be nice. Do you fancy that? I’ve always wanted to go carolling; never tried it.

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Nice idea although, I must warn you, I have the world’s worst singing voice! 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?

My idol Phoebe-Waller Bridge would be amazing on a night out. She’s so funny, she’s gorgeous and super smart and I bet she’d be good at belting out the loud bits in O, Come all ye Faithful (we’re still going carolling, remember?) And for festive eye candy purposes can we invite my latest celebrity crush, the gorgeous Hyun Bin? If you haven’t seen him in Memories of the Alhambra you are missing a treat! 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is totally my girl crush, so I would love to spend an evening with her. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

At the moment I’m celebrating my festive novel doing well this season. It’s called Christmas at Frozen Falls and is set in gorgeous, snowy Lapland over Christmas week. It’s a One That Got Away reunion story and is super romantic, properly funny, and the most festive thing you could ever hope to read! I wrote it because I can’t get enough Christmas romance novels. I read them all year round and I just had to try one myself! I hope to write many, many more love stories set at this time of year. 

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I’m also putting the finishing touches to my next novel for Hera Books, which is coming out in the spring. You can expect a gorgeous cover reveal soon. This one is set in the western highlands of Scotland and is achingly romantic and also a bit of a weepy, but there’s joy and real humour too. Ooh, I can’t wait to share the details with you all in the new year.

All sounds exciting, can’t wait for more details! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I was so proud when my debut, One Summer’s Night, launched in March 2019. I remember it going live at midnight and seeing my ebook and audiobook appear on my Kindle. It was overwhelming. I’d just turned forty and had been facing redundancy in my uni job (I lecture in English) and things had been tough for a long time, and then suddenly I’m a published author! It felt like a dream come true. Still does!

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The biggest challenge has been balancing writing, teaching, and looking after my kids all at once. Sometimes it’s exhausting and earlier this year I got pneumonia. I think I was just generally run down. It stopped me writing for a whole month and I learned a hard lesson about how important it is to look after myself when I’m pushing myself to work hard. So 2020 is going to be all about eating well, getting enough sleep, taking time off, drinking enough water; the basic stuff we all sacrifice when we’re busy, and we really, really shouldn’t.

What an exciting year. I absolutely loved your debut, and I’m starting the Christmas book today, which I’m really looking forward to. 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!

Since it’s just us, and we’re aiming high, I want what all romance authors want: a movie adaptation! Imagine Christmas at Frozen Falls as a Hallmark or Lifetime movie! That would be a dream come true. But mostly, I want to have a long career writing books that make people happy. 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’ve just begun work on the early draft of the sequel to my debut novel, One Summer’s Night. It’s so comforting going back to see how Kelsey Anderson is doing now she’s opening her own photography studio, and it’s wonderful being back in Stratford-upon-Avon with her, my happy place. The sequel is set over the autumn and winter after her big summer far from home finding herself (and finding love). It won’t be published for a good few months yet, but it’s on its way!

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’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot when I was younger. When I first met my husband we visited India, Morocco, Egypt, and travelled all over Europe too. By far my most favourite place on the planet is Finnish Lapland. 

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In December 2018 we took the Dunbar babies for the holiday of a lifetime to Saariselkä to meet Santa and his elves. It was magical from the second we touched down in the arctic twilight. I poured all of the magic and romance of that holiday into Christmas at Frozen Falls which is set in a fictional resort somewhere near Saariselkä. 

I love your bucket list idea! What would be on mine? I’d love to travel more in northern Europe and see an aurora sky over the fjords. Everything about Scandinavia is just so utterly appealing. And I’d really like to see more of the Scottish highlands and islands. I’m from near Edinburgh originally but don’t get back to Scotland nearly enough. Oh, and I’d love to visit Granada in Spain. That’s quite a long list, isn’t it?

Almost as long as mine! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I’m a huge BTS fan. Like HUGE. I love them!

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’?

You must read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca if you haven’t already! It is perfect. A masterpiece. Oh, and try her Frenchman’s Creek as well if you like hot, seventeenth-century, French pirates. And who doesn’t?

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Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .


Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

I LOVE du Maurier! Rebecca is fantastic, and I have a huge fondness for Jamaica Inn too. 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 know I should drink lots of water, take my make-up off properly, and have some Coke going nicely flat in the fridge overnight to help me recover tomorrow (only flat Coke will do when it comes to hangover cures), but I know I won’t remember to do any of that. Most likely I’ll wake up feeling rough with smudged panda eyes.

That’s how you know you’ve had a great night! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Wake up late (some chance with two kids under seven!), something nice for breakfast like square sausage on a roll with brown sauce (OMG!), a cosy start by the (electric) fire watching the Christmas tree lights twinkling while the kids play, then a stroll into town with Amos our Bedlington Terrier, a cuppa and cake in a nice café, a potter round the books shops, then home for a lazy afternoon with Cbeebies for the kids and a Christmassy romance novel for me. Perfect!

That sounds amazing! (Glad you went for the brown sauce and not the ketchup!) Kiley, this has been the most fantastic evening, thank you so much for coming out with me tonight. I’m off to curl up with your book now with a G&T in front of the fire.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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Christmas can thaw even the coldest of hearts…

Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.

When they meet, Stellan may be a bit grumpy but he’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable husky puppies).

But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

Kiley Dunbar is the author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. Shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Debut Romantic Novelists 2019 for One Summer’s Night.

Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.

You can read my review of Kiley’s debut novel One Summer’s Night here.

You can find out more about Kiley and her writing on Facebook and Twitter.

Next week I will be enjoying my last Friday Night Drinks of 2019 and seeing in a new blogging year with author, Julie Ryan. Until then, may I take this opportunity to wish all my readers a

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Friday Night Drinks with…. Rachel Sargeant @RachelSargeant3 @HarperCollins @HarperCollinsUK #TheRoomMates #FridayNightDrinks

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It’s that time of the week again! Time to relax, kick back and enjoy some Friday Night Drinks and a good old chat with this week’s guest, author….Rachel Sargeant.

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Rachel, welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you for inviting me, Julie. I’d like a tonic water with a slice of lemon but no ice.

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?

My local theatre. It’s very small but puts on fantastic amateur productions. My favourites are comedies and murder mysteries.

I love the theatre but don’t get to go as often as I’d like so that would suit me perfectly. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I’ve never met anyone famous and I’d want to be sure of picking someone nice and friendly, rather than a big ego. Having watched Katie Price and the late Keith Chegwin on Celebrity Big Brother, I’d choose them. They seemed down-to-earth and pleasant despite the mayhem around them. They also got on well with each other and stayed in touch afterwards so there’d be no danger of them falling out during our evening together. 

Unexpected choices! We’ve not had either of them before so that would be an interesting evening. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m planning an in-depth writing project, more literary and experimental than my usual work, but I’m keeping details a secret in case it doesn’t work out. I’m also writing another thriller. This one is set in rural Shropshire where I went for a weekend break this summer and where I used to live. Two main characters – mother and daughter – and two timelines – present day and 1986.

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

Proudest moment was when The Perfect Neighbours sold 100,000 copies and I received a bouquet of flowers from my publisher, HarperCollins.

My biggest challenge is the social side of writing. Although I love reading other people’s posts on social media and often reply and retweet, I struggle for something interesting to say myself and I get very nervous attending literature festivals. 

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 don’t want theme parks named after my characters or queues for my autograph, but I’d love to build up a core of readers who like my books so I can continue to work as a full-time author. 

That’s a lovely ambition. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

The two projects I mentioned get me out of bed in the morning (along with the tea and toast my lovely husband brings me). 

I’m also promoting my current psychological thriller The Roommates and responding to kind comments from readers. The fantastic support I’ve had from bloggers really helps.

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 the British seaside on a summer’s day. A particular favourite is Pembrokeshire, but I’m happy on any sunny beach with a picnic and a good book. I’d like to visit the seaside towns around the British Isles I’ve never been to.

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Lovely. I highly recommend Talybont beach in Snowdonia, which is our favourite (see above!) Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I won two swimming races when I was a teenager on holiday with my friend’s family at Pontins. My prize for each race was a toffee, which I gave to my friend’s brother as I was too out of breath to chew.

I love it! 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’?

Well, Julie, I read your blog. You know almost all there is to know about books so it’s hard picking something you haven’t read. I’m going for two suggestions by two of my closest writing pals. I was lucky enough to read and comment on their early drafts. The final products are great.

Final Diagnosis is a novella by Peter Garrett (Luna Press). It’s a brilliantly bonkers blend of sci-fi, murder and comedy, featuring time-travelling alien dinosaurs.

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In the port city of Searcy, murder is no longer a common occurrence, despite its history of violence. But when a senior psychiatrist is found with his head quite literally emptied out, it seems things might be about to take a dark turn. For DI Shaymie Sjaemusson, it marks the beginning of an investigation unlike any before, even as he’s forced to confront a deep trauma from his childhood.

As if things couldn’t get any stranger, all evidence points to a perpetrator that may not be human. And then, a myth from the dawn of human sentience appears from the shadows.

Sunrise in the Valley by Fergus Smith (Headsail Press). Army press officer Major Paul Illingworth must help build stability and trust in troubled Kosovo in 2001. He believes his role is to tell the truth but soon discovers truth has many versions. One truth belongs to Anja, a young child whose family is caught in the crossfire of war.

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It’s 2001 and NATO protects a fragile peace between the Albanians and Serbians in the Balkan region of Kosovo. British Army spokesman Major Paul Illingworth must win hearts and minds to build peace and stability. But all factions are suspicious and volatile, and veteran war reporters deeply cynical of what he is trying to do. Can he trust Roza, his young Albanian interpreter? Which version of the truth does he believe?He who controls the message, controls perception. And he who controls perception, controls behaviour.The sequel to In the Shadow of the Mountain, this novel brilliantly highlights the vanity at the heart of New Labour.

I’ve not read either of those so I will check them out. 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?

Stick to tonic water. I learnt the hard way in my student days there’s no cure…

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

If I can’t get to the seaside, I’ll settle for a swim in our local open air pool and a visit to a country house. If it’s mid-winter, I’ll still go to the country house but stock up on cake and coffee at the café. In December I like visiting the Gloucester Quays Christmas market to look at the craft stalls, drink mulled wine and eat a hot snack.

That sounds absolutely perfect for a winter weekend. if you ever get chance, I highly recommend visiting Chatsworth House in Derbyshire at Christmas. Thank you so much for joining me, I’ve had a lovely evening.

Rachel’s brand new book, The Roommates, is hot off the press and you can buy a copy here.

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Do you really know the people you live with?

THEY LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE
University is supposed to be the best time of your life. But Imo’s first week is quickly going from bad to worse.

YOU SHARE EVERYTHING
A stalker is watching her flat, following her every move, and Imo suspects that her new roommates are hiding dark secrets…

BUT DO YOU TRUST THEM?
When one of them suddenly disappears, the trauma of Imo’s recent past comes hurtling back to haunt her. And she begins to realise just how little she knows about the people she lives with…

FOUR STUDENTS. FOUR SECRETS. ONE DEVASTATING CRIME.

Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. She is the author of Kindle Top Ten bestseller The Perfect Neighbours, a psychological thriller set in Germany. Her second novel with HarperCollins, The Good Teacher, is a detective mystery, featuring DC Pippa “Agatha” Adams. Her new psychological thriller, The Roommates, takes place during a university freshers’ week. She also wrote Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty, a novel featuring Great War nurses on a hospital ship. This is loosely based on the 1915 diary of her husband’s grandmother, a nurse at Gallipoli.

Rachel has a degree in German and Librarianship from Aberystwyth University, and Creative Writing MA from Lancaster University. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children. Her hobbies are swimming, visiting country houses and coffee shops, and going to the theatre to watch quality amateur productions.

You can find out more about Rachel and her writing on her website or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Next week I will be having Christmas Friday Night Drinks with author, Kiley Dunbar and talking about her festive read, so join me then.

 

 

Friday Night Drinks with…. Sarah from Lost in the Land of Books Blog @lostinthelando1 @RedDogTweets @PantherPubs @hkist @TSHunter5 #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

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Delighted to welcome to the blog for Friday Night Drinks tonight, fellow book blogger….Sarah from Lost in the Land of Books blog.

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

Well I have recently developed a taste for pink gin and lemonade. Hangover free mornings 🙌

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Precisely why gin is my favourite tipple! If we werent here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out? 

I would be taking you to Planet, it’s a local gay bar and somewhere me and my partner go to on any night out. It’s a lovely little place with great DJs and on some nights you can sit back and watch some of some amazing drag queens. Then once the acts have finished you can dance the night away. 

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?

 Oh, now that’s a hard one, for my female I would definitely bring Pink along, she is just amazing and I had an epic time at her concert in the summer. She would also be a really good laugh. Now for a male it’s really difficult but I think it would be Robbie Williams. He is funny and who knows we could maybe have a good sing song.

Sarah, you have set us up for a raucous evening! So, now were settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Well I recently celebrated the blog’s first birthday which kinda just sprung out of nowhere but it’s been such a lovely year. I have a very busy December as I have a couple of blog tours to kick the month off and then I have a week of celebrating all things Panther Publishing and then two weeks with the amazing Red Dog Press. The first week we will be taking a look at their books and having a chat, a giveaway and an exclusive. For the second week we will be chatting all things Soho Noir with T.S Hunter’s books which have just blown me away this year. I decided I was going to do this in Dec to shout about the indie publishers. I am just a small town blogger, but I want to do what I can to shout about not only the books I love but the publishers too.

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This is one of my favourite things about blogging, being able to shine a spotlight on those smaller, indie presses. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has ​​​been your biggest challenge?

 My proudest moment came just recently when I was quoted on the back of a book for the first time ever. Red Dog have quoted me on the back of the book I believe everyone should read this year Heleen Kist’s Stay Mad, Sweetheart. I am also pretty damn proud I took the leap to start up the blog, I am a mum to two children and one of which has epilepsy and Aspergher’s and worried I wouldn’t have the time or the energy, mum guilt kicks in but I finally done something for me.  My biggest challenge has been saying no, I get some amazing emails and I want to say yes to everything but I have to remember as well as the blog I am also a partner, mum and I work so I can only juggle so many plates at a time.

What is the one big thing youd like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as ​​you like, its just us talking after all!

 I am writing away very very slowly on a book of my own so I would love to be published and failing that then I would like to win a blogging award.

Great ambitions. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

The Indie Christmas that I talked about and also my own writing, it started off full of self doubt and the whole oh this is rubbish etc but I had some lovely feedback about it, so I’m now hoping in the New Year to take the time to actual write a book and see where it goes. It’s about saying no a little more to tours and limiting them each month so I have time to read, review and write. Even if I don’t get it published I will still be happy that I actually finished it and wrote something and who knows where I will go from there.

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

Well apart from trips to London to visit my mum, I’ve only ever been to Tenerife, and the Canary Islands. Which is just beautiful. I would love to go to New York and Disneyland, two places I hope to get to in my lifetime. We are planning a trip to Turkey hopefully next year child free as it’s my partner’s favourite place to go so she would like to show me around.

Well, I’ve travelled widely in the States, am a Disney fanatic and used to be a travel consultant so, if you need any advice, give me a shout! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know ​​​about you.

Oh, I think I’m pretty much open book so people know quite a lot about me, but I’m actually quite quiet and withdrawn. however they are usually surprised to see the tattoos, I have 9 so far and plan on adding more next year.

Tattoos seem to be addictive once you start! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and Im always looking for ​​​​recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a must-read?

I would say Stay Mad, Sweetheart by Heleen Kist if you haven’t already and I know you said one but just in case you have read it then T.S Hunter’s Soho Noir series.

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THERE’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN INNOCENCE AND GUILT. AN EVEN FINER LINE BETWEEN JUSTICE AND REVENGE.

Data scientist Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits.
Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she’s leading the acquisition of Edinburgh’s most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.

Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up’s annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She’s determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn’t playing ball.

As the women’s paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily’s tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who’ve wronged them.

But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?

So, weve 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?

 My new failsafe plan is to stick to the Pink Gin all night, however when I do end up falling off the band wagon then I try to drink a pint of water when I get home. A nice cold can of Irn Bru And a nice bacon roll or  full fry up sorts me right out.

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

Well after such an amazing night out I would need some downtime to recover. Wrapped up in my blanket with some good books by my side and cake and coffee on hand would be lovely. 

That sounds fantastic. Sarah, thanks for joining me, it’s been great and I wish you great success with your promotions and the writing.

Sarah has a fabulous blog over at Lost in the Land of Books and you can also catch up with her on Twitter.

Next week I am having Friday Night Drinks with author, Rachel Sargeant, so please come back then.

Friday Night Drinks with…. Lucy Keeling @Lucy_K_Author @ChocLituk @RNATweets #UKRomChat #FridayNightDrinks

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After a one week hiatus, I am back for Friday Night Drinks with debut author, member of Twitter’s #UKRomChat and RNA colleague……Lucy Keeling.

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Welcome to the blog, Lucy, it’s lovely to have you here. First things first, what are you drinking?

Ohh, thank you for inviting me, I’d love an Ameretto and Diet Coke please if you don’t mind? Or we could share a bottle of Prosecco if you prefer?

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A bottle of Prosecco between us it is, to start with anyway! 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?

We would probably start earlier and go into Manchester, that way we can be nicely tipsy/drunk/steaming and get the last train home. I like to drink in places that are relaxed and chilled. If I can be wearing my Converse then I am beyond happy. I don’t think I ever really left my student drinking days behind me, except maybe the drinking of Snakebite.

I’m the same in my DMs! 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?

David Bowie and Emma Thompson. No hesitation.  

Ooh, good call. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Well I am looking forward to this Friday night off to be honest. Most of my evenings are spent editing or writing. I work part-time and have two small humans to try and raise, so the evenings are when the words come (hopefully). My rom com debut Make It Up To You was released in September. I’ve just sent off the second one in that series, and now I’m really excited to be working on Book Three, which is Mya’s story. 

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

Well, I have been writing since I was little. In fact I wrote my first ever book when I was maybe 8? It was about Ice Monsters and my school friend did the illustrations. But I would say coming Runner-Up in Choc-Lit’s ‘Search for a Star’ Competition and finding out that I would be getting a three book deal is certainly a HUGE deal for me, and honestly I’m still in shock. I kept expecting them to turn around and say, “So sorry we meant a different Lucy!”

My biggest challenge, as with most of us I guess, is getting into a routine and finding the time to write, as well as all the other stuff that comes with it, but I think I’m getting there. I think. Some weeks are easier or perhaps more productive than others that’s for sure. 

I can totally relate to the challenges of juggling everything. 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!

Ohhh, ok well if we’re dreaming big, then obviously I would like to see my rom com series made into TV or a film. I think it would be ace to watch it play out on Netflix. 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

So Book One was all about Sophie, a social media influencer, and Marcus a gardener. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like a pairing that should work but it really does. Like, really does, wink wink. Judging from the reviews and the feedback for Make It Up To You, it seems as though readers are desperately trying to suss out what Mya (one of the characters) does for a living. So it’s incredibly exciting to be writing Book Three now which is all about her. Honestly, I love knowing something that everyone else doesn’t haha. 

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 am not as well travelled as I would like. What have you got on yours? I’d love some inspiration. I would say that I really loved visiting Washington DC. We have friends that live over there and getting to see all the sites with them was amazing. Right now, I would just love to go somewhere warm and peaceful where I can read as much as I want before swimming up to a bar and drinking and then repeat. I don’t think that’s too much to ask? Is it?

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Sounds perfect. I was in Washington DC in 2018, great place. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Oh erm… I actually don’t think I’m at all that interesting. I would say that I am terrible at small talk. It’s the small bit I struggle with and so I tend to just go straight into the over sharing detail that you absolutely wouldn’t have asked for, and certainly didn’t need to know.

I feel exactly the same, I think it’s a nervous tic shared by introverts. Next time we are at the same RNA event, we should meet up and overshare together! 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 keep coming back to Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game. I just love it. Having said that I am also loving Tessa Dare’s series at the moment too. She is a genius at writing hilarious stories with amazing romance. I’m just about to start Clare Lydon’s ‘You’re My Kind’ and I can’t wait. I could go on and on.

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

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

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

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

I haven’t read that one, it sounds good. I will add it to the list. 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?

So I am renowned for making a brew. I am an absolute fiend when it comes to the hot beverage, and so no matter how drunk I might be, how many tipples I’ve had, I will always,and without fail make a brew when I get in. If I’m feeling really risky I might even make some toast. I’m so bad-ass I know. But I swear it will lessen your pain the next day.

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A cup of tea cures all! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Once I get in and it’s likely to be late because I get the feeling that you may be a bad influence ☺, I would like to recover the next day in bed, watching things on Netflix that I promised my friends I would watch and never got round to. But if we’re talking truly ideal then at some point I would need a big ol’ greasy breakfast and a cold can of full fat coke. Then I will be ready to face absolutely anything. Unless it’s Soft Play Hell in which case, no. Absolutely not. Do not ever go to Soft Play Hell with a hangover. 

Thankfully, my girls are past the Soft Play stage, so I won’t have to suffer that with or without a hangover! Lucy, thank you so much for joining me, it has been an absolute joy. Here is a gif, just for you!

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Lucy’s debut novel, Make It Up To You, is out now as an ebook and you can buy a copy here.

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What do mascara wands and gardening shears have in common?

Absolutely nothing! At least that’s what wannabe beauty influencer Sophie Timney thinks when her friend Polly suggests involving her brother Marcus in Sophie’s make-up tutorials. She needs more views, Marcus needs promotion for his gardening business – in Polly’s mind joining forces will help them both. Sophie isn’t so sure.

Because Marcus Bowman has a habit of getting under her skin in a way that no exfoliating face scrub ever could. But, as the views and comments on her videos begin creeping up, it becomes increasingly obvious that Sophie’s subscribers like Marcus, and what’s even worse is that Sophie might be starting to feel the same way …

Lucy Keeling is an author writing fun, sexy, stories with all of the happily ever afters. When she’s not typing at the kitchen table, she’s arranging and then re-arranging to see her friends for the occasional spot of day drinking. Lucy is currently writing the third book in a Contemporary Romance series, the first of which was Runner-Up in ChocLit’s ‘Search for a Star’ competition. This story has become her romantic comedy debut Make It Up To You.

To discover more about Lucy and her writing, you can find her on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Please join me next week when I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by Sarah from Lost in the Land of Books blog.