The Date by Louise Jensen #BookReview (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture #PublicationDay #TheDate #NetGalley #FictionCafeWriters

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“One night can change everything. 

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her… “

Publication Day for the fourth book by my fellow Fiction Cafe Writer, Louise Jensen. Happy publication day, Louise, I hope it has been fabulous.

My partner doesn’t read fiction and we often have conversations where we discuss why I love it and he doesn’t. His main argument seems to be that he doesn’t see the point of reading ‘made up stories’ and he likes to read non-fiction. Putting aside my counter-argument as to why he doesn’t feel the same about the sometimes ridiculously OTT movies and TV shows he is prepared to watch (also, made up stories!), the main thrust of my rebuttal would be that good fiction books will always hold some kernel of truth about the world and human experience. Without that, we can’t relate to them and they won’t draw us in, and I have learned a lot from a well-researched book, even if it is fiction.

This book is a case in point. Before I saw the pre-release information about this book and heard the author talking about it, I had never heard of prosopagnosia or facial blindness, never mind how common it is. This is a fascinating hook for the book to revolve on and the author has done a great job of portraying the daily hurdles that someone suffering from this condition has to contend with and the hardships that brings. Imagine not being able to recognise your own face, or the people you love. How would you be able to trust that people are who they say they are? I found the whole subject, and how the main characters learns skills to compensate fascinating.

This is also a really powerful premise on which to base a psychological thriller and this one does not disappoint. If you have read any of Louise’s books before, you will know what to expect and I think her writing is just getting better and better. This book twists and turns like an eel, you think you know what is happening but then she throws another curveball at you, and then another, until your head is spinning right up until the final chapter.

The real skill of this book is making something disturbing out of an every day environment, making the reader believe that this could actually be happening to someone they know, in their street. None of us know what goes on behind a suburban front door. You hear it every day in the papers when the neighbours of the latest villain to hit the front page are all interviewed and are surprised to hear what he/she is accused of because they always seemed so ‘quiet and normal’. Who knows what Mr. Jones from number 15 is up to in this garage? When might your path cross with his in a case of bad karma? These thoughts are more creepy to me than an exaggerated horror film because of the banal possibilities. It’s enough to give you nightmares and this author taps into that brilliantly.

I found the main characters in this book very relatable, more so perhaps than in Louise’s last book, which allowed me to be carried right into the heart of the story from the beginning. I really cared what happened to her and my heart was in my mouth, racing to the end of the novel as fast as possible to find out her fate. Pace of page-turning is the mark of a great thriller and my eyes and fingers were whirring, resenting the everyday intrusions that made me put the book down for the odd minute.

This is a great book in this genre, probably her best yet, and you should definitely pick up a copy today.

The Date is out today and you can buy a copy here.

If you want to know more about facial blindness, check out the video on Louise’s website.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Louise Jensen is the Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate.

To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List.

Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

Connect with Louise:

Twitter: @fab_fiction
Goodreads: Louise Jensen

The Bakery at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke #BookReview (@karenclarke123) @bookouture #TheBakeryAtSeashellCove #NetGalley

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“A warm welcome and delicious chocolate gateau are always on the menu at the Bakery at Seashell Cove – and this summer, romance is in the air…

Meg Larson thought she had everything she wanted: she works in the local bakery, she’s months away from marrying her high-school sweetheart, and home is beautiful, sunny Seashell Cove, where the sky is blue, the sea is turquoise and the sand is golden.

Except that the bakery is up for sale and her fiancé Sam’s more interested in bikes than their relationship. When Meg receives shocking news about her family, he’s on a cycling tour and ignoring her calls – and posting selfies on Facebook with a female cyclist he looks far too cosy with…

Luckily the bakery’s estate agent, Nathan, is understanding and funny, and as the summer goes on an unexpected friendship blossoms. When the bakery is given a second lease of life under a mysterious new owner, Meg realises a change might be exactly what she needs too.

Will Meg find the happy-ever-after she dreams of in Seashell Cove?”

This is my first book by this author although I have been meaning to read one of her books for a while as the covers are so alluring, don’t you think? This one perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the book which is a deliciously sweet, summery read.

I love the character os Meg, she is so warm and friendly but slightly hapless and I was rooting for her to get everything she wanted, which is mainly to run The Old Bakery at Seashell Cove – closed since its elderly owner died – which is now up for sale. This is more than Meg’s self-obsessed fiancé, Nathan, wants. He is too wrapped up in his obsession with cycling and being babied by his mother to take much interest in what Meg wants.

Meg is given an amazing opportunity to boost the bakery’s profile when she appears on TV. I really enjoyed this segment of the book, it was terribly funny and a great way to set up other aspects of the story.

The book has twists and turns in the way of Meg’s complicated family and a little whodunnit which keeps us guessing until the end. This is all done in a gentle, amusing way but it keeps the book rolling along nicely.

Meg’s future mother-in-law is a complete horror from who I would have run screaming a lot sooner than Meg did but she provides some great comic moments. There are a lot of fun characters in this book, include a bitchy sister, friendly baker and Meg has a couple of fabulous friends who obviously have their own stories.

The whole thing is an undemanding, easy, fun read, perfect for a hot summer’s day on a sun lounger with a glass of something cool within reach. I can’t wait to catch up on Karen Clarke’s back catalogue.

The Bakery at Seashell Cove is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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After giving up her job as a library assistant, Karen now writes full-time. She’s had over 300 stories published in women’s magazines in the UK and abroad, and has written three paranormal romantic comedies, published by Little, Brown/Corsair. When she’s not writing she reads avidly, walks dogs at her local rescue centre, and is eagerly awaiting the next season of The Walking Dead. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and three grown-up children.

Connect with Karen:

Website: https://www.karenclarkewriter.com

Facebook: Karen Clarke Writer

Twitter: @karenclarke123

Instagram: @karenanne37

I Never Lie by Jody Sabral #BookReview @canelo_co #PublicationDay #INeverLie #NetGalley

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“Is she the next victim? Or is she the culprit…?

Alex South is a high-functioning alcoholic, teetering on the brink of oblivion. Her career as a television journalist is hanging by a thread since a drunken on-air rant. But when a series of murders occurs within a couple of miles of her East London home, she’s given another chance to prove herself.

Alex thinks she can control the drinking, but soon she finds gaping holes in her memory, and wakes to find she’s done things she can’t recall. As the story she’s covering starts to creep into her own life, is Alex a danger only to herself – or to others?”

This book has me really torn about my reaction to it. In some ways it was great, very topical and thought-provoking and different to a lot of psychological thrillers I have read recently. In other ways it was really frustrating and a couple of things about it have left me downright furious.

This is the story of Alex, a journalist and high-functioning alcoholic whose drinking has torn both her personal and professional life apart. When a series of murders take place close to her home, she sees a way of redeeming her career, but cannot get control of her alcoholism. The book is told mainly from the first person viewpoint of Alex, as she reports on the story, and also through a series of diary entries of a third person, who we gradually find out more about as the book unfolds, which is an interesting set up and works reasonably well.

There are lots of aspects of this book I enjoyed. The writer sets the scene well, and the small area of London where the murders take place is made to feel claustrophobic and menacing, so we can understand how such awful crimes happening in a normally pleasant area can have an affect on a whole community. The character of Alex is well established, although she is not at all sympathetic, being selfish and unaware, but this is important to the plot development and does not detract from your investment in the story. Her need for alcohol overrides everything and the author very clearly demonstrates how alcoholism controls a person’s life, decisions and personality to the exclusion of everything and everyone else to the extent they will lie and deceive to get it and to hide their drinking. In the end, the constant quest for alcohol becomes pervasive to the extent that it is annoyingly repetitive, but I guess this is reflective of the reality for people living with this issue. The author does not pull any punches as to the character’s behaviour and parts of the book make uncomfortable reading.

I enjoyed the insight into the way new stories are put together, and the urgency of that gave the book a real dynamism which kept me turning the pages. The murder story involves the use of social media, not only as a way for the killer potentially to find victims via dating apps, but also as a way for the news team to track updates in the story which I thought was fascinating. It is amazing to me how the rise of social media has changed the dynamic of how we receive information so drastically that news channels are now playing catch up, instead of being the leading method of us gaining information on big stories and it is great to see this being reflected in current fiction.

On to the less positive side, parts of the book were repetitive, particularly the constant retelling of how her life is imploding. I understand that the author is trying to emphasise the cycle that alcoholics constantly go through by I wish she had mixed up how it was presented a little more. This book is advertised as ‘a gripping thriller with a twist you won’t see coming’. Unfortunately, I did see it coming long before the end and I think this was partly due to the strapline on the cover which is ill thought out in my opinion. The ending, and the explanation of some of the issues that had been brought up felt rushed to me, done as they were in a few pages of diary entry at the end.

The main problem, and the one that had me screaming in frustration at the book came in the final pages and, if I hadn’t been reading it on my Kindle, I think I would have thrown it. In a single sentence in the final chapter of the book, the author chooses to completely reverse a basic and central tenet of English criminal law to suit her story. This is unacceptable and had me totally enraged. There can be only two reasons she did this. Either, firstly, it is a mistake and she has simply not bothered to research the point of law involved. I find this hard to believe because a) it is such a basic premise that most lay people will know it and b) the author is a BBC journalist of long-standing. Alternatively, she does know it’s wrong but has decided that it doesn’t matter because her readers either won’t know or won’t care. I find this insulting to me as a reader and it completely ruined the book for me at the end. Maybe that is just me being a pedant but, for a crime writer to decide to re-write English law to suit her preferred story ending is just lazy. We’re not talking about a small licence in detail here and it really bugged me.

Due to my mixed reaction to this book, I can’t say whether I would recommend it or not. It has a lot going for it but it could have been so much better. Ultimately, my over-riding feeling was one of frustration.

I Never Lie is out today and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Jody Sabral is based between the South Coast and London, where she works as a Foreign Desk editor and video producer at the BBC. She is a graduate of the MA in Crime Fiction at City University, London. Jody worked as a journalist in Turkey for ten years, covering the region for various international broadcasters. She self-published her first book Changing Borders in 2012 and won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2014 for her second novel The Movement. In addition to working for the BBC, Jody also writes for the Huffington Post, Al–Monitor and Brics Post.

Connect with Jody:

Website: https://jodysabral.com

Facebook: Jody Sabral

Instagram: @jodysabral

#BlogTour The Cornish Village School – Breaking The Rules by Kitty Wilson #BookReview (@KittyWilson23) @canelo_co #PublicationDay #TheCornishVillageSchool #BreakingTheRules #NetGalley

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Delighted today to be one of the first stops on the blog tour for this enchanting debut by Kitty Wilson, and on publication day too. Happy Publication Day, Kitty! Huge thanks Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for inviting me to take part in this tour.

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“Rosy Winter is definitely not looking for love

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… she won’t be giving up without a fight.

This heartwarming romance is perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant, Holly Martin and A. L. Michael.”

Rosy has put her turbulent past relationship behind her and has built a contented new life in the delightful Cornish village of Penmenna, where she runs the happy local school and lives a solitary but settled life in her tiny cottage. That is until a threat of closure of the school, and a threat to her personal equilibrium in the face of a handsome new neighbour disrupt everything.

This is a delightful debut from Kitty Wilson. The plot is a departure from the usual Cornish novels which seem to centre around cafes, shops and guesthouses and gets right into the heart of the community at the village school. Rosy is a character that I warmed to immediately so I was very quickly invested in her story. Her new neighbour, Matt, is pretty much the perfect man – handsome, thoughtful, charming, good with children – but Kitty still manages to make him believable and you will be screaming at Rosy to see what we see in him throughout the course of the book.

The plot isn’t earth-shattering, with no shocking twists and turns, it is a more gentle and straight-forward with a series of misunderstandings and complicated emotional barriers being the main devices to carry the story which make it an easy read and largely convincing but no less gripping. There did come a point when I was getting a little frustrated with Rosy’s insistence on sticking to ‘The Rule’ and her complete over-reaction at one point in the book but it did become clear later why she reacted this way which made sense to me eventually. Matt showed amazing fortitude in the face of her erratic behaviour, but I guess he had plenty of experience in dealing with his sister.

Matt’s sister, Angelina, is a nightmare in human form and the one flaw he had, as far as i could see (and one I would have found difficult to stomach had I been Rosy) was how much he let her get away with. However, she did provide a lot of comic value in this book, along with Marion, the scourge of the PTA, who had pretty much become my favourite character by the end of the book. In fact, the book had many laugh out loud/cringe inside moments, my particular highlight being Rosy’s blind date.

Throw in a cute but mischievous dog, a school full of adorable children, a fabulous country house garden and the gorgeous Cornish setting, peopled with eccentric local customs, and you have a winning formula that it is impossible not to enjoy. I read this book in a couple of hours.

This book is as sweet and tempting as a Cornish cream tea and I enjoyed every mouthful.

The Cornish Village School: Breaking The Rules is out today and you can purchase a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

If you would like to follow the tour and find out what other bloggers think of the book, the details are below”

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About the Author

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Kitty Wilson has lived in Cornwall for the last twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard or hiding out at the beach and has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Connect with Kitty:

Twitter: @KittyWilson123

#BlogTour Summer of Love by Caro Fraser #bookreview (@carofraser) @aria_fiction @HoZ_Books #SummerOfLove #NetGalley

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The dark days of the war are over, but the family secrets they held are only just dawning.

In the hot summer of 1949, a group of family and friends gather at Harry Denholm’s country house in Kent. Meg and Dan Ranscombe, emerging from a scandal of their own making; Dan’s godmother, Sonia; and her two young girls, Laura and Avril, only one of whom is Sonia’s biological daughter. Amongst the heat, memories, and infatuations, a secret is revealed to Meg’s son, Max, and soon a terrible tragedy unfolds that will have consequences for them all.

Afterwards, Avril, Laura and Max must come of age in a society still reeling from the war, haunted by the choices of that fateful summer. Cold, entitled Avril will go to any lengths to take what is hers. Beautiful, naive Laura finds refuge and love in the London jazz clubs, but Max, with wealth and unrequited love, has the capacity to undo it all.”

I’m so delighted today to be taking part in the blog tour for the latest book by one of my favourite authors, Caro Fraser. Thank you to Melanie Price at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part.

I have been a huge fan of Caro Fraser’s books for years, her Caper Court series being books I return to time after time for unbeatable plotting and characterisation so I was delighted to be offered the chance to review her latest novel Summer of Love. This is in a different vein from the contemporary Caper Court books being, as the title suggests, set in the post-war period from 1949 until the swinging sixties.

The book centres around the lives of Max, Avril and Laura from their childhood until their coming of ages. The tragic events of one sultry summer day in 1949 leave a mark on each of them and their relationship to each other that continues to affect them all in to adulthood.

This book is an affecting exploration of how the circumstances of our birth and childhood and how our parents choose to raise us and what they let us believe about ourselves can have unforeseen consequences that ripple out endlessly throughout our lives, affecting all of our future decisions and relationships. The ideas raised are absorbing and thought-provoking and I know it is a book I will continue to think about long after I have closed the pages and placed it to one side in favour of something new.

The characters in this book are multi-dimensional and complicated and quickly draw he reader into their world, making us eager to know and understand them. Not all of them are likeable – one of the main characters is largely downright unpleasant – but are written in such a way that we still want to try and work out what has made them that way, what makes them tick and realise that their behaviour is perhaps holding them back from making them as fulfilled and contented as they could be.

The main draw of this book for me is the time period in which it is set and the frenetic and complicated social change taking place in that era. The years from just after the war to he mid-sixties was a time of immense transfiguration in Britain as the country rebuilt itself after the war and decided where its future lay. The younger generation were sometimes at odds with their parents, shaking off the shackles of propriety and restraint and searching for freedom and expression but there were still boundaries that could not be crossed, certain types of behaviour that would not be tolerated. This book explores brilliantly the contrast between the freedom and experimentation the youth were indulging in by way of new art and ideas, drugs, music and casual sex and the stigma still attached to homosexuality, inter-racial relationships, unmarried mothers etc. In this novel, Caro adeptly demonstrates how confusing it was for the people trying to navigate this uncertain time period when all social boundaries were being tested and where rejecting guidance and discipline from the older generation lead not only to freedom but also a sense of being alone in any plight the exercise of those freedoms brought on themselves.

The setting of he novel, between the quietness and staidness of the post-war English countryside and the grittiness of urban London emphasised this contrast and the author brings both settings vividly to life through enticing and eloquent descriptions. There is also a demonstration of the beginnings of the blurring of class distinctions during this period, with modern art and music encroaching on the upper crust echelons of the art world and the upsurge in popularity of fashion and music paving the way for the lower classes, who were making their mark in these fields, to mix with the monied set. It was a time of huge opportunity and this book manages to embody all the excitement and potential, as well as uncertainty that people must have felt at that time. For those of us too young to have lived through it, it is an enticing peek in to a world long gone but one that has paved the way for so much of what we take for granted today.

This book is not only a beautifully written and complex story of family relationships and personal exploration but also an intelligent snapshot of an exciting period of social history. The writing makes you think and leaves you with a feeling that you have gained a huge amount from the time investing in reading it and maybe a slightly better understanding of a huge stepping stone on the way to the society we have today, together with some ideas about how much further we may have to go. I revelled in every word of it.

Summer of Love is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

If you would like to see what other great bloggers think of the book, you can follow the tour here:

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About the Author

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Caro Fraser is the author of the bestselling Caper Court novels, based on her own experiences as a lawyer. She is the daughter of Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser and lives in London.

Connect with Caro here:

Website: http://www.caro-fraser.co.uk

Facebook: Caro Fraser Author

Twitter: @carofraser

One Summer by Jenny Hale #bookreview (@jhaleauthor) @bookouture #PublicationDay #OneSummer #NetGalley

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“This summer will change everything…

Alice Emerson is in need of a new beginning. Broken-hearted after her beloved grandfather passes away and her relationship falls apart, she makes a pact with her best friend Sasha. Swapping city living for the beautiful sun-bleached beaches of the Outer Banks, they launch an ice cream shop together in the crumbling house by the sea where Alice spent blissful childhood holidays.

As Alice and Sasha settle into the close-knit community, making friends with the locals and tempting them with their delicious recipes, Alice finds herself falling for the warm charm and golden smile of mysterious doctor Jack Barnes. Spending time together during sunshine-filled days and long romantic evenings, Alice starts to wonder if he could be the one for her?

But just when Alice’s summer couldn’t be more perfect, she discovers an old letter tucked away in the beach house. It contains a family secret that turns Alice’s world upside down and makes her question everything she’s ever known. And then Jack complicates their summer romance with an unexpected offer…

Faced with a difficult decision, will Alice and Jack follow their hearts and find true happiness this summer?”

This is the first book I have read by Jenny Hale, although I understand it is actually her tenth book, with a previous four summer reads and five Christmas books published so congratulations on reaching that momentous milestone, Jenny. I was originally drawn to the book by its beautiful, summery cover and the setting of the book in a beach resort on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (Regular readers of my blog will know I am a sucker for a book set in the USA, particularly the Southern states. I am obsessed with them.)

I raced through the book in an afternoon and have been left with mixed feelings which have caused me to give pause and carefully consider what I was going to write in my review before posting it to ensure I am being fair to the book.

There is a huge amount that I loved in this book. The setting was every bit as rich and beautifully brought to life as I had hoped it would be when I picked it up. From the opening line, “Alice Emerson plopped down in the sand, looking out at the restless ocean as it peeked over the sea oats” I was as much in love with the location as the main character is. The ocean, the beach, the little town, the clapboard houses, the cute restaurants – I could see it all perfectly in my mind’s eye and it acts as a character in the book in its own right which is just as it should be. The author has a beautiful way with language and description and has created a wonderful world in this story.

The characters in the book were well-constructed and fully-rounded and very likeable. The main character, Alice, was easy to warm to and got us on side immediately with her dilemmas. The friendship between Alice and her best friend, Sasha, is genuine and heart-warming and I completely believed it. Jack is perfectly drawn as Alice’s potential love interest but it is her son, Henry, who steals the show in this book. He is a gorgeous, vibrant little boy and the channelling of all of Alice’s concerns through the filter of her doing her best for Henry added an extra dimension of challenge to what might otherwise have been a fairly ordinary will-they, won’t-they summer love story. This took it up an emotional level for me as a mother myself and I loved this aspect of the story. The only character I found slightly disappointing and who could have done with rounding out a little more and given more depth to add interest to her role in the story was Melly. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was about her that I didn’t take to (was she a bit too nice, a bit of a drip – I’m not sure) but I never warmed to her.

The story was fairly gentle but there was enough emotional conflict to keep me interested and this is potentially a perfect, easy summer read save for a couple of issues that spoilt it a little for me.

Firstly, the timeline just did not work at all. Everything happened way too quickly, even allowing for a belief in love at first sight. Alice goes from vowing off men to being head over heels for a man she has spent about four hours with, within a couple of days of arriving in the town. He’s meeting her son, she’s meeting his father and feeling a sense of responsibility towards him before she’s known him a week. It didn’t feel true to me, which spoilt my ability to immerse myself in the story. In addition to the love story, there were other things that just didn’t work from a time perspective. Alice has been in town less than 48 hours and she has already collaborated with a local artist to finalise the logo for her ice cream shop and ordered a transfer for the window, about five minutes after she has picked its name. At the beginning of the book, we are told that Alice’s mother died when Alice was sixteen. However, it is later discussed how Alice’s ‘parents’ were supportive of her when she becomes a single mother and also how her mother started to feel guilt over certain past decisions she had made at the time Alice had Henry, but Henry was born when Alice was nineteen, long after her mother was dead. These kind of details seem minor but are again a distraction from the storyline and a more careful edit was needed.

Secondly, and this may be more an issue of personal preference, the ending was just too saccharine and perfect for my tastes. I expected this book to end in an HEA as would anyone who picks up a book of this nature but this one seemed to have been gift-wrapped, topped with a big bow and had a cherry stuck on the top. If the book had finished at the end of Chapter 29, I would have been happy. I wish I had not read Chapter 30. However, as I said, this may just be my personal taste. The author of this book is American and is writing for a segment of the American market that I am sure would demand Chapter 30 (one of her books has been made into a Hallmark movie) and I think there is a slight difference between what American romance readers expect and what is normal for the UK market. We are much more reserved over here!

These issues aside, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it as a sweet summer holiday read and I would not hesitate to pick up another book by this author. And I still adore that cover, it fits the book perfectly.

One Summer is published today and you can buy a copy Here.

My thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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When I graduated college, one of my friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to me.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t.

While I didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, I completed a novel that I felt was worthy of publication. The result was Coming Home for Christmas, a heart-warming story about the magic of love at Christmas, and 2017 TV movie on The Hallmark Channel.

The rest is history.

When I’m not writing, I’m a mother of two boys and a wife to a very supportive husband.

Connect with Jenny:

Website: https://www.itsjennyhale.com

Facebook: Jenny Hale Author

Twitter: @jhaleauthor

Instagram: @jhaleauthor

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain #bookreview (@Heidi_Swain) @simonschusterUK #PublicationDay #SunshineAndSweetPeasInNightingaleSquare #NetGalley

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“Kate is on the run from her almost-divorced husband who is determined to have her back, and she has found the perfect place to hide… a little cottage on Nightingale Square in Norwich, far away from her old life in London. But the residents of Nightingale Square don’t take no for an answer, and Kate soon finds herself pulled into a friendship with Lisa, her bossy but lovely new neighbour.

Within a matter of days Kate is landed with the job of campaigning the council to turn the green into a community garden, meanwhile all the residents of Nightingale Square are horrified to discover that the Victorian mansion house on the other side of the square has been bought by developers. But when all hope is lost, the arrival of a handsome stranger is sure to turn things around!”

It’s publication day for Heidi Swain’s sixth book so Happy Publication Day, Heidi!

I am a huge fan of Heidi’s books and I am totally in love with the little town of Wynbridge where all of her previous novels have been set so I was a little disconcerted to find that her latest novel is not set there! However, Heidi has carved out another charming location for her latest book in Nightingale Square, a village-within-the-city setting where the reclusive Kate has retreated to hide from her soon-to-be-ex-husband and lick the wounds left by the breakdown of her marriage. She is hoping to live the quiet life for a time while she decides what direction her life should take but her neighbours in the Square have other ideas.

Soon Kate is drawn right into the heart of the little community, with two fabulous new girl friends in Lisa and Heather and a surrogate family in the other residents, who love their home and are all pulling together as a community to find a space where they can set up a neighbourhood garden. They also are united in their desire to thwart the modernisation of the neighbouring big house, Prosperous Place, which has an important history at the heart of the area. Kate finds a certain equilibrium in her life until the arrival of a handsome neighbour and the appearance of her ex-husband, via for her attention, throw her off-kilter again.

This book felt a little different to Heidi’s previous books, and I don’t think that was just down to the change in location. I did miss the Wynbridge cast, although a few of them put in an appearance, as Kate is the sister of Jemma’s husband. Regular readers of Heidi’s books will know Jemma as the owner of The Cherry Tree Cafe in Wynbridge.

I think the crux is that Kate is a complicated character and some of the issues tackled in this book seemed a little heavier than the themes in Heidi’s previous books. I am not highlighting this as a negative, just that it feels like a slight divergence for me from what her readers may have come to expect from her books. I enjoyed the meaty storyline and could sympathise with a lot of the dilemmas that Kate is wrestling with in this book – it goes some way beyond a light summer read on this occasion. The desire to hide away to lick one’s wounds will be familiar to all of us from some time or other in our lives.

The history angle was interesting and a great hook for the plot, and I enjoyed the familiar themes of supportive friends and the importance of community that we have come to appreciate in Heidi’s books and her regular readers will not be disappointed in this regard. There were also the usual great cast of characters – Lisa and Harold were the stand-outs for me – and the elements of humour that she is so good at.

There were a couple of elements that niggled a tiny bit. Kate’s obstinate clinging to the idea that there is only one perfect One for all of us and that if the one you thought was The One turns out to have feet of clay that this is it for you on the romance front, I found hard to buy in to. I think this was particularly difficult for me to accept as I found her ex to be so odious that I struggled to see how she could have thought he was The One, but that may just be my perception. In addition, there were parts of the story that were glossed over too quickly and I would her liked them to have been explored more fully and deeply, but I think maybe I was just being greedy for the story to go on longer!

Overall, this was another great read from Heidi but I was left feeling like this book is on the cusp of taking things in a slightly different direction for her but maybe she is holding back a little bit. Whether she chooses to push this further, or keep giving us the great, light-hearted romances we know and love, I will be interested to see. Either way, I will be happy and look forward to seeing what comes next from one of my favourite authors.

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

My thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Heidi Swain is the Sunday Times bestselling author of five novels: The Cherry Tree Cafe, Summer at Skylark Farm, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage  and most recently, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair. She lives in Norfolk with her husband and two teenage children.

Connect with Heidi:

Website: http://heidiswain.co.uk

Facebook: Heidi Swain Author

Twitter: @Heidi_Swain

Instagram: @heidi_swain