In The Dark by Loreth Anne White #GuestPost #BlogTour (@Loreth) @AmazonPub #InTheDark

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I’m so excited to be taking part in the blog tour today for In The Dark by Loreth Anne White and I have not one, but two, exciting features for you with a Q & A with the author and an extract from the novel. Huge thanks to Morgan Doremus of Montlake for inviting me on to the tour and allowing me to publish the extract. And watch out for a review of the book, which I am currently reading, coming soon on the blog.

InTheDark

The promise of a luxury vacation at a secluded wilderness spa has brought together eight lucky guests. But nothing is what they were led to believe. As a fierce storm barrels down and all contact with the outside is cut off, the guests fear that it’s not a getaway. It’s a trap.
Each one has a secret. Each one has something to hide. And now, as darkness closes in, they all have something to fear—including one another.

Alerted to the vanished party of strangers, homicide cop Mason Deniaud and search and rescue expert Callie Sutton must brave the brutal elements of the mountains to find them. But even Mason and Callie have no idea how precious time is. Because the clock is ticking, and one by one, the guests of Forest Shadow Lodge are being hunted. For them, surviving becomes part of a diabolical game.
Q&A with Author Loreth Anne White
 
1. You are very well known for your romantic suspense tales, but your new title, IN THE DARK, is all about mystery — a real whodunit! Tell us a bit about the story. 

I like to think there is still a strong echo of my earlier romantic suspense books that ripples through IN THE DARK. Yes, it’s a locked-room mystery/thriller —  wilderness style, but the mystery narrative is wrapped inside a romantic suspense-style narrative that follows a budding friendship between Detective Mason Deniaud and Search & Rescue manager Callie Sutton who must not only piece together what happened as they hunt for survivors, but also must race against time to save who might be left. The story leaves off with a promise of more ahead in the relationship between Callie and Mason, so my roots are still showing, I hope.

2. Your story definitely has shades of Agatha Christie as well as a nod or two to Stephen King. Did these authors act as inspirations for this book?

IN THE DARK is not only a homage to Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, but Christie’s story becomes a plot device, a psychological tool that the villain uses to instill fear in the victims trapped in the lodge because the victims know what transpired in the book, and they anticipate the same will happen to them. 

And yes, a teensy nod to master of atmosphere and horror, Stephen King’s THE SHINING where characters are trapped in a remote and snowbound hotel and become mercy to the psychological horror that descends on them.

3. A rural, isolated lodge is always a great place to start a suspenseful novel. How exactly did your characters all come to be at Forest Shadow Lodge?

The characters are invited for an all-expenses stay at the brand new, high-end, fly-in wilderness lodge and spa. They are lured by an offer to enjoy a ‘soft opening’, so to speak, where they can assess the accommodation and potentially negotiate lucrative contracts with the new lodge owners. Each guest runs a business that would be suitable for such an establishment. Each is excited by a possible lucrative contract. But not all is quite what meets the eye, of course.

4. Your story is told from multiple points-of-view as you take deep dives into the characters’ lives and histories. Does everyone have something to hide?

Don’t we all have something to hide? My characters in this book certainly do. Some of their secrets are more powerful than others.

5. Mason and Callie are two of the law enforcement responders that are trying to piece together exactly what happened at The Lodge. Tell us more about these characters and what makes them so good at what they do. 

Mason Deniaud was a top homicide detective before relocating to the remote north for personal reasons. He lost a young son and a wife and he’s searching for a way to live, or exist, if not heal. Callie Sutton is a young mother who is single, but also isn’t because her husband lies in hospital and is brain dead. Her husband is there, but he also isn’t there for Callie and her young son. Like Mason, she’s in limbo, a place where she can’t move forward, or back. It’s through this they find a bond. And the search for the missing lodge party pushes them together.

6. IN THE DARK is a pivotal novel in your career. What does it have in common with your previous writing and how is it different? How does this inform your next steps as a writer?

Pivotal sounds cool. I’ll take it! Thank you. But yes IN THE DARK is a bit of a departure from my previous romantic suspense books. If readers enjoy it, however, and if my publisher remains happy, I’d like to keep growing in this direction. But I do think my crime stories will always revolve around strong women, or women who might be victims to start with, but who find agency and take back their lives and become strong and survive through the arc of a story. (As with my forthcoming work IN THE DEEP). I do love to include a relationship element in my crime novels, but bonding with a potential love interest comes out of the personal growth of the protagonist. I like to tell—and read—stories of women who find ways to rescue themselves.

 
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Thank you for giving us a peek into the inspiration and writing of the novel, Loreth. Now for an extract from the novel to whet your appetite!
In The Dark Excerpt
 

“The gas stove and the gas water heaters work,” Nathan said. “And there’s plumbing.” He turned his back on them and busied himself taking mugs out of the cupboard in an exaggerated fashion. His heart hammered in his chest. Sweat prickled across his lip.

“And there’s tea, coffee, tins of tuna, and soup,” Steven said as he hurriedly opened more cupboards.

Bart frowned. “Well, at least we won’t go hungry.” He made for the living area, paused. “I found a path. It looks like it leads around to the other bay, but it was getting too dark to follow without a flashlight.”

“Do you think it might lead to the real lodge?” Steven asked.

Nathan blinked. It was like the doctor was reaching for straws by asking—as if hoping, still, that their pilot had just made some terrible screwup with the GPS coordinates.

Bart said, “We can check again in the morning to see if—”

“There is no real lodge.” Jackie appeared in the doorway that led from the great room into the kitchen.

They all turned to look at the solid woman with intense eyes.

“This is no mistake,” she said curtly. “This is a con, some sick game.”

“What do you mean?” Bart asked.

“Did you guys not see the plaque outside, next to the front door? This place is called Forest Shadow Lodge. As in Forest Shadow Wilderness Resort & Spa. Here, look at this.” She pulled a brochure from her pocket and smoothed it out on the kitchen island.

“I printed it off the website before I left home.” She jabbed a photo of the luxury lodge. “It’s fake. It’s photoshopped, because it’s using the same location. See this bay here? And the shape of this one here? This mountain? This is how the terrain looked from the air. It’s this spot, but someone has photoshopped the spa into the location. They’ve erased parts of the forest, added cabins and trails, plus interior shots from some other spa and lodges.” She met their gazes. “This whole thing was faked from the get-go. We were lured here. All of us. And now we’re trapped.”

A sinister cold seemed to enter the kitchen. A shutter banged upstairs, and wind whistled. Mist, cloying and wet, pressed up against the windows. It grew darker inside.

“Why?” Bart asked, still holding his wood.

“God knows.” Jackie dragged her hand over her hair. “But right now, we’re stuck. We’ve been baited and lured into some weird kind of wilderness prison.”

“We are not trapped.” Stella entered the kitchen. “We have a plane. And you guys have a pilot—me. We have fuel. We—”

“We have no bloody radio!” Jackie snapped, whirling round to face Stella, her eyes furious.

“What?” said Steven.

“That’s right,” Jackie said. “Go on, tell them, Stella.”

Stella’s gray eyes flashed, shooting daggers at Jackie.

“Go on. Tell them. The radio is broken. Sabotaged, wires cut.”

“But I heard you speaking to your dispatch on the radio,” Nathan said.

“But it wasn’t working, was it, Stella?” Jackie said. “Your dispatch couldn’t hear you, could they? No one even knows where we are, do they?”

Stella’s features went tight.

“So when were you going to tell us this, Stella?” Steven asked.

“I didn’t want to say right away. Fear, worry, is not a good thing when—”

“When what? Jesus. Who are you to decide what’s right and wrong for us to know?” Steven barked. “You’re just the pilot, not the boss of our lives, for Chrissakes.”

“There’s a chance I could fix it in the morning. If I can—if it’s an easy fix—you’d never have to have known about it.”

“So you thought you’d play God?” Steven snapped. “Because we would all panic.” He wagged jazz hands at the sides of his face.

“And you’re not panicking?” she said.

Silence swelled in the kitchen. It felt for a bizarre moment as though the house was listening. Alive. Hostile. Nathan felt hairs rise along his arms. He was sensitive to these things. He could feel trees in the forest watching and listening to him.

In The Dark is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

LorethAnneWhite
Loreth Anne White is a bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the recipient of the Overall 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall. In addition, she’s a Booksellers’ Best finalist and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award winner. 
A former journalist who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family. When Loreth isn’t writing, you will find her skiing, biking, or hiking the trails with her dog (a.k.a. the Black Beast) or open-water swimming. She calls this work, because that’s when the best ideas come. 
Connect with Loreth:
Twitter: @Loreth

You Are Mine by Miranda Rijks #BookReview #BlogTour (@MirandaRijks) @inkubatorbooks @damppebbles @DamppebblesBTs #YouAreMine #damppebblesblogtours

2019-1395 Miranda Rijks You Are Mine

Rupert has spent years searching for his perfect wife. Now he’s found her.  

Her name is Charlotte Aldridge and she’s wonderful. A talented artist, modest and beautiful, she’s everything he ever dreamed of. Her hair, her eyes, her mouth – every little detail is perfect.  

Rupert is confident that when they meet, she’ll fall in love with him just as he has with her. After all, he’s a wealthy British aristocrat. And he’s handsome – the relentless gym workouts and extensive plastic surgery have seen to that.  

But what if Charlotte can’t see that they fit perfectly, that they’re meant for each other? Well, Rupert can be very persuasive. His father taught him certain methods which are extremely effective. Methods that can turn the most determined, ‘I don’t’ into a meek and submissive, ‘I do’…. 

Today, it is my turn on the blog tour for You Are Mine by Miranda Rijks. My thanks to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Tours for my place on the tour and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Miranda Rijks and I still haven’t decided whether I will be reading another or not yet because this one completely creeped me out and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the mind which managed to produce something so disturbing.

This book revolves around Rupert, a wealthy aristocrat who is on the look out for the perfect wife to complete his otherwise perfect life. He is convinced he has found her in the shape of artist, Charlotte, and he is sure she will fall in love with him if she just gets to know him properly. But is the real Rupert someone Charlotte could ever love? And is it really Charlotte he loves, or the memory of someone else….

This book has an interesting construction as it jumps between the present and the past, following Rupert’s story now as he pursues Charlotte, and events in his past that shaped his current behaviour. We also hear the story from several different perspectives, both in the past and in the present. However, despite the different time lines and the different voices, the story is very well laid out and easy to follow.

This book was extremely gripping and easy to read. I fairly flew through the pages as the pace of the book carries the reader along speedily. The tone is dark and troublesome, these are not easy topics to read about and the story line may prove triggering for some readers. The mood is dark and claustrophobic throughout, which is very fitting for the plot but makes for an oppressive reading experience. Not the book to pick if you are looking for something uplifting.

There are a few twists in the book, a couple of which I guessed and a couple I didn’t. Overall, a compelling read from a devious mind. One for fans of a psychological thriller with a bit of a different spin.

You Are Mine is out in paperback and ebook on 1st December and you can buy a copy here.

To find out more about the book and read some alternative reviews, please do check out the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

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Miranda Rijks is a writer of psychological thrillers and suspense novels, and YOU ARE MINE will be her sixth novel published with Inkubator Books. She has an eclectic background ranging from law to running a garden centre. She’s been writing all of her life and has a Masters in writing. A couple of years ago she decided to ditch the business plans and press releases and now she’s living the dream, writing suspense novels full time. She lives in Sussex, England with her Dutch husband, musician daughter and black Labrador.

Connect with Miranda:

Website: https://mirandarijks.com

Facebook: Miranda Rijks Author

Twitter: @MirandaRijks

Instagram: @mirandarijksauthor

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Keeper of Secrets by Lynda Stacey #BookReview #BlogTour (@LyndaStacey) @RubyFiction @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #KeeperOfSecrets

Keeper of Secrets

I’m thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for the new book by Lynda Stacey, Keeper of Secrets. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which i have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist. 

But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes. 

It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

I was really looking forward to reading this book from the moment the author first told me about it, because it is based around a bit of history of my home town that I had no idea about. Sometimes a book which I am so highly anticipating can fall a little flat in reality, but this one did not disappoint in the execution.

Th author has created a really compelling narrative here, which is all the more fascinating for being built around a piece of lost South Yorkshire history. Since Lynda first talked to me about it, I have done a lot more reading about the Victorian Sand House, and the author has done a marvellous job of building a compelling story around the uncovering of this lost marvel, so I am sure anyone picking up the book will be as fascinated by the whole idea as I was and will want to learn more about it afterwards.

The story itself is totally gripping. I was hooked from the beginning and raced through the novel in two days, desperate to find out what was going to happen. The atmosphere is dark, forbidding, claustrophobic, it reveals a side of my home town that is unfamiliar to me, which is always exciting, and I was riveted by trying to piece together my knowledge of Doncaster with the locations in the book, but I am sure anyone who isn’t familiar with the locale will be equally drawn in by the tension and darkness of the setting, although it may not do much for the appeal of Doncaster to tourists! (It’s a great place, do visit us, we aren’t all crazy!)

Lynda has created some very sympathetic characters to carry the story. I loved the relationship between Cassie, her sister and her Aunt Aggie, and you could not help but be moved by the plight of the girls, and their aunt and their sad, individual histories. The romance in the book was also beautifully unveiled, but it was really the relationship between the girls and their aunt, and what they were prepared to do for each other that made the book for me.

I loved the contrast between the light and openness and carefree descriptions of Cassie in Italy, and the dark, oppressive tension of her life back in Doncaster, and the way the plot of the book began and ended gave a wonderfully rounded narrative. This is my favourite book of Lynda’s yet, and as an author you can see she is getting stronger and stronger. Wonderfully accomplished, I highly recommend it.

Keeper of Secrets is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To read some alternative opinions on the book, make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

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Lynda is a wife, step-mother and grandmother who grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire..

She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 28 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage. 

Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

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

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers’ Scheme and in 2015 her debut novel House of Secrets won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition. Lynda writes for both Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction.

Connect with Lynda:

Website: http://www.lyndastacey.co.uk

Facebook: Lynda Stacey Author

Twitter: @LyndaStacey

Instagram: @lynda.stacey

Getting To Know You- Julie Morris (@book_problem)

I am appearing on Macs Reviews Books’ blog today, on his ‘Getting To Know You’ feature. So, in the unlikely event you have been desperate to know what is my karaoke song and my secret fun fact, now is your chance to find out! Make sure you check out his blog for more interesting features and reviews.

Mac Reviews Books

Name -

Julie Morris

Twitter handle -

@book_problem

Blog –

A Little Book Problem (https://alittlebookproblem.co.uk)

Currently reading –

Shelter Rock by M. P. Miles in paperback, which was a review request, Deadly Prospects by Clio Gray as an ebook for a blog tour, Critical Incidents by Lucie Whitehouse as an

audiobook to relieve the boredom of driving!

Favourite book ever -

Worst question to ask a lifelong bookworm! I love so many but if you force me an gunpoint I would say ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ by Stella Gibbons. I adore it, it’s clever and funny and it gives me the warm fuzzies every time I read it, and I completely relate to the heroine, Flora Poste – I hate messes too!

Best moment of your life – I have to have two, the birth of each of my daughters. I am grateful every day that I have them…

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Friday Night Drinks with…. Eleanor Harkstead & Catherine Curzon @e_harkstead @MadameGilflurt @Totally_Bound #FridayNightDrinks #TheGhostGarden

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I have a rather delayed Friday Night Drinks tonight, as this should have appeared in April, until I was suddenly struck down by illness. However, better late than never, and it is a double whammy as, for the first time, I am having drinks with two authors tonight who are co-authors of a series of historical novels. You know what they say, two’s company, three is a party, so I am delighted to welcome to the blog…. Eleanor Harkstead and Catherine Curzon.

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

EH: Give me gin or give me death. Or alternatively a nice white wine.

CC: Tea! I will happily order tea in a pub, because there’s no finer drink under the sun. If I must have something a little more dramatic, Mason’s do a stunning tea gin. They do a lot of stunning gins, but that one is particularly special. 

 You are ladies after my own heart, as I have been a gin devotee since long before it became trendy. I have never tried the tea gin, though, so I must track that down. 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?

EH: There’s a place in Birmingham called The Jekyll and Hyde. It has an amazing “gin palace” room where they sell nothing but gin! 

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CC: There’s no better way to start an evening out than a gorgeous meal and no better place to have a gorgeous meal than Salvo’s in Headingley. I’m not sponsored by them, but I wish I was — send me free food, Salvos! It’s the best Italian you’ll ever eat at, and has been family run for something like forty years. They won Best Neighbourhood Italian on Gordon Ramsey’s The F Word too, which isn’t to be sniffed (or sworn) at.

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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?

EH: Byron and his pet bear. I’m not sure if the bear was male or female, but I’m sure no one’ll mind. Byron would be a laugh on the gin (or a morality black hole, it’s hard to say which), and the bear would be an excellent conversation piece. Besides, you never know when a bear might come in handy on a night out. It could keep an eye on your drinks while you’re dancing or deal with any argy-bargy. 

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CC: In my other writing life, I write nonfiction about the 18th century and that means there can only be one correct answer to this question. Laurence Sterne on one side and Caroline of Brunswick on the other. Sterne was known for wit and fabulous conversation and could hold a room in the palm of his hand with his stories. It’d be a privilege to meet the great man.

Caroline of Brunswick, meanwhile, was the scandalous estranged wife of George IV. She famously danced in diaphanous gowns on the Italian coast, shared a bed with a soldier noted for his dramatic whiskers and didn’t always wear her stays in polite company. I’d love to discover if the stories about Prinny are true, as well as find out if Caroline’s own hygiene was as shocking as her husband claimed it was!

Sounds like this could turn into quite a raucous night out, even without the bear. 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?

EH/CC: We’re celebrating the publication of The Ghost Garden. We’re also writing something in our sandbox just for fun, but as usually happens, I’m sure the grain of an idea will make itself known and we’ll be off to turn it into a novel.

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Within the tangled vines of a forgotten garden, can a blossoming new love overcome an ancient evil that threatens both the living and the dead?

After losing her brother in the trenches of the Great War, Cecily James is a prisoner of Whitmore Hall, the respected but remote boys’ school where her brutish husband reigns as headmaster. With its forsaken walled garden, a hauntingly tragic past, and midnight footsteps heard from an unoccupied clocktower, Whitmore Hall is a place where the dead are rumored to walk.

Whitmore Hall is a place filled with mysteries and as a ghost garden emerges from the sun-bleached soil, long-buried secrets cry out to be told.

When new teacher Raf de Chastelaine blunders into an impromptu seance, Cecily finds an unlikely and eccentric ally. In a world of discipline and respectability, barefoot Raf is unlike any teacher Cecily has ever met. With his tales of the Carpathian mountains and a love of midnight gardening, he shakes Whitmore Hall to its foundations. Could there be more to Raf than meets the eye? And as he and Cecily realise that their feelings run deeper than friendship, dare they dream of a world beyond Whitmore Hall?

As Cecily and Raf team up to unite long-dead lovers and do battle with an ancient evil that has long haunted Whitmore Hall, Cecily finds her chance of happiness threatened by her tyrannical husband. But is the controlling headmaster acting of his own free will, or is he the puppet of a malevolent power from beyond the grave?

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

CC/EH: Definitely when Pride signed up our first Captivating Captains novel, The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper. Our first published work with Pride was a short story, An Actor’s Guide To Romance, and that was a really special moment for us as co-writers, but to see our first joint novel out there was fantastic. Even better was when Pride decided to launch the Captivating Captains series of novels, which cross genres and eras to tell stand alone stories featuring… some captivating captains!

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!

EH/CC: I suppose every writer hopes this, and it’s not very realistic, but we’d love it if one of our stories was dramatised. But (again unrealistically!) we’d like to oversee the casting. 

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

CC/EH: We’ve just put the final finishing touches to the first draft of the sequel to The Ghost Garden and we’re ready to shout it from the rooftops, but we can’t just yet! 

We’re really excited to introduce readers to the village where Raf’s family have lived for generations and to the people who live there. Although it’s the second book in our series, The de Chastelaine Chronicles, it can be read as a stand alone too, so readers who aren’t familiar with Raf and Cecily will still be able to jump right in and uncover their latest supernatural investigation!

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?

EH: I have two favourite places, which are in fact weirdly similar — Edinburgh and Granada. They’re both modern cities but ancient too with lovely old towns and castles. Granada is a magical place — I went in December once in the snow and it was beautiful. The Alhambra Palace is an amazing place to visit, but also to see peering over the buildings of the city as you wander about. And the view from the Albayzin (the Old Town) of the Alhambra with mountains behind it is breathtaking. I love Edinburgh — the Georgian New Town is gorgeous, and the higgledy-piggledy Old Town around The Royal Mile is fascinating. And Edinburgh’s old cemeteries are fantastic to visit.

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Top of my bucket list is Japan — I studied Japanese for two years but have never had the chance to go. One day, maybe!

CC: I’m going to choose two places for this question, one at home and one abroad. 

My first choice is the breathtaking Niagara Falls. It’s a place everyone should experience if they can for its wildness and the sheer scale and strength of the falls. I’m a bit of a waterfall fan!

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A little closer to home, there’s nowhere better than the rugged North Yorkshire coast. Not only can one have the best fish and chips, there’s miles of wonderful walking, gorgeous views and friendly Yorkshire folk – like me (though I’m only honorary Yorkshire!). 

At the top of my bucket list is only one thing: I am utterly obsessed with seeing the Northern Lights. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing and something I hope will happen one day!

Well, we are honoured to have you in Yorkshire and I agree that the North Yorkshire coast is as beautiful as any you will find anywhere. Lots of places there that are also on my bucket list! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know ​​​about you.

EH: I was once, by accident, in a documentary about students from the Middle East. I’m actually from East Anglia, which isn’t quite the same thing. I still don’t know how that happened.

CC: I spent many years working in the House of Commons. At some point during this occasionally surreal decade, a Home Secretary stole my shoe whilst he was drunk. I won’t name him!

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’?

EH: Chingiz Aytmatov’s Jamila (also known as Jamilia). It’s a beautiful, quietly rebellious love story set in Soviet Kyrgyzstan — so exquisitely moving and will stay with you long after you’ve read it. James Riordan’s translation is nothing short of lyrical.

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The Second World War is raging, and Jamilia’s husband is off fighting at the front. Accompanied by Daniyar, a sullen newcomer who was wounded on the battlefield, Jamilia spends her days hauling sacks of grain from the threshing floor to the train station in their village in the Central Asia.

Spurning men’s advances and wincing at the dispassionate letters she receives from her husband, Jamilia falls helplessly in love with the mysterious Daniyar in this heartbreakingly beautiful tale.

CC: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. I guarantee you’ve never read anything like it before, and you never will again. My interest in history and writing was awakened by my grandad, who was a born storyteller. Tristram Shandy is just like sitting beside grandad’s hearth and listening to him tell tales. It wanders, stops and starts, and leaves you hanging. Perfect storytelling!

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Sterne’s great comic novel is the fictional autobiography of Tristram Shandy, a hero who fails even to get born in the first two volumes. It contains some of the best-known and best-loved characters in English literature, including Uncle Toby, Corporal Trim, Parson Yorick, Dr Slop and the Widow Wadman. Beginning with Tristram’s conception, the novel recounts his progress in ‘this scurvy and disasterous world of ours’, including his misnaming during baptism and his accidental circumcision by a falling sash-window at the age of five; unsurprisingly, Tristram declares that he has been ‘the continual sport of what the world calls Fortune’. Tristram Shandy also offers the narrator’s ‘opinions’, at once facetious and highly serious, on books and learning in an age of rapidly expanding print culture, and on the changing understanding of the roles of writers and readers alike.

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?​

EH: Drink lots of water, keep paracetamol by the bed and get lots of sleep! To be honest, I’d also say that in order to avoid hangovers never pass the age of thirty. And don’t have more than one or two drinks, definitely never on an empty stomach. (Thus speaks the voice of bitter experience. And the least said about that the better, I think!)

CC: I’ve never been drunk, so I’ve never had a hangover. My failsafe plan is, therefore, don’t get drunk! Easier said than done sometimes, I know, but it works for me!

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

EH: Almost inevitably, there will be writing and maybe podcasting. Other than that, I might be in the garden. I’ve just planted a clematis, a honeysuckle and a passion flower to climb my boring fences, and I now have a red bottlebrush — it’s a magnificent Australian plant which reminds me of my auntie’s garden in Perth.

CC: There’d definitely be some writing in there somewhere! I’d also catch a football match (and hopefully, unlike this season, we might even win!) then pack my airband radio and binoculars and head off to the airport. I’m not a plane spotter so much as a plane watcher. We sit at the end of the runway, eat fish and chips, drink tea and watch the planes come and go whilst listening to pilots and tower. It’s more fun than it sounds, believe me, you see some really unexpected sights!

Some diverse weekend plans there! Thank you very much for joining me on the blog tonight, it has been a great evening.

As well as their book, The Ghost Garden, which is described above and which you can buy here,, Eleanor and Catherine have a new book coming out on 3 September. The Captain and the Theatrical is the third book in the Captivating Captains series and you can buy a copy here.

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When Captain Pendleton needs an emergency fiancée, who better to turn to than his male best friend? After all, for Amadeo Orsini, life’s one long, happy drag!

Captain Ambrose “Pen” Pendleton might have distinguished himself on the battlefield at Waterloo but since he’s come home to civvy street, he’s struggled to make his mark.

Pen dreams of becoming a playwright but his ambitious father has other ideas, including a trophy wife and a new job in America. If he’s to stand a hope of staying in England and pursuing his dream, Pen needs to find a fiancée fast.

Amadeo Orsini never made it as a leading man, but as a leading lady he’s the toast of the continental stage. Now Cosima is about to face her most challenging role yet, that of Captain Pendleton’s secret amour.

With the help of a talking theatrical parrot who never forgets his lines, Orsini throws on his best frock, slaps on the rouge and sets out to save Pen from the clutches of Miss Harriet Tarbottom and her scheming parents.

As friendship turns into love, will the captain be able to write a happy ending for himself and Orsini before the curtain falls?

Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead began writing together in the spring of 2017 and swiftly discovered a shared love of sauce, well-dressed gents and a uniquely British sort of romance. They drink gallons of tea, spend hours discussing the importance of good tailoring and are never at a loss for a double entendre.

Their short stories and the Captivating Captains series are published by Pride. Don’t miss the de Chastelaine Chronicles, coming in 2019 from Totally Bound.

You can find more information on their writing partnership on their website.

Catherine Curzon is an author and royal historian of the 18th century.

In addition to her four non-fiction books on Georgian royalty, available from Pen & Sword, she written extensively for a number of internationally-published publications,  and has spoken at venues and events across the United Kingdom.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine can often be found cheering for the mighty Huddersfield Town. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill with a rakish colonial gentleman, a long-suffering cat and a lively dog.

Connect with Catherine via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She knows rather a lot about poisons, and can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens, and has a huge collection of vintage hats. She is the winner of the Best Dressed Sixth Former award and came third in the under-11s race at the Colchester Fire Swim.

Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

Connect with Eleanor via FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Next week, I will be joined by the fabulous Cressida Mclaughlin to celebrate the publication of her latest paperback, so make sure you join us.

The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson #BookReview (@DorothyKoomson) @penguinrandom #TheBrightonMermaid

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Brighton Beach, 1993

Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell is forced to quit her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

I’m writing this review from a very interesting place today, because I have just come away from a weekend spent at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in Lancaster where one of the highlights of the weekend for me was listening to Dorothy Koomson in conversation about her writing with RNA Chair, Alison May.

I have been in love with Dorothy Koomson’s writing since the very first book of hers that I picked up more than ten years ago. That book was Goodnight, Beautiful and it has remained very special to me because, not only was it a book I loved as a reader, but it is one of the books that has influenced me very deeply as a writer. The way I felt whilst reading this book is the way I want to make people feel when I write.

Dorothy’s writing has moved on a great deal since that book and she is one of the few authors writing who has managed to change genres very successfully. In fact, she has done this more than once, and it was fascinating to hear her talk about the resistance she had to these changes from others involved in her career and the absolute conviction in her own writing that has carried her through. It is this passion, this conviction, that comes through so clearly in her writing and carries we, the reader, along with her wherever she chooses to take us. I, for one, am always happy to follow and never regret the journey.

The Brighton Mermaid is no exception, it was an outstanding read for me. I finished it just before the conference, and was fascinated to hear some of the stories behind the writing of this book afterwards, which would never have been apparent from the finished product. Dorothy joked that she has invented a new genre, the emotional thriller, and this label definitely sums up the journey in this novel. It is quite unlike anything that anyone else is writing and I really felt that I were reading something new and interesting, that made me think and feel differently to anything else I had read when I had finished it.

The book follows the story of Nell, who has an experience in her teenage years that has a deep and lasting effect on her and all of the people who are close to her. A simple act on one night ripples through her family and friends and changes all of their lives forever. Nell is haunted by the experience and is still searching for answers when we catch up with her in her thirties in the present day. Her sister has also been impacted in a way that has left her with mental health issues and her parents lives were turned upside down. Her best friend disappeared and has left a question hanging over them all which has never been answered. Nell’s pursuit of the truth and a resolution to all their difficulties draws us in and holds us captive to the very last page.

This is not a traditional detective story or psychological thriller but a fascinating blend of the two, with a complex layer of emotional truth woven through it that asks more questions than it answers. Despite the fact that this is a very different book than the first Dorothy Koomson I fell in love with all those years ago, I was left with many of the same feelings by the end: riveted, moved, challenged and, ultimately, blown away by the skill of the author. This book could not have been written by anyone other than Dorothy Koomson and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I’m looking forward to reading the next one, and I have a copy of this which I will cherish.

The Brighton Mermaid is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here. Dorothy’s latest book is Tell Me Your Secret and it is also out now in hardback.

About the Author

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Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 14 novels and has been making up stories since she was 13 when she used to share her stories with her convent school friends. Her published titles include: The Friend, When I Was Invisible, That Girl From Nowhere, The Flavours of Love, The Woman He Loved Before, Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run.

Dorothy’s first novel, The Cupid Effect, was published in 2003 (when she was quite a bit older than 13). Her third book, My Best Friend’s Girl, was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads of 2006 and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. While her fourth novel, Marshmallows For Breakfast, has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. Dorothy’s books, The Ice Cream Girls and The Rose Petal Beach were both shortlisted for the popular fiction category of the British Book Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation loosely based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton.

Connect with Dorothy:

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

Facebook: Dorothy Koomson Writer

Twitter: @DorothyKoomson

Instagram: @dorothykoomson_author

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale #BookReview #BlogTour (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #RaRaResources #LilyPondLane

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane

This is, sadly, my final visit to Little Pondale as I take part in the blog tour for Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour to finish the journey with these characters and to Emily for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you enter the giveaway detailed below!

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Everyone’s got a secret wish in Little Pondale this summer.

Mia’s been exceptionally lucky since moving to Lily Pond Lane. But even on her honeymoon with the man of her dreams, she still has one remaining wish.

Ella wishes Gill would propose. But since Mia’s wedding something’s changed in their relationship. Now he’s spending time with newcomer, Tabbie Talbaine, Ella wishes Tabbie will leave as quickly as she arrived.

Tabbie wishes she hadn’t driven her car into a pond. But it could be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. When she discovers Hollywood heartthrob, Justin Lake’s staying in the village, getting an interview for her popular blog isn’t her only wish.

Bree was told she couldn’t have a baby. Now she’s expecting twins and is simply wishing it all goes well.

And as for Hettie … she wishes she could get her hands on an old map of the village. Because there’s something hidden in Little Pondale that Hettie Turner really wants to find.

I have truly loved visiting Lily Pond Lane on and off with Emily Harvale over the last year to see how Mia, Jet and her friends were getting on, so I was happy to get one last chance to see how things had moved on after Jet and Mia’s wedding. What more could possibly happen?

Well, plenty is the answer, although mostly to people other than Jet and Mia, since their happy ending was pretty definitively sewn up in the last episode. It was the turn of the other characters to have their stories completed, along with newcomer Tabbie. There was just room for me to join Mia on her enviable honeymoon in the South Pacific, though, and for her to have a final surprise for the reader.

Emily, with her trademark charm provided me with plenty of feel good romance in this book, and some round ups for the characters we have come to know and love in Little Pondale, as well as introducing some new ones. I particularly loved the introduction of the reclusive Aurelia Jenkins, a woman who gives Hattie a run for her money through the course of the book. There is an extra dose of the Little Pondale magic in this book, literally in the plot and figuratively in the writing, and I was charmed from beginning to end.

This book, as the others do, will work as a standalone, but I think readers will get most out of it if they have read at least some of the proceeding titles in the series first. It definitely felt like a ‘tying up of loose ends’ novel, with some of the unresolved stories being concluded, and had less of a meaty, although still rewarding, plot of its own. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and have continued to fall in love with Emily’s writing throughout the series, but it one more for established fans rather than one I would advise new readers to start with. But what better excuse could there be for buying them all? You definitely will not regret it.

I am going to miss the gang in Little Pondale but I hope they all enjoy their futures in the village. See, they have become real friends to me. Thank you, Emily, for this series, a great addition to the romantic comedy genre.

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, make sure you visit the blogs detailed on the poster below:

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane Full Tour Banner

Giveaway

Secret Wishes Blog tour giveaway

To win a signed paperback of Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses, a pen, novelty sticky notes and a bookmark, click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the Author

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Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.


Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

Connect with Emily:

Website: https://www.emilyharvale.com/

Facebook: Emily Harvale Writer

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: @emilyharvale