Gemma isn’t sure what upsets her more. The fact she just caught her boyfriend cheating, or that he did it on her brand-new Heal’s cushions.
All she knows is she needs to put as many miles between her and Fraser as humanly possible. So, when her best friend suggests a restorative few days in the West Country, it seems like the perfect solution.
That is, until the country enters a national lockdown that leaves her stranded. All she has for company is her dog, Mabel. And the mysterious (and handsome!) stranger living at the bottom of her garden . . .
When Gemma finds her boyfriend with another woman, she bolts to her friend’s cottage in the West Country. It’s only for a few days. It’s an opportunity to hide and figure out what she’s going to do next.
What Gemma isn’t counting on is the next door neighbour, Matthew and the announcement of a national lockdown due to COVID 19.
Heidi Stephen’s debut novel deals with life in lockdown perfectly. There are so many situations that we can all relate to in some way or another and this is done with such charm and humour.
Gemma is a delight (if not a slightly frustrating character at times.) However, she has a vulnerability to her that’s incredibly endearing. Due to how the story begins, you immediately feel empathy and solidarity with her and this helped draw me into the story, wanting to know what came next and whether she’d be OK.
Being in Crowthorpe, away from her life gives her a different perspective about what she wants and needs.by
What if the British people had been given a vote about invading Iraq in 2003. And the referendum split the nation with a 52% to 48% yes vote.
A young activist is beaten to death after an anti-war demonstration.
The police say her murder was random. It wasn’t. More activists will be murdered. The activists only trust each other.
Maybe that trust has already been betrayed. Witty, political and provocative, this New Adult mystery is based on real events, and keeps the reader guessing to the very end.
Not in My Name is set in an alternative 2003. A referendum on whether to intervene in Iraq has just got a 52% Yes, 48% no result.
Phoebe Green is part of a group that opposes the referendum result. They are seen as traitors and the enemy.
When one of their group is killed, Phoebe is determined to get to the bottom of it but it’s not long before the situation goes from bad to worse.
Immediately, this book caught my attention. It’s a very interesting look at how divided a country can be and how quickly we can turn on each other. It scared me and yet the characters fascinated me all at the same time.
It’s both a political and murder mystery which had me invested in the plot very early on.
All of the characters are hiding something and this did add to the intrigue. I really had trouble figuring out what was going to happen or how it was going to end. I didn’t see the end coming actually. I found that, at some point, I suspected everyone of having a hand in Cassie’s murder.by
Anna Stewart is lost. After barely surviving a car accident as a teenager, Anna is scared of settling. Flitting between jobs, boyfriends and homes whenever she gets bored, she has no idea what the future holds. Then her brother Brodie, minister of Glendale, suggests she moves to the beautiful Scottish village, lining up a housekeeper job for her at Glendale Hall.
Out of options, Anna agrees to the move, knowing that she can always run away again. Once at the hall, her culinary skills impress everyone, and she agrees to give Hilltop Farm’s new manager, Cameron, cooking lessons. Sparks fly between Anna and the handsome Scot, but Cameron is looking for love – something that Anna definitely isn’t.
But it’s wedding season at Glendale Hall, and Anna is about to discover that her new home has a way of working its magic on even the coldest of hearts. Will she really be able to just walk away, or could Anna have finally found a place to belong?
It’s summertime in the beautiful Highlands village of Glendale – pack your bags and come on holiday with this gorgeously uplifting, romantic read. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will love this charming romcom.
Anna never likes to stay in one place too long. She’s running from her family and a past she blames herself for.
When circumstances mean that she has to take a job for the summer in Glendale, she isn’t happy about being near her brother. However, as it’s only for a couple of months, she puts her head down and get on with things.
Can Glendale work its magic on Anna like it has for other village residents?
I found Anna to be a relatable character. At the start, she seems so lost. She has a persona of strength but there is such a vulnerability to her because of an accident she had when she was thirteen.by
Your best friend….
From the moment they met as children, Sasha knew that beautiful, wealthy, and confident Caitlin would always be her absolute best friend. Sasha would do anything to make Caitlin happy.
Even keep her darkest secrets…
The years have passed, but their friendship remains. And when Caitlin announces she’s getting married there is only one choice for the role of bridesmaid.
Sasha will make sure Caitlin’s wedding is as beautiful and perfect as she is. Won’t she?
Your worst nightmare?
But Sasha is growing tired of always being in Caitlin’s shadow – always the bridesmaid, never the bride. And as the big day approaches, cracks begin to appear between the two woman. Secrets and lies swirl between the two friends like confetti. Both of them are hiding dark secrets, both of them are lying.
Could the secrets that once bound these two friends, rip them apart for good?
When Caitlin announces that she’s getting married, Sasha is the choice of Bridesmaid. However, secrets that have been buried for years are just bubbling below the surface and Sasha doesn’t know how much longer she can keep things to herself.
When I read the blurb for this novel, it sounded right up my street and I couldn’t wait to get started. It is a slow burner to begin with. I think this sort of start adds to the tension and pulls you right in.
Caitlin and Sasha’s relationship was one I found both fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. They are a good example of how two people, who wouldn’t have chosen each other otherwise, are thrown together as friends simply because they were in the same place at the same time. Even though they are supposed to be friends, social status, class and background play huge parts, even when they reach adulthood.by
Milly has been waiting for this moment forever and finally it’s just an hour away – an interview with Vogue magazine and the opportunity to get her Louboutin-clad foot in the door. There’s just one problem – totally engrossed in her mobile phone, Milly doesn’t see the bus that is fast approaching – until it’s too late…
When Milly next opens her eyes, the consequences of her accident become clear. Everything she has worked for and dreamed of suddenly feels out of reach. But there is one bright spot on her horizon – the reappearance of her ex Jed, in all of his six-foot-four, broad-shouldered glory, with the most piercing ice blue eyes Milly ever saw.
Once used to working in a whirlwind, Milly now has the chance to reconsider how to live. Will she rush back to the treadmill, get her head down and back to business, or is there a whole other life waiting for her, if she’ll just look up to see it?
Milly is on the verge of getting the job she has spent most of her working life trying to get; much to the detriment of everything else.
What she didn’t plan on, was getting hit by a bus.
When she wakes up a week later, she finds herself homeless and jobless.
Her ex also comes back into her life… her very handsome, sweet ex.
Milly was a character I could get behind. Yes, she has flaws and there were many points where I found her frustrating, but she felt very real and like an old friend. I wanted everything to work out for her. It was lovely to see her journey as I progressed through the book as she gets to know herself again.by
For this month’s book, I’ve picked The Long Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper.
I’ve started this novel and I’m already enjoying it. It’s perfect for reading in the garden or on the beach (now that we are allowed out.)
I’m looking forward to reading this and discussing it with you. Our book club is open to all, whether you’ve not started reading yet, are halfway through, or finished. As usual, I have posted a question below to get the discussion started.
See you in the comments below and happy reading!
About The Long Long Afternoon:by
When Kate moves to London after the disappearance of her sister, she’s in need of a friend. A chance meeting leads Kate to Della, a life coach who runs support groups for young women, dubbed by Kate as ‘the Janes.’
Della takes a special interest in Kate, and Kate soon finds herself entangled in Della’s life – her house, her family, and her husband. It’s only when she realises that she’s in too deep that Della’s veneer begins to crumble, and the warnings from ‘the Janes’ begin to come true.
Why is Della so keen to keep Kate by her side? What does Kate have that Della might want? And what really lies beneath the surface of their friendship?
Kate has long lived in the shadow of her elder sister’s disappearance. Even when she leaves the family home in Cambridge for a new life in London, finding her sister is still priority.
Then she meets Della and is invited to take part in life coaching sessions. Della seems to have it all and Kate is soon under the spell. Are things as they seem though?
When I first started reading, I wanted to reach into the page and give Kate a big hug. She’s so lost.
I really don’t want to give much away when it comes to the plot of this novel as I am hoping it’s one you’ll discover for yourself.
This was a thriller that immediately drew me in. How it starts and then proceeds had me intrigued and desperate to know what was happening and how it fitted together.
It was obvious to me that certain characters and situations were not as they seemed and, like Kate, I didn’t know who to trust. I also questioned whether things were too good to be true.
Unexpected twists and turns throughout had me reading well past my bedtime.by
The rustle of verdant green vines.
The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.
And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…
Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.
When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.
However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…
This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?
Want to know what love feels like? Read a Sue Moorcroft novel!
‘Under the Italian Sun’ is the forthcoming novel by this Amazon and Sunday Time best-selling author. When I get my hands upon the new novel, I’m all a quiver as I know I’m in for an exciting, but above all else, romantic ride. This novel didn’t disappoint in any way.
A little about the book, as I hate giving out too much if anything at all about the plot, if I can help it. This is the story of Zia and her journey to find her family; it’s not an easy one. Dumping her cheating boyfriend – a rotter of the highest order, I may add – she goes off to Italy with her best friend (also going through man problems) to see if she can find out more, especially about the father she never knew.
Zia isn’t prefect, making as much trouble for herself as she finds herself in, and that’s the beauty of her character. It’s not easy to write someone who you love, yet at the same time, feel like shouting at the screen, “Wake up woman!” Ms. Moorcroft is the master of this. I also loved her love interest, Piero and the fire between them burns as hot and cold as you could wish for.by
Here’s a little about the book…
Ruby’s life is about to change for ever…
After years of dating losers, cheats and one guy who did something unrepeatable to her kettle, Ruby has all but given up on romance. But then a stranger sits next to her on a train to London and explains his plan to propose to the woman of his dreams. Maybe true love does exist after all?
When the man accidentally leaves the engagement ring behind, Ruby is determined to save the day. But she hasn’t counted on fellow passenger Curtis stepping in and insisting he should be the one to track the stranger down.
As summer closes in, the unlikely pair make a promise to reunite the ring with its owner. But can they find their own happy ever after along the way?
Are you ready to see the cover. Drumroll. Three, two, one!by
For me, when May arrives, it feels as though Summer is on its way (although you wouldn’t believe that going by the rain today.)
The book I have chosen for this month’s book club is one I have been wanting to read for a while. It’s The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes.
It sounds really interesting and I can’t wait to get reading.
Anyone can take part in our book club and you can do this from the comfort of your sofa. I am really looking forward to discussing this book with you and as usual, I have put a question down in the comments to get the discussion going.
About The Giver of Stars…by
I was inspired to write my dystopian novella High Wired On by a state of extreme despair and negativity. I was inspired to try romance by some powerful efforts on the part of a friend of mine.
What’s your typical writing day like?
For many years I did not have a typical writing day. There were brief snatches of evening time, after a multiplicity of daytime work. That changed with the onset of Covid: with this I generally get up at 6 am and have a solid stretch until about 9.30 am. There are parallel slots in the afternoon and evening.
How long does it typically take you to write a book?
Anything from weeks to years.
What are the challenges you found when writing?
To convey suspense and tension while trying to maintain stylistic accuracy.
Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?
I’d like to meet Selene, the Greek Moon Goddess – the supreme Dream Girl.
What elements make up a good story?by
With one eye on the rear view mirror and the other on the road ahead, Sarah is desperate to get as far away from the remote Scottish cabin as she can without attracting attention. But being inconspicuous isn’t easy with a black eye and clothes soaked in blood…
… and now the fuel tank is empty.
When a body is discovered in a remote cabin in Scotland, DI Paton feels a pang of guilt as he wonders if this is the career break he has been waiting for. But the victim is unidentifiable and the killer has left few clues.
With the death of her father and her mother’s failing health, Jenna accepts her future plans must change but nothing can prepare her for the trauma yet to come.
Fleeing south to rebuild her life Sarah uncovers long-hidden family secrets. Determined to get back what she believes is rightfully hers, Sarah thinks her future looks brighter. But Paton is still pursuing her…
… and he’s getting closer.
Kerena Swan’s brilliant novel explores how honest mistakes and human frailty can have terrifying and long-reaching consequences. It’s a tale of family ties and loyalty, revenge and redemption that you won’t want to put down.
Kerena has shared an extract today. Enjoy.
(CW: May be unsuitable for young children/scenes relating to a body.)
*****beginning of extract*****
I was inspired to write this novel after reading a news article about people who undertook DNA tests to find out more about their heritage with shocking results.
Blood Loss is book one in a series featuring DI Paton and his son Tommy, a boy with Down’ Syndrome. After writing Who’s There? I was asked many times to write a sequel with the main character, Arnold. Tommy is a reincarnation of Arnold with a few subtle differences. You can discover the characters in a free novella available on my website. www.kerenaswan.com
Blue police tape fluttered across a rutted road to the right and three people, hunched in thick coats, stamped their feet nearby. ‘Bloody press,’ Paton muttered. ‘Come to feast while the body’s still warm. Who tipped them off?’
They rushed forward as Paton and Cheryl walked towards the police officer guarding the outer cordon.
‘Can you tell us what happened?’ a man asked, a watery drip wobbling under his red nose. He grabbed a tissue from his pocket and rubbed it away.
‘Do we know who the victim is?’ A woman in a fur-trimmed hood stood in front of Paton, notebook at the ready, her fingers blue with cold.
They gave their names to the officer who wrote them in the crime scene log. Behind him a man in a white suit was taking photographs of the mud and stones, swearing as the snow obliterated his evidence.
‘You need to get suited and booted, and take a spare pair of shoe covers for indoors,’ the officer said, running a finger around his collar and hunching his shoulders as large snowflakes melted against his neck. ‘Are you both on the fingerprint and DNA databases?’
‘When you’re ready, follow the path marked out by the tape.’
Paton was puffing by the time they reached the cabin at the top of the hill.
‘Maybe you should join my gym,’ Cheryl said.by
When a violent storm blasts England’s south coast, it’s up to retired Italian detective Giuseppe Bianchi to sift through the devastation and piece together the tragic events left behind in the storm’s wake.
Giuseppe Bianchi’s brief visit to Bexhill-on-Sea has become an extended stay. He is loath to return to his home in Rome because of the haunting images that made him leave in the first place.
During his morning walks along the seafront with Beagle, Max, he meets Edward Swain, who becomes Giuseppe’s walking companion. They form a friendship of sorts and find they have a similar outlook on life.
But the devastating events of a single night lead Giuseppe to question the truth about Edward Swain. Teaming up with young journalist, Christina Rossi – his cousin’s daughter – Giuseppe learns about the brutal reality lurking behind the day-to-day life of families in the local community. And as the story unravels Giuseppe is reminded how anger and revenge can lead to the most dreadful of crimes.
After the Storm is the second novel in the Giuseppe Bianchi mystery series – the much awaited sequel to Crossing the Line.
I was very excited to be included in the blog tour for After the Storm which is the second novel in the Giuseppe Bianchi mystery series.
Ex Italian Detective Giuseppe Bianchi is staying with his cousin’s family in Bexhill. When the town gets hit by a terrible storm, he soon finds himself investigating the death of a friend.
From page one this book had me intrigued. I was a little concerned about whether I would be able to keep up with the story as I have not read the first book in the series, Crossing the Line. I had nothing to worry about. After the Storm can easily be read as part of the series or as a standalone.
There is such a calm at the beginning of the book that I really did feel, like a storm, that the narrative was building up to something and this added tension and suspense. Add in the mystery that Giuseppe is trying to solve and this made this book hard to put down.
I also loved the fact that it was based in the 1960’s. I am a big Beatles fan so I have always wondered what it would be like to live in the 60s. It was the decade of change and you can really feel that in the plot; like everyone and everything is on the verge of something bigger. I could realty imagine myself there, at Mario and Anne’s café, sipping tea as I look out over the sea.by
Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.
Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.
Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.
Set against the lush and glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s The Girls from Alexandria is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a re-coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.
Nadia finds herself abandoned in a London hospital. She is having trouble remembering many things but the one thing she is sure about is that she needs to find her sister, Simone before it’s too late.
The problem is, she has not seen or heard from her sister in fifty years and the people around her are convinced that no such person exists.
As her current situation becomes more dire, Nadia becomes more determined. She begins to reflect on her past and the time she spent growing up with her family in Alexandria.
This book appealed to me. It’s historical fiction but has a mystery weaving through it which meant I kept wanting to turn the page, losing track of time in the process.by
After stumbling into the limelight five years ago, he soon found himself crashing back out of it. Now, he spends his days working in a small music shop in Edinburgh, attempting to live a quiet life as a part-time dad.
But his 15 minutes of fame have taken its toll. His inspiration for songwriting, music and life in general seems to have all but disappeared.
When Richie is given a flyer advertising the first meeting of the Hope Street Songwriters’ Circle, it’s a chance to step back into the world. But after years of hiding away, letting in the light won’t be easy.
Richie finds himself recruited into a band with success that many only dream about. Then, as quickly as fame comes, it goes again, leaving him living in Edinburgh and working in a music shop.
Based on the synopsis alone, you would think that this novel is purely about a musician and his experience with the music industry. However, once I began to read, I discovered it was as much about mental health and how life can imitate art.
Told from the point of view of Richie, it follows his current situation with flashbacks into his past which gives the reader an understanding of him and why he finds himself on the verge of losing everything. As a character, he is not complicated. He is a man who will do anything for the person he loves most and for that, I empathised with him. He was an easy person to invest in.
With its themes of love, loss and regret, there is not much else I can say about the plot without revealing major spoilers but this was a book that very quickly had me engrossed.
One of the things I liked most about this novel is how it shines a light on the important subject of men’s mental health and how ‘not every day can be an anthem. Some days will be in a minor key, and that’s OK.’ I feel that this is such a key message to put across – that it’s OK to not feel OK all the time. Right now, I think this is something everyone needs to hear.by