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Book Extract: The Asymmetric Man by Alex Rushton

I’m pleased to be welcoming Alex Rushton to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for The Asymmetric Man.

Embark on a gripping journey of sacrifice and self-discovery in The Asymmetric Man, a thrilling tale set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Vietnam War.

Follow Blake, a young recruit turned undercover agent, as he navigates the treacherous world of espionage, survival and forbidden love.

From war-ravaged Saigon to seemingly impenetrable jungle and the tranquillity of a Buddhist monastery, this riveting novel explores the power of recognising and embracing one’s true calling, no matter the cost.

 
 
Alex has shared an extract from The Asymmetric Man today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

In this extract Blake Carter, undercover MI6 agent in Vietnam in 1967, makes contact with Tranter, who is to supply him with the names and details of Blake’s Viet Cong assassination targets.

 

Chapter 5

Blake decided it was time to make contact with Tranter, using the recognition protocol described in the file he had found in Coulter’s flat. He was aware of the risk; the file might have been found, decoded and replaced for Blake to find, in which case tonight’s meeting would be a trap. However, he had no choice. To approach Tranter in any other way than the one agreed would only raise his suspicions. Blake entered El Paraiso bar on the first Wednesday in June. As before, it was thick with cigarette smoke and smelling of alcohol. Blake stood at the bar. He had a drink and surveyed the area, again evaluating possible escape routes.  He immediately recognised Tranter from Coulter’s description, a portly, balding man in a crumpled soiled white suit, with a cigarette between his fingers. The only other people were a few locals, absorbed in conversation. It seemed like as good a time as any. Blake took a deep breath and seized the moment.

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Book Extract: A Christmas Carol with Grandfather Time by Rose English

I’m pleased to be welcoming Rose English to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her book, A Christmas Carol with Grandfather Time. It’s been illustrated by Pablo Rodriguez.

A modern lyrical re-telling of the Charles Dickens classic for children of all ages. Young Ebenezer hates sharing and is not very caring. Can a magical clock and a ghost puppy help him mend his ways?

#SharingIsCaring

**At least £1 from every book purchased will go towards donating a book to each child in Hereford County Hospital over the Christmas Season 2023**

 

Rose has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy and consider buying the book for the young book lover in your life. 

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Book Review: Christmas at the Cabin by Rebecca Boxall

I’m pleased to be welcoming Rebecca Boxall to Novel Kicks. Today I’m reviewing her latest, festive novel, Christmas at the Cabin.

A festive, coming-of-age tale about an Oxbridge candidate and a young homeless man who find themselves in the bittersweet predicament of falling in love with exactly the right person at exactly the wrong time.

Well-to-do Jed never imagined he’d end up homeless, but family circumstances have made it his only option. Local vicar, Ben, tries to help him but there’s an element of self-punishment to the homelessness that makes Jed continue to put up with his situation – until disaster leads him to re-consider the vicar’s offer of a place to stay.

Hattie is on the cusp of adulthood, frantically trying to persuade her mum that she doesn’t want to attend an elite university, preferring the idea of pursuing her love of art and textiles. When she meets Jed, she badly wants to understand his circumstances and why, when she has everything at her fingertips, he doesn’t.

Hattie’s mum, Christine, has had a hard life and is desperate for more for her only child. When she meets Ben, the vicar who’s trying to help Jed, she finds an unlikely ally, and the two heartbroken souls find themselves drawn to each other. Until they find their relationship suddenly tested to the limit.

One thing’s for certain: none of these characters is looking forward to Christmas. It’s the worst time of year for each of them, for different reasons. But perhaps this year, the festive season could defy all expectations.

*****

Hattie first sees him from the library window, sitting in the doorway of an abandoned shop. When she approaches him and starts a conversation, it changes both of their lives, forever.

Even from the blurb for this novel, I felt there would be a little magic about this book and I wasn’t wrong.

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Cover Reveal: The Secret Ingredient by Sue Heath

I’m so pleased to be helping Sue Heath reveal the cover for her upcoming novel, The Secret Ingredient which is due for release in February 2024. 

Before I reveal the cover, here’s a bit about the book – 

She’s writing her story one recipe at a time…

‘A delicious story that wraps itself around your heart’ Evie Woods, bestselling author of The Lost Bookshop

It’s been three years, two weeks and one day since Kate Shaw’s life changed forever. Three years, two weeks and one day that Kate has been angry – with herself and life.

But today is different. Different because Kate has finally taken the step she’s been avoiding…back into the kitchen. Now, what begins as a (disastrous) attempt to make pancakes becomes a culinary journey that is not only a love letter to someone so important to her, but also an unexpected means of connection to a community she never knew she had…

 

OK, so, are you ready to see the cover for this brilliant sounding novel? Drumroll…… 

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NK Chats To… Chris Wade

Hi Chris, thank you for joining me and welcome back to Novel Kicks. You’ve recently written a mystery thriller, Three Days in the Rain. Can you tell me about it and what inspired it? 

Hi Laura. Well, one day I just started writing this scene that popped into my head. It involved a private investigator sitting in a man’s office. You could tell the man was rich, powerful, maybe a bit ruthless, and I had this image of the gentleman passing a photograph across the table to the investigator of a very beautiful woman. I remember that the story just came to me right there as I was doing that first chapter, the entire thing began to map out in my head. It sort of grew organically, but quickly. In short, it’s about this investigator who gets hired by a wealthy business man to follow his much younger girlfriend, who he is suspicious of. At first the detective thinks the old man is paranoid and actually a bit of a tyrant, a jealous man and control freak. As he starts to follow the girl though, he learns more and more about her, but hardly any of it is what it seems and as the story goes on, more and more mysteries are revealed. I had such fun writing it, presenting riddles and new twists and turns. It was one of the most enjoyable writing experiences I’ve ever had.

 

What was your writing process like for Three Days in the Rain, how long did it take you from idea to publication, how did you approach the planning process and has it changed much since you first started writing? 

I honestly worked like a mad man on it, doing 12 to 15 hour days, maybe even more. The book is about 200 pages long but if I am honest it took a few weeks in all, including the edit. It was so smooth and fun, and it helped that all the story was just there waiting in my head, ready to come out on to the page. Nothing changed either, apart from a couple of tiny details at the very end. It was fully formed. I just kept following this very strong image of this beautiful dark haired woman who the main character becomes obsessed with, and it all just came out. I’d write a chapter a day and then I edited it all non-stop over and over for a couple of weeks. It was hard in a way, tiring too, but also extremely satisfying.

 

You’re also known for non fiction projects including works featuring James Woods and Oliver Stone. Does your writing process differ when writing fiction compared to non fiction? 

Writing about films is just really fun. You obviously have to structure the film essays and make sure you ask decent questions when interviewing an actor or director, but you use a different kind of energy doing non-fiction, for sure. When I am writing fiction, the imagination is on overdrive, it’s basically running wild, and I am trying to keep myself in line and all the ideas in keeping with the story. It’s really liberating too. Writing these film books is just a treat, and they are actually a dream come true as well. As a kid in the 1990s I just loved films, and people like Sharon Stone, James Woods, Oliver Stone, and all those Hollywood legends were idols to me. Getting to work with them and interview them today as an adult just seems unreal. So the non-fiction and the fiction are totally different, and I love going from one to the other. That way I never get bored or even slightly frustrated.

 

What challenges did you face when approaching a fictional novel compared to the non-fiction books? 

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Book Review: Always The Bridesmaid by Laura Carter

I’m so happy to be welcoming Laura Carter back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the latest novel in the Brits in Manhattan; Always the Bridesmaid.

A cheeky chappy comedian

Charlie is most comfortable playing the funny man in front of boisterous crowds in London’s comedy clubs. But he’s about to be swapping his routine for wedding speeches. And his new acquaintance Sarah, thinks he is anything but amusing.

The woman who’s got it covered

Weddings are always a difficult time for widower Sarah, but you would never tell – she’s too focused on making the week of her best friends’ wedding as perfect as possible. She definitely has no time for the grumpy and surly Charlie, who it’s clear her friends are trying to set her up with.

And only one room left at the rental…

When a drunken invitation adds more people to the pre-wedding holiday house than Sarah organized for, she finds herself spending A LOT more time with Charlie than she intended. If only they could both let their guards down, they might find they have more in common than they think.

*****

I loved the last book I’d read in the Brits in Manhattan series, Two to Tango and so I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for book four in the series, Always The Bridesmaid.

If you’ve not read any of the books in this series, don’t worry. This can be read as a standalone. I felt there was enough information to keep up. However, I am going to be reading the books I’ve missed as soon as I can.

This novel focuses on Charlie and Sarah, as their friends, Jake and Jess prepare to get married.

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Book Extract: To Kill a Consul by Robert M. Kidd

I’m pleased to be welcoming Robert M. Kidd to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, To Kill a Consul.

217 BC. The Gauls are restless. Where is the wealth, plunder and lands they were promised? Hannibal’s army has become little more than a burden to be fed and quartered … as welcome as a plague of locusts. Assassination plots abound as Hannibal is driven to take desperate measures to evade the assassin’s knife.

If Hannibal is to appease the Gauls he must act fast. The invasion of Italia must not be delayed – his very life depends on it – but as that winter of winters fades into memory he is faced with a stark choice. Should he strike east towards the plains of Umbria and face consul Gnaeus Servilius Geminus’ legions holed up inside the unassailable walls of Ariminum? Or strike westwards into the plunder-rich lands of Etruria?

Consul Gaius Flaminius’ legions guard the western approaches. If any man can fire the bellies of Gauls with loathing it’s Flaminius. But there is one other whose blood runs cold at the mention of the name. Flaminius ordered the brutal murder of Sphax’s parents and Sphax has sworn a sacred oath to seek revenge. Can Hannibal trust the leader of his Numidian cavalry, or will this blood feud cloud his judgement? Sooner or later Sphax will have to face his inner demons.

*****

 

Robert has stared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

Spring 217 BC – For days Hannibal’s invading army have been trekking wearily westwards over the mountain passes of the Apennines with Sphax and his Numidians scouting ahead. Their aim is to reach the flat coastal plain bordering the Tyrrhenian (Mediterranean) sea where thy will turn south for Arretium (modern Arezzo).

But first they have to cross something the army has been dreading for weeks: the Arno marshes. Today, all that’s left of these vast wetlands west of Florence is the Fucecchio Marshlands, north of San Maniato (it’s still Italy’s biggest inland marsh!). In 217 BC it was a vast watery graveyard for unwary travelers!

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Book Review: My Best Friend’s Secret by Danielle Ramsay

I’m pleased to be welcoming Danielle Ramsay to Novel Kicks and the blog tour to her novel, My Best Friend’s Secret.

Five women; pretty, privileged, perfect, and ultimately protected… but not for long…

It was ‘their’ dark secret. For twenty-two-years ‘they’ kept it buried. Time hasn’t healed my wounds. Instead, they’ve festered. Their actions went unpunished. Until now…

Shamed, scarred, and shunned, I watched, waited and plotted how to shatter ‘their’ enviable lives. Now, finally, they will suffer as I did in ‘their’ cruel hands that fateful night.

Time’s up. I am here for you, Dr Claudia Harper. But first, you’ll witness your childhood friends, one by one, beg for mercy.
And I’ve saved the best ‘til last, so watch your back; I’m closer than you think. I’m here to expose your best friend’s secret. The one you’ve all kept hidden…until now.

A tale of betrayal, dark, twisted lies and long-awaited retribution. 

*****

Claudia has just lost her best friend. The biggest question she has is why did Jaz take her own life? Her own life begins to unravel. Who is set on ruining everything Claudia holds dear?

This is the first novel I’ve read by Danielle Ramsay. The premise of the novel intrigued me, so I was so pleased to invited onto the blog tour for My Best Friend’s Secret.

This book caught my attention quickly. It really was impossible to put down and as the questions mounted, I needed to know what was going to happen, especially as things begin to happen in Claudia’s life.

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Book Extract: The Last Train from Paris by Juliet Greenwood

I’m pleased to be welcoming Juliet Greenwood to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Last Train from Paris.

For Iris, each visit to her mother in St Mabon’s Cove, Cornwall has been the same – a serene escape from the city. But today, as she breathes in the salt air on the doorstep of her beloved childhood home, a heavy weight of anticipation settles over her. Iris knows she’s adopted, but any questions about where she came from have always been shut down by her parents, who can’t bear to revisit the past.

Now, Iris can’t stop thinking about what she’s read on the official paperwork: BABY GIRL, FRANCE, 1939 – the year war was declared with Nazi Germany.

When Iris confronts her mother, she hits the same wall of pain and resistance as whenever she mentions the war. That is, until her mother tearfully hands her an old tin of letters, tucked neatly beside a delicate piece of ivory wool.

Retreating to the loft, Iris steels herself to at last learn the truth, however painful it might be. But, as she peels back each layer of history before her, a sensation of dread grows inside her. The past is calling, and its secrets are more intricate and tangled than Iris could ever have imagined.

The year is 1939, and in Paris, France a young woman is about to commit a terrible betrayal… 

A beautifully written and addictively compelling historical novel about the terrible choices ordinary people were forced to make in the horrors of World War Two. If you loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Alice Network and The Nightingale, you will devour this book.

 

Juliet has shared an extract from the novel with us today. We hope you enjoy! 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

This is from fairly near the beginning of the novel. In France, Sabine has sent one of her twin girls to London with her friend Nora, in a desperate bid to save the baby’s life. Now with her remaining twin, Sabine has refused to go into the heart of Nazi Germany with her ambitious husband Emil, only to find herself having to suddenly flee her ancient family home just outside Paris with her mother and grandmother (Mémé) as the invading German army advances towards them…

 

Sabine, France, 1940

How do you pack a life in a few minutes? How do you pack for survival, for as long as you might need it? Sabine’s brain froze at the enormity of the task. She could see from the pallor of her mother’s face that she felt the same.

First things first.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room – Reflections in Conversations. 

Reflections in Conversations. 

Happy Wednesday everyone.

What I thought we could do today is write a conversation in two parts.

The situation of your story is as follows – your character is a clown and has just been fired. They’ve been told that the upcoming performance is their last one. In the first conversation you write, your character is having a conversation with another colleague just after they’ve been fired.

Then write the conversation again but the clown is alone. He is looking into the mirror as he’s putting on his make-up. He is talking to his reflection.

How different are the two conversations? Would the clown be saying something different to his colleague than he would to his reflection?

Write up to 500 words per conversation.

If you feel like sharing your writing, please do post in the comments below.

Have fun.

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Cover Reveal: The Hotel Room Mix-Up by Kathy Jay

I’m very excited to be helping to reveal the cover for The Hotel Room Mix-Up – the upcoming novel by Kathy Jay. 

Two weddings, three hotel reservations gone awry…and one weekend in Cornwall they’ll never forget!

When the similarities between Ella Swift and Callum Smith’s last names lead to a hotel room mix-up, they find themselves sharing a cramped cottage in Porthkara rather than the private luxury hotel suites they expected.

Each in town for a different wedding – and carrying more baggage than just the suitcases in their hands – the reluctant roommates are forced to share a shelter from the storm surge that sweeps in off the Atlantic. But as the rain crashes down there’s a shift in more than just the atmosphere, and by the time the sun rises on a new day, Ella and Callum’s futures have already been forever changed…

OK, so now you know a little about the novel, it’s time to reveal the cover.

Drumroll…. three, two, one…..

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Book Review: The Christmas Love Letters by Sue Moorcroft

Please join us in welcoming Sue Moorcroft back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Christmas Love Letters.

A secret romance was just the start of the story…

Tucked into a crook of the Norfolk coast lies Nelson’s Bar – an idyllic village where time seems to stand still. Maddy Cracey has called this beautiful spot home all her life, as had her husband Adey – until an epic row sent him storming out into a blizzard, with no sign of him since that fateful night.

Six years on, and Maddy’s life in the village has settled into a gentle pattern with her young daughter and Great Aunt Ruthie. However, when handsome stranger Raff turns up with a handful of long-forgotten love letters, their quiet life is upended as family secrets from the past are unearthed.

As Raff and Maddy get to know each other, they grow closer and a love story of their own seems inevitable. But when Maddy receives a mysterious message, she can’t help but wonder whether her own past is as distant as she’d thought it was…

The festive new novel about love, family and the power of words from Sunday Times bestseller Sue Moorcroft, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan and Phillipa Ashley.

*****

Roll on Christmas, then I can read this book again without feeling guilty…scratch that, I’m going to start it all over again, right now! The queen of the Christmas romance has done it again, and you don’t need it to be December to read this story; I should know.

Set in Sue’s Norfolk village of Nelson’s Bar, we meet a wonderful cast of characters from Aunt Ruthie who has a heart-breaking past which comes back to not only haunt her, but her niece Maddy and young daughter, Layla. This is in the form of a series of letters she kept which detail a relationship she kept secret for her whole adult life.
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Book Review: The Impossible Search For The Perfect Man by Debbie Howells

Please join me in welcoming Debbie Howells to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Impossible Search For The Perfect Man.

Imagine for a moment, your husband leaves you. Then through a bizarre twist of events, you find yourself working with the girl he’s left you for – and even worse, she’s pregnant…

Louisa’s not really up to any more complicated relationships. Right now, she doesn’t need them. She has good friends. Okay, so one has a screwed-up husband and the other a very strange horoscope habit. Not to mention her ex-husband’s new girlfriend, who Louisa has somehow found herself giving relationship counselling to. She doesn’t need anyone else with problems in her life right now.

It would be nice, wouldn’t it? To find a straightforward man, who isn’t remotely messed up. Now there’s a thought… But does such a man even exist?

She thinks not. But, she resolves, a life of helping other people find their happy-ever-afters is still something. But then handsome vet Marcus walks into her life. And everything changes…

Set in the Hampshire countryside against a background of horses and vets, this is a story about friendship and love, and life’s way of throwing in the unexpected…

*****

Louisa’s life is about to be turned upside down. Not only has her husband left her for his pregnant mistress, but she also ends up having to work with her ex’s new girlfriend. Can Louisa navigate her new single life when her old one continues to slap her in the face?

This is the first novel I’ve read by Debbie Howells. I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for The Impossible Search For The Perfect Man.

Poor Louisa. She is put through the ringer a little at the beginning of this novel. I really wanted to give Arian a piece of my mind. Even as this happens however, I feel there is a strength to Louisa that she doesn’t realise she has. I loved seeing how her character developed over the novel.

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Book Review: New York Miracle by Margo Laurie

Please join me in welcoming Margo Laurie to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novella, New York Miracle.

A sweet, Christmas ghost story with a dash of romance

Ellie Peach travels to Manhattan for a fan-making apprenticeship.

While staying at a historic boarding house, she meets the charming James Denny. He claims to be a Broadway actor waiting for his lost love. When Ellie offers to help search for her, it leads to old secrets and adventure…

*****

When Ellie Peach arrives in Manhattan to begin an internship with her Great-Aunt, she can’t help but marvel at the amazing city she has idolized and can’t wait to get to know her American relatives. She arrives at her boarding house, St Teresa’s Lodge with optimism. Then she meets James, and her visit takes an unexpected turn.

The premise for this novel intrigued me greatly and I knew it was going to be a unique read. I was delighted therefore to be invited onto the blog tour for New York Miracle.

First, how beautiful is this cover! I love it. It has a whimsical, 1930’s feeling to it, which, when you come to read the novella, which I hope you do, will make a lot more sense.

New York is also one of my favourite places and where I went on my own December honeymoon so to be able to revisit it around Christmas time, even if it was only in a novel was magical to me.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Hello November.

A new month means a new Book Club novel. 

With the bad weather, it does feel like Autumn has properly arrived. 

I don’t usually need an excuse to curl up with a book but right now, a book, tea and a blanket feels like bliss. 

This month, I have chosen a book by one of my favourite authors, Lisa Jewell. This month’s read is Then She Was Gone. The cover just feels very autumnal to me. 

As usual, our book club is open to all, whether you’ve already read it or plan to pick it up for the first time and the best thing – you can take part from the comfort of that comfortable chair. This is one of the novels that’s been on my TBR list for a long time and so I can’t wait to get started. This book sounds compelling. 

I’ve posted a question in the comments below to kick start the discussion. See you there. 

 

About Then She Was Gone – 

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Book Review: My Fake Italian Marriage by Romy Sommer

I’m pleased to be welcoming Romy Sommer to Novel Kicks and wish her a happy publication day for My Fake Italian Marriage.

Cleo Arendse: You know how almost every movie set in Italy seems to be about a woman who travels to Tuscany and is swept off her feet by a charming, gorgeous but arrogant aristocrat? Well, that’s not this story.

Luca Fioravanti:
Challenge accepted.

British Banker Cleo Arendse is nothing like the women lawyer Luca Fioravanti is used to – both because she’s only in Tuscany to oversee his family vineyard’s business and because she’s impervious to the charm that has never failed him before now.

But Luca has never shied from a challenge, and when circumstances arise that allow him to step in as Cleo’s knight in shining armour, he leaps…right into a fake marriage! The romance may be a ruse but the passion burning between Luca and Cleo is very, very real, and as the ‘honeymoon’ glow envelops the pair, all bets are off…

*****

Cleo doesn’t buy into the romantic notion of going to Italy, being swept off her feet by a gorgeous man and living happily ever after. Enter Luca – the handsome, Italian who is known to be a bit of a ladies’ man.

Cleo wants to focus on the task at hand, saving Luca’s family vineyard. However, when a lie of being married gets out of hand, the couple must deal with more than they bargained for.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Romy Sommer, and I was grateful to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest novel, My Fake Italian Marriage.

Although this is a standalone novel, it does allude to a previous story, Last of the Summer Vines, featuring characters that also appear in this latest novel.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: A Moment With… Monica Cafferky

Monica Cafferky is joining us with the blog tour for her novel, A Winter’s Sleep.  She has made a living with words for over 30 years, first as a journalist and more recently with her supernatural thriller The Winter’s Sleep. Here, Monica shares her tips for making a start on your own novel – “stop thinking about it, just start writing.”

 

Tip 1: You need to read.
Before you put fingers to keyboard, or pen to paper, you need to know your genre. Read the kind of books you want to write.

If you love spooky stories, it’s Halloween after all, read the classics like Dracula by Bram Stoker and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Or, opt for more contemporary novels such as Thin Air by Michelle Paver or my own The Winter’s Sleep.

Or do you prefer historical fiction? Fill your boots with tales from writers Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick. If romance is your first love go for Sarah MacLean.

What’s important is that you READ. By reading, you will discover how to structure a story in your genre, how to construct a good plot, develop characters and layer in myth. Without these important elements there is no compelling story.

 

Tip 2: Start writing notes to yourself.

As the story starts to take shape in your mind you will have brilliant (I hope) insights, often when you least expect it – washing up, walking the dog, in the bath. It’s important not to lose these snippets of plot and character. You need to make a note of your ideas because, trust me, you won’t remember them later on.

Ideas are funny things, unless they’re fully formed, and repeated often, they slip away like a balloon in a strong breeze. Write these ideas down in your journal (that you use just for the novel) or create an audio note on your mobile, and then write it down later.

Let the foundation of the book take shape with these ideas, and collect these ideas together. You need to know what your book is about before you start the actual writing, otherwise you will find your story, and your sanity, unravelling around a quarter of the way through the plot.

 

Tip 3: What’s your character’s quest?

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Book Review: Never Ever Getting Back Together by Phoebe MacLeod

Please join me in welcoming Phoebe MacLeod to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, Never Ever Getting Back Together.

Everyone remembers their first love. Jess Thomas definitely does. So, it’s more than a little awkward when Jess’s first love, Jamie Ferguson, turns out to be the best man at the wedding she’s catering for. And more than a little insulting when he doesn’t appear to remember her at all.

Since Jamie broke her heart (via text!), 10 years earlier, Jess has sworn off romance. And with a booming catering business to focus on, she’s doing OK. She has no interest in revisiting the past.

But when Jess’s car breaks down on a country lane, she has no choice but to accept Jamie’s help. Now, Jamie is determined to show Jess he’s a new man. But can guys like Jamie ever really change? And if she gives him another chance, is she setting herself up for a fall?

*****

Jess is a successful businesswoman and hasn’t got time for love, especially when the man she had a crush on and who broke her heart comes back into her life.

However, fate has a way of intervening. Can Jamie prove he has changed?

Just the title alone made me want to read this novel. Yes, I am a Swiftie and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for Never Ever Getting Back Together (the song is going around in my head.)

This is the first book I’ve read by Phoebe MacLeod but it certainly won’t be the last.

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Book Review: The Highland Lodge Getaway by Julie Shackman

I’m pleased to be welcoming Julie Shackman back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, The Highland Lodge Getaway. 

Fall in love with the Christmas romance of the year, full of love and second chances!

Lottie Grant loves the festive season so much that she works at the incredibly successful Christmas shop, Christmas Crackers, in her pretty Scottish home town of Craig Brae. But when the shop is sold, her world is turned upside down, leaving her wondering what she will do next.

Just as she’s about to give up hope on finding a new dream job, an offer comes that she can’t refuse, managing a set of luxury wooden cabins… and opening just in time for Christmas!

As she gets to work decorating the cabins, and hanging lights on the fir trees, Lottie can’t believe her luck. That is until the arrival of Blake Dempster, a moody but handsome hiking expert, who threatens to bring down her festive joy. But never one to shy away from a challenge, Lottie is determined to change Blake’s mind about all things festive.

And as the snow falls and the fairy lights sparkle, will work-obsessed Lottie and frozen-hearted Blake make their Christmas wishes come true?

*****

Lottie has always loved Christmas and as the chance to own her own Christmas shop edges closer, she can’t help but feel positive about the future.

However, when things change and her business plans disappear, Lottie doesn’t know what she’s going to do. However, Christmas works its magic and brings a potential new job. If only she didn’t have to deal with the miserable Blake Dempster.

OK, the cover for this novel is absolutely stunning. I love it and want to go there immediately.

This book looked magical and I couldn’t wait to get started and was so pleased to be invited onto the tour for The Highland Lodge Getaway.

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Book Review: The Perfect Christmas Village by Bella Osborne

I’m so excited to be welcoming Bella Osborne back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, The Perfect Christmas Village.

When Christmas-hating Sam moves to Holly Cross, he thinks he’s found the perfect home, until he discovers that, each year, Holly Cross transforms into the most Christmassy village in the whole country…

Blythe is just one sale away from being Real Estate Agent of the Month, so she twists the truth to sell a home to city boy Sam, who is looking for the perfect house in the perfect location. Little does he know he’s just bought a cottage in the middle of the most Christmassy village in the country. And if there’s one thing Sam loathes, it’s Christmas.

Sam’s arrival puts Holly Cross’s chance to win the title of Britain’s Most Perfect Christmas Village now in jeopardy, and the villagers are soon up in arms. Meanwhile, Sam is in his own personal hell surrounded by fairy lights and everyone is looking to Blythe to fix things.

But as the festive season looms, maybe there’s more than just Christmas in Holly Cross for Sam to fall in love with…

*****

Blythe is determined to make twelve months as the top estate agent but to make it and beat her annoying colleague, she must tell a small lie. It’s not going to come back to bite her…. right?

Sam hates Christmas but has unknowingly just moved to one of the most festive villages. He wants to avoid it as much as possible, but Blythe and the village of Holly Cross have other plans.

I’m always excited when a new book by Bella Osborne is released and it being Christmas themed just made it all the better. I was so pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for The Perfect Christmas Village and couldn’t wait to get reading.

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Book Review: The Puppet Maker by Jenny O’ Brien

I’m pleased to be welcoming Jenny O’ Brien to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, The Puppet Maker.

The scrap of paper looked as if it had been torn from a diary. The words written in faint pencil. The letters rounded, almost childlike: Please look after her. Her life and mine depend on you not trying to find me

When Detective Alana Mack arrives at Clonabee police station, in a small Irish seaside town on the outskirts of Dublin, she doesn’t expect to find a distressed two-year-old girl sobbing on the floor. Abandoned in a local supermarket, the child tells them her name is Casey. All Alana and her team have to go on is a crumpled note begging for someone to look after her little girl. This mother doesn’t want to be found. 

Still recovering from a terrible accident that has left Alana navigating a new life as a wheelchair user, Alana finds herself suddenly responsible for Casey while trying to track down the missing mother and solve another missing person’s case… a retired newsagent who has seemingly vanished from his home.

Forced to ask her ex-husband and child psychiatrist Colm for help, through Forensic Art Therapy, Alana discovers that whatever darkness lies behind the black windows in Casey’s crayon drawing, the little girl was terrified of the house she lived in. 

Then a bag of human remains is found in a bin, and a chilling link is made – the DNA matches Casey’s. 

Alana and her team must find the body and make the connection with the missing newsagent fast if she is to prevent another life from being taken. But with someone in her department leaking confidential details of the investigation to the media, can Alana set aside her emotional involvement in this case and find Casey’s mother and the killer before it’s too late? 

Heart-pounding and totally addictive, The Puppet Maker is the first in the Detective Alana Mack series.

*****

When Detective Alana Mack arrives for work one day at Clonabee Police Station, she didn’t expect to not only have to look after an abandoned two-year-old girl but would also need to investigate the discovery of human remains.

The hunt is on to find a murderer and to reunite a mother with her daughter. Can Alana and her team solve the mystery in time before another life is lost?

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Book Extract: Out of Sight by Anna Legat

Please help me to welcome Anna Legat to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Out of Sight. 

On the morning after his thirtieth wedding anniversary Stewart Harding is found dead. He was an arrogant and thoroughly unpleasant man and there is no shortage of suspects, but all of them have firm alibis. In any case, everything points towards it being an opportunistic killing linked to a robbery.

Newly promoted DI Mark Webber is assigned as the SIO with Gillian Marsh overseeing the investigation. However, when her mother dies, she takes leave of absence and lets Webber continue on his own.

Webber is making good progress until his colleague – and secret lover – DC Erin Macfadyen disappears without trace. Webber’s world falls apart.

DCI Marsh cuts her bereavement leave short to take over the investigation into Stewart Harding’s death and to track down her missing officer.

There is no doubt that she will find Harding’s killer, but will she find Erin and are the two cases connected?

 

Anna has shared an extract from her novel, Out of Sight today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

Webber glowed like a firefly. He reciprocated Erin’s soppy look, his eyebrow magnanimously elevated. How he fancied himself the god-father figure, the sod! These days he even looked like Marlon Brando’s version of Corleone with threads of grey highlights in his swept-back hair. It suited him, like the DI label. It would go with his expensive taste in clothes. Not to mention that at last he had been empowered to lead. He would be good at it. Gillian may just delegate some of her newly-acquired responsibilities to him – to let him have a go.

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Book Spotlight: A Cranberry For Christmas by Charlie Dean

Today, we are getting festive and shining a light on A Cranberry for Christmas, released today by Charlie Dean. 

Alisha Jones, or Princess Christmas as she is affectionately known, is joint heir to her Grandpa Frost’s family fortune, but being third behind an older sister and brother means she has to work three times as hard to prove herself.

Marsha Underwood, her Grandpa’s PA and ever-present thorn in her side, is determined to undermine her at every turn and Alisha finds herself powerless to prevent this.

An encounter with a fortune teller at the Frost Christmas Ball leads to a bewildering dream of the future; and the added complication of Tom Walker, the son of Frost’s new business partner leads to a tumultuous year.

With her friends by her side, will she be able to turn things around? And what exactly does the strange dream mean?

A story of family, friendship and love at first sight with a sprinkle of Christmas magic.

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Book Review: Take Me Home by Beth Moran

I’m so excited to be welcoming Beth Moran back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the Blog Tour for her latest novel, Take Me Home. 

Sophie Potter’s job is helping people deal with the worst, because Sophie Potter knows what the worst feels like.

An expert at keeping moving, with her trusty motorhome and faithful dog Muffin, Sophie has built her life around keeping her loves and loyalties as few as possible.

Fabulous fifty-something Hattie Langford has kept her heart and past safely stored away too. But for reasons she’s only willing to share with a stranger, Hattie needs to tell the story her family has been hiding at Riverbend, their home in Sherwood Forest. There is a history of heartbreak and hurt that Hattie is ready to face.

As Sophie helps Hattie uncover the secrets of generations of women who have lived at Riverbend, along with the stories of the men they have loved and lost, they start to see echoes in their own pasts. And as Riverbend shares its biggest secret of all, can Hattie and Sophie finally embrace the lives they’ve put on hold for so long, and risk their hearts to men who can break the Riverbend curse?

*****

Sophie is far more comfortable helping other people get through their grief and pain than facing her own.

However, from the moment she meets Hattie, the course of her life will change forever.

I am always so excited when a new Beth Moran novel gets released. I have become such a big fan of this author and so I was honoured to be invited onto the blog tour for Take Me Home.

The cover is beautiful and I knew from the blurb that it was going to make me cry and make me cry it did.

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Book Extract: The Sardinian Story by Francesca Scanacapra

Please join me in welcoming Francesca Scanacapra back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, The Sardinian Story.

Apennine Mountains, Italy, 1965

Leonora Bacchetti was once a happy child. But at the age of seventeen she has become a wild and rebellious young woman who leaves her parents in despair when she runs away from home with a group of itinerant travellers.

In the eyes of their friends and neighbours in the tight-knit village of Montacciolo, her parents’ good name is ruined.

At first, Leonora keeps in touch with her mother and father, sending letters and postcards from different countries until, very abruptly, her correspondence stops. The girl has vanished.

Vague, unreliable rumours of her fate abound, but newspaper appeals, police and private investigations reveal nothing.

Until, eighteen years later, in the midst of a snowstorm, a stranger from Sardinia knocks on the door of Leonora’s father’s little mountain house.

Now a widower, he has come to terms with never knowing what happened to his daughter. But everything changes when the unexpected visitor claims that he has new information.

The two men quickly bond and gradually begin to piece together the truth about Lenora, provoking deep questions about her life and how they have lived their own – questions about love, loyalty, honesty and what being a family really means.

The Sardinian Story is a novel of exquisite power and deep emotion which will live long in the memories of its readers.

 

Sit back and enjoy as Francesca shares an extract today. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

This extract is taken from Chapter 1. Dante Bacchetti is going through his daily routine in his tiny house on a mountainside. It’s cold outside and he’s hungry, and he is preparing his meal when he is interrupted by a knock at the door. A visitor at this time is a huge shock…

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Audiobook Review: The Alewives by Elizabeth R. Andersen

I am pleased to be welcoming Elizabeth R. Andersen to Novel Kicks and the Audiobook blog tour for her novel, The Alewives

Colmar, 1353 CE

Gritta, Appel, and Efi managed to survive the Black Death, only to find that they are in desperate need of money. With limited options and lots of obstacles, they band together to become alewives – brewing and selling ale in the free Alsatian town of Colmar. But when an elderly neighbor is discovered dead in her house, the alewives cannot convince the sheriff and the town council that her death wasn’t an accident, it was murder. As the body count piles up, the ale flows and mystery is afoot!

Set in the tumultuous years after the most devastating pandemic the world has ever experienced, The Alewives is a playful romp through a dark time, when society was reeling from loss and a grieving population attempted to return to normal, proving that with the bonds of love, friendship, and humor, the human spirit will always continue to shine.

*****

Gritta, Appel and Efi are in desperate need of money. With limited options and a town reeling in the aftermath of the Black Death, they soon work together to brew their own ale.

However, when women in the area start getting murdered, are the three friends safe? Who can they trust?

The premise for this novel intrigued me so I was excited to be invited onto the audiobook blog tour for The Alewives.

This book is based on an element of history I’m not really familiar with beyond knowing about the Black Death. It has certainly piqued my interest in learning more about the Alewives and their place in history.

The story itself is based around Gritta, Appel and Efi.

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Book Review: The Housekeeper by Valerie Keogh

Please help me in welcoming Valerie Keogh to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Housekeeper.

An unwelcome guest?

Still in shock after the tragic death of husband Richie, Cassie Macreddin hopes that her new home, historic Hindon House, is the place where she can heal her pain and hide her secrets.

But Hindon House has secrets of its own…

Cassie soon realises that not everyone is pleased at her arrival and that someone is actively trying to make her leave Hindon House….but who? And why?

As events escalate, Cassie must fight to save her home…and maybe even her life.

Don’t miss the brand new thriller by Valerie Keogh! Perfect for fans of Sue Watson, Shalini Boland and K.L. Slater.

*****

Cassie, having just bought Hindon House is hoping for a fresh start after the loss of her husband.

Wanting the work done on the house as soon as possible so that her dream of a B&B can be realised, she refuses to let a few strange things going on with the house to derail her plans but someone is determined to stop her and how far will they go?

I am a big fan of Valerie Keogh and so was pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest novel, The Housekeeper.

The premise was intriguing and it didn’t take long for me to get pulled into this story.

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Book Review: Finding Family at the Cornish Cove by Kim Nash

Please help me welcome Kim Nash to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, Finding Family at the Cornish Cove, book two in the Cornish Cove series. 

Family is everything…

In the years since her death, Gemma has been running her late mother’s café with devotion, and when an opportunity comes to buy out her next-door neighbour and expand, she jumps at the chance.

She knows she will do her mother proud – keep her legacy going strong – but deep down she knows there’s still something missing. With her mum in her mind more than ever, and the knowledge that she may never start a family of her own, she can’t stop thinking about what life has in store for her.

But sometimes family are those you choose, or those who choose you! And with a growing community of supporters cheering Gemma on – including some new faces at her blossoming bistro – and maybe one in particular, will she really spend the rest of her life alone?

*****

Gemma is running her late mother’s café in Driftwood Bay and when she has a chance to buy the property next door and expand, she doesn’t waste any time.

However, her love life isn’t as successful. Can Gemma find romance and find that thing she feels is missing?

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Book Extract: Wait For You by Lianne La Borde

I’m pleased to be welcoming Lianne La Borde to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Wait For You. 

Three years after their brutal breakup she shows up on Dylan’s driveway the day he’s moving in with his new fiancée. He doesn’t know why she left him, or why she’s now appeared out of the blue, but he does know he never stopped loving her.

Time heals all, or so they say, but a row about the past ends in a horrific car crash. With his soulmate’s life hanging in the balance, Dylan leaps back in time to the turning points of their relationship.

Given the chance to do things differently, can he make the one change that will save her?

Dylan’s engaged.

He’s moved on, and April vowed he’ll never know the real reason she fled to San Francisco – he’d never forgive her. But now she’s lying in a coma. Stuck in the past, reliving their intense love story and unable to stop him from discovering her secrets.

How did two lovers end up here?

Trapped in a terrifying moment, can they ever find their way back to each other?

 

Get that drink and find that comfortable chair as Lianne has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

April went quiet, resting her head on my shoulder as we leant on the bridge, breathing in a concoction of exhaust fumes and sea air.

‘I wanted to call you, Dylan,’ she sighed, staring down into the choppy, dark water. ‘More than anything. But I just… couldn’t.’

‘OK, well that question has been killing me for three years, so please, put me out of my misery.’

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Novel Kicks Book Club: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Hello October.

I will always have a soft spot for October. OK, i’m a little bias as it’s my birthday month but I adore the changing colours of the leaves, the build up to Halloween (I blame a Canadian in my life for my new love of this holiday. I am very much a Christmas girl normally. Haha,) and the excuse for a comfortable blanket, a hot chocolate and a book.

As you would have already seen from the title, this month’s book pick is Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

The quote above is from this novel and I’m ashamed to say, it’s a novel I have never read. This month, I want to change that and I hope you’ll also join me.

As usual, anyone can join, whether you’ve already read the novel or will be reading along with me. I have placed a question in the comments below to kick off the discussion. I really hope to see you there.

*****

About Anne of Green Gables – 

Anne Shirley is an eleven-year-old orphan who has hung on determinedly to an optimistic spirit and a wildly creative imagination through her early deprivations.

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Book Extract: The Promise Tree by Elisabeth J. Hobbes

I’m happy to be welcoming Elisabeth J. Hobbes to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, The Promise Tree. 

When does a story begin?

For Edwin Hope, it begins with a childhood dare and a forbidden tree. It begins with him falling … in more ways than one.

Called home from his studies by the grandfather who has always hated him, eighteen-year-old Edwin is once again trapped in a house that is colder than the winds whipping across the fields. Seeking sanctuary, he escapes into the untamed beauty of the Peaks and meets a woman who sparks an old memory. A memory of the sycamore that broke him, and the little girl who saved him.

Drusilla has had many acolytes over the centuries but none like Edwin. With the Great War looming and Edwin’s future uncertain, she knows the right thing to do is to set him free from her spell, but can she do so if it means breaking her own heart?

 

Elisabeth has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

After more than a decade of living with his aunt and uncle in Yorkshire Edwin has been summoned back (unwillingly) to Cheshire by his grandfather to begin learning about the family silk business.  His grandfather is not there when he arrives so he goes to visit his parents’ graves in the local churchyard and on the way back he sees the sycamore tree that he had been obsessed with as a child.

There was the sycamore tree that stood alone on the top of the mound. This was the tree he had climbed and from which he had fallen. He remembered now how fascinated he had been by it and his pulse fluttered briefly. He was barely conscious of the decision to detour and walk via the tree before returning to the house through the meadow, but he found himself taking that route. Stanley, the old horse, was standing in the centre of the field, head down and grazing. He lifted his head and regarded Edwin solemnly before turning away and walking down to his stable.

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NK Chats To… Margaret Amatt

Hi Margaret, thank you so much for joining me and inviting Novel Kicks onto your blog tour. Can you tell me about your novel, Highland Fling on the Whisky Trail and what inspired it?

Whisky production is a big thing in the area I live. There are two distilleries quite close to me and even more the further north you travel. I read an article about a family run distillery in the highlands and how they’d been forced to diversify and adapt to keep up with larger companies.

It sparked the idea but I didn’t initially see it as a story in itself. The first book in the Glenbriar series Stolen Kisses at the Loch View Hotel is where I first used the idea for the whisky business.

As that story developed, the idea for Highland Fling on the Whisky Trail developed too. The main characters have both appeared as side characters in previous books and they fitted perfectly into this story.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you have any rituals and from idea to final draft, how long does it take you to write a book?

My writing days are on Monday and Tuesday. I pretty much have to stick to that as I have another job the rest of the week. Once I get writing and get in the zone, I can become immersed for hours! I don’t have any rituals but I do follow a plan for each book.

Usually the better planned they are, the quicker I can write them. The fastest first draft I ever wrote was seventy thousand words in 6 days! But normally it’s nowhere near as quick. That was a very happy fluke. My first drafts usually take about two months to write and then I spend at least that again, sometimes more, on editing.

 

What research do you usually undertake and how do you know when you’ve done enough?

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Book Review: Missing by Ruby Speechley

Missing Ruby SpeechleyPlease join me in welcoming Ruby Speechley to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Missing. 

Single mum Ellie is shown a missing person post on Facebook.
It’s of her three-year-old son, Tyler…
But he’s right there, holding her hand.

Surely this is some kind of prank – she knows her friend Louise can go too far with her jokes sometimes. And Ellie is used to the other mums gossiping at the school gates…

But now the other parents are questioning whether Tyler is really her child.

Ellie does everything she can to prove the post is fake, but the longer it goes on she knows it is malicious. Who would do this to her? And why?

It could be her ex, Darren, but deep down she knows it must be linked to what happened all those years ago – the night she’s been doing her best to forget…

All she knows is that she has to keep her son safe – no matter what.

*****

Ellie is trying her best to raise her young son alone after her ex split with her, adamant that he’s not Tyler’s father.

When a poster is distributed in her neighbourhood, Ellie is shocked and frightened. The poster claims a child has gone missing and the picture looking back at her, is a picture of her own son.

Missing Ruby SpeechleyIt is going to be hard to talk about this novel and not give a lot away. I am going to try but I will issue a spoiler alert just in case.

The first thing I will say is wow! From page one, this compelling psychological thriller had me gripped and on the edge of my seat. The plot throws you straight into the action and, in my opinion, the twist and turns don’t stop.

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Cover Reveal: A Wedding at Heatherly Hall by Julie Houston

I’m very excited to be welcoming Julie Houston to Novel Kicks as I help to reveal the cover for her upcoming novel, A Wedding at Heatherly Hall. 

Romantic entanglements, A-list weddings and missing diamonds… it’s going to be a busy spring in Westenbury!

Sisters Hannah, Rosa, and Eva are on a mission to sustain picturesque Heatherly Hall, in Yorkshire’s Westenbury village. So when they hear the legend of the Jet Set – a necklace with a rare diamond, commissioned by royalty and hidden in their hall – they plan a fundraiser: an Agatha-Christie style am-dram production and treasure hunt.

As if that weren’t enough, music superstar Drew Livingston and Bollywood legend Aditi Sharma have chosen their hall for a wedding in just six weeks’ time, and the pressure is mounting to pull off the wedding of the decade.

Staging the play, unravelling the mystery of the diamond, and meeting the demands of an A-list bride and groom without their lives unravelling seems impossible. But these three sisters know that with family by your side, anything can be overcome…

Perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell, and anyone who loves a warm and witty romance with a dash of intrigue.

*****

OK, so now you’ve read about the novel, it’s time to reveal the cover. Drumroll…..

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Book Review: The 6pm Frazzled Mums’ Club by Nina Manning

I’m so happy to be welcoming Nina Manning back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, The 6pm Frazzled Mums’ Club.

Whatever the question, the answer is wine!

They’ve swapped the dark and lonely baby days for school gate chaos, but Aisha, Sophy and Mel are discovering that there are new parenting pitfalls just waiting for them…

Influencer Sophy, is trying to keep on top of home and work life but is finding it all a bit tough! Everyone thinks she’s living her best life, but the pressure to maintain perfection at the school gates when all she wants to do is cry, is taking its toll on Sophy.

Aisha doesn’t know what to do with all her spare time now her twins are at school. Maybe it’s time to focus on herself and the dreams she’s put on hold? But when her mum suddenly begins to feel unwell, Aisha has to rethink everything.

And when Mel is offered a chance to live her dream, she grabs it with both hands. But there’s a catch – notably, her ex-boyfriend who makes it clear that he wants another chance to prove he the one she should be with.

Can the three mums navigate this new stage of motherhood together and keep their friendship and their sanity? Or could life be about to change for them all over again?

*****

The members of the 3am Shattered Mums’ Club have swopped the sleepless nights with their children for the school gates but that doesn’t mean they still don’t need each other.

Can Sophy, Aisha and Mel navigate all of this and come out the other side?

I was pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for The 6pm Frazzled Mums’ Club as the story sounded interesting and I am a big fan of Nina Manning’s novels.

I was a little worried as I had not read the previous novel in this series, The 3am Shattered Mums’ Club. However, I found that I could quite easily keep up with everything that was going on. Enough back story is given without the current plot being impeded. So, if you, like me, haven’t read book one, don’t worry.

It didn’t take me long to warm to the three main characters. There is someone for everyone if that makes sense.

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NK Chats To… Helen Golden

Hi Helen. Thank you so much for joining me and inviting Novel Kicks onto your blog tour. Can you tell me about your novel, I Spy With My Little Die and what inspired it?

I Spy With My Little Die is the sixth book in the A Right Royal Cozy Investigation series and in it, not only do we have a couple of juicy murders for my main characters to get to the bottom of, but this book will tie up all the loose ends surrounding Lady Beatrice’s husband’s death in a car accident fifteen years ago. So it’s a mystery within a mystery. I’ve always liked reading books where there’s a meaty subplot that runs throughout the series. In this book the main plot and the series subplot meet head on.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals and from idea to finished book, what’s your writing process like (planning, research etc) and how long does it typically take you? 

I don’t have a ‘typical day’ as such, I’m not a big fan of routine, but I do have a ‘to-do’ list that I work my way through each day. That list might include doing some research, finishing the next chapter in the work-in-progress I’m currently working on, arranging book promotions, creating and reviewing my adverts, plotting my next murder (fictional, of course!), and doing interviews. You may be surprised to know that only about half of what I do is actually writing. Research and planning are vital to enable me to keep me on track and to help me avoid hitting a road block when I’m actually writing, so I spend a lot of my time outlining my plot, especially the murder, before I put pen to paper. It normally takes about a month to research, plan, and outline my book but that could be spread out over a couple of months or even longer.

 

What are the challenges you found when writing your novel especially as it’s part of a series?

I find it easier now that I’m on the sixth book in my series as I know and understand my characters so much better – they have their own voice. On the other hand, coming up with a murder method is getting more difficult – there are only so many ways you can kill someone!

 

Which songs would make up a playlist for your book? 

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Book Extract: A Scottish Island Surprise by Holly Wyld

I’m pleased to be welcoming Holly Wyld to Novel Kicks and the blog tour to her book, A Scottish Island Surprise – a Primrose Island Novella. 

“Far as I’m aware–” Joe said, dropping his head briefly, the better to compose his features, “–far as I’m aware, Miss, we’ve no rabies in the Hebrides at the moment.”

Rose Mackie has inherited a house on a far-flung Scottish island from her curmudgeon of a father who wanted nothing whatsoever to do with her.

So she lands on Primrose Island with the intention of packing up the old beach house, selling it to the first person who’ll make an offer, and moving firmly on. But Joe Fraser, her late father’s neighbour, has some inconvenient news for her on that front.

Rose prepares for battle – only to find that the longer she spends on Primrose Island, and the more time she spends around Joe in particular, the more she begins to question everything she thought she knew…

 

Holly has shared an extract with us today. You know what to do – grab that drink, the comfortable chair and enjoy. 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

The Island Castle – Book 5, Primrose Island Novellas

The spectacular Dornie Castle across the tidal causeway from Primrose Island has a trio of new owners: the Hansen brothers from Norway.

The brothers won the castle in a dubious bet – but unfortunately for the old castle, none of them are remotely serious about becoming its custodians.

Hackles are raising and feathers are ruffling all over the island. But none of that is going to stop Elspeth McGillicuddy from embarking on a match-making frenzy. Because if Elspeth McGillicuddy can find each of these bachelor brothers a romantic match on Primrose Island?

Well, they might very well decide to stick around… mightn’t they?

Extract: Chapter One

 The room was sombre and dimly lit and redolent with the masculine scent of leather and cigars.

And tonight, this sombre masculine room – it had been their grandfather’s study – was rendered all the more solemn because their grandfather, Lars Hansen, one of Norway’s wealthiest shipping titans, the founding father of HansenLine International – was dead.

Four men in black suits, their expressions heavy with grief, were seated around a table in the dead man’s study.

The man’s son.

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Book Review: Loki’s Deceit by Donovan Cook

We are pleased to be welcoming back Donovan Cook to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his latest novel, Loki’s Deceit.

A king, old and frail.

A challenger filled with vengeance. A kingdom’s fate at stake.

Sven the Boar is Jarl of Ribe once more. He and Charles try to settle into their new lives, but trouble and treachery are never too far away.

Tormented by recent events, Charles struggles to adapt to life amongst the heathens that mock his Christian God and the arrival of a priest from the south only makes things worse.

Meanwhile, Sven is burdened with the responsibilities of being Jarl again and protecting his grandson from those hunting him.

When forced into an alliance with King Horik’s nephew who is raising an army to challenge his uncle for the throne of Denmark, Sven makes an important decision.

As the threat of war becomes real, Sven rides to fight a battle that will change the destiny of Denmark.

But whilst he fights, will Charles remain safe or are other games in play that threaten him?

*****

Having read Odin’s Betrayal, the first book in this series, I was keen to see what was next so was pleased to be asked to review this book for Donovan Cook’s blog tour.

In book two, it pretty much picks up from where Odin’s Betrayal ended – with Charles struggling to be a practising Christian amongst followers of the Norse religions. Meanwhile, his grandfather, Sven must cope with a town who won’t accept his leadership and the continuing threat of attack with enemies at every turn. He feels the gods are mocking him. The only thing that matters to him is defending his grandson which brings its own challenges.

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Book Review: Christmas at the Cat Cafe by Jessica Redland

I’m very pleased to be welcoming Jessica Redland back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour to her latest novel, Christmas at the Cat Café. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year on Castle Street, and there’s a paw-some new business opening….

It had always been Tabby’s dream to work with cats and an inheritance from her beloved nanna has finally made that a reality. Idyllic Castle Street in Whitsborough Bay couldn’t be a better place for pastry chef Tabby to open a cat café with her boyfriend, Leon.

But when Leon leaves her in the lurch, the pressure mounts for Tabby. With Christmas fast approaching, she has to open the café on her own – a daunting prospect, especially when she’s been hiding her health issues from the ones she loves.

Faced with local resistance to the café – and somebody seemingly determined that she won’t succeed – Tabby will need her friends, family and cats more than ever to recover her broken Christmas spirit and pull together for a Christmas miracle.

Will the cat café bring the festive joy to Castle Street as Tabby had hoped or will it be a cat-astrophe? And can the magic of Christmas on Castle Street mend Tabby’s broken heart as well as her business?

*****

Tabby’s dream has always been to work with cats and, with the opening of her very own cat café looming, the only thing that would make it perfect would be for boyfriend, Leon to return so they can run it together liked they planned. However, not everything runs smoothly.

My third Christmas themed novel in so many days and I’m totally ok with it. I am a big fan of Jessica Redland and her Starfish Café series so I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for her new standalone novel, Christmas at the Cat Café. Christmas and cats! No brainer.

It isn’t hard to like Tabby. She’s a cat lover, she’s going after her dream and even when life throws relationship issues at her, she keeps going but also learns to accept her limits.
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Book Review: Christmas Nights at the Star and Lantern by Helen Rolfe

I’m so pleased to be welcoming Helen Rolfe back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, Christmas Nights at the Star and Lantern, which is book six in the Heritage Cove series. 

A wonderful story of love, friendship and opening your mind and your heart to new possibilities that will enchant fans of Holly Martin and Heidi Swain.

The Copper Plough is at the heart of village life for the residents of Heritage Cove, and never more so than at Christmas, when the tree glows in the alcove and the smell of mulled wine carries out onto the street. So when new owners for the beloved pub arrive and decide to shake things up, not everyone welcomes the changes with open arms.

Local bakery owner Celeste is ready to keep an open mind. But she’s shocked to discover that one of the new landlords is Quinn, a former Navy sailor with whom she had a short but powerful romance years earlier.

Fate may have brought Quinn and Celeste back together, but life seems determined to keep them apart. Can the villagers learn to embrace the newcomers this Christmas? And will Quinn and Celeste find a way back to each other before snow falls over Heritage Cove?

*****

Celeste, along with her sister Jade, own and run the bakery in Heritage Cove. There is nothing they like more than the Cove at Christmas, especially when it means a drink in the local pub. It’s where the village can embrace the festive atmosphere by celebrating by the real Christmas tree and the roaring fire. So, when the pub changes hands and name, the whole village is worried about how much their local will change. For Celeste, the new owners bring another problem.

I was so excited to be invited onto the tour for Christmas Nights at the Star and Lantern. Not only because it’s a festive themed novel but also the cover is beautiful. The Star and Lantern Pub also has a lovely ring to it.

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