Book News

NK Chats To… P. A. Sheldon

Hi Paul, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell us a little about your book, Fireside Horror and what inspired it? 

Hi Laura, thank you for inviting me to talk about my new book. Fireside Horror is a collection of 10 interconnected tales set in the fictional Edwardian town of Wendlelow. Each story is designed to be read individually, but when combined together gives a larger narrative which draws to a conclusion in the 10th and final tale. I was inspired by the works of M. R. James, the classic ghost story writer of the Victorian/Edwardian era, and by the Folklore of the British Isles, which I have always had a great interest in.

 

What were the challenges of writing 10 interconnecting stories and what was the hardest part of the writing process? 

There were a great many challenges, firstly ensuring that each story was self-contained enough that it could be picked up and read without any prior knowledge of the other tales.

I always envisioned someone reading the book, and then being able to re-read it a second time and pick up little hints and clues that connect to the final tale, dropping these little biscuit crumbs, without giving away too much, was a challenge.

I suppose the hardest part of the writing process, at least for me, was coming up with the stories themselves, the threats and problems the characters face, the ways they attempt to resolve them.

 

What’s your typical writing day like – do you have any rituals and a particular place you like to write? 

Being a working father with two boys, I really had to set aside time to write, I aimed to try to write for at least 3 hours a week, this would usually be when my family were in bed, I would write at the dining room table, though now my eldest son has gone to university I finally have a spare room to work in. As for rituals I don’t personally have any, but my little dog Lily does, she likes to lie on my feet while I’m writing. This is perfect in the winter months as it keeps my toes warm.

 

What’s your favourite word and why? 

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Book Extract: The Song Of Youth by Effrosyni Moschoudi

I’m very excited to be welcoming Effrosyni Moschoudi back to Novel Kicks and to wish her a happy publication day for her latest novel, The Song of Youth. 

Emilia wished to be young again… and then, it happened.

Emilia Paschos is feeling distraught on her 45th birthday. Believing that she’s lost out on life, she makes a wish to be young again. Next, a mysterious gypsy called Esmera offers her the chance to become younger at will, simply by singing a song. Soon, unexpected news sweeps Emilia off to the island of Milos with an opportunity to start her life anew.

A nosy neighbor, a flirtatious ex, and an obnoxious cousin cause trouble, but then two strange girls, Elise and Chloe, turn up and begin to help in miraculous ways, being just as magical as Esmera. They are all angels, except Emilia has no idea…

Being young again whenever she wishes it makes Emilia feel exuberant, but it pales in comparison to the way Andreas, a handsome widower and newly established restauranteur on the island, makes her feel. Together, they rescue a puppy, and now she feels like she is being rescued too.

Because Andreas, who is in his 50s, has eyes only for the real her, not for her younger self. The only problem is, her angelic gift keeps expiring in the most awkward moments!

How much longer can she keep her secret? And, what will she choose? The exhilarating gift of youth… or the sweetness of love?

 

Effrosyni has shared an extract with us today. We hope that you enjoy. 

 

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

 

Emilia wobbled her arms in front of the mirror. No chicken wings. Tight and perfect. Oh, I had missed you so much!’ Grinning with elation, she lifted her arms to kiss them both successively. She leaned closer to the mirror, her fingertips on every nook and cranny of her face and neck and all over her features. Spotless. Perfect. Wrinkle-free. This is a miracle! She was so excited now that she had to bite her lips to keep from screaming or thinking out loud. She couldn’t say too much. The guy could hear.

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Book Spotlight: The Cornish Beach Hut Café by Jane Linfoot

I’m so pleased to be welcoming Jane Linfoot to Novel Kicks. Today, we are shining a light on her latest novel, The Cornish Beach Hut Café.

A fresh start among old friends…

Florence May never expected to trade the high life of London for the cosy comfort of a beach hut in her Cornish hometown, but the moment she steps inside she knows it was the best choice she ever made. The fact that it comes with a requirement that she sets up a business on site? A minor setback that’s easily fixed by opening up a surfside outpost of her friend Clemmie’s Little Cornish Kitchen … where Floss finds herself unexpectedly flourishing.

And when the hotel owner next door sets out to buy the land out from under her? Floss calls on her loyal friends to help her save her little slice of heaven. Because if there’s one thing the community of St Aidan does well, it’s banding together to make the most of every second, whatever life throws at you.

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Book Review: The Wrong Woman by O.J. Mullen

Please join me in welcoming O.J. Mullen to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, The Wrong Woman.

Everyone has secrets. Are yours worth dying for?

Julia Sutherland isn’t too sure about her new colleague. Ellis Kirkbride is friendly, charismatic and handsome, but there’s just something about him – a bit too slick, a bit too confident, and he stands a bit too close. Normally she’d share her concerns with her husband Rob, but he’s been distant lately and Julia has a secret he mustn’t find out.

Ellis Kirkbride thought he had found the right woman. She was everything he could want but she didn’t want him. And that was unacceptable…

In a tale of twisted love and chilling revenge, bestseller O.J. Mullen will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. Perfect for fans of K. L Slater, Claire Douglas and Sue Watson.

*****

Julia feels that life is pretty good. She is happily married to Rob, has a job at one of the top marketing agencies in Glasgow and leads a team she loves. When she gets a chance to build a campaign for a big new development, the only downside is she’s now having to work with the agency’s new recruit, the successful Ellis Kirkbride.

I loved the premise of this novel when I heard it. I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for The Wrong Woman.

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Book Extract: The Lost Queen by Carol Mcgrath

I’m excited to be welcoming Carol McGrath to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Lost Queen.

1191 and the Third Crusade is underway . . .

It is 1191 and King Richard the Lionheart is on crusade to pitch battle against Saladin and liberate the city of Jerusalem and her lands. His mother, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine and his promised bride, Princess Berengaria of Navarre, make a perilous journey over the Alps in midwinter. They are to rendezvous with Richard in the Sicilian port of Messina.

There are hazards along the way – vicious assassins, marauding pirates, violent storms and a shipwreck. Berengaria is as feisty as her foes and, surviving it all, she and Richard marry in Cyprus. England needs an heir. But first, Richard and his Queen must return home . . .

The Lost Queen is a thrilling medieval story of high adventure, survival, friendship and the enduring love of a Queen for her King.

 

Carol has shared an extract from The Lost Queen with us today. We hope you enjoy it. 

 

 

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

Chapter Two

October 1190
The Palace of Pamplona, Navarre Berengaria

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Book Review: It Started With A Book by Camilla Isley

I’m so happy to be welcoming Camilla Isley back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her book, It Started With a Book.

Lose yourself in Lakeville Hills in this gorgeous new romance from bestselling author Camilla Isley…

When she’s ghosted by yet another Tinder match, Leighton swears off dating for life. Who needs apps and blind dates when she has the perfect-in-every-way (apart from being fictional) heroes of her beloved romance novels?

That night Leigh finds a second-hand book on her TBR pile, which transports her to the small-town of Lakeville Hills, where the heroines wear shorty-shorts and the men drink bourbon. And as Leigh drifts off to sleep, she dreams of billionaire cowboy Killian St Clair, who could win a gold medal for smouldering and bicep flexing.

For a while, Leigh finds it easier to stomach misogynistic supervisors, newly coupled friends, and extravagant bridesmaid duties knowing she can return to Lakeville Hills each evening. Until one day, she wakes up to find she’s brought a bit of Lakeville Hills back with her: the impossible sexy and entirely implausible Killian St Clair is in her apartment.

Now Leigh must help Killian navigate the real world. But as she gets to know the man behind the trope, can she keep her heart safe, or does she risk falling in love with her book boyfriend in real life?

*****

Leighton has not been lucky in love. Sick of disastrous dates from apps, she finds herself curling up with a book on a Friday night. Except, this is no ordinary book. 

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know how big a fan I am of Camilla Isley so I will always jump at the chance to take part in her blog tours. It Started With a Book was no exception. 

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Book Review: Before She Fell by Natatlie Sammons

I’m pleased to be welcoming Natatlie Sammons to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her book, Before She Fell.

An ostentatious party descends into violence—and a disgraced cop sets out to redeem herself by solving the case . . .

Susan Grey’s fiftieth birthday party promised to be a talked-about event—an over-the-top extravagant gathering of a hundred guests at her sprawling Georgian home. But it would be talked about for all the wrong reasons . . .

From an escalated argument to the disappearance of an expensive piece of jewelry, the party was quickly spiraling out of control. But the worst was yet to come, when Susan suffered a horrific fall down the grand staircase. Was it an accident or was she pushed?

For DI Grace Roth, relegated to desk duty due to an internal investigation, this could be a high-profile case and a chance to redeem herself. But every lead seems to send her in circles. As the badly injured Susan lies in her hospital bed, DI Roth must try to gather the scattered pieces of the puzzle and make them fit—before anyone else gets hurt . . .

*****

Susan Grey is turning fifty and she is determined to not let herself fade into the background. She is planning a party to remember, it’s just not going to be remembered for the right reasons…. her falling down the stairs. Did she fall or was she pushed?

DI Grace Roth is also on a mission to prove herself after been put on desk duty. Can she find justice for the victim?

This was the first novel I’ve read by Natalie Sammons but I was eager be part of the blog tour and get started on Before She Fell.

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Book Extract: How to Survive Making Yourself Look Silly While Dancing with the German Mafia at a Bavarian Nightclub and Other Lesser Known Travel Tips by Simon Yeats

I’m so happy to be welcoming Simon Yeats back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his book,  How to Survive Making Yourself Look Silly While Dancing with the German Mafia at a Bavarian Nightclub and Other Lesser Known Travel Tips.

The best has been saved to last. Book 3 of a hilarious series of travel misadventures and dubious personal introspection by Australian author Simon Yeats, who from an early age learned that the best way to approach the misfortunes of this world is to laugh about it.

Simon shares his comedic insights into the unusual and uproarious elements of living life as an Aussie ex-pat and having a sense of Wanderlust as pervasive as Cholera in the 1850s.

From how to outwit the Italian police while trying to find parking in downtown Genoa, to how to negotiate exploring the Roman ruins of Plovdiv, Bulgaria while on crutches, to how to impress the German Mafia with 80s dance moves, to how to leave a lasting impression on a crowded bar in Gothenburg, Sweden after combining alcohol and antibiotics.

Simon Yeats has gone into the world and experienced all the out of the ordinary moments for you to sit back and enjoy the experience without the need to rupture a disc or succumb to Dengue fever.

 

Simon has shared an extract from his book today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

Avoid looking silly

On arrival to Ios in the Greek Islands at 2 in the morning, my friends and I discovered that it was not as tourist friendly as we thought.

We start walking in the only direction that standing on a pier offers a person. Towards the end that does not finish at the water. The first building we pass has an unilluminated sign of a pension, with rooms available. We stop and take a few steps back to look more closely. It looks more like a person’s house than suitable lodgings for three wise men from the East, but at 2.25am we are prepared to lay our heads in any manger.

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Book Review: Blue Skies Over Wildflower Lock by Hannah Lynn

I’m happy to be welcoming Hannah Lynn to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her book, Blue Skies Over Wildflower Lock.

There may be trouble ahead…

Just when Daisy thought she had canal life understood, Theo, her primary go-to for all of her boating questions has left Wildflower Lock, not to mention the budding romance that has been steadily growing.

Not one to sit and wallow, Daisy takes matters into her own hands. Who said long-distance relationships can’t work?

With the help of trusted friend Yvonne, Daisy takes the September Rose on a round trip to surprise her new boyfriend. The best thing about a home on the water? You can go anywhere!

But perhaps leaving the serenity of Wildflower Lock wasn’t the best idea. Daisy hates keeping secrets from Theo, and she’s not the only one…

*****

Daisy May feels that life has finally got a little bit of balance. She’s running her café from her canal boat, September Rose and her relationship with new boyfriend, Theo is going well. However, when he needs to go away for work, this sets Daisy on an adventure she wasn’t expecting.

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Book Review: Happy Ever After at Puddleduck Farm by Della Galton

I’m pleased to be welcoming Della Galton back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Happy Ever After at Puddleduck Farm.

When life throws up the unexpected, can Phoebe hold strong?

In the idyllic setting of the New Forest, talented vet Phoebe Dashwood envisions a picturesque life alongside her beloved fiancé. However, the course of true love is fraught with unexpected hurdles.

Career wise, Phoebe encounters a goat who is seemingly experiencing a phantom pregnancy, and a highly-strung talking parrot who pushes her professionalism to the limits.

Things take an unexpected turn for the worse when Phoebe is confronted with a glamorous love rival, and a surprise Valentine’s Day ‘date’ to see a financial advisor! Can things get any worse?

When tragedy strikes Phoebe realises that nothing in life should be taken for granted and fears she will lose everything she holds dear.

Whilst her friends find their own happy endings, Phoebe is beset with doubts that she and Sam will ever find theirs. Is love enough to carry them into the future they deserve?

*****

Phoebe Dashwood is in love with Sam and runs a successful veterinary practice. However, when a new dog trainer makes her feel a little threatened in regards to her relationship she doesn’t quite know how to feel about it. Also the extra pressure to move out of Woodcutters Cottage isn’t helping.

Can Phoebe and Sam navigate the next part of their lives in one piece?

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Book Review: Excalibur by Peter Gibbons

We’re happy to be welcoming Peter Gibbons to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, Excalibur.

The sword has the power of Britain in its steel, men will follow and fight for whoever wields it…

Dark Age Britain. A legendary hero rises to unite a divided and threatened land…

A country left in ruins after the fall of the Roman Empire is plundered and broken. Saxon hordes have invaded and conquered the East coast of Britain in a blood-soaked Great War which tore the old kingdoms apart. From Bernicia to Kent, land and kingdoms are now under Saxon rule. But these new conquerors want more…

Britain’s remaining kingdoms are jaded by the constant threat of war, their Kings old, alliances fickle and frayed. It seems Britain must fall enslaved to the brutal and marauding conquerors from across the sea.

But no one counted on a new and fearsome warlord. A warrior granted power by the druid Merlin through the mighty sword Excalibur. A man with no Kingdom but a quest to unite the country and fight back against the baying Saxon warriors? He is known as the legendary Arthur.

The compelling, fast-paced start of a brand new series from bestselling writer Peter Gibbons. Perfect for the fans of Bernard Cornwall.

*****

Arthur, an orphaned boy raised by one of Britain’s greatest warriors sets out to prove that he is a man by killing his first enemy in battle, but after meeting the Druid Merlin, he finds that the course of his future is not truly in his own hands.

Gifted the mighty sword Excalibur, he must ride to unite Britain and defeat the Saxons. 

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Book Extract: Passageways: Short Speculative Fiction by Lisa Fox

I’m excited to be welcoming Lisa Fox to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for Passageways: Short Speculative Fiction.

Twenty-seven speculative short stories celebrating the value of the journey: how lessons learned traveling the path between two points often transcend the goal of reaching the destination. These tales—including science fiction, fantasy, and horror—introduce characters who traverse unusual and often unsettling routes toward their desired objectives.

A man ventures through the depths of his beloved’s subconscious to save her, only to discover a deep-rooted secret that could destroy everything. A young girl and a newly found friend travel to the Middle of Nowhere, desperate to find a way Out. A teenager struggles to escape the clutches of a demonic blanket inherited from a deceased family member. An “ugly” vampire goes through hell on earth to find his true self and his one true love. A woman revisits her past to determine whether it’s time to pull the plug on a scientific experiment that’s sustained—and devastated—her family for decades.

Passageways is the second short story collection from author Lisa Fox, following her acclaimed debut Core Truths. In these pages, readers voyage through darkness and light, fear and faith; toward understanding and peace. Sanctuary. Self-awareness. Being heard. Being loved. As speculative literary fiction, the stories in this anthology harmonize the excitement and otherworldly escapism that genre-based tales offer with the lyrical poeticism of language that makes storytelling sing.

Lisa has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

An excerpt from “Her Memory Uncloaked”

“Her Memory Uncloaked” is the lead story in Passageways: Short Speculative Fiction. It’s a genre-blend that brings Science Fiction, Romance, and a bit of Mystery together into a short piece that focuses on a man’s love for his wife and his desperation to save her from her own subconscious.

Clouds cast a gray pall over our wedding day; pinpricks of winter numb with a biting chill. Cassie’s world lies still, tense as a held breath that fears escape, as if the slightest sigh could crack the icy veneer that lacquers her mindscape.

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Book Review: The Mother by Valerie Keogh

I’m so pleased to be welcoming Valerie Keogh back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Mother.

A terrible wife…

Sarah Westfield is unhappily married to perfect husband Nick. Handsome, devoted and kind, he should be the ideal man for her, but Sarah knows their marriage is the biggest mistake she’s ever made…and she wants out.

But then Nick offers her one last chance to make their marriage work – a baby.

Sarah is horrified – a baby would tie herself to this man forever…wouldn’t it? Or could it be exactly what she needs?

So Sarah agrees.

A terrible mother?

When the baby arrives, Sarah struggles with motherhood and her resentment towards Nick only grows. Sarah feels more trapped than ever, but she loves her precious daughter…doesn’t she?

And then baby Kaya goes missing…

And everything Sarah has ever believed in comes crashing down around her…

*****

Sarah Westfield has a devoted husband and she’s just given birth to their daughter. However, she has not been happy in the relationship for a long time and she wants out.

Having previously read The Lodger, The Housekeeper and The Mistress, I have become a BIG fan of Valerie Keogh’s novels. Therefore, I was stupidly excited to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest phycological thriller, The Mother.

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Book Review: The Days of Our Birth by Charlie Laidlaw

Theirs was the most important relationship of their life…

It was a perfect relationship until time pulled them apart. A beautiful story sensitively told about how love and friendship can conquer everything, including time, to a point.

“The Days of Our Birth” delves into the intricate bond between Peter and Sarah as they navigate their formative years. Spanning from their sixth birthday through two decades, the narrative unfolds against the backdrop of Sarah’s placement on the autism spectrum.

With a blend of humour and poignancy, the book intricately weaves together themes of love and friendship, unravelling the tale of two individuals who grapple with their emotions for each other, even though they remain unacknowledged.

*****

In their childhood, Peter and Sarah were neighbours. They also share the same birthday.

With a story that spans twenty years, can the bond they shared survive into adulthood and beyond?

I am very happy to once again be featuring Charlie Laidlaw on Novel Kicks and reviewing his latest novel, The Days of Our Birth.

I’m not going to beat around the bush…. I flipping loved this book along with the two main characters, Sarah and Peter. I’m not sure how I’m going to talk about it without giving too much away but I’m going to give it a go.

Sarah’s development really interested me. I have people in my life that are autistic and I felt that the subject of autism is presented in a sensitive and informative way, teaching us that each person will face their own challenges and way of doing things. The author has created a wonderful character in Sarah and I found her to be strong and endearing as was Peter.

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Book Review: For Once In My Life by Sian O’Gorman

What better way to kick off the week by welcoming Sian O’Gorman to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, For Once In My Life. 

A Tale of Love, Discovery, and Second Chances…

In the bustling world of Dublin’s advertising scene, Kitty O’Sullivan, a copywriter, feels an unexplainable void in her life that she can’t quite pinpoint. Her five-year relationship with Dave is stagnant, her creative juices have dried up and she’s even entertaining thoughts of marriage as a cure-all! Something’s missing from her life but she can’t work out exactly what it is…

When Dave decides to take time out from ‘them’, Kitty finds herself momentarily liberated to explore life and have some fun. She and best friend Shazza are corralled into joining a five-aside football team where she meets the intriguing Sweetman brothers, Tom and Rory.

As they sail around the enchanting coast of Dublin, engage in fierce football battles and stumble upon a magical secret drinking den, Kitty falls in love with her new life – and her new self – but is it only temporary until Dave returns?

Will Kitty find the answers to life’s mysteries and take charge of her future?

*****

Copywriter Kitty O’ Sullivan is beginning to feel that something is missing from her life. She just can’t put her finger on what.

When she suddenly finds herself living alone and more surprisingly part of a five-aside football team, she starts to see that maybe there is a great big beautiful life out there. Can she find the courage to reach out and grab it?

I’d previously not read any novels from author, Sian O’ Gorman. A mixture of a beautiful cover and an intriguing premise had me pleased to be welcomed onto the blog tour for For Once in my Life (please say I’m not the only person with Stevie Wonder’s song in my head with this title. LOL.)

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Book Extract: The Last Thing You’ll Hear by Jan Dunning

I’m pleased to be welcoming Jan Dunning to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her book, The Last Thing You’ll Hear. 

Have you ever been so obsessed with someone that you start to lose yourself?

Wren and Lark are rivals first and sisters second, so when mysterious music producer, Adam, and his DJ prodigy, Spinner, come to their small town, the game is on to impress.

Lark is soon taken under Adam’s wing, but as she’s pulled deeper into his web, distancing herself from friends and family, Wren starts to suspect that there’s a more sinister side to Adam. And when the sisters get a chance to perform at Enrapture the most talked-about festival of the summer, suddenly there is a lot to lose…

Can Wren put her own ambitions aside to save her sisters life?

One thing’s for sure: after this summer, nothing will ever be the same again.

 

Jan has shared an extract from The Last Thing You’ll Hear. We hope you’ll enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Context: In chapter 1, protagonist Wren is at a party when her sister Lark, who has an incredible voice, performs karaoke, inspiring feelings of bitter jealousy in Wren. Themes: sisters, music, sibling rivalry.

*****

A microphone screeches with feedback. Danny winces. I jump.

“OK, people! Who’s ready for karaoke?”

There’s a groan from the crowd, but Charlie calls birthday privileges and in seconds Jem’s set has been binned. As the dance floor thins out, Charlie and her gang crowd round her phone, queuing up songs on an app. As the jerky string intro to “Toxic” kicks in, I brace myself for Charlie’s Britney imitation. She throws everything into it, oblivious to the sniggers of the crowd, blowing kisses and curtseying at the end.

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Book Review: The Hollywood Governess by Alexandra Weston

I’m excited to be welcoming Alexandra Weston to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Hollywood Governess.

A governess bound by her own strict rules, a movie-star tormented by grief, a forbidden love story you won’t forget.

Hollywood, 1937

Hester Carlye has no wish to look after the pampered offspring of the rich anymore, in spite of being a highly sought-after governess. But with her elderly father frail, and the roof of their rundown cottage falling in, she has no choice but to accept a dazzling new placement.

Movie star Aidan Neil is box office gold, but after the tragic death of his wife Dinah Doyle, he needs Hester’s help to raise their young daughter Erin. Aidan and Dinah were once the perfect Hollywood couple, but stars don’t shine forever…

At Aidan’s glittering Hollywood mansion, Hester finds a family struggling with their grief. Hester knows she can help little Erin, but Aidan’s torment is palpable. Brooding and reclusive, he is far from the picture-perfect hero Hester’s seen in films. There’s an edge to him that makes Hester wonder if he’s hiding a dark secret of his own….

Was the marriage between Aidan and Dinah as perfect as it appeared to be? Was Dinah’s death really a tragic accident?

When it finally comes, the truth is more shocking than Hester could ever have imagined. And she knows that if revealed, it will destroy the family she has grown to love and ruin Aidan’s Hollywood dream forever…

*****

It’s 1937. Hester Carlyle is a successful Governess. Having recently returned to Yorkshire from New York, she’s not in a hurry to return to the United States. However, bills need to be paid. When she receives a job offer that will mean a journey back across the Atlantic, she knows she can’t refuse. 

If you’ve been a long term follower of this blog then you know I can’t resist a good cover and the one for The Hollywood Governess is one of the things that initially drew me to this book. There’s something very glamorous and romantic about it. 

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Book Review: French Windows by Antoine Laurain

Nathalia, a young photographer, has been seeing a therapist. Having accidentally photographed a murder, she finds that she can no longer do her job.

Instead, Doctor Faber suggests that she write about the neighbours she idly observes in the building across the street. But as these written snapshots become increasingly detailed, he starts to wonder how she can possibly know so much about them.

With each session, Doctor Faber and his mysterious patient will get closer and closer to the truth. But are the stories Nathalia submits each week as she claims…

Bestselling author Antoine Laurain serves up a dose of suspense and intrigue in Rear Window with a Parisian heart.

 

*****

Nathalia is a photographer who no longer takes photos, not since her last photo had her witness a murder. Instead, she observes her neighbours. She seeks the help of theorist, Dr. Faber who suggests she write about those she watches. Will the truth be reviewed?

I have such a love of Antoine Laurain. Having loved The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook, I was exceedingly excited to get my hands on an advanced reading copy of his latest novel, French Windows. Due to this, there was a lot of pressure on it to be good. I need not have worried.

It’s going to be hard talking about this book without giving too much away but I am going to give it a go.

Antoine Laurain has a gift of pulling you completely into the lives of the people he writes about. Sure, there’s conflict and issues but these are glazed with a slight whimsical feel.

The two main characters intrigued me. It’s obvious when you first meet her that Nathalia seems lost. She’s mysterious and it was interesting to see how her story developed over the course of the story. It didn’t go in the direction I was expecting and I loved that.

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Book Review: Humility and Tolerance by Noni Valentine

I’m pleased to be welcoming Noni Valentine to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her book, Humility and Tolerance.

A sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Seven years after Elizabeth Bennett married Fitzwilliam Darcy, they are still deeply in love, with two small children. But paradise is showing cracks now that Darcy’s aged housekeeper has died and Elizabeth must take up her duties. It’s more than one woman, even one as capable as Elizabeth, can manage.

Her sister Kitty, with Elizabeth and Jane’s help and a heroic effort on Kitty’s part, has outgrown her silly youth and matured into a sensible young woman—who, being sensible, spends as much time away from her parents and visiting her sisters as possible. Darcy’s sister Georgiana, with perhaps more influence from Elizabeth than is good for her, has become a confident, independent woman who is nevertheless ripe for romance. Charlotte Collins, newly widowed, is searching for a way out of the household of her husband’s crabbed patron, Lady Catherine, that doesn’t involve returning to her parents’ house.

Elizabeth sees a way to restore order to Pemberley and give herself a chance to to breathe: she offers Kitty a job as housekeeper of the estate, and Charlotte a job as governess of her adored children.

With these four women under one roof, chaos and the unexpected are inevitable. Both Kitty and Georgiana meet and begin falling in love with honorable, interesting men, neither of whom are gentlemen and therefore not considered eligible matches for them. Charlotte has the opposite problem: a childhood acquaintance who is now a Lord has become fixated on her and begins diligently wooing her, when all she wants is a quiet life and a chance to recover from eight years of marriage to a man she never loved.

When Elizabeth and Darcy learn of their sisters’ budding romances, each has the same reaction: delight at their sister-in-law’s choice and outrage at that of their sister. Now throw a ball into the mix, with Elizabeth’s mother bringing up forbidden topics from the past and her father hiding from the noise, Jane and Bingley attempting to calm the waters, Elizabeth trying to set up all three of the younger women, and Charlotte’s Lord pursuing her all over the dance floor—and an explosion is sure to happen.

This charming romance will delight all lovers of Jane Austen’s masterpiece who have ever wondered, “What happened next?”

*****

Seven years after marrying Mr Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet is happy as mistress of Pemberley. When she gets not one but two requests for visitors, she starts to make a plan but will everyone be happy with it? 

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NK Chats To… Amber Cooper

Hi Amber, thank you so much for joining me today and inviting Novel Kicks onto the blog tour for your latest book. Can you tell me about your novel, A Cask of You and what inspired it?

A Cask of You is the first of a seven book series (eight if you count the free prequel) following siblings who come from a whisky distilling family on the Kintyre peninsula in Scotland.

The story is about a down on her luck American romance author, Bea who travels to Edinburgh, Scotland to write her next book and find a Scotsman for inspiration. She meets aloof Cal Butler and gets a job in his bar. Cal has a lot on his mind: his father is terminally ill and his difficult ex is pregnant, possibly with his child. He tries to resist Bea, but their chemistry is too intense, so they agree to a three-month fling. Feelings develop on either side, and Bea struggles with Cal possibly being a father due to self-doubt her ex planted in her. The novel is passionate, sweet and steamy and if you enjoy being transported to Scotland and meeting hot Celtic heroes, you may very well love it.

In terms of inspiration, my memory is fuzzy as I began the book in 2019, but the idea came when I was doing a course in romance writing with the Professional Writing Academy, here in the UK. Fragments came to me each week as I wrote different elements of a romance novel – meet cute, sex scene, no way scene, etc. For example, Edinburgh was the setting, whisky would be a part of it, the FMC would be a romance writer, the MMC was from a big family. It all pieced together bit by bit until I realised I wanted to write a whole series. I wanted the vibe of the book to be evocative of Scotland. I am a bit obsessed with whisky, in that regard: its colours, its vibrancy, its integration with the land itself. That is why I made the whisky distillery the fulcrum for the whole Butler family. And I chose the Kintyre peninsula as I wanted them to be hardy Scottish surfers from a place where whisky is made

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals and a particular space you like to write in?

I dream of having a typical writing day, of getting up early with a cup of coffee and going to a lady shed at the bottom of the garden to write all day. But I live in a wee third floor flat so I find a space wherever I can. Because I have a chronic illness, I operate on the system of doing what I can when I can and taking time off if I need it. Some days, I have to accept that doing anything at all is an achievement. But when I work best is from around 7am, starting with a wee hot chocolate, until mid afternoon. The afternoon might be for lighter admin duties and small tasks that are easier to manage. I don’t have a desk but sitting up for long periods of time is difficult for anyway, so it’s usually the couch or bed. One day, I will have a lady shed with a chaise longue in it. #believe

 

What are the challenges you found when writing your novel especially as it’s book one in a series?

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Book Review: The Secret Life of a Lady by Darcy McGuire

I’m so pleased to be welcoming Darcy McGuire to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Secret Life of a Lady.

Never Underestimate a wallflower!

Lady Hannah Simmons is a quintessential wallflower, unassuming, dowdy yet ignored by most. But underneath her plain exterior, Hannah is hiding a thrilling secret! Unbeknownst to the rest of the ton, she is Queen Victoria’s leading femme fatale, slipping unnoticed through the streets of London and listening to scandalous whispers from lords and ladies. But with daggers in her stockings and pistols in her pockets, Hannah’s mission is to apprehend a deadly killer.

Private Investigator to the Prime Minister, damaged, yet devastatingly handsome ex-war hero Duke Robert Killian always puts duty first. However, when he finds himself competing with the intriguing Lady Hannah on the same daring task, his blood boils with frustration – and desire! Is it possible to seduce this vexing woman whose not afraid to put herself in danger and achieve the upper hand?

Hannah enjoys Killian’s attempts to distract and tempt her, but she has never faced an adversary she couldn’t overthrow. And Killian has never met a challenge he couldn’t conquer…until now. The gauntlet has been thrown, can they finish their jobs and resist the temptation?

Keep your friends close…and your enemies even closer!

*****

Lady Hannah Simmons is happy to blend into the background. It makes it easier to sneak around at the behest of the Queen as well as her friend, Lady Winterbourne. Her task is to catch a killer. What she didn’t count on was meeting Lieutenant General Robert Killian. 

When their interests align, can either of them get to the murderer unscathed and can they avoid falling in love? 

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Book Extract: How to Avoid Getting Mugged in Rio de Janeiro by Singing Songs by The Police and Other Lesser Known Travel Tips by Simon Yeats

I’m pleased to be welcoming Simon Yeats back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his book, How to Avoid Getting Mugged in Rio de Janeiro by Singing Songs by The Police and Other Lesser Known Travel Tips.

Australian author Simon Yeats, who from an early age learned that the best way to approach the misfortunes of this world is to laugh about it.

Simon shares his comedic insights into the unusual and uproarious elements of living life as an Aussie ex-pat and having a sense of Wanderlust as pervasive as the Bubonic Plague in the 1300s.

From what to do when several people converge to rob you after midnight on a deserted Copacabana Beach, to how to save the Sierra Mountain Range from a wildfire outbreak due to a lack of quality toilet paper, to where not to go in Tijuana when trying to locate the origins to stories of the city’s mythical adult entertainment, to how to save yourself from drowning when caught in a storm while sailing off the California coast.

Simon Yeats has gone into the world and experienced all the out of the ordinary moments for you to sit back and enjoy the experience without the need to lose an eye or damage your liver.

 

Simon has shared an extract below. We hope you’ll enjoy. 

Content warning: Strong language. 

 

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

 

There are some iconic moments in history that, to some of us, were overshadowed by even more weirder events.

If I were to throw out a date, June 17, 1994, nobody would have a clue what I was talking about. If I was to throw out an event, the night OJ Simpson led police on a freeway chase, that rivaled Dohers and I for speed as we moved through the Holiday Inn parking lot after we consumed 50 tacos each, everybody will remember that moment in time.

But I can guarantee that no one else had the same experience I did while watching the events of that day unfold.

For me, the memory could not be any clearer. I am now living and working in Boston. The home of America’s famous insurrection against the British, and the reason I cannot get a decent cup of tea for breakfast at a diner in the USA. Beantown is the city of missed opportunity. For me. I lived here for seven months and the list of fun things that I did not experience while being here is long and distinguished. I did not watch the Head of the Charles rowing regatta. I did not go drinking at a bar near Harvard. I did not watch the Boston Marathon. I did not go to Cheers. I did not go whale watching off Cape Cod. I did not go to historic Fenway Park to watch the Boston Red Sox fail to advance to a Baseball World Series. I did not visit Martha’s Vineyard on Nantucket.

I spent my entire time there pining over Brandi.

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Book Review: Husbands by Mo Fanning

I’m pleased to be welcoming Mo Fanning to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for his novel, Husbands. 

In Hollywood, every pavement star tells a story. Not all of them shine.

Wannabe actor Kyle Macdonald is down on his luck. Working as a supply teacher in an inner-city Birmingham school, he’s single again at 28, and sleeping in his childhood bedroom beneath a ‘Hard Candy’ Madonna poster.

He gets a call claiming he drunkenly married top Hollywood director Aaron Biedermeier in Vegas six years ago. Rather than panic, he sees a golden ticket to fame and the life he’s always fantasised about.

But the glamorous veneer of Los Angeles – non-stop sunshine, celebrity actors and exclusive hotel suites – starts to crack, revealing a darker, corrupt underbelly to La-La Land. Kyle digs deeper into his so-called husband’s past, unearthing disturbing allegations of abuse and underage sex parties.

With the help of Biedermeier’s fiancé, actor Noah Winters, he embarks on a cross-country race to unravel the mystery and expose the truth – finding love along the way.

*****

At 28 years old, Kyle pictured his life differently. He saw a glittering acting career and a life in Hollywood, not one as a supply teacher in an inner-city Birmingham school. When a phone call means he finds himself in the city he’s dreamed of for so long, he can’t believe his luck. However, secrets and lies beckon. Can Kyle navigate through this and find himself and love on the other side?

This is the first time I’ve read anything by Mo Fanning. I was happy to be invited onto the blog tour for his latest novel, Husbands.

I really didn’t know what to expect. What was clear from the beginning however, was how quickly I got drawn into this book. Even though I’m not male or a teacher, I felt empathy and an affinity with Kyle. I think he’s the fictional personification of the point in our lives where we take stock and wonder how we got to where we are. What happened to the dreams we had when we were younger? I think we’ve all had those moments at some stage, right?

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Book Extract: The Heartpine Recipes by L.C. Fields

Please join me in welcoming L.C. Fields to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for their novel, The Heartpine Recipes.

It’s more than southern storytelling. It’s southern storytelling with a side of biscuits.

When Grace Collier comes back to Heartpine, Tennessee, she’s thinking about endings. The end of her job. The end of her engagement. Instead, she finds a new beginning. A journey of discovery that will reconnect her to her home place…as well as her own past.

Like so many southern tales, this one starts out in the kitchen. Grace’s Aunt Jess – the wise, loving woman who raised her after her parents passed – is collecting recipes for a new community cookbook. It’s not long before Grace finds herself an honorary member of the cookbook committee; and next thing she knows, she’s busy gathering up all the rich stories that come with those recipes. All the surprises, all the mysteries, all the memories. Along the way, she gets to know a townful of unforgettable characters. Stirs up a few old secrets. And comes to terms, finally, with her own legacy of loss.

It’s about the recipes, yes. But more than that, it’s about the relationships. It’s a journey that links families and generations. A journey of homecoming and redemption.

And just for fun, every chapter includes an iconic southern recipe – so you can cook them up yourself and see what all the fuss is about. From cornbread to collards, from pulled pork to pineapple casserole, you’ll find them here. There’s even a never-fail recipe for the best sweet tea you’ve ever tasted (not that a true southern cook would need a recipe for that, heaven knows!).

Touching, positive and uplifting, The Heartpine Recipes is a generous serving of warmth, humor and heart.

 

L.C. Fields has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

The next morning, we marshaled our bowls and beaters and measuring cups and racks, like generals preparing the order of battle. The kitchen was cleared of other clutter, and the stand mixer was moved front and center. This was serious business.

Oh, I know. All we were doing, when you reduced it down to the barest facts, was making a cake. But trying to reclaim anything that’s been lost, to drag it back out of the maw of oblivion? That’s not an easy thing.

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Book Spotlight: Neptune’s Secret Code by Genna Rowbotham

I’m thrilled to be welcoming Genna Rowbotham to Novel Kicks. Today we are shining a light on her book, Neptune’s Secret Code.

★ ★★ An Undersea Adventure filled with Magic, Friendship, and Bravery! ★★★

When Hannah is sucked into a vicious whirlpool in her effort to rescue kitten Leo, vshe finds herself entering Neptune’s Undersea Kingdom where she reawakens terrifying sea monsters from the depths of the sea.

The trouble is… Hannah is unable to return home until she’s overcome her fear of the water, defeated the sea monsters, and solved the code that she broke upon entering Neptune’s Kingdom.

With the help of her new friend, Marcie the Mermaid, will Hannah succeed?

 

Neptune’s Secret Code is due to be released by Adventure Scape Press on 12th June 2024. Click to buy on Amazon, Waterstones or via Geena’s website

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Novel Kicks To… Kay Seeley

Hello Kay. Thank you so much for joining me today and inviting Novel Kicks onto your blog tour. Can you tell me about your novel, A Heart Full of Hope and what inspired it? 

The story was inspired by the character, Charity. She’s the daughter of a bishop and wants to do something worthwhile with her life. Charity’s family want her to make a good marriage but she’s more interested in helping a small, mute boy she meets in a home for waifs and strays.  A chance meeting with Jack Carter, the hotel housekeeper’s disreputable brother intrigues her and promises a different, more exciting way of life. The story was inspired by the two different worlds in Edwardian London.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals? 

I usually begin with going through emails and getting the business side out of the way so I can concentrate on the creative side with free mind. I make a lot of notes about what I want to incorporate into the story. I don’t plot. I put my characters into difficult situations to see how they react. The story comes from the characters. I generally have a theme, but nothing concrete. It’s all very flexible. A lot of the story comes while I’m doing other things, like gardening, walking, or on the train into town. Then I work the ideas into the story.

 

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

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Book Review: Under The Summer Skye by Sue Moorcroft

We are so pleased to be welcoming Sue Moorcroft back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Under a Summer Skye.

A Scottish island. A stranger from the mainland. A summer of possibilities…

Escape to the Isle of Skye this summer with the Sunday Times bestselling author, and lose yourself in the first book of the Skye Sisters Trilogy.

A chance encounter is about to change everything for Thea Wynter.

The moment she arrived on the Isle of Skye, life changed for Thea. Running from a succession of wrong turns, she comes to the island in search of blue sea, endless skies, and mountains that make the heart soar. Here, she feels at peace.

As head gardener at Rothach Hall, life is exactly how she wants it, with her days spent working in the glorious clifftop garden and her evenings in the cosy village pub.

But an encounter with a stranger from the mainland brings with it an unexpected turn – and she is left wondering whether he is friend or foe.

It seems that even on Skye, life can catch up with you, and Thea is soon faced with the past she left behind – and with it, the family she’s never met…

From old lives to new beginnings, lose yourself on the beautiful Isle of Skye with Thea as she discovers how many possibilities life can truly hold if you look hard enough.

*****

One of my favourite authors is back, and with a bang and a gentle, woof! As I understand it, ‘Under a Summer Skye’ is the first book in a trilogy set on the Isle of Skye (this is up in Scotland, for those of you who don’t know where this real, spectacular place is).

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Book Review: Stars in the City by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I’m very pleased to be welcoming Krysten Lindsay Hager back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Stars in the City.

These stars seem to have it all…

Valeria Joseph seems to have it all: career as actress on the soap opera, Charmed Lives, and everyone wants to be her. Her so-star, Cecily Taylor, fixes her up with a rising pop star named Dex Doyle and suddenly Valeria has a bigger spotlight on her.

Then, on the busy streets of New York City, she runs into her first love, Davis, who she never got over. Davis is a college basketball player who is dealing with high pressure stressors of his own and they find themselves supporting one another and falling back in love.

But, just like being on a daytime soap is full of drama—so is the publicity that surrounds Valeria. Throw in a pop star who’s crazy about her, an award show event that trends on social media for all the wrong reasons, and tons of swoony moments. Can Valeria find true love in the big city?

*****

To the outside world, Valeria Joseph has it all. She’s an actress on the popular soap opera, Charmed Lives and has the attention of a handsome pop star. However, the life of an actress isn’t always as it seems and when Valeria runs into her old boyfriend, can she find something she thought she’d lost forever?

Although Krysten Lindsay Hager has previously featured on Novel Kicks, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to review one of her novels. I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour and couldn’t wait to get started.

Being targeted at 10 – 18 years, I am not the target audience in terms of age. However, I found myself enjoying this book very much. It had the feel of the Sweet Valley High books or the Sisters books by Marilyn Kaye but with a modern feel. It’s a book I would have picked up had I been that age and I hope to read more if this book is the first in a series.

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Book Review: Identical by Saskia Sarginson

I’m pleased to be welcoming Saskia Sarginson to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel,  Identical

‘Please, I need your help. You’re the only person I can turn to. The only person who can pretend to be me…’

When Alice gets a desperate message from her estranged identical twin sister Cecily, she can’t help herself. She has to say yes. Pushing down the memories of the terrible childhood that ultimately tore them apart, she arrives at her sister’s house.

Cecily has left instructions: how to work the oven, what to cook for supper, what to say to her husband.

She says she’ll only be gone a week. She just needs to contact a lawyer, sort her head out, and work out how to get away from her marriage safely.

Alice barely knows why she’s agreed. But as she puts the key in the door, she wonders if – in coming to help her sister – she might be putting herself in the most terrible danger.

Because when Cecily stops replying to messages, and the words ‘die, die, die’ appear scrawled in lipstick on the bathroom mirror, Alice realizes – someone is out to get Cecily. And now they think Alice is her…

*****

Alice doesn’t hesitate when she gets an urgent message for help from her identical twin, Cecily. All she has to do is live as her sister for a week. That’s not too hard right? Except things are not what they seem. Alice begins to feel she’s in danger and she can’t get hold of her sister.

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Book Review: A Wonderland Wish on Ever After Street by Jaimie Admans

I’m so pleased to be welcoming Jaimie Admans back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest book,  A Wonderland Wish on Ever After Street, book three in the Ever After Street series. 

A picture-perfect town, a place where dreams come true. Welcome to Ever After Street…

There’s always time for tea… unless you’ve lost your teapot…

Cleo Jordan has only ever wished for one thing – to open her own teashop in memory of her lovely gran. So when she accidentally fools the interview board into thinking she’s a brilliant baker and is offered a prime spot on Ever After Street, she knows her dream is about to come true!

Stepping into The Wonderland Teapot is like falling down the rabbit hole – magical! But there’s a catch: Cleo has completely lost her love of baking! With her little white lie ticking in her ear, it seems her dream is over before it’s begun.

Until she meets her very own Mad Hatter. Loved by everyone on Ever After Street, magician Bram brings an energy to the teashop that lifts everyone, and slowly, with his encouragement, Cleo is getting back to doing what she loves best.

But with Bram hiding secrets of his own, Cleo isn’t sure she can put all her faith in him. And when things start going wrong at the teashop, Cleo wonders if the culprit sabotaging her dream is someone closer than she thinks?

If Cleo wants her wish to work, she has to learn to trust again before she loses her head and heart completely…although it might already be far too late for that…

*****

Cleo has grown to love Ever After Street and longs to own her own tea shop themed to Alice in Wonderland, her favourite novel. When she is given the opportunity, she wants to make the most of it….if only her ability to bake hadn’t deserted her. 

When a Mad Hatter arrives to work in the shop, Cleo isn’t so sure but as she gets to know the man behind the hat, could there be something more? 

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Book Extract: A Farewell To Imperial İstanbul by Ayşe Gülnev Osmanoğlu

I’m excited to be welcoming Ayşe Gülnev Osmanoğlu to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel,  A Farewell To Imperial İstanbul. 

Set against the majestic backdrop of Imperial Istanbul in the aftermath of the First World War, A Farewell To Imperial Istanbul is a captivating tale of family, duty and the resilience of the human spirit.

İstanbul, 1922: As the Ottoman Empire crumbles in the wake of the Great War, the fate of the Imperial capital and the House of Osman come under threat. Emboldened following their victory in the Turkish War of Independence, the Turkish Nationalist Government in Ankara abolishes the Ottoman Sultanate, marking the end of over six centuries of Ottoman rule. The Ottoman Caliphate endures for now, but Istanbul, stripped of its Imperial mantle, mourns its lost glory. Prince Nihadfears for the nation and the fate of the Imperial family, while his son, Prince Vâsıb, envisions a hopeful future defined by peace following the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne.

As the new Republic of Türkiye emerges from the ashes of the once-mighty Ottoman Empire, Istanbul and the Ottoman Dynasty confront the crossroads of history, their destinies entwined with the shifting tides of the Bosphorus. Yet, amidst these perilous currents that separate East and West, where the deep waters threaten to engulf the city’s Imperial past and sweep away its soul embodied by the Imperial family, the Ottoman Dynasty must navigate a new and uncertain course.

The history of the Turks and their vast and powerful Empire has been intertwined with the Ottoman Dynasty for over six hundred years. But can the Imperial family survive the tempest of change as the world enters a new era?

 

There’s a chance to win a A Farewell To Imperial İstanbul bundle but first, Ayşe Gülnev Osmanoğlu has shared an extract from her novel today. We hope you all enjoy. 

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Book Spotlight: Dressing The Countess by Rachel Brimble

I’m pleased to be welcoming Rachel Brimble to Novel Kicks. Today, we’re shining a spotlight on her novel, Dressing The Countess.

Fans of Kristy Cambron, Stephanie Dray, and Julia Quinn will adore this Victorian romance from historical fiction dynamo, Rachel Brimble.

Seamstress Rose Watson cannot believe her good fortune when she’s plucked from obscurity to work for Lady Christina, the Countess of Bath. Despite her parents’ distrust that the position will come with conditions, Rose accepts the unexpected offer.

When she arrives at the royal residence of Henlow House, a strange sense of destiny whispers through her, and Rose cannot wait for this new adventure to begin. Although, she has Henry Ward to deal with, the handsome, risk-taking and—though she is loath to admit it—exciting royal saddler and horse trainer, who both fascinates and frustrates her in equal measure.

They could not be more different…with the exception of their hunger for more.

But as they begin to trust one another, and their bond flourishes, Rose’s connection with Henry could cause her to lose her position at Henlow House, which would destroy her. Will she be forced to choose between love and ambition? Either choice will change her life irrevocably.

A captivating escape that will touch your heart and keep you turning pages with impatient hope for Rose…

*****

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Book Extract: The Blood Promise by Liz Mistry

I’m pleased to welcoming Liz Mistry to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Blood Promise. 

A deadly gift

Imogen Clark wakes up on her 16th birthday to find her parents dead at the breakfast table, along with a message from their killer.

A twist of fate

Detectives Jazzy Solanki and Annie McQueen join the investigation, but the more they discover, the more Jazzy suspects that the killing is a twisted message for her. Jazzy shares the same birthday as Imogen, and believes that this is more than a coincidence.

A race to catch a killer

When Jazzy discovers the connection between the killer and the stalker who has been following her for years, she is forced to confront the dark past she was desperate to keep hidden. She must stop at nothing to solve the case, before she becomes the next victim…

Liz has shared an extract for us today. We hope you enjoy. 

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

Detectives Jazzy Solanki and her partner Annie ‘Queenie’ McQueen have been demoted from detective sergeants to detective constables for separate incidents. They haven’t worked together before but, as a punishment they have been thrust together to do an overnight surveillance on a pub in a small isolated village known for its distrust of the police. Whilst Queenie sleeps, Jazzy reflects on her situation until something quite scary happens …

Extract

Discordant snuffles followed by seconds of blissful silence, abruptly broken by rough guttural snorts played on repeat. It did Jazzy’s head in and she was beginning to regret offering to keep watch whilst Queenie slept. If the sounds from her mouth were bad, the ones from her backside were the real killer. She took farting to a whole new level, filling the police car with noxious fumes, forcing Jazzy to crack the windows every so often. She was gross. At least if Queenie was sleeping, she wasn’t hassling Jazzy, which was why she hadn’t wakened her yet. Besides, she wouldn’t sleep. No matter how knackered she was, Jazzy couldn’t snooze on a stakeout. It was part of her overzealous nature. A symptom, according to her therapist, of her past experiences and one that she needed to work on if she ever wanted to form meaningful trusting relationships.

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Book Extract: Love Beyond Lindisfarne by Kimberley Adams

I’m very pleased to be welcoming Kimberley Adams to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Love Beyond Lindisfarne.

Take a spring to summer trip to magical Northumberland and find love and laughter in this feel-good novel, which will transport you to the iconic island of Lindisfarne and beyond…

Ellie, and Zen with the coffee-bean eyes, met at Christmas when she came to Northumberland to look after rescue animals. They are taking their first tentative steps into a love-at-first-sight relationship and all in their spring garden should be wonderful.

When Lady Grace becomes ill, life at the castle changes overnight, and not for the better. The new custodian and his fiancée have plans, and the islanders are far from happy. When the filming of a reality show means the animals must move out of their yard due to the Queen of the Castle production company taking over, it’s the final straw.

Amongst all the drama, Love Beyond Lindisfarne is a story of love, intergenerational friendships, camaraderie, and oodles of the warmth and humour found in this very special corner of the world.

 

Kimberley has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

This piece is spoken by the narrator Ellie, who is one of the lead characters in the book, a romantic comedy set in Northumberland. It gives a flavour of what’s to come in the pages and an idea of some of the people and animals that we meet along the way in this the second trip to Lindisfarne and beyond!

Prologue

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Book Review: Come Fly With Me by Helen Rolfe

I’m happy to be welcoming Helen Rolfe back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Come Fly With Me.

Take to the skies in this gorgeous and gripping new series, perfect for fans of Jo Bartlett and Cathy Bramley.

A Second Chance…

For Maya, serving as a pilot in the Whistlestop River air ambulance team is a dream come true. And now, with her divorce from her overbearing husband finally complete, flying over the fields of Dorset, and saving lives with the Skylarks, is the centre of her world. If only her ex would accept their separation as readily as she had, life would be perfect…

A fresh start…

Having recently transferred from London to Dorset, paramedic Noah is ready for a new start. But he’s brought with him a lot of baggage, not least his infant niece who he’s been looking after since his sister died unexpectedly earlier that year. Noah adores Eva, but is he really cut out to look after a baby?

A risk worth taking?

When Noah and Maya find themselves on the same rescue team, they’re immediately drawn to each other. Yet, with so many complications in their personal lives, do they have time to open their hearts to someone new?

As their friendship grows, Noah and Maya are both about to discover that life is worth nothing unless you share it with the people you love.

*****

Maya loves her job as a pilot with the Skylarks and the Whistlestop Air Ambulance team. She only wished her private life wasn’t a complete disaster. She’s divorced from her ex-husband but he is far from being out of her life. 

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Book Spotlight: Far From Home by T.A. Williams

Today, we are shining a spotlight on Far from Home by T.A. Williams.

The secrets of the past will unlock her future…

Working in the fast-paced foreign exchange market in Canary Wharf, Amy never expected her job to drive her to collapse. With her doctor advising she take a month off work, when Amy receives a solicitor’s letter informing her of a surprise inheritance in Italy, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

But who on earth has left her a house in the sleepy Tuscan hills?

As she gets to know the town and its inhabitants, Amy discovers more about the mysterious man who named her in his will. Shocking family secrets come to light, leaving Amy questioning the life she knew.

The town of Sant’Antonio holds more than just secrets. Here, Amy meets Adam, a renowned TV journalist whose documentaries take him to dangerous places. But as their attraction grows, so do Amy’s worries. Her life is in England, while Adam’s is untethered and under constant threat…

An emotional, heartwarming love story full of family drama and quirky locals.

 

Far from Home is book three in the Beneath Italian Skies book series and was released by Canelo Romance on 23rd May 2024. Click here to buy on Amazon, Apple Books and Barnes and Noble and click to buy on Waterstones.

 

***** 

 

About T.A. Williams –

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only ten years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing escapist romance is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels and I now also write cozy crime, but my first love has always been romance. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations and descriptions of food to make you drool.

Say hello to T.A. Williams via www.tawilliamsbooks.com, X (Twitter,) and Facebook

 

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Book Review: The Life Sentence by Jackie Kabler

I’m pleased to be welcoming Jackie Kabler to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Life Sentence.

My name is Amber Ryan.

I’m in prison, but I’m innocent.

And I’ve been jailed not just for a crime I didn’t commit, but for a crime that never even happened.

Now, my friend is going to try to prove it.

But to do that, she has to go back.

Back to the dark.

*****

Amber Ryan is serving life in prison claiming she is innocent.
Ex-friend, Heather is about to go into the lion’s den where it could mean a new life for Amber, or death for her.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Jackie Kabler. The premise of this novel really caught my attention and I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for The Life Sentence.

This novel is told from the point of view of Heather, Amber and Jack. It goes between all of them very well and it’s good to get the three perspectives. Heather is someone who, in the end, will do anything for the ones she loves, even if it means putting herself in danger.

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Book Review: The Affair by Claire Allan

Please join me in welcoming Claire Allan back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Affair.

Her heart is thumping now, only just distinguishable from the roar of the water and the wind. This is not safe. She is not safe…

She realises then, only one of them is coming back out alive.

She’s the person I want to be. Sorcha Hannon, survivor of a devastating affair. She’s found the healing and hope I desperately need to find for myself.

And now that Sorcha and I are friends, I am no longer alone. Instead of days hiding away from the world, I have someone to talk to. I feel as if I finally belong.

There’s just one small catch. Sorcha Hannon isn’t just a new friend to me, and she certainly isn’t a stranger. In fact, I know the ins and outs of her life, and her marriage, almost as well as she does. But if she finds out who I really am, I’ll lose everything. Then again, as Sorcha says, no one’s life is really as perfect as it seems… and I should have realised, I’m not the only one with secrets.

*****

Christina’s life has become so small. Any interaction with the outside world has become hard. However, all she has to do is press a button and she potentially becomes a part of a group that aims to promote friendship and female empowerment. It also puts her into the path of leader, Sorcha – someone Christina is very eager to meet. 

Having previously read The Liar’s Daughter, I was excited to have the opportunity to be part of the blog tour for Claire Allan’s latest novel, The Affair. 

Told from the point of view of mostly Christina and Sorcha, the plot for this novel takes no time at all in plunging the reader into the intrigue surrounding these ladies. 

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Book Review: The Art of Murder by Fiona Walker

I’m pleased to be welcoming Fiona Walker to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Art of Murder.

Welcome to the beautiful English village of Inkbury. Tucked deep in the North Wessex Downs, its only claim to fame is the picturesque riverside that once appeared in a Richard Curtis movie. That is, until the murder…

Former stand-up comic Juno Mulligan has been suffering a serious sense-of-humour failure. Not only has she lost the love of her life, but she’s having to relocate to the (admittedly idyllic) village of Inkbury to watch out for her elderly mother, who she’s genuinely worried might be marrying a wife-killer.

She hopes that her old friend, disgraced-journalist-turned-novelist Phoebe Fredericks can help her crack the case of whether her mother’s perma-tanned, iceberg-smiled, three-times-a-widower fiancé is hiding a murderous past.

But before they have a chance, the local art dealer washes up distinctly dead in the village’s famous river. His lover is in the frame, but Juno and Phoebe suspect that there is a deeper secret… One that relates to Phoebe’s own past and Juno’s present.

Will the unofficial Village Detective Agency solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? In sleepy Inkbury, as they soon discover, living one’s best midlife can be murder.

*****

Phoebe wants to be left alone, away from all the people who cancelled her and the need to keep up conversation. She finds the characters of the novels she writes far better company.

However, when old acquaintance and ex comedian Juno moves back to the area, she gives Phoebe no choice but to re-engage with the world, especially when they have a murder to solve.

Although Fiona Walker has mentioned on Novel Kicks before, for reasons I can’t understand, this is the first of her books I have read. I know, the shame. I loved the idea of her latest novel, The Art of Murder and was honoured to be invited into the blog tour.

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Book Review: A New Dawn at Owl’s Lodge by Jessica Redland

It’s a pleasure to be welcoming Jessica Redland back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her new novel, A New Dawn at Owl’s Lodge.

Could one chance meeting change your life forever?

Zara is at a crossroads in life. While she adores her job as a producer’s assistant working on hit TV shows, travelling around the country means she doesn’t truly feel that she has a home. With a fractured relationship with her family and unrequited love weighing heavily on her heart, she is torn about what her next step in life should be…

Snowy is hiding from the world. He’s devoted his life to home schooling his young son and caring for sick owls at his home, Owl’s Lodge, deep in the Yorkshire Wolds countryside. While he’s passionate about both, it’s a lonely existence and he’s starting to question his decisions. But how do you step back into a world you’ve pushed away for years…?

When Zara brings an injured owl to Owl’s Lodge, its frosty, reclusive owner is far from welcoming. Despite hostilities, there’s a connection that neither could ever have prepared themselves for. As they discover a shared passion, a new friendship blossoms, but both Zara and Snowy are used to shutting people out.

Can they both find the courage to open up and the strength to move on from their pasts? And what could this mean for their future happiness?

Escape to the world of Bumblebee Barn and Hedgehog Hollow with MILLION-COPY BESTSELLER Jessica Redland for this brand new feel-good romance of family, friendship and hope.

*****

As far as family goes, Zara has mostly felt invisible. However, she likes her job, has great friends. OK, so she’s in love with one of them, but she gets by. 

When her job puts her into the path of Snowy, things have the potential to become even more complicated. 

Things aren’t that simple for Snowy either. His past is forever present and he’s stuck. Can he and Zara find a new life together? 

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Book Review: Her Husband’s Lie by Amanda Reynolds

I’m excited to be welcoming Amanda Reynolds back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Her Husband’s Lie.

She thought she trusted her husband with her life; but a lot can happen in a week…

Handsome doctor Matthew Delaney and his wife Nicole have a perfect life. So when Matthew suddenly vanishes, Nicole is in shock.

As Nicole searches for answers, she uncovers a trail of deceit leading straight to the mysterious Glasshouse – a staggering palatial home constructed out of cut glass and icy granite, clinging to the hillside in a gravity defying show of power and wealth.

But the more Nicole learns about the Glasshouse and all its secrets, the more she begins to doubt her husband. Matthew’s words before he disappeared were so reassuring, but now they are simply chilling…

‘Trust me, Nic, I’ll fix this.’

*****

Nicole holds on tight to the life she has. Not surprising when she’s had various health issues, physical and mental. She adores her husband, Matthew and their daughter, Lilly. When money worries threaten the family, Matthew suggests he fake his death, Then, a few days later, her husband disappears. Nicole can only think one thing, has he gone through with it?

Having previously read The Screenwriter, I am a big fan of Amanda Reynolds so I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for Her Husband’s Lie.

Told from the point of view of Nicole and Matthew’s sister, Grace, it’s not long after starting that the reader is thrown into the mystery where there are twists and turns a plenty. The tension and suspense is built so well that it was very easy for me to get engrossed. The author does a really good job at throwing suspicion on everyone and I didn’t see the end coming.

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Book Extract: Whispers Through The Canvas by K.J. McGillick

I’m very pleased to be welcoming K.J. McGillick back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for Whispers Through The Canvas.

Murder… Across The Fractured Corridors of Time.

Plunged into a centuries-old conspiracy, unconventional art historian Rowan Southeil must race against time to stop an ancient evil from rewriting history. When a young artist is murdered in a chilling echo of medieval violence, Rowan finds herself drawn to a seemingly unrelated clue – a 16th-century painting drenched in arcane symbols. Aided by the victim’s haunting presence, Rowan delves into the painting’s mysterious past, uncovering a dark conspiracy that stretches back generations.

Teaming up with the pragmatic Detective Lancaster, the intuitive Rowan follows a daring journey through time, from the storied halls of 16th-century Tudor London to the secretive 17th-century Vatican. As she awakens powerful elemental forces within herself, Rowan must decipher the painting’s secrets – and the connection to the medieval-style murder – before Lev Rubilov, a dark centuries-old occultist, can harness its magic to rewrite history and restore a twisted vision of the past.

For fans of genre-blending thrillers like A Discovery of Witches and Outlander, this captivating novel weaves together mystery, the supernatural, and high-stakes time travel in a race against the clock to stop an ancient evil. Whispers Through The Canvas is a crime story, filled with action and adventure, within a historical fantasy milieu. If you love kick-ass heroines who have a bit of life experience and walk on the wild side of magic, this book is for you.

 

K.J. McGillick has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy. 

 

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

 

“I would go out on a limb and say this wasn’t meant for public display. It would invite too much speculation. Whereas Tudor portraits functioned as propaganda, someone commissioned this for discreet viewing.”

Moving closer, I scrutinized the artist’s technique. “If Teerlinc indeed painted this, it’s exceptionally rare. She seldom ventured into full portraits.”

As I prepared to take another step forward, my movement halted abruptly when a subtle blue spark crackled across the painting. Was it a warning attempting to ward me off? Or an invitation to intrigue me further?

“I’m utterly captivated by the enigmatic subject of this portrait,” I murmured. “Observe how masterfully the artist captures her confidence, her poise. And let me draw your attention to her attire, which initially suggests an affiliation with the innermost circles of the royal court.

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NK Chats To… Eliza J Scott

Hello Eliza. Thank you so much for including Novel Kicks on the blog tour for your new novel. Can you tell me about Finding Love in Micklewick Bay and what inspired it?

Well, it’s book three in the Welcome to Micklewick Bay series and it tells Stella’s story. Living in the pretty seaside town of Micklewick Bay, successful barrister Stella Hutton is part of a fiercely loyal group of five friends who have stuck together through thick and thin. She’s never known her father; he left her mum when he found out she was expecting his child. From the moment Stella was born her mother instilled in her that she should be self-reliant, avoid relationships at all costs and, most importantly, keep men at arm’s length! Stella has followed this to the letter, until the tall, dark and extremely handsome Alex Bainbridge arrives in town and, much to her frustration, sets her heart fluttering in a way she’s never experienced before.

While she’s tackling these unfamiliar emotions, Stella becomes determined to find her long-lost father, but her discoveries quickly make her wish she’d left well alone.

 

What songs would make up a playlist for this book?

This really made me think! I’d say the following mix of songs that celebrate kick-ass women, friendship and love-at-first-sight would definitely make up part of a playlist:

Salute – Little Mix

Ain’t Your Mama – Jennifer Lopez

Independent Woman – Kelly Clarkson

Gift of a Friend – Demi Levato

Friends – Meghan Trainor

Love at First Sight – Kylie Minogue

You Had Me At Hello – Kenny Chesney

 

Which authors do you admire?

Ooh, this is a tricky one as there are so many wonderful authors out there. I’d have to start off with Milly Johnson, Cathy Bramley, Jessica Redland, Sharon Booth, Heidi Swain, Julie Caplin, Karen Swan, Veronica Henry and Daisy James. I’m also a fan of historical fiction and love Clare Marchant, Jenni Keer (I’ve just read The Legacy of Halesham Hall and it’s fabulous!), Callie Langridge, Hilary Mantel and Kate Mosse. Oh, goodness, I could go on forever but I’d better stop there!

 

Which book of yours is your favourite and why?

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Book Spotlight: Shoot Your Shot by Fiona Embers

I’m happy to be shining a spotlight on Shoot Your Shot, the latest novel by Fiona Embers.

Roxie Nowak is a former basketball player, with a great job in tech and her own swanky place. She doesn’t date, because what’s the point? Men always want someone petite, pillowy, and pastel—everything that Roxie isn’t—so she sticks to casual hookups, and life is good.

As a hot lawyer and a romantic to boot, Chris Dunn should have no trouble finding love. But a gaping hole at his center, left by childhood hurts, prevents him from having the type of relationship he seeks. He knew Roxie years ago, when her basketball career ended, and she inspired him to take the reins to his career.

When Chris moves back to town and into Roxie’s building, their friendship and mutual attraction deepen. They finally give in with blinding intensity, unaware just how combustible the mix of her avoidance and his insecurity can be—until one vindictive ex-lover lights a match.

 

Shoot Your Shot is book one in the Mad City Moments series. Click here to buy. 

 

About Fiona Embers –

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A Moment With… Juliet Greenwood

I’m pleased to be welcoming Juliet Greenwood to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, The Secret Daughter of Venice.

The paper is stiff and brittle with age as Kate unfolds it with trembling hands. She gasps at the pencil sketch of a rippling waterway, lined by tall buildings, curving towards the dome of a cathedral. She feels a connection deep in her heart. Venice.

England, 1941. When Kate Arden discovers a secret stash of drawings hidden in the pages of an old volume of poetry given to her as a baby, her breath catches. All her life, she has felt like an outsider in her aristocratic adoptive family, who refuse to answer any questions about her past. But the drawings spark a forgotten memory: a long journey by boat… warm arms that held her tight, and then let go.

Could these pictures unlock the secret of who she is? Why her mother left her? With war raging around the continent, she will brave everything to find out…

A gripping, emotional historical novel of love and art that will captivate fans of The Venice Sketchbook, The Woman on the Bridge and The Nightingale.

 

There’s a chance to win a signed copy of The Secret Daughter of Venice below but first, Juliet talks to us about the inspiration behind her novel. 

 

Finding Venice

The inspiration for The Secret Daughter of Venice came from my two visits to Venice. The first was when I was ten. It was part of a family holiday in an ancient VW campervan that had a habit of breaking down at inopportune moments, but managed to stagger to the campsite just outside the city without steam pouring ominously from the engine. It’s strange looking at those old photographs now. The memories of St Mark’s Square and travelling through the canals on a gondola are as vivid as if they were yesterday. That visit was just a few hours, but it always made me want to visit again.

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Book Extract: Friends For Life by Liz Murphy

I’m pleased to be welcoming Liz Murphy to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Friends for Life.

Kate, Rose and Pascalle are thrown together because they share one experience – they have each lost their husbands. Shocked and bewildered, all three try to work out what it means to be suddenly alone with no partner, no security and their entire future wiped out.

If that wasn’t enough, they are also faced with family conflict, elderly parents, and a support network that turns out to be sadly lacking. And for each woman, secrets from the past threaten to derail their attempts to move on.

*On the surface, Kate’s husband Jason was fun-loving and generous. Only she knows differently. In the months after his death, her attempts to rid her life of the things that trigger bad memories are also driving her son away. By keeping Jason’s secret is she in danger of losing her son as well?

*Rose and Richard were soul mates. Married straight out of university, they shared a career, a business and a love of the good life. Childless, they lived only for each other, or so Rose thought. That all changed the night Richard was killed in a car crash.

*Once spirited, vibrant and flamboyantly French, Pascalle is now a grey shadow of herself. Her husband Trevor’s death has left her so emotionally paralysed, she can’t accept that he’s gone. Then her daughter offers her a chance to create a new life for herself. But will past secrets emerge to hinder her decision?

We follow Kate and Rose through their first year without their husbands. As their friendship with Pascalle grows they encourage each other to be brave, to take control of their lives, and to begin to heal. They draw on past mistakes to help each other build new relationships with their families. And by trusting each other, they realise that true friendship can point the way to a new future.

 

Liz has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy it. 

Content warning: mentions of cancer.

 

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

 

Kate, Rose and Pascalle met at a drinks party where they were reluctant guests. All three have been struggling to cope with the deaths of their husbands, and each sees in the other women who understand exactly what they’re going through. Their developing friendship has helped Pascalle to finally come to terms with the loss of her Trevor. Tonight, she’s having a night out with Kate and Rose to celebrate their birthdays and as she’s getting ready fun Pascalle is starting to emerge…

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Novel Kicks Book Club: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

April Showers bring May Flowers and I’m so happy to be saying hello to May and this month’s book. 

I’ve been hearing so much about the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and well, it’s about time I read it. I’ll be reading book one in the series but if you’ve read any of the other novels in the series, I’d love to hear your thoughts.*

As usual, our book club is open to all whether you’ll be reading along with me or have already read the novel and want to discuss it. The best part is that you can join the conversation from the comfort of your sofa. You don’t even have to change out of your pyjamas if you don’t want to.

I’ve put a question in the comments section to kick off discussion and I am looking forward to seeing you there.

 

About A Court of Thorns and Roses – 

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Book Review: The Girls Next Door by Anita Waller

GirlsnextdoorPlease join me in welcoming Anita Waller to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Girls Next Door.

They keep each other’s secrets. They hide each other’s lies.

They were destined to be best friends. The four girls – all born that same hot summer. There was even a newspaper article after they were born. They said there must be something in the water on Larkspur Close. They predicted a safe and happy life for them all…

More than thirty years later, it’s more than an unbreakable friendship – it’s more like a sisterhood. It’s the girls who Jess reaches out to because she’s worried about her grandparents who’ve raised her since her mother disappeared, who Erin tells about her new business idea, who Melissa calls to say she’s desperate to escape her toxic job.

But then Chantelle messages saying she’s discovered her husband is having an affair. And everything changes.

Because then her husband is found dead… And only a few people knew about his secret.

Is it just a terrible accident? Or will someone stop at nothing to keep the girls of Larkspur Close safe and happy?

*****

Four girls, growing up on the same street, both months apart. They were destined to be friends, to become a sisterhood. They have each other’s backs.

With this bond comes secrets, some of which began before they were born. When murder comes into their lives, who is doing all they can to keep these four girls happy and is the murderer closer than they think?

One of the great things about running this blog is the chance to discover new authors and Anita Waller is one such example for me. I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss her books until now. I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for The Girls Next Door.

There is a calm to the beginning of this novel that sets a tone of uncertainty. I knew something was going to come along to disrupt the equilibrium – the lives of these four women who, on the surface, seem to have perfect lives.

Chantelle has three-year-old twins. These girls are her life. Yes, it’s taken a toil on her marriage but when she discovers the secret her husband, Andrew is keeping, she doesn’t know what her next step would be. When he unexpectedly dies in an accident, she has to face the unknown. I couldn’t help but feel empathy for Chantelle. Becoming a widow, especially with young children is a situation no-one wants to find themselves in and I felt that, under the circumstances, she was a strong, relatable character.

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Book Review: High Rise by Vanessa Lee

An eye-opening book set on the Australian East Coast a few years from now. None of us know exactly when the sea level rises will start to force change – whole families moving en masse away from their coastal communities – but we know it will happen eventually.

This book traces two intertwined families as they can no longer ignore the impact of storms, king tides and erratic weather on their beloved home.

Constant storms have already damaged Bombora’s coastline and no end is in sight. When rising tides force Vaga, the beloved beachfront restaurant, to finally close it is seen as a grim omen. Community rifts deepen, old friends clash, and some flee the idyllic suburb for safer ground, while others stand firm, defying the increasingly erratic weather.

Mick, a charismatic local figure, faces a family crisis as he grapples with the impending threat. A chance encounter with Renata, an old schoolmate, and her son Guil, a local surfer, forges an improbable alliance. As a menacing storm looms on the horizon, Mick and Guil rally Guil’s surfer friends to form a ragtag “tinnie army.” When the tempest strikes with unrelenting force, it triggers a chain of events that will alter their lives forever.

*****

Bombora, once an idyllic seaside haven for surfers and the wealthy is now threatened by the changing weather and the ever increasing threat of climate change. Some decide to leave for safer ground but for the ones that choose to stay, life will never be the same.

When I was offered the chance to receive a copy of High Rise by Vanessa Lee to review, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The story is told from the point of view of multiple characters. Mick, a local businessman is doing all he can to hold on, even when his wife and children want to move away. I felt quite sorry for him as his heart seemed to be in the right place. I’m not sure what I would do in his position.

I did feel empathy for his wife, Sam. She has built her life around her husband’s business. However, when people start to move away, her life becomes very empty.

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NK Chats To… Margaret Amatt

Margaret Amatt Hello Margaret. Thank you so much for joining me and inviting Novel Kicks onto your blog tour. Can you tell me about your novel, Starting Over at the Crafty Bee Barn and what inspired it? 

Hi! The Crafty Bee story was inspired by an evening when I was looking at books on Amazon – for a change! – and I noticed how popular books about beekeepers were. It was at the same time that a friend of mine was talking about The Sewing Bee. Somehow the two ideas blended in my head and I though up the name Crafty Bee Barn. I wanted to do something that blended beekeeping and crafts. And the story developed from there.

 

What are the challenges you found when writing Starting Over at the Crafty Bee Barn?

This book had quite a few challenges. Probably the biggest issue was Lilah’s backstory. She’s had a tough upbringing and I wanted that to come through in the story without making it too dark, but at the same time not trivialising it or brushing over it. Aidan was also a challenge. He’s quite a gruff character who’s annoyed with himself for his past mistakes but I still needed to make him loveable and relatable.

 

What songs would make up a playlist for your book?

I always find this question really hard. I think I’ll have to leave it to someone else to choose after they’ve read it because I really don’t have a clue!!

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

This will probably sound very strange to most people but I like the name Demeter. I honestly have no idea why but I just love the sound of it!

 

Any other advice for aspiring writers? 

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