The Girl He Used to Know by Tracy Garvis Graves / Blog Tour

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracy Garvis Graves

 

Publisher: Trapeze 42170561._sy475_

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

Rating: four-stars

 

In the early 1990s, Annika and Jonathan were together at the University. They got to know each other at the chess club – a place where Annika felt relatively safe. She used to get anxious in social situations and chess club felt always the same and she didn’t have to engage into conversations. One day she’s supposed to play against Jonathan, and he starts to see her in a different light than others. They eventually start dating and everything runs smoothly, until one day when something happens that tears them apart.Fast forward ten years and Annika lives in Chicago, working her dream job at the library. Shopping at a grocery store, she runs into Jonathan and slowly they start to get to know each other again. But will they be able to sort the past out? To move on? 

I adored Annika and I loved to see her growing, finding herself and accepting herself. She is altruistic, kind and honest, and maybe she doesn’t understand the world around her completely, but she knows what falling in love is. The wonderfully blunt observations of hers are so true to life and genuine, she was simply strong, brave and loyal. Her best friend Janice is another winner in this story, the kind of bad ass best friend that we all need in our lives, and I loved her patience with Annika, the way she explained her the world and it was so great to finally see a girl supporting another girl, and not bringing her down.

The story is narrated by Annika and Jonathan and it worked really well in this book, as we get two points of view, often on the same situation, and it gives us a really great insight into how their minds worked and what made them tick. Each chapter has a date but I must admit that I only cottoned on why it is so important at the end of the story, when THIS happened. Gah. I really didn’t see it coming and while I also didn’t find it necessary, I was OK with it. We watch their love unfolding, and I must say this feeling was so pure and raw and genuine, and I liked it so much because they were not playing games, they simply followed their instincts and feelings – it was so different to all the will they/won’t they stories, felt like a breath of fresh air. Although I must admit that I wasn’t so sure of Jonathan’s feelings, let me explain why – we were all the time left with a feeling that it was Annika’s fault that they broke up with each other, and for me Jonathan was fully accepting this, however, when it was eventually revealed what has happened it became clear that it was as much his as Annika’s fault, and he let her blame herself all the time, and I simply didn’t find it brilliant. For me he was like yes, ok, let’s try again because it suits me and I forgive you for what has happened. And it really seemed Annika has invested much more in the relationship, that she loved him more. But please, don’t get me wrong here, he WAS a loving, caring person and Annika tried new things with him, she was founding her courage with him – but it was really Annika that made the story for me.

The writing style is flowing and it feels so lyric and Annika’s voice is so special and distinctive, with all her feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and emotions brilliantly captured by the author. It was as if the author has got into her characters’ heads and I found myself engrossed in their lives. I would only like the end not to feel so rushed and abrupt after everything that has happened in the book.

“The Girl He Used to Know” is a story about taking your life in your own hand, compelling and sensitive. It was so much more than a second chance romance, there was much more depth to it and it touched upon many serious issues but in an accessible, gentle way. A captivating tale of love and acceptance – truly recommended.

 

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Lies We Tell Mothers by Suzy K. Quinn

Lies We Tell Mothers by Suzy K. Quinn

 

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing46009806._sy475_

Publishing Date: 1st August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 247

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Bestselling author of the Bad Mother books Suzy K Quinn reveals the truth behind the lies we tell mothers, one sleepless night at a time.

Suzy and Demi were carefree twenty-somethings. They had fun! They didn’t have responsibilities! And then they decided to have a baby. Goodbye lazy weekends, hello sleepless nights, arguments and an addiction to industrial-strength hot chocolate.

In the midst of this major life change, Suzy discovered that most parenting advice should be taken with a pinch of salt—or ten.

For example:

#1 Lie—Just go with your mother’s instinct. But what if your instinct is telling you to hide under the stairs?

#10 Lie—Your new baby will tell you what it needs. Not if it can’t talk it won’t.

#23 Lie—You should never bribe your children. You will ALWAYS bribe your children.

Follow Suzy on the ultimate make-over—from nervous-wreck new mother to happy families. In this hilarious and refreshingly honest account for parents who prefer the realistic to the utopian, Suzy debunks the myths and takes us all along for the (bumpy) ride.

Rating: four-stars

 

Even though my daughter is already 7 years old I still can remember her baby time and how much of a shock it was for me. You can go to as many preparation courses and whatevers as you want but nobody will prepare you for this what’s really to come when the baby arrives. And because lately the mother – and parenthood books are showing that I was not the only one who experienced the first times with their own babies not feeling like a natural Mother Nature, I love reading them. And this book would probably be the one that I would have written if I had any writing talent.

The book is told through chapters dedicated to lies that are usually told mothers, tackling all the issues in a very direct, honest way. I’ve recognized many of those lies, oh yes I did… I’ve read one review totally slashing this book and I think, of course there are people who would give anything for sleepless nights and of course children are blessing but we can’t take everything so seriously, right? Even though I have a baby, I am still me, a person, a human being with ups and downs, and this book shows them all – it’s so simple.

I adored Demi and his relaxed attitude. Ma own husband maybe wasn’t as relaxed but he showed that he’s a real man in those hard times and I will owe him for ever.

It was funny, relatable, bitter – sweet and brutally honest, the author really isn’t afraid of writing how it is. I laughed, I cringed but most of all, I knew how the author felt. She delivers the difference between the expectations of being pregnant and imagining things and the brutal reality in a light, humorous and sarcastic way. But no matter how hard it is, it WILL get better and I would never had it any other way – and this is also the message in this book. Recommended!

The Escape Room by MeganGoldin / Blog Tour

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

 

Publisher: Trapeze 44293962._sy475_

Publishing Date: 25th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.

In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.

When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.

Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on the precipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one more final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?

Rating:  four-stars

 

Four co – workers from a high financial firm in Wall Street are summoned to a meeting that is supposed to be a team building exercise, a challenge that they’ve been told is compulsory. Even though it’s after hours and they have their own plans they actually know that something like “after hours” doesn’t exist in their world and so they all show up. So now they are all about to enter an elevator that in a matter of seconds is going to turn into an escape room, but not an ordinary one. Locked there over the next few days they are slowly working out why they are here but still have no idea who has entrapped them.

The author has created really well – developed characters, with Sam, Sylvie, Jules and Vincent being your typical Wall Street financiers, even if they’re not likeable characters. In fact, they are simply awful. They’re intelligent and hardworking, and while those are not bad things, they’re also ruthless, selfish, greedy and liars. They always put work first, no matter what’s happening in their private lives and they can’t, in fact, really make a use of their luxury apartments because they don’t have time, so sucked by the adrenaline that comes from making those billion – dollar deals. I didn’t like them, but I liked that we were slowly allowed into their lives and learn why it is them that found themselves in the escape room, as the story is alternating between the present day chapters in the elevator and past, told by Sarah Hall, a former employee in the same firm as our four Wall Street wolves.

Slowly we get to learn who is controlling the elevator and why and I really liked this reveal – the author has managed to outmanoeuvre us and even though I had my suspicions, they seemed impossible. The final confrontation is made impossible by the author and I think that maybe I would like to have it? But then the end should be totally different, and here I think that maybe, just maybe, Megan Goldin has simply chosen the easier way to finish the book. Personally I think that I’d rather see the characters somewhere else, held accountable for what they’ve done.

My copy was unfortunately almost impossible to read and I thought I will have to simply put it down but I preserved, as the plot kept me interested, and then I discovered what it was – all the “fi” and “fl” were missing, and it took me some pages to understand that “y” means “fly”, “rm” means “firm” and “gure” means “figure” (figure. Really. I think that figure was every second word in this book. Everybody has been “figuring” something all the time and I thought I’m going to start to shout when I see this word once more). I know it’s not the author’s fault but when I receive a review copy I’d rather expect it to be readable.

It was a read with a difference, and as much as mostly it seemed unrealistic, I totally enjoyed it and I’ve read the first half in two hours – would read further but life got in the way. It was provocative, but also thought – provoking and I think you simply have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy this novel – then it’s going to keep you glued to the pages.The author has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of distrust, the toxic environment and ghosting in the world where money and power is everything, and she described all those power games in breathtaking way. The feeling of anticipation and something hanging in the air (and no, I don’t mind the elevator) is ever – present, and the events that start as a small snowball begin to take the size of an avalanche. Megan Goldin has created a novel that brings to life the real world of corporate finance, a world that I never could be a part of, full of greed, lies and secrets. Highly recommended!

 

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Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn / Blog Tour

Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster43537210

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 455

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The brand new novel from Holly Hepburn, author of A Year at the Star and Sixpence, perfect for all fans of Cathy Bramley and Jenny Colgan.

Roaring fires, cosy nooks and friendly locals, welcome back to the perfect village pub… 
It’s September and the new season is bringing change to the village of Little Monkham. Nessie has moved in with the lovely Owen and his son Luke, leaving her sister Sam next door in their renovated pub, the Star and Sixpence. But is all change for the good? Sam and Joss have gone their separate ways and he’s left Little Monkham for good.
New chef Gabriel Santiago is causing a flutter among the women of the village but Sam is determined not to make the same mistake again and keeps things strictly business between them. But an inconvenient attraction to Gabe is the least of Sam’s worries when an unexpected visitor arrives at the Star and Sixpence. Who is Laurie Marsh and what does he want from the sisters?

Rating: five-stars

 

“Last Orders at the Star and Sixpence” is the follow up to “A Year at the Star and Sixpence” and covers a year in the lives of Nessie and Sam. It takes us back to Little Monham and the lovely, atmospheric village pub. Nessie has moved in with Owen and Sam is staying at the pub but not alone, as the sisters have just hired the Michelin star chef Gabe. Nessie’s love life is stabilized but Sam’s not, and what with Gabe, who’s not only the top notch chef but is incredibly handsome, and lives in the pub as well… But after what has happened with Joss, Sam is cautious – or isn’t she? The sisters also discover a new member of the family – but is he the one he claims to be?

I loved being back in Little Monkham, with all the quirky, warm characters, it was great to see how they were getting on and what has changed for them. There were some better changes, there were some heart – breaking moments for them, but they were written in a way that I was experiencing it all together with them. I loved Nessie and Sam’s closeness and it was so sad to watch them experiencing all the things, not being able to open to each other when they went through really tough times. Gabe is not the only new character in the book, but in comparison to the other one he was absolutely adorable and I liked him from the word go, with him being a little snippy but nevertheless always fair and honest – which I can’t say about the other character, and I’m sure he’s going to make you pretty suspicious, just like me.
The community spirit felt even stronger this time, as the girls settled in the village, all rallying around each other – it was so heart – warming and nice to see.

The pub goes from strength to strength (just like Holly’s writing and storytelling!), it’s like a character of its own, and I loved all the events the two sisters were organizing. The pub itself was, again, so inviting, a lovely, cosy place to spend time, and it was even better at the end when Sam adopted a dog.

It was a wonderful, cosy and comfortable read – simple like that. Holly Hepburn has managed to capture the lovely atmosphere and the overall feeling of this book is so uplifting, and not all authors can write like this – there was this “something” that is so difficult to describe but that makes the makes outstanding and perfect. This time it was a real roller – coaster journey full of emotions, touching upon so many poignant, difficult but also much lighter issues – family, friendship, grief, opening to each other, lies and secrets, and this all wrapped up in vivid, rich descriptions. Holly has amazing way with words, and she captured all of the emotions in such a way that I suffered and enjoyed together with the characters. And the addition of Gabe was a perfect idea, though don’t read the book when you’re on a diet – his food sounded delicious! A gorgeous summer read – highly recommended!

 

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The Holiday by T.M. Logan / Blog Tour

The Holiday by T.M. Logan

 

Publisher: Zaffre41973359._sy475_

Publishing Date: 25th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 496

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Seven days. Three families. One killer.

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday – a group of families enjoying a week together in the sun. Four women who have been best friends for as long as they can remember making the most of a luxurious villa in the south of France.

But Kate has a secret: her husband is having an affair. And a week away might just be the perfect opportunity to get the proof she needs – to catch him in the act once and for all. Because she suspects the other woman is one of her two best friends.

One of them is working against her, willing to sacrifice years of friendship to destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined . . .

Because someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

my-review

 

Kate, Jennifer, Rowan and Izzy have been friends for years and they try to meet at least once a year – now, of course, with husbands and children. This summer they decide to have one week together in the sun of the south of France – it’s going to be the perfect holiday. However, things turn wrong right at the beginning, when Kate finds secret messages on her husband’s phone and is convinced that he’s having an affair, and not with everyone but with one of her best friends. But which one?

This book is a slow – burner, but the author really allows us to get to know the characters in the present and the dynamics between them, in both their relationships and friendship. The group of characters was really colourful. They were absolutely not likeable, uninspiring and a bit too wooden but I was intrigued to see who and why, and every chapter, every new information, made me even more confused, casting doubts on all of Kate’s friends and her as well. I liked the way the author has messed with my mind and my opinions. They all couldn’t be more different, and every one of them seemed to have a secret, something to hide.
Kate is the main narrator. She’ a forensic worker though it was really hard to say with the way she way thinking, suspecting her husband of having an affair, and mostly I just wanted to roll my eyes at her. Who wouldn’t confront their partner immediately, instead of jumping to conclusions and changing their minds constantly, not knowing what is true and what is not – but yes, without her acting that way the story wouldn’t develop like this.
We are also introduced to Kate’s husband Sean, their sixteen – year – old daughter Lucy and nine – year old son David. Then there is full – time mum Jennifer and her husband, counsellor, Alistair and their two teenage sons Jake and Ethan; highly successful Rowan, her husband Russ, who is a banker and their five – year – old very spoiled Odette; and finally, a free spirit and traveller Izzy, who comes alone. With so many characters it was really difficult to feel invested in the story and I’d love to have more background information about them, I knew nothing about their previous friendship.

There were plenty of twists and turns happening throughout the seven days but it took a long time until we arrived at the final surprise and, to be totally honest, I was a little tired with waiting for it – as it’s rather a huge book, I found it simply too late and too little. And well, it didn’t blow me as much as I hoped. Yes, I get it, it couldn’t be written differently and the six days were a slow – burning induction to the great reveal, nevertheless I think there were too many things being told and happening that a) made the things not significant or b) made the reveal not significant. The story was told mainly from Kate’s point of view but it was intertwined with different points of view as well and, honestly, I eventually wasn’t sure which and whose story is important for the development of the plot. It was truly frustrating to be given clues, tips and red herrings, yet we had Kate going in circles about something that, in comparison to what was happening, seemed so unimportant.

What I absolutely adored was the feeling of uncertainty – I had a feeling something is hanging over me all the time I was reading. The author has captured the tension and the atmosphere in the best possible way, I think I haven’t read a book like this before when this creepy feeling of something really bad going to happen was so overwhelming and giving me goose bumps. The oh so innocent mentions of the dangerous neighbourhood, the unstable moods of some of the characters, they were so strongly indicating that really something wrong is awaiting us soon, but we don’t know what it is and when it’s going to happen – I loved this aspect of this story. Altogether, “The Holiday” was a story about secrets, lies, broken promises and hopes and dysfunctional families, about how far you’d go and sacrifice yourself for your family – a great holiday read, though I wouldn’t take it with me if I were to spend it with friends, just saying.

 

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Honeymoon for One by Frankie Collins

Honeymoon for One by Frankie Collins

 

Publisher: Boldwood Books 46361238._sy475_

Publishing Date: 6th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 344

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When disaster strikes, paradise calls…
As a published novelist, Lila Rose has been writing about fictional weddings all her life. But disaster strikes on her own big day when she hears her philandering fiancé, Daniel whispering sweet nothings to someone else.

With her dream day shattered, all Lila wants to do is run and hide, so she decides to fly solo on her own honeymoon.

When Daniel arrives in the resort with his new squeeze, Lila strikes up a ‘showmance’ with hot new movie star, Freddie Bianchi. Freddie is perfect for the part and Lila soon relaxes into her leading lady role.

But as truth starts to merge with fiction, could real love be in the air?

A sizzling holiday romance, perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Ranald’s Sorry Not Sorry.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Lila Rose is a romantic comedy author and she knows what her readers expect from her – happy ending of course, so she always gives them what they want. She’s planned so many weddings in her books that she knows well how her own should look like, without all the pitfalls and troubles her characters experience. However, what she hasn’t counted on was hearing her husband – to – be Daniel and her friend Eva confessing their love on the day Lila and Daniel are supposed to get married.
Lila does a runner, flying off on honeymoon on her own. However, San Valentino is supposed to be about coupled and for couples only, so she can’t even get a massage on her own. But can Lila find happiness, write her book and recuperate, when there is a man sharing her villa, and several others make an unwelcome appearance?

I immediately knew I have to read this book – Frankie Collins is, in fact, Portia McIntosh, and I love her stories, so there was no way that I was missing out on “Honeymoon for One”. And it absolutely lived up to my expectations, the book is like all the other ones that I fell in love with, full of brilliant, quirky characters and fabulous humour. I simply loved it, I think there was not a thing that I can complain about – not that I want to! It made me smile, it made me laugh, it had me cringe with embarrassment, shortly – it kept me entertained and this is what I needed so much at the moment.

The setting was gorgeous, the descriptions of the island were so vivid, bringing all the places to life – it was actually so brilliantly and realistically described that I wanted to have a look at Google and see if it actually exists.. There were some mentions of delicious, Italian food that made me hungry – don’t read it on an empty stomach! But as much as all the things were fabulous, those were the characters that made the book so, so adorably wonderful. I think I shouldn’t start on Freddie because I won’t stop swooning over him, the sort of hero you dream of, period. Ali was hilarious, I’m not sure how I was imagining a literary agent but for sure not like this, and I loved her fierce loyalty to Lila and simply, the way she was. Lila herself was my kind of girl, funny and sharp but also vulnerable. I couldn’t believe Eva and Daniel’s lack of shame, especially Eva’s, but also the way Daniel talked with Lila made me want to bang his head on the wall – I felt very protective of Lila, oh yes. Actually, all the other characters, no matter how background ones they were, were absolutely brilliant, full of personalities, adding so much meaning and fun to the whole story.

The writing style is flowing. It is warm and chatty and full of sarcasm and brilliant one – liners, and the banter between the characters is what makes it so outstanding. And some of the twists in the plot made me go “whaaaaaaat”, surprising and unexpected, which is only a huge bonus.

There is sun, heat, sea, delicious food, idyllic location, some incredibly hilarious things happening, the best banter between the well developed characters and hot romance mixed with poignant moments and while it might not be a book that is going to stay with for ever, I loved it and everything that happened between the covers. It was like a welcoming embrace, a great warm hug giving you comfort, a breath of fresh air, I think one of the author’s best books. Now I only need a porn star martini. Highly recommended! (The book. Not necessary martini. Though why not?)

 

The Icing on the Cake by Cressida McLaughlin

The Icing on the Cake by Cressida McLaughlin

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 51cxfwg0w3l

Publishing Date: 25th July 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus #4

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 100

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Part Four of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Can Charlie pull off the perfect showstopper?
Charlie has fallen in love with Porthgolow village and they adore her vintage bus, now getting a new lease of life as the best place to have a Cornish Cream tea in the whole of Cornwall. Charlie and her bus have heralded a new start for Porthgolow too, but the one fly in the ointment is Daniel Harper who is still resisting the charms of Charlie and her bus. Can Charlie bake her way into his heart or is it time to admit that her Cornish dream has got a soggy bottom?

Rating: four-stars

 

So, the highly anticipated final part of the brilliant series The Cornish Cream Tea Bus by Cressida McLaughlin has finally arrived. I loved the series, written in such a gorgeous, inviting and warm way, and Cressida McLaughling had me glued to the pages, enjoying the stories, characters and fabulous setting. And delicious, mouth – watering food, mmm.

 This part brilliantly ties up all the loose ends and everything is beautifully – if a bit too rushed, for my liking – wrapped up. Charlie has been taken – and we together with her – on a real roller coaster journey full of emotions, feelings, ups and downs but she was so determined and ambitious that she really didn’t allow anything to stand in her way. However, before it happens, she has to solve some problems that part four throws her way, and really, the author keeps us in suspense till the very end. Charlie also seems to have learnt a lessons, there is no more wild jumping to conclusions and she was able to find the truth without blaming all people around her, and I so wanted to give her standing ovation for this. 

Porthgolow is a place that is going to stay with me for longer, Cressida McLaughlin has created a fictional world that I’d love to be a part of, together with the lovely, noisy gang of characters that pulled together to create another wonderful festival. The title of this final part, “The Icing of the Cake”, is simply perfect, as it’s a real icing on the cake, this lovely, heart – warming and uplifting read, full of characters that you love or love to hate, gorgeous setting and perfect plot. Highly recommended!