You Had Me at Merlot: Guest Post by Lisa Dickenson

So here we are, guys. Lisa Dickenson’s new novel is out and it’s gorgeous! (You can read my very gushing review here). BUT! Lisa sets her novel in the loveliest places all over the world and I always so wanted to hear how her research look like. You know, sun – bathing on the beach with a glass of prosecco or two, partying with all the celebrities… So Lisa has written a guest post about it, and I’m so very, very thankful! And thank you, Clara, for making it possible! And you, guys, sit back, put you feet high and enjoy!


Urgh, Christmas in New York, I hate my life.  Kidding!  Book writing is AWESOME!  Especially when you just ~happen~ to have set your latest book in another country…

                  For You Had Me at Merlot, my research was mainly in the form of spreading Italian holiday brochures out in front of me whilst drinking lots of wine and tapping away on my laptop.  But my next book, Mistletoe on 34th Street, I unknowingly researched before the novel was even a twinkle in my eye.

                  Shimmy your way back to 2010, when we were all six years younger; when Katy Perry was singing about Teenage Dreams, and Lady Gaga was walking about wearing bacon.  I was in New York City, soaking up the festive spirit following a year of travelling about the world with the man I now call Husband Phil.  On the last night – one week before Christmas Day – he popped the question.  We were all ready to head home and show off the sparkler to our friends and family, and then bam! – the next day the UK became snowbound, and we weren’t going anywhere.  The airports were closed, the trains were closed; most of Europe was closed.  I know, I know, NYC isn’t the worst place to be stranded at Christmas, especially when giddy from a recent engagement and a shit-load of mulled wine, but as the clock ticked towards the big day we couldn’t help but begin to wonder when we’d finally make it home.  At least I was with one of my favourite people in the world, right, holly-jolly Husband Phil?  Imagine if I was stranded at Christmas with the last people in the world I wanted to spend it with!

                  So that became the concept for Book 4, many years later, and it was only right to head back to the Big Apple for “research” – you know, see if it had changed, remind myself how tall the buildings are.  I returned in December 2015 and it was perfection, as New York always is, to me.  I re-accustomed myself with the sounds and the smells and the streets, and OH MY GOD ALL THE FOOD, and it made me so happy.  I can’t wait to travel to New York again with all of you this winter, when Mistletoe on 34th Street comes out.



Lisa Dickenson was born in the wrong body. She was definitely meant to be Beyoncé. Despite this hardship, she grew up in Devon attempting to write her own, completely copyright-infringing versions of Sweet Valley High, before giving Wales a go for university, and then London a go for the celeb-spotting potential. She’s now back in Devon, living beside the seaside with her husband and forcing cream teas down the mouths of anyone who’ll visit. She is sadly still not Beyonce. Lisa’s first novel, ‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’, won the Novelicious Debut of the Year award. Her second novel, ‘You Had Me at Merlot’, is out now.

You Had Me at Merlot by Lisa Dickenson

Hi there lovely reading people. Today I am so absolutely thrilled to be a part of Lisa Dickenson’s blog tour for her newest novel „You Had Me at Merlot„. I love Lisa, simple like that, and I am dreaming that I’m going to meet her one day and that perhaps then somehow I’ll become as funny as she is, but until then I always have her books :) I also have a guest post from Lisa about researching the places for her books, and you can find it here . Enjoy!


You Had Me at Merlot

by Lisa Dickenson


Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 16th June 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher,  thank you!.

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Literature, Contemporary

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback






Elle and Laurie are the last ones standing: they’re single, they’re not having babies any time soon and their weekends aren’t filled with joyful meetings about mortgages. For Elle, this is fine. She likes her independent life, but Laurie wants love and she wants it now.

So when Laurie begs Elle to come with her on a singles holiday to a beautiful vineyard in Tuscany, Elle is reluctant. She has no intention of swapping her perfectly lovely life for someone else’s idea of her Mr Perfect, but ten days under the Italian sun with her best friend and lashings of wine? How bad could that be?

Full of sultry summer nights, hilarious moments and plenty of adventure, You Had Me at Merlot will warm even the most cynical of hearts and have you believing in the magic of romance (and the power of a decent glass of wine).

Rating: 5/5


Guys, after being published in four parts, „You Had Me at Merlot” is finally out in paperback, in all its shiny glory, and it looks gorgeous! I still can remember how much joy it was for me to download each part to my kindle and escape for an hour or two to the sunny, full of scents Italy, but it was also incredible joy to eventually see it as a whole novel and re – read it. This book belongs to the highest category of funny, funny with a big F, tactful funny, hilariously funny, laughing out loud funny, making you cry with laughter funny. My kinda funny, absolutely.
And Lisa herself is one of the funniest, warmest person EVER. I often cry with laughter reading her one – liners on Twitter, so just imagine what’s she done to me writing a whole book. I was in stitches. Lisa has incredible way of creating FUN out of a very ordinary sentence and describing situations that could be dull in a most witty way, and inventing situations that had me shaking my head, kicking my legs, gasping, rolling, together with a very honest, belly – laugh.

The book introduces us to Elle. Elle is single, she enjoys being single in fact, she has a job that she loves and is good at and she hopes for a promotion soon. Elle’s best friend Laurie is also single but she starts thinking that perhaps it’s time to settle down. So Laurie, using many different arguments, persuades Elle to go on holiday with her. Tasting wine, driving Vespas, hot sun… And do not forget that it’s holidays for singles.
Elle isn’t thrilled but with Laurie’s persuading skills she soon finds herself on a plane to Italy. A very eventful plane. Of course, Elle is going to enjoy only wine, vespas and hot sun, she doesn’t believe in relationships, for sure not in a relationship with somebody that she knows only for few days and is going to leave this part of You Had Me at Merlot holidays for Laurie. On the other hand, holidays under the sun, with a glass of wine in one hand and best friend – it can’t be too bad, can it? But well, life – as usual – is full of surprises and hey, never say never!
And here starts the best holidays EVER. Holiday full of, yes, wine, Vespas and hot sun, but also many, many embarrassing situations, many new friends, attractions prepared by the owner of the hotel, hot men, unexpected visits from ex – girlfriends, playing spies and making wine with their own feet. And co – singles, in the form of Elle’s boss, who arrives screaming and kicking, for a good start. Dream holiday, isn’t it?

I fell in love with Elle and Laurie from the very beginning. Laurie became my hero after her Botox incident, it was HILARIOUS! Elle, with her down – to – earth, doesn’t give a damn attitude could be my new book best friend. She was incredibly funny, incredibly clever, incredibly loyal and incredibly gullible and incredibly prone to accident, let’s mention only her photo session at the museum or her Vespa ride. Only two out of the very, very many, one more ridiculous than the other.

The owners of You Had Me at Merlot were sweet and charming and I can’t imagine now a better idea for my holidays, I could pretend I’m single for ten days, no problem. The attractions they prepared for their guests were brilliant, Sebastian with his direct attitude was just the best!
And Jamie. Helloooo!!! I had lots of luck lately for the best male characters in the books ever but Jamie is just THE best. He’s not only sexy as hell, he doesn’t only look like a Love God, but he can make his own wine AND chocolate. Did all my dreams come true at once? AND he has a dog, leonberger. AND he’s witty. But also stubborn. Oh yes, there were moments that I wanted to shake him strongly.
All the characters were livid, just popping out of the pages and coming to life next to you. All the other singletons on the holidays, even Elle’s devil boss, who then appeared to be not devil at all, were fantastic, I giggled over them and their adventures, and especially over relentless in adoration lothario George. He was amazeballs! Lisa can create wonderful heroes that feel warm and totally realistic and are the most funny people in the world. The dialogues, the banter between them, the one – liners were one of the best I have ever read, and I know that I said it few times this year, but those are really THE BEST.

The book has absolutely the right pace and is a real page – turner. It belongs to this category of books that I want to finish asap but don’t want them to end. Every page brought more sun and more warmth than the other, more laughter and more positive feelings. It had me hooked from the get – go and took me on a brilliant, adventurous and full of surprises and beautiful sights journey to Tuscany.
Lisa’s humour is actually beyond description, what I would do to be at least half as funny as she is! But it’s not only the humour that won me over, it is also the story, the plot which is simple but hooking and worked out for me, and the writing style: fresh, modern, fast, light, easy to follow and gripping too.

You Had Me at Merlot is as sunny as Tuscany itself and as tasty as the chilli wine made by Jamie. It is a MUST read for this summer, and not only for summer. It absolutely belongs on my FAVOURITE shelf. And I will never be able to drink wine again without giggling over blind – fold wine testing. A warm, uplifting read, a feel – good read, with quirky characters, plenty of good humour, funny scenes and drooling over Jamie – highly, highly recommended.

PS. Please DO NOT count how often I used the words „funny”, „the best” and „ever” in this review. Pretty please.