What Happens Now? by Sophia Money -Coutts

What Happens Now? by Sophia Money – Coutts

 

Publisher: HQ 44594734._sy475_

Publishing Date: 22nd August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 16.04.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘No question about it, there are two little purple lines. I’m pregnant.’

After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she’d already found ‘the one’ – that is, until he dumped her for a blonde twenty-something colleague. So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do: swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What’s the worst that can happen?

Well it’s pretty bad actually. First Max ghosts her and then, after weeing on a stick (but mostly her hands), a few weeks later Lil discovers she’s pregnant. She’s single, thirty-one and living in a thimble-sized flat in London, it’s hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for.

Lil’s ready to do the baby-thing on her own – it can’t be that hard, right? But she should probably tell Max, if she can track him down. Surely he’s not that Max, the highly eligible, headline-grabbing son of Lord and Lady Rushbrooke, currently trekking up a mountain in South Asia? Oh, maybe he wasn’t ignoring Lil after all…

Rating:  five-stars

 

Lil Bailey is currently nursing a broken heart after she’s been recently dumped by her boyfriend of eight years, the man she thought was The One. She delves into the online dating world, and manages to line up a date with Max, who is a mountaineer. Max is surprisingly good looking and the date goes smoothly, on all fronts. However, then Max disappears completely from Lil’s life and even though she knows he has read her WhatsApp messages, he simply ghosts her. And then Lil finds herself pregnant… Still not hearing from Max, and still very single, she tries to come to terms with the fact that she’s going to spend her future as a mother. Nevertheless, she tries to track Max down and when she finally manages, she’s for a confrontation with a harsh reality. They come from completely different world, heck, Max is probably Prince William’s best friend, and will he eventually accept his new role as a parent? Or is Lil going to do this all alone?

There was something in Lil, something that made her immediately likeable and believable. Maybe these were the daily challenges, or the way that she was so normal, living a normal life, and I found myself cheering her all the way through all the ups and downs she had to face. It was hilarious to see her pulling herself together and getting out there to tackle the online dating world, though I must admit that she had to be incredibly lucky to encounter Max right on the first date. Though to be totally honest I was really scared when reading their super steamy sex scene that Max is a kind of… oh well, perverse. Yes, I know. Apologies, Max. My heart went to Lil after she discovered she’s pregnant, and the author has given her such realistic voice, considering all the pros and cons and telling about her feelings and emotions and what was happening in her head and her heart. But what made her even more likeable and I wanted to give her a standing ovation for, was the fact that she has accepted the upcoming motherhood without any doubt. I mean, yes, she had doubts, she was facing the prospect of being alone, but she quickly accepted her pregnancy even though she was scared – who wouldn’t be – and was incredibly frank about how it is to be pregnant and how she feels.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never questioned Max intentions. Simply, my gut feeling was telling me that he really can’t get in touch with Lil. Yes, I felt sorry for her for the fact that she’s been effectively ghosted, but I lived in hope that he’ll get in touch as soon as he could. And no matter what, he sounded like a pretty perfect man, no? He felt genuine and honest and him being an explorer and mountaineer was great to read about.
The thing that I didn’t like was the way Lil and her friends were calling her baby “E.T.” I know it was nicely meant and I know E.T. was great but it simply didn’t sit well with me.

The background characters are also very well drawn, so different and interesting, with their own stories. Lil’s mum and step – father were probably the friendliest and the most encouraging people in the world and I loved them immediately. Actually, she was really lucky, our Lil, to be surrounded by such supporting people because her best friend Jess was really of the best kind of best friends – always there and always knowing what to say to make the world right again.

Being a teacher myself, now admittedly in kindergarden, but teacher will always stay teacher at heart, I loved how Lil has tackled her job, teaching offspring of the bold and beautiful – the way the author has written those parts was absolutely brilliant and hilarious. Her relationship with her pupils was such an easy one, you could see she really liked her boys and she had their best interests at heart, even when she’s been losing some of them or was forced to explain how people become pregnant. Awesome!

Sophia Money – Couts has now a new fan and I’m going to read her debut novel, “The Plus One”, as soon as possible. I loved the writing style in this book and her way with words, and how well she can interweave seriousness with hilarity. Her writing is raw, honest, riveting and also saucy and is easy to read. “What Happens Now?” was empowering, light – hearted and uplifting read all the way. The book covered so many issues, such as modern dating, single parenthood, friends, families, facing up to consequences in such a lovely, sharp and humorous way. There was also a slightly more serious tone to it as well, which added tons of depth to the story. It was relatable and very honest, outrageous and poignant and ticked all the boxes for me. Highly recommended!

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Christmas Every Day by Beth Moran

Christmas Every Day by Beth Moran

 

Publisher: Boldwood Books 47490432

Publishing Date: 17th September 2019

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

Number of pages: 408

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

When Jenny inherits her estranged grandmother’s cottage in Sherwood Forest, she has nothing to lose – no money, no job, no friends, no family to speak of, and zero self-respect. Things can only get better…

Her grumpy, but decidedly handsome new neighbour, Mack, has a habit of bestowing unsolicited good deeds on her. And when Jenny is welcomed into a rather unusual book club, life seems to finally be getting more interesting.

Instead of reading, the members pledge to complete individual challenges before Christmas: from finding new love, learning to bake, to completing a daredevil bucket list. Jenny can’t resist joining in, and soon a year of friendship and laughter, tears and regrets unfolds in the most unexpected ways.

Warm, wise, funny and utterly uplifting, what one thing would you change in your life before Christmas comes around?

Rating: five-stars

 

Jenny has though she has everything under control: her job, her private life, friends, family… That is, until her scheming twin sister gets engaged to Jenny’s “secret” boyfriend at the firm Christmas party, when it was Jenny who was actually expecting the proposal. Ouch. Jenny takes herself to Sherwood Forest – it is there her estranged grandmother left Jenny’s mother a house, and as she doesn’t need the it anymore, she gives it to Jenny. Full of plans and optimism, she turns out at her new place to find it not only in the middle of nowhere, but overgrown with brambles, hence impossible to enter. While trying to force the doors, she meets her neighbour Mack, reclusive, mysterious and very handsome.

After moving to Sherwood Forest, Jenny meets so many brilliant local people – yes, at the beginning some of them are rather sceptic, but quickly she gets drawn into their worlds and lives and becomes a part of their community. For example, the book club (I loved the meetings of the book club as you couldn’t foresee how they’re going to end every time, it was more like a challenge/unexpected situations club, the members of the club were hilarious and I couldn’t wait who’s going to choose the next book and what’s going to happen then.) Or starting a job as a nanny to 5 children, ha. However, Jenny’s biggest worry is getting the house cleaned and cleared, as she doesn’t want to sleep in the tub in the bathroom anymore, and solving the mystery of what Mack is doing, holed up in his house and always appearing on the scenes when Jenny needs help. I quickly guessed what it actually is that Mack does but it didn’t spoil the reveal of this in any way.

The characters had so much depth to them, they were so richly developed, allowing us the view to their lives. Jenny was brilliant. She was full of flaws, she was not perfect and she always kept losing her glasses – she simply felt real in all she did and said – as well as all the other characters. Sure, there were moments that some of their actions felt a bit caricatural but it worked in this book, this craziness was a part of it, of the characters and their world. Jenny’s strength of character and the way she really tried hard – after so many falls, after being held down by others, after being pushed to her limits once too many – were surprising, but it was a positive surprise. She was driven by kindness and loyalty and with the help of her new friends she was growing in confidence, blooming and opening up and facing all the challenges. I kept everything crossed for Jenny, everything, cheering her on the way to becoming New Jenny, to facing her fears and finding the courage for confrontations.

However, don’t be fooled by the Christmassy cover and title of the book, as Christmas itself doesn’t play a great part in this novel. There was only a small part set around Christmas but I think that the general message of this book is to simply make every single day of your life like Christmas, worthful and appreciated, encircle yourself with people that matter and have the courage for new things.
The story intermingle many humorous events and situations with some more poignant ones, and there was also this little mystery about who’s trying to force Jenny out of her house – there was not a single moments flat and I loved how unpredictable it was. One moment I was laughing out loud at the hilarity of the situation, the next I had a lump in my throat.

It was a deep, heartening and uplifting book with unforgettable characters, full of wisdom and lightness. Sometimes bittersweet, sometimes amusing and warming, altogether it was a book that I loved with all my heart and was incredibly sad to see the end of it. The characters in this novel were ones of the best I’ve ever come across in my books, no matter if as a group or a single person. The author has so brilliantly captured all the flaws and virtues and made each of them feel so unique, with all their ups and downs, problems, troubles and quirks, more or less usual hobbies and passions. I was so full of admiration to the way she has written Jenny, and really, she was so well describes, inside and outside that I was able not only to understand her feelings but could easily imagine every expression that she made, and some of her tips on child – minding will stay with me for ever. Shortly, I absolutely loved this book – the more I read the more invested I was. Jenny and the house both needed a clearance, and to be put together, and Jenny’s journey to discover who she really is, to find out more about her past is unputdownable.

If You Were Here by Alice Peterson / Blog Tour + Extract

Alice Peterson has let us wait two years for her new book but guys, the waiting was so worth it! She’s back with another cracker, heart – wrenching but also uplifting story that I loved from the beginning to the end. Thank you so much Alice for having me on the blog tour, it’s always such an honour! Today, next to my (a bit gushing, even if I say so myself) review, I also have an extract from the book – enjoy!

 

If You Were Here by Alice Peterson

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 44589427

Publishing Date: 22nd August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘I can toast to my future, but the thundercloud over my head, the threat of a storm, will follow me like a shadow wherever I go. The truth is, I have a potential bomb in my bag, and who knows when or where it will go off’

When her daughter Beth dies suddenly, Peggy Andrews is left to pick up the pieces and take care of her granddaughter Flo. But sorting through Beth’s things reveals a secret never told: Beth was sick, with the same genetic condition that claimed her father’s life, and now Peggy must decide whether to keep the secret or risk destroying her granddaughter’s world.

Five years later, Flo is engaged and ready to pack up her life and move to New York with her high-flying fiancé. Peggy never told Flo what she discovered, but with Flo looking towards her future, Peggy realises it’s time to come clean and reveal that her granddaughter’s life might also be at risk.

As Flo struggles to decide her own path, she is faced with the same life-altering questions her mother asked herself years before: If a test could decide your future, would you take it?

An emotional, inspiring and uplifting novel about living life to the fullest, IF YOU WERE HERE will break your heart and put it back together. The brand new novel from the acclaimed author of A Song for Tomorrow, perfect for fans of Hannah Beckerman, Dani Atkins and Jill Mansell

Rating: five-stars

 

“If You Were Here”, another life – affirming story by Alice Peterson, introduces us to three generations of women. Peggy lost her husband to Huntington’s Disease, after years of caring for him and watching him deteriorate, both mentally and physically. Her daughter Beth, who we hear from through her diary entries after learning that she’s dead, following a road accident 5 years ago, was aware that her chances of inheriting the disease was fifty – fifty and who has done the test but kept it in secret, and who has been left in turmoil, not being able to decide if/when to tell about it her own daughter. And Flo, twenty seven years old, loving her life, setting to move to America following her new fiancé there. However, her life is shattered after discovering that her granddad and mother had Huntington’s Disease, and what consequences could this information have for her: she could also be a carrier and must decide whether to take the test telling her her fate. Flo is about to learn, not only about her family, but who her real friends are and, most importantly, about herself and her limits. 

Let me tell you right at the beginning – it was a beautiful, realistic story that had me hooked from the first page – I couldn’t put it down, to be honest, and was cursing life getting in the way, as I didn’t want to leave the characters’ world for a single second, and you’ll also not want to put the book away. 

The story is told from three perspectives, from Flo, her grandmother Peggy and through Beth’s diary entries, and I loved each of the voices, so strong and so distinctive. Alice Peterson’s heroines are always inspiring, and Flo is not an exception. It was heart – breaking to see the battle the two women, Peggy and Beth, had to endure, wanting to protect their beloved Flo, never finding the right time to tell her the truth, filled with mixed feelings and emotions. They were all so brave and strong, had their ups and downs, made wrong decisions and they simply felt so down to earth realistic, as well as the background characters. Each of them experiences the disease in another way but all of them are affected, and the author gives us a wide and deep glimpse into it. The feelings and emotions jump out of the pages, you laugh with the characters and you cry with them, I’ve kept everything crossed for them all and simply lived their lives together with them. Great part of this book focuses on heartbreak and guilt of not telling the truth, but you never judge the characters for it, you simply start to understand them and their choices, as the author gives them their own point of view. I loved how much the characters in this book supported each other – boy, you need such a group of friends and family in your life even when life doesn’t challenge you!

 It was again a book that made me think, and there were many moments when I found myself wondering, but especially one scene made me so pensive, when the first research study led to the possibility of real HD treatments in December 2017. Flo and Beth, sobbing on the phone with joy, their friends sharing the news – it actually gave me  goose bumps. For me it was such a normal day, I’ve probably haven’t even apprehended the news, and for people like our characters, and for real people all over the world, it is life changing information, giving hope. Here I am, sitting and enjoying my good health with exception of few bumps perhaps, not appreciating it enough, and here they are, crying from joy. I’ve been constantly asking myself what would I do if I were in the characters’ shoes, what decisions would I made, and I still am not sure. I was always thinking that I would like to know what future is going to bring me but now, after reading the book, I am really not certain. Actually, I am torn. Would I change the way I am if I knew I have some genetic disorder? Or would it make me back away from life? It really isn’t an easy decision to make!  

I totally loved the way the author has chosen to tell about all the pros and cons of being tested to find out if you have Huntington’s. She isn’t judging but she allows us a deep glance into all the possibilities, describing how many feelings and emotions are involved in it, how, in fact, hard and difficult decision it is. It so much depends on the person itself, while many live their lives without the need to know, there are others who simply must find out what fate has in store for them. Also, how much this decisions affects family and friends – written with so much understanding, gentleness and heart. 

The writing is, as always, beautiful but not too sentimental, and I loved it. It is also full of humour and the way the author balances it with the more poignant moments is absolutely perfect. It’s written with compassion and sensitivity, right from the heart and the amount of research that went into this book is clear, and I love the fact that Alice Peterson has again found a case to raise awareness of. She writes with such warmth and love, care and empathy and the novel, even though touching about serious issues, feels chatty and uplifting, even when she tells things how they really are, not sparing us any details about the facts and reality of HD.

“If You Were Here” was full of hope. It’s this kind of novel that make you look at the world differently again, start to appreciate all the little things again. The telling is so rich and vivid, oozing in feelings and emotions of courage, faith and strength, also showing the great importance of having the right network of people around you to help you get through the most difficult times. I loved every single moment of it and will be highly recommending right and left!

 

EXTRACT:

Prologue

Peggy

 

July 2012

 

I clutch the letter, my hand shaking.

Deep down I always knew. I was just waiting for Beth to tell me, gearing myself up to be strong for us both all over again.

There were times when I sensed she was distant and anxious. Often I wondered why my daughter hadn’t married since any man would have been lucky to have her by his side. Yet I allowed myself to believe her excuse that she simply hadn’t met the right person, that she wanted to focus on her art, her teaching career and being a mother to Flo.

I have skated around the subject for years, too much of a coward to ask the question I dreaded the answer to. I locked my fears in a box and threw away the key, instead forcing myself to believe she’d escape the odds.

Looking back over the pas few years, I was beginning to notice signs, small things, like Beth forgetting our regular weekly call. Once, she locked herself out of the house and had to drive over to get my spare set of keys. I was determined to put it down to her being scatterbrained. Yet there was this persistent voice inside my head.

She could have it.

A voice I chose to ignore.

I look down at the letter once more.

It would kill me.

I wish now with all my heart that I could take back those selfish words. All I wanted was to protect Beth – and myself – from further pain.

I wipe the tears from my eyes.

Right now, I’d give anything to be able to hold my daughter one last time and tell her how sorry I am for letting her down. And what I wouldn’t give to be able to ask her the questions I need answering now like never before.

Did she ever intend for her daughter Flo to see this letter? Maybe, in the end, Beth agreed that none of us should know our future, that we’re better off letting fate take its course.

I can’t tell my granddaughter.

She is far too fragile, not only to discover that this has been kept a secret from her, but to understand the impact it could have on her own life. She is grieving for her mother and it’s taking every ounce of her strength just to get through each day. Showing her this letter would only rake up the past and make Flo fear her future. Yet the decision to keep on hiding the truth doesn’t rest easy either.

I tear a small corner of the letter, tempted to rip it into shreds and pretend I’d never seen it.

I wish in so many ways I hadn’t.

If I show Flo the letter it could break her heart. But if I don’t . . .

What a fool I have been to think that the past never catches up with you.

1

Flo

 

Five years later

 

As I walk down Fifth Avenue, to the mystery place where I’m meeting Theo tonight, I think back on the past week, wishing  Ididn’t have to pack my bags and return to London tomorrow, back to my job and familiar oldroutine.

My boyfriend Theo has been based in New York  for  sixmonths.

‘Long distance relationships can work, Flo, if we see it as an opportunity,’ he’d said, when he broke the news that he was needed over here for a year, possibly more.

And he was right. There is something magnetic about this city. It buzzes with energy, like a party that never stops.The first time I flew over to see Theo, we visited all the major sights and did all the things you’re supposed to, like taking a trip to the top of the empire State Building and hopping on a ferry over to Staten Island. Now I’m happy to do my own thing, whiling away the hours with my sketch- pad in Central Park, or finding hidden gems off the beaten track, like the original piece of the Berlin Wall I discovered in a small plaza at MadisonAvenue.

Each time I visit – mainly for long weekends – Theo takes me to a new exhibition or restaurant that has justopened.

Nothing stays the same here. Nothing stands still.

And everything is so tall. Theo works in just one of the thousand dazzling skyscrapers that grace the Manhattan skyline.

I dodge out of the way of a group of tourists taking pic- tures of the empire State Building. Another thing I love about this place is it keeps me fit. There’s no point hailing a cab and spending a fortune sitting in traffic. Everyone here walks for miles.

As I continue down one of the most famous and elegant streets in the world, I think of Granny, hoping she’s all right.  It’s the anniversary of Mum’s death today and it’s the first time we’ve spent it apart. When I called her earlier this evening, she told me she was fine and that she’d laid some flowers on Mum and Granddad’s gravestone and would later light a candle.

I promised to light one too.

In many ways Mum’s death feels a lifetime ago, but in others as if it were only yesterday. What tormented me most is the fact I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. My last conversation with her was over the phone, while I was at the airport in Venice about to board a plane. I was blissfully happy in a steady relationship and I’d just been offered a job designing sets for a small theatre company in Copenhagen. The only problem was my scatty old mum.

‘What now?’ I’d snapped, annoyed at having to repeat the conversation we’d literally just had about what time my plane landed and whether I’d be home in time for supper.

I never saw her again.

I didn’t even tell her I loved her.

That’s what I miss most: picking up the phone to talk to her; hearing her voice.

Her death had seemed so avoidable.One moment she was alive, but the next . ..

‘It was an accident,’ Granny had stressed. ‘A tragic accident that makes no sense.’

Losing Mum will be the hardest thing I’ll ever go through. At one point I didn’t even want to live, oblivion seemed preferable. Idon’t know what I’d have done without Granny picking me up and piecing me back together again, especially when her grief must have been just asraw.

I can’t tell you when I began to feel less broken. I don’t recall a turning point. All I know is that food began to taste of something again. Slowly I noticed the sunlight streaming through my bedroom window. I heard the birds sing. My steps began to feel lighter.

And then along came Theo.

We met eighteen months ago in the business lounge at Gatwick airport, when I was heading out on a work trip to southern Spain. I was busy stocking up on all the food and glossy magazines the business lounge had to offer, when I sensed someone watching me. Discreetly, I turned to see an older, fair-haired man drinking a cup of coffee, a flicker of amusement in his eyes. Everything about him spelt success, from his designer suit to his leather briefcase and expensive watch. I returned to my seat, thinking he must have been looking at someone else, or recalling a funny joke he’d just been told.

But then he approached my table.

‘Theodore Holmes,’ he said, sitting down opposite me,as if it were the most natural thing in the world to introduce oneself to a stranger. Before I could say a word, he continued, ‘I don’t know your name yet, but what I do know is I’m going to spend the rest of my life withyou.’

It’s not often I’m lost for words. I felt out of my depth, and as if he could read my mind he leaned closer towards me and said quietly ,‘Listen,I’m sorry to come on so strong. You don’t have to agree to spend the rest of your life with me just yet, but how aboutdinner?’

He handed me his business card. We parted with a hand- shake, almost as if we were in a boardroom.

‘Deal,’ I was tempted to say.

For the next few days, I imagined our perfect first date with flowers and champagne, the conversation flowing freely, the evening ending with a romantic goodnight kiss. When I returned home, however, I began to lose my nerve, that little voice of doubt creeping in.

After Mum died, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and I hadn’t been in a serious relationship since. Ifelt out of practice.

As if he’s really going to be interested in you, Flo. It meant nothing. He probably says the same thing t oevery woman he meets and he won’t even remember you.

But despite that voice in my head, I couldn’t throw away his business card.

James – my flat-mate and best friend’s brother – looked him up online with me one evening afterwork.

‘Good-looking,’ he said when we saw a picture of Theo smiling broadly into the camera, ‘but knows it.  Mind you, I’d be smiling like that too if I had his teeth and his bankaccount.’

James is a vet, which, according to him is ‘not a job you do for the money’.

He urged me to give Theo a call. ‘What’s the worst that can happen? It’s one night, and if he’s a knob, move on.’

I smiled. James always had a way with words. Anyway, I took his advice and called.

Theo picked up instantly, and when I said my name, asking nervously if it was a good time for him to talk, he replied, ‘I’ve been waiting for days. ever since I first set eyes on you.’

I was still hesitant to go on a date. I wasn’t sure I trusted his smooth talk, but I listened to James again, who told meI hadnothing to lose except one evening of takeaway, Netflix, and James’s charming company.

On our first date, Theo booked a table at a restaurant on the 32nd floor of the Shard, and over dinner I discovered he left school without any qualifications, but through hard work and self-belief he was now CeO of a company called ASPIre, one of the biggest global marketing agencies in the world.I tried to ignore that little voice again that wondered why he’d want to go out with someone like me, a mere travel agent, when surely he could have the pick of anyone in thisrestaurant.

When Theo asked me for a second and a third date, that voice stillwouldn’t go away. I kept expecting something to go wrong; I was waiting for the fall. Yet my fear has been pointless, and after eighteen months together that little voice has almost disappeared.

Almost.

I rummage in my handbag to retrieve the note Theo left on my pillow this morning, with the exact address of where I’m supposed to meet him.

‘It’sasurprise,’he’dinsisted.He’sawareit’sMum’sanniversary today and wanted to do something to honour it, so I suggested we do something fun: drink cocktails, go to a nightclub and dance until the early hours of themorning.

‘Mum loved dancing,’ I said. ‘She used to dance in the kitchen and sing in the shower.’

I told  him I wanted to remember all the happy times we’d shared and celebrate her life tonight, because for the first time in five years I haven’t only been thinking about Mum today. This morning, when I woke up in Theo’s apartment and read his note, I realized that time does slowly heal, and that right now, despite everything, I am truly happy.

As I arrive I see no sign of a restaurant or bar. I glance at my watch. It’s past seven o’clock.

Theo’s late. He’s never late.

For a split second I feel uneasy. I wish I knew why he was being so secretive. He knows how much I hate surprises. But my worries vanish the moment I see him across the street, and soon I’m in his arms, welcoming his kiss.

‘Are you ready?’ he asks.

‘Ready for what? Where are we —’

‘Trust me,’ he says, a smile spreading across his face as he holds his hand out towards mine. I know more than most how happiness can be taken away from us as quickly as it was found. But I know,too,that it’s time for me to let go of my past and trust in my future once and for all. It’s what Mum would have wanted.

I take his hand.

Maybe I’m allowed to be this happy without a catch afterall.

 

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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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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?)

 

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby / Blog Tour

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

 

515nmsferxl._sx328_bo1204203200_Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing Date: 8th August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 338

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When a mini-break becomes make or break…

Kathy Courage has never visited the famous Italian city of Florence before, so she’s thrilled when she and her boyfriend Neil are invited there for a wedding. Unfortunately, with Neil’s constant complaining and his teenage children in tow, it’s not exactly the romantic break Kathy was hoping for.

But when a mix-up with her flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city, she decides to embrace the unexpected and stay on alone.

What follows is a life-changing few days in the Tuscan sun, as Kathy begins to question the choices that have led her here. With the help of the colourful Innocenti family, who offer Kathy a place to stay, she gradually begins to realise that there’s a much bigger world out there, if only she can be brave enough to explore it.

Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness? Or is Kathy destined to return to her old life?

Rating:  five-stars

 

Kathy Courage has always wanted to visit Florence – her parents spent their honeymoon there, fell in love with the city and promised to take her there but it never happened, and now her father is dead so it’s too late. But is it really? Kathy and her boyfriend Neil are invited to a wedding – in Florence! Kathy is thrilled but, sadly, her plans to spent a lovely time with Neil didn’t turn out like she hoped and the whole trip is one huge disappointment. However, the mix – up with the flight home means that Kathy stays three whole days in Florence, alone! Will she find the courage to enjoy the city alone? Will an accident, that leaves her depending on the kindness of some strange Florentine family, make her look at her life differently? 

Chrissie Manby’s books brilliantly balance dry humour with poignant moments but this time I had a feeling that this novel, as much as still with those wonderful funny moments, was overall more serious in tone. It doesn’t mean that it was wrong, because the author really knows how to make her stories seamlessly flow, keeping me glued to the pages.

This story, albeit with a wonderful storyline, was – in my eyes – very character oriented, and they were brilliantly written, so easy to adore or to love to hate. I think they were written intentionally this way and you simply couldn’t help yourself but despise Neil and his family, and the more I got to know them, the more I disliked them all – a very self – centred, egoistic family and I couldn’t wait for Kathy to do something about it – because she has already noticed their true colours, it was only a matter of time – at least I hoped so! Really, they were hardly bearable and utterly unpleasant, and the Innocenti family, that almost adopted Kathy, looks in comparison even more friendly and wonderful and warm – because they were like this. 
Kathy was an immediately likeable character, even though she let others to treat her like a doormat, and usually I would roll my eyes at her and tell her, get a grip woman, but she was different. I fell under her spell and I had a feeling there is much more in her than meets the eye. She was so brilliantly fleshed out, felt like a living, breathing person, with all her fears, excitement, hope. Yes, I was asking myself all the time, why is she with Neil but I also could understand her, although the more I got to know him, and his actions that he’s done “for Kathy”, the more I wanted her to bang his head on the wall. But other than that, I found Kathy a great, interesting, gentle and real character.
The Innocenti family was absolutely fabulous, especially Manu when trying to learn Kathy speak Italian, and even the smelly little dog – they all had a place in this story and made it much more colourful with their huge personalities. What I also liked in this book was the fact that it didn’t feel like another Florence tourist guide. Sure, there were descriptions of this gorgeous city, vividly bringing it to life, but they were more of the behind – the – scenes sort of places that I truly enjoyed, showing the real life thanks to the Innocenti family.

This story is full of fun and drama, another captivating winner from Chrissie Manby. A real page – turner with a sweet, blossoming romance, with some ups and downs and it brilliantly shows Kathy’s ways to rediscover herself, to be brave to find the courage for being herself.

This book is written in such easy, comforting way,  I just couldn’t stand the thought that I must put it down for a moment, I was so caught up in the characters’ lives, their antics and their banter – it was all perfect! I have enjoyed every single page of this book and, you know this feeling, when finishing a novel makes you both happy and sad? Happy because you’ve read a great story, and sad, because it came to an end? It was this kind of book, a wonderful, moving novel with fabulous characters, the right balance of everything I was looking for in it, and gorgeous setting. Highly recommended!

 

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The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

 

43793447._sy475_Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Charlotte, a wealth counsellor who knows from personal experience the complications that a sudden inheritance can bring, helps her clients navigate the emotional side effects of sudden wealth syndrome. When she is asked by Mateo Mendoza, heir to a huge Spanish estate, to fly to Madrid to help resolve an issue in his father’s will, she’s confident it will be straightforward. The timing isn’t great as Charlotte’s due to get married the following week, but once her client signs on the dotted line, Charlotte can return to her life in London and her wedding, and live happily ever after. Marrying Stephen might not fill her with excitement, but she doesn’t want to live in the fast lane anymore – safe and predictable is good.

But Carlos Mendoza’s final bequest opens up a generation of secrets, and Charlotte finds herself compelled to unravel the mystery. As Charlotte digs deeper, she uncovers the story of a family divided by Spain’s Civil War, and of a love affair across the battle lines that ended in tragedy.

And while she is consumed in the drama of the Mendozas, Charlotte’s own tragic past catches up with her, threatening to overturn everything in her life she’s worked so hard to build.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Charlotte Fairfax, a wealth specialist, is sent to Spain on her next job. It couldn’t come at a worse time for her, as her wedding is only the following week. However, she’s sure that she’ll do what she has to do and will be back in London in time. But life usually has other plans for us, and soon Charlotte is drawn into the past of the Mendoza’s family – it turns out there is much more than meets the eye, there is darkness and ugly secrets. Moreover, the person she’s supposed to be working with has no idea about any inheritance, so it’s up to Charlotte to delve into the family’s history and what she discovers is shocking for all involved. Will she return in time for her own wedding? And can past hurts be repaid?

I am always eagerly awaiting Karen Swan’s new releases, as I know her books are going to take us to the most exotic/unusual/beautiful locations and they are reads with difference, often incorporating an intriguing mystery and always full of interesting, brilliantly fleshed out characters – and it was exactly like this with “The Spanish Promise”.

It was a shocking, poignant, heart – breaking story set in two time frames, the first one at the time of the Spanish civil war, showing its ongoing affects on many families even long after the event itself, following the life of the Mendoza family, and the second one taking us back to the present day, with Charlotte searching for answers. Both of the timelines had kept me captured as they were both rich in details and full of events. They, of course, intertwine, adding more questions, making us wonder what has happened to the rebellious daughter of the Mendozas, Nene. The author has made it perfect for me, to be honest, alternating between a fascinating and sad historical times that I, must admit, don’t have a great knowledge of, and present, keeping a healthy balance between them.

The characters in this book weren’t flawless but they were realistic and perceptive. I loved Charlotte, how determined she was, and I loved the fact that the author has – again – carefully considered a great and different kind of job for her – I mean, how many wealth counsellors do you usually come across? I think that Ms Swan has described the logistics of this job very well, balancing it with Charlotte’s interesting personal life and the question of her past and this all has made Charlotte an interesting, deep character, and I think I’ve found her story even better than this of Nene, who was also such a strong and colourful character to follow. But Charlotte, I don’t know, she just grew on me and I really enjoyed how digging in the past made her realise what is important to her.

The plot is complex and intertwines many threads but I have never felt confused, thanks to Karen Swan’s clear, eloquent and seamless writing. She beautifully paints a colourful, vivid picture of Spain, effortlessly transporting us into the characters’ world. The plot is wonderfully well – thought and it intertwines and unravels the secrets at the right moments, giving us a vivid, satisfying story touching upon many lighter, heavier and important issues.

Altogether, “The Spanish Promise” was an evocative, captivating and enchanting read, with romance that is alluring, mesmerising and heart – breaking, taking us on a roller – coaster journey through the lives of Mendoza and Fairfax families. It is full not only of money and power but also showing that behind those gorgeous mansions and designer clothes there is much more to meet the eye, that there are lies, secrets and betrayals that can change fate of many other people. As usual, Karen Swan’s addictive novel had me captivated, taking me into another, fantastic world. Highly recommended!