Where There’s a Will by Bella Osborne (Ottercombe Bay #1)

Where There’s a Will by Bella Osborne

 

35555798Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 28th December 2017

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 100

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Escape to the Devon coast, with Part One of a brand-new four-part serial from the author of Willow Cottage.
Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

Rating: three-stars

Bella Osborne’s “Where There’s a Will” is an introduction to a brand new series “Ottercombe Bay”. It sets up the location and introduces us to some of the main characters and already leaves us with some questions to be answered.

There are of course many questions opened. Daisy returns to Ottercombe Bay for the funeral of her Great Uncle Reg. We know her mother died here when Daisy was a child, and we know from the pieces of information that something has probably happened that brought her to this death, we also know that Daisy avoided Ottercombe Bay with all her might but still we’re not sure why – only because it brings memories of her childhood and her mother? Also, she just wants to attend the funeral and then go. But the late Uncle Reg had other ideas and Daisy finds herself inheriting an old railway station building, providing she’s going to spent the next twelve months on Ottercombe Bay. Is it possible at all for Daisy, the free spirit?

The story was written in a nice, warm way – I really like Bella Osborne writing style. However, this time, I had problems with the characters here, and as this part was really characters’ centred it wasn’t easy to enjoy the story. Daisy is brash and temperamental, or rather moody, and I’m guessing it’s because of her past, but nobody has been hurt by being kind, right? But the location on the Devon coast was lovely and the old station building sounds brilliant and beautiful and that there is a lot of potential in it.

I really looked forward to this novella and it’s a real pity that I didn’t warm to it as much as I hoped. I guess it would work much better as a whole novel – I understand it is only the introduction and it’s a little unfortunate that it started in such a way, when I didn’t warm to the characters at all. However, I’m guessing I’ll read a second part in this series, to see if anything’s going to change, and yes, I want to see how Daisy is going to settle in Ottercombe Bay – I’m sure she’ll be wanting to leave more than once but well, she has to stay, right?

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The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

 

36368810Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 2nd November 2017

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as you devour this irresistibly festive Christmas tale. The perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Rating: four-stars

 

I am always looking forward to a new Sue Moorcroft book and I adore her Christmas offerings. Maybe “The Little Village Christmas”, the newest release, is not strictly a very Christmassy story but there is enough spirit to make it feel very festive and it was a joy to read.

The characters are really well drawn, both Alexia and Ben, as well as the background characters, feel like real people. However, I had some problems to warm to them and to somehow take them seriously – no idea why! It annoyed me a little that Ben seemed all the time to be so grumpy and while I could see his reasons I also wanted to shake him and tell him that his situation is not the other people’s fault. While Alexia was a really lovely girl she also seemed too forthright to me, I had a feeling she’s going through life elbowing her way. And for me one of the weakest characters in this story was Alexia’s friend, Jodie, who shouldn’t – no matter what the circumstances – just pack up her bags, literally and proverbially, and then expect her friend to run after her. What I did really like in the characters was the fact that they made mistakes and wrong decisions, got themselves into troubles but they were there for each other, they supported each other when the need arises.

Sue Moorcroft has brought the place to life through her lovely descriptions, of both the interior design and food – especially the design parts were brilliant, different to everything I normally read. The story also offers us a return to Middledip, a place that the readers may already recognize from Ms Moorcroft’s previous books – but it introduces us to a totally fresh characters.
Of course the story touches upon some serious issues that made the characters’ lives so much more difficult, but there wouldn’t be this story without them, right. There are many surprises on their ways, full of questions and I enjoyed seeing how all the puzzle elements fell into places.

Altogether, “The Little Village Christmas” was an uplifting and heart – warming story about never giving up, about trust, full of community spirit and friendship, a great read for the lead – up to Christmas. There is enough romance but also enough reality to not make it too sugary but down to earth and realistic.

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

 

33939393Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 7th September 2017

Series: Rosemary Lane #2 (read my review of Book 1 here)

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

If you want to move forward, sometimes you have to go back …
Prepare to fall in love with beautiful village of Burley Bridge.

Growing up in a quiet Yorkshire village, Roxanne couldn’t wait to escape and find her place in the world in London. As a high-powered fashion editor she lives a glamorous life of perennial singlehood – or so it seems to her sister Della. But when Roxanne gets her heart broken by a fashion photographer, she runs away, back to Della’s welcoming home above her bookshop in Burley Bridge.

But Burley Bridge, Roxanne discovers, is even quieter than she remembered. There’s nothing to do, so Roxanne agrees to walk Della’s dog Stanley. It’s on these walks that Roxanne makes a startling discovery: the people who live in Burley Bridge are, well, just people – different from the fashion set she’s used to, but kind and even interesting. Michael, a widower trying to make a go of a small bakery, particularly so. Little by little, cupcake by cupcake, Roxanne and Michael fall into a comforting friendship.

Could there be a life for Roxanne after all, in the place she’s spent 46 years trying to escape?

Rating: three-stars

 

“The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane” is the second book in the Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry series but it can easily be read as a stand – alone. The book mentions some of the characters from the previous novel but it entirely focuses on a new character, Roxanne. She has left Yorkshire as a teenager, and now she’s in her late forties and loves her work as a fashion editor. She’s passionate about her job, and she’s also successful, she has great ideas and she knows what it is the readers of the magazine want to see. However, there are some changes to come in the magazine and it’s a little unsettling – as well as her relationship she’s in starts to shake the foundations. So Roxanne decides to go back to Yorkshire where her sister Della still lives – Della, the one who owns the cookbook shop from the previous book.

This story started so, so well! I was doing the virtual high – fives because it was feeling like reading the good, old Fiona Gibson again – the writing was so warm and engaging, the story was flowing and I was incredibly caught up in the story. However, the more I got into the book, the slower and flatter it felt. There was not much happening and I had a feeling it is very repetitive and in the end I found myself skipping some of the passages and even a chapter or two – I am very sorry for this but it just didn’t keep my attention. Then there is the same thing as with the first book in the series, “The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane” – the bookshop is in the title, as is the bakery in this book, but they are not the huge part of the story, the bakery hardly features in this story and it’s just misleading.

I did like Roxanne. She was a great leading character. She was very passionate about her job, you could really feel she loves what she does and that she feels comfortable in her own skin. She was creative, and I always love this in characters. However, she finds herself at the crossroads right now, what with big changes at work and some troubles in love paradise, and we accompany her on her journey to find out what she really wants.
I really liked how Roxanne started to see that she really likes the countryside and that there is much more to living there as she thought, even though she sometimes learn to like it in the hard way, like going for a walk with the dog totally unprepared and dressed in very unsuitable clothes. It was nice to see her changing, making new friends, helping at the shop and feeling well in her own skin.

The London part of the book was really good, fast – paced and I totally enjoyed it. However, the Yorkshire part, while really important, as it was the time that Roxanne – of course! – started to change and see what she wants, was for me a little too flat, too slow, too meh. It was a tad predictable and some things, such like the later changes at Roxanne’s magazine, felt much too rushed and much too clichéd and obvious.

Altogether, “The Little Bakery on the Rosemary Lane” was a warm, lovely story. It felt modern and up – to – date and it lovely mixed the world of fashion with cookbooks and fresh, tasty bread. It was about making your own choices, about not letting others to influence you, seeing you can really take the risk. It was an easy, pleasant read with a low – key romance and even though I maybe didn’t love it as much as I initially thought, it was still pleasant enough and I am looking forward the third book in the series.

99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter / #BlogTour + Extract

Hi guys, and happy Friday! It’s weekend, hurray! I don’t know about you but for me this week felt as if it had 14 days, instead of 7. But whatever. Today I am thrilled to welcome you to another blog tour to celebrate publishing of “99 Red Balloons” by Elisabeth Carpenter. To be honest, it was first the title that made so intrigued about this book and I am looking forward to read this book so much! Today I have an extract from the novel for you – enjoy!

 

Chapter 14 p.71-72

99

 

The only words I’ve said to George since the ferry are yes, no and thank you. And we’ve been driving for over a hundred hours or whatever it is. I’m usually a chatterbox in the car – Mummy would have told me to keep it zipped at least twenty times if she were driving me. My bum is burning I’ve been sitting on it for that long.

‘Come on, kid.’ He keeps trying to talk to me. ‘I’m getting bored driving, listening to bloody French radio stations. You’re not still mad at me, are you?’

He was mad at me, but I can’t say that. He’d tell me off again. He can just turn. I’ve seen grown-ups do that. I keep trying to guess to myself how old he is. He’s older than Daddy, but not as old as Gran. His hair is black, but it has loads of streaks of grey, and he’s either got a lot of hair gel in it, or it needs washing. That’s what Mummy says about Daddy’s, though he doesn’t wear hair gel much these days.

Tears come to my eyes when I think of Mummy and Daddy. They’ll be missing me by now. Are they really waiting for me in Belgium? George won’t let me talk to them on the phone. It would be good to hear their voices, then I won’t miss them as much.

I have to blink really fast to stop the tears. I daren’t ask George about Mummy any more. Every time I do, he shouts at me. For the fiftieth fucking time, stop talking about Mummy and Daddy. I’ll leave you in a field if you’re not careful. It was dark when he said that.

Out of the window, the land is flat. It’s like I can see for miles, but I can’t see England. We’re nowhere near the sea.

‘When are we stopping for food?’ It’s my tummy that told my mouth to talk. My brain didn’t want it to.

‘Ah, so it does speak.’ He reaches over to the passenger seat and puts a cap on his head. It’s not a nice cap like Abigail from school got from Disneyland, but a beige one – like a grandad would wear. ‘Once we cross the border, we’ll stop off some­where. Promise. We just have to get past these bastards.’

He’s the only man I’ve ever met that would do swearing in front of a kid. My gran would have a coronary if she heard him.

In front of us, cars are lined up in rows. There are little houses in the middle of the road that everyone is stopping beside. George turns round.

‘Listen, kid. They might call you by a different name, but it’s just a game. We’re playing at pretend. If you win, and they don’t guess your real name, then I’ll buy you some sweets after your dinner. Deal?’

 

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Escape to Willow Cottage by Bella Osborne

Escape to Willow Cottage by Bella Osborne

 

33651984Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 10th August 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley  in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 464

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

The Escape to Willow Cottage was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

A cosy and heartwarming seasonal romance, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley.

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a warm, caring and safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

Escape to Willow Cottage was originally digitally published as a four-part serial under the title Willow Cottage. This is the complete story.

Rating: four-stars

“Escape to Willow Cottage” by Bella Osborne was originally published in four parts series and I’ve managed to read the two first one parts – the lack of time hasn’t allowed me to read the other two ones, even though I really liked the story, and so when I spotted there is a whole book available on NetGalley I downloaded it to my kindle immediately. Some books read well in parts, some are better as a whole one package, and this one is the latest – you just don’t want to leave the characters and their world in this heart – warming and feel – good story.

First of all, I truly like the idea of buying a cottage in the auction without even seeing it – not that I’d decide for such a great step myself, but as Beth did it was a great, promising start to the story. And well, the cottage looked so great in the auction catalogue, right, so what could go wrong? It turns out that a lot can go wrong but please read for yourself – it’s hilarious. But our Beth is not a woman that quickly gives up. We know that she’s running from an abusive relationship, that she has a son and that she had a great job. As Beth is very new to the village, together with her we are introduced to the people of Dumbleford and one seems to be more eccentric than the other.

The village of Dumbleford is a charming place, with all the villagers being so friendly, all of them jumping to help each other and supporting each other – you know how much I love those community feelings and here Bella Osborne captured it wonderfully.

The characters were very easy to like, though not all of them from the very beginning, as I had some problems with some of them. But altogether, they were warm, relatable and believable. They had flaws, they made mistakes but mostly they also learnt from those mistakes and you just couldn’t help but like them and cheer them on their way. The plot is complex, with some twists and turns and some drama added, and the author also mixes some heavier issues into the story, but it blends really well with the whole story and I liked the outcome.
Bella Osborne’s writing is great. It’s easy to follow, it’s light, with a right dose of humour – there are some really hilarious scenes in this book! – and seriousness. The characters were developing, and the cottage was taking shape, and I loved to read about all the ideas Beth had and how the villagers were willing to help her. The writing is really vivid and down to earth and I could easily imagine all the things really happening.

“Escape to Willow Cottage” was hooking, interesting story about abusive relationships, commitment problems, new beginnings. There is also the romance element introduced, which I liked very much, as it was not at all predictable. Over the course of four seasons our main character has learnt a lot, realised she can trust again and that it is worth to trust again. It was a lovely, quirky, summery read, great for one evening with a glass of wine. Recommended!

A Taste of Death by H.V. Coombs – #BlogTour / Extract

Hi guys, happy Friday! Another day and another blog tour, and today I have an extract from H.V. Coombs’s “A Taste of Death” to whet your appetite – I, for example, am desperate to read this book, as it sounds brilliant, and am already looking toward my holidays, hoping I’ll find some time. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the extract with me.

a-taste-of-death

Extract four – Chapter Four

I tried to kid myself that I liked this minimalist look, but, in truth, it was rather depressing and the carpet that Mrs Cope had bequeathed me – well, threadbare would be a euphemism. It was stained and moth-eaten. Frankly, it was nasty.

Well, I could always take my mind off the carpet by looking out of the window. I had a view across the common and in the daylight I could see Dave Whitfield’s house with the charred mess of his obelisk and behind it, trees and fields.

I finished my yoga, squared up in front of the mirror and did some shadow boxing. I had been quite good at boxing when I was young, as an amateur, and had come back to it in my late thirties, obviously just for fun. Far too old to compete. I did some basic simple combinations, left jab, straight right, left hook etc., using the timer on my phone for three-minute rounds. Then the front doorbell sounded. I rolled my eyes, pulled a tracksuit on and went downstairs to investigate.

‘Do come in, DI Slattery,’ I said, as I opened the door.

‘Thank you.’ He didn’t sound terribly thankful. I had forgotten his intimidating bulk, he filled the door frame.

Slattery was a big man. He looked at me coldly. His eyes were brown and hard. With his glossy black hair and slightly swarthy colouring he did look a bit like an over the hill romantic lead from a soap-opera. A modern-day ageing Heathcliff.

Perhaps I ought to hum a bit of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, as played a lot on Beech Tree FM ‘home of local radio, coming at you through the trees …!’

Heathcliff …

Perhaps it would relax him. I looked at his unfriendly face. Perhaps not.

There was no back room at the restaurant. Just the eating area, toilets and kitchen. We could have gone upstairs but there were no chairs and while I couldn’t speak for DI Slattery, I personally had no great wish to sit next to him on my mattress.

For a moment I envisioned the idea: it would be worth it, just to see the look on his face. ‘Do take a seat …”

Or, sinking sexily down on to the mattress and patting it suggestively, maybe undoing a button or two on my chef’s jacket in a saucy way.

Let’s make ourselves comfy, shall we—’ a seductive smile as I had no hair to toss alluringly back ‘—I can call you Michael, can’t I, Detective Inspector? Let’s not be formal …

I waved him to a table in the restaurant. I did not want to switch machines that had been cleaned on again. He would have to do without the offer of hospitality. No coffee or cake for you, Mr Policeman.

‘How can I help you?’

He sat opposite me, giving me a sardonic once over. It was such a classic policeman’s look, polite scepticism with a hint of amused contempt.

‘How long have you been here?’ he asked.

‘On this earth?’ I said innocently.

He rolled his eyes. ‘In this village.’

‘Since the first of January,’ I said. He knew that anyway.

He nodded. ‘And during this time we have had two crimes: a break-in and a fire bomb.’ There was something accusatory about his tone, as if it were my fault.

‘A bomb?’

‘Mm-hm, Mr Whitfield’s obelisk was set alight with an incen­diary device which was detonated with a timer made from a mobile phone. Are you good with electronics, Ben?’

‘No,’ I said, shrugging. ‘It’s unfortunate, the crimewave, but it’s nothing to do with me.’

Slattery looked at me sceptically.

‘Pure coincidence,’ I said firmly.

He nodded thoughtfully and then said, ‘Of course, you’ve been in trouble with the law before.’

There was the obvious implication that he had run me through the system because I was a suspicious blot on the landscape; the veiled threat of ‘I’m on to you, Sonny Jim’ and the implicit threat that he would make sure knowledge of my chequered past would return to haunt me.

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The Summer of Second Chances by Maddie Please

The Summer of Second Chances by Maddie Please

35229298Publisher: Maze

Publishing Date: 17th July 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 400

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The Summer of Second Chances is the perfect feelgood summer read.’ Chrissie Manby, author of What I Did On My Holidays

Lottie is about to discover that even when you think you’ve lost everything, hope and romance can be just around the corner . . .

It takes time to build your life. To get into a long-term (OK, a bit boring) relationship. To find a job (you don’t completely hate). Lottie might not be thrilled with the life she’s put together, but it’s the one she’s got.

So when in the course of one terrible evening, it all comes crashing down around her, Lottie has a choice: give herself over to grief at being broke, single and completely lacking in prospects.

Or, brick by brick, build herself a new life. And this time, with a little help from friends, a crumbling cottage in Devon and a handsome stranger, maybe she can make it the one she always wanted.

The Summer of Second Chances is an irresistibly funny read about never giving up, whatever the world throws at you. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Jane Costello and Christie Barlow.

Rating: five-stars

Wow, what a gorgeous, cute little story “The Summer of Second Chances” was! I truly didn’t know what to expect from this book but it really wow-ed me, with the light – hearted writing style, interesting plot and lovable characters, and the last few sentences at the end were just brilliant and a perfect end to this book. OK, I admit, there was one thing that bothered me, namely for me it looked as if this book was written by two different authors – why, I hear you ask? Well, you know, so the story and narration flew steadily and then suddenly, like the impossible to see icebergs, the narration was starting to turn incredibly hilarious, the events ridiculously funny and I was finding myself laughing out loud at Lottie’s antics, and it lasted for a few pages and then the story telling was back again to this normal, steady one. It happened a few times and while it didn’t make me confused or something, oh no, I enjoyed those moments incredibly, it just made me think. But that’s me. My problems. Don’t pay any attention and just read this book because it’s great. And it has a stunning cover – so summery!

The story introduces us to Lottie, who’s been through some dramatic moments in her life recently – she’s homeless, money – less, jobless, single – and is now looking for a fresh start. It seems that she can find it in a little cottage belonging to one of her friends – in return for redecorating it, Lottie can live there next, and she jumps at the chance. After living a comfortable life, with no financial troubles and a partner on her side, it was a change for Lottie, wasn’t it? But maybe it was this what Lottie needed right now? Well, this and a new neighbour, Bryn?

I have seen many accident prone characters in my life but Lottie overdone them all! Guys, it was incredible, really, those situations and troubles she was getting herself in – this story abounded in many awkward, embarrassing situations. I loved Lottie, she was such a positive personality, even though she had to cope with so many awful things in her life. She was this kind of character that grows on you and you keeps everything crossed for her. And I loved to see Lottie changing, spreading her wings despite all new troubles and worries and turning into almost a different person. She was honest and told us about things how they really were, and I really didn’t have any problems to connect with her and to understand her.
And of course, let’s not forget Lottie’s new neighbour, Bryn. Not broody nor moody, like many other characters yet incredibly interesting and colourful and hmmm, I wouldn’t say no to such a neighbour and his jacuzzi.

It wouldn’t be a rom – com without the “rom” part, of course, and I loved this aspect of this story! Sure, there were the necessary ups and downs, the road to happiness was bumpy and not too straightforward but it never felt too cheesy or forced, if anything it was fresh, funny, adorable and honest. It was not too rushed, which was also great, because moving into a new man too quickly would make it too unbelievable, and it also gave the heroine time to come to terms a little with the new situation.

Altogether, “The Summer of Second Chances” was a lovely and easy read that made me feel relaxed and I finished it grinning from ear to ear. There were characters that you quickly start to root for and relate to, and it was a light take on new beginnings and – yes! – second chances. It also makes you think about life, about figuring out what it is you really want, but not in a too serious way, nono, no worries. However, there is also so much to this story than meets the eye, there is depth, it touches upon some sensitive issues but it’s perfectly mixed with light – heartedness and really some best one – liners and situations in history. So if you are in need of cheering up, picking yourself up and seeing how not to give up, try this book – I can only highly recommend it to you!

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