Our Little Secret by Claudia Carroll / #BlogTour

Our Little Secret by Claudia Carroll

 

34214932Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 8th February 2018

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

Number of pages: 319

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A sparkling story about what happens when you let someone into your life… but they turn out to want more than you’d bargained for!

Sarah Dee has the perfect life. A high-flying job in a law firm, a beautiful daughter and a house to die for. So how does she find herself looking in through the kitchen window while another woman enjoys it all?

When Sarah takes pity on a struggling young graduate who can’t get a job, she thinks she’s doing the right thing. She’s being kind, generous and helpful to others, as she always is. But as Sarah allows the younger woman into her home, her law firm and even her family, is there more to this pretty youngster than meets the eye? And could this be a good deed that goes further than expected?

Claudia Carroll does it again with a sparkling new novel about what happens when your life becomes up for grabs…

Rating: four-stars

In “Our Little Secret” Sarah Keyes, the main character, loves her job, and she indeed works very hard not only in her law firm, but also volunteering as a free legal aid. She’s currently divorced and now living only with her teenage daughter Darcy. One day, Sarah meets Lauren, a very bright girl working in a nail salon – Lauren is young, clever and studied hard for her law degree and her background history breaks Sarah’s heart, so she decides to do her best to help this girl. Lauren herself very easily and seamlessly slots into Sarah’s life and everything seems perfect. But is it really…?

To be honest, judging the book by the cover, I was expecting something else – some kind of a romance, a vintage read, and what I’ve got was a brilliant, dynamic and modern story, an emotional roller – coaster ride. It was compelling, and truly addictive, with the right dose of drama and humour. It was a book written in a brilliant, chatty style. This novel was a little different to other Claudia Carroll’s offers – it was somehow more mature, touching upon some heavier issues, but at the same time light and uplifting. It was tense but not like you’d expect from thriller or mystery, oh no, it was much lighter in tone but it was also somehow sinister.

The characters and the story were so easily brought to life, they just came alive on the pages. Sarah was a great character but let’s be honest, she should have known better, right? She was too naive and too caring for my liking in some aspects and well, the reality came and bit her strong. Of course it was not her fault that she was taken for granted, I just only couldn’t stop thinking that yes, she should have known better! The fact that she’s rushed so much into the new friendship, believing in everything that was told and offering help right and left was a little too unbelievable – would you open your heart, wallet and house to a stranger? However, when she realises what’s going on, I adored to see the change in her and that she feared nothing to reclaim her happy and trouble – free life.
I can’t express how annoying Lauren’s character was, from the very beginning, always there, always knowing better, always with a smile. Arrrrghh! She was this kind of person that would do anything, at whatever cost, to achieve her goals, and the more I read, the more I disliked her. Really. This whole sweetness, the do – gooder, oh no, it was not for me, I wasn’t buying it. However, she was really brilliantly pictured, and Claudia Carroll has captured all the main attributes that makes a toxic character toxic, and how well Lauren was able to spot all the vulnerable points of her victims.

The story is told in alternative chapters, from Sarah, Darcy and Sarah’s best friend Liz points of view. I really liked their takes on things happening, the different takes, as we were able to see things Sarah wasn’t able to see. Liz was a great character, she saw things as they really were and there was no beating around the bush with her, and I really liked her no – nonsense approach in all aspects of her life. She was a great and supportive friend of Sarah. There was a small element of romance in the book as well and it was a great addition in my opinion. It didn’t feel rushed and it developed in a natural way – it just seemed realistic. Yes, it was a little surprising but it worked well in this part of the story.

So this book. Really. It made me feel so, so angry! Probably all of us know such Lauren – characters. While reading the novel I knew that some of the characters are right about her, and it made me so angry that it took Sarah so long to notice all the signs. I had a feeling that I can’t relax in Lauren’s company, that I can’t trust her, that she’s sucking off all the positive vibrations from the vicinity and I couldn’t believe that Sarah can’t see this. Really, guys, be prepared to be completely lost in this story. It was thought – provoking and it will lead you on to ask questions, to make you think, while exploring the darker, heavier side of friendship. “Our Little Secret” was fast – paced and complex story about gaining control and staying in control, about getting your life on the right path again, about using and about being used, with riveting characters and interesting plot, full of secrets and lies. Highly recommended!

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All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll

All She Ever Wished For by Claudia Carroll

 

29743550Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 6th October 2016

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

Number of pages: 496

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A gorgeous story of chance meetings and unexpected friendships. Because sometimes what you’ve always wished for isn’t necessarily what life has in store . . .

Marriage. It’s a dream come true. Isn’t it?

One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage…

All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare…

Claudia Carroll brings you a Christmas gift filled with second chances, fateful encounters and a lesson in what true love means.

Rating: 5/5

Oh wow. Really. I think that with every book Claudia Carroll is only getting better and better! Also, her stories are so different to each other, which only makes waiting for her new releases more and more exciting. Yes, I must admit, I was afraid that this book won’t capture my attention as in my opinion it was a real slow burner. It gathered pace only in the courtroom and this is when the book really started to feel incredibly exciting and thrilling, but till that moment I was already panicking and asking myself what’s happening? Let’s be honest, it dragged a little on and it was hard to see what this story is really going to be about, but as soon as we entered the courtroom and experienced what the case is going to be about, the book became unputdownable for me!

Tess and Bernard are getting married, even though many other people, including Tess’s family are of opinion that they just don’t make the perfect match. Nevertheless, the wedding should take place at Tess’s family home and this what looked like a really great idea starts to cause more and more problems. Moreover, Tess has just been called for jury duty and even though she has tried everything and every excuse to wriggle out of this obligation, she need to do her duty – she must also put her wedding organization aside and soon she needs to make some decisions that may change her life. Because suddenly she really has a lot of decisions to make, and to be honest, yes, I was wondering what she sees in Bernard, the more I read into this story, but then I thought, oh well, love cannot be compelled, right? I just couldn’t help thinking that they are totally not suitable, even though Tess was absolutely sure they belong together. And for my liking the hesitation, the questioning, it happened too sudden, too out of the blue and made me a little sceptic.
Enter Kate and Damien King, the golden couple of Ireland, young, successful, beautiful, who kept the whole nation with bated breath when reading about their life. However, as their marriage came to an end, now it’s time for the very public battle in the court, that is becoming a new media folly. What happened? What did go wrong in this marriage?

This is a story about two very different women who, in the end, want the same thing. I absolutely loved how very complex and vague the author made Kate King. She firstly lets us to know her worst side (supposedly) of her, and tell her story mostly in flashbacks, usually through the eyes of journalists who have already judged her, or through the eyes’ of Damien’s lawyer, and to tell that the things told about her were not positive would be an understatement, and then slowly started to reveal her real personality. I must admit, it annoyed me that Kate was so calm and she’s never said a single word in her defence, but on the other hand I totally admired her calmness, serenity, balance and the way she was. I think it must cost a lot of strength to be like Kate in such situation. Though – not everything is so obvious! There were also moments at the end of the book that the author made it so unclear, that I myself, the person who was supporting Kate no matter what, started to doubt if her intentions were really so innocent – thanks to Claudia Carroll for making this so thrilling and not straightforward!
Actually, all of the characters are brilliantly drawn and all are memorable people. All of them are so different and the author captured the differences and the little details that made them so exceptional and so realistic in a brilliant way. Tess and her family were great, and what’s important, they were really honest with each other. Sure, her parents, or especially her mum, were paying great attention to the appearances and it was important to them what’s outside, that what the other people see is clear and immaculate, but they also didn’t give a shit to the fact that they were not as well educated as for example Bernard’s family, who, in my opinion, couldn’t be more boring with their never – ending conversations about opera, lectures and “high” art. Is it a wonder that those two families just didn’t “get” each other?
And let’s not forget the jury members! They were the most colourful, entertaining bunch of characters ever! Tess was one of the youngest, and we had a mum of a few children there, a young car – salesman, some pensioners, and Will… Oh my word, Will. I won’t say anymore, please read the book for yourself, then you will understand what I mean about Will. But back to the jury – a group of totally different people that destiny thrown together and who must stitch together, no matter what now. There were some brilliant moments involving the jury, especially they trips to lunches, and I loved their interaction and how easily they found a common ground.

The two heroines are so different, and their perspectives as well, and I loved how their paths become entwined. They were both strong and determined, proud and they knew their worth and very quickly I found myself rooting for them – even though, let me admit, at the beginning, what with the story being on the slow side, I was not so sure of them both! But mea culpa, because in my opinion they both turned out to be different women to this what I thought about them, and hats off to the author for making them so complex and ambiguous.

This story is like one big jigsaw, like matching the puzzle elements, and I absolutely loved how the information were slowly revealed, and every new thing was like a new puzzle piece. There are many of them, however I never felt confused and I didn’t have problems to follow the flow of the story. It is also a story of two relationship, two very different relationships but both of them so incredibly interesting! “All she Ever Wished For” is a powerful, thought – provoking read showing that things are not always as straight – forward or so obvious and that there is always a hidden agenda and that it is worth to dig deeper and deeper to know the truth. It is funny and at the same time it is poignant and yes, I had a problem to get into it, but quickly it had me glued to the pages and I was desperate to know what’s going to happen and how it’s going to develop. Claudia Carroll’s writing is better and better with her every new book, it is engaging and she has a great way with the words, describing feelings and emotions, characters and their personalities, places and situations in the most engaging, genuine way. The storyline was complex and really clever and I really wasn’t sure where it’s heading, taking me on a great journey full of surprises.

My Wonderful Christmas Alone by Claudia Carroll – Guest Post

Hi guys, and happy Saturday! Today I was supposed to be a part of Claudia Carroll’s blog tour however, when yesterday I saw the blog tour poster, I noticed there is a mistake and it mentions other blog. I tried to get in touch with the lovely Louis from Avon but it was probably too late – my fault, I should have checked the poster earlier, but with the new job and life getting in the way all the time I am not yet too well organized, so please forgive me everybody. However, as I have the brilliant guest post by the wonderful Claudia Carroll, I am of course going to post it here on the blog – enjoy, guys!

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My Wonderful Christmas Alone.

            You get quite a number of weird reactions when you tell people that you’re planning to spend Christmas alone. Firstly, you’ll get a lot of concerned lip biting and concerned head shaking, as people treat you like you’re a complete weirdo and assume that you’re a potential suicide risk.

Secondly, you can be guaranteed you’ll get a last-minute ‘guilt’ invitation to ‘come and have Christmas dinner with us. Just the family, it’ll be great fun, you’ll love it!’

This I have done many, many times and –without sounding ungrateful, I hope – let me tell you exactly how it goes. You’re put sitting opposite your pal’s nine and twelve year-olds, who I can guarantee you by dinner time on Christmas Day will be just about crashing down from the day’s sugar high and who will start a fight that descends into full-on temper tantrums at the dinner table.

Then you’ll be introduced to ‘John’ from your friend’s office. ‘He’s a lovely guy,’ you’ll be assured, ‘just your type and you both have so much in common. He’s on his own for Christmas too!’

This ‘John’ by the way, will turn out to be in his early sixties, with an ex-wife, halitosis breath and a severe gambling addiction. In spite of all this though, John will have no difficulty telling you that just because he’s a man he’s therefore in a buyer’s market and that he’s confident he’ll have a thirty-something draping his arm by New Year’s Eve. And the sad thing is that he’s probably right.

And that’s just option A. Option B is that a concerned relative will insist you come over to them for dinner, so you can sit in silence between her and her perennially depressed daughter, who at forty three still lives at home and whose only comment offered throughout the whole desultory dinner are ‘we didn’t bother with the plum pudding and brandy cream this year; all that saturated fat only brings one of Mum’s gall bladder attacks.’

Well you know what? I’ve done both and here’s my idea of a blissfully happy Christmas. To opt out. To just hibernate away, like we’re meant to during these dim, dark months. To enjoy the sheer bliss of having the remote control all to myself with no one to talk over the Downton Abbey Christmas special or to insist we watch highlights from the last series of Strictly, when it clashes with just about any movie that Ryan Gosling happens to be in.

Heaven on earth if you ask me.

Please don’t get me wrong, it’s not as though I don’t have family, because I do. A wonderful loving family too. It’s just that like a lot of families at this time of year, we’re all scattered to the four winds come Christmas Day and no one is willing to budge. I’m lucky enough to have two fabulous parents both alive and well and two brothers, both married, and both pretty much living at diametrically opposite ends of the country.

And they’re all incredibly generous and always insist on inviting me, Mum and Dad year after year to be with them. Which is lovely, thoughtful and muchly appreciated. But although it’s fantastic – and beyond price – to be with your loved ones on the Big Day, suppose you just don’t happen to fancy a five hour drive to their home there and back? Is it really so selfish to want to spend the day enjoying the true meaning of Christmas? Which as we all know is – in this order – food, fabulous telly and then, of yeah, telly again?

Some of the best Christmases I’ve ever had have been spent alone. After all, we spend the other 51 weeks of the year working hard and surrounded by others – so what’s so wrong about wanting a little time out to recharge? Yes Christmas is a time to share with loved ones, and that’s exactly what I do – no matter what part of the country my parents are in, I’ll move Heaven and earth to be with them at some point on the Big Day. Then, as they delightedly trot off to see my brothers and their in-laws (where they’ll generally stay till New Year’s), I’ll grasp at the chance to make my escape in the lovely, secure knowledge that I’ve got rest of Xmas night to chillax with a good book, a glass of wine and a roaring fire later on. So what’s not to love?

            And it’s not that that I’m not surrounded by others for the rest of December 25th. I’ve volunteered for Meals on Wheels that day, I’ve dished up turkey and ham dinners for the homeless that local charities have organized, I’ve even taken part in a charity fun run on the big day with a gang of like-minded pals. And we’ve had a great laugh and felt all the better for raising money for charity. But then very happily parted company and went home to really enjoy the very best that the season has to offer, which as everyone knows is the Marks and Spencer’s brandy plum pudding and of dear God, the bliss of uninterrupted box sets.

Everyone says Christmas is a time for family and friends, and quite rightly too. But supposing you’re not married and you don’t have kids, what then? Because Christmas is equally a time to relax, unwind and do the things we never have time for throughout the whole year. And surely that’s to allow ourselves a rare few day’s of total and utter self-indulgence, doing exactly what we want to do, without anyone to judge, or worse, to pity us?

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