British · cosy · fun · mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book review – Blooming Murder

Blooming Murder

MURDER IS BLOSSOMING IN THE WELSH BORDERS.

Aldermaston’s having a bad day. A falling hanging-basket has killed the town’s mayor, and a second narrowly missed him. His wife wants him to build her new greenhouse in three days, and some nutter is sending him death threats.

This isn’t the quiet life he expected as the new Marquess of Mortiforde.

It’s the annual Borders in Blossom competition, and Mortiforde is battling with Portley Ridge in the final. But this is no parochial flower competition. The mayor’s mishap looks like murder, and there’s another body in the river. Someone desperately wants Portley Ridge to win for the fifteenth successive year.

So when a mysterious group of guerrilla gardeners suddenly carpet bomb Mortiforde with a series of stunning floral delights one night, a chain reaction of floral retaliation ensues.

Can Aldermaston survive long enough to uncover who is trying to kill him, and why? And can he get his wife’s greenhouse built in time?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blooming-Murder-Marquess-Mortiforde-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B094DCYK9Q/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Blooming-Murder-Marquess-Mortiforde-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B094DCYK9Q/

Author Bio

Simon Whaley is an author, writer and photographer who lives in the hilly bit of Shropshire. Blooming Murder is the first in his Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the idyllic Welsh Borders – a place many people struggle to locate on a map (including by some of those who live here). He’s written several non-fiction books, many if which contain his humorous take on the world, including the bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human and two editions in the hugely popular Bluffer’s Guide series (The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs and The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking). His short stories have appeared in Take A Break, Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, The Weekly News and The People’s Friend. Meanwhile his magazine articles have delighted readers in a variety of publications including BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Coast, The Simple Things and Country Walking.

Simon lives in Shropshire (which just happens to be a Welsh Border county) and, when he gets stuck with his writing, he tramps the Shropshire hills looking for inspiration and something to photograph. Some of his photographs appear on the national and regional BBC weather broadcasts under his BBC WeatherWatcher nickname of Snapper Simon. (For those of you who don’t know, they get a lot of weather in Shropshire.)

Social Media Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonwhaley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SimonWhaleyAuthor

My Review

If you’re looking for a funny, cosy mystery with a cracking pace, you’ve come to the right place. Quintessentially British humour is in abundance here, as are the blooms … and the dead bodies.

Now, the characters’ names might be tongue-twisters, but they perfectly sum up the vibe of this story – think of it as a mash-up of Carry On films, The Darling Buds of May and an Agatha Christie mystery and you’ll be primed for the Borders in Blossom competition where innuendo and double entendres are in full bloom.

So, to the story: When his older brother proves not to be the legitimate heir to the Marquess of Mortiforde title, Aldermaston and his wife are obliged to take up the position, bringing a halt to their previous lives to serve the community as his family always has. Part of his role includes being Chair of the Borderer’s Guild on behalf of the people of Mortiforde. As is the norm, the village has entered the Borders in Bloom competition, reaching the final two along with the winners for the past fourteen years, Portley Ridge. The prize is to host the horticultural TV show in the village, which is guaranteed to boost the village coffers in tourism alone.

Members of the County Council, or rather one member, the Chief Exec, takes advantage of Aldermaston’s absence at a meeting to take a vote on the Marquess’s position as Chair, convincing many (through nefarious means) to call for Aldermaston’s resignation if Mortiforde loses once again to their rivals at Portley Ridge.

Meanwhile, as the competition is launched, a hanging basket falls and knocks out the Mayor, who later dies of her injuries. A second hanging basket, placed above Aldermaston’s head has also been sabotaged. But why would anyone want to kill them? Aldermaston determines to find out.

Aldermaston has a battle on his hands both to find the Mayor’s killer and to win the competition, but unbeknownst to him, the villagers of Mortiforde (the allotment group, in particular) are also fed up of losing and launch a plan of their own to win the competition.

When the Mayor’s belongings are investigated, a file with Aldermaston’s name on it suggests she has discovered some dodgy undertakings going on that may explain how Portley Ridge has won so consistently over the years. Has the competition been fixed? There is very good reason to suspect so, and threats upon Aldermaston’s life plus the “unfortunate” drowning of a second councillor seems to imply that somebody wants to stop Aldermaston from digging further into the case.

Putting all thoughts of the other jobs on his to-do list (building his wife’s new greenhouse, and winning the competition) he and Lisa, the new Democracy Support Officer, pick up the case where the Mayor left off, but it’s not without its complications.

While they investigate, the “guerrilla gardeners” of Mortiforde spring into action and the roundabouts of the village burst into bloom with dazzling displays of floral fancy that surely must earn them the title this year. The villagers are delighted with the overnight transformations, and hopes are high, much to the annoyance of the person(s) behind the death threats for whom Portley Ridge must win and Aldermaston’s involvement has to end.

Naturally, it’s less straightforward with yet more sabotage to come, hidden tunnels, dark dealings (I mean, where HAVE all the gardening guys from the TV show gone?) and some very un-village-like shenanigans going on, and let’s not even mention the cottage cheese incident.

Chock-a-block with over the top characters, oodles of humour and some plain old silliness, Blooming Murder is a breath of fresh air in the cosy mystery genre, combining olde-worlde village charm with modern day crimes. A chuckle-worthy read. Bring on book 2.

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blog tour · book review · family · friendship · fun · romance · romantic comedy · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – This Year, Maybe

This Year Maybe

Alison and David have been engaged for so long that even Alison’s mother has given up asking when, but it’s second time around for both of them and they’re not in any particular hurry.
That said, Alison is beginning to wonder if living with her has put David off the idea of marriage so when he suggests they set a date she is delighted. But that date is six months’ away and a lot can happen in six months – especially if you’re Alison!

‘My son’s been arrested, Great-aunt Millie’s fallen in love, my best friend suspects her husband of having an affair, and I still need to lose weight. How on earth can I think about getting married?’

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Year-Maybe-Alisss-Adventures-ebook/dp/B08LLDZ9NP/

US – https://www.amazon.com/This-Year-Maybe-Alisss-Adventures-ebook/dp/B08LLDZ9NP/

Author Bio – I’m a golden-retriever-loving granny, who enjoys walking by the sea or in the woods, who eats too much chocolate, and who gets over-excited when the Welsh team plays rugby.

I have self-published two novels, This Time Last Year, and The Dog-walking Club, but I’m also an experienced freelance writer and author of several non-fiction books published by Hodder & Stoughton, Scripture Union and Kevin Mayhew.

Social Media Links

Facebook – LizHindsAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LizHindsAuthor

Website – http://lizhinds.online

My Review

4/5 stars

This was not my first book by this author because I know I can rely on her to make the world a better place for a few hours. You simply cannot read This Year, Maybe without smiling, and frequently laughing both with and at the characters. Talking of characters, there are a lot of them … an awful lot, because Alison has a busy if rather quirky life. I don’t imagine anything is ever straightforward for her, because if something can go wrong, it will. Sod’s Law (aka Murphy’s Law) was written for people like Alison. At times, I did feel as though I had to suspend belief at events that “happened” to her – the kidnapping during her Hen week being a prime example, and how her sister-in-law, Trish, always seemed to have the right skills at exactly the right time.

There’s a plethora of side stories that build to create even more problems for Alison. If she were ever to write her memoirs, be prepared for a War & Peace sized tome. I felt the overall story could have been shorter; it seemed to run out of steam towards the end, but I guess even Alison’s life has to allow for a breather now and then. That said, there was more than enough fun and humour to keep me reading. Writing comedy is no easy task, but the laughs roll off the page with a natural ease, so much so it feels as though you’re in the scene with the characters. I also love the author’s use of realistic dialogue; it glued me to my Kindle because these were real people in extraordinary , if somewhat chaotic, situations. The essence of the story centres on love, family and friendships, and the humour and mayhem are extra bonuses.

I’ll definitely be reading more from this author, and I love the cover: it’s bright and breezy and certain to lift the mood on a wintery day. Enjoy a few hours of chaos and fun – you’ll feel better for it!

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blog tour · book review · British · Christmas · fun · Giveaways · romantic comedy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Perfect Fit (Love in the Dales #2)

The Perfect Fit

‘A wonderful book with a great story and a sparky, unusual voice. I loved it!’ KATIE FFORDE

Escape to the frost-sparkling Yorkshire Dales for some festive fun under the mistletoe! A saucy comedy-romance with more than a sprinkle of Christmas spice – this will lift your spirits and your excitement level!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for costume shop owner Becky Finn. Leaving London to move back home to the twinkly rural village of Egglethwaite, she plans to build a new life for herself with fiancé, Cole.

Keen to raise funds for the struggling village hall she loved as a child, Becky finds herself at the head of a colourful group aiming to revive the Egglethwaite Christmas pantomime. But when that festive feeling sets in, she discovers there’s more to panto than innuendo and slapped thighs.

Falling in love was not in the script! But as opening night grows closer, she starts to wonder if the panto will ever make it to the stage and, with handsome co-star Marcus on the scene, if she has chosen her right leading man…

The perfect stocking-filler gift!

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07FTSPQGC/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FTSPQGC/

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-perfect-fit/id1440983553

Author Bio

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them. More information can be found about Mary Jayne on her website at http://www.maryjaynebaker.co.uk

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryJayneWrites/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/maryjaynebaker

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryjaynebaker/

Oh, yes it is!

Giveaway to Win signed copies of both books in the Love in the Dales series (Open to UK Only)

  • A Bicycle Made for Two and The Perfect Fit

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

 

My Review

4/5 stars

Why is a panto called a panto?

Because they arrrrrr!

(Readers of the story will get this, otherwise … read on. I’m not as crazy (or grammatically inept) as it might appear 😉 I’m channelling my inner six-year-old!)

From page one, the panto theme is alive and kicking, and when 6 year old Pip and her Aunty Becky attend the Christmas panto, Pip takes a particular liking to the joke:

Why are pirates called pirates? – Because they arrrrr!

So much does she love this, that she tells everyone, but not without changing it to suit her own purposes. (See now? 😉 as I said, my inner Pip!) The groan effect is huge, and Becky has a lot of explaining to do to the befuddled adults on the receiving end of Pip’s hilarity.

Having returned to her childhood home, Egglethwaite, after a stint in London, Becky Finn immerses herself into village life while waiting for her fiancé, Cole, to join her ‘up North’. As an artist, his life has been in London, but he so wants Becky to be happy that he is prepared to make the move. Unfortunately, it’s taking some time to get the job he wants, and so Becky is encouraged by her family and old friends to get involved in the community.

When it seems that the old hall – The Temperance Hall – is threatened by closure due to a lack of funding, Becky is determined to help raise money to keep it open. She has fond memories of the Hall, and especially of the pantomimes.

Why not rekindle the panto? she asks everyone at a local meeting. They don’t exactly rush to agree with her, but eventually she wins them over and plans are made to recruit others to help out behind the scenes and in the panto itself.

Of course, it doesn’t go swimmingly, but Becky gets stuck in, writing the script with Marcus and organising the costumes. It keeps her mind off missing Cole, and she’s enjoying being back with family and friends. She looks on longingly as her brother and his husband now have young Pip to raise, her best friend Lana and hubby, Stew, are also hoping to expand their family by adopting. Everyone seems to be moving on, and Becky cannot wait to be in their position.

Cole does eventually get the job and makes the move. Everything is falling into place for Becky. Or is it? The panto is taking over her life, and Cole is not at all interested. But, once it’s over, everything will be fine. Won’t it?

The characters, in true panto style, are larger than life yet still seem very realistic. They each get a chance to shine, telling their own stories. It feels like a proper community. Everyone looking out for each other, and at the same time coping with their own issues. There are plenty of laughs, lots of groans (bad panto jokes and innuendo galore) and even some tears.

This is the second book of the “A Love in the Dales’ Story” series but can be read as a standalone. Personally, I haven’t read the first book and didn’t feel there was anything missing or unexplained. It’s a fun read, totally reminiscent of the pantomimes of my own childhood. Behind the scenes, there’s drama, upsets, tantrums, and even costume envy. The author balances the enthusiasm and over-the-top quality of pantomime with believable relationships and interactions. It’s very British in its colloquialisms and pantomime traditions, all of which makes it a great fun read at this time of year.

I received a copy via Rachel’s Random Resources and have given this review voluntarily.

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blog tour · book review · contemporary fiction · family · fun · short reads · summer reading

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Pedalo Pandemonium

Pedalo Pandemonium

(Scott Family Short Story, Book 4)

 

Laura and Ben are still together, against all the odds. Laura’s Family the Scotts are adorable – but they wreak havoc wherever they go. The couple have survived first date silicon dog poo, Christmas mayhem and even dodgy marshmallows.

Their future together may have looked doomed on more than one occasion, but here they are at the airport – eating bacon sandwiches and watching planes take off, as they wait to board their flight to Mallorca.

A whole week in an idyllic Spanish fishing village. Just the two of them. Away from their families and the usual chaos. Wonderful.

What could possibly go wrong…?

Purchase Links

https://books2read.com/u/mqDVjO

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07V2T6N6Y

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07V2T6N6Y

Author Bio 

My name is Amanda Paull. Well, that’s my pen name, not my real one, which helps to keep my writing separate from my day job.

I grew up in the North East of England and couldn’t wait to move away. However, after studying and then living both in England and abroad, I returned to the North East and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else now.

Going to Grammar school in the days when teachers wore black caps and gowns, and walloped at will, wasn’t much fun for a shy, quiet child like myself. So, I just kept my head down, did my homework and tried to stay invisible.

I used to love daydreaming and making up stories in my head, but I never thought about writing them down. In those days, writing wasn’t an enjoyable pursuit, it was more of a time to tow the line and avoid being hit by a flying blackboard rubber. I was the type of pupil who would have been mortified to have ‘made’ a teacher launch one at me, so I would have shown respect by not ducking. 

A short career in teaching was a revelation, to put it mildly. After going back to University, I settled into my current post in the public sector, where I am very happy.

It was Jim, a work colleague, who suggested around 12 years ago that I write a book. Apparently, my contribution to coffee break conversations always seemed to be either tragic or hilarious. But to me it was just normal stuff. No-one would want to read about that.

Then, a couple of years later, while sunbathing in Mallorca with my boyfriend, who is now my husband, and a glass of Cava, the idea of writing a humorous fiction novel came to me. I didn’t need to make it all up though as I had a plentiful supply of funny real life snippets. 

To get started, I studied creative writing through the Open University, which fitted nicely around my job and, to my delight, was absolutely nothing like school. The Scott Family Short Stories started out as an assignment for this course. A Christmas Day Kerfuffle was the result of the fictional account of the first Christmas brunch my husband spent with my family. Of all the short stories, this one has more true snippets in it than the others. The taxi driver and bike box scene in Pedalo Pandemonium was pretty true to life, too. The driver looked different, but the airport to hotel transfer only required slight embellishment.

​​I also write Women’s Fiction. Pictures in the Sky was my debut novel, and I am currently writing my second, Painting Bananas.

Social Media Links 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Apaullfiction

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Apaullfiction

Website: https://www.amandapaull.co.uk/

My Review

I’ve read the three previous books in this series, and this one was by far my favourite.  It may be because this was a bit longer than the others, or maybe it’s because I was more familiar with the characters and had an inkling of what to expect. They all have an unmistakable blend of real life and calamity, which results in plenty of humour for the reader.

In Pedalo Pandemonium, the taxi ride to their holiday hotel had me chuckling constantly – causing a few odd glares coming my way from fellow beach-goers. And I know Laura’s mum means well when she “helps” them out, but you just know that something will go awry when she’s involved.

I enjoyed seeing more of Laura and Ben as a couple, without their respective families – or at least for a while, anyway 😉 Their hotel sounded marvellous, and it seemed they were in for a wonderful time. As Laura would say, “All’s well in my world” – a saying that would come back to haunt her once  … well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out what turned their idyll into another famous Scott family disaster zone.

Pure entertainment, with a touch of “thank God, I’m not them” thrown in for good measure 😉 A quick and easy read, and a perfect way to spend an hour or so.

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blog tour · book news · book review · chick-lit · friendship · fun · romance

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Babe Driven plus a GIVEAWAY!

Babe Driven

Could you ignore the world’s hottest rock stars, if they moved into the villa next door? 

True love, humour and happy-ever-after. A sizzling romance read full of giggles, sunshine and searching for a soul mate in paradise by bestselling author Lizzie Chantree.

Brand new 2019 version!

Driving straight out of trouble and into paradise! A laugh out loud, contemporary romance read full of entrepreneurial women, powerful men and exotic locations.

Harriet’s crazily successful business idea is under serious threat, and the danger seems to be coming from inside her own family. She whisks her sister and her friends away to an exotic location to try and work out whose side they are on. It’s time to start damage limitation.

When the girls arrive at the glorious villa owned by Harriet’s maverick business partner Nikki, they find a gorgeous band and their sexy lead singer Max staying next door, out to entice their new neighbours into all kinds of trouble.

This isn’t a holiday for Harriet and she can’t afford to be distracted. She has to sell her business idea to the powerful resort owner, the elusive Mr Grant, while she is there, or she may not have a business to go back to. Harriet will have to choose between family and friends, business or pleasure. For someone who stays out of the limelight, even though her new company is the hottest ticket in town, she’s going to have to avoid the front pages of every newspaper if she wants to survive the ride!

I love the new cover! Just sayin’ 😉

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/RomanceReads

Author Bio

Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now runs networking hours on social media, where creative businesses, writers, photographers and designers can offer advice and support to each other. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree
https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree

Social Media Links

Website: www.lizziechantree.com

Author page: https://www.viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizzie.chantree.3

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizzie_chantree/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/

Giveaway to Win a Lizzie Chantree paperback of your Choice (Open INT).

Choice of books is Babe Driven, Love’s Child, Finding Gina, Ninja School Mum and If you love me, I’m yours. 

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

My Review

This is my first Lizzie Chantree book, and now I know what I’ve been missing.

Not only is this a story with a vibrant leading lady, but she (Harry, short for Harriet) has some serious busines smarts as well as being gorgeous. It’s true to say, Harry breaks the mould, and the story is all the richer for it. She is no-one’s arm candy, despite some of the rockstars in the next door villa drooling over her (albeit some with ulterior motives in mind than you might expect).

The story revolves around Harry, who has taken advantage of the use of her friend’s villa while she prepares for a big meeting with the resort owner. Harry’s chauffeur business – Babe Driven – continues to be a success, so much so she needs new investors, and Grant meets her requirements perfectly.

Her companions on the holiday include her sister, Alex, and some of Alex’s friends (the friendliest of the bunch is Mai, the most troubled due to unrequited love is Helen, and the most under-dressed gossipmonger is Lucy) Their storylines certainly add some colour to Harry’s world, and she does wonder why on earth she let Alex invite them. But, the thing is, Harry and Alex haven’t been close for a while, and this break has another purpose in bringing them together again. Yet, the source of their conflict makes things tricky. Alex’s brother, Seb, is not a fan of Harry (slight under exaggeration) and he’s prepared to swoop as low as he can go to ruin her business. Harry wonders whether he might be using Alex to that end, so getting to the truth is not going to be straightforward since Alex is very close to Seb. Although, it may be that the penny is dropping for her too – but will it be enough to win her over to Harry’s side, prove her position regarding the business and rebuild their sisterly relationship?

While the ladies are a motley crew, the rockstars over at the villa are a mixed bag too. Flirting is inevitable, and sometimes much more. The interactions are fun, often hilarious, and sometimes even quite sad.

There’s quite a bit of head-hopping, and with so many characters it can get a bit hectic keeping track, but once I got used to the style of writing it was a fun read all the way. Truly original, larger than life personalities, a clever plot (some creativity with names here 😉 I’ll say no more!) interesting subplots, and believable characters with a real zest for fun.

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book review · chick-lit · fun · NetGalley · romantic comedy · summer reading

Book Review – Probably the Best Kiss in the World

Jen Attison likes her life Just So. But being fished out of a canal in Copenhagen by her knickers is definitely NOT on her to do list.

From cinnamon swirls to a spontaneous night of laughter and fireworks, Jen’s city break with the girls takes a turn for the unexpected because of her gorgeous, mystery rescuer.

Back home, Jen faces a choice. A surprise proposal from her boyfriend, ‘boring’ Robert has offered Jen the safety net she always thought she wanted. But with the memories of her Danish adventure proving hard to forget, maybe it’s time for Jen to stop listening to her head and start following her heart…

Add to Goodreads

My Review

Probably the best rom-com I’ve read this year!

Just like brewing beer, a good romantic comedy requires a mix of great ingredients. In this case, the author has created probably the perfect blend of characters. (And, yes, I will probably overuse the word probably in this review – but that’s probably a good thing, right?)

So, we have a reluctant leading lady in Jen Attison. As a list-maker myself, I can relate to her organisation prowess, although she definitely has better ‘follow-through’ skills than I do. Jen is – or so she thinks – content with her lot, and would happily continue with her job, her brewing, and her relationship with Robert …unless something out of the blue happens. Luckily for Jen, it does.

Enter our leading man (Move over Robert!) in the form of Yakob (as he is known for most of the book).

While Jen might be sceptical and wary of romance, Yakob most certainly isn’t. He knows when he’s found the one for him. The trouble lies in convincing Jen too. Added to the fact that she is engaged to Robert – and Jen is nothing if not loyal – then any relationship with Yakob is out of the question.

To be honest, sometimes I wanted to scream at Jen, and tell her to put herself first for a change. But there’s no telling some people. Well, unless you have a sister like Lydia. Where Yakob fails to convince Jen of anything, Lydia charges like a bull in a china shop, determined to make her big sister see beyond her so-called duties and responsibilities. You see, Jen feels she has to protect Lydia (for reasons why, you’ll need to read the book 😉 LOL), add that to the fact that she has already accepted Robert’s proposal and couldn’t possibly let him down (cue screaming from me!), and Jen is bogged down by a sense of loyalty and duty. Probably not the most ideal mindset with which to enter into marriage!

Jen digs her heels in (she gives “stubborn” a whole new meaning), a move that threatens her relationship with Lydia – something she could never, ever have foreseen. Could her sense of duty ruin everything? Does she really want to marry Robert? Could she settle for a life without brewing her wonderful, artisan beers?

Jen may well be the main character in this story, but without Lydia, Yakob, and even Robert’s family, she wouldn’t be able to carry the story. She is well meaning, but somewhat smothering towards Lydia; at work, she’s dismissive of her bosses (Robert’s sisters) and a little condescending of their ideas (well, crocheted tampons are real 😉 so maybe they’re not as ridiculous as Jen might think). Yet, despite having control-freak tendencies, she seems to fall apart when Robert maps out their future, one in which her brewing passion is denigrated to hobby status at best. Where did the real Jen go? Well, it took a dip in a canal in Copenhagen to start the process, and a few secrets to railroad it too.

This is a story filled with humour, emotion, travel, drama, and beer. The romance aspect is slow burning in nature, and there are plenty of twists in the tale as the story develops. A great summer read that I’d recommend to rom-com fans who are looking for originality, fun, family, and a HEA – probably!

I received this book from Netgalley, and this review is given voluntarily.

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blog tour · book review · comedy · cosy · detective · fun · mystery · there's a dog

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Every Dog Has His Day

By Chloe Grace

Every dog has his day

They say every dog has his day.

Well, today I’ve certainly had mine.
Hey, I’m Albertus Eagle and it turns out I’m an unwitting pet detective. I haven’t always been such a successful legal beagle, but when I’m confronted with a case that is so personal I can’t ignore it, I discover I have a passion for finding those who don’t want to be found.
Cleo the cat. Well, she came along for the ride too.
So, sure I’ve had my day today, but not in the sense of being past my prime. To the contrary, the fun is just starting. And I am buzzing with a new purpose, mixed with a tiny amount of vindictive elation.
Why?
Because, I’ve not only found myself a new home after the untimely demise of my previous owner, but I’ve also made amends with the cat. It turns out she’s not that bad, really.
On top of that though, and this is what really sends shivers racing all the way down my spine to my paws, is that we’ve fingered a killer.
How?
Because you humans, you underestimate us animals. And while you go about your business ignoring our very existence, the cat and I are listening and taking notes.
This is the first full length novel in the Albertus Eagle detective beagle series of animal cosy mysteries, starring Albertus Eagle, and his two sidekicks, Cleo the cat and Bella Schuhmann, the smart human who actually understands him. In this wonderful full length book packed with humour and satire, we see the world of murder and intrigue set up through the eyes of a loyal dog turned amateur sleuth.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NP9VVXK

UShttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NP9VVXK

Author Bio

Chloe Grace is the cosy mystery pen name for romantic mystery author, Karen Botha. While she doesn’t understand animals quite as well as Bella in the Albertus Eagle Detective Beagle cosy mysteries, she does chat along to her rescue dog, Shadow, pretty much all day.

And she’s sure that he chats back.

Chloe lives with Shadow and her hubby in a small outpost of London city—funnily enough it’s a little like where Bella and Albie live. As a family they like to go on walks in the local woods and throw a tennis ball until their respective arms ache, which is usually before Shadow shows any hint of exhaustion.

While her first romance novels were inspired by true life events, the Albertus Eagle series are complete imagination – although her conversations with Shadow can’t be ignored.

Social Media Links

SIGN UP FOR MAILING LIST – https://dl.bookfunnel.com/jgeib0362x
VISIT HER WEBSITE – http://www.karenbotha.com/meet-karen/chloe-grace-cozy-mysteries/
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/ChloeGraceMysteries/?modal=admin_todo_tour
INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/karenbothaauthor

My Review

5/5 stars

I’m pretty sure it’s more than obvious, but any book with a dog in it stands a huge chance of pleasing me 😉

Albertus Eagle is a fine Beagle, a perfect specimen, and with a great voice throughout this story. His relationship with Cleo – the cat – is sweet, and funny, and so very natural.

His loyalty to his previous owner is adorable too, as is his growing fondness for Bella who finds them both at the animal sanctuary after the death of their owner, Milly. Taking them home, Bella is in for a shock when it becomes apparent that neither pet is going to accept Milly’s death as having occurred naturally. And so the intrepid duo convince Bella to investigate. I love the idea of Bella, a Dr Doolittle type who can talk to her pets, in fact I’m more than jealous of her abilities.

Together they unravel the mystery behind Milly’s death with many an adventure or escapade in between. It’s a true cosy, but with the viewpoint being all dog which makes for a fun, entertaining, easy to read story. I read this in one sitting, and I blame Albie for that entirely 😉 It is such a fun read, full of mystery and suspense, and some lovely satirical comments from Albie who really can’t believe quite how dumb humans can be. Although, that said, Albie and Cleo might be the stars of the story, but infallible they are not, albeit they do get carried away with infectious enthusiasm.

I look forward to more in this series.

If you need some escapism, this is for you.

For more news and reviews, here are some more blogs to sniff out (see what I did there? LOL)

As always,

book review · chick-lit · fun · humour · romantic comedy

Book Review – The Lonely Spinsters’ Club: Willow

The Lonely Spinsters’ Club

Willow

How does a woman enjoy the company of a man without committing to a long-term relationship? Easy, love him for ninety days and leave him.

Willow gave up on love a long time ago, but she hasn’t given up on sex. So, to keep her chakras aligned and life force flowing, she abides by her tried-and-true rule: love him for ninety days and leave him. Consequently, she can feed her body while protecting her heart.

Willow’s practice of purposeful detachment serves her well until she sets her sights on Kendall’s friend Josh. Even though Josh expresses interest in Willow, he wants a more traditional relationship than she’s willing to give.

Despite their apparent differences, the universe seems to have other plans for the couple as their lives become increasingly intertwined. When Willow finally decides to follow the universe’s lead, she’s betrayed by her ninety-day rule and must rethink her life plan or face the future alone.

Willow’s story is the second installment of the five-book romantic comedy series THE LONELY SPINSTERS CLUB.

Buy Link: Amazon US

My Review

4/5 stars

Having read “Kendall”, the first in the series of The Lonely Spinster’s Club, I was more than happy to jump into this second book. As before, the author’s writing style is easily addictive, with fabulous, larger-than-life characters, authentic dialogue and shed-loads of humour.

Who is Willow, then? To say she is nothing like her cousin Kendall would be an understatement. Kendall is eight and a half months pregnant as this story begins, and planning her wedding to Gio. Willow is about as far away from domestic “bliss” as it’s possible to be, having vowed to never get involved with anyone beyond her 90-day rule. She is of the ‘once bitten, twice shy’ school, but with agoraphobia taking the place of shyness.

When she catches up with Josh again – she met him at her cousin Ruthie’s wedding – then her chakras are out of control, and she spends weeks afterwards wondering whether she could actually settle down with Josh. She’s a tad pigheaded too, and can often come across as aggressive and argumentative.

Josh, on the other hand, wants to settle down and have a family; he loves kids, he gets a puppy … they appear to be perennial combatants.

For Willow, it’s a case of “She loves him. She loves him not”, while for Josh it’s an eternal tug of war with occasional “benefits”.

With Grandma Bev on the sidelines with her quirky digs at Willow’s single status, there is lots of humour to be found here.

A fun read with amusing and entertaining characters – this is a big family, and they all have an opinion. I noticed on Goodreads that there are three more books planned for the remaining cousins – Hester, Ruthie & Freya – all potential candidates for The Lonely Spinsters’ Club (yes, even Ruthie too!) and all much to Grandma Bev’s disapproval. I’m looking forward to reading more about this crazy family.

Get your copy here.

As always,

blog tour · book review · British · do what makes you happy · friendship · fun · inspirational · moving on · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – One Last Summer

Sometimes a story really speaks to you. This is one of those stories. It’s a very special moment when you get more than a story from a book, and here you get so much more: inspiration and courage to do what makes your heart sing. It certainly had that effect on me.

One Last Summer

They have the whole summer ahead of them. Is it enough to rekindle the friendship they once shared?
Harriet Greenleaf dreams of spending the summer in a beautiful ancient priory on the Somerset coast with her two best friends—but her dream is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s a chance to reconnect three lives that have drifted apart; on the other, she has a devastating secret to share that will change everything between them forever.
First to arrive is Audrey—the workaholic who’s heading for a heart attack unless she slows down and makes time for herself. Then Lisa, the happy-go-lucky flirt who’s always struggled to commit to anyone—or anything. Ever the optimist, can Harriet remind them of the joy in their lives and the importance of celebrating good friendship before it’s gone?
Through the highs and lows of a long, glorious summer, these three women will rediscover what it means to be there for each other—before they face the hardest of goodbyes.

Purchase Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Last-Summer-Victoria-Connelly-ebook/dp/B07G38S71K

US – https://www.amazon.com/One-Last-Summer-Victoria-Connelly-ebook/dp/B07G38S71K

About the Author


Victoria Connelly studied English literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens.
She is the author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.
Ms Connelly loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden, with either a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.
Catch up with Victoria via her website , on Twitter @VictoriaDarcy and on Instagram @VictoriaConnellyAuthor. For Facebook users, there’s a reader’s group too:

My Review

Harrie, Audrey and Lisa met at university, studying to be teachers. Their friendship was secured at that point, and no matter how much time elapsed between get-togethers, they all knew that they’d have each others’ back.

As the book began, six years had passed since the women last met up. And for Harrie, life had delivered her the mightiest of blows. Having had breast cancer a few years earlier, she then went into remission, but now it was back – and this time it was terminal.

The time had come for her to tell her best friends, and so she booked the Priory for them to spend one last summer together. But telling her friends was not as easy as she thought it would be. You might wonder why she hadn’t mentioned it before, but Harrie is the kind of person who wants to spare them from the upset, trauma and awkwardness of having a friend with cancer. She fully admits she would have kept it from her daughter too, had she not needed her help and support.

Now at the Priory, the three women immediately resumed where they left off, catching up on the last six years – except Harrie was still not forthcoming. On hearing her friends reveal their own issues, she felt she simply couldn’t ‘dump’ the bad news on them, and decided to stay quiet.

Audrey had started her own school, and was obsessed with work – she couldn’t switch off, no matter how many times she was chided for checking her emails (yes, she brought her laptop with her!) All work and no play was about to take its toll, and when Audrey collapsed with a later-diagnosed heart problem, Harrie knew she was right to stay quiet.

Lisa, on the other hand, was struggling to find something in life that really excited her. Working as a supply teacher paid the bills, but she hated the fact she was still renting her house – at her age! Harrie knew Lisa’s mum had died from cancer and she was fully aware how this had affected her, despite it being many years ago. This was another reason for Harrie’s decision to not tell them.

But Harrie hadn’t banked on her daughter, Honor, struggling with the idea that her mum’s original plan had fallen by the wayside because she (Harrie) was too concerned for her own friends’ feelings.

Wow! Harrie was really that strong, and Honor couldn’t sit back and watch her mum fret over others when she felt it was her mum who deserved so much more in her final months.

Another key player in getting Harrie to tell all was Mrs Ryder, the housekeeper / cook, whose brusque manner initially put the fear of God in the three women. Mrs Ryder was a no-nonsense woman, and her constant criticisms of Harrie’s vegan diet brought moments of humour and absolute clarity to the story. She recognised Harrie as an ill woman, and made her a meat pie because she needed ‘building up’.

When Harrie finally came clean, Audrey felt guilty for having not been there for her friend, and Lisa retreated into her own world, recalling how her mother’s death had impacted her life. Over time, the three women finally came to terms with Harrie’s fate, and they spent the remainder of the holiday living life to the full – their final party was a joy!

There were a few subplots that ran alongside the main story that gave it even more impetus. Harrie befriended the stonemason, Samson, who was restoring the Priory during their stay. Their friendship was subtle, sweet and made me wish Harrie had more time. Together, they explored old churches and enjoyed each other’s company.

By the end, all three women had been changed dramatically by that summer holiday. Audrey began to see that maybe the school – and all the work that came with it – was not really the best thing for her health or her marriage. Her husband, Mike, was a sweetheart, and had plans of moving out of London and back to the coast. Audrey, however, had been blind to his ideas – until now.

Lisa, who enjoyed yoga and often practised in the grounds of the Priory caught the attention of the young gardener. Her nurturing of him and his back pain, as well as encouraging him to follow his dreams, led to her finally realising that she should take her own advice. Supported by Audrey and Harrie, she too found herself a new future, doing something she loved.

For both Audrey and Lisa, none of this would have been possible if Harrie had not booked that long summer break. And they both knew she would approve of the changes they ultimately made.

Oops, did I mention how stunning the Priory was? Beautifully brought to life by the author, making me feel like a guest there myself.

If only!

This is the kind of inspiring book that really has an impact on its readers – me, included. The strong message to follow your dreams and do what makes you happy resonated with me totally. As a result I’ve taken up watercolours again – something I’ve not done since school, but always said I’d resume one day. Well, now is the time and I’m booked on a course next month ( I’ve bought my paints, brushes, paper, etc already because I am that excited!) Thank you Harrie, and the author too, because the future is not something any of us can guarantee.

For more news and reviews, why not take a look at these amazing blogs too:

As always,

book review · chick-lit · fun · women's fiction

Book Review – The Lonely Spinsters’ Club: Kendall

She doesn’t have time for a relationship,
but maybe she could swing a one-night stand.
After all, he’s just a stripper,
so no need to worry about the future… or a broken heart.

Kendall has it all: a soaring law career, a bank account filled with cash, and an apartment overlooking the Chicago River. Her life couldn’t get any better; at least that’s what she thinks before she hosts a bachelorette party for her younger cousin, Ruthie.

What starts out as a low-key soiree quickly turns into an evening of debauchery when two strippers show up unexpectedly. During their act, Kendall can’t keep her eyes off the dark and stoic Giovanni. Fuelled by too many Moscow Mules and ignited by the male form, her suppressed desire smoulders.

With the prodding of her older cousin Freya, Kendall pursues a one-night stand with Gio. But when she realises she wants more, Kendall is forced to reexamine her priorities as well as her lifelong definition of success.

Kendall’s story is the first instalment of the five-book romantic comedy series THE LONELY SPINSTERS CLUB.

My Review

I knew from the title that this was going to be a fun book to read, and I was so right.
According to her grandmother, Kendall is the leader of The Lonely Spinsters’ Club, and she has no intention of changing that. Together with her many single cousins, Kendall has other priorities – she doesn’t need a man to give her life value. Much to Grandma Bev’s dismay.
As a successful lawyer, about to make partner, Kendall has her own dream life: a beautiful apartment, a successful career and great prospects. There is no way she’s going to give all that up for a husband and family – or is there?
Like all good chick-lit novels, Kendall’s plans take an altogether different path once she is persuaded by her cousin, Freya, to attend the bachelorette party of another cousin, Ruthie. Freya has great plans for the party, as she is also “celebrating” her divorce.
A couple of strippers are booked, and immediately there is a connection between Gio and Kendall – but he’s a stripper, and she’s a successful lawyer. And, besides, she doesn’t do one-night stands either – although she assumes he does.
What follows is a humorous story in which Kendall and Gio have to face the fact that they both fancy each other, and nothing – but nothing – can change that.
Well, apart from the fact they’ll never see each other again.
Yeah, right!
What will be, will be.
With great humour (particularly with Grandma Bev’s quips and Kendall’s dire wardrobe), interesting and mischievous characters, clever subplots and a fast pace, this book is easy to devour within a few hours. The characters and their antics will keep you entertained, and a few twists and turns along the way will have you second-guessing the outcome.
All in all, an enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to reading about Willow – another cousin – next. She strikes me as someone with a great story to tell.