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,

FREE for a limited time · free on Amazon · Lacey's Law · moving on · women's fiction

Lacey’s last stance

This is the last week of Kindle Unlimited for Lacey’s Law, and to celebrate her release from KU’s stranglehold her story will be FREE to download from today until April 18th.

Lacey Fielding knows two things to be true: grief is real and revenge is inevitable.

After learning the truth about her father’s death many years ago, Lacey feels justice must
be served. When fate lends a helping hand, she forges ahead to right the wrong done to her family. With her target in sight, she concocts the perfect plan, but as has happened before, life throws a curveball. Her best-laid plans begin to crumble and her road to revenge leads down a path she would never have imagined possible for her.

Carla has spent the last thirty years living her life under the guise of being a true friend. So comfortable in her place in Lacey’s life, she has no idea what’s in store for her. That blissful ignorance is not destined to last and as events spiral out of her control, her sanity and freedom are in doubt.

When the lines between friendship, betrayal, revenge and love are crossed, lives are changed. The question is – will that change be for the better or only make matters worse?

 

Thank you to everyone who has grabbed a copy, whether paid or free, your support has been invaluable.

From May, Lacey’s Law will no longer be available via Amazon, but can be found at other retailers or directly from this site.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Casualty of Court · cosy · interviews · moving on · relationships · The Fifth Wheel

Casualty of Court – No couch for Dr Ed

We’re having a change of venue this week, since Dr Ed Case has own office in a rather affluent location in the City Centre. Much to Annie’s relief – she gets her space back, although she has requested a full steam clean to get rid of the lingering fragrances from CeeCee’s incense sticks. I think the Cedar wood was a step too far for her.

Anyway, Dr Ed’s therapy suite is on the thirteenth floor of the auspicious Rizzolo building, with spectacular views of the city and the River Rizzle. It should make the characters feel relaxed, unless they have a fear of heights, that is.

First up, as is the norm, we have Fern. She’s taking the lift right now and will be with us shortly. She won’t be alone, however. Dr Ed has asked Raven to join her. He has an altogether different approach to his questioning; his focus being on what drives the two young woman in this case and beyond. Eddie, as he’s asked to be called when the duo arrive, wants to be sure they’ll both come through this trial experience unscathed, and for that they’ll need to rely on and support each other.

So, while we wait for them to arrive, let’s take a tour of Dr Ed’s chambers and, if we have time, we can check out his credentials as well.

A steel door opens into a room bathed in natural light as a result of the floor-to-ceiling window directly opposite. The remaining walls are painted in a soft shade of green – I’d hasten a guess at a pistachio blend – with grey fixtures and fittings. Overstuffed armchairs – upholstered in a grey, paisley print circle a low, glass-topped table to the left, another chair and couch, in the same fabric, sit to the right. A steel desk and black, leather chair take the centre stage, with the cityscape in the background.

It’s rather low-key, but nonetheless elegant. Nothing like CeeCee’s makeover of Annie’s office at all.

Dr Ed Case, MD, Psy. D, sits at his desk, reading case notes, I imagine.

A knock on the door alerts him to their arrival. We’ll have to check his credentials another time.

EC:  Come on in (He stands and walks to the door as Fern enters, followed by Raven) Welcome, ladies. please, make yourselves comfortable (he directs them to the grey armchairs)

RH: What a stunning view (she wanders over to the window – it’s the artist in her – always a sucker for a view)

FM: Hello, Dr ..

EC: Call me Eddie. It’s not as though you’re here as a client. (He smiles, revealing a dazzling display of expensive veneers)

FM: Thank you, Eddie

Fern’s voice is rather faint. I’m not sure she’s comfortable in this environment. Maybe she’s seen too many doctors in the last few years. 

(Raven joins them, and takes a seat, sinking into the well-upholstered seat with a sigh. Fern shakes her head and pulls up besides her.)

FM: I’ll stay in my wheelchair, if that’s alright with you, Eddie.

EC: Of course. Whatever you’re most comfortable with. Now, would you like coffee, tea?

(Fern shakes her head – again) Someone is determined not to relax.

RH: I’d love a cappuccino, or failing that a simple white coffee. (she catches Fern’s disapproving look and mouths “What?” to her)

EC: No problem. This machine can handle that. It’s why I bought it – bit of a coffee connoisseur myself. Fern, would you prefer a cold drink?

FM: I’m fine.

That’ll be a “no” then! 

(With coffees poured, Eddie sits opposite them and takes a sip, discreetly observing the two women during a moment of silence)

EC: So, I understand you’ve met with Annie and CeeCee already? What did you make of those sessions? (He directed his question at Fern)

FM: Annie was professional, as you’d expect. CeeCee was … well, let’s just say, we didn’t hit it off.

EC: Why was that?

Oh, Eddie, you’re pushing it now.

FM: I don’t believe in “magic”, Eddie.

 Air quotes too. Well, you asked for it, Ed.

EC: Really? And, you, Raven, what’s your experience been like?

RH: Much the same. CeeCee’s attempts to connect with my dad were just too ridiculous for words. when she started talking through Blanche, her spirit guide, I knew it would end in disaster.

EC: Did it?

(Raven furrows her brow)

EC: End in disaster?

RH: Well, she certainly didn’t make any sense. Just spouted some nonsense about it not ending with the trial.

(Both women laugh – at CeeCee’s expense. Dr Ed gets up and fetches his notepad, then sits again and scribbles away. The women exchange glances.)

EC: Then you must have plans. After the trial?

RH: Too right we do. Once this is over, we’ll be focusing all our attention on a new business venture. Won’t we, Fern?

(Fern blushes) Is she as on board as Raven is with this?

FM: Correct. (she straightens her posture – a tad too much, possibly) Once this trial ends, and that creep is behind bars for good, all this will become a distant memory. Despite what CeeCee says, it all ends here, and I – we – get to return to normal.

Methinks she doth protest too much.

EC: Have you worked together before?

RH: (she jumps in to answer) No, but we have complimentary skills. I’m trained as a PI and Fern has the business brains. We’ve got this sorted.

(Fern nods)

EC: That’s good to hear. All too often, people who have been involved in a crime and subsequent court case, particularly those who are attacked, they struggle to rebuild their lives. Haunted by memories. It takes some people years of therapy to get over it.

FM: (laughs) are you touting for business?

EC: Just stating facts, Fern. You’re lucky to have such great support.

FM: I know that. And we will make this business work. Trust me.

Hmm, famous last words, maybe.

EC: (he bows his head in acknowledgement) Raven, you’ve given up your time to accompany Fern. You must be firm friends?

O-oh. Eddie’s messing with fire now. 

RH: (fidgets in her chair) We’ve not known each that long. Certainly not as long as I’ve known Nessa.

(Fern scoffs. Ed makes more notes)

RH: As I was saying, (she glares at Fern) despite that, we have lots in common. We’re both fighters for justice.

EC: You sound like a new superhero duo. (He smiles, but the comment stuns the two young women)

FM: I’m not sure where this is going, Eddie. I assumed you’d be questioning us about the case, not about our future plans.

EC: My role is to examine your reasons for taking on this case, Fern. And to ensure you have adequate support once it’s over.

RH: What business is it of yours to examine her reasons? She was assaulted, left to drown, abandoned. What more reason could there be?

Mother Justice strikes again.

EC: You’re right. But not everyone has the fortitude to pursue a case like this. Especially in person. We all know Fern need not have travelled to Portugal to present her case. The system allows for her to work through a legal practitioner. I’m merely curious why she chose to re-live the assault – your words, not mine.

(Fern remains silent throughout this exchange)

RH: Tell him, Fern. You are doing this because you want to see justice done. Not to hear about it from your solicitor. Tell him. (She is staring hard at her friend by this point)

Fern’s silence speaks volumes. Is she regretting giving her account in person? She has to face him in court to do so. I wonder if she’s really as ready as she thinks. 

EC: Fern?

FM: (She coughs, clearing her throat) That’s it exactly. I want to see the man who left me to drown, who tried to kill me despite only being on an assault charge … I want to see him found guilty.

EC: And you’re sure of the outcome?

RH: Of course she is. What other outcome could there be? I think we’ve answered your questions anyway. Thanks for the coffee. (Raven stands) Fern, are you coming?

FM: She’s right. You know my reasons and future plans. I think we’re done. Goodbye, Dr Case.

(Both make for the door)

EC: (stands and watches them leave) Thank you for coming, ladies. It’s been most informative.

Summary: Fern is more scared than she cares to admit. Raven, however, is determined to see this through to the end. Which is fine, considering she’s not the one in the hot seat, giving a statement. As for the future, can they really work well together. Only time will tell.

***

Dr Ed will see Nessa and Stefan together for his next session. 

His approach certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons this time. Does that mean more fireworks to come? 

***

Thanks for reading 🙂

Casualty of Court is available to pre-order now as an ebook, releasing March 21st 2018. Click here to view on Amazon

In the meantime, you can read The Fifth Wheel – A Prequel now and find out what happened last summer.