blog tour · book review · chick-lit · contemporary fiction · emotions · family · fun · relationships · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Love Punked

Love Punked

by Nia Lucas

Love Punked

When her life is irrevocably altered by a post-Rave tryst on her mother’s floral patio recliner, Erin Roberts’ long-standing relationship with Humiliation takes her down a path that’s not so much ‘less well trodden’, more ‘perilous descent down sheer cliffs’.

Armed with a fierce devotion to her best friend and the unrequited love for the boy she might have accidentally married at age seven, when Erin falls pregnant at sixteen, life veers off at a most unexpected tangent.

Her journey to adulthood is far from ordinary as Erin learns that protecting the hearts of those most precious to you isn’t balm enough when your Love Punked heart is as sore as your freshly tattooed arse.

Whilst raising football prodigies and trying not to get stuck in lifts with Social Work clients who hate her, Erin discovers that sometimes you have to circumnavigate the globe to find the very thing that was there all along.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK 

Amazon US 

My Review:

Love Punked is a book that draws you in, holds on tight and takes you on a roller coaster journey through the trials and tribulations of teenage Erin Roberts’ life. With memorable references to the 90s that will bring a smile to your face before making you laugh out loud, the author perfectly captures the scene. But it is with her well-drawn characters that she will really steal your heart. Erin – Ginger Feist – has a unique way of dealing with anyone who threatens her status quo: attack, attack, attack! She wears her heart on her sleeves, and will defend those close to her like the lioness she is.

Jay – Jamal Watson – is the ‘older man’ who, after a fumble an Argos recliner in her dad’s garage, goes missing for nigh on a year, enjoying life at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, only to be released to the news that Erin has given birth to his twin sons. He does the honourable thing and seeks her out to find she is doing really well thanks to her wonderfully supportive family and amazing friends.

However, having the father of her sons in their life is of vital importance to Erin, and soon Jay feels exactly the same. Both turn out to be amazing parents; they mess up now and then, but they adore their boys with every piece of their heart and soul. They even find themselves able to love each other. However, this ‘love’ comes at a cost. Determined to be the best parents they can be, both forgo the true adult loves of their lives in order to be the fabulous family unit they are.

This is a story – a long one – of doing your very best for your children, no matter the heartbreak that it causes.This is where Lucas is so deftly able to showcase her skill at creating believable characters. In fact, these are not characters, these are real, live people. The type you will meet every day, but whose struggles you may never realise.

Balanced with the most delightful touches of humour I’ve read in a long while, the story of Erin and Jay (as well as their boys, friends and family, and especially their sacrificial relationships with Gio and Casey) will hook you in and hold your attention. Emotion pours off the page, it’s all-encompassing and generous. Lucas  doesn’t shy away from anything – which explains the length of the book – but nor is she excessive or repetitive.

An outstanding debut novel (although it would benefit from another round of proofreading / editing).

If you’re in any doubt about reading this, then don’t be. You’ll be in for a treat if you get on the roller coaster. Just be prepared for a bumpy ride!

About the author:

I am a UK-based author of Contemporary women’s fiction who is passionate about telling the stories of strong, sympathetic, entertaining and engaging female characters and the lives that they lead.

My Welsh heritage and my life as a practising Social Worker with teenagers and their families heavily influences my work as does my love of all things 90’s and an adolescence spent immersed in clubbing culture.

Catch up with the author on:

Instagram Twitter Facebook

or via her website


Find more reviews, guest posts and excerpts on these amazing blogs:

As always,

blog tour · book review · France · intrigue · relationships · suspense · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Chasing Ghosts

Chasing Ghosts

by Madalyn Morgan

Chasing Ghosts

In 1949 after receiving treatment for shell shock in Canada, Claire’s husband disappears.

Has Mitch left her for the woman he talks about in his sleep? Or is he on the run from accusations of wartime treachery?

Claire goes to France in search of the truth, aided by old friends from the Resistance.

Get your copy here

My Review

Another of my favourite genres to read – WWII fiction – and this one is an absolute gem. Even though it takes place in 1949, there are subplots that keep the war era very much at the forefront of the story. I haven’t read any others in the series, but that was no obstacle at all. The author cleverly interwove past details to the extent they were neither overwhelming nor underdone. (That said, I did enjoy this book so much that I’m tempted to go and read the previous ones in the series too.)

It’s fascinating to read about PTSD following the war, and the treatment thereof seems just as scary, if I’m honest. But it is the relationships – past, present and future – that hold this story together.

Claire is naturally concerned when her husband, Mitch, is said to have gone AWOL just as she and their daughter are about to board a flight back to England. Torn being looking after Aimee and staying to find him, she knows she has to get on that plane. But, home, especially with Christmas looming, is no home without Mitch. Besides, she can’t get the thought out of her head that something else is wrong, especially when he calls out another woman’s name in his sleep.

On discovering Mitch is in France, and accused of being a traitor, she returns to her former role working for the Résistance, and connects with friends from her past who help her to find her husband and uncover the truth behind those sleep-fuelled ramblings of his. With Aimee secure with her family, Claire promises to bring her daddy home.

The story oozes all the intrigue I love about the era, the undercover heroes, the tales of traitors, and the best and worst of humankind. Danger, conflict and tension fill the pages, but is equally balanced with respect, kindness and love. All in all, a wonderful read. Entertaining, well-written and clearly well-researched, this is a story to curl up with, shut out the world and enjoy.

PS – Note to author – I really hope Thomas Durand gets a story of his own too, or at least that there’s a happy ending for him around the corner.

About the author

Madalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

Madalyn was brought up in Lutterworth, at the Fox Inn. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live, as there were so many different characters to study and accents to learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, Madalyn taught herself to touch type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau, and started writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, she has returned to her home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.

Happy to be an Indie Author, Madalyn has successfully published six novels. Foxden Acres, Applause, China Blue and The 9:45 To Bletchley are set before and during WW2 and tell the wartime stories of Bess, Margot, Claire, and Ena Dudley. Foxden Hotel and Chasing Ghosts are both post war.  Chasing Ghosts is a sequel to China Blue.

Madalyn’s books are available on Amazon – in paperback and all formats of eBook.

Madalyn Morgan Author page:

Social Media Links –

Madalyn’s Blog:




Wait, there’s more … there’s a giveaway too.

Giveaway – Win signed copies of China Blue and Chasing Ghosts (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Good Luck!

For more reviews, excerpts and guest posts, check out these amazing blogs too:

As always, it’s been a pleasure …


contemporary fiction · cover reveal · emotions · relationships · women's fiction

Cover Reveal – Isolation Junction

Isolation Junction

by Jennifer Gilmour

Isolation Junction

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

Pre-order Links:

Amazon UK 

Amazon US  

This  new edition of Isolation Junction publishes on 22nd October, and Jennifer Gilmour would love to invite you to the online launch party on Facebook 

Author Bio

Born in the North East, I am a young, married mum with three children. I assist in running a family business from my home-base and I have a large readership of other young mums in business for my blog posts.

From an early age I have had a passion for writing and have been gathering ideas and plot lines from my teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, I have amalgamated and fictionalised other survivors experiences alongside my own to write my first novel detailing the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. I hope that in reading my debut novel, I will raise awareness of this often hidden and unseen behaviour and empower women in abusive relationships to seek help for themselves and find the confidence to change their lives.

Amazon Author link: 

My online store: 






book review · cheese · comedy · cosy · France · fun · relationships · romance · women's fiction

Reading for Fun – Fromage à Trois

Fromage à Trois

by Victoria Brownlee

Meet Ella, on the brink of turning 30 and full of regret for a life only half lived.

In a haze of heartbreak after splitting up with the man she thought she was going to marry, she makes the only decision that seems rational and buys a one-way ticket to Paris, embarking on a pilgrimage of food, wine, and joie de vivre.

After arriving, Ella struggles to grasp the nuances of French manners and friendship. She soon finds herself caught between two men who inhabit opposite ends of the Paris food scene, getting wined and dined by one, and inadvertently making a bet to try every type of French fromage with the other.

As the seasons change, Ella realizes that there’s more to life in France than champagne and cheese. At some point the Eiffel Tower stops sparkling and she needs to decide where her heart truly lies.

My review:

This was such an easy story to read because the main character, Ella, is so likeable. The soon to be 30 Australian shrugs off a broken relationship and heads for France for a year of adventure à la Française! And who can blame her? Her former boyfriend of almost a decade has decided he needs to “find himself”, a statement that comes as quite a shock when she really expects a marriage proposal.
The idea of returning to live with her mum and carrying on in the same old job drives her to pack up her things and apply for a one-year working visa in France. What’s the worst that can happen?
Finding a job is not easy, nor is finding somewhere to live. Life in France is much more expensive than she anticipated, especially in Paris. When she finds a room-share in an upmarket part of the city, she feels she has turned a corner. Sharing the apartment with a mother and son is not ideal, especially as the 40-year-old son seems to develop a crush on her. Another move is on the cards, and a new friend at the coffee shop offers her a solution -and a wonderful one at that.
Fortunately, despite a rocky start, the one constant in her life is cheese. and a bet with the owner of the fromagerie sets her a challenge to try all French cheeses during her year-long stay. This is a challenge she readily accepts, after all she’s a cheese-a-holic and there can’t be more than a hundred or so, can there?
Ella’s life begins to revolve around cheese, but steadily she makes friends, finds a French ‘boyfriend’ and her job prospects multiply. She is living her dream life. Isn’t she?

This is a feel-good story, with believable characters and a gorgeous cheese-filled insight into a Parisian lifestyle. There is romance, deception, fun, family, heartache and love – and more cheese than you can imagine. A really enjoyable light read.

99p books · ageing parents · book launch · British · family · relationships · short reads · short story · sisters · women's fiction

When the Magic ends

Magical Memories

A fictional tale of loss, grief, and moving on.

I’ve just pressed the button to make Magical Memories available for pre-order.

Only 99p / 99c until its release on October 6th.

If you’ve read Magic O’Clock (thank you), then you might want to know how Archie’s story ends.

Here’s a summary:

As Archie Royle takes his final breath, his three daughters race to say their goodbyes.

Two don’t make it in time.

I do. And now, it’s all my fault they’re too late. I let him go too soon.

Despite him having dementia.

Despite them not visiting in over a month.

But I won’t let anger win.

After all, we’re all grieving, aren’t we?

Surely, as a family, we can let bygones be bygones.

It’s what Dad would want. Expect.

It’s what he deserves.

We have so much to be grateful for.

So many fond and magical memories to share.

You can get a pre-order copy here.


If you haven’t read Magic O’Clock (the prequel to this), then I’d recommend you read it first. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the penguins or whales now, would you?

Here’s the summary:

Archie Royle is a kind, funny, gentle man.
He’s also my dad. My storyteller. My hero.

Except he doesn’t remember my face any more.
His world, these days, doesn’t include me or his family.

Life may have changed for him, but he hasn’t given up on life.
Not at all.
It’s just different.

Dad still tells his stories, albeit for a new audience.
He makes people smile and chuckle. As he always did.

He’s a fighter, a survivor and maybe sometimes too clever for his own good! He’ll surprise you. I can assure you of that.

Welcome to Magic O’Clock, where time is irrelevant and hope is unlimited.

Magic O’Clock is available now from AmazonApple, B&N, Kobo

Thank you all for your support.

Dementia, eldercare, and losing a parent are issues many of us will face – or have already faced – I hope these stories can bring a little light to those darkest moments.

Dementia UK

Alzheimer’s Society (UK)

Confederación Española de Alzheimer

book launch · relationships · romance

Book Launch – Forgive Me Not

Forgive Me Not

by Samantha Tonge

Forgive Me Not

Forgiveness can be hard to come by… An unputdownable new novel from bestseller Samantha Tonge

 How far would you go to make amends?

When Emma fled her home at Foxglove Farm, she’d let down and hurt those who cared for her most. But now, two years later, she’s ready to face up to her past; she’s ready to go back.

But Emma’s unannounced return causes more problems than she could have foreseen. The people she knew and loved aren’t ready to forget, let alone forgive. And the one person she wants to reconnect with the most, her mother, can’t remember who she is.

Just as Emma starts to rebuild trust, an uncovered family secret and a shocking past crime threaten her newly forged future…

Sometimes simply saying sorry isn’t enough.

Perfect for readers of Ruth Hogan or Amanda Prowse, this is an extraordinary and unforgettable novel about running away from yourself – and finding a way back.

As promised, here are those all-important links for Forgive Me Not.





Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK and her passion, second to spending time with her husband and children, is writing. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.

When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.

In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.

Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or via her website.


cover reveal · relationships · women's fiction

Cover Reveal – Forgive Me Not

Forgive Me Not

by Samantha Tonge

Forgive Me Not

Forgiveness can be hard to come by… An unputdownable new novel from bestseller Samantha Tonge

How far would you go to make amends?

When Emma fled her home at Foxglove Farm, she’d let down and hurt those who cared for her most. But now, two years later, she’s ready to face up to her past; she’s ready to go back.

But Emma’s unannounced return causes more problems than she could have foreseen. The people she knew and loved aren’t ready to forget, let alone forgive. And the one person she wants to reconnect with the most, her mother, can’t remember who she is.

Just as Emma starts to rebuild trust, an uncovered family secret and a shocking past crime threaten her newly forged future…

Sometimes simply saying sorry isn’t enough.

Perfect for readers of Ruth Hogan or Amanda Prowse, this is an extraordinary and unforgettable novel about running away from yourself – and finding a way back.

And now you’ve been tempted by the book’s description, let me reveal the full-size gorgeous cover that goes with it.

Beautiful, isn’t it?  There’s not too long to wait for this either, as the publication date is 23rd July 2018.

So, who’s the author behind this? Meet Samantha Tonge.

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK and her passion, second to spending time with her husband and children, is writing. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.

When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.

In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.





Stay tuned for more details on publication day. 

Yes, I know, waiting can be painful … but patience is a virtue!

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.

blog tour · book review · novella · psychological suspense · relationships

Book Review : My Sweet Friend

My Sweet Friend

by H.A. Leuschel

Publication Date: December 6, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

Synopsis: A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

From the author:

Lying is a symptom shared by the most convincing, cunning and ruthless individuals such as psychopaths and narcissistic manipulators. They have an invincible sense of self-importance and an addictive urge to project an image of power and perfection at all cost which are fuelled by the rewarding tools of charm, diversion and … clever deception.
Like anything in life, whether the skill is morally laudable or not, skills require training, effort and hard work. The danger lies in the brain progressively adapting to the dishonest behaviour and the longer the lies, the harder it would seem to be able to change the conditioning of one’s sensitivity to telling the truth. The truth and nothing but the truth or at the very least the intention to do so most of the time therefore appears to be a basic requirement for any interpersonal trust.
In my new stand-alone novella, I explore the idea that when crossing the line between truth or lie too often, it becomes a curse the person is eventually unable to shed …

Want to see an excerpt? Of course you do 🙂

I was brushing my teeth the next morning when Alexa called, crying over another nasty phone call from her ex. I was running late as it was but was unable to stop her barrage of insults against a man I didn’t even know the name of.
‘He’s driving me absolutely insane. I’ve really had enough,’ I heard her shout, the heels of her shoes clicking on the pavement. She was clearly on her way to work while I was only slipping my feet into my shoes. It had been her second frantic call that morning.
‘Listen. Alexa, calm down. I understand you’re upset but I’ll be late if you don’t stop.’
‘I’m there for you when you need me but when I’m the one in need for once, you fob me off. Great, really nice, thanks.’ She hung up, leaving me in an angry sweat. I was her polar opposite – organized and calm – but lately I felt out of kilter myself. I’d missed out on seeing my mum because, for one reason or another, Alexa managed to ambush my attention.
When I eventually rushed through the office door, Alexa was looking up at me indifferently, in deep conversation with Jack, who tapped his watch with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. I lowered my eyes, my stomach heaving with repressed fury. Alexa had crawled under my skin yet I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why and how it had all come about.
I hid in the ladies’ toilets, panic rising to my throat, and utterly lost for words. I realised that if it had been Alexa running off, I’d have made sure I was giving her moral support, coaxing her back to work. Where was she now that I needed her? Was I getting hysterical, losing the plot?

Be prepared for mind games, this is a thrilling read.

About the Author

Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.


Author Links

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My thoughts: 4/5 stars

Don’t you just love a book that demands debate? I know I do. This depiction of the relationship between work colleagues, Alexa and Rosie, does exactly that.
We first meet Alexa while she’s on sick leave. Although, she’s not at home recuperating from her stressful life, she’s in Biarritz. Hmm, say no more, the poor thing! You might actually feel sorry for her at this point.
A call from Rosie – who is still at work – puts Alexa on edge. There is something amiss.

Then comes the backstory to their first encounter when Alexa joins the marketing firm. Everyone at the office is impressed by her, but Rosie, in particular, is captivated by her magnetic aura of confidence and self-assurance. When Alexa drops a few compliments in her direction, Rosie is enchanted, and Alexa soon becomes her closest friend.

With their friendship now established, the story alternates between their points of view and they seem to muddle along well. However, very little is as it seems. While Rosie struggles financially (due to exorbitant care costs for her mother), Alexa is frivolous (until we see her apartment). She buys Rosie expensive gifts galore but doesn’t want anyone else to know she bought them.
They seem to be polar opposites, yet each find something in the other that holds the relationship together.

Bringing Jack, the Account Manager, into the mix adds another layer to the story. Alexa seeks to attract his attention. Her reasons for doing so are not those of a ‘sweet friend’, that’s for sure. She certainly doesn’t expect her ‘grey mouse’ of a friend (her words, not mine) to see through the lies, after all, she has convinced herself that her ‘truth’ is just that: why would anyone doubt her?

Comments made during conversations lead to ‘misunderstandings’, but Alexa talks her way out of everything, always coming out on top. But these inconsistencies continue, creating confusion and doubt in Rosie’s mind . The cracks deepen. Lies unravel further once Jack and Rosie ‘swap notes’, deceptions become clear and confrontation is inevitable.

This is a clever piece of writing. The reader is never quite sure who to believe at the start, but the hints are there, building to the only possible conclusion (or at least the one I hoped for).

This novella left me with many questions. Did Alexa really not expect the outcome? Was she so convinced by her own lies that the truth became fiction to her? Why did she need to lie? What was so wrong with her life that she had no other recourse than to re-invent herself? Why did her employers let her go quietly, only to effectively pass the problem onto the next? Is that ethical? Where would she go next? Where will it end?

The story has novel potential to me – I would have liked greater insight into what made Alexa who she was and more on what lay ahead for her. For me, this was a little like reading the middle of a bigger story – I wanted a beginning and an end too.

Nonetheless, a fascinating, well-written read. Totally plausible and insightful.

This was a story that pulled me in, as evidenced by the many moments spent screaming at the characters:

“Don’t fall for it, Rosie!”

“Not nice, Alexa! Not nice at all.”

“Did she really just wriggle out of that?”  … among others.

Fortunately, no-one spotted me yelling at my Kindle 😉


If you choose to purchase Helene’s novella, please consider leaving a review once you’ve read it.

Reviews keep authors writing.

Thanks for reading 🙂


betrayal · Lacey's Law · relationships · revenge

In defence of … Lacey Fielding

Who? You might ask.

Lacey was my first protagonist to meet the public, yet she is also the one who has had the least attention. As the key player in Lacey’s Law (incidentally my most downloaded and, at the same time, least-reviewed book) she is a character close to my heart. But, for some reason, many have said she’s unlikable (which is an unfortunate comment to hear given she’s the character most like me in so many ways).

It’s has always amazed me how reviewers have been so quick to criticise her. Granted, at the outset, her desire for revenge is almost an obsession. But, without giving away the ending, things take an unexpected twist, turning her life upside down – again. This time, she acts with more maturity (about time, given she’s no spring chicken!) and her actions prove she’s not a total bitch.

So, I can see how reviewers might not take to her, but I feel they don’t give a chance before condemning her. I think, for some, there’s a moral judgement made that often leaves Lacey looking like the villain. Okay, her behaviour at times is inexcusable; she doesn’t claim to be an angel, but nor is she the devil in disguise.

She has been hurt. She’s grieving and in shock. She hits back. Literally!

Strangely enough, other readers who have spoken to / contacted me personally have said they understand her and end up rooting for her in the end. Sadly, these readers rarely leave a review 😦  (Hey, you can lead a horse to water …)

Anyway, I’m going to let Lacey introduce herself, and you can decide for yourself. But, I’ll warn you – she’s no Doris Day.

Lacey’s Law 

Beware the fury of a patient woman.

I’m Lacey Fielding and I have a score to settle.

I had everything I’d ever wanted: my dream job,

a riverside apartment, a great life.

Until …

Eight years ago I learned the truth behind my father’s death.

And it wasn’t pretty.

I mean, revenge was inevitable.

Carla Sommers, a ‘friend’ of thirty years, was my target.

After stealing her husband, I was about to confess

when my plan took an unexpected, yet delightfully

delicious turn, putting Carla’s liberty and her sanity at stake.

I was having so much fun … until an ironic shift in circumstances

challenged and changed my ‘happy’ ending.


Yep, she’s definitely got a touch of the Alexis Carrington about her, minus the shoulder pads and big hair. But, the clues are there – an ironic shift in circumstances – well, that’s an understatement.

Lacey & Carla met a university; they were polar opposites in every way. But Carla enjoyed having Lacey around, and when it was just the two of them, they got along marvellously. So well, in fact, Carla was a frequent visitor to Lacey’s home, albeit in a much less affluent area. Carla became the friend Lacey had always yearned for, the best friend she had dreamt of and couldn’t quite believe she had finally found.

After university, everything changed. Both took different paths, and despite countless attempts to contact Carla, Lacey found herself back on familiar territory – all on her lonesome. She threw herself into her work, becoming quite the successful architect. Headhunted by a big London firm, she headed for the Big Smoke where an illustrious career awaited her.

It was here she met up with Carla again and they rekindled their friendship. This time, Lacey was on an even keel with Carla, who had married and devoted her life to her husband and son.

Or so it seemed.

The truth remained buried for a long time, a very long time – until Lacey’s mother died.

As I said, Lacey was grieving, but the shocking secret that followed took the bottom out of her world.

Revenge was inevitable.

As for Carla … she had it coming!

And, so Lacey’s Law was born. In her shoes, how would you react? If nothing else, her story makes for great debate. 

I love her, but then again, I would, wouldn’t I?

Her story is told with love, humour and a wee bit of sarcasm, and is best read with a cup of tea and a packet of chocolate biscuits.

Of course, there are dogs in there, too – I told you how alike we are 😉

Thank you for reading 🙂