Contemporary Romance · humour · mystery · self discovery · Spain

Book Review – The Spanish House

The Spanish House

One bizarre to-do list to earn her inheritance. One Spanish summer. One huge family secret.

‘⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ An absolutely delightful and captivating read!’ – Lucy Coleman, bestselling author of Summer in Andalucia

Juliana makes a modest living as an ‘ethnic’ TV/film extra – even though the only connections with her Spanish heritage are her cacti, Spanish classes, and some confused memories of a Spanish mother she hasn’t seen since she was seven.

When her beloved Uncle Arturo offers her the chance to discover her roots while housesitting his coastal home in a quiet corner of Andalusia, Juliana can’t believe her luck. Especially when he reveals that the house will be hers if she fulfils ten life-enhancing ‘Conditions’ within 90 days.

Redecoration of the house and a visit to the old film studio where her mother used to sew costumes seem ridiculously simple tasks for such a wonderful reward. But little does Juliana realise that there are family secrets and inherited rivalries awaiting her in sunny Spain, and the condition that she has to ‘get on with the neighbours’ – who include a ruggedly handsome but moody artist – may be harder than she thinks.

The perfect escapist read for fans of Rosanna Ley, Jo Thomas and Sue Moorcroft.

The Spanish House is gorgeous romantic escapism that you won’t want to miss!’ Holly Martin, bestselling author of Sunlight Over Crystal Sands

WoW! This book was simply a joy to read!‘ Reader review

‘Loved this enjoyable book!’ Reader review

It was funny, cute and intriguing‘ Reader review

‘This is the first novel of Cherry Radford that I read and it was beautiful … One cannot resist wishing to visit Spain after reading this splendid book … The story is heartwarming’ Reader review

‘A wonderful book, that I would recommend to anyone‘ Reader review

‘A light and heart warming read set in a beautiful location’ Reader review

‘I could not put this down, it was my first book by this author and wish I had found her a while ago. Fantastic writing, fantastic plot development and I just loved the main character’ Reader review

‘This was my first Cherry Radford book and it was a beautifully written story. The description of Spain made the reader feel like they were there with Juliana’ Reader review

‘A great summer read!’ Reader review

‘This is a great book! Well written, complex storyline with various moving parts … Would so recommend this amazing read!‘ Reader review

‘Absolutely loved this sweet romance … So glad I came across this’ Reader review

‘It’s just right for a summer read … although it would be delightful to spend time in Spain in the middle of the winter!’ Reader review

‘This was such a gorgeous read!!!! I really enjoyed the plot and the writing style was gorgeous!! The character build up is fantastic and I couldn’t put it down’ Reader review

Purchase link

My Review

Sometimes a book title will call out to you. The Spanish House did that to me, no doubt because of where I live and how I got here. I can’t seem to resist a story set in my adopted country! The fact that I’m familiar with Almería and can visualise the descriptions only added to my enjoyment.

It was comforting and entertaining to take a step back and read about Juliana’s experience of doing up her Uncle Arturo’s house in San Rafael. Her encounters with the local and non-locals alike felt so realistic; I loved her “stream of consciousness” outpourings as she ummed and ahed over how to ask certain questions, wondering whether her vocabulary was as effective in Spanish as she intended. But more than that I loved the relationships she built with her dear uncle, with Josemi next door and even with his “Miserable Bag” of a mother.

Conflict came in the form of a family secret (I’m not giving any spoilers here!) that initially angered her but then helped her understand who she was. Why it seemed inconceivable that a parent would hold back such information, in the end Juliana benefitted in so many ways. Her life changed forever, and for the better. What felt like betrayal of trust eventually became an explanation, an understanding and her future.

Her uncle’s “to do” was super specific and yet vague – she should visit the site where her mother worked on the set of Once Upon a Time in the West, a Western made in Spain years before her birth. She should visit all the beaches, and get along with the neighbours. None of the tasks seemed too onerous, yet they were indeed very random. However, Uncle Arturo was a wise man, mending bridges that Juliana didn’t even know existed, let alone that they’d been broken in the past.

As she went about the task of painting the house, replacing bits and pieces, and making it into a home, it was evident she would have to inherit the place. But, of course, it was not as straightforward as that, especially when he ex threw a huge spanner in the works and put her one true romantic relationship in jeopardy. Would she be able to fix that mess? And how could she live in the house if not?

A lovely story about family, friends, memories and being true to yourself. Set amidst stunning scenery within a village of fun, lively and believable characters. Evocative and dramatic, quirky and hugely entertaining. A great read for a rainy day – although there aren’t many of those here! 😉

As always,

Reviewed on Amazon UK by Meandthemutts

cover reveal · love · self discovery

Cover Reveal – The Dream That Held Us

The Dream That Held Us

“The Dream That Held Us took me on an exquisite exploration of a love that crosses boundaries of time and culture.”  Angela Barton author of Arlette’s Story, Magnolia House and You’ve Got My Number

“Deeply imbued with a certain wistfulness and haunting sense of loss brought out by the end of a glorious summer… Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang’s latest novel is a sensitive and skilful exploration of love, longing, and whether life sometimes relents to give us second chances.” Osama Siddique – author of Snuffing Out the Moon

“This book carries a universal message about love and finding your way in the world. I loved it.” Angela Barton author of Arlette’s Story, Magnolia House and You’ve Got My Number

Another stunning Anglo-Indian love story from the author of The Last Vicereine, Penguin Random House 2017. 

October 1985, Ash Misra leaves a blood-stained Delhi for Oxford University. Haunted by a terrible secret, he just wants to forget. Music and fresh violence bring him to fellow student and amateur violinist, Isabella Angus, but duty and the burden of history keep them apart. A quarter of a century later against the background of the global financial crisis, Sir Peter Roberts, former Master of Woodstock College, receives a letter from Ash for Isabella. They are no longer young but they had made a tryst with destiny; old terrors and suppressed desires return. 

Pre-order Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dream-That-Held-Us/dp/1838150803 

US  – https://www.amazon.com/Dream-That-Held-Us/dp/1838150803 

Publication Date – 21st January 2021

Author Bio

Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang is a British author whose work focuses on cultural and historical fault lines and has strong international themes.  Rhiannon was born and grew up in Yorkshire and has studied, lived and worked in Europe and Asia.  She read Oriental Studies (Chinese) at Oxford University and speaks Mandarin and Cantonese.  Rhiannon lives in a former farmhouse in rural England with her family.

Novels

The Woman Who Lost China, Open Books 2013

The Last Vicereine, Penguin Random House 2017

Short Story Anthology

Hong Kong Noir, Akashic Books 2019

Social Media Links – 

Twitter @rhiannonjtsang

Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/RhiannonJTauthor

LinkedIn Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang

You Tube –  Rhiannon Reviews. https://youtube.com/channel/UC3hPlIWofMRV1p1KVU5X94Q   

blog tour · book review · chick-lit · Contemporary Romance · self discovery · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Flying Solo

Flying Solo

by Zoe May

Rachel Watson has it all worked out. By 30, she’s ticked off most of the goals on her Life List. She’s a homeowner, a partner at her law firm, she has a gorgeous boyfriend, lots of hobbies and loads of good friends. The only thing that’s missing is a ring on her finger.

According to her Life List, Rachel should be getting hitched around now, so when her boyfriend, Paul, plans a romantic date, Rachel’s pretty confident he’s going to propose. Except Paul has other ideas. He’s jetting off to India to find himself.

Distraught, Rachel doesn’t know what to do. Not one to easily admit defeat, she embarks on a mission to win him back.

Flying solo to India is definitely not on Rachel’s Life List, but could her trip teach her some unexpected lessons about love, life and herself? Could she realise that perhaps her Life List wasn’t exactly what she wanted, after all?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B082K48FX8/

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082K48FX8/

 

Author Bio

Zoe May is an author of romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She worked in journalism and copywriting in London before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

Perfect Match was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading! She adores animals and if she’s not taking a photo of a vegan meal, she’s probably tweeting about the dairy industry. She is half Greek and half Irish and can make a mean baklava. Zoe has a thing for horror films, India, swimming, hip hop and Radiohead. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of handbags having spent several years working in fashion copywriting and could probably win Mastermind if this was her specialist subject!

Zoe loves to hear from readers, you can contact her on Twitter and Instagram at: @zoe_writes. Zoe’s Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/zoemayauthor/

She posts updates and blogs on her website, http://www.zoemayauthor.co.uk

Social Media Links 

https://www.twitter.com/zoe_writes

https://www.instagram.com/zoe_writes

https://www.facebook.com/zoemayauthor/

My Review

Just when I needed a lighthearted, fun book to read, along came Flying Solo. A perfect beach or holiday read.

When lawyer Rachel’s plan to be married by the time she’s 30 still hasn’t come true, it becomes her focus; the only thing missing from her list of goals. So, to be told by her boyfriend Paul that he’s off to India to find himself (when she’s expecting a proposal) brings her dream crashing around her. He’d invited her to a meal at the place where they had their first date and not only does he not remember it in the same way, he can barely look her in the eye.

Stunned by the whole state of affairs, Rachel decides to take matters into her own hands and follow Paul to India, convince him that he’s made a mistake, and win back his heart. (At this point, you kinda wonder whether it’s worth it, but you run with it because this is her story and she has to do what she thinks is right – whether delusional or not)

Arriving in India with her designer wardrobe, Rachel is nothing but hilarious (on her first day, she actually dresses up as Princess Jasmine) It goes to show how deluded she was when the thought of packing for India crossed her mind – assuming it did! Nothing is as she expects, even though she checked out the place online. Poor Rachel is not ready for this, nor did she realise how big the place was, and suddenly the idea of even finding Paul is a remote possibility.

Luckily, Seb is on hand to help out the damsel in distress, and Paul is soon out of mind …until she runs across him, scratchy beard, mini dreadlocks and all with a younger woman in tow. Rachel comes to her senses and realises Paul is not the man for her, and moves on to enjoy her holiday.

A side-story about the owner of the ashram being a scammer inspires Rachel to get involved and prepare to save the day by convincing her boss that this would be a good case to increase the law company’s profile. This gives her purpose once more, and with Seb nearby, life is looking so much better.

With plenty of gorgeous imagery the author creates the perfect atmosphere for Rachel to discover herself and move on from Paul (who proves to be an even bigger jerk later in the story  – she had a lucky escape!)  The activities, the people, the food, the budding romance between Rachel and Seb …all these things make it an easy read, full of fun and humour, and proving the point that the best-laid plans are frequently not the best, in fact they’re barely mediocre …

A most enjoyable story and highly recommended to fans of romantic comedy and chick-lit that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

For more news and reviews,

As always,

book review · NetGalley · self discovery

Book Review – Finding Hemingway

Finding Hemingway

by Ken Dortzbach

The blurb

Hyper-focused, overachieving New York lawyer Callie McGraw has six months between jobs and a hefty severance check when she is called to Spain by Ernest Hemingway. She begins packing her bags for the sun-kissed streets that night. Starting in Barcelona, Callie embarks on a six-month escapade of a lifetime, a whirlwind of Spanish food, wine, art and dancing, with a revolving cast of friends and lovers keeping her company in each new locale. Callie’s next cocktail is never far away, but Hemingway knows her secrets, the demons that plague her deep down. With each mysterious call and each enigmatic clue, Hemingway challenges her to open herself to laughter, passion and love. Ultimately, he defies Callie to face her greatest fears and embrace life on her own terms.

Add to Goodreads 

My Review

Both the title and the cover drew me to this book. I haven’t read any Hemingway myself but his time in Europe, particularly in Spain always fascinated me. The cover screamed Spain to me, and since that’s where I am, I thought it rude to not check it out. 

If I’m honest, the Hemingway “phonecall” didn’t intrigue me greatly, though having “The Sun Also Rises” as Callie’s favourite book ever worked as a plot device and was an original way to put the main character in Spain.  What fascinated me more was Callie’s decision to head to Spain on a whim while she was in-between jobs. Well, who wouldn’t if they had six months and a healthy bank account?

As a long-term Hispanophile, I will always hunt down stories set in my adopted homeland. So, I felt a connection to Callie from the outset. It didn’t last. While I soaked up the details about Spain, especially the Pamplona chapters, I couldn’t muster up any fondness for Callie. To say she grated on me would be an understatement. She came across as selfish, rude, high and mighty, childish, and annoying. I felt sorry for her loyal friend, Trevor, who she teased and mocked incessantly – which, of course, she justified as allowable because she was “Callie McGraw”!!!!!! (There are not enough exclamation marks to express my reaction to her.) Poor Trevor was her plaything, until someone more to her liking came along in the form of Mr Spain Man, Claudio. I have no idea why either of these intelligent men put up with her for as long as they did. 

Callie’s quest was supposedly to find Hemingway, and he contributed with additional phonecalls  to steer her in the right direction. However, the story drifted into her doing a lot of nothing. An awful lot of drinking, eating …especially breakfast …and only very occasionally remembering why she had come to Spain in the first place. 

It was evident early that the purpose of her trip was to really find herself. I do wonder if she liked what she found. At times, she had to listen to some cold, hard truths …did she accept her flaws? I’m not convinced she did. Granted, she did overcome her fears but I didn’t sense any real change in her come the end. 

Trevor summed this story up when he gave his opinion of Callie’s treasured book, and in doing so described Callie perfectly:

“No, they really are losers.” His voiced turned cautious. “Listen, I’m not saying this to be mean but …the characters just drift around Europe, full of nothing but entitlement.”

I pumped the air at that point. Go, Trevor!

I did enjoy the setting in Spain, of course: the museums, art galleries, tapas and dances, and my heart went out the Señora Hernandez, of whom too little was seen after Callie discovered the old lady’s secret. The setting was vivid and vibrant, and full of pasión. Even the story idea was an original take on the “self-discovery” trope, but Callie rode roughshod over the story, for me anyway. 

Many thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the advanced copy in return for an honest review. 

As always,