Thursday, 8 December 2016

Christmas at the Cornish Cafe - Phillipa Ashley

Christmas at the Cornish Cafe
by Phillipa Ashley

About the book...
Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so.

She and Cal are keeping their fledgling relationship under wraps for now. But then Kit Bannen, a hunky, blond – and somewhat mysterious – writer arrives at Kilhallon Resort, and not everyone is charmed. Cal is sure that Kit is hiding something. But is he the only one guarding a secret?

Demi is busy baking festive treats for the newly opened Demelza’s cafe, but when Cal’s ex Isla arrives to shoot scenes for her new drama, Demi can’t help but worry that things aren’t quite over between them. Kit flirts with both women, fuelling Cal’s suspicions that Kit has hidden motives for staying on at Kilhallon. Then Cal has to go to London, leaving Demi and Kit to decorate the cafe for Christmas . . . all by themselves.

A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?

This second novel in the bestselling Cornish Cafe series is the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas.

Extract...
Cal
December 22nd, morning
‘The coastal communities of West Cornwall are bracing themselves for a miserable Christmas as spring tides and high winds combine to create a storm surge that will threaten the north and west of the county. Mayor of St Trenyan, Kerren St Minver, is advising all residents and businesses within half a mile of the harbour to take action immediately as the “hundred-year” storm is set to reach its peak in the early hours of tomorrow. Stay tuned for bulletins and information …’
‘I don’t like the sound of that at all.’ Polly turns the radio down in the kitchen of the farmhouse. ‘Though it doesn’t surprise me. It’s been working itself up to a hell of a storm for the past few days.’
‘You don’t think Greg Stennack is exaggerating? You know what Radio St Trenyan’s like. They love to make a mountain out of a molehill.’
‘He could be, I suppose, but as I say, I’ve lived here a long time and I have a very bad feeling about this.’
Cal walks in from the yard, rain running off his waxed hat. ‘What are they saying?’ he asks, as Polly gives him a withering glare for dripping on the tiles.
‘That it’s going to be bad,’ I say.
‘I thought as much. Well, all we can do is be prepared. I’ve serviced the generator and we’ve plenty of diesel for it, in case the power goes off. We should be able to power the farmhouse and guest cottages, but we’d better go round and warn everyone of what to expect.’
But what should they expect? I’ve seen storms and high tides before, and one of them brought a tree down on the house in the summer, but a hundred-year storm sounds very scary.
‘At least we won’t be flooded out up here. Apart from possible power cuts, we’ll be OK with a bit of luck,’ Cal says. ‘It’s the poor buggers down in St Trenyan I pity.’
‘There was a very high tide combined with terrible gales a few years back, one February when you were away,’ Polly says grimly. ‘And I wouldn’t want to go through that worry again.’
‘I remember that, but I was working and living in Truro then, so we missed the worst of the flooding,’ I say.
‘That tide damaged a couple of properties round here, but we escaped a lot better than people further up the coast. There were homes destroyed and flooded out right into Devon. But I do recall a proper storm surge when I was a little girl. I couldn’t have been more than four or five, but I’ve never forgotten it. Waves as big as houses breaking over the harbour, there were. The harbourmaster’s office was wrecked and hundreds of people were out of their homes for weeks and some for months. God knows, I hope we don’t have that again.’
I shudder and hope Polly’s memory has exaggerated how bad the weather was in her youth. I think of Sheila and her cafe, slap bang on the beach front. Tamsin’s Spa is in the back streets, a little higher up, so it should be OK. We’re all in trouble if the water gets that high.
Cal sits down at the table. ‘Let’s hope so. We’ll just have to wait and see,’ he says firmly. ‘Demi – are you opening today?’
‘Yes, and tomorrow if we can, even if only for a couple of hours. There are already guests arriving for the Christmas week and they’ll want a cosy place to hang out in this weather.’
‘OK. You go ahead and do what you need to, but be careful on the cliff top, the wind’s very strong so make your own judgement about whether it’s safe to have people walking around up there so close to the edge. Shall we muck in and speak to the guests? There’s no need to alarm them,’ he says firmly, directing his comment at Polly, ‘but forewarned is forearmed’. 

About the author...
Phillipa Ashley is the author of the best-selling Cornish Cafe series. She just loves writing feelgood romantic fiction! As Pippa Croft, she also wrote the steamy Oxford Blue series published by Penguin Books.

Her brand new Penwith series is out now. Book 1 –Summer at the Cornish Cafe was a 2016 summer best seller and the sequel Christmas at the Cornish Cafe is available from October 13th. They’re both comforting reads with lots of twists and turns – perfect for when you want to escape at any time of year.

This year she’s celebrating a decade since her debut novel, Decent Exposure, was published. It was made into a Lifetime TV movie called 12 Men of Christmas starring Kristin Chenoweth and Josh Hopkins. Read more about it here.

Check out her blog to find out what – and who – is distracting her from her work today.
For the very latest news, follow her on Twitter @phillipaashley or visit her Facebook page.

Visit amazon for her latest book and read more about her others.

Friday, 2 December 2016

The Girl Who Had No Fear - Marnie Riches

The Girl Who Had No Fear
by Marnie Riches

She’s back. George McKenzie is back, and this time, 
she has #NoFear.

About the book...
The fourth gripping thriller in the Georgina McKenzie series.

Amsterdam: a city where sex sells and drugs come easy. Four dead bodies have been pulled from the canals – and that number’s rising fast. Is a serial killer on the loose? Or are young clubbers falling prey to a lethal batch of crystal meth?

Chief Inspector Van den Bergen calls on criminologist Georgina McKenzie to help him solve this mystery. George goes deep undercover among the violent gangs of Central America. Working for the vicious head of a Mexican cartel, she must risk her own life to find the truth. With murder everywhere she turns, can George get people to talk before she is silenced for good?


About the author...
Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester. She learned her way out of the ghetto, all the way to Cambridge University, where she gained a Masters degree in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and professional fundraiser. Previously a children's author, now, she writes crime and contemporary women's fiction.

Marnie Riches is the author of The Girl Who Wouldn't Die - the first installment of the George McKenzie crime thriller series, published by Maze and Avon at Harper Collins.


In her spare time, Marnie likes to run (more of a long distance shuffle, really) travel, drink and eat all the things (especially if combined with travel) paint portraits, sniff expensive leather shoes (what woman doesn't?) and renovate old houses. She also adores flowers.

My thoughts...
Marine Riches certainly knows how to push you out of your comfort zone, often uncomfortably - taking the reader to dark places most of us have never even heard of - thankfully. But, has given us criminologist Georgina Mackenzie to hold our hands and guide us through the twisted, dark places - bringing us breathlessly out the other side.  A brilliant series of books that will hook you in and leave you breathlessly panting for more. If you haven't read the first book in the series - read my review here.

Guest Post...

Drugs: Rollercoaster ride or freefall to the bottom of the barrel? 
by Marnie Riches
The Girl Who Had No Fear has at its core a discussion about drugs-manufacture, -dealing and -abuse. I decided to write about that topic, in part because I had been to Mexico twice on holiday and was fascinated by its standing as a tourist idyll, whilst at the same time being a notorious centre for the manufacture of Crystal Meth. Naturally, I have watched the incredibly well-written and well-acted TV series, Breaking Bad with a mixture of delight and wide-eyed horror. The show sowed creative seeds within me that have germinated over time…
More recently, a friend of mine told me about some of the extreme drug misuse that goes on on the gay sex-party scene. His concern was that young men are ruining their lives and dying on the back of the trend in taking an easily available cocktail of chemical drugs in order to service days of non-stop sexual hedonism – all of which has seen a surge in popularity since the advent of online hook-up sites like Grindr. 
Fortuitously, those germinating seeds of interest in Mexico’s illicit role as a centre for drug manufacture, the George McKenzie series’ overarching theme of trafficking and my friend’s concerns flourished into a story about the dizzying highs and crashing lows of chemical drugs - The Girl Who Had No Fear
In terms of research I have read forums where drug users chatted openly about using Crystal Meth and Mephedrone. I looked up the website, “Talk to Frank” about drug use and the effects of certain drugs. The Terrence Higgins Trust’s website had some excellent information on Crystal Meth, Mephedrone and G or Gina. Then, I read several academic articles on the use of Central American countries as transit routes for the cocaine industry. They spoke of poverty, lack of opportunity and the violence of cartels. I also read about the rise in popularity of Crystal Meth – a drug that has been around since before WWII and which can be manufactured anywhere, with higher purity than most cocaine that comes through from South America. 
What surprised me most from having read around the subject is that Crystal Meth was actually used by the Czech army to fuel its soldiers. Manufacture of the drug and its precursor chemicals was big trade in the old Soviet Union. Now, the Czech Republic is a European epicentre for meth production. Interestingly, another friend drew my attention to a book that was recently published, discussing how Nazi Germany was hooked on and fuelled by Meth. Even breastfeeding mothers were given it. It was prescribed as a general pick-me-up and inserted into chocolates! 

There are always complex social issues surrounding drug manufacture, traffick and abuse, and I hope I’ve encapsulated some of that complexity in The Girl Who Had No Fear – George’s biggest adventure yet!


Get your copy or the series from amazon now!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Safe With Me - K L Slater

Safe With Me
by K L Slater
About the book...
Thirteen years ago someone did something very bad to Anna. Now it’s her turn to get even … 

Anna lives a solitary existence, taking solace in order and routine. Her only friend is the lonely old lady next door. She doesn’t like to let people to get too close – she knows how much damage they can do. 

Then one ordinary day Anna witnesses a devastating road accident and recognises the driver as Carla, the woman who ruined her life all those years ago. Now it’s Anna’s chance to set things straight but her revenge needs to be executed carefully … 

First she needs to get to know Liam, the man injured in the accident. She needs to follow the police investigation. She needs to watch Carla from the shadows… 

But as Anna’s obsession with Carla escalates, her own secrets start to unravel. Is Carla really dangerous or does Anna need to worry about someone far closer to home? 


A compelling, gripping psychological thriller, perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and The Sister. 

About the Author...
KL Slater went back to university at the age of 40 where she studied for an English & Creative Writing degree and also an MA in Creative Writing.

She lives in Nottingham with her husband, Mac, and has one grown-up daughter, Francesca.

Her first psychological thriller, Safe With Me, is published by Bookouture



My thoughts...
I was offered an ecopy of Safe With Me by K L Slater as part of a Blog Tour organised by Kim at Bookouture in exchange for an honest review, something which I'm more than happy to give.

I don't know how they do it but Bookouture keep producing debut authors like rabbits out of a magicians hat - each one more fantastic than the last!

This book was no exception we are introduced to the main character Anna who for reasons we're not sure of straight away has chosen to live a solitary existence, keeping everyone at arms length having no friends to talk of other than her elderly, next door neighbour.

As seems to be the normal at the minute the chapters are spit between the present day and  thirteen years previous - each telling a story of now and then until they collide in the middle in a way that made me want to read with my eyes shut - if that made sense.

Anna witnesses an accident that sets off a train of events that had me running down blind alley's and barking up the wrong tree time and again as she plans the perfect execution of REVENGE against the woman who she holds responsible for ruining her life thirteen years ago.  

This is a story where obsession and revenge are played out in such a way that you find yourself sucked into the moment with Anna as she befriends Liam and his family.  Liam being the victim of an RTA caused by Carla - the woman from Anna's past.  The way she ingratiated herself into his and his families lives was something else.  I kept having to shake my head and tell myself it was just a story.  She really was a smooth operator. How an apparently quiet loner can turn into an unbalanced psychotic nutter whilst appearing normal on the outside was most un-nerving. It was so subtle and gradual I think any of us would have be blinded by her.

A fantastic debut with so many twists it'll keep you guessing til the end - I just loved it- if that's a phrase you can use?  Perhaps hypnotised by the words would be better, thank you so much Kim for suggesting I might love this book, you know me so well I did and some! I shall be looking closely at any approaches from seemingly lovely, quiet people and firmly keeping my distance in the future.

This is a book that readers of psychological thrillers will love, watch this space K L Slater is heading to be one of those must read authors, the ones you just buy the book just because it's written by them - forgetting the cover or the blurb.  A definite debut author with a buzz.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Secret - Katerina Diamond

The Secret
by Katerina Diamond


About the book...
When Bridget Reid wakes up in a locked room, terrifying memories come flooding back – of blood, pain, and desperate fear. Her captor knows things she’s never told anyone. How can she escape someone who knows all of her secrets?

As DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a horrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder right under their noses in Exeter.

And as the past comes back to haunt her, Grey must confront her own demons. Because she knows that it can be those closest to us who hurt us the most…

About the author...

Katerina Diamond was born in Weston in the seventies, and her parents owned a fish and chip shop in the Greek community. She moved to Thessaloniki in Greece and attended Greek school where she learnt Greek in just 6 months. After her parents’ divorce, they relocated to Devon. After school, and working in her uncle’s fish and chip shop, she went (briefly) to university at Derby, where she met her husband and had two children. Katerina now lives in the East Kent Coast with her husband and children. This is her first novel.

Author post...
Songs I Love with a Secret Theme
Being a bit of a vanilla goth I like a lot of dark music and secrets are often at the heart of that darkness: something no one is allowed to know about, a confidence. I like songs that make me feel a bit uncomfortable – much like anything else in life I like to be challenged, particularly with regards to aspects of my own character that I would ordinarily try to deny. Plus, songs about secrets are a bit sexy.

The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret – Queens of the stone age
Well, the whole tone of this song really pulls you in: you listen out for the secret, wait for it, but it never comes. It’s just making sure we know there is a secret to be told and if anyone finds out there will be a problem. Queens of the stone age have a few songs with this general feeling, but another along the same lines is the cracker ‘No One Knows’ – with comes with a great video (and Dave Grohl - Foo Fighters/Nirvana - on drums)

Somewhere Only We Know – Keane
This is more a nostalgic notion of a secret, something shared and personal – something that’s known by two people. It could be a place or it could be a feeling. Whenever I hear this song I think of the children’s book The Secret Garden which was one of my favourite stories as a child. I imagine fingers foraging through walls of ivy to find a hidden latch to a hidden door.

Dirty Little Secret – All American Rejects
It’s worth looking for this video if you haven’t seen it. A group of people have written their secrets on notecards and are holding them in front of their face. Some of the secrets there I can really identify with, things I wouldn’t necessarily even think to admit about myself. I think it’s fascinating the things people are ashamed to admit about themselves.

Just – Radiohead
Well, the song itself isn’t about secrets but the video is just brilliant. A man walking down the street stops and lies down, people walk past, each demanding to know what’s wrong with him and why he is lying down, he says he can’t tell them, but they push and push until eventually he does. Then more and more people lie down as they find out the secret; it leaves them debilitated and unwilling to carry on and people keep asking, knowing that they might also lie down if they find out the answer – even knowing that, they still ask. I think it demonstrated perfectly the need to know secrets and answers, even if we know the truth will hurt us.

My thoughts...
First off I received some interesting book post - a cup cake with a severed finger and then the book - The Secret by Katerina Diamond.  My first thoughts were how cool, brilliant marketing I can't wait to read the book, closely followed by I'm a bit freaked out - I know it's not a real finger - least I hope it's not but..... So when Helena at Avon asked if I'd like to be part of a very 'secret' blog tour for The Secret I jumped at the chance.

This was one of those books that took only pages to sink into.  Within eight pages there was three brutal murders and the tension was palpable.  The story beginning in a brothel with one prostitute escaping murder but quite quickly it's apparent it was her the killers were looking for and now she's on the run.


The Secret is fast paced, gritty and a breathe holding read. Based around an undercover police investigation in Exeter with links to another case and the the Plymouth police force. An undercover officer has gone missing and the clock is ticking for Inspectors Imogen Grey and partner Adrian Miles to find DS Bridget Reid.  They need  to infiltrate the gang responsible for some of the most serious crime in the area.  We're talking serious bad boys, drugs, weapons, prostitution, human trafficking and money laundering headed by the most corrupt villains in the UK.  The story is told from many angles and swings back and forth between the present day and Plymouth two years earlier. The advantage with this is that we glean some back history about Imogen and the reasons behind her transfer to Exeter along with some cross over of characters.  People she thought she had left behind appear here as if to taunt her and remind her of some of her darkest times and the reason she spent a year on the sick! 


This was one of those stories that I was glad I read in the daytime - scenes so graphic and gory I wanted to close the book, but the story was such I couldn't leave it alone.  Katerina Diamond doesn't waste time padding out and fluffing up the story she just dives straight getting to the point and leaving nothing to the imagination - her descriptions are graphic and to the point and will leave you open mouthed and 'Oh My Godding' every other page.



This book is a like a game of cat and mouse, with the protagonist changing with each chapter.  My thoughts and feelings changed more times than in any other book I've read. I worked things out in my own head only to have my opinions changed in the next chapter - knowing who to trust was difficult to decide, made more difficult by some of the police working under cover - what was real and what was not became blurred.

Life should be about discovering new things, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and trying different things.  I liked the synopsis for this book and really wanted to read it yet I sit here now a couple of weeks after finishing it and I'm still trying to process my thoughts. The content was definitely more graphic than I usually read but was so compelling I just had to read on.

Would I recommend it? - absolutely.  It has to be one of the best written books I've read in a long time. It's darker than most of my friends would read, and when asked if I enjoyed it I'm almost hesitant to say yes, it feels wrong for so many reasons - anyone who has read it will know what I'm talking about. 

I'd urge anyone who enjoys a really good book, that'll make you think, is happy to be shifted outside of their comfort zone to give it a go.  It'll stay with you long after the final page but that's a good thing.  The best kind of book in my opinion is a book that makes you think, that keeps you guessing and Katerina did this with panache.  There are several twists in virtually every chapter that had me virtually talking to myself, silently praying and almost too scared to read on in case I didn't like the outcome, I'm so glad I did and urge you all to read it too.



Follow the tour and see if you can guess who is hosting tomorrow!


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky - Holly Martin

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky
by Holly Martin
About the book...
Step inside a beautiful winter wonderland where love, laughter and cosy nights by the fire will make this Christmas one to remember. 

Neve Whitaker loves managing the Stardust Lake hotel. She gets to work alongside her wonderful family and she’s spending Christmas on the most enchanting, snow-covered island in Scotland. So why is her heart so heavy this festive season? 

It might have something to do with the gorgeous actor Oakley Rey, the man she finished with before he left for California and the man she loves more than anything. With Oakley’s career in Hollywood soaring, Neve is convinced she’d only hold him back. She had to end it with him – at least that’s what she keeps telling herself. 

But now she has a secret she’s struggling to keep, and when Oakley arrives on Juniper Island determined to win her back, Neve is thrown off balance. Will Neve’s fear of having her heart broken again push Oakley away for good, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith? 

Get swept away by this deliciously sweet and heartwarming tale, and spend an unforgettable Christmas on Juniper Island. 

About the author...
I studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of my colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years service was the moment when I knew I had to escape. I quit my job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, I emerged wide eyed and terrified that I now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. I taught for four years before History Off The Page came to my school to do a Tudor day. I now drive round the country in my little white van, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next.

I love to write. The characters do exactly what I want them to do, most of the time. Sometimes they do seem to go off and do their own thing without my permission. It is complete escapism into a world where I have full control.

I've been writing for four years now, every spare second I have, I'm scribbling ideas in a notebook or typing a scene on my laptop. I have written three romantic fiction books. Changing Casanova and The Chainsaw Masquerade were recently shortlisted for the Festival of Romance New Talent Award. My short story, One Hundred Proposals, won the Belinda Jones Travel Club short story competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology.


My thoughts...

I received an ecopy of this book from Holly's publishers Bookouture in exchange for an honest review - something which I'm more than happy to give.

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky is book two in The Town Called Christmas Series and seamlessly picks up where book one, Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky ended.  This book sees the focus shift to Neve Whittaker - Gabe's sister and manager of the Stardust Lake Hotel and her estranged boyfriend, hunky actor Oakley Rey.

I literally couldn't wait to head back to Juniper Island and the idyllic Town Called Christmas - I have totally bought into the whole package and have spent fruitless hours scouring the internet for this dream location - it's perfect in every way.

In Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky Holly wove a story that wrapped itself around my heart and with Christmas Under a Starlit Sky she's just pulled the strings a little bit tighter - it has it all.  Misunderstandings, secrets, drama, surprises, love and romance - all in a setting to die for.  

Whilst the main focus is on Neve and Oakley and their relationship, which Neve ended because she didn't want to hold him back in his career as an actor we always get to catch up with Gabe, Pip and the the cutie-pie Wren as they are fast becoming a tight knit, little family.  There is also an insight into the softer side of Luke, Gabe and Neve's brother as love  quietly blossoms between him and Audrey.  We also see assistant manager Adam falling in love with Ivy, an artist living and working in A Town Called Christmas after he is part of the search party when she goes missing after a morning walk.

Book two is has slightly more drama than book one and love doesn't run quite as smoothly but Juniper Island has a way of sucking you in and blinding you to any flaws.  The characters all feel like people I'd really like and I was rooting all the way for each and everyone of them.  I quietly oohed and ahed and wished for happy endings and trust me Holly Martin delivers with bells on top - my only disappointment is I haven't been able to book a trip to Juniper Island and the Stardust Lake Hotel yet!  Send me a link please Holly :)


All in all a pair of beautiful books that more than deliver on both the Christmas and romance front.  Just what the doctor ordered - two beautiful books, both available from Amazon for only £1.99 / 99p each, much, much less than a cup of coffee and the warming effect will last much longer too!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Cupcakes & Confetti (The little Wedding Shop by The Sea - Book 1)- Jane Linfoot

Cupcakes & Confetti
The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea - Book 1
by Jane Linfoot


About the book...
The perfect romance to take on your summer hols! For fans of Milly Johnson, Jenny Oliver and Lucy Diamond.

Brides by the Sea, the cutest little wedding shop in all of Cornwall, has it all, including cake baker Poppy who lives upstairs. But wedding planning is not the piece of cake Poppy thought it would be, and when her best friend Cate’s wedding planner walks out, Poppy has to tie up the loose ends so her bestie can tie the knot.

Double-booked venues, ‘rustic’ locations and gorgeous but grumpy farmer Rafe have this wedding pro feeling like she could be Cate’s ‘something blue.’


Will the wedding, the shop and the cake all come crashing down on her? Or will Poppy pull it off to give Cate – and herself – the happy ever afters they deserve?

About the author...
I write happy fiction, with feisty heroines and lots of heart. 

Writing is cool, because I get to wear pretty shoes instead of wellies. I live in a mountain kingdom in Derbyshire, England, where my family and pets are kind enough to ignore the chaos – happily, we’re in walking distance of a supermarket.

I love hearts, flowers, happy endings, all things vintage & most things french. When I’m not on facebook or twitter, and can’t find an excuse for shopping, I’ll be walking, or gardening. On days when I want to be really scared, I ride a tandem.




Author links:-
Twitter @janelinfoot
My thoughts...
This is the first book in the Cupcakes & Confetti series and what a delightful read it was.  It has it all happy bits, sad bits, hopeful bits, hopeless bits but most of all it'll make you smile and at times laugh out loud as the story unfolds. 

The main character Poppy, once a successful marketing guru, responsible for some of the best known food marketing campaigns is back in Devon mending a broken heart whilst baking cakes living and working above a wedding emporium owned by her straight talking, honest and organised, friend Jess.  Her heart having been broken by ex, Brett - an actor who led her to believe marriage was on the cards before suddenly and abruptly heading into the sunset with someone else.

Poppy is joined in the story by childhood best friends Immie and Cate and somehow finds herself applying for a job as a wedding co-ordinator at Daisy Hill Farm after the previous planner suddenly upped and left.  And all because she wants to save Cate's wedding which is booked there later in the year.

Interview day dawns and a nervous Poppy finds herself confronted by the grumpy, non-communicative, farm owner, Rafe.  He's grumpy, bad tempered and just wants someone to get them through the existing bookings, the plan then is to close the wedding business down - he hasn't read her CV but Immie who also works for him, managing and cleaning his holiday cottage lettings has recommended her so that's good enough for him.  

Jane Linfoot has created characters you'll adore - Poppy is low, dis-interested in her own life but loves her friends and is easily coaxed into doing things to help them out - her character has been sapped by the domineering Brett and she is definitely off romantic relations.  Being around all the loved up couples wasn't easy, reminding her of what she had lost. 

Daisy Hill farm owner Rafe is fierce and moody but clearly reliable, determined to see out his obligations with the pre-booked weddings and then wants nothing more to do with them - he's not very communicative and sparks fly when Poppy finds she has to share an office with him and madly for her, his chickens!  

Cate is marrying for the second time, has three children by her first husband a fourth with Liam her husband to be.  She wants everything to be perfect this time around and her wedding is fast turning into a circus - literally. She's so lovely though you can't help but smile as she adds more and more outlandish things to the wedding with no regard of the cost.

Immii is a bit dippy, free spirited and just lovely - she firmly has Poppy's back and knows this job is just what Poppy needs to pull herself out of the doldrums and remember how to live for herself not someone else.

Enter the gorgeous, blue eyed photographer Jules who quickly makes himself indispensable and all of a sudden Poppy finds herself on the receiving end of his attentions - something she definitely wasn't expecting or wants.

The chapters of this book are split into months and the year begins in February and quickly speeds to October as Poppy wings it, organising wedding after wedding that is hampered by chaos, mishaps and mistakes - all successfully hidden from the happy couples who just get to see and feel love and romance all around them.

This is a proper feel-good book.  Perfect for a lazy afternoon curled up on the sofa.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading and watching like a voyeur as the story unfolded, all the characters opening up and growing in confidence and stature.  Poppy and Rafe pushing each others buttons - both fiery and hot-headed then remorseful and calm.  The wedding couples some lovely, some not, unexpected births both human and animal and the chaos that ensues because of them.  Not everyone is what they seem though and when the chips are down it's surprising to see who steps up to the mark.  A gentle romantic, easy read with plenty of fizz - a book that's not all gooey but has depth without being too deep.  Jane gives just enough insight and background into characters to make you feel a connection and I most loved Jess's attitude to any problem - prosecco or gin - often both!  I for one cannot wait until book 2 - Sequins and Snowflakes.


Saturday, 15 October 2016

The Killing Game - J. S. Carol

The Killing Game
by James Carol
About the book...
Imagine you are having lunch at an exclusive restaurant, filled with Hollywood’s hottest stars.

And a masked gunman walks in and takes everyone hostage.

You must bargain for your life against a twisted individual who knows everything about you.

He also has a bomb set to detonate if his heart rate changes.

If he dies. You die.

You have four hours to stay alive.

What would you do?

A heart-stopping thriller with plenty of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat, for fans of Peter Swanson, Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay.

About the author...
James Carol is the #1 bestselling author of Broken Dolls, the first in a series of thrillers featuring former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter. The novel was released in the UK in January 2014 to rave reviews. To date the Winter books have been translated into eleven languages and sold more than a third of a million copies.

He also writes standalone thrillers under the pseudonym JS Carol. The first of these is The Killing Game, which is published by Bookouture in October 2016.

James lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children.


Extract...
The Killing Game by James Carol writing as JS Carol
Prologue

So, how are you going to play this one?
First you switch off your cell phone, then you take a deep breath and count to ten. Knee-jerk reactions are not your style. You need time to process what you’ve just heard, a moment of quiet reflection before leaping into the hurricane. Once those ten seconds are up you’re going to make two lists, one for the pros, one for the cons. Then you’ll take everything you’ve learned and put it in one column or the other. Inevitably, you will end up with more cons than pros, otherwise you wouldn’t have got the call.
Your clients don’t live in the real world, which is just as well. That one simple fact is the reason you’ve got a convertible Maserati Spyder, a suite of offices up with the clouds, and a condo with views across the valley in one of LA’s more exclusive zip codes. These people believe their own hype. They think they’re gods, but they’re not. Deep down they have the same insecurities and flaws as the rest of us, and, like the rest of us, they screw up occasionally. The big difference is that when they screw up it makes the headlines. This is where you come in. Trying to stop those headlines is an exercise in futility, but you can angle them to your advantage. And that is the Art of Spin.
So, what do you know?
You know this particular client isn’t a regular A-lister, he’s in the A+ category. There’s rich, and there’s Learjet rich, and this client is most definitely Learjet rich. He’s got the leading man looks, the healthy, twinkling smile and a great body. He made his name playing the all-American good guy and has basically rehashed the same role in every movie he’s ever made. However, so long as he keeps packing out those movie theatres, this doesn’t cause the studio bosses a problem.
Mr A+’s whole reputation rests on him being seen as whiter than white. According to the media he doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t do drugs or screw around. He eats healthily, exercises regularly and does plenty for charity. He married his high school sweetheart and they have a couple of kids, a boy and a girl. You’ve seen the photos. How could you miss them? There’s the four of them with their perfect teeth, perfect skin and perfect smiles, living their perfect life. There’s even a cute little pooch at Mr A+’s feet to complete the picture. Mr A+ came from nothing and now he’s sitting right up there at the top of the mountain. This is the American Dream made real.
If something looks too good to be true, it is. That’s something you’ve seen time and again in this town. So it comes as no surprise that Mr A+ is currently languishing in a Beverley Hills police cell, nursing a hangover and wondering what the hell he’s doing there. As far as he’s concerned he hasn’t done anything wrong. As far as the law is concerned, he has. This time the law wins big. Being caught in a sleazy motel with a dead hooker and a large bag of cocaine definitely contravenes a law or two.
And you know one more thing. Rather than phone his lawyer, Mr A+ phoned you.
Your clients fall into two broad categories. First up are the quiet ones. They know they’ve royally screwed up and will do anything you say to make the problem go away. Then there are the clients who roar like lions. In the end they’ll do what you tell them, but it takes time and persuasion to help them see the light. Mr A+ is a lion, and then some. Before he can wind himself up into a righteous fury, you tell him to shut up and listen.
Home truth number one: things will get uglier before they get better. 
Home truth number two: he’ll lose contracts.
Home truth number three: for the foreseeable future his career will resemble a car wreck.
Judging by the silence on the other end of the line, you’ve got his attention. No mean feat when dealing with an A+. Now he’s listening, you lighten your tone and tell him to hang on in there because things will get better. So long as he plays the long game and doesn’t get suckered into short-term thinking, everything will work out fine. You repeat this a couple of times to make sure it sinks in.
Next, you tell him he has to follow your instructions to the letter. No ifs, no buts. You’re in the driving seat now. You’re calling the shots. Unless he does everything you say, he can kiss his precious career goodbye. The grunt coming from the earpiece indicates that he isn’t convinced. Not a problem. What he thinks is irrelevant.
You let the silence stretch to breaking point, then tell him you want a million dollars, the whole amount up front, the money transferred to your account immediately. His first reaction is to tell you to go to hell. You keep quiet and give him all the time he needs.
‘You’re really that good?’ he asks tentatively.
‘For your sake, you better hope I am.’
By the time you hang up he’s a believer.
Your first call is to the presenter of America’s highest-rating daytime chat show. Not her office, the woman herself. You promise a soul-baring confessional. You promise tears. You promise great TV and a ratings bonanza. She tells you she’d be delighted to do the interview.
Your second call is to the National Enquirer. Half a million dollars secures them exclusive rights to a fuzzy video still of Mr A+ using a plastic straw to administer cocaine to the hooker in an unusual and imaginative way. For your strategy to work, Mr A+ needs to be seen to have hit rock bottom. As with all great tabloid stories, the more spectacular the fall, the better.
Your third call is to a five-star rehab clinic.
Your fourth call is to your pet pap to give him an ETA for Mr A+’s arrival at the clinic. As usual, the split on any photos sold is seventy/thirty, the percentage in your favour.
Once the important calls are out of the way, only then do you call in the lawyers.
Your name is Jody ‘JJ’ Johnson

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