Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Spotlight & Review: Aphrodite's Closet by Suzy Turner

Aphrodite’s Closet by Suzy Turner

Agatha Trout didn’t even know she had a Great Aunt Petunia, so imagine her surprise when she finds Petunia left her a corner shop in her will. But it’s not just any old corner shop—it’s a corner shop that needs something unique, something the town of Frambleberry has never seen before.
Influenced by her confident best friend, Coco, Agatha is soon convinced that there’s only one way to go: an adults-only sex shop.

While some of the townspeople are clutching their pearls in horror, others are open to the new experiences this shop offers. But not everyone in Frambleberry is convinced. Will the women soldier on in the face of violent threats or will their fears get the best of them—and their new venture—before it even gets off the ground?

Amazon UK      Amazon US 

This novel is such fun!

Shock is the only way to describe librarian, Agatha 'Aggie' Trout's reaction to finding out her late Aunt Petunia bequeathed a corner shop by her. The timing of the news is perfect, as she's about to lose her job as the library is closing. With a clause in the will which stipulates she can't sell the shop, she has no choice but to become a shopkeeper. As a mythology loving bookworm living in a town which already has two bookshops, it's a tough decision to make; What business should she open?

I can relate to Aggie and how she reacts to the suggestions made by her friend Coco. Although she only looking after her friend's best interests, Aggie feels pressured into following and agreeing with her idea and that's before dealing with the resulting embarrassment. However, we all need someone like Coco in our lives to give us a push when it's needed and as a pair, they work well and compliment each other as they realise the reality of opening Frambleberry's first sex shop!

Intrigue, mystery and romance are present within the narrative but the overall feelings are light-hearted and fun. There's humour and some tongue-in-cheek hilarity as the local town folk and their friends discover Aphrodite's closet. Not all is plain-sailing as a villain or two appear to spoil the fun for Aggie and co, thankfully, all problems and heartache are resolved satisfactorily with a happy-ever-after for all concerned. Additionally, I particularly enjoyed was the backstory about Aunt Petunia as discoveries about her life are found hidden away in the vast building which was her shop and home.

The narrative flows at a steady pace and kept my attention focused on the protagonists' antics the whole time. I admire how Aggie overcomes her inhibitions and along with sister Christie and Coco and the bond of friendship is cemented as their dream becomes a reality. Set against a northern English backdrop, an assortment of eclectic characters add interest to an already entertaining story. Suzy Turner is a new-to-me author and I'll definitely read more of her titles.

***review copy received courtesy of the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources***

Born in England and raised in Portugal, Suzy lives with her childhood sweetheart Michael, their two crazy dogs and three cats.

Shortly after completing her studies, Suzy worked as a trainee journalist for a local newspaper. Her love of writing developed and a few years later she took the job of assistant editor for the region's largest English language publisher before becoming editor of a monthly lifestyle magazine. Early in 2010 however, Suzy became a full time author. She has since written several books: Raven, December Moon, The Lost Soul (
The Raven Saga), Daisy Madigan's Paradise, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, The Temporal Stone, Looking for Lucy Jo, We Stand Against Evil (The Morgan Sisters), Forever Fredless, And Then There Was You, Stormy Summer and her latest, Aphrodite’s Closet.

In 2015 she launched her popular 40+ lifestyle blog which continues to go from strength to strength, while just over a year later, she trained to become a yoga instructor. Suzy continues to write, blog and teach yoga in one of Portugal’s loveliest settings - the Algarve.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Spotlight & Extract: The Tissue Veil by Brenda Bannister

The Tissue Veil by Brenda Bannister

What if you discovered a hundred-year-old diary under your floorboards - and then found references in it to yourself? Or if you lived in 1901, yet kept seeing glimpses of a girl from modern times? And what if both of you had problems that only the other could really understand? Emily and Aysha live in the same Stepney house and an inexplicable link develops between them, fuelled by Aysha's discovery of a journal and Emily's sightings of a 'future ghost'. Each takes courage from the other's predicament - after all, what's a hundred years between friends?

When Aysha discovers a loose floorboard in her bedroom, she determines to use the cavity beneath the board to store her university application papers. Then she begins to clean the space and finds someone has used the hiding place before...

The vacuum cleaner gulps down the dust balls with satisfying voracity. Aysha removes the nozzle and feeds the end of the flexible hose into the under floor space to complete the task. Suddenly the machine’s noise changes as if something has blocked the tube. Carefully, she withdraws the hose, then reaches in to grasp a rectangular object, thickly encased in dust, but still recognisable as a book. Someone has used the hiding place before! She switches the vacuum power to the lowest setting to remove the dirt without damaging her find, then blows gently across it and finishes it off with tissues.
Now that it’s cleaner, the cover looks like leather, dark green and finely grained. The contents seem to be some kind of diary. Flicking through, she sees page after page of a neat, looping script written in blue ink. There are a couple of entries from 1899, but most pages are headed by dates in 1900 and 1901. Aysha turns to the inside front cover and reads an inscription: To dearest Emily from your mother, Christmas 1899. On the opposite page a name:
Emily Watts.
Emily Watts! It must be the girl in the census, who lived in this house!
“Aysha!” her mum calls. “You finish clean?”
Her first thoughts are that she can use this journal in her historical study of the square. Andy said not to get fixated with individuals, but surely this is a unique primary source? She can use Emily’s narrative to illustrate generalities. Reading further, she’s not sure. Whoever Emily Watts was, she wrote her story with such immediacy that Aysha almost believes the other girl is speaking directly to her. Submitting her words to the scrutiny of examiners would feel like a kind of betrayal. Perhaps she’ll just tell Andy about the journal. For now, she replaces the book under the floorboard and finishes vacuuming.
Later that night she takes it out again to read in bed. If only she could reach out to this girl who had lost her brother and mother and was trapped unwillingly at home... How would she feel if something happened to Sel? Or Dad? But the sympathy she feels is useless, a burden that can’t be delivered.
A few minutes later, shocked rigid, she sits upright in bed, frowning and staring at the page as she reads – her own name! She pushes the book away: this isn’t right, someone’s playing a trick on her. She looks again, but nothing’s been inserted or altered; the words are embedded in the text. Surely no-one would forge a whole journal as a joke? It must have been some other girl. Emily couldn’t have seen her, Aysha, back in 1901. Yet she has described her hair and clothes exactly: she’s wearing a sort of printed tunic over coarse blue trousers. Aysha looks at the stonewashed jeans slung over her chair, then at the cotton top, patterned in blues and greens, hanging from the back of her door. And the words Emily reports hearing sound like the argument she had with Sel yesterday, when they’d all come back from the hospital. That feeling she’d experienced, of being aware of a sudden, overwhelming sadness – was that Emily; was the grief hers? If she hid her book here, this must have been her room too. Aysha’s thoughts spiral and eddy like leaves caught in a whirlpool.
Now she definitely can’t use the journal in her study, or let anyone see it. If Mum could read it, she’d think it was dangerous, like bad magic or something. She’d want to know where Aysha found it and that would be the end of her hiding place. But Emily had been a real person, a girl of her own age. Aysha doesn’t understand yet, but she’s sure the journal is important – she was meant to find it.

Brenda studied English at university and later qualified as a librarian, working in various educational settings from schools to higher education. Moving from London to Frome in Somerset in 2010 proved a catalyst for her own writing as she joined local fiction and script writing groups. She has had a number of short stories published, plus short plays produced in local pub theatre, but all the while was incubating a story based in the area of Tower Hamlets where she had worked for eighteen years. This germ of a story became 'The Tissue Veil'.
Brenda is a founder member of Frome Writers' Collective, an organisation which has grown from a handful of members to over a hundred in the past four years, and helped set up its innovative Silver Crow Book Brand. She is also the current organiser of the annual Frome Festival Short Story Competition. A lifelong reader, Brenda rarely follows genres, but enjoys modern literary fiction, historical fiction, classics and the occasional detective novel. The latest Bernard Cornwell might be a guilty pleasure, but she'll be even more eager to get her hands on Hilary Mantel's final instalment of Thomas Cromwell's story.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Release Day Spotlight & Exclusive Excerpt: Ensnared by J.S. Scott

Title: Ensnared
Author: J.S. Scott
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Wildlife conservationist Jade Sinclair isn’t used to having money. But when she and her siblings learned they were part of the mega-rich Sinclair dynasty, they became billionaires overnight. Jade doesn’t even know how to act rich, especially when she’s dealing with an arrogant, privileged, unreasonably sexy snob like Eli Stone.

Unlike Jade, Eli grew up rich, and he just keeps getting richer. Eli is always looking for an adventure, and he’s found an inviting one in Jade—as resistant as she is irresistible. His less-than-honorable plan? Get her alone in the wilderness by buying out all the spots in her survival class.

Calling a truce, they strike a bargain: Jade will teach Eli basic survival skills, and he’ll teach her how to navigate the world of the wealthy elite. Jade has only one condition—she will not let herself be seduced by him. But some things are easier said than done . . .

Exclusive Excerpt - Ensnared by J.S. Scott

I slowed down as I turned off the main highway.

I pulled onto the rough road to the small cabin on the property. There were enough bunk beds in the rustic structure for everybody, but students had the option of pitching tents or building their own shelters if they chose.

After I parked my Jeep, I unloaded some supplies and checked out the cabin. Although I encouraged foraging and trapping, I always made sure to have enough basic food so students didn’t starve.

I sat on the wooden steps and took a deep breath, relaxing to the sounds of the birds and the feel of a light breeze that caressed my skin.

I opened the book I’d brought along, the latest from my favorite erotic romance writer. The reading material was one of my secret pleasures, maybe because I’d never been overwhelmed by lust for any man, but I loved to read about the possibility.

I was mostly a realist, but I loved the fantasy of some hot guy sweeping me off my feet.

Other than a boyfriend in college who had used me to help him get his degree and then disappeared after graduation without a word, I’d never been in a sexual relationship.

Honestly, my ex hadn’t exactly rocked my world. But I liked to think that love and lust existed.

Brooke had always accused me of being a closet romantic. And maybe she was right. As a scientist, believing in soulmates, love, and unbridled lust didn’t make much sense. But I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to believe it was real anyway.

It had happened for my twin, and Brooke deserved the love she had with Liam. Her capacity to care about other people was endless.

A sigh escaped from my mouth as I started reading the scene I’d left off on the last time I’d picked up the book.

It was hot.

It was sensual.

And even though the male hero was an obnoxious alpha sometimes, I adored the way he wanted to give his woman everything and protect her from anything bad in the world, and how incredibly devoted he was to the woman he loved.

“Hello, Jade,” a smooth baritone said from above me, the deep voice startling me so much I instinctively slammed the book closed.

Even though I loved steamy romance, I didn’t exactly broadcast it, except to my friends who read the same type of books.

Unfortunately, I’d gotten so lost in the hot fairy tale that I obviously hadn’t heard my first student arrive.

I shaded my eyes and looked up, curious because the voice was familiar, but I was pretty sure that since I lusted after Eli Stone, I was hearing that whiskey-smooth baritone voice only in my imagination.

My heart skittered as I focused in on the face belonging to the sexy male voice.

It was Eli Stone, and I gaped at him like an idiot because I couldn’t seem to reconcile him and being out in the middle of nowhere.

I scrambled to my feet, feeling at a disadvantage because I was so far below him. But the position change didn’t help all that much. I was average height, and Eli Stone was all muscle—broad, tall, and pretty damn intimidating, even though he was casually dressed in jeans, a T-shirt that only showed how ripped he was, and a pair of hiking boots.

For just a moment, my eyes were drawn to the dark scrolls and sharp angles of the tribal tattoo that covered his left arm, ending at his wrist. The markings were a stark black against his tanned skin, and the ferociousness of the design left me speechless.

I wasn’t into tats, and I’d seen Eli’s in images many times, but there was something about those markings that made my heart lodge in my throat. They were fierce, but for some reason they only made me feel . . . sadness.

“What are you doing here?” I finally asked hesitantly as my gaze went back to his face.

He folded his muscular arms in front of him as he answered, “You didn’t seem to want to come to me, so I’m coming to you. I’m your student for the next thirty-two hours or so, Jade.”

I might not have been fond of Eli Stone, but his presence was still a little bit overwhelming.

Okay, maybe more than a little bit.

It had been so long since I’d seen Eli in person that I’d started to tell myself that I’d overestimated the tension that had flowed between us in his office.

But I really hadn’t.

My body was taut just from being in close proximity to him, and the hypervigilant awareness I felt when I looked at him was very, very real.

The feelings were so powerful that I couldn’t focus on anything else but him.

I didn’t understand it.

But I was truly experiencing it.

The same awkward, potent attraction I’d fought in his office months ago.

I swallowed hard, my brain working to figure out exactly how I could get rid of Eli Stone before I made a complete and total fool of myself.

J.S. “Jan” Scott is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous contemporary and paranormal romances, including The Sinclairs series. She’s an avid reader of all types of books and literature, but romance has always been her genre of choice—so she writes what she loves to read: stories that are almost always steamy, generally feature an alpha male, and have a happily ever after, because she just can’t seem to write them any other way! Jan loves to connect with readers. Visit her website at www.authorjsscott.com.

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Saturday, 13 October 2018

Spotlight: Chasing Ghosts by Madalyn Morgan

Chasing Ghosts by Madalyn Morgan

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.

Amazon UK     Amazon US     Amazon de 

I have a weakness for twentieth-century wartime themed novels so dived into this one with much enthusiasm. Ms Morgan's writing is a new to me so, I'm happy to confirm I've found another author to follow after reading this absorbing tale set in peacetime between nineteen forty-nine and nineteen-fifty.

Claire Mitchell's husband, Captain Alain 'Mitch' Mitchell is missing. After failing to join her and their daughter on a return flight from Canada to England, she's determined to ascertain where he is. As each day goes by, her suspicions surrounding his disappearance become heightened after military personnel search her house. Aided by Mitch's grandmother, she makes her way to France, to track down the woman she believes is with her husband.

The narrative alternates between the present and the past as we get the background history before Mitch disappears and Claire's journey to find the truth. The writing flows sublimely, keeping both the past and the present connected. Even though the setting is after World War Two, Claire's work in occupied France is relevant to how she deals with the unique situations she's in.

I appreciate how the author projected the sexual chemistry between Claire and Thomas Durand. Even before we're made aware feelings exist between them, the narrative projected their attraction right from their re-introduction. With the air of uncertainty hanging over Mitch's disappearance and not knowing if he's unfaithful to his wife, the attraction between this woman looking for her husband and her old wartime colleague is palpable. Unexpectedly, this aspect adds a compelling element to this already intriguing story. Additionally, when Claire and Mitch are finally reunited, it is clear they have a distinctive special bond, nurtured during the second world war. Although it isn't necessary to have read the novel, 'China Blue' which tells the story about their lives working as part of the resistance, Chasing Ghosts certainly whetted my appetite to learn more about this dynamic couple.

To sum up, action-packed and enjoyable Chasing Ghosts is book six in the Dudley Sisters Saga and I read this as a standalone novel.

4.5 stars

***arc received courtesy of the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources***

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.

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.

Book Birthday Blitz: Oh! What a Pavlova by Isabella May

Oh! What a Pavlova by Isabella May

Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?

Purchase Link: myBook.to/pavlova

I love the enticing cover, however, the saying goes, "never judge a book by its cover" and this rings true with Isabella May's d├ębut novel. I was expecting cake, lots of it, but the reality is a few crumbs.

Kate Clothier is a publishing executive and lives with Daniel whom she met whilst studying at university. Ten years later, they are involved in a long-term abusive relationship. She lives for and relishes the chance to escape her volatile home life as she travels around the world with her job. Will she ever find the courage to walk away from the man who's turned into a monster?

Perplexed by Kate's begrudging acceptance of Daniel behaviour, they're neither married, have children nor financially dependant on each other. So wondered why she stayed and put up with the domestic violence. She's constantly seeking out comfort and emotional support from her male business trip acquaintances even when these liaisons didn't always go according to plan. Her behaviour didn't make sense (to me). Maybe if the novel had hinted on what triggered Daniel's angry and aggressive outbursts and devoted more scenes with Kate and Daniel together, the reader may have understood their dynamics as a couple?

While the idea is fun and original, I didn't fully appreciate the references to cakes littered through the narrative because I didn't understand them. With a friend described as a “Coffee and Walnut Cake, the ultimate listener” and Daniel, “I thought he was a Black Forest Gateaux but he was Marble Cake through and through”, what did this mean? I found the author's writing style chaotic and difficult to follow, especially during the first few chapters. I constantly had to re-read passages to get the gist of what was going on because I felt bombarded by over descriptive text as well as the narrative flip flopping back and forth with inner thoughts and back story threaded in between. Some people will love the dizzy pace and constant drama. I, however, found it confusing and exhausting.

It's a little rushed, but there's a satisfying 'happy for now' ending for Kate as she begins a new chapter in her life, so all's well that ends well.

***arc generously received courtesy of Crooked Cat Books***

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.

Twitter - @IsabellaMayBks

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of The Cocktail Bar (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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.