Thursday, 30 April 2020

New Release Spotlight & Review: Barefoot on the Beach by Katlyn Duncan



Barefoot on the Beach by Katlyn Duncan
Genre: Contemporary romance/Women’s fiction
Publication Date: April 29, 2020
Publisher: HQ Digital


Renee Clarke is perfectly happy just the way she is…
Renee may be thrilled to be planning her sister’s wedding, but after witnessing her mother’s two failed marriages, she has always vowed that she is better off on her own.
But when Renee discovers that Luc Hardy has moved next door, her world is knocked off kilter. Luc was her whirlwind summer romance as a teen and, more importantly, her first love. Now he’s back in West Cove, looking more handsome than ever.
There is no escaping the romance in the air this summer. With the wedding planning in full swing, Renee begins to believe that she might be able to put her childhood reservations about marriage aside.
Yet when her mother arrives, she stirs a torrent of emotions in Renee’s heart.  She's up to her old tricks again–boasting about her latest conquests–reaffirming Renee’s lack of faith in love.
As Renee’s happily-ever-after hangs in the balance, will Luc be able to convince her that true love can last forever?


AmazonUS         Amazon UK


Full of sunshine and holiday spirit, Barefoot On The Beach is perfect for those wanting to read and create a holiday atmosphere with a cold fruity drink during these difficult times. 

After previously reading a lovely Christmassy novel by Ms Duncan, it was an easy decision to read her latest novel. 

Renee Clarke agrees to assist her sister Cait with her wedding plans but it's a bitter-sweet gesture because marriage is something she'll never do herself. So when she finds out Luc Hardy has rented the next-door holiday home, it brings back memories of the teenage summer romance they shared. The boy she remembers has turned into a handsome man she'd like to get reacquainted with, but is it worth getting involved in another holiday romance when he'll be leaving West Cove after a few weeks? 

Luc Hardy's never forgot the girl he met as a teenager and is thrilled to find she still lives in the house beside his aunt's. He's in West Cove for a short time and eager to get to know Renee again and discover if she's still like the girl he lost his heart to all those years ago? 

Barefoot on the beach is so much more than a second chance romance. Renee comes from a complicated family and has a toxic relationship with her mother. Her little sister, Cait turns her life upside-down when she comes to stay before her wedding. Her presence highlights the difficult relationships Renee has in her life. The author portrays her as someone who is the product of a dysfunctional family and how those close to her have caused her great pain. She overcompensated by letting her sister walk all over her when she should stand up for herself. Having Luc back in her life allows her to start seeing her life from a contrasting perspective, only it's her divorced parents who finally show her how their behaviour had a negative impact on how she views certain people. 

Everything ties up satisfactorily with a happy ending, although I felt this was a little rushed but overall, I enjoyed this summery novel with appealing characters set again a cosy coastal backdrop. 


***arc generously received courtesy of HQ Digital via NetGalley***

Coming from a small town, Katlyn Duncan always had her head in the clouds. Working as a scientist for most of her adult life, she enjoyed breaking down the hows and whys of life. This translated into her love of stories and getting into the minds of her characters.
When she’s not writing, she’s obsessing over many (many) television series’.
She currently resides in Connecticut with her family. Check out more about her writing and current TV addiction in her newsletter, on Youtube, and Instagram and Twitter!

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/katlyn-duncan


Wednesday, 29 April 2020

New Release Spotlight & Review: Art and Soul by Clare Huston



Art and Soul by Claire Huston
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publication Date: 23rd April 2020
Standalone Novel


There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…
 
Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.
 
So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.
 
Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?
 
A heart-warming, uplifting romance served with a generous slice of cake. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Cathy Kelly.




Art and Soul is a story which creeps under your skin and hooks you in.

Rebecca 'Becky' Watson is a professional fixer and Charlie Handren is a reluctant new client after his sister asks Becky to help out her sibling. It's a tough job, but with her trademark confidence, she's positive she can work her magic...she just has to convince the less than enthusiastic artist.

Charlie doesn't need anyone fixing his life and career, so when his sister contacts a professional fixer to get his life back on track, he's unenthusiastic and sceptical. On meeting the woman, he's pleasantly surprised by her positivity and energy and grudgingly agrees to employ her. He knows it's a risk but agrees anyway. Only her presence in his life creates far greater consequences even he could ever imagine.

When they meet, sparks fly but can Becky turn artist Charlie's career around so he can regain the success of his past? I sympathised with Charlie because Becky is a formidable whirlwind of productivity and ideas. She's a confident woman, but sometimes lacks insight as to how her skills will impact others. Her heart is one-hundred-per cent invested in the decisions she makes for Charlie but not all are clearly thought out.

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours as one contract easily presents itself after another. Therefore it's admirable how Becky effortlessly floats between assignments yet, her work is unpredictable and equally challenging as she juggles her work and life as a single parent. It's also a common link she shares with Charlie and provides a foundation for their relationship.

Art and Soul is a stellar d├ębut novel by Ms Huston who has written a captivating novel with fascinating protagonists, intriguing secondary characters and a cleverly crafted narrative to keep readers engaged throughout. I liked how I was pulled into the story, feeling the emotions of the characters in the situations they get themselves into. All the while cheering them along to a happy ending.

To sum up, I can see Art and Soul ending up in my top five favourite books for 2020! 

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



Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two children. Art and Soul is her first novel.
 
A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for all the cakes mentioned in Art and Soul at www.clairehuston.co.uk along with over 100 other recipes. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.



Monday, 27 April 2020

Book Spotlight & Author Guest Post: A Thoughtful Woman by K.T. Findlay



(K.T. Findlay – A Thoughtful Woman)

Culture’s an interesting thing. It can show up in the most unexpected ways.
Some years ago I had the pleasure of visiting a rather beautiful area of Atlanta called Buckhead. I’d visited downtown Cincinnati the year before, but otherwise, this was my first visit to mainland USA and everything was new to me. I remember my astonishment at seeing white butter for the first time, and wondering if it had been manufactured in a factory somewhere and someone had forgotten to add the yellow dye.
Then it was a quick cab ride to the office, one of the few high rises at the time and that was a revelation too. Buckhead is made up of nice homes set on large sections, all settled into a lot of trees. From ground level it looks like a really pretty, leafy suburb. From several stories up it was completely different. You would have thought you were surrounded by forest because there were almost no houses or roads to be seen. It was just trees as far as you could see, with the odd high rise popping up here and there.
So when I had a day off, I went for a walk. Who wouldn’t want to go for a walk in the woods? Well, Americans, as it turned out. Or at least these particular local Americans.
I took a cab to a shopping centre a few miles from the hotel, and paid attention to the route and the way the roads were laid out, and I was pretty confident about finding my way home again. So I had an interesting time wandering around the mall, dazzled by the huge variety of stuff on offer, but confined myself to buying just a few things that would fit in my backpack.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel, and right away there was a problem. What do you walk on? No footpath.
“That’s odd.” I thought. But I assumed it was just something about the main road, so I danced my way through the traffic and headed for the quieter suburban streets between the mall and the hotel.
Well those quiet suburban streets were just made for walking. Gorgeous homes, beautiful sections, and always, those wonderful, glorious, shady trees. Happiness is. So a terrific walker’s paradise, except for just one thing. No footpaths. At all. Of any kind. I had to make my way via people’s lawns and walking on the road, hopping over low walls, and always keeping an ear out for traffic coming up behind, on the wrong side of the road of course!
I found it all fascinating, but nowhere near as fascinating as the doorman found me. When he spotted me walking in the far end of the hotel’s driveway, he literally ran out to greet me, dressed in all his gear, on a sweltering hot, muggy day.
‘What was the cab company you came in?’ he demanded. ‘They should never have dropped you off at the street. We’ll have them barred from the chain!’ He really was furious.
“‘No cab.” I explained. “I walked back from the mall. It’s not far. Only a few miles.”
His jaw dropped. “You walked? Seriously? All that way? But it’s miles!”
I shook my head. ‘Nah. It isn’t far really. Didn’t take me long at all, at least not once I gave up looking for the foothpaths.”
‘But we don’t have any footpaths around here.” he protested.
“I noticed.” I grinned in reply. “But it’ll be okay tomorrow.”
“Why’s that?” he asked.
“Because I’ll be going out again tomorrow. There’s some stuff at the mall I still want to buy, but I’ve got a good route now.”
“We can get you a car sir. It’s no trouble.”
“Thanks, but I’d rather walk.”
“No really sir. We’d much prefer that you take a car.”
“Why?” I asked.
He was silent for a moment, and seemed to be struggling to find the right words. In the end he plumped for honesty. “Because it doesn’t look very good, a guest walking out of the hotel.”
I compromised. “Well, okay. If it makes you feel any better, I can take a cab.”
His face brightened. “Thank you sir!”
I shook his hand. “No worries. And thanks for coming out to get me. I appreciate your concern. At least you won’t have to do it tomorrow when I come back.”
“Sir?” he queried. But he already knew the answer. I was going to be walking back.
As the elevator doors closed to take me up to my room, I glanced back at the main entrance. He was busy in earnest conversation with the two bellhops, who were also looking aghast in my general direction. There was just enough time to give them a wave before the doors closed.
It was a different world. For both of us.


A Thoughtful Woman by K.T. Findlay
Genre: Thriller / Dark Humour
Standalone first book in a series


Artist Sally Mellors has planned the perfect revenge, but with two secret agents on her tail, and her best friends running the police investigation, getting away with murder is going to be tricky...
Everybody loves Sally. She's a funny, generous, warm hearted friend, without a nasty bone in her body. 
Isn't she? 
Unknown to her friends, Sally's discovered another side to herself, cool headed and relentless, as she hunts down the three men who killed her husband. 
But Sally's not the only one with an interest in the trio. Unknown to her, two agents have arrived in town, urgently hunting a missing man and his diary, which could blow their organisation apart. Their best leads are the very men that Sally's hunting, and she's getting in the way…


Amazon US          Amazon UK



K.T. Findlay lives on a small farm where he dovetails his writing with fighting the blackberry and convincing the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a vital part of its job description.


Webpage : www.ktfindlay.com

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Book Spotlight and Author Guest Post: Through Dust and Dreams by Roxana Valea


Through Dust and Dreams. The Story of an African Adventure by Roxana Valea
​Genre - Travel Memoir
Standalone Book


Talk to your book

We, writers, often make the mistake to think we write books. It is not true. Books write themselves through us.

It’s quite a blow to accept that, to accept that all you are is a pair of hands on a keyboard. That you were never asked for input nor expected to create anything. It’s uncomfortable to admit this so we usually don’t. We call ourselves authors and go on and on about our creative process, about finding inspiration and so on.

The truth is that inspiration find us, we do not find it. Inspiration comes to us like a visitor that knocks at the door. We either open the door or we don’t. If we do, we agree to land our pair of hands. If we don’t, it will go away and find someone else.

The book choses us when the book is ready to come into form. I believe all books exist as energy before they come into their material form. It’s like a whirlpool of energy coming together and it wants to express itself as a book. And it starts looking for an author, a person who’s willing to land a pair of hands.

When we let the book write itself through us the way it wants to, it turns into a good book. When we force it to go the way our mind or ego wants, it loses energy and becomes a pale version of what it could have been. Why? Because, again, it’s not us who write, it’s the book who writes itself. It’s got its own energy and it wants to be respected.

But why then does a book come only to some of us? Well, we’re all born with gifts in this world, some know how to cook, some know how to build a brick wall, some sing and some write. The book will look for those who are open to listen to this type of energy, who recognise it and call it inspiration. Those who have this gift and are willing to use it.

I talk to my books while I write. I open a journal and call it the journal of the book. I ask the book where it wants to go and if it’s happy about how it’s being written. It will tell me when it doesn’t. Actually it will become quite clear because when inspiration goes and writing starts becoming difficult it’s because the ego or the mind of the writer is trying to interfere too much with the book. How many writers stop then and start procrastinating or push themselves harder and harder. More mind. More ego. Even less inspiration. Even deeper blockage.

The solution? Withdraw. Get out of the way. Let the book write itself. Let it take you where it wants to go. Accept that you’re just a pair of hands and nothing more. Accept that we do not create but simply allow creation to come through us.
And enjoy the process. Because this encounter of a writer with a book that wants to write itself though their hands, is one of the most satisfying encounters of this life.



At a crossroads in her life, Roxana decides to take a ten-day safari trip to Africa. In Namibia, she meets a local guide who talks about “the courage to become who you are” and tells her that “the world belongs to those who dream”.

Her holiday over, Roxana still carries the spell of his words within her soul. Six months later she quits her job and searches for a way to fulfil an old dream: crossing Africa from north to south. Teaming up with Richard and Peter, two total strangers she meets over the Internet, Roxana starts a journey that will take her and her companions from Morocco to Namibia, crossing deserts and war-torn countries and surviving threats from corrupt officials and tensions within their own group.

Through Dust and Dreams is the story of their journey: a story of courage and friendship, of daring to ask questions and search for answers, and of self-discovery on a long, dusty road south.


Amazon US          Amazon UK  


Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player--traveling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.








Friday, 24 April 2020

Release Day Spotlight and Review: The First Date by Zara Stoneley



The First Date by Zara Stoneley
Genre: Romcom / chicklit / contemporary women’s fiction
Publication Date: 24th April 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter / HarperCollins
Standalone Novel


Right place.
Right time.
Wrong guy …

After breaking up with her childhood sweetheart, clueless dater Rosie has found herself in a boyfriend-drought. So when she finally swipes right on a guy who seems interested, she can’t wait to meet up IRL.
Until she’s left standing alone. In a bar. Ghosted.
Enter Noah. Confident, funny … and a serial first dater. Offering to give Rosie a crash course in seduction, this could be just what she needs. Until her matchmaker turns out to be the best date she’s ever had – and Rosie wonders if she wants the fake dates to be the real ones after all …
A hilarious, heartwarming romantic comedy about what happens when the wrong guy turns up at the right time, perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Debbie Johnson.





It's another winning novel from Zara Stoneley!

Rosie Brown wants to start dating again after her long term boyfriend Robbie left her and moved to Wales. After plucking up courage, she arranges to meet Gabe Stevenson who she met on Tinder only….he stands her up! Sat alone at a bar, she's approached by Noah Adams. He's good looking, flirting up a charm but not her type. Besides he's a self-confessed expert at first dates and someone she needs to avoid. Somehow though as they get chatting, he's keen to assist in helping her improve her first date chances, but why?

Noah Adams sees a woman sat at a bar. Sat alone, he goes across to talk to her and for some reason, she's not reacting to his chat-up lines; it's a blow to his ego. As they talk, she tells him the first date after her long-term boyfriend left her has stood her up. Eager to pass on his dating wisdom, he hatches a plan to teach Rosie dating techniques but is there more to his desire to just help her?

Firstly, I really liked Rosie and Noah together as they work through the first-date lessons he's put together for her. It's clear they both like each other as they form a friendship based on trust. There's lots of fun banter flying between and it's easy to see they are comfortable with each other. It can be argued Noah is conscientiously moulding Rosie into a stereotypical male object of desire. However, I interpreted his lessons as a way of lifting Rosie's confidence and self-esteem, all the while, there's an undercurrent of combustible chemistry sparking between them. So it's only a matter of time before they react to their attraction to each other only, all roads to a "Happily Ever After" tend to be bumpy and theirs is covered in rocks!

Rosie has "daddy issues". Thankfully our heroine eventually finds closure to this unfortunate issue which has held her back for far too long. Interestingly, it comes from an unexpected source and I liked this little twist of fate. Noah too has to face up to his serial one-date-only issues, which he does and it's Rosie's action which triggers him to face up to what has been holding him back. It proves they are meant to be together and leads to a more than satisfying ending.

The author has successfully written another hilarious and heart-warming romantic comedy filled with adorable characters and entertaining dialogue and it's my favourite Zara Stoneley novel!

Lastly and not least, an honourable mention to Hugo; for simply just been himself!

***arc generously received courtesy of One More Chapter via NetGalley*** 




USA Today bestselling author Zara Stoneley writes funny, contemporary romances that will whisk you away from the humdrum of everyday life and make you laugh out loud.
Growing up she wanted to be James Bond or UK veterinary surgeon James Herriot - instead she dallied with a career in IT consultancy, ran a dog grooming business, and had a brief spell teaching (variety is the spice of life!) before finally writing a bestselling novel and realising that at heart she'd always been an author.

She enjoys torturing (in a nice way) her characters for your pleasure and writes about friendship, pesky pets, troublesome relatives, hopes, dreams, love and happy ever afters. Her aim is to make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say 'ahhh'.

Follow her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley to find out more about her home life in a Cheshire village with her family, a (very) lively cockapoo called Harry, and a bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron. Zara’s bestselling novels have been translated into several languages and sold around the world. They include 'Four Christmases and a Secret', 'Bridesmaids', 'No One Cancels Christmas', 'The Wedding Date', 'The Holiday Swap', 'Summer with the Country Village Vet', 'Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage' and the popular Tippermere series - 'Stable Mates', 'Country Affairs' and 'Country Rivals'.




Thursday, 23 April 2020

New Release Spotlight: The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel


The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel
​Genre: Psychological fiction
Publication Date:  17th April 2020
Standalone book





An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood, from the author of Manipulated Lives.

Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, who’s own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.

Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?

In The Memories We Bury the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.



Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy ,
specializing in the study of the mind.

Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first book, Manipulated Lives, a collection of five fictional novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists.

She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.