#Bookreview Under the Italian Sun by @SueMoorcroft #romance #Netgalley

I received this book prior to publication via Netgalley and am grateful to have been given the chance to read this immersive summer read. Publication date is set as 13th May 2021.

Blurb

A warm, sun-baked terrace.

The rustle of verdant green vines.

The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.

And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…

Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.

When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.

However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…

This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?

My Review

As soon as I started reading about Zia, I got lost in her story and was desperate to unravel the mystery of her past. I gladly followed her journey from Brighton to Italy and rejoiced when she met the delectable Italian, Piero. They were made to be together but scheming ex’s and shady family dealings threaten any future happiness before it can begin.

I loved the setting, the Italian family Zia is desperate to connect with and the sense of place you get in this book. On a grim, grey days in the UK, there is no better place to be than the Umbrian Mountains ‘Under the Italian Sun’.

An immersive romance, with plenty of emotional impact and scorching moments that have little to do with the weather!

Highly recommended read.

Pre-order from amazon now so you don’t forget!

***

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance

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Double #bookreview Winter Beneath the Stars and Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas #romance

I always enjoy Jo Thomas’ books and these two were no exception. It did take me a bit to get into one of them but then the characters wormed their way into my heart and I really enjoyed both books. Below are the blurbs and my brief reviews.

Winter Beneath the Stars

Halley has been running from her problems for years.

On a courier trip to Tallfors, deep in Swedish Lapland, everything is going to plan. Halley has her bag, with two precious wedding rings inside for delivery… until she doesn’t.

The only way to save the wedding is to team up with mysterious reindeer herder Bjorn, the one person who can lead her across the snowy tundra to be reunited with her bag.

On a journey of a lifetime beneath the stars, with only the reindeer and a bad-tempered stranger for company beside the fire, Halley realises that she will need to confront her past heartaches in order to let the warmth of love in once more…

My Brief Review

I did have to suspend my disbelief with this one as the premise of the story just didn’t seem plausible. Halley is a courier delivering special wedding rings that get lost when her hand luggage is accidently swapped with someone else’s. I could not get over the fact she could have carried the rings on her person. Of course there would be no story then, but it really bugged me for a while.

Anyway, it goes to show if you can just let something go and keep reading you may just be surprised. It was a great story about two people struggling to overcome their personal issues and hopefully find love. The setting was very special and really made the book come alive for me. Plus I loved the husky dogs. In the end it was a brilliant read and I loved Halley and Bjorn.

Finding Love at the Christmas Market

Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her…

Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.

Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?

My Brief Review

This is was a lovely Christmas read and an original story idea where Connie takes the old folks from the retirement home on a jaunt to a Christmas market in Germany. They visit a bakery, which features in the story quite a lot. I loved these scenes and all the descriptions of the delicious food. At first I found the many characters from the retirement home hard to keep track of, but it all fell into place and I really enjoyed the story. I also loved how everyone had a Christmas wish and they made a pact to help each other fulfil them.

Another recommended read. Jo Thomas is a master at telling heart warming stories with characters you fall in love with.

***

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and romance.

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#Bookreview The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell #romance

A lovely book, I stayed up way too late most nights reading this because I just had to know what happened next.

Blurb

In the idyllic seaside town of St Carys, Sophie is putting the past firmly behind her.

When Josh arrives in St Carys to run the family hotel, he can’t understand why Sophie has zero interest in letting any man into her life. He also can’t understand how he’s been duped into employing Sophie’s impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited.

St Carys has more than its fair share of characters, including the charming but utterly feckless surfer Riley Bryant, who has a massive crush on Tula. Riley’s aunt is superstar author Marguerite Marshall. And Marguerite has designs on Josh’s grandfather…who in turn still adores his glamorous ex-wife, Dot…

Just how many secrets can one seaside town keep?

My brief review

This is a perfect example of a feel-good, heart-warming romance.

I fell in love with the main characters, Sophie and Josh, but also with the many side characters and their stories. I honestly didn’t want to stop reading this and I’m sad the story is over.

I loved the location, which was my initial draw for picking up this book, a seaside escape whilst stuck in lockdown!

I enjoyed reading about Sophie’s career as a freelance photographer and her backstory was a powerful one. The many love matches in this book are a huge bonus, especially Sophie’s best friend Tula.

Thanks to this book, and Meet me at Beachcoomber’s Bay, Jill Mansell has become one of my favourite romance authors. I don’t think anyone who picks up this book could dispute her talent for weaving immersive tales that stay with you long after the books are finished.

A great 5 star read.

Check it out on Goodreads.

***

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance

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Book Review Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft #romance #tuesdaybookblog

I read this book just after Christmas. I loved the two protagonists, Hannah and Nico, and their story had me glued to the pages. Here’s the blurb from Amazon…

Blurb

A sparkling Christmas read from the Sunday Times bestseller – perfect to snuggle up with this winter!

Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.

But fate is keeping them apart…

As soon as Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after.

When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?

My Brief Review

Oh my goodness, this story blew me away. I loved Nico and his kids and really wanted him to find his happy ever after with Hannah from the moment they were together on the page. Fate keeps getting in the way of these two people who are so clearly made for each other.

The locations were wonderfully described, both in Stockholm and the UK.

It was impossible to put this book down. It had plenty of fun but also heartfelt moments that had me secretly crying into my pillow. One of my favourite reads of 2020.

This is a 5 star read, and one you don’t have to wait to read at Christmas. Pick it up now I say!

Note – after reading this story I see there are other books set in Middledip. It clearly works as a standalone as I didn’t feel I was missing anything. And now I’m excited to read the other books set in Middledip and start a new adventure.

***

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

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Reading plans for 2021 #amreading #fantasy #romance

I plan to read at least 20 books in 2021. I’ve already finished off one book from last year, so that’s 19 to go. A review of Sue Moorcroft’s Christmas Wishes will follow soon. Here’s a spoiler though – it’s a 5 star read!

Here is my reading plan so far. There are 550 books on my TBR, so I still have plenty of others to choose from. I am a mood reader, so it will be interesting to see if I stick to this list.

Fantasy

Raven Storm – book 3. I’ve just started this and I’m really enjoying getting back into the Fire Walker series by Emma Miles.

Some of my next fantasy reads will hopefully be…

Romance

I like to read a paperback and kindle book at the same time, so the paperback I’m currently reading is another Jo Thomas – A Winter Beneath the Stars. 50 pages in, so far so good.

These are a few more that I want to read very soon.

Non-fiction

I still have some non-fiction books I want to read too.

That will do for now…

What are your reading plans for 2021?

***

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

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#Bookreview Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas #romance #tuesdaybookblog

This is another great read from Jo Thomas. She is one of my favourite romance writers and her books never fails to make me feel emotional!

Blurb

Can Del find her recipe for happiness?

Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier…a new life in France – without Ollie.

Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? After discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?

A heart-warming tale about reclaiming your life, set amongst the lavender fields of Provence. Perfect escapism from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and The Honey Farm on the Hill.

My review

The story starts as Del prepares to leave France with her husband but she realises their relationship is broken and she decides to stay on alone. It’s a very brave thing to do, especially where all her stuff is already on its way back to England!

Del is a strong character even if she doesn’t always see that about herself. I love being in her world, watching as she learns to trust herself and be self reliant.

The people in the nearby town make her feel welcome and she settles into her new life, finding friendship and possibly more in the process. She helps others, in particular a young mum along the way. These growing friendships really make the story something special.

The details of the farmhouse and the lavender are so immersive. I also love the details of the cooking. Del uses her love of baking to start providing for herself, incorporating the lavender from her farm into everything she cooks. Be warned, this book can make you hungry. Helpfully there are a few recipes at the back of the book, which is a nice little touch.

The chapters are very short and always draw you into the next. Many times I said to myself I’ll just read one more chapter only to find another half and hour had passed without me even realising.

If you like to be transported to beautiful places and enjoy heart-warming and feel good stories, then give Escape to the French Farmhouse a try.

My rating – 5 lavender scented stars!

Also see my reviews of Late Summer in the Vineyards and The Olive Grove.

***

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

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Review: Art and Soul by Claire Huston @ClaraVal #romance #bookreview

Today I’d like to share my review of Art and Soul by Claire Huston. To briefly explain my feelings for this book – I had to ban myself from reading it at night because I just couldn’t stop reading to go to sleep!

Blurb

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 romance about second chances perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Phillipa Ashley and Cathy Kelly.

My Review

(I’m experimenting and going back to my old review style, so let me know what you think.)

Characters

I felt an immediate connection with the main characters Becky and Charlie. The story is told skilfully from both their viewpoints and has lots of side characters that bring colour and warmth to the story.

Plot

Becky is a life-fixer and is brought in to help reclusive artist Charlie rediscover his muse for painting and set his life back on track whilst trying to deal with her own single parent struggles. She can work miracles with other people, and is almost like a guardian angel working in the background, but has her own difficulties and hang ups from past events that get in the way of her finding her own happiness.

What I like

It was great to read a story about a life fixer. It’s something different and I think we can agree that we all need a bit of Becky’s magical touch in our lives!

I also loved how Becky is a single parent struggling to work and raise her young son. It’s not the usual set up for a romance story and it was refreshing.

What I didn’t like

It’s one of those books where there really isn’t anything that I had an issue with. The ending could have been a tiny bit more dramatic maybe but it was still satisfying, enjoyable and choked me up so you really can’t ask for much more from a story.

Conclusion

I cannot go into details and risk spoilers but I will say I was left with happy feeling at the end of this novel. There were ups and downs throughout that kept you guessing but in the end it was a great conclusion to the story. It left me wanting to keep reading and being in their lives!

This is Claire Huston’s debut novel, though it reads like a book from a well-established author who has honed her craft. She’s an author I look forward to reading more from.

Recommend

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a feel good romance. Star rating 4.5

Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon

#tuesdaybookblog #bookreview Ninja School Mum by @Lizzie_Chantree

I am reviewing Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree.

The Blurb

Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

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My Mini Review

The cover is very cool. I love the colour contrast and the silhouette. It drew me in to find out more and the premise of the story really appealed. Who can resist a spy story!

There is a lot to like about this book. The characters are colourful and have plenty of secrets between them. Skye, Thea and Zack are well drawn and likeable, though you know they have secrets and you have to read on to find out what is really going on.

The spy part of the plot is important, but perhaps not featured enough. I would have loved to relive some of the backstory through flashbacks.

One of my favourite parts were the unusual business ideas; Skye starts up a self-defence class for children to avoid the school bully, while Zack runs Cloud Climb on his estate, which also sounds like a great idea if you like heights!

For me there were a few issues with this book. The chapters are told from each character’s viewpoints, which I liked, but I did find there were times when we head hopped between characters thoughts. This confused the narrative and I was sometimes left wondering who had been thinking what.

There is a lot of back story that needs to be revealed to the reader, which is understandable for the plot and as I mentioned above I think we could have used a few flashbacks to get the information across in a more involving way. I also thought some of the scenes in the present could have been shown more as there was too much tell and character reflection on things that had just happened. I think the book could have, and should have, been longer – I certainly wouldn’t mind spending longer with these characters and really get to know them better.

There are a few twists towards the end, some of which took me by surprise – always a good thing. But for me the ending was underwhelming and I would have liked something more dramatic for these great characters.

I rate this book 3.5 stars. Why not check it out on goodreads and see what others have to say.

#TuesdayBookBlog The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick #Bookreview #womensfic #romance

Although I planned to read just fantasy this year, I picked this book up one evening for a quick glance and just couldn’t put it down. The house and Cornish setting were the draws, but I just fell into the character’s stories and they wouldn’t let me go.

Here’s the blurb…

When artist Maddie inherits a house in Cornwall shortly after the death of her husband, she hopes it will be the fresh start she and her step-daughter desperately need. Trevenen is beautiful but neglected, and as Maddie discovers the stories of generations of women who’ve lived there before, she begins to feel her life is somehow intertwined within its walls.

But Maddie’s dream of a calm life in the countryside is far from the reality she faces – and as she pulls at the seams of Trevenen’s past, the house reveals secrets that have lain hidden for generations.

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My Review

First thoughts

Although it’s quite an intense subject dealing with loss and a heartbroken step-daughter, I didn’t find this story depressing or difficult to read at any point. There are plenty of tear-jerking moments, as you might expect from a story of second chances. But new friendships and healing play a big part in the story too. And as I expected, the house and its secrets kept me hooked.

Characters

I really like all the characters in this book, the main characters Maddie and her step daughter Hannah, Mark and Old Tom (OT), Tasmin and Will, plus the other characters that play a part in this small Cornish community.

Maddie is an easy protagonist to like and you feel every moment of her suffering and relate to the hard decisions she’s had to make. I also liked the fact she was an artist struggling to find her inspiration again after the loss of her husband.

Trevenen, the house, is a character all of its own. I’d love to inherit an old house like that and restore it.

Writing style

Told mainly from Maddie’s POV, we also get to see the story through Hannah viewpoint and this works really well.

Final thoughts

I loved the layers to this story, the different pieces that come together from the characters’ recent past and much further back in history.

The story intrigued me, the characters came alive and filled my head, I loved every minute of reading it. In fact, I would love to pick it up now and re-read the whole book again. I will definitely be reading more of Liz Fenwick’s books.

Recommend

To anyone who enjoy women’s fiction, not just romance but something a bit extra.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars, though I wish I could give it more.

Check it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin @HollyMAuthor #bookreview #romance #Christmas #greatreads

During the week before Christmas I wanted to share one of my favourite Christmas reads this year. Christmas at Lilac Cottage has everything; love laughter and tears. Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb…

***

Snow is falling on White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air . . .

Penny Meadows loves her cosy cottage with its stunning views over the snow-topped town of White Cliff Bay, but not even the roaring log fire can keep her personal life from feeling frozen.

That is until dashing Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage for the festive season. And between decking the halls and baking delicious mince pies, Penny realises there is more to Henry than meets the eye.

With sleigh bells ringing and fairy lights twinkling, the ice-sculpting competition and Christmas Eve ball are in full swing. Will Penny be able to melt the ice and allow love into her heart? And will she finally have the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

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My Review

Summary

I won a copy of this book in a blog competition (thanks Brizzlelass) and have been saving my review to post near to Christmas. I have to say this is the perfect Christmassy read to get you in the mood for the big day. It has everything you could ask for in a story; troubled romance, interfering family and friends, and emotional back story. There are also plenty of laugh out loud moments that had my husband looking at me strangely! I’m smiling to myself right now as I remember some of these scenes. The ending is heart warming and I shed a few tears in places.

Characters

I really liked Penny the main character, and Henry was a proper hero and gentleman. I loved the chemistry between them, though their stubbornness could be annoying at times. One thing I really liked were the characters unusual professions, Penny is an ice-carver and Henry is a carpenter. This added another dimension to the characters and added plenty to the plot.

Setting

White Cliff Bay comes off the page and seems so real. It’s the kind of place I’d love to visit. I love the fact that others stories have been set in the same town, so I know I can visit there again.

Likes

The writing flows so smoothly, that I found myself sucked straight into the characters lives. I immediately liked everyone in the story and wanted them to have their happy ever after.

Dislikes

I did struggle to get into this book at first, not for the writing which is excellent, but just something about it didn’t ring true. I think it was the fact Daisy didn’t act like a typical 16 year old, she was way too thoughtful and kind! I persevered through this minor annoyance and was soon swept away with the story.

Rating

It is hard to pick a rating for this story as by the end it was a 5 star, stay up all night read. But as I did struggle at the beginning, I’m going down the middle and saying it’s a 4.5 star read.

Check it out for yourself on Goodreads, and Amazon UK.