Another great festive read from Jo Thomas. First off, I love the cover. It’s joyful, colourful and pretty, perfect for a Christmas story. It is also a very good reflection of the story itself.
Four friends Twenty-five years ago, Freya and her three best friends created a bucket list. The future seemed bright, full of hope and most importantly guaranteed . . .
One promise Now they are travelling to Iceland in memory of the friend they’ve lost, determined to fulfil her dream of seeing the Northern Lights at Christmas.
A life-changing adventure They didn’t count on an avalanche leaving them stranded! Handsome local, Pétur, comes to the rescue, showing them how the community survives the hard winter. With Christmas approaching, Freya and her friends throw themselves into the festivities, decorating and cooking for the villagers using delicious local ingredients.
But will the Northern Lights appear so they can honour their friend’s wish? And can Freya’s own dreams come true, this Christmas?
I really enjoyed this story and escaping into Freya’s world. I liked the premise of keeping a promise to a friend that is no longer with you and fulfilling their dream of seeing the northern lights. However driving out into a building snowstorm? That was never going to be a good idea. Cue Petur, and what a savior he turned out to be!
I loved the friendships and sense of community with this story. I wasn’t let down in the romance department either.
I felt like I went on an adventure with Freya and her friends, though admittedly I hate the cold so you wouldn’t catch me getting up to some the things Freya did! I much preferred snuggling up under the covers and imagining the experiences as I read about them.
I recommend you pick up this book and devour it with a hot chocolate next to an open fire!
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC copy and apologies I’m so late posting this review. I’ve been working on a little of my own Christmas magic in the form of festive short stories.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy, heart-warming romance and short stories
Things haven’t been going to plan at the moment, at least not the plans I set myself a few months ago. I still like to look back, take stock and make new plans in the hope I can get back on track. With this in mind, I’m going to take a moment to celebrate what I have done so far this year.
Achievements in 2022
I’ve published not one, but two short story anthologies!
After a barren couple of years of not publishing anything, it’s been brilliant to break back into self publishing. These are passion projects that I hope fans of my writing will enjoy, but they will also hopefully help me reach new readers too. I had a blog blitz for Fantasy Short Stories in June and have another planned in October for Love, Loss and Life In Between. Rachel’s Random Resources is still taking sign ups for anyone interested.
The Mermaid Hotel Romance series
I’ve edited and rewritten parts of Evie’s Song, including adding a new VP character (the match making hotel owner Mrs Shallon) and adding more scenes which include a prologue and an epilogue. I’m trying to find time to read through all the changes and decide if it’s finally ready or not.
I’ve spoken with a few agents via the Winchester Festival in June and have taken steps to make changes to Evie’s Song as per their suggestions.
Probably the most fun thing I’ve done this year is go to a weekend writing retreat run by Alison May and Janet Gover. It was so helpful and wonderful to spend a whole weekend just focused on writing, in particular Evie’s Song. The 1-2-1 feedback was invaluable! I would love to do it again, but funds are tight so it maybe a while before that is possible. They run these retreats 3 times a year and I highly recommend them.
Not gone to plan
The trilogy has stalled while I worked on the two short story publications and focused on Evie’s Song. I haven’t looked at it for months, but hopefully my subconscious has been working on those plot issues while I’ve been busy. I love fantasy and really would love to get this going again. I’d hate to abandon the 139k I’ve written between books 1 and 2, and Delaphine is an awesome anti-heroine I can’t wait to share her with the world!
MH Romance Series
I had hoped to have up to 3 books in the series published in 2022. Evie’s Song is coming along nicely and I have the drafts of books 2 and 3, but I just haven’t gotten around to continuing with them. With funds tight, the idea of self publishing may have to go on hold, and I’m still toying with the idea of approaching agents and publishers direct. We’ll just have to see where things stand in a few months.
Plans for the rest of 2022
The Mermaid Hotel Series
Finish Evie’s Song and make a decision on publication method. If self publishing I would love to have this ready by December. But I’m not sure yet. And is December / Christmas the best time to release a summer romance anyway?
Work on the drafts of book 2 and 3 so they are in more publishable shape.
Plan and develop series arc.
I want to work on this, even if it is just to plan the series and characters arcs so I can finish the first draft.
Future Projects– no date in mind
Reworking the old
Whilst watching the first episode of the House of the Dragons (the difficult birth scene) I was reminded of the second fantasy book I ever wrote. It was written 20+years ago, and will no doubt have many amateur mistakes. But as I started explaining the scene to my husband and all the events leading up to it, I got really excited for the idea again. I also realised I had a pretty twisted imagination back then, I’m definitely a lot kinder to my characters now!
I would love to revisit my old novels and see how much effort it would take to re-write them because I still want to tell those characters stories. I’ve even transferred them to my kindle so I can read them without being tempted to start editing straight away. It’s been in the to do list a long time!
Series and other ideas
I would love to write a fantasy series with shorter instalments than my trilogy. I’m think around the 100 to 150 pages mark. I have a project in mind, but nothing planned beyond the first few chapters.
I have ideas for a timeslip romance, and spin off stories around the Mermaid Hotel series.
Silent Sea Chronicles
I would still love to write the prequel to book 1. I recently reviewed the prologue I’ve written for it and really like it, but I’m still not sure if a prequel would spoil the rest of the trilogy. That’s what’s been holding me back for so long.
I would also love to continue the story of the various characters and see what the future holds for them. I just need to decide what format those stories will manifest in. A book of short stories, novellas, or a whole new novel / series?
I think that will do for this update. I will review my achievements and goals at the end of the year. I can’t believe that’s only a few months away.
Have you any goals to share? Ones you are happy with achieving, or ones you’ve set yourself to complete by the end of 2022?
I will share my reading goals in another post very soon. Until then, happy reading and writing!
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance
I’m really excited to be part of the blog tour for the excellent book – An Escape to Provence. The paperback published 21st July 2022. I assure you, you don’t want to miss this warm and addictive read!
Where there’s a will, can love find a way?
When cynical divorce lawyer Daisy Jackson unexpectedly inherits a ramshackle farmhouse in Provence, she sets off for the French countryside to oversee renovations herself.
But Gabriel Laforet has other ideas. A local builder with ties to the property, Gabriel is determined to see Daisy off and preserve the characterful, charming farmhouse – which, but for a missing will, he knows is rightfully his.
When the two meet, it’s clear they couldn’t be more different: Gabriel has lived in the small country village all his life; Daisy is a city girl whose career means everything. He is laid-back and messy; she is used to being in control. As they begin to work together, sparks fly. Yet they’re inexplicably drawn to each other and, in the heat of the Provence sun, secrets begin to spill. Perhaps Daisy can trust him with her carefully guarded heart after all?
But Gabriel is still searching for the missing will that proves the farmhouse belongs to him – and in doing so, risks upturning everything he and Daisy have started to build together . . .
I love the tag line – Where there’s a will, can love find a way?
It sums up the story perfectly and gives a hint at the troubles to come. As soon as Daisy and Gabriel meet, it’s clear there’s chemistry between them but they are from different worlds and are wildly different people. Daisy is a cynical workaholic and Gabriel is a romantic who enjoys a slower pace of life. Neither of them have plans to change their views of the world and seem so incompatible despite the obvious attraction between them.
Daisy is completely single-minded in her ambition to modernise the farmhouse she’s inherited, desperate to turn it into a holiday let and return to her job in London. Gab applies underhand tactics to see her off, wanting to retain the memories of the old farmhouse which he believes should be his.
The issue of the will hangs over any budding relationship and they have other hurts that must be overcome if anything meaningful is to develop between them. I loved the slow reveals, the steamy passion, and the developing romance between them. They are perfect for each other, if only they could see it too! But they are also as stubborn as each other and refuse to acknowledge the truth even to themselves.
Gab is a swoon worthy hero and Daisy is a feisty heroine. As a reader you’re behind them all the way, willing them to see beyond their differences and grab the chance of happiness even if it means changing the future they’d originally envisaged for themselves. So much stands in the way of love, at times it seems impossible for them to reach the happy ever after they deserve.
I loved the setting in Provence, the village and the people, and inheriting an old farmhouse is on top of my wish list!
It’s an entertaining, emotional journey of self discovery and learning to open hearts and minds to others. I enjoyed every page and didn’t want the story to end. It’s a book I can’t wait to revisit and one I will be recommending to all the romance readers I know.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the bloggers on the tour. And you can see the book for yourself on Goodreads or Amazon
Thanks to the publisher for my copy of An Escape to Provence and for allowing me to take part in this blog tour.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance
I was lucky enough to be given an ARC from Netgalley of Sue Moorcroft’s new book – Summer at The French Cafe. It publishes on 12th May 2022.
It was a brilliant, satisfying 5 star read.
As soon as Kat Jenson set foot in the idyllic French village of Kirchhoffen, she knew she’d found her home. Now she has a dreamy boyfriend, a delightful dog and the perfect job managing a bustling book café in the vibrant Parc Lemmel.
But when she learns her boyfriend isn’t all he seems, it’s the start of a difficult summer for Kat. Vindictive troublemakers, work woes and family heartache follow, and the clear blue sky that was her life suddenly seems full of clouds.
Then she gets to know the mysterious Noah, and her sun begins to shine brighter than ever. But Noah has problems of his own – ones that could scupper their new-found happiness. Together, can they overcome their many obstacles, and find love again?
My Mini Review
I loved this novel. I feel like I say this about every book Sue Moorcroft writes, but it’s true!
Just thinking about writing a review makes me want to pick up the story and read it all over again.
Kat and Noah are brilliant main characters who deserve happiness together if only life’s problems didn’t get in the way. We follow both as viewpoint characters and really get insides their heads to understand the decisions they make and how the past has affected them. There are serious issues in this book that are handled with care and sensitivity. My heart aches for Noah and his little girl, and Kat has some really crap situations to contend with too. At the end I felt like cheering, but you’ll have to read Summer at the French Cafe to find out why!
All I can say is that it has a very satisfying ending.
I loved the book cafe in Park Lemmel, I would love to stop there for cake and tea. And Angelique the dog was a star character for me. Having a dog in romantic fiction should be compulsory!
I’m so pleased I tried out this new author – Jennifer Bibby is right up there with my fav romance authors!
A beautiful village. An artist who’s lost her spark. And a community who help her find it again.
All Freya has ever wanted to do is paint. So when she fails her Master’s Degree in Art, on the same day that her boyfriend decides he needs a ‘more serious’ partner, to Freya it feels like the end of the world.
Luckily, she has a saviour in the shape of best friend Lola, who invites her to the sleepy Cornish village of Polcarrow, to work in her café. With nothing keeping her in London, Freya jumps at the chance of a summer by the sea.
Freya needs time to focus on herself. But then dark and mysterious biker Angelo blows into town on a stormy afternoon, with his own artistic dreams and a secretive past, and Freya’s plans of a romance-free summer fly straight out of the window…
Heart-warming, heartfelt and romantic, The Cornish Hideaway is a novel of community, friendship and learning to love again, for fans of Jenny Colgan, Cathy Bramley and Heidi Swain.
I was lucky enough to have been given an ARC of The Cornish Hideaway via Netgalley.
I was originally attracted to the storyline – a struggling artist running off to Cornwall for the summer to re-evaluate her life while she works at her friend’s cafe. What better way to get over a failed degree and the ending of a long term relationship? We all need a saviour in our lives like Freya’s friend Lola who is kind-hearted and an excellent baker!
I flew through the book, reading it in just a few days because I fell in love with Polcarrow and the locals. It seems the perfect place for Freya to make some life affirming decisions that doesn’t include men. That is until Angelo turns up, signalling a change in the suddenly stormy air and hopefully something more for Freya!
Both Freya and Angelo have their troubles, but it’s clear they are the antidote to each other’s problems, if only they can put those troubles behind them.
Some real highlights for me are the painting of the mural at the church and Angelo helping an old fisherman, Alf, restore his fishing boat for the summer fair.
The story of Freya rediscovering her passion for painting and love, gripped me and I was sad to finish reading.
I feel as though Polcarrow could be the setting of many future stories – I certainly hope so.
Thanks to Netgalley for my ARC copy. The book is out today – 22nd March 2022.
Wonderful book. Nina is one of the nicest characters I’ve ever read about.
Sometimes you have to play a part to realise who you really are…
Nina has always dreamed of being a star. Unfortunately her agent thinks she’s more girl-next-door than leading lady and her acting career isn’t going quite as planned. Then, after a series of very public blunders and to escape a gathering storm of paparazzi, Nina is forced to flee from London.
Her plan is to lay low with a friend in Devon, in beautiful Brightside Cove. But soon Nina learns that more drama can be found in a small village than on a hectic television set.
And when a gorgeous man (and his adorable dog) catch her eye, it’s not long before London and showbiz start to lose their appeal. Will Nina choose to return to the bright lights or has she met her match in Brightside Cove?
My Quick Review
This book does not fit with the traditional romance format i.e. Nina doesn’t meet ‘the one’ right at the beginning of the story and take forever to get with him. In fact, she has to wait quite a while for her man, but there are plenty of other opportunities for love and plenty of ‘matches made in Devon’ to satisfy any romance reader!
Friendship, family and community are important in this book and the theme of following your dreams show up a lot. There are lots of interesting storylines, some heart-breaking, and lots of quirky characters to follow.
I loved the mermaid school idea and running a holiday cottage business.
This is just a lovely, lovely book to read. Nina is such a sweet, lovely character that you want her to find her happy ever after from the start.
Cathy Bramley is an author I plan to read a lot more of – lucky for me there are plenty of books to choose from.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance
I won this book in a twitter competition held by Whispering Stories along with some lovely goodies. I’m very grateful as this turned out to be one of my favourite reads of 2021.
Can a trip away lead you home?
After a bad break-up, eternal optimist Evie Miller has moved to the small village of Willowbrook to finally pursue her dream of opening a craft shop. Unfortunately, with money worries and an ex-boyfriend determined to track her down, her fresh start isn’t going entirely to plan.
Jake Hartwood is also looking to escape his past. Haunted by the loss of his wife, he’s determined not to get close to anyone again – and the last thing he wants is to be celebrating this December.
Hoping to avoid the festivities, Evie and Jake arrange to escape Christmas together as friends in Provence. But will the magic of the season change things between them?
And what happens if one of them starts to feel something more?
I really loved this book and I’m so happy to have discovered a new author by winning this prize. I read The Christmas Holiday in a few days because I just couldn’t put it down.
As well as being an addictive, entertaining read, the book also has an emotional storyline. Grief is a central issue creating a barrier between the two protagonists.
I loved Evie and her story of opening her own craft shop in what sounds like a wonderful little village, Willowbrook. She has lots of insecurities and money troubles, but she’s determined to follow her dream and make the business a success even if others don’t believe in her.
I also loved Jake’s storyline and felt for his difficult situation. He is a brooding, handsome, hurting lead man with a heart in need of healing. His dog won my heart from the start of the story too.
I became invested in the two main characters straight away and read with increasing speed, desperate to follow Evie and Jake’s journey. It was a satisfying read, one that has stayed with me even two weeks after finishing it.
It’s a book I want to shout about, recommend to everyone and it is one I will read again! I can’t wait to discover more of Sophie Claire’s books.
I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book through Netgalley. It was one of my last reads of 2021 and was perfect for Christmas.
When Laurel returns to the village of Middledip, she’s looking for a quiet life. Adjusting to her recent divorce, she’s ready to spend some time getting back on her feet amidst the glorious snow-dusted countryside.
Yet, life in Middledip is far from straightforward. Coming to the aid of her sister, Rea, as she navigates her own troubles, Laurel barely has a moment to think about where her own life is going.
However, time stands still when she sees her old flame, Grady Cassidy – and it’s soon as if they’ve never been apart. But through her happiness, Laurel remembers why she left the village all those years ago, as she recalls a dark night and Grady’s once-wayward brother, Mac…
Can Laurel learn to forgive and forget? Or will her chances of Christmas under the mistletoe with Grady remain a dream?
I enjoyed returning to Middledip, especially at Christmas. It’s clear that childhood sweethearts, Laurel and Grady, would make a great couple when they meet years later but events from the past that forced Laurel to flee her home keep getting between them. Can their love conquer the past?
I felt that at times the past event focused too much in the plot, but I still rooted for Laurel and Grady to overcome it and have the happy ever after they deserved.
Art was a theme that featured heavily in the story as Laurel is a successful artist and Middledip’s art scene is buzzing with the arts and craft club preparing for the Chirstmas fair. Family relationships also play a big part in the story. I really enjoyed all the scene’s with Laurel’s niece and I have to mention the horse that helps Laurel’s sister Rea’s recovery.
This was a perfect seasonal read. You can’t go wrong when you pick up a Sue Moorcroft book!
A very enjoyable romance that keeps you guessing in the love interest sakes.
Haileybrook, a beautiful village in the peaceful Cotswolds countryside, is most people’s idea of heaven on earth.
It should be easy, but every time she packs her bags for exotic adventures, old loves and loyalties pull her back.
Will Elle be forced to forget her dreams of far-flung places and epic romance, or can she grab one last chance to have it all?
An uplifting, romantic story about friends, family and the relationships that make a place a home.
Firstly, isn’t this a pretty cover!
I really enjoyed my visit to Haileybrook but felt for Elle – no matter how much she wanted to escape her childhood home, life and fate always intervened.
This was a very enjoyable romance, the kind that keeps you guessing if the couple that are meant to be together will ever admit their feelings for each other. The book is filled with entertaining characters, unexpected situations and keeps you turning the pages wanting to know what happens next.
I enjoyed Elle’s journey of discovery and I recommend this book to all romance readers.
Also, I must just mention the title – I didn’t realise it’s significance until quite late in the book. It’s very clever.
This was the another Netgalley ARC, which I was very excited to read as its by one of my favourite romance writers, Jo Thomas.
When their grandfather dies, Fliss and her sisters are astonished to inherit a French chateau! Travelling to Normandy to visit the beautiful if faded house, they excitedly make plans over delicious crepes and local cider in the town nearby.
But they soon discover the chateau needs major work, a huge tax bill is due . . . and there’s a sitting tenant to whom they owe a monthly allowance.
Unable to sell but strapped for cash, Fliss determines to spruce up the elegant old rooms and open a B&B. But, why is Jacques, the local mayor, so hostile? How did Fliss’s grandfather come to own the place anyway? And will Jacques and Fliss be able to put their differences aside to save the chateau?
Inspired by Escape to the Chateau, this cosy and uplifting novel to curl up with, from the author of Escape to the French Farmhouse and Finding Love at the Christmas Market.
I loved reading this story right from the start. Inheriting an old French Chateau is right up there on my wish list, but seeing as that is not going to happen I had to live the fantasy through Fliss and her sisters.
When the three sisters decide to turn the old, run down Chateau into a B&B before it bankrupts them, it doesn’t go as smoothly as they’d hoped. Much like the path to true love between Fliss and the broody mayor, Jacques. They are perfect for each other but ex’s and a difficult situation in the past threatens their happy ever after.
Fliss is a very capable heroine, but she still occasionally needs rescuing and the handsome farmer / mayor / next door neighbour, Jacques is never far away.
The supporting cast are great; from Fliss’ nephew Jason who comes to help restore the chateau and blossoms in France, to Clementine Jacques step-daughter, to the huge working horse Pegasus whose always sticking his head through the fences and causing havoc, and Cedrick the peacock whose sometimes turns up to delight the guests. I have to mention the sitting tenant too, the chatelaine. She holds the key to the mystery of how Fliss’ grandfather came to own the Chateau in the first place, if only she could overcome the events in the past to confide in Fliss.
At the heart of this novel is mystery, love and family relationships. And of course there’s plenty of Christmas magic and a New Year’s Eve wedding at the Chateau to look forward to. You can’t get much better than that.
Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic fantasy and heart-warming romance