Love On the Nile by Ellie Gray

Having read Ellie Gray’s previous novel, Beauty and the Recluse, I was confident that I would enjoy this second offering, and I’m happy to say it more than lived up to my expectations.

Ellie writes such romantic stories, with really sexy and passionate heroes. In this novel, we have the added bonus of the beautiful backdrop of Egypt. I’ve never been to Egypt myself, but reading this book, I really felt as if I was there. I could feel the sun beating down on me, taste the dust in the back of my throat…I was highly relieved when the heroine reached for her bottle of water and glugged down the liquid. I was quite parched myself by that time!

So, what’s the story? Well, basically it’s girl hopes for holiday of a lifetime, visiting the breathtaking sites of ancient Egypt, girl gets unexpected guide on her dream vacation, guide turns out to be gorgeous but annoying, their attraction sizzles hotter than the Egyptian sun, guide has issues and reluctantly pushes girl away, and then…

Well, you’ll have to read it for yourself to discover what happens next. Let me just say, though, that there’s a lot more to this story than that paragraph could adequately explain. The almost mythical setting of the novel, the wonderful characters, the likeable and gutsy heroine, and the oh-so-sexy, dark and brooding hero, makes this a sheer delight to read. Natasha and Kyle’s romance is believable, sweet, tender, and smoking, all at the same time!

I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in this gorgeous book, and I was rooting for Kyle to battle his demons and take a chance on Natasha. I loved both main characters, but I also grew very fond of Natasha’s younger brother, Nicky, who is very sympathetically and realistically drawn, and on Aunt Lucy, too. Ellie has, in short, done it again, and now I’m very much looking forward to her third novel. Excellent read. 5/5

You can buy Love On the Nile here.

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It’s Publication Day! And Breathe…

once-ebook-cover-3It’s publication day! After what feels like a very long journey indeed, Once Upon a Long Ago is now available to buy. It’s the culmination of five years dreaming and plotting and imagining and rethinking. Yes, five long years! That’s when the idea first hit me for Will and Lexi’s story, but it’s only this year that it felt right to finally tell their tale.

Although Once is the third book in the Kearton Bay series, it’s very much a standalone novel, too. So, what’s it about? Well…Perhaps a sneaky peek at my Pinterest board will give you a flavour of it. You can access the Once Upon a Long Ago board here.

In the meantime, here’s a quick guide: Stately homes, heritage, Civil War, horses, romance, fear, past, history, love, friendship, art, family, castles, lies, jealousy, kindness, goodness, inner beauty, fairy tales, loss, grief, laughter, secrets, treasure, faith, flapjacks, ponies, Labradors, Anne Bronte, Scarborough, hope, desperation, happy endings. Phew! If that’s not enough for you, here’s the blurb.

Lexi Bailey doesn’t do love. Having seen the war zone that was her parents’ marriage, she has no blog7interest in venturing into a relationship, and thinks romance is for fairy tales. As far as she’s concerned, there’s no such thing as happy ever after, and she’s not looking for a handsome prince.
For Will Boden-Kean, that’s probably a good thing. He hardly qualifies as a handsome prince, after all. He may be the son of a baronet, and live in a stately home, but he’s not known for his good looks. What he is known for, among the residents of Kearton Bay, is his kind heart, his determination to fund Kearton Hall — and his unrequited love for Lexi.
While Lexi gazes at the portrait of the Third Earl Kearton, and dreams of finding the treasure that is reputed to be hidden somewhere in the house, Will is working hard to ensure that his home survives. When he goes against Lexi’s wishes and employs the most unpopular man in the village, she begins to wonder if he’s under a spell. Will would never upset her. What could possibly have happened to him?
As plans take shape for a grand ball, Lexi’s life is in turmoil. With a secret from Will’s past revealed, a witch who is far too beautiful for Lexi’s peace of mind, and a new enchantress on the scene, things are changing rapidly at Kearton Hall. Add to that a big, bad wolf of a work colleague, a stepmother in denial, and a father who is most definitely up to no good, and it’s no wonder she decides to make a new start somewhere else.
Then she makes a discovery that changes everything — but time is running out for her. Is it too late to find her happy ending? Will Lexi make it to the ball? Will Buttons save the day? And where on earth did that handsome prince come from?  

castle-1329832_960_720The book is currently available for Kindle, but it will also be available as a paperback very soon. I really hope you enjoy my third adventure in Kearton Bay. I had a lovely time writing it, as well as visiting a local stately home, Burton Agnes Hall – which, in my mind, is Kearton Hall – and Scarborough Castle, looking at lovely old paintings, reading up on the Civil War, reminding myself of childhood fairy tales, and immersing myself in some good old fashioned romance. It came as quite a shock to me to realise that the next time I visit Kearton Bay, it will be my last journey there. Book 4 is some way off just yet, though, and I’m not ready to wave goodbye to my lovely friends just yet!

I have lots of books planned for the future, but right now, I’m going to enjoy the fact that Once Upon a Long Ago is finally out there. I’m really fond of Will and Lexi, and I hope you will be too. Enjoy!

Sharonxxx (3)

Somebody Else’s Boy by Jo Bartlett

This book really took a hold of me from page one, and didn’t let go, even after I’d read The End and closed down my Kindle.
Some books take a little getting into, but Somebody Else’s Boy gripped me from the start. It’s a really beautiful story, well-written, and so packed full of emotional twists and turns that I couldn’t bear to put it down for long, and had finished it within a day.
The setting of St Nicholas Bay is described really well. I love the town’s Dickens connection, and can imagine this place so well in my mind. The characters are fantastically drawn, giving this book real depth and warmth and heart. It has lots of laughs – the author certainly has a sparkling sense of humour, and a sharp wit – but it also has dark moments. The description of Jack’s grief is so raw, so painful, that I had to put down my Kindle for a moment, look across to my husband, and – much to his astonishment (and mine!) – announce there and then that I loved him. It seemed important to put it into words while I could because, as Jack discovers, you never know when that chance will be taken away.
It’s not only Jack who has suffered a loss. Nancy’s grief is different but no less agonising, and I loved the depiction of her father’s situation and how it affects not only her, but her mother and brother, too.
Somebody Else’s Boy deals with love, loss, grief, betrayal and guilt. In fact, guilt is a major theme of this book. So many of the characters in here struggle on, trying to do what they believe is the “right thing”, putting their own needs aside out of guilt. It certainly made me think about how much we do this in real life. How guilt can weigh us down and ruin our own lives, and how misplaced this guilt is. Would the people who have loved us, really want us to lose our own chance of happiness, out of loyalty to their memory? Yet, even knowing that intellectually, doesn’t always help us to accept it emotionally. This novel beautifully and deftly deals with this very issue, and it really does tug at the heartstrings.
The burgeoning love between Nancy and Toby is lovely, and the developing relationships between other characters keep adding new layers to the story, taking you sometimes by surprise, but never feeling forced or unlikely.
It’s a deep and thought-provoking book, but it’s also cosy and romantic and funny, too. There are lots of laugh-out-loud moments, and moments that make you feel all warm and fuzzy and contented. Sometimes, happy endings can only come about when you learn to accept what is, and make the best of that, rather than wishing for what could have been. For some of the characters in this book, that’s exactly the lesson they have to learn, and I admire that the author was willing to write that truth. So, this is a book to make you think, a book to make you smile, a book to make you appreciate what you’ve got, and the people you have in your life. I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about it, and I’m really looking forward to my next visit to St Nicholas Bay. 5/5

You can buy Somebody Else’s Boy here.

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The Chocolatier’s Secret by Helen J Rolfe

“Andrew Bennett has an idyllic life in Magnolia Creek, Australia. He runs a chocolate business he adores, is married to Gemma, the love of his life, and has a close relationship with his father, Louis. But when Andrew receives a message from his high school sweetheart, it sends his world into a spiral, and the relationships he holds dear will never be the same again.

Molly Ramsey is looking for answers. After her last attempt, she believes the only way to get them this time is to face her past head-on. But to do this, she has to fly to the other side of the world – and she’s afraid of flying. Her search for answers lands her in an emotional tangle, not only with her past but also with a man very much in her present.

Family is everything to Gemma Bennett and she longs to have a house full of kids, but it just isn’t happening. And when Andrew’s past makes an explosive impact on the family, Gemma must decide whether she can accept the truth and open her heart in a way she never thought possible.

In this story of love, family ties and forgiveness, will past mistakes be the obstacle to a Happy Ever After?”

It’s sometimes difficult to review books without resorting to cliches. It’s a bit like a TV talent show. You know, “You made that song your own” – *rolls eyes*. How many times can you hear the same thing coming from the judges’ mouths without getting bored? Similarly, how many times can you write, “I absolutely loved this book” without feeling that you really need to say something different? Something exciting. Something that can convey the joy you’ve felt, immersing yourself in someone else’s writing, getting lost in their fabulous fictional world. Something that would entice other people to pick up the book or open their Kindle, and discover for themselves exactly what you’re trying to express.
In The Chocolatier’s Secret, Helen J Rolfe has written a novel that had me completely hooked from the start. Her characters are so richly drawn, her settings so beautifully described, and her story so appealing that I have to admit it. I absolutely loved this book. Sorry!
The storyline very much evolves from the characters themselves. Helen excels in this. Each of the main characters is fully-rounded, with flaws and failings as well as admirable qualities, so you feel you can really relate to them. She’s also exceptionally talented at description. She paints a vivid picture of a small Australian town, making it so easy to see it in your imagination. Sadly for me, she also brought the world of the chocolatier to life – a little too vividly. I was craving chocolate by the end of the book. Bang goes the diet. Again.
Seriously, this is such a beautiful story that engages all the emotions. It’s one of those books that just leaves you feeling completely happy and fully satisfied. A bit like chocolate. There are surprises, tears and laughter within its pages, and it all unfolds at just the right pace, never sagging, holding your interest right up to the heartwarming end.
I’ve loved all of Helen’s books, but this is my favourite so far. A new Helen J Rolfe novel is a must-have as far as I’m concerned. She’s just getting better and better! Definitely 5/5 from me.

You can buy The Chocolatier’s Secret here.

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Going Home to Kearton Bay!

once-ebook-cover-3Gosh, I wonder if they’re still talking to me? That was my worry as I prepared to head back to Kearton Bay to write the third book in the series. I was quite stressed about it, in actual fact. After all, it had been a while. What if my friends at the Bay had forgotten about me? What if they’d decided to ignore me, the way I’d ignored them all those months?

I couldn’t really blame them if they had, I suppose. It’s been almost a year since A Kiss from a Rose was published, and since then, I’ve had a short story and a pocket novel published by The People’s Friend, and started a new series of books, set in the Yorkshire Dales. I couldn’t deny I’d had a great time making new fictional friends, while writing This Other Eden. What if my pals in Kearton Bay had decided I’d abandoned them, and refused to share their lives with me?

In the event, it was like coming home. It seemed that they greeted me as warmly as ever, and were all too eager to give me the latest juicy gossip, and bring me up-to-date with what they’ve been up to.

So, Kearton Bay book three is finished. It’s called Once Upon a Long Ago, and it’s available to pre-order right here. It will be published on 26th September, exactly one year to the day that Rose was published. I think Rose would be quite pleased about that! Here’s the blurb:

Lexi Bailey doesn’t do love. Having seen the war zone that was her parents’ marriage, she has no interest in venturing into a relationship, and thinks romance is for fairy tales. As far as she’s concerned, there’s no such thing as happy ever after, and she’s not looking for a handsome prince.
For Will Boden-Kean, that’s probably a good thing. He hardly qualifies as a handsome prince, after all. He may be the son of a baronet, and live in a stately home, but he’s not known for his good looks. What he is known for, among the residents of Kearton Bay, is his kind heart, his determination to fund Kearton Hall — and his unrequited love for Lexi.
While Lexi gazes at the portrait of the Third Earl Kearton, and dreams of finding the treasure that is reputed to be hidden somewhere in the house, Will is working hard to ensure that his home survives. When he goes against Lexi’s wishes and employs the most unpopular man in the village, she begins to wonder if he’s under a spell. Will would never upset her. What could possibly have happened to him?
As plans take shape for a grand ball, Lexi’s life is in turmoil. With a secret from Will’s past revealed, a witch who is far too beautiful for Lexi’s peace of mind, and a new enchantress on the scene, things are changing rapidly at Kearton Hall. Add to that a big, bad wolf of a work colleague, a stepmother in denial, and a father who is most definitely up to no good, and it’s no wonder she decides to make a new start somewhere else.
Then she makes a discovery that changes everything — but time is running out for her. Is it too late to find her happy ending? Will Lexi make it to the ball? Will Buttons save the day? And where on earth did that handsome prince come from?  

I had such a great time in Kearton Bay, that it’s quite sad to think that my next visit there will be my last. Still, that’s a good while away yet, as first I’ve got some news about a Christmas release that I’ll share with you soon, and then I’m heading back to Skimmerdale to see what my old friends in the Dales are up to. Gosh, I hope they’re still talking to me…

Have a great week!

Sharonxxx (3)