Bear With Me by Jessica Redland

Sometimes love finds us when we least expect it. But sometimes love leaves us, just as unexpectedly.

Everything changes for Jemma on the weekend of her 28th birthday. An unexpected proposal from boyfriend, Scott, is overshadowed by her mum’s diagnosis with a life-changing condition. After the weekend, she needs Scott’s support more than ever. So why isn’t he returning her calls?

Everything was meant to be changing for Sam that same weekend. He should have been walking down the aisle with Nikki. But she’s not around anymore and Sam’s struggling to face the future. Did he do the right thing by moving to London to escape the memories of their life together?

When they’ve loved and lost, can they bear to let love in again?

Bear With Me, and all will be revealed …

Bear With Me takes us back to the familiar setting of Whitsborough Bay – the location of Jessica Redland’s previous books. However, this time, we meet a whole host of new characters.

Jemma thinks she’s found her happy-ever-after with Scott, but just days after receiving a proposal of marriage from him, something changes. Why isn’t he answering her calls?

Julie has been a wonderful single mother to Jemma and Sean, but lately she’s been behaving strangely, and her happy home, Bear’s Pad, is becoming a place of tension. What’s happening to her?

Sam’s future looked bright. He had a promising career and he’d found the woman of his dreams. Now he’s in a strange city, far from everyone he loves, and his life is in tatters. What went wrong?

This is a gorgeous story of love, faith, and new beginnings. Told with the author’s characteristic warmth and humour, it drew me in from the first few pages, as I got to know the main characters at crucial points in their lives. As the novel progressed, I found myself enthralled by the twists and turns in their stories – and boy, there were plenty of them! The author really puts her poor protagonists through the mill.

After suffering so badly, it’s not surprising that Sam and Jemma find they have lots in common, and can understand what the other has been through, and before long a warm friendship blossoms, but Jessica Redland shows how emotional wounds can make moving on a real challenge, and explores the courage it takes to let go of the past and start again.

There is a lovely supporting cast in this novel, including some walk-on parts by characters from the author’s Whitsborough Bay trilogy, which will delight fans of those books. The writer’s gift for creating appealing and relatable characters will, I’m certain, win her a whole host of new fans.

Bear With Me is a real page-turner that made me desperate to find out what would happen next, yet reluctant to reach the end and leave Sam and Jemma behind. Funny, intriguing and thought-provoking, Bear With Me is a genuine five-star book, and I’m eager to find out what’s next from Jessica Redland. 5/5

You can buy Bear With Me here.

A Cuppa and a Catch-Up

You can’t beat a cup of tea

It’s May! I can hardly believe it. Happy Bank Holiday to you all, and – as my good friend Rhiannon Bone would say – a very blessed Beltane, too.

Pull up a chair, grab yourselves a cuppa, and let’s have a good old catch-up, shall we?

I am very well aware that I haven’t been around much on here lately. I apologise – again. I have been incredibly busy, working on not just one, not just two, but three different writing projects.

The first of these is currently having a final proofread. I have had a gorgeous cover designed for me by the lovely, and very patient, Berni Stevens,  and I’m just waiting now to make any final corrections before things move on to the publishing stage.

New book coming soon!

There will be a cover reveal and a pre-order date coming very soon, but I can tell you that the book is due for publication around mid-June. It’s not a Kearton Bay book, nor a Skimmerdale book, but it’s very close to my heart. It’s set on the Yorkshire Moors, not far from Kearton Bay (!) and a scene takes place in Helmston, so readers of the KB series will feel on familiar territory. We have brand new characters, including a heroine I loved and a hero I fell completely in love with. I’m always nervous when I’m about to have a book published, but I really hope you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve also been working on the second Skimmerdale book, and it’s been great fun to be back in the Yorkshire Dales with my old friends. I’ve especially enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with hunky sheep farmer, Eliot, but that’s me. I’m shameless. I’m not sure when this book will be published but I will definitely keep you updated when I know more.

Thirdly, I’ve been writing a Christmas book, and that should be coming out in late October/early November. It’s set in and around Farthingdale and Moreton Cross – villages that also appear in the Kearton Bay series – but will feature completely different characters. I’ve been getting to know a very different sort of heroine in this one. She’s quite challenging, and she has a rather lovely fella whose life she’s about to turn upside down – or is she? Hmm…

Can’t believe my book’s in the libraries!

So, as you can imagine, it’s been all go lately, and that’s why I’ve neglected the blog and for that I can only apologise. Hopefully, you’ll all think it was worth it in the end. 🙂

What else have I been up to? Well, I sent off a story to the lovely folks at The People’s Friend, and it was accepted. It’s going to be published as a pocket novel on July 27th. It’s provisionally called The Doctor’s Daughter, although that may change. I’ll be publishing it on Kindle at some point in the near future, but it’s always lovely to see a copy of your work on the shelves of WH Smith or a supermarket – even if it’s only for a couple of weeks. My previous pocket novel, All Because of Baxter, has been published in large print format by Ulverscroft, and copies of that should be in various libraries right now. That’s made me very happy, as I spent practically my entire childhood in one library or another, and I never dreamt in a million years that one of my books would be on the shelves one day. It just shows you!

I’ve also been setting up a new website. You may notice that several pages of this blog have gone missing, and that’s because they’ve been incorporated into my new site instead. However, this blog will remain, as will the book reviews, and there will be a link to these pages on my new website. It’s been quite a faff for someone as technically challenged as me, I can tell you! Find me at http://www.sharonboothwriter.com

Me and Jessica in a very windy, cold Scarborough!

It hasn’t ALL been work, though. On Saturday I ventured out of my writing room into the real world. I caught the train to Scarborough to visit my lovely friend and fellow Write Romantic, Jessica Redland, who was giving a talk at the Seastrand Cafe on the seafront. We had a fabulous day, and even though the talk didn’t go quite as planned, we had a lot of fun. Mind you, the weather was a bit grim. My teeth were chattering! Of course, it WAS a British Bank Holiday weekend so I should have known. 🙂 You can read all about Jessica’s event here.

So, I think we’re all caught up for now. My cup of tea has actually gone cold, so I’m off to put the kettle on.

Have a great week.

Dreaming About Daran by Jessica Redland

I’ll be honest and say that I tend to take longer and longer to read books these days. I used to fly through them, but there are so many distractions in life, and calls on my time, not to mention the annoyance of eyes that get tired much quicker than they used to, that I find it can take a week or two to work my way through a novel – even a novel that I’m really enjoying. I read this book, Dreaming About Daran, in one day, which, to me, says it all.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Jessica Redland’s Whitsborough Bay series. Searching for Steven was good, and had an interesting premise, a lovely setting, and warm, believable characters. I was delighted when its sequel, Getting Over Gary, proved to be an even better read. For me, though, the series hits its pinnacle with Dreaming About Daran.

Clare was always the odd one out in the trio of friends. Not as warm or “cosy” as Sarah and Elise, not as romantic, nor as family-oriented, she always seemed on the outside, somehow. In Getting Over Gary, we saw her soften a little in her attitude to Elise, and without wishing to give anything away, she emerged as more likeable. I always felt, though, that there was something buried deep within Clare that, one day, would make an explosive story. I was right.

Dreaming About Daran is much deeper than its predecessors. I think each book in this series has grown progressively darker, tackling more serious issues, but in this final instalment, Jessica Redland has created a really gripping and quite gut-wrenching story.

I can’t go into any details, as I don’t want to risk spoiling it for new readers, but suffice it to say, Clare has to make a journey away from the life she has built for herself, into the world she left behind – a world so painful that she has managed to bury it. Or so she thinks.

There is humour, of course, and warmth, and friendship, and all the usual Jessica Redland trademarks that ensure a joyous read, but there is so much more to it than that. Secrets and lies, shock and fear, pain and grief, all combine to lead the reader through a most unexpected path into the darkness of Clare’s past. There is a great deal to be uncovered before we can walk safely out into the sunshine again.

For me, personally, this is by far my favourite of the three books, and I felt quite sorry to reach the end of the trilogy. The good news is that, with a writer this talented, I’m sure I’ll have new stories to read by Jessica Redland before long. I can’t wait to see where she takes us next! 5/5

You can buy Dreaming About Daran here

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Getting Over Gary by Jessica Redland

I greatly enjoyed Searching for Steven, Jessica Redland’s previous full-length novel in the Whitsborough Bay series, and I also loved her novella, Raving About Rhys, so I was wondering if she would be able to come up with something that I enjoyed as much. In the event, I discovered that Getting Over Gary is my favourite of her books, so far.
The story revolves around Elise, best friend of Sarah, who featured in Searching for Steven. Elise is a lovely heroine, and I really felt her shock and pain as she makes a discovery that will change the course of her life. Her grief is compounded by the events in her sister’s and Sarah’s lives. Surrounded by happy couples and expectant parents, Elise is struggling to cope with her pain. Everything in her world has changed. Everything she thought she knew has been proven to be a lie. How can she start to put her life back together again?
Elise goes on a journey of discovery. Having been half of a couple since she was a teenager, she now has to learn who she is, and what she wants from life, now that her husband is out of the equation. Sometimes, she makes mistakes. Her judgement is a little off-balance occasionally – but how can it not be? She’s lonely, sad, confused and angry. The future she had mapped out for herself no longer exists. She has to grieve not only for what she had and lost, but for what she might have had and never will. So, of course, she’s going to make mistakes and plot a haphazard course for a while.
The great thing about Elise is that she doesn’t give up. Even with her dreams in tatters, she picks herself up and tries to mend herself, her way. Trying to put a brave face on things for the sake of her friend and sister shows what a kind and caring person she is. I really felt for her when she confronted her own mother – an awful old bat of a woman who was enough to crush the confidence of anyone, let alone someone as vulnerable as Elise. As for her mother-in-law! Words fail me.
I loved following Elise’s journey as she battled to get over Gary. I was rooting for her all the way through the book, and I really hoped she would get her happy ending. I won’t say what happens, but suffice it to say I had a big smile on my face when I came to the end.
Lovely, warm writing, great setting, characters you can really relate to, and a satisfactory conclusion. I’m now looking forward to reading the last in the Whitsborough Bay series, although I will be very sad to say goodbye. 5/5
You can buy Getting Over Gary here.
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Searching for Steven by Jessica Redland

This is a fabulous debut novel from Jessica Redland. Sarah, the protagonist, is truly delightful, and feels like someone you’d want to hang out with in real life. The book has a very original premise – Sarah finds an old tape recording of a clairvoyant she once visited. It turns out that the clairvoyant was accurate about a lot of things, but her final prediction sends Sarah’s world into a spin. She is about to meet the man of her dreams – and his name is Steven. So begins Sarah’s search for her very own Steven, but where can he be? As she embarks on a series of dates with various Stevens, is Sarah blind to the possibility of finding love with the ideal man, who just happens to have the wrong name? Was the clairvoyant wrong after all? Or does fate have one last twist in store for her? Searching for Steven is a lovely novel, full of warm and realistic characters and a beautiful setting – Whitsborough Bay, based on the real life town of Scarborough. I also loved the prequel to this novel, Raving about Rhys, and am eagerly awaiting the second book in the Whitsborough Bay trilogy, published by So Vain Books. Well written and thoroughly enjoyable. 5/5 Buy Searching for Steven here51x2DOeWfVL._AA160_

The Busy Month of May

After my participation in the A to Z Challenge during the merry month of April, I was all blogged out. I’d somehow – don’t ask me how, because I’ve no idea – managed to come up with twenty-six different topics to blog about, all starting with the appropriate letter. Even more astonishing, I’d remembered to schedule them. And I’d scheduled them correctly. Give that girl a pat on the back! By the thirtieth of April, however, I was feeling a bit weary, and resolved to take some time off blogging.

On May 1st, I broke the resolution immediately by taking part in the Lovely Blog tour, at the invitation of my Write Romantic pal, Jo Bartlett. But that, I decided, was that. No more blogging for another month. Then another of my Write Romantic pals, Jessica Redland, asked me to be the first guest on her blog. How could I refuse that invitation? So I agreed to that, too, and you can read my post here. Jessica, by the way, has a fabulous new website that you may like to check out. It’s absolutely gorgeous and you can see it in all its glory here.

Not blogging freed up a little bit of time, and May has actually been quite a productive month for me. I finished the novella I’d started, and I’m quite impressed that I managed to bring in a story at just IDShot_225x225under 41,000 words. I’ll let you know what happens with that one. I’ve also done a first draft for a short story, and I’m now looking at it and wondering, if I turn the viewpoint around completely, will that make it more interesting, and unpredictable? Hmm, I’ll think about that one. And, best of all, I’ve made real progress with book three! Now that really is good news, because it’s been really worrying me for simply ages. Nothing I tried felt right and the story just wasn’t working. I put it away for a few months – yes, honestly, months! – and tried to think about something else entirely, while I got A Kiss from a Rose ready to send to the editor, beta read two other writers’ novels, and worked on the novella. Then I had a lightbulb moment. It came to me, in a flash (so an exploding lightbulb moment!) that I was writing about the wrong character entirely. That was the problem. When I sent her packing (sorry, sweetie) and focused on a different character, the story began to take shape immediately. This has given me so much relief, I can’t begin to tell you. So I won’t. Although I rather think I just did.

Anyway, I’ve been writing a scene a day in my little office, so my husband knows I mean business. If I’m downstairs, tapping away on the laptop, he can be quite sure that I’m on Facebook, Twitter or Googling pointless things in the name of research. If I’m in my office, sitting at my desk, staring at the large computer monitor, he knows I’m doing real writing. And I won’t leave that room until I’ve written at least one scene. That’s the rule.

download (16)I’ve also managed to get a bit more reading done. I’ve read Jessica’s novella, Raving about Rhys (you can read my review here), as well as being lucky enough to read both her debut novel, Searching for Steven, and her follow-up book, the second in the Whitsborough Bay series. I absolutely loved them! I’ve also read Louise Marley’s novella, Something Wicked, and I posted a review of that, too, which you can read here. I’m currently reading two books – Helen Phifer’s The Secrets of the Shadows, and Valerie-Anne Baglietto’s The Moon on a Stick. I’m loving them both!

When I popped over to post my reviews on here, I thought the blog was looking a bit tired, so I had a play around with background colours and fonts, and then made a header picture. I’ve used a similar one for my Facebook writer’s page here. I’m not technically minded at all, so it took me a good while to figure out how to do it, but I’m really pleased with the result.

All in all, I’ve had a good May, in terms of my “proper job”, which is what I consider writing to be. Unfortunately, it’s the “day job” that pays the bills, which is terribly inconvenient. One day I will win the lottery and then I’ll be able to buy the house of my dreams and clear off to the countryside or coast and spend every day writing. Or faffing about on Facebook. Or blogging! Now, there’s a thought. Of 10429272_799949250122316_6415847908952233703_ncourse, I’d have to buy a ticket first, and since I haven’t done that since around 2002 I don’t rate my chances very highly. Ah well.

Ooh, and as a final treat to finish off the month, my Baby Oleg arrived today! We took out car insurance through a certain comparison site, and we’ve been waiting patiently while PostKat trotted halfway round the world with our little darling, but this morning there was a knock on the door and our very own PostKat, well, a rather wet and bedraggled looking postman, actually, was standing there with our newly adopted baby meerkat. Small things, and all that… Now I just need a Paddington Bear and I’ll be happy. 🙂

Have a great week xx

Raving About Rhys by Jessica Redland

I really enjoyed this novella, which is short enough to read in under two hours but packs plenty in! I loved the character of Callie, and she really made me laugh out loud in places. Tony was … well, I won’t give anything away. Suffice it to say that I’m a huge fan of Rhys! 🙂 I loved Ruby and I enjoyed the care home scenes, which were really well done and handled very sensitively. The She-Devil’s story was told really well, too. All in all, this is a really enjoyable story that I would recommend to anyone. Funny, romantic and altogether lovely. Jessica Redland writes so beautifully. I’m really looking forward to reading her forthcoming novel, Searching for Steven. 5/5

Buy Raving about Rhys here:

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