Di Marcello’s Secret Son by Rachael Thomas

The challenge: to leave your billionaire lifestyle behind for two weeks…

Italian tycoon Antonio Di Marcello relishes the challenge—but running into Sadie Parker while working undercover as a mechanic rocks him to the core. Four years after their fevered fling stripped away his iron guard, he’s confronted with the shocking consequences…

Sadie has given up hope in her desperate attempts to contact Antonio. Now she has to face the day she’s both dreaded and longed for! And Antonio’s claim over her and her son is hard to resist—especially as he’ll use a sensual onslaught to get what he wants!


Rachael Thomas does it again! Sunshine, sizzling passion, and simmering sexual tension abound in this latest novel. Antonio Di Marcello is a real alpha male – the epitome of a rich playboy, with the billionaire lifestyle, gorgeous Italian looks, and a reputation as a real womaniser.

His first marriage to Eloisa has failed catastrophically, and as far as the press are concerned, that’s entirely down to him. His cheating ways are well documented. It seems Antonio has no heart, and no ability to love or be faithful.

Sadie is all too aware of that fact. A tempestuous weekend with Antonio took her to the heights of happiness, but she quickly crashed down to earth when Antonio abandoned her, informing her that he was to be married and telling her coldly that he can offer her nothing more. Finding herself pregnant, Sadie went to his family home to tell him of his unborn child, but was cruelly turned away by Antonio’s mother. Antonio ignored her pleading letter, and clearly wanted nothing to do with her or the baby. For three years now, Sadie has been a single parent, caring for her beloved little boy, Leo, and trying desperately to put the memory of Antonio’s cruel betrayal behind her.

When he crashes back into her life in the most unexpected way, Sadie is in turmoil. No matter what he did to her, how can she resist those dark eyes – eyes which are so like their son’s? How can she hide the passion he still ignites in her? Yet, when it becomes clear that Antonio has deceived her yet again, and that he has a very clear motive for wanting her back in his life, she knows she must hide her true feelings at all costs.

For how could a man like Antonio ever bring her happiness, when he is incapable of love?

Taking the reader on a whirlwind journey through Rome, a Caribbean island, London, and an English country estate, Rachael Thomas creates a page-turning story of a cat-and-mouse game where the stakes are high for everyone involved. Can Antonio be the father he always wanted to be? Can he be the husband Sadie deserves? Or will his cold upbringing bring nothing but disaster for his new wife and child? Read it and find out! You won’t be disappointed. 5/5

You can buy Di Marcello’s Secret Son here.

Dirty Weekend by Deirdre Palmer

This book reminded me of one of those wonderful black and white films made in the sixties – the ones that show young working class people trying to make their way in a very different world to the one in which their parents grew up, dealing with relationships and new-found freedom, and trying to make sense of it all, while awash with hormones. It’s the story of four young people, Terry, Carol-Anne, Jeanette and Mark. They’re taking the huge step of having a dirty weekend away in Brighton, away from the watchful eyes of their families.
Terry is the typical Jack-the-lad with lots of experience and plenty of confidence. Or is he? Carol-Anne is nervous, but not for the reason Terry might suppose. Mark is supposed to be pairing off with Jeanette, but does his heart lie elsewhere? And Jeanette is carrying a secret that is about to shatter all their well-laid plans.
I loved this book. I don’t remember much about the sixties, but it really invoked the period for me. Little details, such as the backcombed hair, the job in the record shop, the unexpected problem caused by wearing tights with a mini skirt (!) really drew me in. Even the fact that the two young men had to book into a separate bed and breakfast from the girls showed the difference between that era and today. Going away for the weekend was a very big deal indeed.
The characters are beautifully drawn, and over the course of the story we discover that none of them are as we initially believe them to be. At first, I thought this was going to be a standard “four young people having illicit fun in Brighton” story. Far from it. As events unfold, we see that each of the four is keeping secrets from the others. One of the four is keeping a HUGE secret, and that pressure is about to explode. When it does, the entire tone of the book changes, and a creeping anxiety enters.
As the weekend comes to a close, life for the four young adults will never be the same again. There are repercussions all round, decisions to be made, and a great deal of courage to find. How they face up to the future together makes for a totally absorbing read.
I couldn’t put this book down and read it in one day. Human interest, light and darkness, humour, fear, and a big slice of nostalgia. Brilliant. Deirdre Palmer is a seriously classy writer! 5/5

You can buy Dirty Weekend here.

dirty weekend

Among a Thousand Stars by Jo Bartlett

Having loved Jo Bartlett’s novella, The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come, I was pretty sure I would love this book. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations. The plot kept my interest throughout, and the characters were so well-drawn that I wanted to know more about them. The combination of romance, humour and poignancy ensured that I kept turning the pages, desperate to know what happened next.

Ashleigh is a freelance photographer, who is assigned by Glitz Magazine to take photographs of PR supremo, Tom Rushworth, and his dreadful, pregnant fiancee Susie-Ann. It’s hardly the usual first meeting for a romantic couple, and it’s certainly not ideal, but from that first moment, sparks fly between Tom and Ashleigh. Of course, things are not going to run smoothly. Even without Susie-Ann in the equation, there is another huge obstacle in their way. Tom does not believe that love exists. Having seen the catastrophe that was his parents’ marriage, he is certain that love is an illusion, and Ashleigh, wounded by a previous relationship, is happy to go along with his suggestion of a no-strings relationship, at first. But when her feelings start to change, how can she possibly find happiness with a man who is adamant that they will never be anything more than friends with benefits?

I loved Ashleigh, who felt like a friend from the start. I also grew to love Tom. At first, I was a bit uncertain about him, as he appeared to be one of those alpha male heroes who is totally in charge of his life and everyone else’s life come to that. But as the story progressed and I saw the off-duty version of Tom, I really warmed to him.

Both Ashleigh’s and Tom’s mothers feature quite heavily in the book and I really liked both of them. They couldn’t be more different, but both played an important part in defining their children’s characters and in deciding their destiny. Two characters who deserve a special mention are Stevie and Zac. Neither grabbed me at first, but boy, did they grow on me! They added a wonderful dimension to the story and played a pivotal role in the events that unfolded. Not forgetting Bertie – the gorgeous, loyal and very sensible dog who understood far more than anyone else and made his feelings on the matter very clear.

From the glamorous celebrity photo shoots and the nightclubs populated by the rich and famous, to the windswept beaches of Kent at Christmas, and on to the crazy whirlwind that is Las Vegas, the novel leads you behind the scenes of Ashleigh’s life as a celebrity photographer, demonstrating the contrast between her professional and personal lives. In the author’s capable hands, you find yourself laughing out loud one minute and in tears the next. She writes humour magnificently, but she can also pack a powerful emotional punch.

With beautifully described settings, fabulous characterization, and a storyline full of twists, turns, laughter, warmth, and real depth, Among a Thousand Stars is a gem of a novel. I look forward to reading the next offering from this talented author. 5/5

You can buy Among a Thousand Stars here.

You can buy The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come here and read my review here


book cover

Work, Weddings, and Waiting…

Hello, lovely people! So what have you been up to this week? Please don’t all shout at once, I’m not deaf. Really? Well, that all sounds very lovely, but now back to me. 😉

Actually, before we go any further, can I just say a belated happy birthday to Benedict Cumberbatch? The divine Mr C turned 38 on the 19th July, and yes I did wish him a happy birthday on Twitter, (birthday greetings for him were actually trending. See, it’s not just me!) and on Facebook, (to the embarrassment of my eldest daughter) and I know he probably won’t read this or any of the other birthday messages I sent but hey, you never know, and anyway it’s my blog and I can do what I like, so there!

I’ve had a busy few days. After a fortnight’s holiday it was back to work for me. Is there anything worse than that first day back after so many days of freedom? I can’t really complain as I only worked for four days.  I had Friday off as I was going to my brother’s wedding. You would think, since this event has been planned for roughly a year, that I would be totally organised for the big day, wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be very wrong. I’m the sort of person who thinks everything will be fine and we’ll have plenty of time, so on Friday morning I was sitting quite happily in my little room, browsing Facebook and flicking through Pinterest, thinking how jolly it was not having to get ready for work and to have so much time to spare. It came as something as a shock, therefore, when I remembered that I’d forgotten to try on my outfit. Of course, I’d tried it when I bought it, but that was months ago, and it might not actually have fitted me any longer, given that I’d just got back from a holiday where ice cream, doughnuts, hot dogs, creamy pasta and burgers were eaten freely.

I also realised that I needed to straighten my hair, that I’d forgotten to write on the card, and that I hadn’t even wrapped the wedding presents. This led to some frantic moments as I tried to accomplish all these things while DH scowled and muttered about getting stuck in traffic and wondered aloud why it was always the same fiasco every time we had to be anywhere. Luckily for me, he’s very good at wrapping presents and came to my rescue while I wondered how to break it to him that I’d forgotten to buy a gift bag to put them in and had to rummage under the bed to find an old birthday one that didn’t look too birthday-like and would do for wedding presents (and if you’re reading this, dear brother and new sister-in-law, I’m sorry, but you know you should expect such things from me by now. There’s a price to pay for creative genius…)

As it turned out, we were on time and the day was lovely. The sun shone, the bride and groom had a brilliant time and laughed a lot, we all ate and drank and chatted to people we hadn’t seen in ages, the buttons didn’t ping off my trousers and there were hardly any arguments at all. Always a bonus at a family wedding. 10371524_605108592939717_6089114391174858455_n

The downside was that I didn’t get to taste any of the cake – although if it was fruit cake I don’t care, I really hate fruit cake – and having Friday off means I’m working a double shift next Friday. Boo. 😦

In other news, I’m still waiting for my manuscript to come back from the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. That’s a nerve-wracking thing, I can tell you. I was late last year, sending it off approximately two days before the deadline, and everyone said I’d be waiting ages for it to return. However, it only took three weeks. This year it was (I thought!) ready to send in early June, but I haven’t had my report back yet. Of course, as you’d expect, the minute I sent it off I thought of lots of things that I could have done to make it better. In fact, there are at least two scenes that I think I’m going to cut when it comes back, and I’ve thought of ways to make my character a bit more sympathetic, too. I’m dying to know if my reader thinks the same as I do, or if she’s spotted something else entirely that I ought to be more worried about. Gulp!

While waiting for the verdict on A Kiss from a Rose, I’ve been busying myself writing the short story for the anthology that I told you all about. It’s the brainchild of The Write Romantics and they’re publishing it in aid of two very worthy charities. You can read all about it and also about a great competition to name the anthology here. Anyway, I’m not confident about writing short stories so I was a bit worried about it, but I was so honoured to be asked to take part I was hardly likely to refuse, was I? As it turns out, after a few false starts and bitten nails, I quite enjoyed the process of writing it. It was quite refreshing to have to think about telling a story in so few words and deciding how best to tell it – which viewpoint to use, which tense, where to start it, how to finish it. It’s very different from writing a novel and fairly daunting, I have to say. I’m impressed by those writers who create short stories all the time. It’s by no means easy and I wasn’t convinced that I’d mastered the art. I sent it to Alex, one of The Write Romantics, to proofread and to get her opinion. Luckily, she liked it, and I don’t think she was only saying that because she’s my friend. In fact, I know she wasn’t because she told me “I’m not just saying that because you’re my friend”. See! So, apart from a few minor edits, that’s that job done and I can breathe again. At least, until the manuscript of my novel turns up on the doorstep complete with report.

I’ve been scouring the blogs and Facebook pages of fellow writers this week and trying not to feel jealous as I read all about their fantastic weekend at the RNA Conference in Shropshire. There are some great stories, fab pictures, and enough information to make anyone eager to take part in next year’s event. I admit, I did have a wobble when I read it’s to take place in London. I’ve never been to London, and it seems like quite a scary place to a northerner like me! It seems very noisy, very expensive, and very big! Even the thought of getting a train down there is a worrying thought. There’s no getting away from it, though. I can’t have another year of feeling left out and envious. It’s just not on. In fact, I’ve already started saving for the fees so there you go. London, here I come!

Finally, I’d just like to thank The Write Romantics, Tracey Scott-Townsend, and Heidi-Jo Swain for being so supportive this last couple of weeks. I did a guest post on The Write Romantics’ blog last Saturday which you can read here. I  was also invited to do the Meet My Character blog tour by Tracey (whose own post you can read here) and passed the baton to Alys West, whose post you can read here. On August 8th I will be on Heidi-Jo’s blog. She is a member of the NWS and is running a summer Path to Publication blog tour featuring fellow members. You can read the first of her guest’s post here. Don’t forget to look out for mine on August 8th!


So, it’s back to the grindstone for me. A week at the day job beckons, including two ten hour shifts instead of one. Oh, the glamour. I bet Barbara Cartland never had these problems!

Have a great week xx