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.

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.

Never Coming Back by Deirdre Palmer

Whenever I read one of Deirdre Palmer’s books, I’m always struck by how beautifully she writes. With just a few deft sentences, she can evoke the essence of a character, a setting, a mood. Her writing is gentle and considered, yet she possesses the enviable ability to pull the reader into the story and keep them there, as she takes her time to allow the story to unfold at its natural pace.

Never Coming Back is, I think, a new high, even for Deirdre.  It’s the story of coming to terms with loss, coping with guilt, and learning to live again. At the centre of the story is Danni, who died while at a party during her last term at university. Although we never meet her, she overshadows the entire book, as we follow her best friend, Layla, and her heartbroken parents, Melody and Reece, as they try to rebuild their lives and move on.

They are all dealing with feelings of guilt, grief and pain, and the author explores how, although they mourn the same person, that loss affects them in very different ways. Each one is nursing a secret, which impacts on their interactions with each other, and with their lives beyond their own, somewhat claustrophobic, relationship.

Melody clings to Layla, in a manner which both stifles and alarms her husband, and the object of her new devotion. Reece is feeling wounded, rejected, and bewildered. When a new emotion manages to touch his heart, it’s hardly the cause for rejoicing, but merely another problem to deal with. And for Layla, guilt is preventing her from breaking free of the ties that bind her, yet also stops her from moving on and reaching out to forge new bonds.

When Layla meets Morgan, he is dealing with his own loss, and the two of them connect immediately. But Layla is carrying too heavy a burden to deal with, and the time doesn’t feel right for her to build a new life with him. How can she look to enjoy a happy future with Morgan, when Danni has been so cruelly denied her own future, thanks, Layla believes, to her?

Never Come Back is an absolutely gorgeous book – an unhurried, gently unfolding story of how we cope with grief, learn to unpack our guilt, and move on to live a different sort of life after loss. There is a tender romance, some humorous moments, and an observant look at family life. In spite of the subject matter, it leaves you feeling warm, satisfied, and optimistic. It’s a real gem of a novel and I highly recommend it. 5/5

You can buy Never Coming Back here.

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Merry Christmas

text-1892882_1280It’s Christmas Eve! I can’t quite believe that the big day is almost upon us. It seemed to be hovering in the distance for such a long time, and now it’s so close I can practically hear those sleigh bells. I think I say the same thing every year!

Christmas preparations are almost done. I don’t have children living at home any more, so it’s not as frantic as it used to be when I had five little ones, all with very high expectations of a perfect day. No pressure there, then! It’s a lot easier, now, with just the husband and the dog to think about. On the other hand, I can’t deny that it’s lost a certain something. I do miss having the kids around most at Christmas. They were noisy, chaotic and very messy, but Christmases with five children at home were also amazing, exciting, and rekindled the joy of the festive season in me every year.

How are your Christmas preparations going? This year, I actually managed to write all my cards and post them or presents-153926_1280give them out in time. I can’t remember the last time I managed that. The last of the food shopping is being delivered today, and I’ve already had an email to say there are no major substitutions, which for Christmas Eve, is pretty impressive. Even the presents are wrapped, and most of them have already been delivered.

Of course, not everything’s gone according to plan. Two parcels have gone astray. One was delivered to the sorting depot on the 9th December and hasn’t been seen since. Investigations are in progress but I’ve heard nothing so far, and I doubt I will now, this side of  January. The other was delivered to some mysterious person at some mysterious address. It was signed for, but no one has come forward to tell me they have it. Again, investigations are in progress…Hmm. I actually ordered the item again, as I couldn’t hang around while the company tried to figure out what had happened, but there has been no sign of that one at all. Can’t say I’m impressed with the delivery company. Amazon, on the other hand, have been brilliant. Everything ordered from them has arrived well on time. There have even been Sunday deliveries! Impressive.

quotes-933816_1920The thing is, whatever’s not here now isn’t going to be here for Christmas, and it’s no use worrying about it. I’m determined not to stress about all this stuff. It’s sad but true that the most wonderful time of the year is also the time when we lose sight of everything that matters, lost in a fog of panic, and a dreadful fear of failure. Today I’m seeing some of my kids and grandchildren, watching my favourite film, It’s a Wonderful Life, and maybe even treating myself to a festive snowball! Christmas is for enjoying, and I intend to do just that. It’s too easy to get caught up in believing you have to have the “perfect” Christmas, and thinking that to achieve that you have to tick off every single thing on your to-do list, when, really, none of it matters at all.  I think this poem by Sir John Betjeman sums it up perfectly:

Christmas

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true? And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ?  For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

christmas-934177_1920I fully appreciate that not everyone believes that “God was man in Palestine”, but the Christmas message of love, hope, and forgiveness is relevant to everyone – and maybe it’s more important than ever in these troubled times.
So I’d like to wish you all a very merry, peaceful Christmas. Have fun, make memories, and remember to enjoy it – even if you don’t get the exact present you wanted, or the turkey’s too dry, or Uncle Bill gets completely sozzled and falls asleep with his head in the pudding. One day, you’ll look back on Christmas 2016, and you won’t remember the things you forgot to do, or the things that didn’t arrive in time. You’ll remember the love, the laughs, and the feelings. That’s Christmas for you.
Have a good one!
Sharonxxx (3)

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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