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.

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


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.

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:

raving about rhys

S is for Series

Sis for series, which is what I’m currently writing. The Kearton Bay series, to be exact, which consists of four novels featuring different main characters each time, but with the same setting and with a backdrop of characters that have featured in all four novels.

There are obvious advantages to writing a series. For a start, you don’t have to think of a new setting each time, and you don’t have to create a whole new cast of characters. When you open the laptop and write Chapter One, you’re heading back to familiar territory. You’re visiting a place you’re familiar with, to meet up with people who’ve become great friends. You know the characters and their quirks; you have a soft spot for them and find it easy to write about them; you don’t have to sit there for hours on end trying to decide who is related to whom and working out a back story for your lead character because you’ve already done it. You’ve put in the groundwork right at the beginning.

On the other hand, there is the big issue of continuity. When I started writing Book Three, I decided to change something which meant amending Book One. I was lucky because There Must Be An Angel hadn’t yet been published, so it was easy to go in and tweak something to make it  correspond with the new twist. However, Angel is now officially out there, and I can’t change anything. Book Two, A Kiss From A Rose, will be out there in September, which means I really have to be careful with what I’ve written, and make absolutely sure that it ties up with Book Three before it’s too late. There’s an awful lot of checking and re-checking to be done, and I have long lists with characters’ birthdates, important dates in their timelines, even eye colour and favourite food!

The other thing, of course, is freshness. I have to confess that, after completing the first two novels, I needed a bit of a break from Kearton Bay. I’m currently writing short stories and working on a novella length one, just to do something different without taking too much time off. I’m on a schedule, after all, and can’t take too long a break, but a little time spent in a new location with new characters is a delight, and I think it’s essential to stop me getting too jaded.

And after I’ve finished Book Four? Well, I have an idea for a stand alone novel, but then I have plots for three more which I think will form a new series, set in the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve got just the place in mind as inspiration, and I have some lovely new characters who I’m dying to start working with. But for now, Books Three and Four are my priority.

61TROIi4YmL._AA160_I’m not the only Write Romantic writing a series. Helen Phifer is the author of the hugely successful Annie Graham books, published by Carina Uk; Jessica Redland’s Whitsborough Bay series is to be published by So Vain Books; fellow Fabrian author Jo Bartlett is writing a series 51RNIeU+KiL._AA160_set on the south coast in St Nicholas Bay, and the first – The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come – was published in November; while Alys West’s series is a brilliant urban fantasy collection, the first of which, Beltane, will hopefully be available soon.

I love reading series. There’s something so comforting about opening the covers of a book and finding yourself back amongst characters you’ve come to know and love.

51-Ea4e2iuL._AA160_Recently, I finished reading the third in the Heartfelt trilogy by Adrienne Vaughan. There was something wonderful about opening the covers of those books and heading straight back to the lovely island of Innishmahon to catch up with old friends like Marianne and Ryan, Dermot and Kathleen. I was very sad to finish Secrets of the Heart and realise that I wouldn’t be visiting the island again. Because, that’s another great thing about a series – the joy of loving a whole new group of characters and becoming part of their lives, and knowing that once a book is finished, you can always head back later to find out what they’ve been up to. My mother, upon finishing Angel, asked me quite anxiously, ‘This second book, are Eliza and Gabriel still in it?’ I replied that they were but the story was really about Rose and Flynn. ‘But Eliza and Gabriel are in it?’ she persisted. I assured her they were and asked, ‘Why? Do you like them?’ ‘Oh yes,’ she replied. ‘They’re lovely, and I want to know they’re all right.’

41XR2JYT0TL._AA160_I can’t tell you how happy that made me! I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve struggled with the third in the Bridget Jones series. In spite of loving the first two novels, I haven’t managed to get past the half way point in Mad About the Boy. I just can’t stop grieving for Mark Darcy! And I can’t quite get over the feeling that, as a reader, I’ve been cheated of the happy ending that was promised for the two lead characters in The Edge of Reason.

Characters like Rupert Campbell Black in Jilly Cooper’s fabulously naughty Rutshire series; the wonderful Merrily the wine of angelsWatkins in Phil Rickman’s mystery series; or, lately – for me at any rate, though I know they’ve been around for years – the delicious Ross Poldark and the delightful Demelza in the Poldark books of Winston Graham, are just some of the many, many characters whose lives I have followed and loved as I’ve read each book in the series. There are so many more. In fact, I’ve just reminded myself of a book I have waiting on my Kindle right now! Time to end this blog post and fit in some reading time…


Have a great day xx

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