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31 January 2014

February 2014 releases!

And *snap*! That's how quick the first month of 2014 seems to have flown past, if you ask me! It's still cold and grey outside most of the time, so I can't help but look forward to those moments when I can curl up in my comfy reading chair with a blanket, a cup of cinnamon tea and a lovely book. February is of course the month of Valentine's Day, and sticking to the theme of hearts and love, the upcoming few weeks have some great chick lit releases in store to keep us company!

Harriet Evans - 'Rules for Dating a Romantic Hero' (3rd of February)

Do you believe in happy endings?

Laura Foster used to be a hopeless romantic. She was obsessed with meeting her own Prince Charming until she grew up and realised real life doesn’t work like that. Then she met Nick. A romantic hero straight from a fairytale, with a grand country estate and a family tree to match.

They’ve been together four years now and Laura knows that what really matters is the two of them, not everything else around them. She can’t imagine ever loving anyone the way she loves Nick. Now, though, people are openly asking when they’ll hear wedding bells, and Nick is keeping secrets from Laura. She’s starting to feel she might not be ‘good enough’ for his family.

Can an ordinary girl like Laura make it work with one of the most eligible men in the country?




Katie Oliver - 'Love and Liability' (3rd of February)

Holly James is looking for her big break. A young journalist for BritTEEN magazine, she is dying to write about something more meaningful than pop stars and nail varnish. So when she spots a homeless teenager outside the office, she feels compelled to tell her story. But her evil boss Sasha has other ideas…

Holly is sent to interview a city solicitor she has never heard of. But Alex Barrington turns out to be the very opposite of fusty and boring and Holly’s interest struggles to stay strictly professional!

With Sasha sabotaging her every move, and her story about teens on the street leading her into London’s dark underworld, Holly is chasing both love and success at the same time. But happy endings like that only happen in books don’t they…?

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads




Jen Lancaster - 'Twisted Sisters' (4th of February)

Reagan Bishop is a pusher. A licensed psychologist who stars on the Wendy Winsberg cable breakout show I Need a Push, Reagan helps participants become their best selves by urging them to overcome obstacles and change behaviors. An overachiever, Reagan is used to delivering results.

Despite her overwhelming professional success, Reagan never seems to earn her family’s respect. Her younger sister, Geri, is and always will be the Bishop family favorite. When a national network buys Reagan’s show, the pressures for unreasonably quick results and higher ratings mount. But Reagan’s a clinician, not a magician, and fears witnessing her own personal failings in prime time. (And seriously? Her family will never let her hear the end of it.) Desperate to make the show work and keep her family at bay, Reagan actually listens when the show’s New Age healer offers an unconventional solution…

Record Nielsen ratings follow. But when Reagan decides to use her newfound power to teach everyone a lesson about sibling rivalry, she’s the one who will be schooled….

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Michelle Richmond - 'Golden State' (6th of February)

Doctor Julie Walker has just signed her divorce papers when she receives news that her younger sister, Heather, has gone into labor. Though theirs is a strained relationship, Julie sets out for the hospital to be at her sister’s side—no easy task since the streets of San Francisco are filled with commotion. Today is also the day that Julie will find herself at the epicenter of a violent standoff in which she is forced to examine both the promising and painful parts of her past—her Southern childhood; her romance with her husband, Tom; her estrangement from Heather; and the shattering incident that led to her greatest heartbreak.

Infused with emotional depth and poignancy, Golden State takes readers on a journey over the course of a single, unforgettable day—through an extraordinary landscape of love, loss, and hope.

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads




Jemma Forte - 'If You're Not the One' (7th of February)

Has she married the wrong man?

Jennifer Wright has a seemingly perfect life: a husband, two kids, a lovely house. She also isn't entirely sure if she's happy. Frustrated with her lack of career and a husband who barely seems to notice her, she can't help but wonder, is this it? At 38 she's hurtling toward middle age and a mid- life crisis. And she starts to think what her life would be like had she made different choices along the way...

Would she be happier if she d stayed with sexy, carefree, unconventional Aidan? Or fabulously wealthy Tim? Would she be living happily ever after with sweet, kind, harmless Steve? Jennifer's about to find out. After a terrible row with her husband she has a life threatening accident, and, whilst unconscious, is given the gift of seeing what would have happened if she'd stayed with each of these men from her past. And then Jennifer's left with the biggest decision of all...

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads




Hester Browne - 'The Vintage Girl' (13th of February)

When Evie Nicholson is asked to visit Kettlesheer Castle in Scotland to archive the family heirlooms, she jumps at the chance. Evie’s passion for antiques means that, for her, the castle is a treasure trove of mysteries just waiting to be uncovered.

But in each heirloom lies a story, and in the course of her investigations Evie stumbles upon some long-buried family secrets. Add handsome, gloomy heir Robert McAndrew and a traditional candlelit gala to the mix and Evie’s heart is sent reeling with an enthusiasm that may just extend beyond the Kettlesheer silver... 

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Sarah Addison Allen - 'Lost Lake' (13th of February)
It happens one morning - Kate finally wakes up from the slumber she's been in since her husband's death a year ago. Feeling a fresh sense of desire to take control of her and her young daughter's life, she decides to visit Suley, Georgia - home to Lost Lake. It's where Kate spent one of the happiest summers of her life as a child. She's not sure what she expects to find there, but it's not a rundown place full of ghosts and other curious oddities. Kate's Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the old place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake, can she bring the cottages - as well as her heart and the hearts of all the guests - back to life? Because sometimes lost loves aren't really lost. They're just waiting for you to find them again.




Adele Parks - 'Spare Brides' (13th of February)

New Year's Eve, 1920. The Great War is over and it's a new decade of glamorous promise. But a generation of men and women who survived the extreme trauma and tragedy will never be the same.

With countless men lost, it seems that only wealth and beauty will secure a husband from the few who returned, but lonely Beatrice has neither attribute. Ava has both, although she sees marriage as a restrictive cage after the freedom war allowed. Sarah paid the war's ultimate price: her husband's life. Lydia should be grateful that her own husband's desk job kept him safe, but she sees only his cowardice.

A chance encounter for one of these women with a striking yet haunted officer changes everything. In a world altered beyond recognition, where not all scars are visible, this damaged and beautiful group must grasp any happiness they can find - whatever the cost.




Laura Ziepe - 'Made in Essex' (13th of February)

Champagne, cat-fights and a very tricky love triangle …

Life is pretty good for Jade. She’s happily settled with her gorgeous boyfriend Sam and the bikini business she’s set up with her best friend Kelly is going from strength to strength.

You could say that Jade’s life is almost too good to be true – at least that’s what her old acquaintance Adele thinks and Adele is sick of Jade getting all the attention. But Adele’s not too worried – she has a secret – a powerful secret – one that could pull Sam and Jade apart and destroy everything that Jade has worked so hard for.

With friendships and relationships falling apart, just how far will Adele go to get what she wants?




Clare Dowling - 'A Special Delivery' (13th of February)

Every family has its ups and downs ...

Aisling Brady is miserable. So is her husband Mossy. The three kids are too. Yet nobody dares say a thing. Instead the Bradys keep their heads down and grimly look forward to another miserable Christmas in Dublin.

What Aisling doesn't know is that this year, they will get the most unexpected gift of all. One that will bring joy and heartbreak, hope and a string of sleepless nights.

As their world is turned upside down, questions have to be asked. But are the Bradys ready to face the truth about themselves? And what each of them has done?




Polly James - 'Diary of an Unsmug Married' (13th of February)

What happens to love when life gets in the way? A funny and perceptive book about real relationships. Perfect for fans of Dawn French, Sue Townsend and Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Meet Molly Bennett. Married to Max and mother to two warring teenagers, she’s just ‘celebrated’ a significant birthday. Bridget Jones would call Molly a “smug married”. So why doesn’t she feel it?

Is it because everyone seems to be having a better time of it than her? Or is it that Max has started showing more interest in ‘business trips’ and less interest in their sex life? Molly begins to despair. And then an old school friend starts flirting with her through Facebook …




Hannah Beckerman - 'The Dead Wife's Handbook' (13th of February)

'Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.'

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life - until the night Rachel's heart stopped beating.

Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can't forget her, Rachel can't quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.

As Rachel grieves for the life she's lost and the life she'll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.




Jane Costello - 'The Mini Break' (14th of February)

An exclusive eBook short story from the bestselling author of 'The Wish List', Jane Costello.

When Sophie's friend Anisha is sent on her first foreign trip in her job at a travel agency - and gets to take Sophie with her - she jumps at the chance of some time away.

But what neither of them realise is that there is a catch - a rather large catch. The five-star hotel is also a world-renowned golf resort. And its owners have offered the holiday on the basis of the girls' golfing prowess. Of which they possess quite literally none...


Various authors - 'Truly, Madly, Deeply' (21st of February)

From wedding days to special anniversaries, steamy one-night encounters to everlasting loves, Truly, Madly, Deeply takes you on an unforgettable romantic adventure where love really is all you need. 

This collection brings together all-new specially selected stories from star authors from the Romantic Novelists’ Association, including international bestsellers Adele Parks, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Miranda Dickinson, and many, many more and is edited by Sue Moorcroft. 

The perfect indulgence to curl up with, Truly, Madly, Deeply is the ultimate romantic treat!

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Gemma Burgess - 'Love and Chaos' (A Brooklyn Girls Novel) (25th of February)

Wild child and secret romantic Angie wakes up in a hotel room with $3,000 and no memories of the night before. Her best friends aren’t talking to her, she can’t get a job in fashion, her parents are divorcing, and she’s about to turn twenty-three. And life is about to get much worse.

'Brooklyn Girls: Love and Chaos' continues the story of our five favorite grads sharing a brownstone and starting out in New York City through Angie’s eyes. On a journey from private jets and yacht parties to dirty subways and hipster bars via crazy storms, flash floods, and retail jobs from hell, Angie discovers who she is, what she wants, how she’s going to get it —and a crazy little thing called true love.

Meanwhile, her roommates lives are imploding, too. Coco’s self-medicating and self-loathing, Pia’s breaking up and cracking up, Madeleine’s finding her voice and Julia might—just might—have met someone she can actually date.




Lucy Dillon - 'A Hundred Pieces of Me' (27th of February)

Letters from the only man she's ever loved. A keepsake of the father she never knew. Or just a beautiful glass vase that catches the light, even on a grey day.

If you had the chance to make a fresh start, what would you keep from your old life? What would you give away?

Gina Bellamy is starting again, after a difficult few years she'd rather forget. But the belongings she's treasured for so long just don't seem to fit who she is now.

So Gina makes a resolution. She'll keep just a hundred special items - the rest can go. But that means coming to terms with her past and learning to embrace the future, whatever it might bring...



Louise Walters - 'Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase' (27th of February)

Forgive me, Dorothea, for I cannot forgive you. What you do, to this child, to this child's mother, it is wrong...

Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother's belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew - dated after he supposedly died in the war.

Dorothy is unhappily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets Squadron Leader Jan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shockwaves will touch her granddaughter many years later...




Karen Ross - 'Mother of the Year' (27th of February)

Despite giving birth at the age of fifteen, Beth Jackson’s professional life has gone from strength to strength. A successful TV journalist, she is celebrated for her parenting column and has won no less than three Mother of the Year awards.

Her daughter JJ is less inclined to agree. Underneath the surface, her relationship with her mother is far from award-winning, and as Beth misses yet another Mother’s Day to jet-set around the globe, JJ decides it’s time to persuade her into some good quality mother-daughter bonding.

But as unexpected events force JJ from her London flatshare back to her childhood home, she is unprepared for what she is about to learn about the true meaning of family…

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads


Jojo Moyes - 'The One Plus One' (27th of February)

One single mum
With two jobs and two children, Jess Thomas does her best day after day. But it's hard on your own. And sometimes you take risks you shouldn't. Because you have to . . .

One chaotic family
Jess's gifted, quirky daughter Tanzie is brilliant with numbers, but without a helping hand she'll never get the chance to shine. And Nicky, Jess's teenage stepson, can't fight the bullies alone.

Sometimes Jess feels like they're sinking . . .

One handsome stranger
Into their lives comes Ed Nicholls, a man whose life is in chaos, and who is running from a deeply uncertain future. But he has time on his hands. He knows what it's like to be lonely. And he wants to help . . .




Erica James - 'Summer at the Lake' (27th of February)

It was a wedding invitation that changed everything for Floriana...

If she hadn't been so distracted at the thought of having to witness the one true love of her life get married, she would have seen the car coming. 

If she'd seen the car coming, there would have been no need for elderly spinster Esme Silcox and local property developer Adam Strong to rush to her aid. 

And if Floriana hadn't met Adam and Esme she would never have had the courage to agree to attend Seb's wedding in beautiful Lake Como.

For Esme, Lake Como awakens memories of when she stayed at the lake as a nineteen-year-old girl and fell in love for the first time. So often she's wondered what happened to the man who stole her heart all those years ago, a man who changed the course of her life.

Now it's time for both Esme and Floriana to face the past - and the future - on the shores of this most romantic and enchanting of lakes.




Joanna Rees - 'The Key to it All' (27th of February)

When five random people simultaneously receive ‘the key’, they don’t realize that their lives are about to change forever. Shrouded in secrecy, the mysterious silver key is delivered to each of them along with a code, a web address and a promise that – if used wisely – it can unlock a door to luxury and privilege beyond their wildest dreams. However, as each of them begins to use the key, they are propelled into a world of hazy moral choices, and soon start to question their enigmatic gift. Who is funding the key’s lavish promises? And why have they been chosen to receive it? Only the bravest will use it to seek the truth...

Amazon UK / Amazon US Goodreads






29 January 2014

Review: 'The Railwayman's Wife' by Ashley Hay (2013)

In a small town on the land's edge, in the strange space at a war's end, a widow, a poet and a doctor each try to find their own peace, and their own new story.

In Thirroul, in 1948, people chase their dreams through the books in the railway's library. Anikka Lachlan searches for solace after her life is destroyed by a single random act. Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, has lost his words and his hope. Frank McKinnon is trapped by the guilt of those his treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle with the same question: how now to be alive.

Written in clear, shining prose and with an eloquent understanding of the human heart, The Railwayman's Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can be sometimes to tell them apart. It's a story of life, loss and what comes after; of connection and separation, longing and acceptance. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

Thanks to the lovely people at Allen & Unwin I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Ashley Hay’s novel ‘The Railwayman’s Wife.’ The book was published in April 2013 in Australia (and received some amazing reviews) and has now, in January 2014, reached the UK as well. Ashley Hay has written four non-fiction books and her debut novel, ‘The Body in the Clouds’ was a hit and nominated for numerous awards within the literary world. Understandably, I was quite interested to discover some of Ashley Hay’s fictional work myself, and let’s be honest, who could not be intrigued by a gorgeous cover like the one of ‘The Railwayman’s Wife’?

The book is set in Thirroul, a city in Australia, a few years after the Second World War. Everyone is trying to find their own way after the war, including the three main characters of this novel. Anikka Lachlan is happily married to her husband Mac, with whom she has a ten-year-old daughter named Isabel, but an unexpected event forces her to find new meaning in her life. Roy McKinnon is a poet who experienced the war up close, but now can’t seem to find the words to describe even the simplest things anymore. Frank Draper is a doctor, desperately searching for a way to stop thinking about all the people he simply could not save during the war. Anikka, Roy and Frank are all looking for the same thing: a way to keep on living while the reason and meaning behind it all isn’t quite clear any longer. 

The first thing I have to say about this novel is that it is a really emotional read. The author really has her own way with words, describing events and the emotions at the core of particular situations, which really managed to move me. Tragedy intervenes in the lives of each of the three main characters in a different way and they have to overcome this and learn how to deal with it in their own individual ways. Each of the three characters has their own issues to deal with, but I found myself being particularly caught up in Anikka’s story. I really enjoyed how the author used flashbacks to describe other parts of Anikka’s life and how everything led to this point in her existence.

I wouldn’t call this book a page turner I simply couldn’t put down, but in this case that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s more a lyrical novel that has a specific power of words at its centre, captivating and taking over the reader with every page and the emotions it evokes. ‘The Railwayman’s Wife’ is a melancholic and captivating read, one with a story at its core that will break your heart, but in the most beautiful way that will stay with you for quite some time to come! 
 
Rating:
8/10

For more information about this book: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

27 January 2014

Cover Reveal: 'The Guestbook' by Holly Martin

I'm excited to be part of the big cover reveal for Holly Martin's upcoming release 'The Guestbook' today!
 
 
Welcome to Willow Cottage – throw open the shutters, let in the sea breeze and make yourself completely at home. Oh, and please do leave a comment in the Guestbook!

As landlady of Willow Cottage, the young widow Annie Butterworth is always on hand with tea, sympathy or strong Norfolk cider - whatever her colourful array of guests require.  A flick through the messages in the leather-bound cottage guestbook gives a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of everyone who passes through her doors.

This includes Annie herself - especially now celebrity crime writer Oliver Black, is back in town. He might grace the covers of gossip magazines with a different glamorous supermodel draped on his arm every week, but to Annie, he’s always just been Olly, the man who Annie shared her first kiss with.

Through the pages of the Guestbook Annie and Olly, along with all the guests that arrive at the seaside retreat, struggle with love, loss, mystery, joy, happiness, guilt…and the odd spot of naked rambling! 

Forget sending postcards saying 'wish you were here' - one visit to Willow Cottage and you’ll wish you could stay forever.
 
'The Guestbook' will be released on Valentine's Day (the 14th of February), so be sure to pre-order your own copy now by clicking here!
 
 

24 January 2014

Review: 'Here's Looking At You' by Mhairi McFarlane (2013)

Anna Alessi – history expert, possessor of a lot of hair and an occasionally filthy mouth – seeks nice man for intelligent conversation and Mills & Boon moments.

Despite the oddballs that keep turning up on her dates, Anna couldn’t be happier. As a 30-something with a job she loves, life has turned out better than she dared dream. However, things weren’t always this way, and her years spent as the ‘Italian Galleon’ of an East London comprehensive are ones she’d rather forget.


So when James Fraser – the architect of Anna’s final humiliation at school – walks back into her life, her world is turned upside down. But James seems a changed man. Polite. Mature. Funny, even. People can change, right? So why does Anna feel like she’s a fool to trust him?


During the last days of 2013 I was in Manchester and while I was shopping I found a copy of Mhairi McFarlane's latest release, 'Here's Looking At You' in a supermarket. It was an absolute bargain, especially since I'd heard only positive things about Mhairi McFarlane's writing from other bloggers and on Twitter. I was quite curious to be introduced to this new author, so I decided it would be the perfect book to start 2014 with! 


Anna Alessi is a thirty-something academic within the field of history who is happy with her life, except for the absence of romance and a man to share it all with. She goes on numerous dates, but the only men that seem to show up are slightly odd, to say the least. Anna's life used to be very different; at school she was horribly bullied and it's a time she doesn't like to be reminded of. However, when all of a sudden the boy whom she had a massive crush on and who was also the one to humiliate her in front of the entire school comes back into her life, Anna doesn't know what to do. James Fraser doesn't recognise her and seems to be a changed man, but can people really change? Somehow, Anna can't let herself trust James, but at the same time she continues to bump into him... Once a bully, always a bully? Or do people like James also deserve a second chance?


I've heard many positive things about Mhairi McFarlane's debut novel, 'You Had Me At Hello' from other readers, so I was looking forward to reading one of her works myself. It took me a bit of time to really get into the story, but as soon as I did I couldn't put the book down anymore. I fell in love with both Anna and James, from whose point of view the story is told (I always enjoy it when the author gives the reader the chance to look at everything from both a male and female perspective). I could personally relate to Anna and I just thought she was a fascinating and easily likeable main character, just like James, who I couldn't help but develop a small crush on. Next to the main characters, there also some other smaller roles like Anna's sister Aggy and her best friend Michelle, who definitely made the story even more enjoyable.


I really enjoyed the dialogue in the book; this is definitely one of Mhairi McFarlane's strengths, next to her sense of humour. The story made me laugh out loud multiple times and I think it's great how the author mixed humour with some more serious topics like bullying and believing in yourself. The plotline of the novel might perhaps sound a bit cliched at first, the author really managed to turn it into her own story which includes depth and is just really well done. 'Here's Looking At You' is a funny, sharp and engaging novel, and I personally look forward to Mhairi McFarlane's other work!


Rating: 
8,5/10 

For more information about this book: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads
   

21 January 2014

Blog Tour: 'Mums on Strike' by Laura Kemp (2014)

It was just a squashed grape on the kitchen floor. Hardly a reason to get upset, right?

But six years of motherhood has left Lisa Stratton feeling like a skivvy. Every morning before she's opened her eyes, she starts her mental inventory of jobs to do. And just like yesterday, the day before and every day since she became a mum, she's woken up knackered.

So when her husband deliberately steps over the grape because it's 'her responsibility' to run the house, it tips her over the edge. He wasn't always like this - they used to share everything. Then the kids came along and he saw it as an excuse to sit back. But this time things are going to change. Lisa has made a decision. She's going on strike.

Today I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Laura Kemp’s new novel ‘Mums on Strike’ which was released on the 16th of January! ‘Mums on Strike’ is Laura’s second novel and, just like her successful debut novel ‘Mums Like Us’, it focuses on the topic of motherhood. When I was contacted about a possible review copy of the book and the chance to do a Q&A with Laura, I couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough, because I straight away loved the sound of the blurb and couldn’t wait to start reading!

Lisa Stratton has been a mother for about six years and she could never have expected the big changes she would have to get used to after becoming a mum. Somehow, she has found herself in a marriage where it is solely her responsibility to keep the house clean, to make sure the kids get to and from birthday parties, and everyone has enough clean clothes to last them through the week. Before the arrival of the children, Lisa and her husband used to take it all on together, as a couple, and she sees no reason why it shouldn’t go back to the way it was. So, Lisa decides there’s only thing for her to do if she wants things to change: a strike. 

Even though I’m not (yet) a mum myself, I always love reading novels about motherhood and the challenges that come with it. ‘Mums on Strike’ has an original idea at its core which I thoroughly enjoyed; you often hear about mums who feel there is still a rather old-fashioned idea out there in the world that it is the woman who has to do the ironing and keeping the house clean, instead of this being a team-effort. Laura Kemp used this idea and managed to turn it into a funny and captivating read that focuses on a mum going on strike and forcing her husband to rethink the task division in their home, including the troubles and difficult moments that come with this decision.

Lisa is a lovely heroine and a true example to many female readers, I think. She is strong, ambitious (I really liked how she wants to be a great mother and a wonderful wife, but also an independent woman who has her own dreams and ambitions) and she stands up for her beliefs. Laura Kemp shows both sides of Lisa’s strike; the pro’s and con’s and how it influences everyone around her, including her young children, which is part of what makes this novel good. ‘Mums on Strike’ is an entertaining, funny and feminist read and I wouldn’t be surprised if this will put ideas in the heads of wives and mothers all around the world!

Rating:
8,5/10

For more information about this book: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Author interview with Laura Kemp!

I'm excited to have had the chance to interview Laura Kemp about her new release 'Mums on Strike' as a part of this blog tour!

1) Can you tell us something about your novel, ‘Mums on Strike’?
It's about a working mum who is so sick of being taken for granted she goes on strike in a bid to get her husband to share the housework. But more than that, it's about love, marriage, friendships and the power of women!
 
2) Where did you find the inspiration for ‘Mums on Strike’? Is it based on your own personal experiences?
The inspiration came from my mum, who decided to stop making my dad's sandwiches to take to the office when she got a job. The idea has bubbled away and then came to a head after I started writing when my son was a toddler - even though I was back working, my husband was very happy in his traditional breadwinner role and didn't think to help out with any of the chores. He is still spectacularly useless but when I went on 24-hour strike, he realised how much I do, how boring it is and why he should help out more!
 
3) There’s a great mix of characters in the novel. Which character did you most enjoy writing about and why?
Oh, I loved the mother-in-law the best. She is a lovely woman but very dated, her heart's in the right place though, so it was interesting to explore her relationship with my heroine, Lisa, and see how they make things work when the strike progresses.
 
4) In your previous novel, ‘Mums Like Us’, you also tackled the subject of motherhood, just like in this new novel. Why did you decide to write about being a mum?
Because I found it such a shock - going from being an independent working woman to being responsible for another life was utterly overwhelming. I was lucky enough to meet some like-minded mums but I heard plenty of tales about terrifying mother superiors who approached motherhood as a competition and so the book was born!
5) Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans as an author? Are you already working on a next novel?
I am working on my next novel - a sexy comedy but that's all I can say at the moment! 
 
6) Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Persistance is the main thing, be it sitting down to write or trying to get an agent. The knocks can be soul-destroying when you've put so much into a piece but they're inevitable. Have a cry and a glass of wine, then get back up again!
 
7) And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘Mums on Strike’ in just three words, which words would you pick?
Funny, feminist and warm.

Thanks so much to Laura Kemp for taking the time to answer these questions! :)

20 January 2014

Review & Interview: 'First Impressions: a Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice' by Alexa Adams (2013)

In Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy begins his relationship with Elizabeth Bennet with the words: "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present togive consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men." What would have happened if Mr. Darcy had never spoken so disdainfully? First Impressions explores how the events of Jane Austen's beloved novel would have transpired if Darcy and Elizabeth had danced together at the Meryton Assembly. Jane and Bingley's relationship blossoms unimpeded, Mary makes a most fortunate match, and Lydia never sets a foot in Brighton. Austen's witty style is authentically invoked in this playful romp from Longbourn to Pemberley.

As some of you might know, I’m a big fan of Jane Austen and absolutely everything that is related to her or her work. So, when author Alexa Adams contacted me about possibly reviewing her three-part-series of books based on Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, I couldn’t possibly say no! It has been over 200 years since Austen’s first novel was published and since then the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy has been retold in numerous different voices and different ways. However, if I’m honest, I simply can’t get enough of the retellings of this classic romance tale, so I couldn’t wait to get started in ‘First Impressions’!

We all know what happened when one of the greatest couples of all time, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, first laid eyes on each other. While Mr. Darcy decided the young woman ‘not handsome enough’ to tempt him, Elizabeth immediately wrote Darcy off as too proud. But how would their love story have turned out if things had been different? In this novel the whole storyline of Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is altered by a big change at the start of it all: Darcy and Elizabeth dance with one another at the Meryton assembly and slowly start to fall in love, which also alters the paths of almost all the people around them...

Over the years I’ve read many adaptations of Austen stories, and I have to say that this is definitely one of my favourites so far. I loved what Alexa Adams did with the plotline; changing almost everything by altering a detail at the beginning of it all. The novel still has Austen’s beloved basic storyline and keeps close to the events in the original and characters at its core, but with a fascinating twist. I especially loved the focus on characters like Mary Bennet, Kitty Bennet and Georgiana Darcy, who don’t play very big roles in the original, and how this focus gives them the attention they deserve and manages to answer questions readers might have about what could have happened to these characters. 

It is clear Alexa Adams treats Jane Austen’s writing and original novel with respect and I was surprised by how she managed to get close to Austen’s writing style and that authentic feel of her work. This adaptation has enjoyable dialogues and wittiness, and is a read I’d definitely recommend to lovers of Austen and/or ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Alexa Adams’ ‘First Impressions’ is a wonderful debut novel; a charming and well-written retelling of a classic many of us can’t get enough of, and I personally am already excited about reading the two other sequels the author has written!

Rating:
9/10

For more information about this book: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Author interview with Alexa Adams!

I'm delighted to welcome author Alexa Adams to the blog today to tell us more about her novel 'First Impressions: a Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice'!
 
1) Can you tell us something about your novel, ‘First Impressions: a Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice’?
First Impressions, the working title for which was simply A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice, began more as a reaction to other Pride & Prejudice sequels and spin-offs than a novel in its own right. I had been devouring all the Austenesque I could get my hands on, but there were certain things that I always wanted to see happen in the story which I had yet to read, while other notions I felt I’d seen a great deal too much. This book was my way of demanding a share of the conversation. 
 
2) Where did you find the inspiration for ‘First Impressions: a Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice’? Are you a fan of Jane Austen and her work?
I am a massive and unabashed Janeite. I’ve loved Austen since I discovered her when eleven years old, and my relationship to her work has continued to grow and evolve since that time. When I wrote First Impressions, I was struggling to find my path in life. Reliable as always, Jane was there to show me the way. I’m eternally grateful.
 
3) There’s a great mix of characters in the novel. Which character did you most enjoy writing about and why?
My favorite character in the novel is Lady Catherine. I can’t seem to get enough of her. I love playing with her imperiousness, and in this book I tried to endow her with rather better motives and instincts than Austen gave to her. This softening allowed me to bring her into the folds of the family, so to speak, and I can’t say how often I’ve relied on her to move my plots along. I think she’d be pleased to know herself so useful.
 
4) What is your personal favourite Jane Austen novel and why?
Persuasion. I think Anne Elliot perhaps the most admirable heroine in literature. She has been an excellent role model, though no mere human could really achieve her excellence. My one quibble with the story is that Captain Wentworth can’t even begin to deserve her.
 
5) ‘First Impressions: a Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice’ is the first part of a series. Can you tell us a bit more about this series?
The second book is entitled Second Glances: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Continues, and it picks up the story a year after the Darcys get married. The novel provides romances for both Georgiana and Lydia, who never marries Mr. Wickham in my version of events, but Kitty is the primary heroine. Holidays at Pemberley, or Third Encounters: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice Concludes is the final book, and it goes back in time to tell the story of Charlotte Lucas, who like Lydia has been spared the horrors of her original spouse. By beginning the story at the end of First Impressions and continuing it on past Second Glances, I was able to wrap up the fates of all the characters in a way quite satisfying to myself. I can’t speak for others. 
 
6) Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans as an author? Are you already working on a next novel?
I am currently working on a very different novel called The Madness of Mr. Darcy. It is far darker and a great deal more complex than anything I’ve previously written. It’s premised on Mr. Darcy’s inability to find Lydia after she runs away with Wickham, removing the entire happy ending Austen supplied. Twenty painful years go by before a shattered Mr. Darcy is pushed by his cousins to seek help from one Dr. Wilson, a move which results in his reunion with Elizabeth in the unlikely setting of a Victorian mad house. She is not the only familiar face he meets there, either. Though the primary focus is the Pride & Prejudice story, this novel is my first real attempt at integrating multiple Austen novels into one.
 
7) Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Just be persistent. Write as much as you can, good or bad, and don’t let it hinder you when you get negative feedback. Feedback of any sort is valuable, as long as it’s thoughtful. Embrace it, learn from it, and keep plugging along. Who knows if you’re the next great literary voice or not if you don’t keep trying? 
 
8) And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘First Impressions: a Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice’ in just three words, which words would you pick?
A playful ode.
 
Thanks so much, Alexa! :)

16 January 2014

Review & Interview: 'Goodness, Grace and Me' by Julie Houston (2013)

When Harriet’s husband, Nick, throws in his safe, but boring job in order to set up a new business during the current recession, Harriet is distraught. More so when she realises Amanda, her and best friend Grace's old enemy from school is back in their lives. Amanda, it turns out, is Nick’s new boss’s wife and, because of her legal and language skills, will be accompanying Nick on his business trips to Italy. How will Nick not succumb to the ruthless charms of the utterly gorgeous Amanda once he’s away from Yorkshire and in glamorous Milan? Knowing Nick is being seduced is bad enough, but when Grace falls madly in love with Sebastian, Amanda’s precious, much younger son, it can only mean trouble ahead...

At the end of 2013 I was contacted by author Julie Houston with the question whether I wanted to review her debut novel, ‘Goodness, Grace and Me.’ The cover straight away caught my interest (I love the Autumn feel of it) and the blurb also promised an enjoyable tale, described by the author as a ‘hilarious, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy.’ I was quite curious to start reading and discover whether the book would fit that promise!

Harriet is happily married to her husband Nick; they met in college and now lead a good life in a wonderful home with their three children. Harriet works as a teacher, but her safe life is suddenly turned upside down when Nick decides to quit his secure job and go into business with entrepreneur David Henderson. Suddenly, Nick is hardly at home anymore, and Harriet’s suspicions only get worse when she finds out how much time her husband is spending with Amanda, David’s wife and her old high school enemy. When Harriet’s best friend Grace, who has just split up with her husband, starts a steamy affair with David and Amanda’s son, everything starts to get even more chaotic and problematic in Harriet’s life... 
 
‘Goodness, Grace and Me’ is a fast-paced novel with a great heroine at its centre. After just a few pages I already really liked Harriet who is a character many female readers will be able to identify themselves with easily. She is trying to deal with various things in her life: her children, her relationship, her friendship with her best friend Grace; and the reader is taken on this journey with her. The novel is easy to read, includes relatable family and relationship issues, has a few twists and turns I did not see coming, and next to that, it managed to make me laugh out loud on several occasions.

I really enjoyed reading about Harriet’s life, most particularly her relationship with her best friend Grace. They have known each other for a really long time and they’ve been through a lot; in the book they are forced to deal with particular situations, and I loved seeing how their friendship evolved. As I said before, there’s quite a lot going on in this novel, but I personally quite liked that, because it made me want to keep on reading. ‘Goodness, Grace and Me’ is a quick-paced, thoroughly enjoyable read that will make you smile, and a book I recommend to any chick lit or romantic comedy fan. I look forward to reading more of Julie Houston’s work in the future!

Rating:
8/10

For more information about this book: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Author interview with Julie Houston!

I'm delighted to welcome author Julie Houston to the blog today!

1) Can you tell us something about your novel, ‘Goodness, Grace and Me’?
I started writing “Goodness, Grace and Me” a couple of years  ago and was lucky enough to be taken on by agent Anne Williams at KHLA in Bristol and London. A RomCom/Women’s Contemporary Fiction, it was published this summer and has been constantly in the Amazon Top 100 for Humour over the last few months. The best bit was seeing it sitting next to the re-issue of Helen Fielding’s “Bridget Jones’ Diary” one Sunday morning in November, particularly as Ms Fielding is from my home town and, until recently, I taught at her old Junior school. 
 
I wanted to write a book for women that, whilst essentially ‘Chicklit’, wouldn’t be pink, frothy and about women shopping! I wanted to make women - and men it turns out - laugh, but also for readers to feel that wonderful emotion of love/lust we have hopefully all felt when meeting the one you know really is ‘The One.’ 
 
2) Where did you find the inspiration for ‘Goodness, Grace and Me’? Is it in any way based on your own life experiences?
After reading “Goodness, Grace and Me” someone said to me, ‘I know all about you and your love life now!’ I had to reply, ‘No you don’t!!’ Whilst Harriet does have quite a few off my characteristics, i.e. she is a teacher and, like me , can be a bit dippy at times, I do like to think that I am a lot more independent than she is. Of course there are lots of little stories within the book, particularly those tales about school, that I have based upon actual experiences. The ‘nun’ episode and the ‘fire in the garden’ episode were both based on actual things that happened to me. Nick is nothing like my husband, but I suspect Harriet’s children, and her sister, Diana, all resemble members of my own family!
 
3) There’s a great mix of characters in the novel. Which character did you most enjoy writing about and why?
Oh golly, that’s a hard one. I loved writing about Harriet’s actual falling in love with husband, Nick, but I also enjoyed creating Amanda. Amanda is nothing like anyone I have ever met I don’t think, and it was great to have free reign and create this utterly gorgeous and yet totally ruthless woman who has always achieved, through foul means or otherwise, just what she has set out to achieve.
 
4) What made you start writing and when did you decide you wanted to become an author?
I have always loved writing. I won my first writing competition when I was eight, writing in my local paper, and loved creative writing at school. I wasn’t too hot at maths - although funnily enough now I am and actually love teaching maths - and was always really pleased when I could get down to story-writing. When I was fourteen I started writing a diary and it was one of those huge page-a-day diaries. I poured out all my teenage angst into those diaries and wrote them well into my adult life. My sister has kept a diary for the last thirty years or so and, together with my fifteen years of diaries, it is my daughter who has been granted custody of them when we die!! I don’t think she is too impressed with the idea. I have written  many short stories but it is not a genre I really favour. I think I probably really decided I wanted to be a novelist once I discovered Jilly Cooper and Marian Keyes. Both, to my mind, are genius novelists.
 
5) Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans as an author? Are you already working on a next novel?
Absolutely! Once I’d finished ‘Goodness, Grace and Me’ I started a story about twins and drugs. Whilst it doesn’t sound as if it could possibly be a RomCom it was still essentially so. However, Harriet and Grace wouldn’t let me go and I knew I wanted to continue their story. The twins have been put on the back-burner and I will return to them once the sequel to Goodness, Grace and Me is completed and published hopefully in the Spring/Summer of 2014. All I will say is that Harriet is being a little bit naughty in the sequel -  I don’t seem to be able to control her at all!
 
6) Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Basically don’t give up. If it’s something that you really want to do, you will achieve  your dream of becoming a writer. Try to write something every day even if it’s just going over what you wrote yesterday. It’s like anything in life - the more you do something, the easier it becomes. I started running again a few months ago after a break - something that I first took up when living in New Zealand - and it was jolly hard work. But you walk a bit, run a bit and before you know where you are you are a runner again. Writing is a bit the same: I remember how proud I was when I completed the first chapter of ‘Goodness, Grace and me.’ Small steps soon become very much bigger strides. Of course some days you think, ‘God, I can’t do this’ but I think it was author Lee Child who said there is no such thing as ‘writer’a block.’ Just get on with it even if you write a page of rubbish! At least you are writing.
 
7) And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘Goodness, Grace and Me’ in just three words, which words would you pick?
Hilarious Romantic Comedy!!  (Hopefully anyway!!)
 
Thanks so much to Julie for taking the time to do this interview! :)

13 January 2014

Upcoming Releases - January 2014

Happy 2014 everyone! The past year has been a wonderful one, filled with tons of amazing books. Obviously, the start of a new year can only mean one thing: lots and lots of fantastic releases that are coming our way! I can promise you that 2014 has numerous brilliant reads in store for all of us, and here are several January 2014 releases that will give you a taste of what is to come this upcoming year!

Katie Oliver - 'Prada and Prejudice' (2nd of January)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Natalie Dashwood loves to shop. After all, as the heiress to the renowned London department store Dashwood & Jones she’s been wearing designer shoes since she could walk! But a socialite’s life isn’t as perfect as you might imagine… Natalie’s spending is spiraling slightly out of control, her rock star boyfriend is engaged to someone else, and it seems the family business is in financial crisis. 

New high-flying business exec Rhys Gordon has been brought in to save the company from ruin, but what are his motives? And infuriatingly even a shoe-shopping spree can’t take her mind off his distracting and oh-so-charming smile… 

Amazon UK / Amazon USGoodreads



Lulu Taylor - 'The Winter Folly' (2nd of January)

In this house there are many secrets… It is 1960 and young Alexandra Crewe is obedient enough to marry the man her father has selected for her, but both she and her husband Laurence quickly realise that their marriage is a disaster. When real love comes to her, plucking her out of her old life and into a wonderful new existence, she is powerless to resist. Her home is now a beautiful Dorset castle, but there has been a price to pay and she fears that her punishment will one day be due. When tragedy strikes, it seems that it has come, and there is only one way she can atone for her sins… In the present day, Delilah Young is the second wife of John Stirling and the new chatelaine of Fort Stirling. The house is a sad one and Delilah hopes to fill it with life and happiness. But when she attempts to heal the wounds in John’s life, it seems that the forces of the past might be too strong for her. Why does John have such a hatred for the old folly on the hill, and what happened to his mother when she vanished from his life? As she searches for the truth, Delilah realises that perhaps some secrets are better left buried...

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Clodagh Murphy - 'Some Girls Do' (6th of January)

Claire Kennedy is NiceGirl, the anonymous author of steamy online blog 'Scenes of a Sexual Nature'. An internet sensation, she attracts the attention of Mark Bell, a hot London publisher. But when it becomes clear that Mark is interested in more than just a book deal, Claire has to act fast. Because little does Mark know that NiceGirl is a lot more experienced in the bedroom than real-life Claire Kennedy.

Mark is offering Claire the life she's always dreamed of - a steady relationship, the literary world of London and a posh Highgate apartment.

But when Claire hires the services of struggling artist and commitment-phobe Luca to brush up on her sex skills, things get more complicated...

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Carole Matthews - 'A Place to Call Home' (9th of January)

In the dead of night, Ayesha takes her daughter, Sabina, and slips quietly from her home, leaving behind a life of full of pain. Boarding a coach to London, all Ayesha wants is a fresh start. 

Hayden, a former popstar, has kept himself hidden away for years. He's only opened up his home to two people - Crystal, a professional dancer with a heart of gold, and Joy, an ill-tempered retiree with a soft spot for waifs and strays. 

When Crystal asks Hayden if Ayesha and Sabina can stay with them, he reluctantly agrees and, as different as they may be, they quickly form an unlikely bond. So when enemies threaten their peaceful home, they will do all they can to save it and each other.

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads 



Alexandra Potter - 'The Love Detective' (16th of January)

'In a way, I'm a bit of a love detective. Because what's a greater mystery than love?'

Meet Ruby Miller. A writer who makes happy-ever-afters happen. Until she discovers her fiance is a lying cheat and loses her faith in love. So when her sister invites her on a beach holiday to Goa to forget about him, Ruby jumps on a plane . . . and into an extraordinary adventure.

Stolen bags, a runaway sister and a handsome American stranger sweep Ruby into a magical mystery tour across India. Amid fortresses and fortune tellers, and a whirlwind of weddings, she uncovers fascinating stories of love, lost and found.

But as the mysteries deepen, secrets are revealed that turn Ruby's life upside down. And what started as a journey to find her sister, becomes a journey to find herself - and love - again.

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Louise Mensch - 'Beauty' (16th of January)

Blend it. Sculpt it. Shape it. Use it...

There isn't a woman on earth who doesn't have her beauty secrets. But for Dina Kane, beauty is more than just business. It's power. And it is the secret. She's dragged herself up from poverty to Park Avenue. She's rolled with the punches. And she's learned how to win.

Now someone is out to destroy her, and all she's built. But they've underestimated Dina Kane. She's staying at the top - and she's happy to wait for the perfect moment to exact her revenge...

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Laura Kemp - 'Mums on Strike' (16th of January)

It was just a squashed grape on the kitchen floor. Hardly a reason to get upset, right? But six years of motherhood has left Lisa Stratton feeling like a skivvy. Every morning before she's opened her eyes, she starts her mental inventory of jobs to do. And just like yesterday, the day before and every day since she became a mum, she's woken up knackered.

So when her husband deliberately steps over the grape because it's 'her responsibility' to run the house, it tips her over the edge. He wasn't always like this - they used to share everything. Then the kids came along and he saw it as an excuse to sit back. But this time things are going to change. Lisa has made a decision. 

She's going on strike.

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Lucinda Riley - 'The Midnight Rose' (16th of January)

In the heyday of the British Raj, eleven-year-old Anahita, from a noble but impoverished family, forms a lifelong friendship with the headstrong Princess Indira, the privileged daughter of rich Indian royalty. Becoming the princess' official companion, Anahita accompanies her friend to England just before the outbreak of the Great War. There, she meets the young Donald Astbury, reluctant heir to the magnificent, remote Astbury Estate, and his scheming mother.

Eighty years later, Rebecca Bradley - a young American film star - has the world at her feet. But when her turbulent relationship with her equally famous boyfriend takes an unexpected turn, she's relieved that her latest role, playing a 1920s debutante, will take her away from the glare of publicity to the wilds of Dartmoor in England. Shortly after filming begins at the now-crumbling Astbury Hall, Ari Malik, Anahita's great-grandson, arrives unexpectedly, on a quest for his family's past. What he and Rebecca discover begins to unravel the dark secrets that haunt the Astbury dynasty...

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Lucie Whitehouse - 'Before We Met' (16th of January)

A whirlwind romance. A perfect marriage.

Hannah Reilly has seized her chance at happiness. Until the day her husband fails to come home... The more questions Hannah asks, the fewer answers she finds. But are the secrets that Mark has been keeping designed to protect him or protect her?

And can you ever really know what happened before you met?

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Linda Yellin - 'What Nora Knew' (21st of January)

Molly Hallberg is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced writer living in New York City who wants her own column, a Wikipedia entry, and to never end up in her family’s Long Island upholstery business. For the past four years Molly’s been on staff for an online magazine, covering all the wacky assignments. She’s snuck vibrators through security scanners, speed-dated undercover, danced with the Rockettes, and posed nude for a Soho art studio.

Fearless in everything except love, Molly is now dating a forty-four-yearold chiropractor. He’s comfortable, but safe. When Molly is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance “in the style of Nora Ephron,” she flunks out big-time. She can’t recognize romance. And she can’t recognize the one man who can go one-on-one with her, the one man who gets her. But with wit, charm, whip-smart humor, and Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies, Molly learns to open her heart and suppress her cynicism in this bright, achingly funny novel.

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Colette Freedman - 'The Consequences' (28th of January)

Over the course of one tumultuous Christmas Eve, Kathy Walker confirmed her suspicions about her husband's affair, confronted his mistress, Stephanie, and saved her marriage. She and Robert have eighteen years, two teenagers, and a film production business between them--plus a bond that Kathy has no intention of giving up on. Yet though Robert is contrite, Kathy can't quite silence her doubts.

While Robert reels from his wife's ultimatum and his mistress's rejection, Stephanie makes a discovery: she's pregnant. Her resolve to stay away from Robert wavers now that they could make a real family together. And in the days that follow, Stephanie, Robert, and Kathy must each reckon with the intricate realities of desire, the repercussions of betrayal, and the secrets that, once revealed, ripple through lives and relationships in thoroughly unexpected ways.

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Rosie Blake - 'How to Get a (Love) Life' (29th of January)

Some people book last-minute holidays, walk barefoot in the grass or party on a week night. Not Nicola Brown. Nicola is the kind of girl who double-locks the front door, leaves the plastic covering on new furniture, sticks to a super-strict diet and definitely, absolutely Does Not Date.

Her colleague Caroline – loopy, warm and exasperated by her, knows that Nicola's reluctance to lose control means she's living only half a life. And so she lays down the gauntlet: Nicola must cast aside her hang ups and go on as many dates as it takes to find true love in time for Valentine's Day.

The pick of local men is, quite frankly, a bit rubbish. And there are only three months until February 14th. Surely it's an impossible task? But, as Nicola is about to find out on her dodgy dates, letting go isn't quite as scary as she imagined. In fact, it's rather a lot of fun...

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Sarra Manning - 'It Felt Like a Kiss' (30th of January)

Ellie Cohen is living her dream. A great job at an exclusive Mayfair art gallery, loyal mates, loving family, and really, really good hair. Well, there's the famous rock-star father who refuses to acknowledge her and a succession of 'challenging' boyfriends, but nobody's perfect.

But when a vengeful ex sells Ellie out to the press, she suddenly finds herself fighting to keep her job, her reputation and her sanity. Then David Gold - handsome, charming but ruthlessly ambitious - is sent in to manage the media crisis . . . and Ellie.

David thinks she's a gold-digger and Ellie thinks he's a shark in a Savile Row suit, so it's just as well that falling in love is the last thing on their minds...

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Jill Mansell - 'The Unpredictable Consequences of Love' (30th of January)

When Josh Strachan, newly returned to his home in north Cornwall from sunny California, first meets Sophie Wells, he's immediately smitten. Sophie's pretty, she's funny, she has lots of friends and she clearly loves her job as a photographer, despite the sometimes tricky clients. There's just one problem: Sophie has very firmly turned her back on love. It's nothing personal, she tells Josh, but she just doesn't do dates. And no one - even Sophie's scatty best friend Tula - will tell him why. Josh is sure Sophie likes him, though, and he's just got to find out what's put her off romance. And then put things right...

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Lucy-Anne Holmes - 'Just a Girl, Standing in Front of a Boy' (30th of January)

'My love story may not be the sort you read about in books or see in films . . . Love stories have glorious highs and ghastly lows. But when it comes to my own life, I'd have to say, you can keep your fabulous highs and I'll happily steer clear of the terrible lows.' 

After a rocky start in life, Jenny Taylor, 27, star receptionist at the local doctors surgery, has things all worked out thanks to 'The Smiling Fanny Manifesto' - a list of 10 daily things she must do to keep the blues at bay. But her life is turned upside down when she meets aspiring musician Joe King. And reliable boyfriend Matt proposes. And then her mum leaves her dad and moves into Jenny's flat determined to 'bond'. 

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Rowan Coleman - 'The Memory Book' (30th of January)

The name of your first-born. The face of your lover. Your age. Your address...

What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?

Is it possible to rebuild your life? Raise a family? Fall in love again?

When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers...?

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Helen Warner - 'With or Without You' (30th of January)

Martha Mills has it all: a high-profile, highly-paid job as a showbiz interviewer for a major national newspaper; a happy marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Jamie, who is a house-husband, looking after their two adorable, well-adjusted children; and a beautiful home. But when Martha makes the shocking discovery that Jamie has been having an affair, her whole life implodes. Despite Jamie's obvious regret and promises that it will never happen again, she feels too betrayed to stay with him; however, she is torn between telling him to leave and trying to salvage their marriage for their children. Then, during an interview with British acting star, Charlie Simmons, she breaks down and finds herself pouring her heart out to him. To her surprise, she finds him a sympathetic and supportive shoulder to cry on. And when Charlie invites her to escape her problems for a week and travel with him to LA, Martha accepts. They soon begin a friendship which quickly turns into an intense relationship... Jamie isn't going to give up on Martha that easily though and he embarks on a desperate campaign to win her back. Now Martha has to make a decision: where does her heart really lie?

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads



Paige Toon - 'The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson (30th of January)

Meet Jessie, the daughter of Johnny Jefferson, as featured in 'Johnny Be Good' and 'Baby Be Mine'… 

My fifteenth birthday was the worst day of my life, and it's inconceivable to think that any single day in my future will ever be as bad. My mum was killed in a freak accident on her way to pick up my cake. Even when there was still no sign of her after two hours later, and my friends started to arrive at our house, it never occurred to me that she wouldn't be coming back. That was six months ago. My mum died without telling me who my real dad was. And for a while I hated her for it. I thought she's taken the secret of my father's identity with her forever. But she didn't. Holy hell, she didn't. Because three weeks ago I found out the truth. And I'm still reeling from the shock of it. My dad is none other than Johnny Jefferson, mega famous rock star and one-time serial womaniser. And now I'm on my way to LA to meet him and his family. My tiny little world has just got a whole lot bigger…

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads