Blog Tours; Features/Reviews
#BlogTour | The Will to Succeed by Christine Raafat #TheWillToSucceed #Review @Bookollective @UnicornPubGroup
Hello, Sunshines on this cold topsy-turvy day! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; The Will To Succeed by Christine Raafat. I can’t wait to share my review with you all, so settle back, grab a cuppa and enjoy!
When the 15-year-old Lady Anne Clifford’s father died in 1605, she was his sole surviving child and expecting to inherit the Cliffords’ great northern estates. But the Earl of Cumberland leaves a will which ignores an ancient law and bequeaths the lands to his brother, in the belief that a prophecy by his great-grandfather will eventually come true and return the estates to Anne. She and her mother vow to contest the will.
Anne spends the next three decades battling for what she believes is rightfully hers. She risks everything by opposing her beloved husband, her family and friends, the nobility, the law courts, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the King. She steadfastly (and treasonably) refuses to accept the King’s decision, whatever the consequences, but is defeated and left with the prophecy as her only hope.
Widowed at thirty-four, she survives an anxious period alone with her two young daughters before surprising everyone with an ill-judged second marriage which gives her access to the highest in the land. But the Civil War destroys that power and confines the 52-year-old Anne to a grand palace in London for six years. Still convinced of her rights, will she ever attain “ye landes of mine inheritance”?
Well, what could I possibly say about this remarkable book that probably hasn’t been said a thousand times over during the course of this blog tour? Engaging, intriguing, intelligent, thought-provoking. A masterpiece of historical fiction that just happens to recount the true-life story of a woman whom could have faded into obscurity and never the know, yet because of her resilience, her all-out thirst for her rights, her determination to get what was rightfully hers and the fact that she was a keen journal writer, we know all about her and her fight for rights and her lands.
After the death of her father; the Earl of Cumberland, Anne thinks that she is to inherit the vast estates that are rightfully hers, but the old earl only went and changed his will and foregoing the old law saying Anne is the sole heir and instead names his brother as their heir. Anne and her mother become determined to gain back what is rightfully Anne’s and contest the will, something that Anne fights for the rest of her life. With her fight for her rights she makes enemies, she faces hard decisions and danger at every turn, life isn’t easy for Anne, but she is so courageous she never falters to keep going, she never once thinks of giving up the fight. She really was a remarkable woman and through Christine Raafat’s expertly woven tale which exquisitely captors every nuance of the period, and captures the reader’s imagination with her vivid and accurate attention to detail, we get a real sense of just how extraordinary this woman was.
For someone who loves history, especially women’s history, I have to hang my head in shame that I had never heard of Anne Clifford before reading this book. What an amazing woman, a woman who I think had the mindset of someone centuries ahead of her time, she is exactly the sort of person that I love to read about; an advocate for woman and their rights, fighting men to gain her place and what is rightfully hers, she was fearless, she was headstrong and passionate about what she believed in and what she believed was right. Again, I am shocked that I had never heard of her before this book!
And what a book – this is historical fiction at it’s very best!
This was a complimentary copy via Bookollective which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour, thank you, Ladies!
About the Author
Christine Raafat grew up in the Eden Valley, in what was then Westmorland. An early fascination with Ancient Egypt led to an ambition to be an archaeologist; instead she became a Clinical Psychologist and married an Egyptian Psychiatrist. Twins were born two years later.
She lived in East Sussex for over 20 years, working with children and families and published Parenting Skills in 1995.
Widowed and then retired, she took up painting and returned to Cumbria, but was later seduced by the fascination of words and published several magazine articles of local interest.
The Will to Succeed is her first novel, taking us back from the court of James I to the Eden Valley.
Blog Tour Scedule
#BlogTour | The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo #TheBorgiaConfessions #ExclusiveExcerpt @AlyssInWnderlnd @StMartinsPress
Hello Sunshines! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo I didn’t have time to write my review of this incredible book before the blog tour began – typical me, I didn’t plan ahead properly – but I can guarantee my review will be coming shortly and I can’t wait to share it, as this book is amazing! But, I do have a brilliant exclusive excerpt for you all which I know you will love, so grab a cuppa and let me tell all about this amazing book.
The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo
‘Under Palombo’s skillful hand, the entangled world of the Borgias comes vividly to life, exposing the dark facets of class structure and the all-consuming greed that comes with ambition–and love.” – Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco
During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.
Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.
As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare’s lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets, and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.
Alyssa Palombo’s captivating new novel, The Borgia Confessions, is a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy’s most infamous families–the Borgias.
Praise for Alyssa Palomo and The Borgia Confessions
“[A] vivacious tale of power and love set in 1492… Excavating the personal relationships and petty disagreements that fueled Pope Alexander VI’s controversial reign, Palombo’s enticing tale will please fans of Sharon Kay Penman.”
“Readers looking for an immersive, light, romantic read will enjoy this book.”
“Under Palombo’s skillful hand, the entangled world of the Borgias comes vividly to life, exposing the dark facets of class structure and the all-consuming greed that comes with ambition–and love. I was utterly engrossed from page one. A colorful and suspenseful novel, The Borgia Confessions is packed with complex characters and political intrigue, and will leave readers hungry for more.”
–Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco
“Palombo has crafted a sweeping and surprisingly sympathetic portrait of Cesare Borgia, one of history’s most notorious “bad boys,” and the world surrounding him. [A] dark Renaissance parable about the intertwining of lust and power. If you’re as fascinated with all things Borgia as I am, you won’t want to miss this one!”
–Kris Waldherr, author of The Lost History of Dreams and Bad Princess
“Handsome. Intriguing. Dangerous. Seductive. [This] is everything you want in a book–it’s a romance, a page-turner, and a ride deep into the sumptuous and tumultuous time of Renaissance Italy.”
–Crystal King, author of The Chef’s Secret
“Alyssa Palombo’s deft and delicate prose makes a gorgeous contrast against the visceral and cutthroat world of the Borgias. Dark and decadent, THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS is mesmerizing from start to finish.”
–Meghan Masterson, author of The Wardrobe Mistress
Not much changed for those of us in service at the Vatican Palace when the new pope took over. There were still the same tasks to see to, the same rooms to be cleaned, the same floors to be scrubbed, and the same laundry to be washed. The Holy Father was to be obeyed whoever he was, and his earthly house was to be kept clean and running smoothly so he could attend to far more lofty matters. One morning I was returning to the kitchens with an empty tray from one of the cardinals’ rooms—the new Vice-Chancellor, Ascanio Sforza by name—when I passed a man heading for the
Holy Father’s audience chamber. He was rather garishly dressed, in brightly colored hose and tunic with a huge codpiece, and wear- ing a hat with a large feather in it. He winked and leered at me as I passed, and I cast my eyes down. Surely such a man was not fit for an audience with the Holy Father?
I caught up with one of the other maids, Fabrizia, at the end of the hallway. “Fabrizia,” I murmured, my voice low so my words would not echo off the marble floors and walls, “who is that man?” I jerked my chin toward the man’s retreating back.
She snickered. “That’s Juan Borgia. The pope’s son,” she confided. I gasped. All of Rome knew of the existence of Cardinal Borgia’s children—Pope Alexander, I corrected myself. It was no secret that many of the other cardinals had mistresses and bastard children as well. But for a pope to acknowledge such children . . . “He brings his children into the Vatican?” I asked, shocked. “He allows them to be
known as such, even now that he has been made pope?”
Fabrizia nodded. “It is unusual, indeed. No referring to them as his nephews or nieces, as popes usually do. And you know he keeps a mistress, yes?”
I gasped again. I had heard the whisperings, but I tried my best to close my ears to such things. Gossip—especially gossip about the Holy Father—was a sin.
Yet my curiosity rose, despite my pangs of guilt. I shall confess this sin after Mass on Sunday, I promised myself. “I . . . he does?” I asked.
Fabrizia’s eyes gleamed, and she drew me into a small alcove. She was well and truly settled in to gossip. “Oh, yes. Honestly, Maddalena, even for a country bumpkin you seem altogether too innocent sometimes—and you a widow, no less. Her name is Giulia Farnese and she is the most beautiful woman in Rome. He keeps her with his cousin, Adriana, and his daughter, Lucrezia. Can you imagine? And La Bella Farnese is married to Adriana’s own son! They were just married when Giulia La Bella caught Cardinal Bor- gia’s eye, and so Donna Adriana banished her son to the country estates to get him out of the way—before the cuckold’s horns were even properly affixed to his head, they say.” She snickered. “If the stories are true, Cardinal Borgia—Pope Alexander—has rewarded Adriana and her family richly, including the poor cuckolded son, which is exactly what she was hoping for.” She leaned closer and lowered her voice further. “He is said to be moving them to the pal- ace of Santa Maria in Portico. He wants La Bella Farnese nearer to him—they say there is a secret passage that connects the Vatican Palace to that one, so he can visit her in secret.”
I crossed myself automatically. “God forgive him,” I said. “He has been led astray by a harlot.” Immediately I regretted my words—he was the Holy Father; he could do no wrong. Who was I to criticize, when I could not understand the ways in which God spoke to His representative on earth? “But that is not for us to say,” I added hastily.
Fabrizia rolled her eyes. “Indeed,” she said. “All I know is men do what they want, whether they wear hose or a cardinal’s robes. Or a pope’s, even. I don’t know that God has much to say about it. But his son, that Juan . . .” She nodded in the direction from which we’d come. “They say Pope Alexander has big plans for him, and for his other son, Cesare. He’ll not let his children fade into the background, not the Borgia pope.”
It was some weeks before I saw the other son, Cesare. It was late evening, and he looked to be heading in the direction of the pope’s private rooms. I curtsied to him as he passed in the darkened hall- way in his purple archbishop’s robes. I felt his eyes on me as I curt- sied, and when I rose our eyes met briefly. Goodness, but he was handsome, with his head of thick, dark curls under his cap and his dark eyes and the stubble lining his cheeks and chin, which looked like they belonged on a statue in the Vatican gardens. He was much more handsome than his fop of a brother, that was for certain. His eyes turned away, forward once more.
My cheeks burned with shame as I continued on, back to my cot in the bowels of the palace where I shared a room with three other maids. Cesare Borgia was a man of God, an archbishop, no less—it was not meet that I should think him comely or attractive.
I crossed myself, whispering a silent prayer of forgiveness. Back in my room, I bent over the handkerchief I was embroidering, squinting at it in the dim light, and recited a prayer with each few stitches to keep my thoughts from wandering where they did not belong.
*Excerpt provided by the publisher to be used with this blog tour.
About the Author
ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her friends, traveling, or planning for next Halloween. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she is always at work on a new novel.
#BlogTour | The House By The Sea by Louise Douglas #Excerpt #BoldwoodBlogger @LouiseDouglas3 @BoldWoodBooks
Hello Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; The House by The Sea by Louise Douglas. Not only will I be telling you all about this wonderful book, but I also have an exclusive excerpt which I know you will love. So settle in, grab a cuppa and enjoy.
The House by The Sea by Louise Douglas
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Genre: Women’s fiction
The new chilling and captivating novel from the bestselling author of Richard & Judy pick The Secrets Between Us.
When Edie’s mother-in-law, Anna DeLuca, dies, she is relieved. Edie blames Anna for the accident that destroyed her family. So, when her will lures Edie to Sicily and the long-abandoned Villa della Madonna del Mare, she sees through Anna’s games.
Suspecting Anna is meddling from beyond the grave to try to reunite her and her ex-husband Joe, Edie is determined to leave Italy as soon as possible. But before she can, the villa starts to shed its mysterious secrets.
Who are the girls beside Anna in her childhood photos, and why has one of them been scratched out? Why does someone, or something, want them to leave the past untouched? The villa is a place where old ghosts feel at home, but does their legacy need to be laid to rest before Edie and Joe can move on…
Bestselling author Louise Douglas returns with a captivating, chilling and unforgettable tale of betrayal, jealousy and the mysteries hidden in every family history.
Praise for Louise Douglas
‘Kept me guessing until the last few pages and the explosive ending took my breath away.’ C.L. Taylor, author of The Accident on Your Beautiful Lies
‘Beautifully written, chillingly atmospheric and utterly compelling, The Secret by the Lake is Louise Douglas at her brilliant best’ Tammy Cohen, author of The Broken
‘A master of her craft, Louise Douglas ratchets up the tension in this haunting and exquisitely written tale of buried secrets and past tragedy.’ Amanda Jennings, author of Sworn Secret
‘A clammy, atmospheric and suspenseful novel, it builds in tension all the way through to the startling final pages.’ Sunday Express, S Magazine
The aircraft tipped to begin its descent and through the porthole I watched the southern side of the island of Sicily emerge from the glare of the sun. Beyond the breaching wing lay a hazy, mountainous land surrounded by turquoise water. Wispy clouds bunched around the summit of Etna, the shadow of a forest creeping up her flank. I saw the sprawl of cities, the pencil lines of motorways, the meandering loops of a river and the brilliant blue rectangle of a reservoir. My journey was almost over and Joe was somewhere down there, waiting for me. The last time I’d had a meaningful conversation with my ex-husband was ten years previously, and on that occasion, I’d told him I wished he was dead, and I’d meant it and he knew that I meant it. I’d watched him implode, emotionally, in front of my eyes. I’d turned away. I didn’t know how I was going to face him again. I didn’t know how either of us were going to cope.
It wasn’t as if we had anything in common any more, save memories too painful to revisit. I knew very little of Joe’s life now and I didn’t know how much, if anything, he knew of mine. He probably didn’t know that home, for me, was my friend Fitz’s two bedroom house in Southville and work, the Special Educational Needs department of St Sarah’s school, South Bristol. In my spare time, I walked Fitz’s dogs or went to the Watershed cinema to watch European films with subtitles. Sometimes I meandered around St Nicholas’ Markets and treated myself to a Caribbean wrap and a ball or two of knitting wool; some second-hand books. Most of my energy was taken up with keeping Daniel’s memory alive, that was my raison d’être; I would not let my son be forgotten – never. It might not look much of a life, but it was mine and I was happy with it. I felt safe and I didn’t have to worry about the worst happening because the worst had already happened. I was doing fine and if Joe thought I wasn’t, well, he’d be wrong.
All this anxiety was his mother’s fault. Anna DeLuca was the reason why I was on this plane and why Joe was waiting for me at the airport in Sicily. She was behind this, she couldn’t leave us alone, she had to be interfering in our lives, pulling our strings, moving us around like the pieces on a chessboard, even now, months after her death. Hadn’t she ruined our lives enough already? Hadn’t she caused enough heartache? Martha had said Anna’s death would be a line drawn in the sand for me, but Martha had been wrong. I thought of Anna’s small, heart shaped face, her black hair, her pretty brown eyes and little white teeth, the peppermints she used to freshen her breath, and the old fury began to rise in me.
About the Author
Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of 6 novels including The Love of my Life and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.
Blog Tour Schedule
#BlogTour | The Children from Gin Barrel Lane Lindsey Hutchinson #TheChildrenOfGinBarrelLane #Excerpt #BoldwoodBlogger @LHutchAuthor @BoldWoodBooks
Hello Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; The Children from Gin Barrel Lane Lindsey Hutchinson. Not only will I be telling you all about this wonderful book, but I also have an exclusive excerpt which I know you will love. So settle in, grab a cuppa and enjoy.
The Children from Gin Barrel Lane Lindsey Hutchinson
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Ten-year-old Jack Larkin has seen more than his fair share of shocking sights, growing up in the notorious Crown Saloon.
Broken hearts and broken bones are just a fact of life in a Gin Palace, but for orphan Dolly, the Crown is her last hope.
After the death of her mother, Dolly ran away from her sleazy step father Arthur, only to find herself living on the streets. When Jack discovers her hiding in the back yard of The Crown, he persuades his mother Nellie Larkin, to take Dolly in.
But Dolly has a secret – a very valuable secret – and Arthur is determined to get his clutches on her at any cost. And when local hard-man Ezra Morton joins in the hunt, the Larkins may have to risk everything to keep Dolly safe…
The Queen of the Black Country sagas is back with a page-turning, heart-warming, laugh-out-loud story to remember. Perfect for fans of Val Wood and Lyn Andrews.
Praise for Lindsey Hutchinson
‘A great story with a great mix of characters, well written and keeps you hooked with each page turn!’ Sarah Davies, NetGalley
‘A wonderful read … The author writes so well, it’s a really hard novel to put down!’ Grace Smith, NetGalley.
‘Make sure to read this book where you won’t be disturbed because once it gets going, you won’t want to put it down’ Andrea Ruiz, NetGalley
‘A very poignant, feel-good-factor novel’ Shelia Easson, NetGalley
‘Excellent story!’ Stephanie Collins, NetGalley
‘The story will linger in your mind long after you finish it’ The Avid Reader.
Gin – the opium of the masses. With a smile, Jack’s attention was caught by a small hand tapping a coin on the counter. Standing on the sturdy wooden box that ran the full length of the bar, Jack leaned forward.
‘Hello Ginny – usual is it?’ he asked with a grin.
‘Yes please, Jack,’ the little girl said, passing over her money and a jug.
Filling the jug, he handed it to his small customer. ‘You want me to see you home?’ he asked amid the noise of the bar.
‘No, s’all right, I can manage,’ Ginny answered.
Jack nodded and watched her thread her way through the crowd being careful with her important cargo. He knew if she dropped it she would be given the hiding of her life.
‘Stop lollygagging and get serving!’ Nellie’s voice soared over the hubbub of the bar.
Jack took a deep breath and closed his eyes tight for a few seconds, trying to hold on to his temper. As he went back to his work, he recalled the last time he had stood up to his mother. They had argued about Jack needing new boots. Nellie was loath to part with her money, even when Jack had showed her the soles he had fashioned from waste cardboard and tied on with string to cover the holes. With the profit she was making, Jack could not understand why he couldn’t have a couple of pennies to buy second-hand footwear from the market. He had protested loudly at her refusal to provide the necessary funds which had subsequently earned him a sound beating. To add insult to injury, Nellie had battered him with the very boots they had disagreed about. With a few bruises and no money for arnica to ease them, Jack had fumed in silence for days. The question he kept returning to was – did his mother love him? Because, if he was honest, much of the time he felt unloved and only wanted for the work he could undertake.
Just then his attention was drawn to two burly men in the corner, their raised voices heralding an imminent fight. Jack glanced at Nellie who jerked her head towards the crapulous men and he sighed. Climbing over the counter he jumped down and pushed through the throng of unwashed bodies, all the while thinking, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this – I’m only a kid!’
Walking over to the men, he shoved himself between them. Looking up at the first one and then looking to the other Jack yelled, ‘Nellie sez to take it outside or shut the hell up!’
Simultaneously, the men glanced over at the large woman behind the bar and were immediately cowed by her frown. Jack nodded and returned to his post behind the bar wincing at Nellie’s look which he was certain could sour milk. He heaved a sigh of relief when he saw those same men laughing and clapping each other on the back. He hated being sent to break up fights or disagreements; he could be hurt badly if one of those big blokes turned on him. So far he’d been fortunate, but how long would his luck hold out? One of these days he’d find himself thrown out onto the streets with his brains mushed from a pounding.
When a toothless old woman called Aggie picked up her skirts and began to sing and dance, Jack knew it was going to be a long night.
About the Author
Lindsey Hutchinson is a bestselling saga author whose novels include The Workhouse Children. She was born and raised in Wednesbury, and was always destined to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the multi-million selling Meg Hutchinson.
Blog Tour Schedule
#Blogtour | A Riviera Retreat by Jennifer Bohnet #ARivieraRetreat #Excerpt #BoldwoodBlogger @jenniewriter @BoldWoodBooks
Hello Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; A Riviera Retreat by Jennifer Bohnet. Not only will I be telling you all about this wonderful book, but I also have an exclusive excerpt which I know you will love. So settle in, grab a cuppa and enjoy.
A Riviera Retreat by Jennifer Bohnet
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Genre: Women’s fiction
*From the bestselling author of Villa of Sun and Secrets*
Take time out to find what makes you happy…
When Retreat owner Amy offers three lucky competition winners a holiday on the Cote d’Azur, she has no idea that this act of kindness will have life changing repercussions on her own life and those who join her…
Young entrepreneur Chelsea, is still grieving the tragic loss of her mother and has just been subjected to a very public relationship breakup. She needs to get away and lick her wounds.
MP’s wife Victoria is at a crossroads in her life now that the children have left home. Much to her husbands shock, she realises she has ambitions of her own and is desperate to reconnect/find her own identity. She needs some ‘me time’.
Recently widowed Matilda, is assessing life without her beloved husband. Their dream had always been to retire to France. Can she find the courage to follow their dream on her own?
Over the course of the ten days they spend together, the four women, despite their differences, support and bond, making memories and forming friendships that will last for years.
A heart-warming, uplifting novel, perfect for fans of Jill Mansell and Fern Britton.
A restless Amy Martin wandered alone through Belle Vue Villa one Sunday afternoon in late March, lost deep in her memories and regrets. Today, the fifth anniversary of the opening of ‘Bell Vue Retreat’, was bittersweet in so many ways. She opened the kitchen door and stood on the terrace looking out over the garden towards the Mediterranean Sea glinting in the afternoon sunshine in the distance. Situated high up in the hills behind Cannes, Belle Vue Villa, one of the smaller belle époque villas along the coast, had enviable views overlooking the sea and over to the Esterel Mountains.
Standing there, Amy sniffed the air and looked around her appreciatively. The perfume from the several mimosa trees in the garden wafted past her, courtesy of the gentle onshore breeze. Amy thought, not for the first time, how life could surprise you with its endless unexpected twists and turns. Some bad. Some good.
The death of Aunt Tasha, her mother Fleur’s older sister, had been so sad, but leaving her Belle Vue had been a wonderful surprise – and something of a lifesaver. The two siblings had remained close throughout their lives, but whilst Fleur had stayed near to home when she married, Tasha had followed the love of her life to France and embraced everything that country had to offer. Amy remembered countless family summers spent in Belle Vue Villa, listening to the two sisters reminiscing about their eccentric childhood in the wilds of Somerset.
Fleur had been devastated by her sister’s early death, telling Amy she’d always known that the villa was to be left to her because a childless Tasha had adored her. ‘It’s just that none of us expected it to happen so soon,’ she’d cried.
Walking alone into the hauntingly silent villa the day the notaire had handed her the keys, knowing it was now hers, Amy had failed to stop the tears flowing. Tears of sorrow but also of guilt. She’d seen so little of Tasha in the last few years. They’d talked regularly and Fleur had kept her up to date with Tasha’s news and later her illness, but Amy had rarely visited. Pressure of work had been her prime excuse, although sadly not the full truth. The guilt that had flooded her body after that last hospital visit to see Tasha had been painful. The fact that Belle Vue had enabled her to escape her old life and create a new one for herself gave her an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Knowing it was the direct result of Aunt Tasha dying though was the hardest thing to bear and accept. A true bittersweet inheritance.
Tasha had run Belle Vue Villa as a successful auberge after Francois, her husband, had died and Amy knew that the villa would have to continue to earn its keep for her in the future. Rather than having holidaymakers turn up willy-nilly looking for a bed, Amy decided to focus on offering short retreats for writers and painters throughout the year. That way she’d always know how busy she’d be – with the added bonus of not having to worry about unexpected or unwanted strangers knocking on the door at all times of the day or night.
Lots of Tasha’s guests had left comments in the visitor’s book over the years, saying how special the house felt; how serene the atmosphere around the place was; several had said the villa was definitely a little French paradise. Amy had vowed to herself that she would do her utmost to keep the lovely ambiance that Tasha had masterfully created in and around the villa, while she endeavoured to put her own stamp on the place.
Five years on, Amy knew she could feel proud of what she’d achieved at Belle Vue. The auberge was now a popular venue as a retreat for artists and writers and it was her guests who left compliments in the visitor’s book and were returning time and time again. One particular writer had returned four times last year, saying she wrote more in a week when staying there than she wrote in a month at home. Amy knew Tasha would be proud and thrilled for her at the way the retreat had found its place in a niche market and taken off so well.
Turning back into the kitchen, Amy picked up the photo of her aunt that stood on the dresser and gently touched it. She owed Tasha so much. Thoughtfully, she replaced the photo. But how to show that gratitude? Tasha had always drummed into her the notion ‘it’s easy to take, but you must always, always give back too’. Amy knew that if Tasha had still been alive, she’d have wholeheartedly endorsed the current ‘do a random act of kindness for a stranger’ memes that seemed to appear every day on social media.
Amy smiled, remembering how Tasha had thoroughly embraced social media, joining groups, signing up for causes and having hundreds of friends on Facebook. Amy also knew her grateful act of ‘paying it back’ was long overdue, but despite thinking about it for weeks, months, not a single idea had surfaced. Nothing she thought of seemed grateful enough.
She glanced at the kitchen clock. A little early, but she’d open the bottle of wine she’d bought especially for today and leave it to breathe for a while. Opening a bottle of wine and silently toasting Tasha while watching the DVD of the film Enchanted April was a ritual that always finished off this particular day for Amy. Tasha had introduced her to the film and together they had watched it countless times.
As the credits rolled at the end of the film, Amy switched off the DVD, poured the last of the wine into her glass and opened her laptop, her head spinning not only from the wine she’d drunk but also with the perfect idea of how to give something back. To finally thank the universe for her good fortune.
Like the film she’d just watched, where an advertisement drew four women together, all strangers to each other, for a holiday in an Italian castle in the 1920s, her random act of kindness would begin with an advertisement too. Not in a newspaper but on twenty-first century social media.
Are you a woman who longs to spend time in retreat? Or simply in need of a holiday?
Answer the following question: Who wrote the book Enchanted April, and in less than one hundred words say which character you identify with most and why you need to win a holiday (June 6–16) at a retreat in the countryside behind the French Riviera. Travel expenses not included but low-cost flights are available to Nice. Transport to and from the airport will be arranged. Please note the date of the holiday on offer is NOT changeable or transferable.
Competition closes midnight the 31st of this month. Three lucky winners will be notified by email within one week of the competition closing.
About the Author
Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and The Little Kiosk By The Sea. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.
To hear all about Jennifer’s new and books sign up to her newsletter HERE
Blog Tour Schedule
#Blogtour | My Great Ex-Scape by Portia MacIntosh #Excerpt #BoldwoodBlogger @portiamacintosh @BoldWoodBooks
Hello Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; My Great Ex-Scape by Portia MacIntosh. Not only will I be telling you all about this wonderful book, but I also have an exclusive excerpt which I know you will love. So settle in, grab a cuppa and enjoy.
My Great Ex-Scape by Portia MacIntosh
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Genre: Women’s fiction
What if your future was somewhere in your past?
Rosie Jones has been dumped by every boyfriend she’s ever had – most recently by Dinosaur Dave, live on TV, during the ‘phone-a-friend’ segment of a quiz show. After the footage goes viral Rosie receives a bunch of flowers with a message:
I love you, I should have never let you go, I want you back x
But who sent them?
At a loose end and with £50,000 prize money in her back pocket, Rosie decides to take a trip down memory lane, visiting each of her ex-boyfriends to see not just if they are the one who sent the flowers but if they are the one.
Her journey takes her back to the house she grew up in and on a transatlantic cruise to New York, but can Rosie figure out which ex-boyfriend is the love of her life, or should the past stay in the past?
A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from bestseller, Portia MacIntosh. Perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Sophie Ranald and Zara Stoneley.
What readers are saying about My Great Ex-Scape
‘A hilarious, roaringly fun, feel good, sexy read. I LOVED it!’ Holly Martin
‘A feel good, funny and well written book. I read it in 2 days and enjoyed every second!’ A.L. Michael
‘From beginning to a delightfully surprising end, I loved it!!!’
‘This book is a definite must-read! Brilliant 5+ stars.’
‘Well Portia has done it again. Another absolutely wonderful read which has gripped me from the very beginning.’
‘I am a huge fan of Portia, every new book makes me have a new favourite. She is an extremely talented author who has the ability to create such magical and fantastic reads.’
It is definitely a must read and as always I wish I could give Portia more than five stars for this gorgeous read.’
‘Five stars really does not do this wonderful read justice.’
‘The perfect holiday read’
‘I said, how would you like £50,000?’ Mike King, the host, asks again.
‘I’d love £50,000,’ I admit, my voice wobbling almost as much as I am on this tall chair.
If I’d known I was going to be chosen to take part today, I probably would have turned the opportunity down, even with the knowledge that I could win some serious money. I don’t think I would’ve thought I had it in me to get this far…
I’m somehow too hot and too cold. I want to say the studio lights are hot, but there’s cool air con to offset the warmth. I am sitting opposite the host in the centre of a brightly lit circle, in an otherwise dimly lit room. I can’t see the audience – I can’t even see the camera, not really. I only know they’re there now because of the little red LED lights I keep spotting. Even without them, I don’t think I’d be able to forget I was on TV. On live TV, no less.
‘This is your final question,’ Mike explains. ‘Who said blondes were dumb, huh?’
I smile politely. I have had to contend with the dumb blonde thing my entire life. First, when I was younger, when I had naturally blonde hair, and then more recently from all the highlights, because for some reason my hair gets darker as I get older.
‘Your only remaining lifeline is to make a call from your speed dial numbers,’ Mike reminds me.
When we started, I was allowed to select three numbers from my phone in the event of choosing the ‘make a call’ option. Without many friends or people who I even believed would answer, I chose my dad, Tim, Sam, and David. I don’t suppose any of them would know all that much about anything based in pop culture, but I think I have that covered myself. Anything on the life and works of Alan Titchmarsh, unscrupulous news practices, or bones, and one of them might be some use to me. I doubt my boss would appreciate me calling her on her husband’s birthday, so here’s hoping for the Chelsea Flower Show or cavemen. At least if it’s the latter, David’s lecture will be over and he’ll be able to take the call. My dad probably won’t even hear his phone ring.
‘Ready for it?’ Mike asks.
I nod unconvincingly.
‘OK, here we go… Which dinosaur had fifteen horns?’
An impossibly big grin stretches all the way across my face. This has to be a joke. I might be optimistic, but I am under no illusions – I am not a lucky person. I don’t get picked for TV shows, I don’t have many people to call for help, and I definitely don’t get questions that are going to be easy… and yet here we are.
‘You know this one?’ the host asks in disbelief.
I know I might be blonde, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about dinosaurs. I mean, I don’t know anything about dinosaurs, but what gives him the right, huh?
‘I know a man who does,’ I say as my grin inches even wider. ‘I’d like to call my boyfriend please.’
‘Your boyfriend knows a lot about dinosaurs?’
I nod, only semi-smugly.
‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ the host jokes. ‘What’s your boyfriend’s name? What does he do?’
‘His name is David and he’s a lecturer.’
‘What does he teach, dinosaurs?’
‘Palaeobiology,’ I reply.
‘Is that dinosaurs?’
The audience laugh wildly. Mike is a sort of cheeky-chappy host. A thirty-something former musician who has somehow made it as a TV presenter. I suppose it’s his charm – the audience clearly love him.
‘OK, let’s get Dinosaur Dave on the phone,’ Mike says.
I wince as he says ‘Dave’ – David hates being called Dave.
‘So all you have to do is, when Dinosaur Dave answers, just tell him you have one big question to ask him. If he gets it right, you’ll be £50k richer!’
‘Sounds good,’ I say.
About the Author
Portia MacIntosh is a bestselling romantic comedy author of 12 novels, including It’s Not You, It’s Them and The Accidental Honeymoon. Previously a music journalist, Portia writes hilarious stories, drawing on her real-life experiences. T
o keep up to date with Portia’s news and books, why not sign up to her newsletter – HERE
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#Blogtour | The Place We Call Home Faith Hogan #ThePlaceWecallHome #Review #Excerpt @gerhogan @aria_fiction
Hello, Sunshines! I have the huge pleasure to be ttoday’sstop on the brilliant blog tour for the beautiful; The Place We Call Home by Faith Hogan. Not only will I be sharing my review, but I also have an exclusive excerpt for you all, so sit back grab your cuppa and enjoy.
Welcome to Ballycove, the home of Corrigan Mills…
Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Irish countryside the famed mills have created the finest wool in all of Ireland. Run by the seemingly perfect Corrigan family, but every family has its secrets, and how the mills came to be the Corrigan’s is one of them…
Miranda and her husband were never meant to own the mills, until one fateful day catapults them into a life they never thought they’d lead.
Ada has forever lived her life in her sister’s shadow. Wanting only to please her mother and take her place as the new leader of the mill, Ada might just have to take a look at what her heart really wants.
Callie has a flourishing international career as a top designer and a man who loves her dearly, she appears to have it all. When a secret is revealed and she’s unceremoniously turfed out of the design world, Callie might just get what’s she’s been yearning for. The chance to go home.
Simon has always wanted more. More money, more fame, more notoriety. The problem child. Simon has made more enemies than friends over the years, and when one of his latest schemes falls foul he’ll have to return to the people who always believe in him.
Ballycove isn’t just a town in the Irish countryside. It isn’t just the base of the famous mills. It’s a place to call home.
Best-selling author, Faith Hogan returns with a family tale of love, loss, secrets and finding yourself.
Amazon / Kobo / Google Play / iBooks
Even now, when Miranda looked upon the stained silt of the riverbank, she could see the tints that dominated woollen blankets that sat everywhere from the White House to Downing Street. Ada, for all her acuity in the accounts department, lacked that vision. It was a passion and Miranda wished it fervently for her daughter, because she believed it brought with it an unbridled joy that Ada so badly needed to make her into the woman Miranda hoped one day she might become.
Callie had it. Combined with her raw talent, it was what had made her youngest daughter into the worldwide success she had become. Miranda worried about Callie, probably more than she should, but she knew that Callie’s life in London was not as simple or as rosy as it looked. She worked hard, too hard in Miranda’s opinion, and that left far too little time for anything else. Of course, her youngest daughter had managed to net all of the trappings of a successful life, but like her mother, material things counted for little to Callie who was as happy raking out the garden as she was standing on the red carpet of some glitzy event.
Miranda sighed; time seemed to collide on her more often these days with the past almost as clear as anything in the present. Callie Corrigan was born on a sunny day that seemed to herald the arrival of spring although it was late autumn. Miranda smiled, remembering Paddy had been busy in the mills that day, trying to shore up the old machines that were already running on prayer as much as engine power. It was an exercise in sentimentality as much as prudence. Miranda knew they could purchase new looms and weaving machines. They could fill their factory floor with computerised gadgets that would save them money in terms of wages and probably other overhead costs.
But the truth was, Miranda liked things as they were and she knew that Paddy loved them too. She appreciated the crashing of the loom, the smell of the yarn, the greetings from people like Tom Walsh, whose father and grandfather had all carried out the same job before him. She loved the gleam of the metal. When she ran her hand along the nameplates, she adored the feeling that, in some way, she was connecting with the generations who had passed before her and managed to keep the mills running while the world around it too often lost its way.
No, she would not be letting go of the old for something sleek and humourless. Even though Tom would frown when Big Betty stumbled, he would shake his head and mutter, but his smile of kindliness was priceless as he’d nudge the old machine into productivity once more.
Her husband, Paddy, had been neither a mechanic nor an engineer, but he was a man with a good brain and an interest in tinkering with things until he got them right. He worked away on many a black night and hummed quietly while he set about maintaining all the machines in the mills. She loved to watch him, as his big hands caressed the machines as much with tenderness as with strength. In the end, he crafted a series of replacement cogs, bobbins and timers and they had over the years, in their way, helped Miranda and made her forget that she was carrying the weight of so many futures in her hands.
Unfortunately, their son Simon was nothing like his father. Simon had grown up with that innate ability to seem as if he was pleasing everyone while setting out only to please himself. If Miranda worried about any of her children, it was Simon who had caused her the most sleepless nights over the years. She feared that Simon would never grow into the man she’d always hoped he’d be. Instead, it seemed he was doomed to crave a lifestyle that his modest income would never match in the way he hoped. He was destined never quite to meet the mark.
Set in Ballycove, Western Ireland, The Place We Call Home is a beautifully written, realistic and deeply emotional family saga which spans the generations with its a perfectly interweaving plot which delves into the past and connects it with the present. I love how Faith Hogan delves deep into the Irish way of life in Ballycove, it adds to the story and the characters, which I thinks makes everything feel very real and authentic.
The setting is absolutely perfect, each scene is vivid and adds a marvellous echoing atmosphere to the story, the setting itself is like an extension of the story like an extra character, always there in the back ground and adds so much to every scene.
I really won’t say too much about the story as a whole as it is complex and each characters own story is so interwoven though out that I wouldn’t which to give anything away. But this whole story revolves around the Corrigan and Blair family, who have been mill owners for generations, there are huge secrets and lies, there is heart-ache and love. The centre of the community is the mill which isn’t just apart of the family, it’s not a vessel of mystery, but it is peoples lives, roofs over heads and food on the table. I love how the mill is cemented into the book, how realistically it’s importance to the community is written.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the family, and discovering the secrets that have been so cleverly hidden and then revealed throughout the book, Faith Hogan never fails to grasp the readers attention and their heart with her perfectly written stories, the way she can take every human emotion and the tangled relationship which are within every family is a master class of writing. The wring is strong, intelligent and thought provoking, you are drawn into the world she has created for her characters, you follow each of them as though you were walking right beside them.
Each character is brilliantly written, true they are not all likable, but as this is glimpse of real life is would be odd if everyone was sweetness and nice, as we all know the world isn’t full of good people and this is again where Faith’s talent at writing every nuance of human life comes into it’s own.
This is a wonderful poignant story witha family at it’s heart, full of love and lies. I will admit that it did start of a little slow for my liking but it soon picks up and I soon easily fell into it’s gentle and at times a soothing pace. If you love your family saga’s then this is the book for you, definitely highly reccomended.
This was an arc via the publisher and Netgalley, which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour.
About the Author
Geraldine Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree in Training and Management from University College, Galway. She is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author of four contemporary fiction novels under the pen name Faith Hogan.
Silent Night is her first crime novel, her second is due out in December 2019.
She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!
You can find out more about Geraldine here:
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