Oh what a gift – to be given the opportunity to read the latest Ferry Lane Market book. I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with some former characters, and to meeting some new ones.

Gianna Pascoe comes across as a woman who knows what she wants, and at the age of 39, she is not afraid to stand up to her Mother, when it comes to arranging her 40th birthday party. I liked that she stood up for herself, without resorting to being rude or mean. I really did like Gianna, but I did feel for her, regarding the mental health issues she was having. Basically she seemed a kind soul to me, evidenced by the way that she would sometimes buy the works of struggling artists, showing in her gallery, in order to boost their confidence. Gianna may have been spoiled by her parents in the past, but she was hellbent on paying her own way now, partly funded by the gallery and partly by her paintings as the mysterious Rainbow Painter. Herself, Gianna seems quite captivated by the renowned artist Isaac Benson, but is most definitely not ’over’ her ex, Oliver. I did however feel for Gianna, when it transpires that Oliver has had a child with another woman.

A character not lacking in confidence however, is Gianna’s Father, but Gianna is fairly adamant that she isn’t going to allow him to volunteer to be a model for her life drawing class! I did like the light heartedness that this episode brought, not only to the book, but also to the reader’s perception of Fred Gribble and his overall relationship with Gianna.

Will Gianna’s new life drawing classes help her get out of the rut into which she seems to have fallen? Prepare to be entertained!

You will have to read on yourself to find out, with an abundance of emotions along the way.

Purchase link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rainbows-End-Ferry-Lane-Market-ebook/dp/B09LLLD89V


I am so excited at being given the golden ticket – the chance to review the second book in Jessica Redland’s Starfish Cafe series. What better way to hail the start of spring (we did actually have hail and snow last week) than to share it with Hollie, of the Starfish Cafe fame. Without fail, I love Jessica Redland’s books and I admire the way that she continues to produce books of such quality, that I do not want to put them down. I enjoy the concept of a book becoming a series of books, and I look forward to the new instalments being released. Jessica is such a talented writer and I will happily lap up any of her books tat come along.

I already know that Hollie and Jake are the most endearing pair, both individually and as part of a couple, but I am looking forward to meeting some more new characters. In fact, such is my fondness for ’Hake’ as I shall call them herein, that I had thought we were on at least book three by now!

I loved the descriptive language in the book – even the simple things such as setting the early morning scene on the Starfish Cafe terrace. These words made me wish that I could jump into the pages of a book at will, Jumanji style. Were that to be a reality, my very first stop would be that terrace at the Starfish Cafe, to breathe in the cool, early morning sea air.

Hollie had been through so much in such a relatively short life, that it really broke my heart every time Jake was called out as lifeboat crew; she had already lost so much to that life boat, and I hate to think what might flash though her mind on those occasions. She was pretty amazing for just holding things together – at least in public. Having been brought up by the seaside, I understand the concept of having ’sea in your blood’ and I sincerely hoped that Hollie would fulfil the lifeboat captain’s prediction of her becoming their first crew member. Will Jake have any thoughts on the matter? Indeed, if Hake were to have children surely only them would be able to crew at any one time? I really felt for Hollie, when her cave was trashed; who would do something like that? Sebastian Smythe had motive, but would he stoop so low?

I really felt for Tori upon first meeting her – I cannot imagine being scared to have lunch with my in-laws, worrying about what I looked like and what I was wearing, at 38 years of age! Surely her Partner, Leyton, should be standing up for her. Frankly I felt very little for Leyton (even before he is unmasked as a liar) as he should be able to stand up for himself at forty years old – but then his parents having a controlling interest in the business he runs, clearly doesn’t help matters! I could clearly see why Leyton’s rude petulance (no doubt a behaviour learned from his Father), was beginning to wear Tori down, especially when combined with the behaviour of his parents.

I must confess to being rather intrigued upon being fed the titbit that Tori used to live in a castle with her parents. I thought that Tori was a strong character, too strong to put up with Leyton’s behaviour and I felt certain that she would flourish wherever she ended up. Tori’s formative years proved to be most interesting to an outsider like me, but must have been excruciating awful for her at the time. You will of course need to read the book for yourself to find out just how awful those early years were for Tori; all I will say is that their story exemplifies Jessica Redland’s unparalleled imagination!

Finlay was an interesting character, whom I thought showed tremendous strength, for holding things together, considering what he was going through in his life. After he unburdened himself to Tori, I hoped they could be friends. In actual fact, they’d be the perfect romantic match – he can’t have children, and she doesn’t want any children of her own.

I love a bit of intrigue and my curiosity was most certainly piqued by the snippet that Tori had some kind of fall out with her castellan parents. I’m not sure what interests me most – why Tori fell out with them, or how they came to live in a castle. Tori seems loyal to her friends, I can only imagine some kind of catastrophic break up. I was saddened by the story of Tori and Ewan, as is seemed that deep down they did still love each other. What a tragic story! Fascinatingly, Tori and Hollie’s lives start to become intertwined; I felt that they would be good friends.

I like that Jessica writes about strong female characters and I hope that this strength mirrors her own strength. Similarly I adore the way that she cleverly cross pollinates the characters in her books – to that end I was thrilled to come across Charlee and her chocolate shop again, despite the circumstances in which Charlee turns up in this book. (If you haven’t read about Charlene’s foray into chocolate, I do wholeheartedly recommend it https://eatwell2015.wordpress.com/2021/10/24/christmas-wishes-at-the-chocolate-shop-jessica-redland/ ) Indeed this book was crammed full with new, complex characters, before taking into account characters we have met before.

  • Why is ‘Slippy Smythe’ so keen to get his hands on the Starfish Cafe?
  • Is there any truth in the legend of Tingler’s Treasure?
  • What happened to Tori’s parents, seven years ago? What secret was Phipps keeping?

As you can tell, I loved this book with its amazing sense of community. I loved the way that the mosaic in the ’new’ cafe symbolised Hollie’s cafe journey, and the new design for the cafe just seemed so right. Tori’s family were amazing and I liked how she became so accepting of their quirks. Most beguiling was the do they/don’t they question hanging between Finlay and Tori.

This story really captured my imagination, with its real yet enticing characters. I found myself wanting to be part of their world.

I am so looking forward to the next instalment in Tori and Finlay’s story, and perhaps a ’Hake’ wedding, although I profess to some sadness at the next book being the last in the series.

To buy this book for yourself, use this link. Purchase link:https://amzn.to/3uCYFVL

The Village of Happy Ever Afters – Alison Sherlock

I am struggling to put down on paper, how happy I am to be returning to the village of Cranbridge, to catch up with some former friends and hopefully meet some new, equally charismatic characters in this wonderful world, where covid doesn’t exist and we do not have to discuss wars of any kind.

When we first meet Molly, she is wearing an itchy bunny costume, for an Easter Egg hunt. Volunteering to do this sums up to an extent, the kindness of Molly and she immediately endeared herself to me, by the way that she checked that there were no small children around, before she removed her hot, prickly bunny head and threw it into the road. what a shame she didn’t think to look out for vehicles though!

Molly loves Cranbridge and it seems as though she wouldn’t ever want to live anywhere else – but I get the impression that she is missing something in her life – be it on a professional level or on a more personal front. Although she enjoys her job, she would rather be baking cakes, and her love life is lacking somewhat. She also feels that her friends have somewhat taken her over in The Game of Life; all either married or at least settled with a partner and all in seemingly dream jobs. It’s not without reason that Molly has started to feel the odd one in her group of friends.

Logan seems an interesting chap; a potential love interest for Molly? But what is it about his past that he doesn’t like others talking about? It all adds a bit of mystery to the book. It seems that Molly is the only person (apart from us readers), oblivious to Logan’s woes, but her new ’friend’ isn’t going to start filling her in on his misfortune. I felt sad that Logan prefers his own company to that of others and even sadder that he doesn’t really trust anybody. He knows he isn’t going to let himself down! Olivia adds another element of mystery to proceedings. Is Molly being too soft, giving her a chance? Is Molly too trusting, compared to Logan’s lack of trust? Is there a happy medium?

I liked the humour in the book – for example When Amber is teasing Molly about bridesmaids dresses. This book is very cleverly written – the way that Molly’s group of friends seem so down to earth. The writing almost makes them pop out of the book at you, and personally I started to feel part of it – as though I actually knew them, and was party to the group’s inner secrets. ’Dodgy Del’ always made me laugh too, although I think he was well intentioned – for the most part, at least!

A friendly face did appear, in Geoff, a former school teacher of Molly’s. I did find myself wondering if he could possibly hold the key to dragging Molly’s Mum out of the dark pit into which she had fallen? It certainly felt as though Stanley and Geoff might join forces to try and bring Rachel, Molly’s Mum out of herself a little.

I loved that Molly’s group of friends were so strongly behind her creating a tea garden for a month, in the hope of realising her ultimate dream of opening the eatery on a more permanent basis. The plans gradually start to come to life, but with far more of a community slant, which feels so much more appropriate for such a close-knit village.

If nothing else came out of this story than to encourage people to stand up for themselves and to believe in themselves, like Molly, then it is an assured success. Indeed it felt to me as though Molly saw a little of a reflection of herself in Olivia, which must surely count as a success in itself, as she encouraged the younger woman to be more confident.

The initial opening of the tea garden was less than satisfactory, but can Molly turn this situation around? Molly has such amazing friends and neighbours, that if anyone can help guide Molly to her happy ever -afters – on a professional level, as well as on a personal level, they can, although particular mention should be made of Logan (who of course has no romantic interest in Molly at all!) and Ben and Adam, Molly’s dear twin Brothers.

Eventually, as is par for the course, everything is actually on track to do well. What could possibly go wrong…..

You will of course need to read on for yourself to find out how these particular rabbits are pulled from the hat.

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/3rb1z0I

A Year of Mr Maybes – Judy Leigh

I instantly liked Our heroine! Val, but oh how I felt for her, being let down by her idiot Husband, especially on Christmas day. Still, I truly admired her attitude to it all, especially in terms of starting afresh. I did however think that her rat of a Husband, Ray got off relatively lightly, really. Connie seemed the perfect neighbour for Val, and I anticipated the pair of them having a lot of fun together in the future, although Connie did appear a little odd at times, for example, professing to being excited at cooking in Val’s kitchen with her! In fact Val’s new neighbours seem to be a really great, eclectic mix.

Val seemed lonely, since the divorce, and I felt that the author dealt with what is an all too common problem, with the utmost sympathy; couples that socialise with other couples, can invariably result in fractured friendships after divorce. However Val’s new neighbours did all seem particularly welcoming.

I loved the cover of this book – it felt infinitely inviting to me, and the accompanying descriptions of Cornwall had me equally enthralled. I just wanted to sit in a deckchair outside one of those beach huts, ready to dip my toes in the glistening water – until I remember the invariably freezing temperature of the sea in the UK.

Val was admirably keen to integrate into her new community, going so far as to bake and hand deliver chocolate brownies. I loved some of the cottage names in Val’s new neighbourhood, with my absolute favourite being ‘Crab Claw Cottage’. Personally, I have always been enchanted by a unique sounding address, although I feel fairly ridiculous confessing this, although a bit like online dating profiles, the reality doesn’t always match up with the picture in your head. A prime example near me – a road called ’The Custards’ – and it gets even better, with a couple of pudding related house names – but when you drive down there, the location really isn’t anything special. I kind of regret ever driving down there, as I far prefer the picture in my mind!

A phone call from Val’s Son in Canada gets Val thinking – she doesn’t want to be without a partner in teh wedding photos, when her ex will be there with his new partner – so she decides to find a plus one to take with her; she has a year to find someone. So, at a time in her life when she always thought she would be growing old with her Husband, Val finds herself propelled into the world of dating. Connie turns out to be an organisational dervish and comes up with concept of building up a calendar of potential matches; one for each month, in the year leading uo to her Son’s wedding. What can possibly go wrong!

i love a bit of mystery in a book, and this was provided by Ben, the resident of Crab Claw Cottage; he was very elusive, with us initially having no idea about him – his age, occupation – indeed anything. Getting to know him could prove a challenge, even for Val.

The more I read, the more I loved Val. I loved the way that she is the antithesis of the average romantic heroine, but that makes me love her even more; it is so refreshing to read something different, with real characters of all ages, rather than the stereotypical beautiful 20/30 somethings that dominate contemporary fiction. This pursuit of a partner started to feel like more to me – more of a cleansing from her ex Husband, as well as Val learning more about herself. As Val’s journey progressed, it felt as though she was growing and becoming a stronger person in herself.

To find out exactly what happens, you will of course have to read about Val’s voyage of discovery for yourself.

Will Val find her perfect date for the wedding; indeed, in a year’s time, will she even care?

Why is neighbour Ben so elusive?

You will find out these answers and more, bundled up in a journey of fun and finding yourself.
Purchase link:https://amzn.to/3tpoJmQ

An escape to Remember – TA Williams

During uncertain times, I know that I can rely on one of TA Williams books to bring me a wonderful location, a great story and hopefully a gorgeous black Labrador to seal the deal. What more could I ask for? I love these books – the way they seem to comply with a special formula, yet each story remains enticingly unique and entertaining in its own way.

This book started in an explosive way – and I couldn’t help but feel Louise, finding her long term partner in bed with another woman, when she returned from Antigua a day early, after ten weeks away. On second thoughts, her finding him in this compromising position was better done sooner rather than later down the line – although I doubt that would have seemed that way at the time.

I immediately fell in love with the Grand Hotel and its surrounding areas, such were the descriptions and if I closed my eyes tight I could almost be there, and Louise certainly arrived in style, in the hotel’s vintage Rolls Royce. I shared Louse’s positive thoughts about the hotel and found myself genuinely caring about what happened to the hotel and its charismatic but ageing staff.

I liked the humour in the book, for example the description of Louise finding a massive spider under a bed, whilst in the Caribbean. The author also teased me, with the presence of a brown Labrador, but I was pleased when it transpired that Leo the dog was a VERY muddy black lab!

There were unanswered questions posed fairly early on in the book:

  • Why is Louise so reluctant to talk about her relationship status?
  • What are Joseph’s intentions towards her? Is it too late for ’What ifs’?
  • Could anything happen between her and Paolo?
  • Why does Vito seem so familiar – have they met before?

I really enjoyed the way that the relationship between Vito and Louise seemed to develop slowly – appropriately a bit like the fine wines the hotel was producing. I just hoped that his past hadn’t left him too broken to consider a new romantic venture.

I couldn’t help feeling that the hotel and Louise started to blossom in parallel – both being restored to their former glory; I just hoped that Louise could find happiness.

I implore you to read this glorious book for yourself.
Purchase link: http://mybook.to/AnEscape

Love Blooms at Mermaids Point – Sarah Bennett

I couldn’t agree more that this is ’An absolutely gorgeous book’. I too loved it from start to finish. I struggled to put it down, and when I finished it, I felt a little empty – ready to read it again!

What better way to herald the rapid approach of spring. If you haven’t read any of this series, then this book about the village of Mermaids Point can be enjoyed as a standalone novel. However, if you haven’t read any of this series yet, you lucky thing. I envy you the opportunity to be able to indulge yourself by reading the other books in this series for the first time; an opportunity that I will never have again! This new book will inevitably serve a rather large helping of joy, from start to finish, which is what I have come to expect from Sarah Bennett’s books, such is the quality of her work.

In a world of OK books, Sarah delivers the impossible very time, with each new book somehow surpassing its predecessor. I find myself wanting to be enveloped by their pages, the more immersed I become in each story or series. Furthermore, Sarah continues to delight (me at the very least), every time she introduces a new addition to a series of books; in a world where there is so much wrong taking place at the moment, I am not going to hesitate to grasp some happiness in a literary form, by reading a book by Sarah Bennett and in fact when I have finished reading this novel, I may then re-read the previous episodes in this series as a refresher. I have said on more than one occasion that life is too short to spend time reading books you don’t love – so take from that what you will!

I was thrilled to see that this book was going to concentrate on Ivy Fisher’s story. What a beautiful name, straight from the annals of Beatrix Potter. Ivy has shown herself to be beautiful on the inside, as well as having a beautiful sounding name, in previous books, for example when she stepped up to repair Tom’s Daughter Emily’s precious blanket. This blanket had been made by Emily’s late Mother and Ivy stepped up without preamble and repaired some damage to it, in a truly selfless moment. Emily repaid the sentiment when she sent the blanket to Ivy’s Mother’s funeral ’in case Ivy got cold’. Surely even the hardiest of souls couldn’t fail to be moved by that hugely symbolic gesture.

The characters in Mermaids Point has grown both in number and complexity, so I found it useful to read the cast list at the start of the book, in order to refresh my memory. The list was very detailed, even including cats, and it became my mission to find a character who had been omitted from the list.

Alex proves his worth as a friend, on the day of Ivy’s Mother’s funeral, by turning up at Ivy’s place and pronouncing himself her designated shoulder for the day including snot!

It felt as though I had a head start with this novel, in that Alex and Ivy already have a firm place in my affections, so I don’t need to get to know them. rest assured though, this pair are new to you and you haven’t read enough about them, they very soon will claim their rightful place in your emotions.

I loved the way that Ivy’s closest friends performed a kind of human shield around her as she walked to the funeral; a sign of peoples affection towards her. It was marred somewhat by the attempt of Ivy’s estranged Father to join the ambulatory procession with his partner. The protective stance continued at the pub afterwards; the sense of loyalty and protectiveness was all pretty moving to me and a reliable indication of the kind of good, honest people that inhabit Mermaid Point on the whole.

It felt like such a shame to me, that Ivy might ever doubt Alex’s intentions, although perhaps the past behaviour of men in her life – namely her Father – have left her feeling that good intentions from the opposite sex are simply too good to be true? Yes Alex is interested in the old bookshop, but Ivy has never professed her own interest in the shop to anyone, so she can’t possibly expect anyone else to honour that secret interest. I can only hope that she starts to see Alex’s good intentions again before she turns him away permanently.

Ivy has a habit of storing any problems she has in a metaphorical box in the attic of her mind. However, I am of the opinion that such boxes ideally need to emptied every so often, or in this case, at least the pressure released, in order to avoid any kind of emotional explosion.

Pressure on Ivy might also be released, were she to talk to Alex. Equally Alex might find his problems would ease, were he to have a proper conversation with his publisher, Immy. Regardless, it felt as though both their problems were starting to escalate out of control. Ironically Alex and Ivy clearly like each other, and they are both wanting the same thing in life. I was really starting to feel as though I wanted to bang their heads together, to make them talk to each other, before they end up having a terminal fall out.

Such is the realism if the writing, that these two main characters were really coming to life for me and I found myself caring deeply shout what happened to them. Conversely I was not warming to Immy, Alex’s editor at all and I wondered about the morality of her motives at times.

I must confess to a heart in mouth moment, when it appeared as though Ivy’s Father still may have a stake in her Mother’s cottage. One could only hope for the discovery of some newer papers, or that the leopard that is Ivy’s Father had truly changed his spots! I must confess at this point though, thst I felt surprisingly sorry for Wendy, Ivy’s Father’s girlfriend. Whilst at times she had seemed demanding, I couldn’t help but feel thst she had been wronged by Kevin to a certain extent. Who knows – maybe Ivy and Wendy could become allies in the future, if they ever saw eye to eye?

Any vague sympathies I may ever have had for Ivy’s Father, Kevin, pretty soon vanished, the more apparent that it became that he was incapable of being honest with anyone, let alone Ivy. Not being one to give up on anyone, this did sadden me a little.

The further this novel progressed, the more I found myself liking Alex and his idiosyncrasies, but the thing that I found really cute (something I confess to doing too), was the way that when he needed to get something done (writing his book) he would seemingly find 101 other things that ‘need’ doing more importantly (e.g watching the DaVinci code, eating leftover chinese takeaway). He is truly the King of finding an irrelevant distraction, in a most endearing way! I must confess to wanting to hug Alex when he suggested that Ivy uses some space at the book store when he buys it. But will that be enough for Ivy, when she had dreamed of owning it herself?

This story starts to pose so many questions:

  • Will Ivy and Alex find love?
  • Will Ivy be happy with using space in what would be Alex’s shop?
  • How will Ivy feel when she finds out about Alex’s writing career?
  • Will Kevin really put ivy’s home on the market straight away.

I really don’t want to give away too much, so In order to find out the answers to these questions and more, you will need to read this wonderful book for yourself.

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/31ZLqTm

Then and Now – RJ Gould

I didn’t just ‘enjoy’ this book. I rapidly became mesmerised by it, lost in it, consumed to the extent that I couldn’t put it down and had to stay up all night to finish it, in order to find out what happened to the characters in whom I had become so utterly invested, inhabiting this timeless take on life, love, risks, wins and losses.

Reader, a cautionary tale. When I choose a book, especially from a new (to me) author, I am accustomed to initially consuming that book with my eyes. The old adage warns us about not judging a book by its cover, but that is exactly what I do and to be brutally honest, I find nothing appealing about this book’s cover. Fortunately I recalled reading a previous novel by RJ Gould ’Nothing Man’. https://eatwell2015.wordpress.com/2021/03/31/nothing-man-rj-gould/. I didn’t like that cover (in the same style as this one) either, but I was thankfully persuaded to read that tome, and I was so glad that I did, because I loved everything about the book including the storyline and the witty characters and I was truly glad that I had found the time to read the book. Talking of witticisms, this book did have moments of comedy, my favourite part being when Sandy is talking about Stuart and Schrödinger; about how intelligent Stuart is – not only can he link Schrödinger to a cat, but he can spell Schrödinger too!

The premise of this book, is a triumvirate – 3 diverse, yet seemingly successful friends – Sandy, Michael and Jonathan. They had the most tremendous friendship whilst at university, 50 years ago, until their harmony was wrecked by tragedy. As the book went into more detail about the past, it became apparent that the group was in actual fact a quadrumvirate originally; there ’WAS’ a fourth member of the friendship group, Stuart, but what on earth happened to him? Upon learning my first snippet about Stuart, I felt sure that his exit from the group and the subsequent demise of the whole alliance was not going to be a happy story.

When a university reunion is on the cards, can the trio circumvent what happened to break up their synergistic group so long ago, in order to be friends again? I know myself that what seems unsurmountable at a point in my life, may seem positively trivial, a couple of years down the line.

I liked the intelligent writing in the book – the way that some chapters filled us in on the current day, whilst conversely others reminisced about what once had been.

Sandy is on the eve of retiring from her successful fashion magazine editorship. She comes across as likeable and her success could be attributed to some extent to her fastidious organisational skills, which immediately seem apparent.

A look at Sandy’s formative years, see her behaviour mirroring that of her ’swinging’ parents, with sex, smoking and alcohol very much on the cards, despite doing well at school. Her parents seemed to be living in another world, happy to be hoodwinked by good ‘O’ level results.

Michael, having worked at the same climate change ‘think tank’ since university, strongly believes in the old school way of doing things and wants his colleagues to adhere to his impossibly high standards. He can’t possibly retire because he can’t trust those left behind to do things correctly.

Michael’s early years mark the advent of what would become a life long difficult relationship with his parents, his Father a career petty burglar and his Mother not much better. Major Kudos to Michael, for turning out to be the man he is, after their early years tutelage.

Jonathan’s children want him to end his relationship with his mistress; if only life were so easy. The same could be said about retiring from his fundraising consultancy business. Both tasks easier said than done.

Jonathan has always had a difficult relationship with his Sisters, so their nagging him to sort out his love lifen life. doesn’t auger well, how ever well meant their ’advice’ is intended.

Sandy, Michael and Jonathan did have one major thing in common – they had all excelled at school, so it came as no surprise that, at a time when the majority of 18 year olds didn’t automatically go on to university, these three most certainly did, and this nameless educational institution is where they became firm friends. I found each of the three main characters most likeable and I found the story infinitely compelling, the way that each of the friends had overcome their own form of adversity, in order to go to this university and make something of their lives.

As Sandy’s Granddaughter is preparing to go off to university, Sandy realises that it’s a full 50 years since she started her own course – since she met her group of friends, with whom she became inseparable – until the event that drove them apart. When Sandy receives an invitation in the post for a university reunion, has fate dealt an ace? Sandy’s thoughts turn to the reunion, but can anyone from her close friendship group from that time, face bringing up the elephant in the room that formed the catalyst that destroyed their friendship?

In my opinion, none of the three friends had been dealt a winning hand when it came to their formative years, yet all had gone on to having a successful professional career after university.

I found myself genuinely liking the three characters, but was intrigued by several questions; the most burning being:

  • The book mentions 4 friends; who is the fourth, and what happened to them?
  • What happened to tear the friendship group apart?
  • Does time really heal; can these people ever be close friends again?

You will of course have to read this intelligent, perceptive book for yourself, in order to find out exactly what happened.
Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/R-J-Gould/e/B006QLQZ8S

Living Your Best Life – Maxine Morrey

I enjoyed the previous book by Maxine Morrey that I read, so I was looking forward to reading and reviewing this one for you.

From the outside, looking in Bee appears be living her best life, with a large group of close friends that she has had for years. When it becomes apparent that Bee and Luca are the only two singletons left from the group, they are challenged to try internet dating, until Christmas Day. what can possibly go wrong? Are they ignoring the most obvious solution?

I felt for Bee in many ways – the way that she felt so inferior to any of Luca’s well groomed lady friends, to the way that she felt so comfortable with Luca’s family, yet lacked that warmth from her own family. I just wanted to bang Bee and Luca’s heads together for ignoring what seemed like the most obvious solution.

Meanwhile, Bee and Luca automatically hate each others dates, even resorting to being childish at times. In fact at times they don’t like their own dates even! When will these two wake up

Will this pair ever see what everyone around them can see as obvious? You will have to read this wonderful book for yourself, to find out. Maxine Morrey’s books are the fibrous equivalent to the most comfortable evening in with your PJ’s and the best chocolate – both block and hot.

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/3K5eVnPt

One Greek Summer – Kate Frost

The cover of this novel alone was enough to perk me up and put me directly into sunshine holiday mode.

The island of Skopelos sounded divine, the way that it was described in the book, full of unparalleled colour and sunshine. The moment I closed my eyes, I could virtually imagine that Iwas there.

Harlow, has arrived on the island, to work as a location assistant on filming a Hollywood film, but it is clear from the offset that she has something on her mind. Added to this it seems as though she is under pressure from her family to perform in life.

Harlow and Tyler Reed have known each lother for longer than a decade, with their undulating relationship constantly fluctuating between hot and cold, but now fate has, potentially unkindly, brought them together once again, but in a work capacity this time. Tyler and Harlow do seem to know each other very well though, illustrated by Tyler bringing Harlow’s ideal breakfast on set for her, when she left too early for breakfast. I am looking forward to seeing how this relationship fans out. Regardless, Harlow’s Mother, Maeve, is most certainly pleased to see Harlow, which is heart warming, even though the sentiments are not necessarily reciprocated. I sense a ’difficult’ relationship.

I loved the variety of characters in this book, from the calm Harlow, to the scowling (hilariously contra-stereotype) Adonis. Maeve and Harlow just seemed intent on winding each up though.

So my biggest question, is whether or not Maeve and Harlow can start to function within the realms if a normal Mother/Daughter dynamic or not, followed up by whether or not Harlow and Tyler can reconcile.

You will need to read this sunshine blockbuster for yourself to find out the answers.

Purchase Link:https://amzn.to/3rffpiz

The Villa of Second Chances -Jennifer Bohnet

I have read several of Jennifer Bohnet’s books in the past and I have found myself enthralled by them – the amazing locations and beautiful stories – and so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review this latest offering.

This is the story of Rebecca and Delphine, two Sisters, based in their beautiful Mediterranean ‘Villa Sésame’ on the Côte d’Azure, and the narrative of an event held at their Villa, with its splendid array of eclectic characters, each one thoroughly beguiling in their complexity both of character and the situation they found themself in. The book was written intelligently and I thought that the way that the story was split into sections relating to the wedding upon which the book was based, was very clever and gave an effective result.

I. The Last Week May
II. The Week of the Wedding
III. After the Wedding

The Sisters were both infinitely likeable characters, with an impressive resume between them, to account for how they had become joint owners of the villa, which had over time become a high end wedding and event venue. It seemed that the death of Delphine’s Husband had led her to revaluate her life to an extent, resulting in her announcing to Rebecca that she wanted to retire from the active running of the Villa and become a silent partner. This is of course a shock to the younger Sister, but full marks to her for reacting so well to the news.

Freya is getting married at the Villa – to her ex Husband, Marcus; this is a situation that I find both bewildering and intriguing in equal measures, with a sprinkling of romance. Freya will be staying at the Villa for 8 days with her closest friends and family, to celebrate. There are however elements of mystery within the party though – some kind of issue between Freya’s best friend Clemmie and Freya’s cousin, Verity. I found myself intrigued by what the problem might be between the two women, but regardless felt sure that this potential fracas would add a bit of spice to the wedding break. There’s nothing like a bit of scandal, disharmony or lain old sordid history, to add a bit of interest to a story! I must however confess to agreeing with Freya’s Mother to a certain extent, on the question of marriage i.e ’why bother’ – many would presume the couple married anyway!

I initially found Verity to be a convincingly disagreeable character – the kind of person always looking back over their shoulder in order to see what mayhem has ensued in their wake. Please however do not think that this detracts from the entertainment that this book gave me – in the real world, not everyone you come across is ’nice’ and in this book, Verity’s initial unpleasant streak just added to my enjoyment.

It transpires that Freya, Clemmie and their friend Angela have been close friends for years, but they haven’t seen each other since Angela’s Husband Paul’s funeral , 8 months ago. But Angela seems to be holding back about something.

I do like a bit of intrigue and the first few chapters of this book planted several seeds of thought in my mind?

  • What is the issue between Clemmie and Verity?
  • Who was Bart’s Father and why is Rebecca a single parent to Bart?
  • Does Verity really want to make amends or is she intent on stirring up trouble?
  • Is Verity as unpleasant and deliberately destructive as she initially seems, or is she merely misunderstood?
  • Can these two adult women (Clemmie and Verity) ever make amends?
  • What is Angela’s big secret regarding Paul’s death?
  • Why is Angela so upset at seeing the man who was at Paul’s crash scene?
  • Why is Clemmie so resolutely single? Is there a future for her and Jonty?
  • Can Rebecca keep the Villa going, without Delphine at her side?
  • What is the story behind the history between Rebecca and Best Man Rufus!

I always find that there is something special about people I have known for years; the way that things can be left unsaid and despite such omissions, all involved get the general gist of what is intended – despite the parties involved not being particularly close, for example with Angela and Verity.

I adored the scenery and the descriptions in the book. As for the villa’s kitchen garden, I could virtually smell and taste the produce. The smell of citrus blossom in particular is all-pervading. I liked the myriad of different characters in the book and looked forward to seeing how they would develop and interact with each other. I liked the characters so much that I found myself genuinely caring about their outcome, from wanting the wedding to go well, to willing Angela to bury her unknown (to us) demons, to Clemmie and Verity burying the hatchet.

There was an added bonus to this book. It felt to me as though the story ended when people started going home after the wedding. So, to get some extra chapters was an added bonus. It was as though the ’second chances’ aspect of the title was being reflected doubly in real life, firstly with the fact that there were more chapters telling Rebecca and Rufus’ story, and secondly that this ill-fated pair were being given a second chance in life and love.

I initially felt disappointed in Bart – after all, he had always known that he had a Father somewhere. I was fairly sure that he would come around to the facts of the situation, though. Angela and Rebecca both have secrets they are keeping from their respective Sons, but will both Sons react positively when their secret is revealed?

Everybody deserves a second chance and it was wonderful at the end of the book to have an epilogue, detailing what everyone was now up to. What an impeccable finish to what has been the most perfect, delectable book. I found myself inexorably hooked from the first word, right through to the very last. I didn’t want the book to end, but as I gave in to the inevitable finale I felt both happy and replete and I hoped that enough seeds had been planted for some future book ideas, following up on the future of Villa Sésame or of some of the couples in this book.

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/34GAFGh