Winter at Wishington Bay by Maxine Morrey

Thank you to Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join the blog tour. Thank you also for a digital review copy of the book, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

Eighteen months ago, Sophia Jones finally walked out on her unhappy life.

With a tricky divorce ongoing, money is tight and so when friends offer her a housekeeping job while they’re away travelling, she accepts.

Nate McKinley is hesitant when his brother, Gabe, offers him the use of their home in the picturesque village of Wishington Bay. But he has a book to a write and an imploded marriage to recover from, so maybe a change of scene is exactly what he needs. 

As Wishington Bay works its magic, friendship blossoms between Sophia and Nate. For Nate, finally feeling able to be himself with someone who is honest and down to earth is a revelation. 

But Sophia has a secret and a jealous colleague is determined to blow her cover. Can she really keep her old life in the past or is it destined to destroy this new, happy one too?

Take a trip back to Wishington Bay this winter and find out…

A deliciously heart-warming and romantic read, perfect for a cosy winter’s evening, from the author of the bestselling Winter’s Fairytale.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/32l5kV5

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Maxine Morrey and I enjoyed my visit to Wishington Bay. I did quickly realise that Maxine had set a book in the area before (Coming Home to Wishington Bay) but that didn’t stop me enjoying this story.

Sophia and Nate are both running away from heartbreak, and need to make new lives

The course of true love never runs smoothly, especially when jealous work colleagues and ex partners get involved. However, the majority of the residents at Wishington Bay are keen to help the two recent arrivals, and there is a four legged cupid involved too.

A lovely book to curl up with on a cold winter evening. My recommendation is to team this up with a mug of hot chocolate and a cosy blanket. And relax…

Author Bio:

Maxine Morrey is a bestselling romantic comedy author with eight books to her name including Winter’s Fairytale and the top ten hit The Christmas Project. She lives in West Sussex. Her first novel for Boldwood, #No Filter, was published in November 2019.

Social Media Links – 

Newsletter Sign up – http://bit.ly/MaxineMorreyNewsletter

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/Scribbler_Maxi/

Twitter @ https://twitter.com/Scribbler_Maxi

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/MaxineMorreyAuthor

The Girl Without A Name by Suzanne Goldring

Thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing a digital review copy. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

She left home, with the man she loved, and was never seen again…

August 2004. Billie has rushed to her father Dick’s hospital bedside. A terrible stroke has robbed him of his speech, and she is devastated to see her strong, invincible dad a shell of the man he was before. But when Billie finds a crumpled black and white photo in his wallet of a smiling, dark-haired girl she doesn’t recognise, Dick frantically tries to talk. Billie knows that he is trying to tell her something important, and she must ask the questions her father cannot. All she has to go on is the name he is just able to mumble. Ruby.

September 1940. As the bombs of the Blitz fall on London, childhood sweethearts Ruby and Stevie are falling in love. United by a shocking experience when they were evacuees, Ruby believes that she understands Stevie like nobody else can. But then Stevie is sent abroad, to a dusty and dangerous place…

As Ruby waits, desperately, for letters with foreign stamps that never come, she begins to fear that the man she fell in love with is lost forever. And when Stevie does return, he is changed, and Ruby must make a difficult choice.

As Billie uncovers Ruby’s tragic story she is determined to find out what happened to the girl who went away for a weekend with the man she loved and never came home. Why did nobody miss her? And how is she connected to Billie’s beloved father? Can Billie lay the ghosts of the past to rest, even if it means revealing the darkest secrets of her father’s life?

A completely compelling and heartbreaking read, this is the story of the bravery and courage of a young woman in wartime and another woman’s quest to put things right. Fans of The Letter and The Nightingale will be hooked on The Girl Without a Name.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Sarah Hardy for inviting me to read this book. I was trying to reduce my blog tour commitments ready for returning to work, but the synopsis of the book hooked me and I quickly said yes.

Three characters tell this story, Nick (aka Stevie), his daughter Billie and Ruby. Billie is trying to find out who the girl is from the photo in her Dad’s wallet.

We are taken back in time, initially to 1939 as the children of London are evacuated to the countryside. This was my favourite part of the story, as told by Ruby. Mrs Honey, who hosted Ruby and Joan sounded lovely, but sadly this wasn’t the case for all evacuees. As the story moves forward, we find out more about how Ruby ended up back in London and what happened when Stevie went to Palestine with the British Army.

This is a no spoiler review, so I don’t want to give any hints about what happens. I enjoyed the story, as we travelled through the different era with Stevie and Ruby. We also keep returning to Billie, who loves her dad and wants to find out what happened to his first sweetheart. I hadn’t correctly predicted the end, but once I read it, I was pleased that I had it incorrect. If you enjoy historical fiction, then I recommend reading this.

Author Bio:

Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specialising in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Whether she is working in her thatched cottage in Hampshire or her seaside home in North Cornwall, Suzanne finds inspiration in the secrets hidden by everyday life.  
https://suzannegoldring.wordpress.com/
https://twitter.com/suzannegoldring

Buy Links:


Amazon: https://bit.ly/3kGjTKJ

Apple: https://apple.co/2ZE3rCo

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2WxpvwS

Google: https://bit.ly/32sA5cg

When the Music Stops by Joe Heap

I’m pleased to be sharing my review as part of the blog tour organised by Anne at Random Things Tours. Thank you to Anne and Harper Fiction for a digital review copy, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

This is the story of Ella.
And Robert.
And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

‘What have you been up to?’
I shrug, ‘Just existing, I guess.’
‘Looks like more than just existing.’
Robert gestures at the baby, the lifeboat, the ocean.
‘All right, not existing. Surviving.’
He laughs, not unkindly. ‘Sounds grim.’
‘It wasn’t so bad, really. But I wish you’d been there.’

Ella has known Robert all her life. Through seven key moments and seven key people their journey intertwines.
 
From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever…

My thoughts:

I was hooked by the blurb for this book but still wasn’t prepared for how the story started and how we meet Ella. The story starts with a storm which leaves Ella holding her baby grandson on a damaged boat, trying to keep him alive until rescuers find them.

During the time stranded on the boat, Ella revisits seven key moments in each decade of her life and meets seven people who she had lost during her lifetime. Each meeting is also linked to a piece of music, from the book of music Ella chose with her dad in Glasgow. The audio book version will include the songs played in full.

Ella’s journey takes her from Glasgow to London. Joe’s writing brings each of the seven periods in time to life, from the school days in Glasgow to the first flat in London to being in a maternity ward as a geriatric mother. I’ve read many books this year whilst furloughed, and this is one of the most poignant. This book is full of emotion and I was caught up in each story, shedding a few tears along the way.

This is a no spoiler review, so you will need to read the book to find out if Ella saved her grandson. A five star book in my humble opinion, a lifetime of experiences captured in one stunning story. It will also make you think about who you would like to meet again, to maybe have a different conversation with. I’ve had Joe’s debut novel, The Rules of Seeing, on my Kindle for months and I look forward to reading it soon.

Book launch event:

On Thursday 28th October I attended Joe’s online book launch event organised by his publisher. It was fascinating to hear about Joe’s inspiration for the book, from how his grandparents met to becoming a father himself, to linking The Seven Ages of Man by Shakespeare to the life of a woman linked by music. The Jack Shapiro who wrote the music in the book is a work of fiction based on Jack Sands, his grandfather.

Author bio:

Joe Heap was born in 1986 and grew up in Bradford, the son of two teachers. His debut novel The Rules of Seeing won Best Debut at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards. Joe lives in London with his girlfriend, their two sons and a cat who wishes they would get out of the house more often.

For more information, please contact felicity.denham@harpercollins.co.uk | 0208 307 4203

The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about the Windsor Knot by S.J. Bennett, being published today. Thank you to Bonnier Books, Zaffre Books and Readers First for a copy of the book – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

The first book in a highly original and delightfully clever crime series in which Queen Elizabeth II secretly solves crimes while carrying out her royal duties.

The morning after a dinner party at Windsor Castle, eighty-nine-year-old Queen Elizabeth is shocked to discover that one of her guests has been found murdered in his room, with a rope around his neck.

When the police begin to suspect her loyal servants, Her Majesty knows they are looking in the wrong place. For the Queen has been living an extraordinary double life ever since her coronation. Away from the public eye, she has a brilliant knack for solving crimes.

With her household’s happiness on the line, her secret must not get out. Can the Queen and her trusted secretary Rozie catch the killer, without getting caught themselves?

The Windsor Knot is the first book in the ‘Her Majesty The Queen Investigates’ mystery series by SJ Bennett – for fans of The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, Agatha Christie and M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin.

My thoughts:

I must admit that when I first saw this synopsis, I did wonder whether I would find this too far fetched. However after reading and enjoying the first chapters, I quickly ordered the book via Readers First. The book arrived on Friday and was finished by Saturday evening (helped by the fact my husband went out!).

The book cover and end papers are stunning – as regular readers of my book review blog will know, I love dogs and the end papers and back cover include corgi illustrations. The dogs make regular appearances in the story, as do the Queen’s horses.

As a fan of Agatha Christie, and the recent ‘Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osman, I’m pleased to say that I did enjoy this amateur detective novel – the murder mystery, the Queen’s own investigation, the humour and the characters created by S.J. Bennett.

I loved the conversations between the Queen and Prince Philip, and could imagine their voices. My favourite character is Rozie, who quickly finds herself helping the Queen in ways she wasn’t expecting when recently employed by the royal household, assisted by a very small group of loyal ex-employees. Great to see a book full of strong female characters.

If you enjoy the more ‘gentle’ murder mystery stories, then I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I did.

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for this feel good festive read on my book review blog today. Thank you to Zaffre Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The book is being published in the UK on 29th October 2020.

Synopsis:

Recently divorced, the family home sold and her son all grown-up, Clare is at a crossroads. She’s dedicated her whole adult life to her family, and now it’s time she did something for herself. 

In the lead up to Christmas, Clare decides that a bit of time in the countryside might be just what she needs, so she moves back to Little Bramble, the village she grew up in. But living with her mum for the first time in years – and not to mention Goliath the Great Dane – can be challenging. 

When Clare finds herself running the village Christmas show, it feels like she has purpose in her life again. Bringing together people from all sides of the community, and all walks of life, will Clare manage to pull off a festive feat like no other? And will she find the new start in life – and possibly love – that she’s been looking for?

The Country Village Christmas Show is the perfect romantic read to get cosy with this winter.

My thoughts:

This is the first book published by Cathy Lake (aka Rachel Griffiths). The blurb and the gorgeous cover drew my attention to this book, plus the feature on Readers First.

I felt sorry for the main character, Clare, at the start of the story – her happy life had vanished in a relatively short space of time as her marriage faltered, her job was made redundant and she ended up moving back in with her mum and a very large dog called Goliath.

However Clare soon starts to rekindle old friendships and make new acquaintances on her voyage of self discovery, although the path to romance is a tricky one to negotiate.

A great mixture of characters, a canine friend, Christmas preparations and three generations of a family working together provided a cosy autumnal read. I look forward to reading more by Cathy Lake.

A Village Vacancy by Julie Houston

Thank you to Victoria Joss at Aria Fiction for a digital review copy of the latest book by Julie Houston. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The book is published today and and can be ordered now at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087JY3HCM/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_IuZEFb46HPJHF

Synopsis:

As the Yorkshire village of Westenbury mourns the loss of one of their own, the women can’t help but contemplate who will fill the vacancy in one handsome widower’s life…

Grace Stevens has decided it’s time to move on without her husband. He’s off gallivanting around Cornwall in search of a new life, and good riddance. It’s time to go back to teaching, so Grace returns to Little Acorns and takes on an unruly class of pre-teens. As she deals with disasters in – and out of – the classroom including an accidental dalliance with her most troublesome pupil’s dad, helping track down a drug ring and keeping up with her closest girlfriends, Grace begins to wonder more and more about the sparkle in David’s eyes and the sparking chemistry between them.

Could Grace be the one to fill this village vacancy?

My thoughts:

The first book I read by Julie Houston was A Village Affair earlier this year (primarily about Carrie Beresford), and more recently, Sing Me A Secret, (primarily about the Sutherland sisters). This book features these characters, plus many more from previous books about Westenbury.

It did take me some time to get to know all the characters, there seemed to be a larger number of main characters in this book compared to the previous couple I had read. I enjoyed finding out how everyone had got on after the last book, but life quickly changed for many of the residents again with a car accident, an illicit dalliance, marriage breakdowns, false accusations, toxic relationships and troubled teenagers.

There are many laugh out loud moments (especially with the children and the lovely lollipop lady), but also some darker moments, especially within the ‘county lines’ story and the toxic marriage.

I enjoyed my return visit to Westenbury, and I’m sure that many other readers of the Westenbury series will enjoy their return visit too.

Secrets in the Snow by Emma Heatherington

Thank you to Rebecca Bryant from Harper Fiction for inviting me to join the blog tour for the new book by Emma Heatherington. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift of a review copy.

I enjoyed reading and reviewing Emma’s previous book, Rewrite the Stars last year (review can be found at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2019/10/29/rewrite-the-stars-by-emma-heatherington-blog-tour-29-10-19/).

Synopsis:

As the winter snow falls on the small Irish village of Ballybray, Roisin O’Connor and her young son, Ben, are saying goodbye to their beloved neighbour Mabel Murphy.  Mabel lived a bold and colourful life, but the arrival of her brooding nephew, ‘blow-in’ Aidan Murphy, just makes life more complicated for Roisin.

However, in one final act of love, a message arrives from Mabel that changes everything.  And as winter turns to spring and the cold snow melts, the secrets both Roisin and Aidan are hiding must be revealed at last…

buy link:  http://smarturl.it/SecretsInTheSnowPBO…

My thoughts:

Thank you to Emma Heatherington for another lovely book to escape into on an autumnal day. This is one of those books I didn’t want to stop reading once I started it, and I stayed up late to enjoy finding out more about Roisin and Aidan.

Roisin and Aidan have both had to deal with tragedy and being told to what to do by other people. Mabel’s funeral is where they first see each other, unaware that Mabel will be sending them messages to try to encourage them to help each other.

Although the gorgeous cover of the book and title suggest a winter book, we actually spend a year with Roisin and Aidan. This is a year of discovery for both, to deal with issues from their pasts and to plan their futures, without Mabel.

The book has a few twists in the story, as we find out more about their past histories, and as misunderstandings occur. I loved the ending, although I had been imagining a different ending only a few pages earlier. This was a lovely book to curl up and enjoy, and I will be recommending this to fans of romantic fiction.

Author Bio:

Emma Heatherington has penned more than thirty educational short films, plays and musicals as well as eleven novels, two of which were written under the pseudonym Emma Louise Jordan.
She was ghost-writer to Irish country music legend Philomena Begley and Liverpool born Nathan Carter, whose autobiography Born for the Road was nominated for an Irish Book Award.
Emma’s novel, The Legacy of Lucy Harte, was an eBook bestseller in both the UK and US.
She lives in her native Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, with her partner Jim McKee and their children Jordyn, Jade, Dualta, Adam and Sonny James.

The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

Today I’m happy to be sharing my review for the latest book by Sandy Barker, The Christmas Swap. Thank you to One More Chapter for a digital proof copy and to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the blog tour.

Synopsis

Christmas is coming and best friends ChloeJules, and Lucy are needing change… so swapping homes for the holidays could be the perfect present for all of them!

Australian Chloe spends her Christmas in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England. She is totally star-struck when she discovers who lives across the road.

Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.

And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend her Christmas on a beach with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away is just what she needed.

The only thing better than one Christmas romance is three, and this wonderful festive novel is perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Holly Martin and Karen Swan.

Purchase Links 

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-christmas-swap

https://books.apple.com/gb/book/the-christmas-swap/id1522992097

https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-christmas-swap,sandy-barker-9780008390044

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-christmas-swap/sandy-barker/9780008390044

My thoughts:

Having read many of Sandy’s previous books, I was pleased to be given a sneak preview of her new festive novel.

2020 has been the year when many of us haven’t travelled far, with holidays and family reunions curtailed by the global pandemic. So I was thrilled to be able to travel around the world with the May Ladies at Christmastime. I loved how everyone swapped to experience Christmas differently – to have snow guaranteed or to be able to visit a warm beach.

In each Christmas location, each of the May Ladies also met and fell in love with a gorgeous man, so this book is full of travel and romances. Personally I would have chosen the chance to travel to sunny Australia to meet Dexter the dog, but the rum hot chocolates after spending time in the snow was also very tempting.

This is a fabulous festive read, with fun stories from each of the three countries, all interwoven by the catch up video calls between Chloe, Lucy and Jules – thank goodness for video calling in 2020. I felt much more festive reading this in mid September and I’m happy to recommend it.

Author Bio:

Sandy Barker is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list. She loves exploring new places, outdoor adventures, and eating and drinking like a local when she travels, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, film buff, wine lover and coffee snob.

Social Media Links – 

https://www.facebook.com/sandybarkerauthor

https://www.instagram.com/sandybarkerauthor

https://sandybarker.com/

One Family Christmas by Bella Osborne

Thanks to Avon Books and Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the blog tour for One Family Christmas by Bella Osborne. Thank you to Avon Books for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

A big family. A whole lot of secrets. A Christmas to remember…

This year, Lottie is hosting one last big family Christmas at the home she grew up in – just like her Nana would have wanted.

But when her relatives descend on the old manor house, Lottie gets more than she bargained for. Every family has its secrets, but in this family, everybody has one!

So, between cooking a Christmas dinner, keeping tensions at bay and a stray dog out of mischief, she has plenty on her plate (and not just misshapen sausage rolls and a frozen turkey). And then her first love shows up – nine years after he walked out of her life.

Can Lottie make their last family Christmas one to remember… for the right reasons?

A festive treat to curl up with this Christmas, perfect for fans of Milly Johnson and Trisha Ashley.

My thoughts:

I only discovered Bella Osborne’s books this year, when I read Meet Me At Pebble Beach (which I heartily recommend). So I was pleased to be given an early opportunity to read and review her new festive novel, One Family Christmas.

The opening chapters are actually quite sad, as Lottie and her family say goodbye to Nana Rose. Lottie manages to persuade everyone to return to stay at the Manor House, for one last Christmas, before it is sold and the proceeds split between the family.

Lottie’s family are an eclectic mix, elderly Great Uncle Bernard and his carer, Lottie’s widowed brother, his young daughter Jessica and ‘new’ girlfriend Emily, her mum Angie and latest of many boyfriends, Scott, and her uncle Daniel and his family. As the ‘blurb’ states, everyone is nursing a secret, and these will be revealed over the Christmas period.

Lottie is trying to achieve a perfect family Christmas, which isn’t easy when her ex boyfriend, Joe and a stray dog arrive on Christmas Eve, she forgets to defrost the turkey and a surprise present goes missing from the tree.

I loved this book, so many laugh out loud moments, especially with little Jessica, Dave the dog and Duchess the cat. After a stressful day, this was just what I needed – a book to escape into, full of festive fun, a dysfunctional family, romance and disasters waiting to happen. Lottie is a wonderful main character with a heart of gold.

Another lovely book by Bella Osborne, and I’m already looking forward to 2021 for her next book.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B085XQXDB9/

Universal Amazon link – http://mybook.to/OneFamilyChristmas

KOBO – https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/one-family-christmas

Author Bio :

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. Since then she’s written six best selling romantic comedies and she’s been shortlisted three times for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award. 

Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

For more about Bella, visit her website at http://www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on social media.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/osborne_bella

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BellaOsborneAuthor/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bellaosborneauthor/

A Surprise Christmas Wedding by Phillipa Ashley

Thank you to Avon Books for providing a digital review copy of this gorgeous book via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This is published in ebook format on 19th October and in paperback on 26th November 2020.

Synopsis:

It’s been a year since Lottie’s fiancé walked out, leaving her heartbroken. But things start to look up when she lands her dream job at a beautiful Lake District estate, with a handsome groundskeeper for a neighbour.
 
So when Lottie is asked to organise a last minute Christmas wedding at Firholme, she can’t wait to get started. Until she meets the couple, and discovers that Connor, the man who broke her heart, is the groom-to-be.
 
As snow falls on the hills, can Lottie put aside her past to organise the perfect winter wedding? And will there be any festive magic left to bring Lottie the perfect Christmas she deserves?
 

My thoughts:

This is a lovely festive read. Lottie has had a tough year, with a broken engagement and supporting her sister through her cancer treatment. Jay, her new neighbour and work colleague, is also nursing a broken heart.

The story features secrets, half truths, comedy moments, reindeers, Christmas trees, decorations and romance. Will getting to know Jay, and his gorgeous dog, Trevor help Lottie to cope with organising a wedding for her ex? This is a no spoiler review so you will need to read the book to find out.

A lovely story to provide an escape from the stress and anxiety of 2020. I only discovered Phillipa’s books this year (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/05/29/bookreview-a-perfect-cornish-escape-by-phillipa-ashley/) but have been busy adding more of her books to my Kindle to curl up with over the winter. I recommend enjoying this one with a mug of hot chocolate whilst listening to some Christmas music.