The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock #blogtour

I’m thrilled to share my review for this uplifting new book by Alison Sherlock on my book review blog today. Thank you to Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources for the digital proof copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

After losing her job in New York, Amber Green isn’t looking forward to visiting her godmother in the sleepy village of Cranbridge. With its empty lanes and rundown shops, it’s hardly a place to mend her lonely heart.

But when Amber discovers that Cranbridge Stores, owned by her godmother Cathy and son Josh, is under threat of financial ruin, she realises that her skills as a window dresser might just be able to help save the struggling shop.

When disaster strikes, Amber and Josh must unite to save both the shop and the village from flooding.

Can Cranbridge Stores become the heart of the village once more?

And as the village begins to come back to life, perhaps Amber will discover a reason to stay…

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Alison Sherlock and it won’t be the last. This is a book about finding the right place to be, which may not be the one you originally planned.

I live near to the Cotswolds, where the book is set and this book was a lovely escape from the current anxious world that we live in. Amber and Josh are both looking at their lives to see why their intended career paths have changed so much. As they work together to modernise the shop and to help out the local community during a flood, they start to discover that they may have more in common than they expected.

This was an uplifting read during the global pandemic – a book to curl up with for a ‘virtual hug’. I enjoyed the community spirit of the book and the gentle humour of the characters. I hope we will be able to visit Cranbridge again in future books.

Alison Sherlock:

Alison Sherlock is the author of the bestselling Willow Tree Hall books. Alison enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Her new series for Boldwood is set in a fictional Cotswold Village and the first title will be published in July 2020.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter https://twitter.com/AlisonSherlock

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/alison.sherlock.73

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alison-sherlock

Purchase Links – https://amzn.to/2VPGfzh

One Day in Summer by Shari Low


Thrilled to share my review for One Day in Summer on the blog tour being organised by Rachel’s Random Resources and Boldwood Books – this is a book I devoured in a day sat in our sunny garden, social distancing from the rest of the world. Thank you to Boldwood Books for a digital advanced review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

One day in summer, three lives are about to change forever.

After two decades of looking after others, this is the day that Agnetha McMaster is reclaiming her life. It’s her turn, her time but will she have the courage to start again?

Ten years ago, Mitchell McMaster divorced Agnetha and married her best friend, Celeste. Now he suspects his second wife is having an affair. This is the day he’ll discover if karma has come back to bite him.

Thanks to a DNA test, this is the day that Hope McTeer will finally meet her biological father. But will the reunion bring Hope the answers that she’s looking for?

My thoughts:

This is the second book I’ve read by Shari Low. I enjoyed My One Month Marriage earlier this year – my review can be found at http://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.hom… I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed One Day in Summer even more.

The summer day in question, in a non Covid 19 Glasgow, is the birthday of Aggs (Agnetha) who is celebrating her 45th birthday with her twin daughters, who have a few surprises planned for their mum. However there are many unplanned surprises during the day, as the story evolves and I loved the twists in the story. The twin sisters have a great relationship – loved their interactions with each other and their parents.

The other main characters, include the ex husband of Agnetha, Mitchell who is now married to her former best friend, Celeste, plus a young woman, Hope, looking to find her birth parents and Aaron, who has travelled from the United States to meet her after a DNA test.

One Day in Summer looks at lost love, betrayal, friendships, grief, siblings, adoption, and finding love. This was a great read, so many events happening simultaneously, a book I didn’t want to put down. I recommend this for an uplifting read. I would love to see this on TV too.

One Day in Summer is published in June 2020 in the UK.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/36Uht3z

Shari Low

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and My One Month Marriage and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So.  She lives near Glasgow.

Social Media Links – 
http://www.sharilow.com/

http://facebook.com/sharilowbooks

http://instagram.com/sharilowbooks




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#Blog Tour for Heartbreak in the Valleys by Francesca Capaldi

I’m pleased to share my review today for this historical fiction novel set in the Welsh Valleys during the First World War. Thank you to Hera Books for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own.

Synopsis

The world was crumbling, but her love stayed strong

November 1915. For young housemaid, Anwen Rhys, life is hard in the Welsh mining village of
Dorcalon, deep in the Rhymney Valley. She cares for her ill mother and beloved younger sister Sara, all while shielding them from her father’s drunken, violent temper. Anwen comforts herself with her love for childhood sweetheart, Idris Hughes, away fighting in the Great War. 

Yet when Idris returns, he is a changed man; no longer the innocent boy she loved, he is harder, more distant, quickly breaking off their engagement. And when tragedy once again strikes her family, Anwen’s heart is completely broken.

But when an explosion at the pit brings unimaginable heartache to Dorcalon, Anwen and Idris put their feelings aside to unite their mining community.

In the midst of despair, can Anwen find hope again? And will she ever find the happiness she deserves?

A beautiful, emotional and heart-breaking saga set in the Welsh Valleys of the Great War
that fans of Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin and Sheila Newbury will love.

My thoughts:

This book is well written and researched. Francesca Capaldi start the book by explaining that the war didn’t finish by the first Christmas in 1914 as widely hoped and more young men volunteered from the village of Dorcalon. However one of the young men, Idris, is sent home due to being medically unfit and breaks off his long time engagement with Anwen. The novel follows the lives of Anwen and Idris as they deal with lives made even more difficult by the loss of loved ones to consumption, food shortages, profiteering, domestic violence and social changes. The work at the mines had become slightly better paid – coal was needed for the war effort, but the living conditions weren’t improving.

I enjoyed the novel which brought the village of Dorcalon to life – the choir, the allotment, the hardships, the start of social change and the community spirit. The explosion at the colliery is dealt with sensitively, you feel the emotion of the characters as they wait for news.

I’m pleased to see that Francesca Capaldi is looking to set another book in the area of Dorcalon – she brought the Valley to life in this book. I was initially drawn to this book because I come from a coal mining family, albeit in Derbyshire, rather than Wales. At the end of the book, Francesca Capaldi talks about her inspiration coming from her own family. I also wish I had listened more to my grandpa and his brothers, who all went down the pit at the age of 14. I remember seeing the scars on my grandpa’s back from rockfalls. I’ve also visited the National Coal Mining Museum near Wakefield a couple of times with my own teenagers, and appreciate how difficult it must have been to work underground – for more information visit www.ncm.org.uk

Frances Capaldi

Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and three pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a novel set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian.

Social media links:

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

Blog: www.writemindswriteplace.wordpress.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/FCapaldiBurgess

#blogtour Growing Up for Beginners by Claire Calman

I’m pleased to be able to share my review for Growing Up for Beginners today. Thank you to Boldwood Books for my digital advanced review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. Thank you also to Claire Calman for taking time to answer some questions – the question and answer session is included after my review.

Synopsis

It’s not easy being a grown-up, but at 47, Eleanor hoped she’d be better at it by now…

But when Eleanor waves her daughter off for a gap-year trip, she finds herself stuck as a satellite wife, spinning in faithful orbit around domineering husband Roger, with only a stash of hidden books and her brilliant but judgmental father Conrad for comfort.

Andrew isn’t mastering the art of growing up either. When he finds his belongings dumped on the drive, although he may not understand women very well, even he can see that this looks like some kind of hint… and so moves back in with his parents.

Backing onto Andrew’s parents lives artist Cecilia, always ready to recount tales of her innumerable ex-lovers, whilst her daughters feel she’s like a misbehaving teenager.

But now four lives are drawn together by long-buried secrets of the past, and it is time for them all to grow up, before it’s too late.

A desperate decision … A lost letter … A powerful secret hidden for thirty years…

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Claire Calman. I love the gorgeous cover, it is bright, cheerful and fits the story perfectly.

The story is told by various characters / POV’s and I found it took a few chapters to get into the flow of the story. Looking at the reviews on Goodreads, some readers quickly gave up – my advice is to stick with it if you can, it will be worth it.

As the title suggests, it is time for some of the characters to grow up. Eleanor, whose children have now flown the nest, has to deal with her husband Roger, who is one of the most obnoxious characters I’ve ever met in a book and her dad, Conrad. She meets Andrew (via Conrad), who suddenly finds himself living back with his parents (with a mum determined to feed him up) and needs to move forward with his life. My favourite character is Cecilia, who embarrasses her daughters with tales of her flamboyant past. 

I enjoyed the book and hope you will be tempted to read it too. Topics covered include lost love, parenting issues, adultery, sibling relationships, creativity and a love of books.

Question and Answer session with Claire Calman:

Questions:

1) Do you read the end of a fiction book first or do you know other people who do?

No, I don’t – but I do hate it when books don’t have proper endings. It’s not that the end has to be happy (though I’ve really gone off books that leave me feeling I might as well hide under the duvet as everything is awful), but I do want that feeling of rightness, that sense of ‘ah, yes – of course that’s the end. 
I do know more than one person who habitually reads the end first and I think it’s more common than one may realise. 

2) Was Roger inspired by someone or a combination of people?

There are specific things he does that stem from a range of people, eg always driving except when he wants to drink, and I’m afraid to say – the cutting of the books. The thing is that someone like Roger really has no idea that he’s a bully – I think he’d be genuinely baffled by the thought. 

3) How has lockdown publication differed to normal publication for you?

Well – being superficial for a moment – no book launch! Missing out on some of the really enjoyable stuff when you have a novel published, eg doing festivals or talks in bookshops, signings, readings, more radio etc. I am doing Proms at St Jude’s LitFest – for a live Zoom event with my sister (writer Stephanie Calman) on Sunday 28th June. 

4) Are you planning or writing a new book?

Yes. I had real problems focusing properly on writing at the start of lockdown because – like many people – I felt just really anxious about the whole thing, but I’m working better now. The next book is very different in tone. It’s set in Kent near where I used to live. 

Thank you Claire for taking time out during publication week to answer these questions.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2W6QeB4

Claire Calman is a writer and broadcaster known for her novels that combine wit and pathos, including the bestseller Love is a Four-Letter Word. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Loose Ends.

Social Media Link – 
Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/ClaireCalmanNewsletter

Twitter – @clairecalman

The Plus One Pact by Portia MacIntosh

I’m thrilled to be joining the blog tour organised by Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources today for this gorgeous romantic comedy by Portia MacIntosh.

Synopsis

What if your plus one could be the one…?



Cara has officially run out of men. Her most recent dates have gone from bad to worse, and when her dating app informs her there is no one left in her area to choose from, she is at a dead end.

But with a summer of events ahead of her, she needs to find a solution, fast; someone to keep her company at the never-ending weddings, family gatherings and gender reveal parties that she can’t face going to alone. So when she meets handsome, confident, Millsy on a night out she may be in luck. They could not be more different in personality, but he too has a summer of events ahead and is desperate to get his family off his back about finding a ‘nice girl’. What if they made a pact to help each other out and be a plus one for the summer? Just as friends of course…?

My thoughts:

Thank you to Boldwood Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the review copy.

I discovered Portia’s books last year, starting with Honeymoon for One, and have enjoyed reading and recommending her humorous and uplifting books.

Having grown up and also attended University in Yorkshire, I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of this book – so many books seem to be set in London or at the coast. Cara and Millsy are great characters who strike up an unlikely friendship and Portia brought them to life in a book I devoured in a day.

I loved the pace of the story, the ups and downs of Cara’s summer, the awkwardness of meeting new people as a plus one, the awkwardness of her ex-boyfriend returning for her cousins wedding and the difficult relationship with her cousin and aunt. My personal favourite stories included Millsy meeting Cara’s boss at her wedding and the gender reveal party.

This is a no spoilers review so I can’t say any more about the story, except to say that in the middle of a global pandemic, it gave me the opportunity to laugh out loud on numerous occasions.

Thank you Portia for another enjoyable book – I loved the other books, but I think that this is my favourite.

Portia MacIntosh

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2HJQnC2  

Author Bio – Portia MacIntosh is a bestselling romantic comedy author of 12 novels, including It’s Not You, It’s Them and Honeymoon For One. Previously a music journalist, Portia writes hilarious stories, drawing on her real life experiences.

Social Media Links – 

Newsletter sign up: http://bit.ly/PortiaMacIntoshNewsletter

https://portiamacintosh.com/

http://facebook.com/portia.macintosh.3

http://instagram.com/portiamacintoshauthor

http://bookbub.com/authors/portia-macintosh





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The Glass House by Eve Chase #bookreview

Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They’re grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house’s dark, dusty corners. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour – and the law – don’t seem to apply.

But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds. And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.
Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .

My thoughts:

Thank you to Gaby Young at Micheal Joseph, Penguin Random House for a digital review copy of this book – my thoughts are my own. I’m looking forward to joining the blog tour – thank you for inviting me.

Initially I was drawn to the cover design – which fits the book title perfectly. This is a book with a dual timeline – a feature of many historical fiction books at the moment, and this is an excellent example of it being used well.

The 1971 timeline looks at the Harrington family as they leave London to stay at Foxcote Manor in the Forest of Dean. The detailed descriptions of the darkness of the forest by Ruth, leave the reader in no doubt that this not going to be a light hearted and happy summer. Ruth has had a tragic past but had been enjoying her job looking after the Harrington children. However after a tragedy, the family are spending the summer away from home, a summer full of secrets, lies, a foundling and a sudden death.
This is told by Ruth and the elder Harrington sibling.

Running alongside, we have the current day story of Sylvie, her mum who is rushed into hospital and her daughter Annie, all of whom have secrets from each other, some of which link back to the summer of 1971.

This is a book to curl up with and enjoy the magic of the storytelling. The darkness of events in 1971 is interspersed with the love Ruth feels for the young children in her care. Ruth has taken her own glass house, a terrarium to Foxcote Manor and this follows through both timelines.

I don’t want to spoil the story by giving any of the details away – this is a story that needs to be read and enjoyed in the order it is written in. As each new secret is revealed, a new mystery is created.

The author, Eve Chase:

Website http://www.evechase.com/


Twitter EvePollyChase

Eve Chase is the author of Black Rabbit Hall and The Wildling Sisters, and the pseudonym of journalist and novelist Polly Williams. She lives in Oxford, England with her husband and three children.

#BookReview The Wheelwright’s Daughter by Eleanor Porter #Blogtour

Martha is a feisty and articulate young woman, the daughter of a wheelwright, living in a Herefordshire village in Elizabethan England. With no mother Martha’s life is spent running her father’s meagre household and helping out at the local school whilst longing to escape the confines and small-mindedness of a community driven by religious bigotry and poverty.

As she is able to read and is well-versed in herbal remedies she is suspected of being a witch. When a landslip occurs – opening up a huge chasm in the centre of the village – she is blamed for it and pursued remorselessly by the villagers.

But can her own wits and the love of local stablehand Jacob save her from a witch’s persecution and death…

A brilliant and accomplished novel that perfectly captures the febrile atmosphere of Elizabethan village life in an age when suspicion and superstition were rife.


My thoughts:


Thank you to Boldwood Books for a digital review copy of this book – my thoughts are my own. Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the Blog Tour.

This is the second book I’ve read recently set in Elizabethan England – the era when the Church of England had replaced Catholicism and the majority of people were unable to read. Many were willing to ‘snitch’ on neighbours to earn extra money to feed their families.

Martha, the main character is a headstrong intelligent young woman in an era when women were expected to be quiet and to stay at home. Her mother died when she was young, followed by her grandmother. Her father was a well respected Wheelwright who has turned to drink to help him forget the loss of his wife.

Martha has to deal with the village gossips, whilst trying to find enough food and fuel to survive. As the story evolves, she has a number of encounters with the villagers, some positive and others not. She has to use her inner strength to stay alive on a number of occasions.

The level of detail in the story is excellent, you really get to understand how hard life was. The saddest thing is seeing how a young woman with some basic knowledge of herbs and nursing skills can be suspected of being a witch. An interesting read and an impressive debut novel.

The author:

Ellie grew up in Herefordshire and now lives near the Malvern Hills. She’s taught in Hong Kong, London and Birmingham and published poetry and short fiction. Her novel THE WHEELWRIGHT’S DAUGHTER grew out of walks on Marcle Ridge where a 1571 landslip is still visible and marked on the map as The Wonder. The book tells the story of a world torn by division, where new beliefs jostle with tradition, where to be different can cost you your life. It introduces Martha Dynely, who refuses to be crushed, even when the horizon crumbles and buries her.


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#BlogTour #BookReview A Shop Girl at Sea by Rachel Brimble #HistoricalFiction

Bath, 1912.

Amelia Wakefield loves working at Pennington’s, Bath’s finest department store. An escape from her traumatic past, it saved her life. So when Miss Pennington sets her a task to set sail on the Titanic and study the department stores of New York, she couldn’t be more excited – or determined!

Frustrated with his life at home, Samuel Murphy longs for a few weeks of freedom and adventure. Meeting Amelia on board the Titanic, Samuel can’t help wonder what painful history has made the beauty so reserved. But he already has too many responsibilities for love.

Ruby Taylor has always kept her Pennington co-workers at a distance. Making sure her little brother is safe has always been her priority. But when that means accepting Victoria Lark’s offer of sanctuary, more than one of Ruby’s secrets is under threat of being revealed…

My thoughts:

Thank you to Aria for providing me with a digital review copy of this book via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own.

This is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Brimble, so I haven’t read the previous 3 books in the Pennington series – however I was still able to enjoy reading this book. I have added the previous books to my wish list though.

The story follows three residents of the city of Bath – Amelia, Ruby and Samuel. Amelia and Ruby work together at the Pennington department store before Amelia travels to New York on a fact finding mission for her employers and meets Samuel on the Titanic.

I enjoyed reading about life in Bath and on the Titanic in 1912. Today is the 108th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and it has featured in many books and films. I felt that Rachel wrote about the sinking and the aftermath with lots of care and compassion for both the survivors and those who perished.

Ruby doesn’t leave Bath but her story is no less compelling – she wants to protect her younger brother from their violent mother. 

I enjoyed this book – great characters, detailed descriptions and a story about the importance of friends and dreams about the future. An enjoyable historical fiction book I’m happy to recommend.

The author:

Rachel Brimble lives in Wiltshire with her husband of twenty years, two teenage daughters and her beloved chocolate Labrador, Tyler. Multi-published in the US, she is thrilled to have a new beginning writing for Aria in the UK. When Rachel isn’t writing, she enjoys reading across the genres, knitting and walking the English countryside with her family…often stopping off at a country pub for lunch and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Follow Rachel:    

Twitter: @RachelBrimble

Facebook: @RachelBrimble

Buy links

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2TcCv8y

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2HSZ1OC
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2PrvM9M

iBooks: https://apple.co/2uBz17q

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

My One Month Marriage by Shari Low #Blogtour

My One Month Marriage: The brand new uplifting page-turner from #1 bestseller Shari Low by Shari Low

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb:

“I just need to know…which one of you slept with my husband?”

You know that ‘till death do us part’ bit in the wedding vows? Well Zoe Dalton believed it. She walked up the aisle thinking that she was strolling to her happy ever after.

One month later, her heart is in pieces, she’s returning the wedding gifts and there’s a husband-shaped space next to her in bed. He’s gone, after Zoe discovered a devastating secret.

But Zoe has lost so much more than her marriage. Her three sisters are not only her siblings, they’re her best friends too. Now she’s discovered that one of them may have been the reason her husband betrayed her. She’s lost her happy ever after, but has she lost a sister too?

My thoughts:
Thank you to NetGalley, Boldwood Books and Shari Low for a digital review copy in return for a honest review.

This was the first book I have read by Shari Low and I will now be looking to read more.

Great opening – Zoe is reeling from the shock of her marriage ending in just 4 weeks AND suspects that one of her three sisters may have betrayed her too.

The story moves back and forwards in time looking at the relationships between the four sisters, their dating history and life problems.

This is a book I didn’t want to put down, lots of twists and turns, sibling rivalry and missed chances. Definitely a 5 star read for me – well written, great characters and enjoyable.

The author:

Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter, A Life Without You, The Story Of Our Life, With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter and This is Me. 
And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. 
Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift. 
For all the latest news, visit her on Facebook, twitter, or at www.sharilow.com



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My Great Ex-Scape by Portia MacIntosh – my 5* review

My Great Ex-Scape by Portia MacIntosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb:

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?

My thoughts:
This is the third book I’ve read by Portia MacIntosh and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Great opening – which quickly sees you hoping things improve for Rosie after Dinosaur Dave dumps her on live TV. I enjoyed the fact that she had a good relationship with her parents (very few people in books do). The story evolves well as she meets her ex-boyfriends one by one – Eli becomes a great new best friend who looks out for Rosie when she desperately needs a friend.

Setting the story on the cruise ship worked well – lots of laugh out loud moments. This is more than just a rom-com, it was the perfect medicine and a ‘ray of sunshine’ during a dreary week full of arguing politicians and bad weather – thank you to NetGalley, Portia MacIntosh and Boldwood Books for my ARC – I will be recommending this book to friends and family.

The author:

Portia MacIntosh has been ‘making stuff up’ for as long as she can remember – or
so she says. Whether it was blaming her siblings for that broken vase when she
was growing up, blagging her way backstage during her rock chick phase or,
most recently, whatever justification she can fabricate to explain away those
lunchtime cocktails, Portia just loves telling tales.
After years working as a music journalist, Portia decided it was time to use her
powers for good and started writing novels instead.
Bestseller Portia writes hilarious romcoms, drawing on her real life experiences
to show what it’s really like being a woman today – especially one who doesn’t
quite have her life together yet.

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