**Release tour w/Review** Dopey Women by Laura Barnard

We have followed Laura Barnard from the very beginning, from The Debt & the Doormat/The Baby & the Bride to Tequila & Tea Bags. We are absolutely delighted to be taking part in this super blog tour to celebrate the release of her latest contemporary romantic comedy/chick-lit, DOPEY WOMEN! Please keep reading for our full review, and for a chance to enter a great giveaway!! 🙂

“I’ve flipped the crazy switch and there’s no going back.”

Dopey WomenTitle: Dopey Women

Author: Laura Barnard

Genre: Romantic comedy, chick-lit, contemporary

Release date: August 12th, 2015

Length: 453 pages

Blurb: Sadie had a bumpy upbringing but she’s still managed to drag herself out and carve a career for herself. That all comes crashing down when she, along with the women she manages; Mags, Lexi & Steph, get made redundant. She’s screwed. In hindsight she shouldn’t have attacked her colleague in a moment of rage. There goes the reference.

When they all bump into each other a few months later at the job centre Sadie finds she’s not the only one in a hole. Steph’s boyfriend has left her holding the baby, Lexi’s stuck in an abusive relationship and poor Mags has breast cancer. They’re all struggling to keep on top of their bills. They all need money to get out of their situations, its as simple as that.

Mags mentions that some women find marijuana helps ease the sickness caused by chemo. With the desperation mounting and the coffee spurring them on they somehow decide to start growing it. They’re only going to sell to ladies going through chemo, so its not too bad, right? They’re not going to be proper drug dealers. And its only temporary.

They didn’t bet on the business taking off so well though. Before they know it they’ve got orders coming out of their ears, a sexy detective on their trail, suspicious neighbours and drug dealers angry they’re working on their patch.

Can Sadie pull them out of this dangerous world they’ve found themselves in? And can she do it before they end up in prison?

Dopey Women teaser

REVIEW

Laura Barnard has nailed it again! Not only has she created several well-developed characters, a romance embedded in a super plotline, she also has the gift of humour! In every single one of her books, thus far, I have been in stitches, and never without a smile on my face, and Dopey Women is no exception! Dopey Women is full of ‘sexcapades’, adventure and suspense that will keep you glued to the very end.

Written in first person from Sadie’s point of view, the reader follows her character as we realise she hasn’t had a great life, despite what her colleagues think of her initially. She has came from a shady background, has experienced foster homes and homelessness. She has built herself up to management level, and for what? Just to be made redundant, leaving her barely able to pay her mortgage, not to mention her car and credit cards!!

“I’ve flipped the crazy switch and there’s no going back.”

After meeting up with her colleagues some time later, she begins to realise that none of them have had it too good either: Lexi is living with an abusive boyfriend, Steph has become a single mum since her man left, and poor Mags has recently lost her husband and is now suffering from breast cancer. And, none of them have been able to find work.

After spending time with Mags during her chemo sessions, Mags mentions to Sadie about wanting to try marijuana, hoping that it could help ease the pain. Sufferers like Mags are in a vulnerable position, not necessarily having a clue how to go about these things, or who to ask, and therefore Sadie has a lightbulb moment that between the four of them they could grow and sell their own weed. I mean, of course, with any luck it would take off and they could all be receiving a little profit to help with those bills!!

This is where the fun really starts. Believing that a sex shop sells Marijuana plant seeds, all four women decide to check it out. The scenes that take place in the store are hilarious, with Mags, Steph and Lex checking out the stock and playing with certain toys, while Sadie is trying to buy the seeds. With one member of the team having an orgasmic ‘seizure’ and someone later getting beaten with a dildo you will certainly be crying with laughter.

Before she knows it, Sadie has an unexpected visitor in Detective Harry McKenzie. He is investigating new reports that a new drug dealer is in town. Sadie is a suspect, but when they encounter each other they find a little more than what they were expecting. Arrogant, rugged and muscly Harry is taken in by this unlikely suspect. And she in turn finds herself thinking about him. But, she can’t get close to him with her being a suspect. Surely he’s trying to get close to get her to confess? Maybe she should get close to him to find out what he knows? These thoughts constantly go through Sadie’s mind. He’s so god damn sexy though and she just can’t stop thinking about what she desires him to do to her.

“… This will make him think I’ve been dreaming about him. When I have. A normal person wouldn’t have replayed the coffee shop in their head fifteen times, each time ending with us naked and covered in coffee beans. But I never claim to be normal…

… He knows my name. It sounds so sexy on his lips. He must have tracked me down. It seems I’m not the only one fantasizing about coffee beans.”

The author has done a great job in telling parts of the story from Harry’s perspective too in opening up the reader to Harry’s diary. Sadie is a suspect, but he finds her so hot that he just can’t stop having the most savage thoughts. He wants her, and just maybe then she’ll open up about the drugs too.

Not only has Sadie got Harry to worry about, but it also isn’t too long before the already established drug dealer of the area begins to threaten her when they realise that she is dealing on their patch. These moments are intense and suspenseful at times as the reader awaits what will become of Sadie and just how far these threats will go. Especially when Sadie and her friends think up incredible ways to encourage the drug dealer to back off.

I found Dopey Women slightly darker than Laura’s other stories possibly because of the criminal element and the hot, hot sex. However, this did not affect just how funny the author’s work is. Dopey Women is a bizarre combination of Breaking Bad (tv black comedy drama) meets Miranda (tv sitcom), with a dash of Bridget Jones (I have actually likened Laura’s work to the latter two in previous reviews). I mean, imagine Miranda and her friends setting up a drug business, to help people and pay their bills, but then they get caught up with a hot detective on their trail who ultimately himself gets caught up in erotic thoughts and dealings with one of his suspects, while they also have an enraged, aggressive drug dealer out to stop them at the same time! The girls’ methods of dealing with the fiasco, particularly Sadie’s, are outrageous, quirky and usually wind them up in further trouble…

…which is just what you should expect when reading a Laura Barnard book!

Enjoy!

An ARC of Dopey Women was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Dopey Women is available at AMAZON UK and AMAZON US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Laura previous work includes The Debt & the Doormat, it’s sequel The Baby and the Bride and stand-alone Tequila & Tea Bags. All books have been reviewed on this blog, and all have received a brilliant 5* from us on Goodreads and Amazon! The Debt & the Doormat was one of my Top Reads of 2013! Check our reviews by clicking on the links below:-

the-debt-the-doormat_1The Debt & the Doormat

This first book is FREE on Amazon UK and Amazon US. Go grab a copy now!

The+Baby+%26+the+Bride_2The Baby & the Bride (incl. interview with Laura Barnard)

You can also find The Baby & the Bride on Amazon UK and Amazon US for a small price.

Tequila & Tea Bags

This stand-alone is available at AMAZON UK and AMAZON US for a small price.

Contact info:

Laura would love you to check out her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/laurabarnardbooks and while you’re visiting please give her a ‘like’!

Laura also has her own website at www.laurabarnardbooks.co.uk and is available on Twitter: @BarnardLaura

GIVEAWAY!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Promo post w/excerpt* Hot Basque by Laurette Long

Hot Basque is the second novel of A French Summer by Laurette Long. The characters do cross over into book 2, however both novels can be read as stand-alones. I am looking forward to reviewing Hot Basque over the coming weeks, and I’m sure it will be a beautiful, scenic contemporary romance! A perfect holiday read!! (Please read below for an excerpt and author bio!) 🙂

COVER HOT BASQUETitle: Hot Basque: A French Summer Novel 2

Author: Laurette Long

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit

Release date: May 11th, 2015

Length: 341 pages

Blurb: Sit back with a glass of chilled rosé and let yourself be carried away to the white sands and pounding surf of the French Basque coast. What could be more relaxing? Find out what’s going on at the Villa Julia, where Caroline and her honey are enjoying the song of the crickets, the glow of the stars and happy romps in the boudoir. Caroline is also doing some matchmaking between best friend Jill and the hot Basque himself, Antoine, he of the smouldering eyes and perfect teeth. And Annabel the sister from hell, is miles away, no need to fret about her. What could be more idyllic? Not a cloud on the horizon…well, maybe it’s looking a bit black to the north, but nothing to worry about, surely??

Read on to see how, in Edinburgh, Jill is preparing her body for that nail-biting June encounter with the hot Basque:

EXCERPT – HOT BASQUE

Jill stepped out of the cubicle, tugging down her swimsuit, and came face to face with the full length mirror at the end of the ladies changing rooms. She barely repressed a gasp of sympathetic horror. Jesus if that’s what these aquagym folks looked like she was certainly going to get a boost to her ego. She turned round as casually as she could for a closer look at the poor freak behind her.

The changing room was empty.

She swung round in the direction of the mirror again, leaned forward, blinked, and leapt back. The freak was herself!

Surely she hadn’t looked like that when she tried on her swimming kit in the bathroom of her flat a couple of weeks ago? Of course, the mirror wasn’t full length, and it was one of those rather flattering ones, the same sort they had in expensive boutiques, the ones that persuaded you that your derrière had shrunk to Kylie Minogue proportions thanks to that cute little black number you’d just tried on, the one with the four-figure price tag.

She advanced cautiously, turned to the right, then to the left. She was positively bulging out of her Speedo swimsuit! She really had to cut down on the G and Ts. And the chocolate biscuits. She turned full face again. An alien with the head of a fly had been grafted on top of her shoulders. No wonder she’d had all that trouble in the changing room, pushing and shoving to get her thick mop inside the small slithery rubber cap that kept shooting off one side of her head as soon as she’d managed to tug it down on the other. A bit like one of those old fashioned diaphragm thingies that women used to wear for contraception. She’d actually come across one at the back of her own mother’s drawer, shock horror, all dried up and yellow with age. Well it would be, she supposed it had been a while since Kathleen O’Toole had been needing it. Five strapping boys and finally the hoped-for girl. Her mother had been forty-five when Jill was born and on the point of giving up. She supposed the diaphragm had been chucked into its box as soon as Kathleen had got out of hospital and told Jerry O’Toole that if he didn’t get the snip Kathleen was going home to her mother in Dublin. Forever.

And now here was Jill, no longer a cute baby but a hefty thirty-something, ready for her first aquagym class, wearing her mother’s old diaphragm on her head and a swimsuit two sizes too small. She tugged the Speedo up, then down, trying to cover her buttocks and her boobs. It became obvious she’d have to accept that one of those two areas was going to be on display. Better the buttocks, she decided, after all they’d be under water for most of the time whereas if her boobs were popping over the top she’d probably put the men off their stride.

Men…were there any men in the class? She suddenly realised there was no one else in the changing rooms, that was funny. Maybe there were no women in the class, just her and a group of hairy males all having the same problem trying to get their bits inside their Speedos. Did they have to wear the funny hats too? Perhaps there’d be some prime specimens, all sleek muscles and washboard abs, like that Florent what’s his name, the one in the Olympics with the cute dimples.

No Jill, enough of that, she told herself sternly. Antoine is waiting for you, in his wetsuit, with his smouldering eyes and sexual techniques known only to the Basque nation.

In spite of her Nordic hill walking and her sessions at the gym, she had decided that more drastic measures were needed if she was going to be the Belle of Biarritz in June. She needed toning, as well as developing her heart and lungs, which both seemed to be in pretty good shape, especially her lungs, she thought, yanking at her swimsuit again. Apparently aquagym was the answer. Lots of stretching and tightening up those flabby thighs and bingo wings, twirling those funny pink and blue foam thingies that looked like giant noodles. It would be fun! She’d rummaged round until she found her old swimsuit from college and popped into Aquasports R Us to look at swimming caps. The snotty young assistant had said no, the cap with devil’s horns would not go down well at an aquagymn class. These young ones, no sense of humour. Miss Snootyface had informed her that what she needed was a slippery scrap of rubber which was the only device tight enough to prevent the least drop of water getting onto her hair and ruining its colour. Did she by any chance want to stop being a red-head and opt for green hair the texture of a horse’s dinner? Of course she didn’t.

Snootyface had omitted to mention that it needed ten minutes and steel talons to snap the thing in place and that not only did it keep the bloody chlorine out, it also, in a reverse or perverse action that probably had something to do with thermodynamics, was so eye-wateringly tight that it forced every brain cell downwards to the chin area making the wearer resemble Benny Hill.

She became aware of a sudden loud, regular tick. The clock over the door said 12h40. Fast, obviously. The class started at 12h30. But in that case, a small voice inside her head told her, why was the ladies changing room empty except for her?

She was late for her first class. Sweat broke out. Perhaps she could just sneak in, slide into the pool without anyone seeing? She pushed open the door into the shower room, hurried along to the end.

Uh oh. She could hear the voice of the instructor going on about ‘drop that head down, feel its weight, now turn slowwwwly to the left, now slowwwwly to the right…’

They’d started. She’d probably get a belt with a rubber hose or something. She hurried out into the pool area, tottering down the wet steps, careful, don’t want to fall smack on your increasingly exposed buttocks now, do you Jillian Benedicta? There seemed to be rather a lot of people down there in the pool. She got to the bottom of the steps, was making her way as unobtrusively as possible to the water’s edge when a voice rang out:

‘Shower!’

What? Was someone talking to her? The class had come to a standstill in the water, all eyes were on Jill in her Speedo and her diaphragm. The instructor had turned, hands on hips. And what hips! Jill couldn’t help marvelling at those toned slender meercat items dropping down to equally toned slender thighs and going up to, well she didn’t have much in the boob department, but Jill supposed that was what you looked like if you were a sports fanatic.

Or maybe it was the lycra. Her eyes, fascinated, got stuck on the instructor’s outfit. Pure, poured-on lycra. You could even see, well, she didn’t want to linger on the bit between the instructor’s legs, frankly it left nothing to the imagination, she wondered how anyone could have the nerve–

‘Shower!!!’

‘Pardon?’

Jill lifted one side of her diaphragm.

‘You obviously haven’t been through the showers. Your swimsuit–’ the instructor gave a little sneer ‘–is bone dry. Didn’t you read the instructions?’

‘Oh. Er. Sorry. Sorry. ’

Jill fled back up the steps, turned on the cold water and gave herself a vigorous soak adding a few loud gasps for authenticity.

This time when she ventured to the edge of the pool she was able to step delicately down the steps and join her fellow aquagym-ers.

They were obviously regulars. The warm-up had finished, they were all leaping up into the air like Icelandic geysers, arms rigid at the sides, pushing down the water with their flattened palms. Jill joined in, jumping as energetically as she could ‘and push that water and push that water…’ She felt a kick in the back of her leg, turned around. A senior citizen in a cap covered in fake roses was glaring at her. Where was her diaphragm? In fact there were quite a few non-diaphragm pieces of headgear, now she looked. She’d have been better in the devil’s horns. Rosebonnet was saying something, over the sound of splashing.

‘Forward! Move forward!’ she hissed, in between jumps.

‘Oh sorry,’

Jill realised her energetic leaps had been taking her towards the back of the pool. She waded forward, gave another leap, then realised the exercise had changed, now they were all swinging their upper body from left to right, arms extended. Was that a snigger she heard from Rosebonnet? A knobbly finger gave her a karate chop below the ribs but the woman next to her had already swung round the other way. They were feral, this lot. Jill hopped a bit further to the left, started swinging, feeling her waist muscles give a nice satisfying tug.

Ten minutes later she was definitely getting the hang of it. It was a bit tougher than she’d thought, she’d asked the girl at reception what sort of level she ought to start with, intermediate or advanced? But the receptionist had smiled sweetly and suggested that maybe she could try ‘Beginners’, she could always move up to Intermediate and Advanced once she saw how she got on.

Beginners! Jill had capitulated, with bad grace. Now, in the brief moments when they were relaxing and deep-breathing she had time to do a quick recce of her fellow aquagymers. They were all, with one exception, senior citizens. And all, with one exception, female. There was one ancient wheezing grandad at the back, with sagging breasts and a gold necklace. The only other person who looked to be remotely Jill’s age was at the front of the class, under the watchful eye of Lycra-woman, and was heavily pregnant.

‘OK, floats!’

‘Ouch!’

A pink noodle hit her on the head, then a blue one, good job they were made of foam but still she’d sensed a certain hostility in the way they had been hurled in her direction by a wizened old prune of ninety.

‘Everyone on their backs, legs together, flex those feet, now to the count of eight, scissor those legs, keep your back straight, tummy up, feel those tummy muscles working.’

Oh they were working alright. By the time she’d done two sets of eight Jill was puffing and panting like a steam engine. Around her the grannies carried on, scissoring fit to cut a rug, flashing their false teeth at Lycra-woman.

‘That’s wonderful Gladys! Keep going! Excellent Phyllis, those legs are really straight.’

But if she’d thought the scissors thing was bad, by the time they got to the abdo curls Jill was sure she was going to die. Not only that, either she kept drifting into other people’s ‘space’ or they kept drifting into hers, causing a lot of collisions and submersions and hissed insults.

As the lesson finally drew to a close Jill watched them emerge slowly from the buoyant water, totter up the steps like newborns, arms and legs like sticks, and putter off to the showers like arthritic tortoises. She could scarcely believe this bunch of pathetic creatures were the same lot of beasts she’d spent the last forty minutes with, exchanging sly kicks and punches under the water. She was going to be black and blue tomorrow. And her stomach muscles were on fire.

‘Ouch!’

She was hauling herself out of the water and up the steps when she felt a pinch on her bottom. A decided, deliberate, old-fashioned, good-handful-of-flesh pinch. She turned round, outraged, ready to sock this fighting gran right out of her rose-covered bonnet.

Grandad was grinning up at her, gap-toothed, gold chain glinting in his grey chest hairs.

‘Welcome to wor class, lassie. Fair got a wee stiffie on me just watching yer do them jumps!’

He gave a leer and a wink as she shot up the final steps and made for the showers. What could she do, report him for sexual harassment? He must be at least a hundred and four. He’d never make it to the police station.

AUTHOR BIO:

Laurette LongLaurette was born in the UK, near Brontëland. Graduating from the University of Leicester with a degree in English, she taught in the USA, UK and France, where she now lives.

Her forays into fiction writing when she was seven reveal her literary influences and distinctive style. “The Phantom Ghost Girl of Raven Castle” begins: ‘Vicky Dare, the girl detective and her big Alsatian, Rex…’ then stops. The Ruined Cottage” is longer and also demonstrates she is equally at home with either first or third-person narrator: ‘…it was a favourite haunt of mine and I never grew tired of it.’ In the chilling tale “The adventures of Carlotta”, the heroine ‘…dashed to the door her face white with horror’ while, surprisingly, in “The Secret at the Ball” ‘…a secret compartment was revealed! There glittering lay the Lane jewels!’

(Yes, she is a hoarder, incapable of parting with childhood books and notebooks.)

Aged 10 she developed a passion for the theatre, and throughout her career wrote plays for students. “A Midsummer’s Nightmare”, where Shakespeare’s lovers get into time warps in the wood, meeting Dracula and Little Red Riding Hood, was a tricky favourite. Everyone wanted to play Dracula. She had to wield authority. (Those with pointed canines had an advantage). Later, unable to find a textbook suitable for adult ESL students, she wrote one. Beguiled by an admirable work of French literary criticism about American writers in Paris, she translated it. (“Paris in American Literature” by Jean Méral)

(As well as being a hoarder she has also been accused of being bossy and a dilettante.)

Recently the ghosts of Vicky Dare and Carlotta nudged her into a return to fiction. “Biarritz Passion”, a contemporary romance, was inspired by the Basque country and its magic. (Go see!) An Amazon fan, she attempted self-publishing. After wrestling with formatting rules and sweating during the on-line tax interview, she finally hit the ‘submit’ button in March 2014, thus proving that even non-techies can do it. (Hoarder, bossy, dilettante and getting better with computers).

In spite of distractions–good friends, good food, Monsieur Wonderful, and a project to transform a hill of brambles into a Mediterranean garden–Book Two in the French Summer Novel Series, “Hot Basque”, was finally finished in May this year. Ouf.

AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON

HOT BASQUE

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hot-Basque-French-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00XK2II3G/

http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Basque-French-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00XK2II3G

BIARRITZ PASSION (A French Summer, Novel 1)

http://www.amazon.com/Biarritz-Passion-French-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00J2ERSSM

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Biarritz-Passion-French-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00J2ERSSM

Keep up with Laurette’s thoughts about books and writing on her blog ‘Get Passionate’:

http://laurettelong.com

where all comments are welcome.

*Blog Tour* The Fairy Tale Formula ‘How to Win a Man’s Heart’ Vol. 1 by Elena Burnett

fairy tale banner

the fairy tale formula elenabookTitle: The Fairy Tale Formula ‘How to Win a Man’s Heart’ Vol. 1

Author: Elena Burnett

Genre: Non-fiction, Self help book (Relationship Advice)

Release date: March 16th, 2015

Released by: Bryce Cullen Publishing

Length: 110 pages

Blurb: The 10 most common fairy tale misconceptions women have about men dating & relating and the easy steps to getting it right!

Ever wished to get inside the mind of a man to find out the truth of how he feels about love and romance?  Well now you can!

The Fairy Tale Formula is a manual on the art of love and communication.  It will help you realize the adjustments needed in your dating and relationship life in order to get the success you deserve!  International Relationship Specialist and Dating Author, Elena Burnett, will reveal the solutions to you in her clear even-handed approach.

This important book on dating and communication strategy will help you see love and romance through the eyes of men.  You may very well identify with more than one situation presented in these fairy tale ideas women have about men as you learn the reasons why they are not working.  Solutions will be provided to you in each of the cases discussed in the book.  These proven effective tools and tips will allow you to do your part correctly and make him fall for YOU!

The REAL truth about men dating and relating every woman need to know.

Author Bio

Elena BurnettElena was born in France and raised between Paris and Madrid.. Elena is Multilingual and world traveled,  speaks French, Spanish, English and Italian.  She has been living in the United States for the past 14 years and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Metaphysical Healing Art here as well.

Elena is an International Relationship and Dating Specialist with more than 20 years of experience helping men and women in their romantic life, having studied extensively with Dr. Pat Allen.. Elena is also an Spiritual Counselor. Her interest in Alchemy and the Esoteric sciences spans her entire lifetime. Her specialty is tarot card, palmistry, face analysis and numerology, with an emphasis on relationships of all types and career readings.

Available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1aTLUJR

www.elenaburnett.com

https://www.facebook.com/Elenaburnettcoach

https://twitter.com/Elenaburnett22

**REVIEW** Tequila & Tea Bags by Laura Barnard

After thoroughly enjoying Laura Barnard‘s previous work with ‘The Debt & the Doormat’ series, I couldn’t wait to read her latest novel, Tequila & Tea Bags! Barnard’s writing style is full of humour and antics, whilst romance is also blooming for the main characters. The only trouble is, will their love survive these comedic, but sometimes troublesome, capers? If you like, quirkiness and cringe-worthy moments, packed with emotion and fun, then you will LOVE Laura Barnard’s work!

Blurb

Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her friends as a club rep in Mexico.

When she hears about a council incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.

But she doesn’t plan on bonding with the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie not to become a Nun.

Soon she’s questioning who her real friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.

Can the village win her over and will she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

REVIEW

Romantic comedy and chick-lit fans will LOVE Laura Barnard‘s work, and Tequila & Tea Bags is no exception! Poor Rose! She’s young and hasn’t a clue which direction to go in. With no real true friends, apart from Janey who is swanning off to Mexico for a good time, and no solid boyfriend, she spends her time living the high life, drinking and having sex! After her parents have had enough they decide to drive her up to a small village in Yorkshire where she can stay with her cousin Elsie who is preparing to become a nun!

As you can probably imagine, the idea of living somewhere so quiet and remote does not excite Rose one bit. It isn’t long before Rose, the new girl in the village, is becoming distracting and causing problems for many of the residents, although unintentionally.

Tequila & Tea Bags is a fun and emotional read. Rose is so easy to like and relate to – she even has elements of my younger self as she is impatient to have a good time and wanting to let herself go, and yet she has such a big heart that many don’t see because of her actions sometimes. As soon as people begin to see the good in her, they then find out about her latest capers and they get pulled away again!

Because of the connection I could make with Rose, I mean, she is so lovable but also flawed, it makes the story believable, down-to-earth and full of feeling. Mix this with humour and the magic of romance, which lifts the reader’s spirits, and it is a delightful read. I was so involved with the storyline that I found myself cringing at times as I could see another shenanigan unfold and Rose getting into deeper trouble.

There are also many loveable characters in Tequila & Tea Bags. Aside from the elderly residents in the care home – some of whom you’ll love dearly – there are also Will, James (the one Rose was warned to stay clear of), Riley (the vile ex of Rose’s love interest), her new friends in Megan and Lauren, as well as the elderly couple living next door who carry out sexual role play pretending to be The Black Eyed Peas!! Many of the locals have their own stories that Rose learns about and becomes involved with during her stay, however to go into too much detail about these characters now would spoil all the fun.

My final point on Laura Barnard‘s stories is that they are packed with solid characters and storylines for many of them, which really supports the main story. There is always something happening, even if the main character has a moment of solace. And the read truly is an emotional rollercoaster as you find yourself laughing out loud, cringing, telling the characters off and drawn to tears at times. I love Laura Barnard‘s books and can’t wait to read her next story!

A copy of Tequila & Tea Bags was provided by the author in return for an honest and fair review.

Tequila & Tea Bags by Laura Barnard is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Laura previous work includes The Debt & the Doormat and it’s sequel, The Baby and the Bride. Both books have been reviewed on this blog, and both received a brilliant 5* from us on Goodreads and Amazon! The Debt & the Doormat was one of my Top Reads of 2013! Check our reviews by clicking on the links below:-

the-debt-the-doormat_1The Debt & the Doormat

This first book is FREE on Amazon UK and Amazon US. Go grab a copy now!

The+Baby+%26+the+Bride_2The Baby & the Bride (incl. interview with Laura Barnard)

You can also find The Baby & the Bride on Amazon UK and Amazon US for a small price.

Contact info:

Laura would love you to check out her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/laurabarnardbooks and while you’re visiting please give her a ‘like’!

Laura also has her own website at www.laurabarnardbooks.co.uk and is available on Twitter: @BarnardLaura

*Book Blitz w/excerpt* Valentine’s Day is Murder by Carolyn Arnold

bookblitz banner

Valentine's Day is Murder Final FrontTitle: Valentine’s Day is Murder

Author: Carolyn Arnold

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Book Synopsis

Jimmy finally takes a vacation–and a chance on love–only to be abducted. His female companion originally thinks he had cold feet about their relationship, but Sean and Sara know there’s more to it. Jimmy isn’t the type to just up and disappear, let alone leave a lady stranded.

Setting out on their private jet, Sean and Sara reach the tropical paradise of Ocho Rios, Jamaica with sightseeing as the last thing on their minds.

With a gold coin being their initial tie to Jimmy’s kidnapper, Sean and Sara even speculate about the involvement of pirates. Yet as the hours pass, and there’s no word from Jimmy’s captors, Sean and Sara will need to figure out the real motive before it’s too late.

With help from their friend, Adam, back in Albany, the pieces come together and not a moment too soon.

Strap in for an adventure that will take you to the beautiful island of Jamaica and have you wanting a piña colada.

About the Author

Carolyn Author PhotoCAROLYN ARNOLD is the bestselling author of the Madison Knight series, the Brandon Fisher series, and the McKinley Mysteries. Her love for writing dates back to her teen years, but her passion was reignited in 2006 when a fellow employee said “tell me a story.” Since then Carolyn has never looked back.

Her writing has since been compared to New York Times Bestsellers such as JD Robb, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen, and more.

Carolyn was born in 1976 in a rural town of Ontario, Canada, and she currently lives with her husband and two beagles in a city near Toronto.

For more information on the author visit https://carolynarnold.net/

Amazon – http://ow.ly/G4Yl6
Amazon UK – http://ow.ly/G4Ynv
Barnes & Noble – http://ow.ly/G4Ype
iTunes – http://ow.ly/G4Yqv
Kobo – http://ow.ly/G4YrU

Excerpt:

Chapter 4

Pineapples & Alibis

“There was no answer in her room. She may be out by the pool.” The front desk clerk lowered the phone’s receiver and gestured toward a wall of windows that faced a pool, and, beyond that, the sea.
“Thank you,” Sean said.
“No worries.” The clerk smiled and flipped some papers over that she had been working on when they had approached her to call up to Meredith’s room.
Tourists, clad in bathing suits in a spectrum of colors, dotted both the poolside and the beach. It had Sara wishing all she and Sean had to do was enjoy the scenery.
The sun was beating down, the warmth all-encompassing, but thankfully, the humidity wasn’t extreme. Sara still wished to slip out of her dress to reveal the bikini she wore underneath. The thought of the rays kissing her skin was almost too much to dismiss from her mind.
She scanned the horde of vacationers and spotted Meredith lying out on a lounge chair. She sat up as if she sensed Sara watching.
“There she is, Sean.” Sara nudged her head toward Meredith.
“She doesn’t look too upset, does she?”
Sara put a hand on Sean’s shoulder. “We’re not going to assume she’s behind this.”
He stayed put. “She’s not behind this and yet she’s new to his life and he’s never gone missing before.”
“We promised on the flight we would give her the benefit of the doubt, unless something came up to convince us of her involvement.”
“I’m starting to rethink that decision.”
“If Jimmy trusted her—”
“Yes, then we should too.”
“That’s right.” Sara pressed her lips, hoping she conveyed more conviction than she felt at times—this being one of those times.

*Review* Newly released: Playing the Field (Duty & Desire #4) by C.J. Pinard

Playing the Field (Duty & Desire, Book 4)Playing the Field (Duty & Desire #4) by C.J. Pinard

FRESHLY RELEASED January 15th, 2015, contemporary military romance/chick-lit

Blurb: An overachiever in uniform…

Jace Lawless is an overachiever, a go-getter, and determined to accomplish everything he sets his mind to. After serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, and receiving his college degree, he’s picked up by a popular minor league baseball team, all while continuing his service in the USMC reserves.

When Jace meets a beautiful, breathtaking single mother named Miranda Cates, it takes him by surprise. Her shady past and beautiful little girl are the conundrum that both confuses and fascinates Jace. He can’t tear his thoughts away from Miranda, and eventually he believes he can win her over with his dimpled smirk and witty charms.

Once Miranda becomes his, the part of him she hated the most – the part he had kept secret from her for so long – rears its ugly head. Will Miranda lean on her friend Cara for support while staying by his side once he tells her that duty is calling… or will she decide she can’t handle it and take her daughter and leave?

Playing the Field is the fourth and final installment of the Duty & Desire series. Contains adult situations and minor scenes of war.  

REVIEW

After reading Book 3, Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story), Playing the Field goes hand-in-hand as the final story of this sweet, contemporary, military romance series focuses on Jace’s point of view, his background with the U.S. Marine Corps and minor league baseball team, as well as his strong feelings for Miranda. If you’re looking for a refreshing, cheeky, fun and romantic read then this is a series for you!

From early on in the story the reader has a sense of just how much baseball and the Marines mean to Jace. As well as both being an enjoyment of his, he is also incredibly talented at both and his skills are noticed. They both play a huge role in his life, but it could all be about to change with Miranda about to enter it.

Not a fan of a military man, as she has been let down more than once, Miranda makes it clear to Jace that she would never date another! This leaves Jace wondering when he should let her know of his background. You can sense his genuine worry of losing her if she found out but knows that she has to know. How can he make her see his point and that he isn’t a player?

We learn that despite Jace’s macho appearance and strong masculinity, he is actually a rather sweet hottie. He is considerate towards Miranda, and yet has the self respect to follow his dream and remain with the Marines until his contract is up at least! But will he be able to convince Miranda to stay with him?

It isn’t too long before Jace realises his feelings for his ex, Samantha, were nothing compared to how he loves Miranda. Not only does he absolute love her delectable, curvaceous body, he also admires her strong will. Yes, Miranda holds his heart both physically and emotionally. And, he also adores her young daughter, Ashlynn, and has a strong sense that he can’t let these ladies out of his life.

Although his relationship is the core of the story, Jace is also tackling nightmares from when he was once deployed. The author writes with such care over these dark and serious events, and yet still manages to keep the read, as a whole, light. As the story continues some of these events are more frequent and add more power as the reader begins to see just how much the Marines mean to Jace, and also how he doesn’t want it to affect a life he longs for with Miranda. This could be one of the biggest battles he has ever had!

Playing the Field is a delight to read and, as the whole series has been, very refreshing! Fans of Duty & Desire books 1 and 2 will also be pleased to hear that Cara and Riley also have an appearance in Playing the Field, as the author carries on a little of their storyline too and how their relationship affect Miranda and Jace (Cara being Miranda’s best friend, and Riley a military man himself with a story to tell of his own). Yes, to thoroughly enjoy I would strongly recommend that the series be read as a whole, as these lives intertwine and each book is from a different perspective. They fit together superbly well and you truly get to see all angles. What a way to honour the military and their families, C.J.!

A copy of Playing the Field (Duty & Desire #4) was provided by the author in return for an honest and fair review.

Playing the Field is available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

You can also find Books 1 & 2 available!

Patriotic Duty (Duty & Desire 1) series previously entitled ‘When Riley Met Cara’

Patriotic Duty (When Riley Met Cara #1)Blurb: Newly divorced party girl Cara Reid just wants to have fun. Much too young to even be a divorcee, she and her bestie, Miranda, set off to have fun and maybe a few casual hookups and live life. One night at a military bar, Cara meets Riley Forrester, a hot Army soldier who makes her melt with one look of his deep ocean blue eyes. But Riley is only staying the summer in California and then has to go back to Colorado when it’s over. Cara tells herself he’s just a summer fling and is determined to enjoy herself and let him go once the summer is over. But when Riley receives orders he wasn’t expecting, she’s forced to make a decision on whether she’s going to be there for him when he gets back, or move on with her life. What she wasn’t expecting was to fall so hard for the beautiful soldier boy, and now she’s faced with accepting her feelings or letting him go.

For readers 18+. Contains adult content.

Our review link

Amazon US link – currently FREE (please be aware prices are subject to change)

Amazon UK link – currently FREE (please be aware prices are subject to change)

Tour of Duty (Duty & Desire #2)

Tour of DutyBlurb: Army Sergeant Riley Forrester knew all about love, loss, and pain. He knew the love of a woman just to lose it. He had spent the best summer of his life with a beautiful single mother named Cara Reid, and then desperately needed her love to get him through a long, cold deployment. When things went horribly wrong overseas, he decided it was best to let Cara go and let her move on with her life. Cara wouldn’t be forgotten that easily, though. She had seeped her way into his heart and his dreams, and Riley knew he’d never love another like her. Contains adult content, for readers 18 and older. Also contains minor scenes of war.

Our review link

Amazon US link

Amazon UK link

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) (Duty & Desire #4)

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda's Story)Blurb: Miranda Cates finally graduates from college and is excited to begin her dream career in law enforcement. After the final betrayal and heartbreak of her college boyfriend, Chris, she moves back home with a firm plan in place for her life.

However, the life she has carefully mapped out for herself takes a serious left turn. Miranda finds she not only has to be strong for herself, but for the daughter who hadn’t been part of her plan.

Determined to still believe in true love, life throws Miranda one more wicked curveball. She meets Jace Lawless, a hot minor league baseball player, whose warm aqua eyes and big dimple have her unraveling her carefully laid plans. A man who may be just be too good to be true.

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) is book 3 in the Duty & Desire series, and while it is recommended to read the books in order, it’s not necessary.

Our review link

Amazon US link

Amazon UK link

AUTHOR LINKS

If you would like to contact C.J. Pinard you can reach her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CJPinardAuthor or you can e-mail her at cjpinardauthor@gmail.com.

*Double Promo* ‘Forgotten’ and ‘Arranged’ by Catherine McKenzie

We are delighted to be working with Catherine McKenzie this year, Canadian author of Spin and Spun (novella sequel to full novel, Spin) – both of which are on my review list, as well as her Forgotten, and due for release on February 1st, Arrangedwhich is to be reviewed by Tina. These contemporary romance/chick-lit novels have been translated into French, Portuguese, and several other languages, and are international bestsellers, as well as being freshly released in the UK!

Please find below information for Forgotten and Arranged, with links for further details, and a short bio on the author.

Caroline xx

23641064FORGOTTEN

When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?

Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal.

When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change: her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain?

“McKenzie has created a charming character in Emma, witty, extraordinarily level-headed, and blessed with grace under fire in the most trying of circumstances. Forgotten is the story of one young women’s life, broken down, reconstructed, and forever altered. It is an endearing story of discovery and transformation and the importance of turning lemons into lemonade.”— BOOKLIST

For more info on Forgotten please check out the following links:

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 ArrangedARRANGED

Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she’s engaged, Anne can’t help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company’s success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.

“With good dialogue, three-dimensional characters, and page-turning scenes, McKenzie expertly explores what makes a successful marriage work and the lengths to which some people will go to find true love.” –Publisher’s Weekly

For more information on Arranged please click on the following links:-

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author Bio:

Saturday, August 8, 2009.   Photo/Robert J. Galbraith).A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine practices law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN and HIDDEN, are all international bestsellers. She is currently working on her fifth novel, SMOKE, slated for release in 2015. Her novels have been translated into French, German, Portuguese Czech, Slovak and Polish. And if you want to know how she has time to do all that, the answer is: robots.

Website: www.catherinemckenzie.com

Promo w/Excerpt: Seven Exes are Eight too Many by Heather Wardell

seven exes-large

Blurb: The fiercely private Madeleine-Cora Spencer is the last person who should be on a reality TV show, but when she’s shunned by a friend’s new wife because “you can’t trust desperate single women” her pain and humiliation drive her straight to the “Find Your Prince” dating show’s web site.
 
Armed with date-appropriate clothes and a detailed game plan she arrives to meet her potential loves, only to be dumped… on a remote island with seven ex-boyfriends.
 
Seven exes! Could this be any worse?
 
Author Bio:
heather wardell seven exes-bwHeather is a natural 1200 wpm speed reader and the author of sixteen self-published novels including the free ebook “Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo” which has had over 385,000 downloads. She came to writing after careers as a software developer and elementary school computer teacher and has no plans to leave it. In her spare time, she reads, runs, swims, crochets, takes care of her aquarium and her cat Trinity, and plays drums and clarinet. Generally not all at once.
Author Links:
Buy Links:

Excerpt

Chapter One

I stared at the seven men of my supposed dreams. Of my nightmares, more like, and theirs too judging by their stunned faces. The hotel ballroom’s walls closed in and dizziness shuddered through me.

The show’s host said, “What’s wrong, Princess?”, his overdone innocence making it clear: this was no accident.

I had to speak, had to take back some semblance of control, but knowing how many eyes and cameras studied my every move and reaction silenced me like a hand over my mouth.

The host raised well-tended eyebrows. “Nothing to say? Let me help. Gentlemen, I’m Peter Stanley. This, of course, is Madeleine-Cora Spencer. I say ‘of course’ because you all know her. Know her well, in fact.” He paused long enough for me to consider fleeing then added, his tone too casual, before I’d decided how to get past the camera crew, “You’ve all dated her.”

My exes exchanged surreptitious glances, no doubt mentally questioning my choices, as I fought to keep my face expressionless. Hearing the words from him made it all too real.

“Now, she expected to be on the ‘Find Your Prince’ show, but she can’t be on a dating show with her exes, can she?” Returning his focus to me, he shook his head as if sympathetic. “No, you can’t. Especially not the ones you called ‘flighty’… ‘ridiculously jealous’… ‘egotistical’…”

With each trait he pointed to the man it described, and my horror grew with each word. ‘Flighty’, predictably, didn’t seem bothered, but ‘jealous’ and ‘egotistical’ both looked ready to take me apart. I had to shut Peter up before he got me killed. “I did date them,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady, “and you knew that since I put them all on my appli–”

“Gentlemen, Madeleine-Cora,” he said over me, “you’ve been given various explanations for why you’re here, but now it’s time for the truth. You will spend the next twenty-one nights on a tropical island.”

‘Flighty’ said, “Cool!” but Peter ignored him and went on. “You will live together in a shelter, after you build it, and scavenge for most of your food. You’ll be competing for a million dollar prize, and in time we will explain what you need to do to win. Princess, gentlemen, the game is on.”

An island. Trapped with seven men. Not just any men, but these men. So much history. And cameras hungry for the men to reveal that history, reveal my most intimate secrets. Nowhere to hide.

My careful analysis of the real show’s previous seasons to see which strategies worked, the hours I’d spent considering how to get to know my potential princes. Wasted. This bunch of frogs didn’t contain my prince. I’d kissed them all, I should know.

I’d regretted signing up for the show a hundred times over the past two months, starting seconds after I’d filled out the application online through tears of rage and humiliation. Meeting new men and letting them learn about me would be hard, I’d known that, but I’d been sure that finding a good man would be worth the pain. But this? All pain, no possible gain.

“I’m so out of here.”

Greg, my most recent boyfriend, stormed forward and slammed to a stop facing Peter. “You told me I’d be the prince, the one choosing a woman, not this stupid thing. This isn’t fair.”

When Greg had told me he loved me on our third date, I’d been more than a little surprised and nowhere near ready to return the sentiment. He hadn’t seemed to mind, but the words had hung over us like a three-syllable cloud of doom, and I’d dumped him a few weeks later because I couldn’t handle knowing he wanted me to hurry up and fall in love so we could get married.

I’d almost left our pitifully short relationship off my application, but I’d been afraid he’d end up on the show with me in some horrific coincidence. Well, no coincidence, but here he was.

Or maybe not. “I’m leaving, and you can’t stop me.” He headed for the ballroom’s door.

He didn’t make it.

“I don’t want to stop you,” Peter said, his face calm and faintly amused, and Greg paused. “Give me the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars you agreed to pay if you quit the show, and I’ll drive you to the airport myself.”

“The…”

“Surely you read the contract before you signed it?” Now addressing everyone, Peter went on. “We’re allowed to change the show’s concept if we see fit. If you’re thinking of quitting, folks, make sure you have the money ready. Otherwise you’re ours for the duration.”

Greg’s defiance sputtered and died.

Peter ran his eyes over the rest of us. “Anyone got a quarter million burning a hole in their pocket? No? Then let’s go.”

And before I knew it, I was in the back of a limo with my ex-boyfriends on the way to twenty-one days of hell.

 

Caroline’s Top Reads 2014

Hi readers, it’s that time of year again when Tina and myself have lots of fun going through our reviews of the past year and choose our favourites to share with you! And, wow, there are so many it is difficult to narrow them down!Australian xmas card (2)

This is the end of our second full year and we cannot thank you all enough for following us and sharing our posts. We have made so many friends, be they authors, bloggers, agents, publishers and more, it has been overwhelming. We have received our first Christmas card from Australia (pictured), which was an absolute pleasure to receive. It’s amazing to see the sun and summer holiday reminders when the usual card for us is full of snow, log fires and dark evenings.

We hope that you have had a great year and are looking forward to the festive season. We are looking forward to sharing it with you. And I hope that you enjoy us sharing our favourite reads. Tina’s Top Reads will also be coming your way very soon. And here are mine!

Please click on the titles for my full review and much more info!

Contemporary Romance

Books of this genre and some contemporary rom-coms have been a big hit for me this year, and Helena Fairfax’s The Silk Romance was an absolute pleasure to read. It was written so beautifully, powerfully and thoughtfully, and certainly a read you will not forget! It is a Cinderella-type story that is highly intense and completely grips the reader. I have also likened it to some high-profile romance movies in my review as some aspects are similar and captivating!

TheLoveofMarisol_WP2014The Love of Marisol by Christos Toulouras is a short story of love and loss, but with the possibility of finding new love after. It is, again, very powerful and emotive, beginning as quite a dark and realistic read (although fiction). Taking only around an hour to read, it was one of my favourite reading hours of the year!

Contemporary Rom-Coms

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda's Story)As well as the serious side of romance, it is always uplifting and refreshing to read some fun reads, even though they still hold a serious undertone. The book that enlightened me in this manner is C.J. Pinard’s Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) (Duty & Desire #3). It is my favourite book of the Duty & Desire series. It is a light-hearted, fun and cheeky read. And I love how C.J. Pinard follows both Miranda’s career, as well as her romances, and at the same time the reader sees a different side to the friendship that Miranda has with Cara.

An Autumn CrushWanting to read a seasonal book at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson. It was a Bridget Jones style read, with plenty of humour and a real feel-good and refreshing feel that really captured the time of year. And with some sombre storylines for some characters it has an awful lot going on, but is still relaxing and fun to read.

Historical Romance

Summer in RyeLucy Oliver’s novella Summer in Rye is an incredibly intense short story, with power and the ability to grip the reader. Following a new governess to children that have been badly affected by smallpox, and a master that is tyrannical, Eva only has one choice: to turn to the master’s brother, who was once engaged to her. Passion reignites between these two, but after he lied before, can Eva really accept him back?

Paranormal

Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5)To top off my favourite paranormal reads is Tim O’Rourke’s Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5). Last year the first of the series, Vampire Seeker, was one of my favourites, and again this series has really thrilled me. It has everything from vamps, shifters, action/adventure and time travel! The romance and passion is also very intense, making for a very HOT read! This is a series not to be missed, and I cannot wait to review Vampire Watchmen (Samantha Carter #2) in the new year!

And, not always a huge fan of short stories, this year has certainly changed my point of view. I used to think that to create great characters that full novels would be more fulfilling. However, there are a number of short stories in my top reads this year and a certain series of short stories really blew my mind – Alisa Woods’ True Alpha series. There are six shifter stories, which follow Mia and shifter Lucas, their attraction and heat for each other! Yet, the dilemma is that Lucas lost his last mate, and being to close to another is just not an option. But, when rival shifters kidnap Mia, Lucas has to face his true feelings. Each story is complete with action, heat and intensity. Shifter fans will LOVE this series. Here are the links to each review:-

Desired (True Alpha #1)

Guarded (True Alpha #2)

Hunted (True Alpha #3)

Captured (True Alpha #4)

Sacrificed (True Alpha #5)

Claimed (True Alpha #6)

I am also hoping to review another short A True Alpha Christmas over the coming days before the big day. And, in the new year Alisa Woods will be releasing her Dark Alpha short story series!

Soul RebelNow, for my second entry of author C.J. Pinard we have Soul Rebel. This is my favourite novel of C.J.’s. With plenty of action, suspense and romance it really does have it all. The characters and storyline are brilliant. Nolan loses his soul during a kiss with a female succubus in a nightclub and he only has 7 days to claim his soul back! Time constraints cause the tension and really make the pace quick. Plus there are many surprises which make it an exciting read.

Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #1)Recommended for the younger adult (15yrs+) Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal trilogy #1) by Pat Spence is an enchanting and fairytale-like read with supernatural mystery and horror. It is highly recommended to fans of the Twilight saga, but without the vamps. It follows the idea of eternal youth, ancient links and an attraction between Emily (17) and the handsome Theo. It is highly emotive, with a great eerie atmosphere as the reader gets sucked in to the mystery. Blue Moon is a fantastic beginning to this trilogy.

Horror

Moonshine (The Moon Trilogy, #3)This year saw the final instalment of Tim O’Rourke’s Moon trilogy, Moonshine (The Moon trilogy, #3). A paranormal horror series that has it all; action and adventure, vamps, weres, heart-warming moments and plenty of surprises. The running theme through the trilogy is whether or not vamps and weres can exist in peace together. Or, will they both have to try and annihilate each other? Will the love of Winnie be enough to hold it all together? (Clicking on the links for books 2 and 3 may spoil the storyline for those who haven’t read book one.)

Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy #1)

Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy #2)

Crime Thriller

COLD CALL BOOK COVER - with blood SAFE COPYCold Call by Colin Llewelyn Chapman, was an instant like for me. After being likened to author Martina Cole, Luther (BBC tv series) and with a pinch of Fifty Shades, Cold Call proved to be a gritty, well-planned read that follows both the suspect and the police with their investigation into the deaths of several women from seedy backgrounds. This is another read with surprises along the way that will keep you gripped until the end.

21 Hours - Dustin Stevens_1Dustin Stevens’ 21 Hours is full of action and suspense as an uncle and ex-con is attempting to save his two year old niece after she has been kidnapped. Being an ex-con he is not entirely trusted by the authorities, but he is so desperate that he will do anything! I have likened it to some action movies, such as Lethal Weapon, Commando, Ransom and Con Air as there are some elements of these in the book and especially in they way it left me feeling after I had read it. It is also another read that is quick-paced, partly due to the time that it is believed that the young girl has left!

Ooh, and now for some Festive Contemporary reads

As an added treat, and because they were brilliant reads, I thought I would share the following two festive reads:

CANDY CAIN by C.L. Scholey - Click Image to CloseC.L. Scholey’s Candy Cain is a short 55 page read that is festive, hot and full of suspense. After being snowed in during a blizzard and left on a desolate road, with only the stranger that she dislikes after briefly bumping into him earlier, the only way they can keep warm is by body heat! Hmm, I wonder where this will lead and what the outcome will be for them? There are also heart-warming moments and an underlying storyline about helping those in need.

All I Want for ChristmasAnd finally, a full-length story with a Christmas build-up, new friendships and a new romance in Amy Silver’s All I Want for Christmas. Beginning from the fourteenth of December, the story is written with each chapter being a new day in the lead up to the big day, when there are plans at The Honey Pot café for people of the neighbourhood to meet for a party of food and friendship for the lonely.

I have read many more great reads that I cannot possibly add due to the amount I have here. Crossing many genres, I always hope that there are reads in here to suit many, and I feel that there is a great mix of both published and indie authors.

I hope that you enjoy our posts and would like to thank each and everyone of you for following and supporting us. I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and an absolutely brilliant New Year!

Caroline Barker 🙂

If you would like to check our Top Reads of 2013 to recap on our previous year, you can do so here:-

Caroline’s Top Reads 2013

Tina’s To Reads 2013

 

 

*REVIEW* All I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver

All I Want for ChristmasTitle: All I Want for Christmas

Author: Amy Silver

Genre: Contemporary holiday romance, chick-lit

Release date: November 25th, 2010

Publisher: Arrow

Length: 325 pages

Blurb: It’s Bea’s first Christmas with her baby son, and this year she’s determined to do everything right. But there is still so much to do: the Christmas menu needs refining; her café, The Honey Pot, needs decorating; and she’s invited the whole neighbourhood to a party on Christmas Day. She really doesn’t have time to get involved in two new people’s lives, let alone fall in love…

When Olivia gets knocked over in the street, however, Bea can’t help bringing her into The Honey Pot and getting to know her. Olivia’s life is even more hectic than her own, and with her fiancé’s entire family over from Ireland for Christmas, she shouldn’t be lingering in the cosy warmth of Bea’s café. Chloe, on the other hand, has nowhere else to go. Her affair with a married man has alienated her friends, and left her lonelier than ever.

But Christmas is a magical time, and in the fragrant atmosphere of The Honey Pot, anything can happen: new friends can be made, hearts can heal, and romance can finally blossom…

REVIEW

This is a fab read for this time of year, not only due to the heart-warming and romantic storyline but also because of the layout, with each chapter being a date in December, beginning on the fourteenth and leading up to the big day!

It is written from Bea, Olivia and Chloe’s points of view and follows them through different times each day which really opens the characters up for the reader to get to know and enjoy.

For Bea, she wants to have her first Christmas with her young son. She has been through so much and deserves a fantastic year. After losing her husband two years before, she is now running the café, the Honey Pot, that her and her husband had started together. The previous year was quite a low point for Bea as she sunk into depression and drink, with her mother looking after her son. Which is why this year is so special. As well as this, Bea wants to hold a Christmas party at the Honey Pot on Christmas evening for the people of the neighbourhood, friends and for the lonely to have somewhere to go.

We meet Olivia early on in the story when she gets knocked over outside the café and Bea goes out to assist, bringing Olivia into the Honey Pot and having a chat over a nice, hot drink. This is really the beginning of a great friendship between these two characters. I feel that the author has taken great care with her writing to build these characters up and create a closeness between them. It is written well and is a flowing read which is easy to follow.

Olivia is about to get married to her boyfriend, Kieran. However, when his family comes over from Ireland in the run up to Christmas, she finds that she is having a stressful time feeding and entertaining them, as well as working. Not only this but when Kieran’s family begin suggesting wedding ideas and their future together, i.e. kids, when to have them and how many, Olivia begins to get a little cold feet and doubts whether she is doing the right thing. And, has she really slept with enough men yet?

It is a demanding time for her and she just wants things to remain the same for Kieran and herself. If she pleases him and his family her wishes will never be met. Plus, she knows she will never go through the getting-to-know-you stage again and is this just all too much to bear?

Meanwhile, one of Bea’s best friends, Sam, begins to really get to her. Sam has always been popular with the ladies and it isn’t unusual for him to have a new girl on his arm every week or so. Bea doesn’t really know why he is bothering her so much. They have always been close – only being next door he has looked after Luca, her son, and been there to talk to, lend things to, etc. And she has always known he was one for the ladies. But, Sam seems to be turning up recently when she’s in the middle of something, he seems to be getting closer to her and he gets under her skin at times.

It becomes apparent that Sam has feelings for Bea. This creates a brilliant will-they-won’t-they storyline. Bea knows that Sam has always been there for her, but does she feel that strong about him? And even if she does, she cannot betray her husband, Marco.

And then there’s Chloe. Chloe is introduced as a cold and rude character, having an affair with a married man and not really having much thought for anyone else. When it is first realised by Olivia and Bea that Chloe is in a relationship with a married man, they react quite judgemental towards her, which in turn brushes her up the wrong way. She retaliates by speaking harshly to Bea about her husband, as she sees Bea as the married man’s wife. However, she really doesn’t know Bea’s truth and has judged her completely wrong. But, despite this shaky start, is it possible for a friendship to blossom?

Surprisingly, Chloe was a character I really enjoyed. Even though she has been involved with a married man and comes across quite cold and haughty to begin with, I felt her character made the longest journey and she really is quite nice underneath it all. She seems to come to her senses and realise just how lonely she really is. She doesn’t fit in with her family and excludes herself to an extent from their visits as she is her own person really. I really admire this about her, as it does take strength to go your own way especially when you know it will be a lonely venture.

All I Want for Christmas is a perfect festive, heartfelt and relaxing read, and a reminder that people do have problems but that they also get through them. It is touching, but at the same time leads you into an excitement for the holidays, at the same time as being a relaxing read.

All I Want for ChristmasAll I Want for Christmas is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker