**REVIEW** A Taste of Christmas [Dublin Style] by Krissy V

Although, a little late (or early) for Christmas, I was delighted to read A Taste of Christmas earlier this month. It was a little book I picked up from the Second City Signing from the author herself, and I am very happy that I did!

A Taste of ChristmasTitle: A Taste of Christmas [Dublin Style]

Author: Krissy V

Genre: Festive, holiday romance, contemporary, chick-lit

Date released: December 5th, 2014

Length: 169 pages

Blurb: My name is Nollaig, it’s the Irish word for Christmas. I hate my name. My parents loved Christmas and that’s why they gave me such a festive name, together with the fact that I was born on Christmas Day.

However, my parents are no longer with us after dying in a car accident on Christmas Eve, five years ago.

Now I hate Christmas all together.

I always hated the fact that everyone got presents on my birthday. Now my parents are gone and ever since then I just don’t feel like celebrating Christmas. Everything about this holiday gives me sad memories.

I need a miracle to happen over the Christmas holiday to make me change my mind about Christmas.

Who knew that a quick shopping trip would provide me with the miracle that I so desperately needed?

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

A Taste of Christmas is the ideal festive romance story to read, especially during advent, whether you enjoy Christmas or not. It is a super, sweet romance between characters Nollaig and Tully that takes you through most of December from the moment that they meet up in mid-December until New Year’s Eve.

The contrasting attitudes that Nollaig and Tully have towards the festive period make for a very interesting read, and enables readers to empathise with at least one of the main characters, creating a connection with the reader immediately. Nollaig cannot get away from Christmas no matter how much she tries. Her name is the Irish word for Christmas, and her birthday falls on Christmas day, meaning that one special day of the year meant just for her is actually shared with everybody she knows, taking the edge off her day! To top it all off she lost her parents on Christmas Eve. So, yes, Christmas is and always will be grim for Nollaig.

But, her life takes a turn when one day when out shopping she stumbles into musician, Tully, in a most embarrassing way. Tully is a very warm, kind and caring character who absolutely loves the festivities. And, over the course of the story it becomes clear just how magical Christmas can be as he empathises with Nollaig, yet tries to show her just how beautiful it can be. Will Nollaig appreciate Tully’s efforts, or is it too much too soon?

I love how the author has made both of these characters patient with each other, and they both give each other a chance, rather than giving up. The conflict of the story is their opposing views, which is a little overwhelming at times for Nollaig; sometimes in an exciting way, and other times in an emotional way. This couple are just so cute for each other, the reader is constantly rooting for a nice outcome.

It is a lovely, warm story that is sure to warm up any cold winter. And so, if you’re looking for a winter read while the season is still upon us, or whether you want to make your Christmas list early for December 2016, A Taste of Christmas is perfect for you!

A Taste of Christmas by Krissy V is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**Release Day Review** It Happened One Night (Adventures in Blind Dating #1) by Christine S. Feldman

ItHappenedOneNight 500x750Title: It Happened One Night (Adventures in Blind Dating #1)

Author: Christine S. Feldman

Genre: Contemporary romantic comedy

Release date: September 29th, 2015

Length: 75 pages

Blurb: Who has time for dating these days? Certainly not struggling entrepreneur Paisley Jameson, who has way too much on her plate to pay any real attention to her shriveling social life. And not mechanic Joe Spencer either, who has a lot on his mind with both the family business and family in general. But neither can say no to the beloved mutual acquaintance who wants to set them both up on a blind date.

Which is too bad, because they both kind of wish they had said no when they show up for the dinner date and realize they’ve met before–and not under happy circumstances.

But fate seems determined to prove that they’re not so wrong for each other after all, because in spite of the intentions of both Paisley and Joe to nip this whole unfortunate blind date thing in the bud and go their separate ways, events transpire to keep them together for an evening involving muggers, foot-chases, and even a high-speed trip to the ER–

And that’s all before dessert.

Dating: it’s not for wimps…

REVIEW ***** (5*)

Paisley and Joe really do start off on the wrong foot. And, when Mabel, a friend of both, sets them up on a blind date all hell breaks loose when they meet again and realise just who their date is! With sharp words said, it is in both of their interests to forget it and move on.

However, as I have come to realise with Christine S. Feldman, moving on isn’t quite as simple as suggested, especially when a string of extraordinary events take place and put both characters through their paces.

I found Joe to be an extremely likeable character, and from the offset I completely empathised with his family and work situation. Paisley, on the other hand, I found not so alluring. Although I understood her initial annoyance with Joe, I felt she wouldn’t even give him the chance in the restaurant. She came across quite aloof and hostile. Yet, the reader knows deep down that she can be a very sweet person, especially where Mabel is concerned, and trying so hard to make ends meet. Stress just seems to get the better of her.

Once the action sets in, and Paisley lowers her guard due to each circumstance that entails, her and Joe do begin to connect. Joe’s one hell of a patient and enduring guy, and that made me enjoy reading about his character even more.

It Happened One Night is a great short story with it’s fun capers, quick pace and great dialog. I’ll certainly be looking forward to more stories from the Adventures in Blind Dating series!

A copy of It Happened one Night was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

It Happened One Night (Adventures in Blind Dating #1) by Christine S. Feldman is now available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**Blog Tour w/REVIEW** Abigail’s Affair (Looking for Love #1) by Pat Spence

 

Reasoning that absence makes the heart grow fonder and attempting to force her married lover’s hand, 30 -year old Abigail Aske decides to visit an old friend in Australia.

 


But staying with a 6’2”Amazonian fitness freak proves something of a challenge, as does maintaining ‘no contact’ with Jake, not to mention resisting other tempting ‘offers’.


Set against a wonderful Australian backdrop, with a host of quirky, emotionally dysfunctional characters, Abigail’s Affair tells of a woman’s search for love and happiness, revealing the highs and lows of having an affair, and showing how the experience of travel becomes a voyage of self-discovery, with surprising results.



A story of love, lies, betrayal and hope…

 

 

For anyone who is having an affair, has had an affair or is thinking of having an affair, this book is ESSENTIAL reading…
 
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You can grab e-book for FREE until end of blog tour
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Author Bio 




Pat Spence has worked as freelance writer for the past eighteen years and, prior to that, as a copywriter within advertising agencies. She has also worked as a magazine editor and freelance trainer, teaching public speaking and personal development, using a holistic approach within a business framework. In addition, she is a qualified massage therapist and aromatherapist, reads Tarot cards and is learning banjo.
 


One Click Links
 


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Giveaway 


A Red Crystal Necklace
Signed paperback
Amazon Giftcard

 
 
 

 

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

 

I enjoyed this rom-com/contemporary romance as it has some great humour, cringe-worthy moments, flawed characters, a great setting, as well as some serious, emotional scenes too. It is full of surprises, with many characters to either love or dislike; many of whom have their own tale to tell, intertwining with the overall story.

 

To tell a story of the lead female character having an affair with a married man is quite brave in my eyes. The story begins with the reader not fully liking Abigail as we are met with her ‘sinful’ side, with no real understanding of how she came to be in that situation. The reader will certainly be surprised just how much they will come round and begin to like Abigail as the story moves on. Although, I must admit the first cringe-worthy moment for me is when the reader realises that Abigail’s lover, Jake, and his wife are expecting their second child! My head certainly rolled at this, and I became a little dubious of rooting for Abigail.

 

However, aside from wanting to know how life was going to pan out for Abigail and Jake, the one other thing that kept me reading is the way in which the story is written. The writing is fantastic, with perfect fluidity and easy to follow. Written in first person, the reader soon realises Abigail’s constant doubts of herself and the relationship. And, before you know it, Abigail is on a new adventure in Australia, visiting Melbourne and Sydney, and meeting many an interesting person, at the same time as seeing some amazing scenery in the mountains, by the sea, and visiting landmarks and museums. The reader will really get a feel for the place, whether they have visited it themselves or not.

 

Abigail was a little lost and lonely after the death of her sister. Although she has her parents, they are still grieving and constantly worried about Abigail’s safety, thus suffocating her. During this time, her best friend, Ros, was leaving for a new life in Australia. Her colleague, Jake, was all she had; the only constant in her life that she could talk to. Listening to him everyday overtime made him more and more familiar and warmer.

 

Despite the situation with Jake’s home life, Abigail’s desperation to be close to someone was at an all time high, and Jake was falling for her. Looking at the situation from the outside, we can gauge that she is in a mess and needs support, affection. But, in the thick of it all, Abigail sees only what is in front of her; someone who listens, someone who is kind, and someone who desires her.

 

Jake is hot and certainly has his pull on Abigail. She desires him when he isn’t there, longing for his touch. Knowing that he may not end his relationship with his wife, Tiffany, is killing her. And so it seems a great idea to distance herself away from him. This would provide him with an opportunity to either leave Tiffany, or leave her.

 

Going to Australia certainly opens up the story, and the colourful characters that we find ourselves acquainted with help make Abigail’s Affair a fun read. Not the trip she was expecting at first; Abigail finds herself having disputes with Ros, making friends with Ros’s housemate, Miranda, staying with her mum’s famous art friend in Sydney, and meeting new fellows in Bill and ‘cuddly’ Melvyn!

 

Bill was certainly more than a handful. I must admit that although attractive to some, there were some scenes with Bill that made me feel a little sick! He definitely isn’t my type, but his scenes stand out and still provide fun.

 

Abigail’s Affair is the story of a woman who is lost; she has made some silly choices and truly wants to learn what her best options are. Her time away was meant to open up the eyes of Jake, forcing him to decide once and for all between her and Tiffany. However, after meeting new people and experiencing new territories, friendships and situations it is Abigail’s eyes that begin to open, and the transformation to be a much more decisive Abigail is fantastic.

 

Reviewed by Caroline Barker
 

**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

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*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