*AUTHOR/BOOK SPOTLIGHT*~ The Passage of Desire: French Summer Prequel, by Laurette Long

#family #drama

The Passage of Desire: French Summer Prequel by Laurette Long
£0.91/$0.99, free on Kindle Unlimited

We are THRILLED to be featuring Laurette Long’s latest release, The Passage of Desire. We have been a fan of Laurette’s work since Caroline, my co-blogger reviewed  the sweet romance Hot Basque, book 2 in the French Summer Novels (click on the title for review). We also love reading Laurette’s entertaining and inspiring blog where she not only shares excerpts from her writing but also snippets from her life in the beautiful South of France, a place which has inspired her muse on many an ocassion. The Passage of Desire, a prequel to the French Summer Novels, is a family drama which I am looking forward to reviewing very soon. Tina 🙂

~DESCRIPTION~

The French Summer Novels are a series of contemporary romances set in the stunning French Basque country, following the lives of two sisters, Caroline and Annabel, and their friends. In this prequel we step back in time to meet Alexandra, their mother, and learn more about her story in the years before her fatal car crash. When Alexandra dies, she takes with her a terrible secret …

Yorkshire, 1991: the summer that everything changed.

Alexandra and her seven-year-old daughter, Caroline, arrive in the village of Haworth to spend a holiday with Alexandra’s best friend from school, Juliet. Though the years have passed, the two friends quickly fall into their old intimacy, sharing reminiscences and comparing the different paths their lives have taken. Juliet seems to have it all – marriage to childhood sweetheart, Alan, two children and an adorable grandchild – while Alexandra is a troubled soul, an only child brought up in a dysfunctional family, prone to bouts of depression since the birth of Caroline, and becoming more and more estranged from husband Robbie.

But life with the boisterous, touchy-feely Pearson family in their rambling disorganised house starts to lift Alexandra’s spirits. Hot sunny days filled with long walks across the purple moors, leisurely picnics, drinks on the terrace in the evening, laughing at the antics of Caroline and the family collie, Bonnie. Oliver, the Pearson son, usually joins in the fun, ready to top up the drinks or join Caroline and Bonnie in their game of catch.

A perfect summer idyll, which is about to be shattered by violence and betrayal.

Underneath the surface, tensions build and emotions come to the boil. Cath, the Pearson’s second child, is a teenage Mum, eking out a precarious existence with a shifty, unreliable partner, a less than ideal father for the couple’s baby son. Their situation is a source of friction and worry for Juliet, who’s also bracing herself for the departure of 19-year-old Oliver, the golden boy, off to Cambridge in September. Young Caroline is missing her Daddy, on a business trip to New York, and burdened by feelings of responsibility to a ‘fragile’ Mummy, who needs looking after.

And meanwhile, through an innocent gesture, an unguarded look, a spark ignites, a flame is lit, a forbidden desire grows. As the characters go about their normal routines, two of them become caught up in an escalating conflict, torn between the demands of loyalty and friendship and the irresistible urges of the human heart. As the holiday draws to an end, events take a sudden, dramatic turn, setting off a chain reaction that will change the lives of everyone forever.

~PURCHASE LINKS~

Amazon UK  Amazon US

~ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND LE PASSAGE DU DESIR~

Laurette was born in Brontëland which perhaps explains her penchant for romantic novels, passionate heroines and strong, independent heroines. On a school trip to France, aged thirteen, she fell madly in love (with France mainly, but the tobacconist’s son, he of the bold black eyes and cheeky grin, also made a big impression.)

After a teaching career in the UK, the USA, and France, she moved to a hamlet of four houses in rural Tarn, where she started to write fiction. The novels in the French Summer Series were inspired by holidays in the Basque country: Book 1 ‘Biarritz Passion’, Book 2 ‘Hot Basque’ and a forthcoming Book 3 ‘Villa Julia’. The Brontës were still hovering in the background, though, which is why a prequel, ‘The Passage of Desire’, is set in the moorland village of Haworth. The book goes back in time to reveal a mystery involving Alexandra, the mother of the two main characters in the series. But a French connexion slips in when Alexandra goes to Paris and finds herself in an ancient cobbled passageway, Le Passage du Desir, where she witnesses a disturbing scene…

Readers please note: the passage really exists, and more of its history can be found on Laurette’s blog: https://laurettelong.com/the-passage-of-desire-behind-every-title-a-story/

~CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR~

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**REVIEW** ~ A Labyrinth of Love and Roses (Touchstone Series #4), by Beth Barany

Sweet and Magical Romance

This is the perfect read for today, the first of May, when the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane is traditionally celebrated. Can Lili and Brett, the heroine and hero of this romance set aside their personal goals to come together and acknowledge their true destiny?

Labyrinth

Book Blurb

From award-winning novelist, Beth Barany, comes another magical tale of romance and adventure — a sweet, Hallmark-like tale.

What if what you wanted got in the way of your destiny?

French MBA grad Lili Grenault needs to succeed at her last pitch meeting to fund her international green tech business. But her grandmother tells her to drop everything, find her one true love, and embrace her magical legacy by Beltane, in one week, or chaos and failure in her life will ensue.

San Francisco investor Brett Barnaby wants to find his great-grandfather’s gravesite in Amiens, France, one of the primary battle sites of World War I. Family legend says that purpose, greater mission, and perhaps even untold riches, will be unlocked when he finds that grave. But his search in Amiens brings up fear, anger, and dire warnings about some wild Green Man. He turns to local Lily Grenault for help.

Can these two independent freethinkers work together to prevent chaos from triumphing and find love in time in the labyrinth of roses?

Goodreads

My Review

A Sweet and Magical Contemporary Fairy Tale ~ ***** (5 Stars)

A Labyrinth of Love and Roses is a quick uplifting romantic read. Set in Amiens, France, where the veil between the human world and the one of ancient earth magic that protects the world is thin. Lili is unexpectedly drawn into this world when her grandmother informs her that at Beltane she needs to embrace her destiny and find and join with her 0ne true love, to prevent chaos ensuing in her own life and to that of the planet.

The reluctant Lily, intent on securing funding for her business, goes clubbing and encounters an American, the drop-dead gorgeous Brett. In return for helping Brett solve a family mystery, he helps her with her business pitch, whilst striving to keep his hands off her as he does not want to mix business with pleasure.

Yet as Beltane approaches, elemental magic awakens, and as Lili and Brett journey into the countryside surrounding Amiens, they are drawn together, even as they attempt to pursue their separate paths. Yet will they deny their destiny and love before it is too late?

This delightful read is a magical one, invoking ancient myths and legends, such as the Green Man. It also involves themes inherent in fairy tales: a quest; acknowledging our destiny; finding our one true love and a trial of sorts. Brett and Lili are destined to be together and I enjoyed how the author described their journey to their HEA.

If you are looking for a novella which merges the myths and legends of the past with contemporary romance, then this is the perfect read for you,

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon US:    Amazon UK

Goodreads:   Site:   Twitter:   Facebook

 

**REVIEW** HOT BASQUE (A French Summer Novel #2) by Laurette Long

Before the summer is over for certain, while we still have a little warmth and sunshine, I cannot recommend Hot Basque enough to those of you who love gentle, sweet romances. With a beautiful setting in the south of France and some well thought out characters to follow I am sure many of you would give Hot Basque a high rating. You can check it out on Amazon, along with book one in the French Summer Novel series, Biarritz Passion (although they can be read as stand alones).

You can also check out an excerpt of Hot Basque and Laurette Long’s author bio in our recent promo. (Please keep reading for my review.)

COVER HOT BASQUE

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??

REVIEW ***** (5* RATING)

Oooh! I am still swooning after this little sweet summer sizzler! Contemporary romance fans will love this gentle summer read, which comes with a little fun and a little drama, in the breath-taking setting of Biarritz, southern France. And, is it just me or does Antoine remind you of a younger Antonio Banderas, albeit Basque, French? Either way, I read Hot Basque with him in mind and was gutted when I reached the end. More please, Laurette!

During the opening chapters the reader becomes acquainted with Irish redhead Jill, Caroline’s best friend, who lives in Edinburgh and is constantly being match made to all the wrong men. They are either dull and boring, or not physically attractive to her. There is plenty of humour surrounding Jill’s character as she was put into some pretty outrageous scenarios that surely did bring a smile to my face!

“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 around…

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 her 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.”

There is never a dull moment in Hot Basque, partly because of all the interesting characters that Laurette Long has created, and partly because of the mood and scenarios that the characters find themselves in. Caroline has been though some troublesome times in the past involving her ex, Liam, and her sister, Annabel, causing trouble. But now her life is full of love as she is living happily in Toulouse with Edward, after giving up her life in England. And, she hasn’t really looked back. Now Caroline and Edward are ready to return to Biarritz for a holiday and Caroline has invited her best friend, Jill to join them.

The story becomes more and more interesting as Julian, Edward’s best friend, and his baby son, Joshua, along with the nanny, Nadia, come to stay at the Villa Julia with them all, after Julian despairs about his wife’s behaviour and attitude to their relationship, and to Joshua. She hasn’t a maternal bone in her body, and with him working extra hours to keep his business growing, and then coming home to look after Joshua – night feeds and all – he is absolutely exhausted.

Unfortunately, Julian’s wife is Caroline’s sister, Annabel. Annabel is a troubled character, constantly desiring attention and popularity. Although marrying into a rich and wealthy family, she has given her magazine career up to live with her new husband in Frankfurt to keep his business thriving. Away from the limelight, and now with a baby she barely has time for, the tension grows between her and Julian.

Caroline is very eager to introduce Jill to local restaurant and café owner, Antoine. Afterall, if it hadn’t been for being swept off her feet with Edward, Caroline wouldn’t have minded the hot Basque, muscled, white smiled, surfer, with his smouldering eyes and beautiful use of the sexy French language, who always calls her ‘la Rose’ herself. Oh yes, there are plenty of French words and phrases, which are used for authenticity, humour and plenty of soft and sweet amour! And, Jill is smitten! So is he, it seems, as he offers to take her out for the day to a small village where his ancestors are from, talking of the history of the area and his family, before visiting a beautiful waterfall. Yes, love is in the air. Oh, and did I mention he had a motorcycle?!

“Antoine had been knocked for six by Jill. Bowled off his feet. He’d offered to take her out for a drive to show her some pretty villages in his ‘pays’. Jill had said she’d love to see his ‘pays’and leaned a bit closer, chin cupped in one hand, ‘décolleté’ slipping off one shoulder in front of Antoine’s mesmerised gaze.”

However, as the story continues, what begins as a serene, love-filled holiday, and a few days of relaxation and fun for Julian, turns into suspense and tension as the situation with Annabel begins to affect them all, ending with Edward going to England to seek her out, and Antoine has a visit from unexpected visitors whilst he was celebrating with his holiday-making friends and introducing Jill to his family.

I love the way in which the author weaves each scenario through all of the main characters, to be able to build up a tense atmosphere from a happy, relaxed holiday to the suspense of those waiting at Villa Julia for news from England. It is brilliant writing, showing how the impact of the drama is reflected on each and every character, as opposed to just those dealing directly with the situation.

“The atmosphere in the villa was oppressive, the three of them wandering around, listening for the phone, listening for Joshua to wake up, unable to settle to any activity for more than a few minutes.”

During these times, more emotion is written into the story, and there was certainly a very strong scene of this nature with Julian that really tugged at the heart strings. It was so heartfelt. The whole change in atmosphere, and how it affected each character makes it very true to life, realistic. The characters and their circumstances are extremely believable, and likeable. The reader will be drawn in as the writing is captivating.

I haven’t read book one, and although these novels can be read as stand alones, reading Hot Basque has made me want to read and acquaint myself with Biarritz Passion. I am also delighted to add that there is a planned French Summer Novel book 3, Villa Julia.

Hot Basque (A French Summer Novel #2) is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**ARC REVIEW** ~ To Tame the Wind (Prequel to the Agents of the Crown Trilogy & book 1 of the Donet duology), by Regan Walker

Historical Romance

Blurb

To Tame the WindParis 1782… AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN 
All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell’s schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear.… her.
A BATTLE IS JOINED
The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire’s father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.This is the prequel to the Agents of the Crown trilogy but can be read as a stand alone.

My Review *****

Swashbuckling Captor-Captive Romance

This is another breathtaking read from Regan Walker. This author excels at transporting the reader into the life and times of her characters and in creating truly memorable heroes and heroines. To Tame the Wind, a prequel to her Agents of the Crown Trilogy and the first book in the Donet Duology, is set in England and France during the time of the American War of Independence, when France was a strong ally to the colonies in its struggles against England. Once again I felt that I had stepped back into history as I experienced what life was like on-board ship and on land in eighteenth century France and England. The machinations of war throw the hero and heroine together and also threaten to tear them apart.

Captor-captive romances are one of my favourite themes in romance. This read, where the devilishly handsome and swoon worthy Captain Powell seizes Claire, the convent raised daughter of a pirate, in a desperate attempt to recover his men and ship, is a super spin on the theme. When the couple meet it is not long before sparks fly and passion ignites, yet what future for a couple whose countries are sworn enemies?

Simon’s loyalties are truly torn in this novel between his growing attraction for his spirited captive and his commitment to free his men and reclaim his ship from his enemy, Claire’s father. He also has to grapple with the scheming of the powers that be who would use Claire as a pawn, regardless of her safety. I loved how protective he is of Claire and honourable he is towards her – but don’t get me wrong there are plenty of passionate scenes between the couple and sexual tension and emotions in particular are high! How will Simon be able to hand Claire, a woman whom he craves above all others, over to is enemy and to an uncertain future? How can he not when the lives of others hang in the balance?

Claire is a real firecracker of a heroine who upon meeting Simon begins to doubt where her future lies. Will she admit her love for Simon and if so how can she possibly avoid returning to her father and the land of her birth when so much rests on her safe return? Regan Walker’s characters and plot are as usual complex and I could not second guess if and how the couple would find their HEA.

While romance is well and truly at the centre of this read I loved how Regan Walker effortlessly and seamlessly immerses the reader in the real life historical events and personalities of the day. To Tame the Wind is once again a superb read for lovers of Historical Romance from this author.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

An ARC of this book was received from the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Buy Links

Amazon US  Amazon UK

Connect with the Author

Regan Walker’s website

Facebook

The Silk Romance, by Helena Fairfax

The Silk Romance 333x500-001Gallic Charm in the City of Silk – Sweet Contemporary Romance

The Silk Romance, author Helena Fairfax’s first novel, is a sweet and emotional contemporary romance and such a romantic read. At its heart is a complex relationship between a rich, sophisticated Frenchman and an impoverished Englishwoman. Yet this is no simple Cinderella tale as their HEA is fraught with family tragedy, deception, misunderstandings and the difficulties which can arise when two very different worlds collide.

Sophie Challoner and racing driver Jean-Luc Olivier spent a passionate night together in Paris four years ago, after which Sophie fled to the safety and responsibilities of her family awaiting her in London.  Sophie is committed to the promise that she made to her dying mother – to look after her father and brother. Four years later Sophie is shocked when Jean-Luc appears once more and uses his power and influence to arrange for her to spend two months on a student work placement at his silk mill in Lyon, France.  Jean-Luc is hell bent on solving the mystery of Sophie and why she ran away from him. Sophie, for her part, resolves to keep her distance, knowing that they can never share a future. The couple cannot deny their growing attraction, yet how can they have a relationship when their worlds are so far apart and when a family emergency compels Sophie to return home to honour her promise to her mother?

The story shows that money cannot buy love. There are many obstacles to their romance: both characters have strong misconceptions of the other, which must first be overcome; there is also the gulf that exists between them in terms of Sophie’s family responsibilities and their different worlds, one of fancy restaurants and haute couture the other of fast food and rundown housing estates.

On the surface Sophie is a strong and determined young woman, working hard to support her family financially and emotionally. However, her carefully constructed façade crumbles as soon as Jean-Luc appears, and she begins to unravel, revealing her vulnerabilities and exposure to Jean-Luc’s world opens old wounds. She has not had a relationship since the night she spent with Jean-Luc in Paris, a night she often dreams of. Her resolve to keep her distance from Jean-Luc is put to the test by events which show him to be far from the shallow celebrity she believed him to be and Jean-Luc’s strong determination to breach her fragile defences and find out the truth.

Jean-Luc is an alpha hero with a strong sense of honour and is full of Gallic charm, making me go weak at the knees just thinking about him!  He is a man who likes to exert control in his life and has his own secrets. However, with Sophie he is flummoxed as he cannot understand her motivations, let alone control her. He does know that he wants to protect Sophie and knows that he must be patient if he is to prevent her running away again. He is wonderful hero, who has learned a lot in the years since he first encountered Sophie in Paris.

I also enjoyed the main setting for the novel, the romantic city of Lyon and lost myself in the evocative descriptions of the architecture, the silk mill and ‘la vie en France.’ There are also scenes which take place in Paris and London. I was pulled into the story immediately with the opening scene, where Sophie meets Jean-Luc for the first time since that fateful night four years ago. The tension and the emotional link between the main couple jump off the pages and was maintained throughout the novel. The publisher, MuseItUp Publishing (click on the link) has a lovely excerpt of this scene on their website if you want to find out more.

I found The Silk Romance to be an extremely romantic and engaging novel, in which I was aching for the couple to overcome the  obstacles to their happiness and embrace their future together. It is a very impressive first novel, exploring both romantic love and family ties and I am looking forward to the next novel by the author, The Antique Love, which is in the pipeline.

A copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

To read about what inspired Helena to write this novel and the characters within it and to read her author bio please scroll up or click here.

Author Helena Fairfax’s Website

Publisher MuseItUp Publishing – click for details of the book and for excerpt

Cover art for The Silk Romance by Charlotte Volnek