Monday, 24 October 2016

Blog Tour and Review - Celebrations and Confetti at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Celebrations and Confetti At Cedarwood Lodge: A feel good, hilarious romance to curl up with by the fire by [Raisin, Rebecca]
Celebrations and Confetti
Cedarwood Lodge # 1
By Rebecca Raisin
Releasing October 24, 2016

Part one in a feel-good romantic serial from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin!
Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.
Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.
Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?
Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts - following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part One.

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I would like to thank Carina for approving me to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I have got to say I fell in love with Cedarwood Lodge from the first page of this book.  As this is a first in the series it a novella size and a very easy read.  The descriptions are just enough to envisage the lodge without getting boring and going into too much detail which seems to be the norm for romance novels at the moment.
Clio is a likable character and you really feel for her when you find out her reasons for being buying the lodge, after all, we've all made mistakes when we have thought we were doing the right thing.  In some ways, she has gone home with her tail between her legs after leaving the small town to go to New York.  Enter hunky surfer Kai and the tension fly off the page.
There is drama in this novella and great character in the shape of Micah and Isla and also a 50th wedding anniversary to arrange.
An excellent beginning to a fabulous series and I was annoyed how it ended but in a good way as I didn't want it to end there but it made me eager to read the next part of this series.

Chapter One

Staring up at the imposing structure with its weathered facade, I had a terrible premonition that I’d made a mistake. A huge one. But, I reasoned, clawing back rising panic, I had always wanted to buy the hundred-year-old abandoned lodge. It had been put up for sale recently, and I’d jumped at the chance. The old place had good sturdy bones; it was solid, despite the desertion of its caretakers aeons ago.
Even though I’d always dreamed about owning Cedarwood Lodge I hadn’t expected for it to happen so soon. But it had, and I’d fallen madly in love with the place as it stood, shutters broken, doors in need of paint, ivy creeping through broken panes of glass, and cascading roses growing wild and free around the porch balustrades. Here was a place untouched for decades and I had a chance to bring it back to its former glory.
The September sky shifted from foggy wisps of gray to country blue as dawn arrived in the small New Hampshire town of Evergreen. A sputtering car swung into the long, winding driveway and I turned to watch my oldest friend Micah leap from his battered hatchback.
We’d been best friends since childhood, and though we’d drifted apart as adults he was the first person I called when I bought Cedarwood Lodge – I offered him the job of maintenance manager which he’d accepted with a ‘Hell yeah.’
“You look exactly the same, Micah,” I said, reaching up for a hug. ‘You haven’t aged a bit.” He’d filled out, no longer the lanky teenager I’d left behind, but aside from that he was the same old Micah with the same affable smile.
“It’s the daily hikes up the bluff. That thin mountain air does wonders for my skin.” He waggled his eyebrows. “We’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I almost fell over when you called. Lucky for you I was between jobs…”
“Lucky for me, all right.”
I couldn’t believe it’d been so long – when was the last time we had properly caught up, five years ago, six? Time ticked by so fast while I’d been away.  
“You’re different,” he said, gesturing to my outfit and my usual flyaway curls restrained with a clip. “A little more polished.”
I grinned. “Denim cut offs and messy hair didn’t quite cut it in Manhattan.”
“What? Crazy city folk.” He clucked his tongue.
“Right?” I joked. “How’s Veronica?” I expected him to gush about his long-term girlfriend. Instead, his lips turned down for the briefest second, before he masked it with a smile.
“Veronica? There’s a blast from the past. I haven’t seen her for two and a bit years now. She was like you, Clio, left town and didn’t look back.”
Surprise knocked me sideways that she’d left town, left Micah.
“Sorry, Micah. I thought…” Way to go, Clio!
He touched my shoulder, giving me time to wrench the metaphorical foot from my mouth. “It’s OK.” He let out a half laugh. “One day she just decided that this place was too small for her big dreams. This town, it isn’t for everyone.”
Thanks for having me here today, Jo! Jo’s asked me where my inspiration came for the Cedarwood Lodge Series...

Originally, the series was set in an abandoned mansion, and it was really overgrown and derelict, but with the time frame set I didn’t give enough time in the story to get the renovations done and host the parties, though they are fictional, it still had to ring true! So instead my editor and I had a chat, and decided to set the series at a lodge that needed TLC and some modernizations to get it up to code, so the story could get straight into the good bits!
Cue Australian surfer Kai who also happens to be project manager for heroine Clio. As with any renovation there’s budget issues, schedules to meet, hidden issues crop up when you peel away those layers, figuratively and literally. I was inspired by the idea that there’s a whole history to the lodge, and a secret that will change Clio’s life, and those she’s related to… But she’s so busy, and distracted that it’s not her main focus, until suddenly there’s a confession and she has to figure out the past by herself.
And who doesn’t want to sit by a crackling fire, sipping red wine and watching the snow fall?

Image result for rebecca raisin
Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.
Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review and Blog Tour - Christmas Under a Starlit Sky by Holly Martin

Step inside a beautiful winter wonderland where love, laughter and cosy nights by the fire will make this Christmas one to remember.
Neve Whitaker loves managing the Stardust Lake hotel. She gets to work alongside her wonderful family and she's spending Christmas on the most enchanting, snow-covered island in Scotland. So why is her heart so heavy this festive season?
It might have something to do with the gorgeous actor Oakley Rey, the man she finished with before he left for California and the man she loves more than anything. With Oakley's career in Hollywood soaring, Neve is convinced she'd only hold him back. She had to end it with him - at least that's what she keeps telling herself.
But now she has a secret she's struggling to keep, and when Oakley arrives on Juniper Island determined to win her back, Neve is thrown off balance. Will Neve's fear of having her heart broken again push Oakley away for good, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith?
Get swept away by this deliciously sweet and heartwarming tale, and spend an unforgettable Christmas on Juniper Island.

I would like to thank Bookouture for approving me to read this book on NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

For the second book in this series, we're back on Juniper Island and the small town of Christmas. In this book we follow the story and Neve and Oakley as well as Adam and Ivy. I liked Neve as a character and she was trying to do the right thing but making a total mess of doing it. Oakley not so much at times I wanted to slap him around the head and just say listen. Adam and Ivy are the unsung stars of this book and I really loved these two characters.

If you follow my reviews you will know that all though I love Holly's books I have been struggling to connect with some of the main characters but in this one, it wasn't the case and feel that I am finally finding my love of reading and of Holly's books again.

This is a great Christmas story and not too sweet around the edges that if gets annoying as some Christmas books do these days and as I said in my previous review the descriptions are wonderful without being over the top flowery and going on for page after page. The action is fast paced enough and had me up til the early hours reading.

I would love for Holly to revisit the town of Christmas in the summer time but as there was an epilogue in this book I'm not sure this is going to happen. I would also have liked to read Luke's story.

Holly Martin
Holly lives in sunny Devon in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by an even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much-coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide-eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 7 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. 
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Friday, 7 October 2016

Excerpt and Release Day Post - One Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot

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They say Paris is the City of Love, so bring your je ne sais quoi and don’t forget the mistletoe!

Ava and her best friend Debs arrive in Paris just as the snow starts to fall. The Eiffel Tower glitters gold and the scent of spiced wine is all around, but all Ava can think about is Leo, her no-good, cheating ex.

Debs is on a mission to make Ava smile again, and as they tour the Christmas markets, watch lamplight glittering on the river Seine, and eat their body weight inpain-au-chocolat, Ava remembers there’s more to life than men ... Until they cross paths with handsome, mysterious photographer Julien with his French accent and hazelnut eyes that seem to see right inside her.

Ava can’t ignore the intense chemistry between them, but her fingers have been burned before and she can’t forget it, especially when her ex, Leo, starts texting again. Can Ava really trust Julien – and what exactly is his secret? 

Will Ava go home with a broken heart, or will she find true love amongst the cobbled streets of Paris? 

Join Ava and Julien in the most romantic city in the world this Christmas, as they discover the importance of being true to themselves, and learn how to follow their hearts.

One Christmas in Paris is a gorgeous, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy – perfect for fans of Jane Costello, Miranda Dickinson and Lucy Diamond.

One Christmas in Paris
By Mandy Baggot
Up-Do Hair, Kensington, London

Leo:[EMAIL] I’m sorry. Can we talk?[END EMAIL]
Ava Devlin swiped the email hard to the left and watched it disappear from the screen of her iPhone. That’s what you did with messages from liars and fakes who had whispered one thing into your ear, as they wrapped their arms around you, and did the complete opposite when your back was turned. She swallowed back a bitter feeling. She had always worried that Leo – successful, rich, good-looking in a Joey Essex kind of way – was maybe a little bit out of her league.
‘Boss or boyfriend?’
The question came from Sissy, the hairdresser who was currently coating Ava’s head in foils and a paste that felt as if it was doing nuclear things to Ava’s scalp.
‘Neither,’ she answered, putting the phone on the counter under the mirror in front of her. A sigh left her. ‘Not any more.’ She needed to shake this off like Taylor Swift.
Giving her reflection a defiant look, she enlarged her green eyes, flared the nostrils of her button nose and set her lips into a deliberate pout she felt she had never quite been able to pull off. With her face positioned like she was a Z-list celeb doing a provocative selfie on Twitter, she knew she was done. With men. With love. With everything. Her ears picked up the dulcet tones of Cliff Richard suggesting mistletoe and wine, floating from the salon sound system. Her eyes then moved from her reflection to the string of tinsel and fir cones that surrounded the mirror. This rinky-dink Christmas crap could do one as well. Coming right up was a nation getting obsessed with food they never ate in the other eleven months – dates, walnuts, an entire board of European cheeses – and a whole two weeks of alterations to the television schedule – less The Wright Stuff and more World’s Strongest Man. And now she was on her own with it.
‘Well,’ Sissy said, dabbing more goo on Ava’s head, ‘I always think Christmas is a good time to be young, free and single.’ She giggled, drawing Ava’s attention back to the effort Sissy was putting into her hair. ‘All those parties... people loosening up with goodwill and...’
‘Stella Artois?’ Ava offered.
‘You don’t drink that, do you?’ Sissy exclaimed as if Ava had announced she was partial to Polonium 210. ‘I had a boyfriend once who was allergic to that. If he had more than four it made him really ill.’
‘Sissy, that isn’t an allergy, that’s just getting drunk.’
‘On lager?’ Sissy quizzed. ‘Doesn’t it mix well with shots?’
Ava was caught between a laugh and a cry. She swallowed it down and focussed again on the mirror. Why was she here having these highlights put in? She’d booked the appointment when she’d had the work do to go to. Now, having caught Leo out with Cassandra, she wouldn’t need perfect roots to go with the perfect dress he’d bought her. She didn’t even like the dress. It was all red crushed velvet like something a magician’s assistant might wear. Like something her mother might wear. But Leo had said she looked beautiful and she remembered how that had made her feel at the time. All lies.
‘Stop,’ Ava stated abruptly, sitting forward in her seat.
‘Stop?’ Sissy clarified. ‘Stop what? Talking? Putting the colour on?’
‘All of it,’ Ava said. She put her fingers to the silver strips on her head and tugged.
‘What are you doing? Don’t touch them!’ Sissy said, as if one wrong move was going to detonate an explosive device.
‘I want them off... out...not in my hair!’ Ava gripped one foil between her fingers, pulling.
‘OK, OK, but not like that, you’ll pull your hair out.’
‘I want a new look.’ Ava scooped up her hair in her palms, pulling it away from her face and angling her head to check out the look. Nothing would make her jawline less angular or her lips thinner. She sighed. ‘Cut it off.’ She wanted it to come out strong, decisive, but her voice broke a little at the end and when she looked back at Sissy, she saw pity growing in her hairdresser’s eyes.
‘Well... I have to finish the tinting first.’ Sissy bit her lip.
Ava didn’t want pity. ‘Well, finish the tinting and then cut it off,’ she repeated.
‘Trim it, you mean,’ Sissy said, her eyes in the mirror, looking back at Ava.
Ava shook her remaining silver-wrapped hair, making it rustle. ‘No, Sissy, I don’t want it trimmed. I want it cut off.’ She pulled in a long, steady breath. ‘I’m thinking short... but definitely more Bowie in his heyday than Jedward.’
That short.’ Sissy was almost choking on the words.
‘You did say a change was good,’ Ava answered. ‘Change me.’ She sat back until she could feel the pleather at her back. ‘Make me completely unrecognisable even to my mother.’ She closed her eyes. ‘In fact, especially to my mother.’
With her eyes shut, she blocked out everything – Cliff Richard, the tinsel and fir cones, Leo. A different style was just what she needed. Something that was going to go with her new outlook on life. A haircut that was going to say, You can look, but if you set one eyelash into my personal space, suggesting joy to the world, you will be taken down. Nothing or nobody was going to touch her.
Ava’s phone let out a bleep and she opened one eye, squinting at the screen. Why didn’t Leo just give up? Why wasn’t he suctioned to Cassandra like he had been for God knows how long? She was betting Cassandra had never had to use Clearasil.
Sissy leant forward, regarding the phone screen. ‘It says it’s from Debs.’
Cheered considerably, Ava reached for the phone, picking it up and reading the message.

[TEXT STARTS]I know I said not to bring anything, but I totes forgot to get something Christmassy. Can you get something Christmassy? To eat... like those crisps that are meant to taste like turkey and stuffing or roasted nuts and cranberry. And bring red wine, not white, because I got three bottles of white today. And if you’ve completely forgotten all about coming to mine tonight for neighbourly nibbles before I leave for Paris then this is your reminder. Debs xx[TEXT ENDS]

Debs texted like she was writing a dissertation. There was no OMG, FFS or TMI with Ava’s best friend. And Ava had forgotten about the ‘neighbourly nibbles’. That was what having a break-up on your plate did to you – addled your brain and fried the important relationship circuits. Well, she was taking control now – elusive and aloof to anyone but her best friend – and the only frazzled motherboard was going to be the one with wires connected to men.
Ava looked into the mirror at Sissy. ‘After you’ve cut it, Sissy, I want you to make me blonder,’ she stated. ‘And not the honey kind.’ She smiled. ‘The Miley Cyrus meltdown kind.’

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Mandy Baggot is an award-winning author of romantic women’s fiction and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. In Feb 2016, her Bookouture novel, One Wish in Manhattan was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award. A contributor to writing blogs and short story anthologies, she is also a regular speaker at literary festivals, events and women’s networking groups.
Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, Corfu and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor and lives in Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two children and cats Kravitz and Springsteen.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Guest Review - The Christmas Promise By Sue Moorcroft

For Ava Bliss, it’s going to be a Christmas to remember…
On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.
Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.
So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…
Curl up with this gorgeous, festive read – the perfect treat for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Guest Review By Mick Arnold
I am now a Master Milliner...well, perhaps not, but I know a whole lot more about hat creation than I ever did before. They go on your head. Correct?
Here I am, fresh from having survived the new Sue Moorcroft novel, The Christmas Promise. Don't get worried, by survived, I mean that Sue's stories are always emotional roller-coasters, she's that good.
Lucky enough to obtain an advance copy of this novel, I settled down to immerse myself, knowing that my attention would never be allowed to wander, no chance of skipping even a word here and I wasn't disappointed.
All wrapped up in a snowy cover, don't be fooled. Sue is a master of emotions and here, you're going to be pulled left, right and centre before the conclusion; actually, afterwards too however, you'll need to read the book for that little Easter egg.
Ava is to a degree, damaged emotionally, as are all good characters and we follow her in a journey of trust, who to trust, how much to trust them, learning to trust herself even. She dislikes Christmas due to her parents attitude to it when she was growing up and now finds herself caught up as the victim of Revenge Porn. Riding to her rescue is Sam. Ah, to have his qualities would be wonderful...I digress. Stumbling into each other, attraction is mutual but Sam is just as traumatised as Ava in his own way and so we watch them bond over his mother's cancer struggle, Ava's feelings of perceived guilt over those pictures, getting close but neither feeling able to make that final step that will enable them to become the couple we know they should be.
I refuse to give more of the plot away than that. If you want to know more, then there are other reviews where you can find that out. I'll only tell you about the emotions I experienced from reading this. So, the characters are perfectly written and make us love, sympathise and hate them at exactly the right moments. These are traits that only the best can accomplish and yet, somehow, this is still a love story, a love story with a lesson for us all that in even the worst of situations, there should be hope.
Speaking of hope, I trust I haven't made this sound like a hard read because it isn't. What it is, is a rewarding read. You will be rewarded whenever your throat chokes with emotion as mine did on many an occasion; you'll be rewarded when you punch the air crying, 'Yes!' as Ava (or Sam. Read the book) wins at something; you'll even be rewarded when you feel the tears slide down your cheek as the sheer emotional rollercoaster you're taken on compels you to ignore them and carry on reading.
My thanks to Avon and Netgalley for this review copy.
My thanks to Sue Moorcroft for having the guts and skill to write this for us.
(PS..take me to Middledip!)

An image posted by the author.
Sue Moorcroft writes women's contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes. Her new book, The Christmas Promise, will be published by Avon Books UK (ebook 6 October 2016, paperback and audio 1 December 2016).
The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers' Best Romantic Read Awards. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue is a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner. She also writes short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing 'how to'.
Sue was born in Germany, the daughter of two soldiers, then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She's worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a typesetter, but is pleased to have wriggled out of all 'proper jobs'.
Twitter: @suemoorcroft
Facebook: sue.moorcroft.3
Instagram: suemoorcroftauthor
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