Truly, Madly, Greekly

I had a wonderful couple of hours curled up in my chair, with the rain hammering down outside, imagining myself in a sunny resort in Corfu.

Truly, Madly, Greekly: Sizzling summer reading Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…

Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy.

With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist.

But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Another great book from Mandy Baggot and a bargain at only 99p – and the best cover of any of her books by far.

I always look forward to Mandy’s books and this one was no exception. Ellen and Lacey have gone to Corfu to start planning Lacey’s wedding. Ellen is glad to get away from her everyday life which is crumbling around her, but she finds it impossible to relax and enjoy the holiday. Enter Yan, a member of the hotel animation team who finds himself both irritated and intrigued by this uptight Englishwoman.

This is a great story for reading on the beach but you could read it anywhere and instantly be transported into sun, sea and sand. One of the things I love about Mandy’s books is the realism – forget billionaires falling in love with secretaries, this is something you actually could see happening. It was also interesting getting a bit of an insight into the life of the animation team – having been on package holidays I never really gave much thought to what they get up to on their time off!

I love Yan and Ellen and the fact they are normal people, they are both wounded, both hiding secrets and neither are looking for love. I am a sucker for accents on men and I had no trouble imagining the sexy accent Yan had – an accent always adds to the hero’s appeal. This is a story not just about a holiday romance but about trust, family, believing in yourself and not letting anyone hold you back.

The only thing that slightly irritated me about this book was Lacey.  I found it difficult to warm to her and wanted to give her a slap at times, but having said that it didn’t spoil the book for me. I had a wonderful couple of hours curled up in my chair, with the rain hammering down outside, imagining myself in a sunny resort in Corfu.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mandy Baggot
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Bookouture
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Some Kind of Wonderful

This is perfect to read at home or on the sun lounger, hell if you like romance it is perfect to read anywhere! As I love romance this is the perfect book for me; I love the setting, I love the characters and I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

Some Kind of Wonderful (Puffin Island trilogy, Book 2) Her whole life, Puffin Islander Brittany Forrest has dreamed of adventure. And at the age of eighteen, she thought she’d found it in bad boy Zachary Flynn. But after just ten tempestuous, smouldering days, their whirlwind marriage went up in smoke, and Brittany resolved to put him out of her mind forever.

Zach knows he let Brittany down, but being back on Puffin Island and seeing Brittany again stirs up long-buried emotions. This daredevil pilot has never felt worthy of her, yet he can’t stay away—even when he knows the chemistry between them will only complicate his life.

Wow, just wow, I loved this book – sexy and romantic, what more can a girl want! This is the second book in the Puffin Island series and I think it’s better than First Time in Forever. While you do not need to have read the first book, I’m a great believer in doing so and I think you come to appreciate the characters more.

What can I say about Zach? Inside that luscious body, he is still a wounded and scarred child, thinking everyone is going to turn on him. The easiest way not to let anyone hurt him is to refuse to let anyone in.  I just wanted to give him a hug (among other things). Thankfully Brittany soon realised that trying to keep her distance was futile.

Brittany is frustrated that she is stuck back on Puffin Island while her broken arm heals, and seeing Zach again throws her completely off balance. Her mind says stay away, her body says go for it. Together they need to navigate their feelings and work out a way to cope with living on the same island.

I loved getting to see all the Islanders again and especially enjoyed the insight into summer camp. The addition of Jaws was a tense scene but it just goes to show again what an amazing guy Zach is. Shame he can’t see it himself.

This is perfect to read at home or on the sun lounger, hell if you like romance it is perfect to read anywhere! As I love romance this is the perfect book for me; I love the setting, I love the characters and I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Morgan
  • Series: Puffin Island (2)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

First Time in Forever

Sarah Morgan as always describes an idyllic setting so clearly and the characters just come to life right off the page. The great thing about having a series set on a small island is the character development that I know will appear in future books. I love getting peeks at characters from previous books as well.

First Time in Forever (Puffin Island trilogy, Book 1) When Emily Donovan’s sister Lana, a high profile actress is killed in tragic circumstances, Emily becomes guardian to her orphaned niece, Lizzy. Puffin island is the last place anyone would look for the daughter of a Hollywood actress, but Emily’s problems run far deeper than just avoiding the press. She doesn’t know how to talk to a child and she is terrified of the sea and the sand. But when sexy local businessman Ryan Cooper starts paying Emily attention, things change. Could she really begin to build a life there?

Sarah Morgan is back with another great romance (first of a trilogy) in another beautiful setting.

Emily doesn’t do love of any kind, feels she is incapable of it, she is terrified with the responsibility of a child and is scared she will not be able to love her like she should. She has many issues linked mostly to her childhood, and finds it very difficult to trust anyone, intending to stay as isolated as possible until she is ready to leave Puffin island. A small island community and a 6 year old child make that pretty much impossible and before she knows it she is pulled into island life.

Ryan has his own issues,  one of which is having given up most of his teenage years to look after his siblings, having children is definitely not on his to do list but something about Emily and Lizzy draw him in.

I love the way the author (aided and abetted by a 6 year old and a grandmother) drags these two damaged people kicking and screaming into a relationship neither of them thinks they want.

Sarah Morgan as always describes an idyllic setting so clearly and the characters just come to life right off the page. The great thing about having a series set on a small island is the character development that I know will appear in future books. I love getting peeks at characters from previous books as well.

This is not just a story of romance, it is also about friendship and accepting that sometimes when life turns you upside down the way forward is not always what you thought you wanted.  At the core though it is a sweet love story, easy to read and I look forward to the next one in the series.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Morgan
  • Series: Puffin Island (1)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Irreverent Questions With… Mandy Baggot

MandyBaggotYes you can believe your eyes, we are bringing back our Irreverent Questions!  Mandy Baggot, in the midst of her blog tour was kind enough to answer our questions.  She is a particular favourite of Tracey’s and if you haven’t read anything by her yet, what are you waiting for – go get Made in Nashville now!

Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads.

Represented by Kate Nash of the Kate Nash Literary Agency she is also a contributor to writing blogs, magazines and short story anthologies and regularly takes part in fiction festivals and literary events.

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, Corfu, shoes and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

And now, on with the irreverence!

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I always celebrate the same way whenever I bring out a new book. I always have a party on Facebook throughout the day and try and mix it up with hot men and competitions. I like to give things away and just enjoy chatting and celebrating the launch with my friends.

Then, in the evening, it’s opening white fizzy wine (champagne if I’m really lucky) and eating Chinese food. Last time, when Made in Nashville was released, I got flowers from my husband, Mr Big too!

Do you get fully dressed to write?
Not all the time! If it’s a normal day then it’s up and dressed to do the school run. In the holidays I have been known to still be in my PJs at lunchtime writing at my desk. There was also one crazy day when I had about 20 people posting clues to a James Bond competition for the launch of my novel, Security. I don’t think I got dressed at all that day. Scheduling tweets takes a while and tweeting is important you know!

How do you deal with negative comments?
I think I spilled the beans and answered this question at the Festival of Romance in September. I read ALL the reviews for my books on Amazon and Goodreads. There are some that make me cry with joy and there are others that irk, BUT I appreciate every review I get, even the stinky ones. If someone has, not only taken the time to read my book, but taken time to review it too, I am thankful for that. I often tweet the best of the one star reviews because that’s someone’s valid opinion and as authors we can’t please everyone. And it’s good to laugh, especially if someone’s called your work horseshit! I really need to make t-shirts.

It’s movie night, the credits are just about to roll, Happy Ever After, Everyone Dies, Or…?
Ooo that’s a tough one. My favourite films of all time are Dirty Dancing and Die Hard. Die Hard is part of a Christmas Eve ritual. We watch, we eat Chinese food – are you noticing a take-out theme in these questions? I like the hero and heroine to be happy in the end – the good guys beating the bad guys, but there has to be drama and conflict all the way through or I get bored. Who wouldn’t want to be swept up by Patrick Swayze and Bruce Willis?

Do you have any phobias?
Astronauts. They bust into Elliott’s home in ET and it frightened the life out of me when I was a child. Luckily, in my line of work, I don’t have to encounter them very often. Yes, I know it’s a person in a suit but…they give me the creeps!

Many thanks to Mandy Baggot for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you want to know more about the author, visit her Website, Twitter, Goodreads or on Facebook!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of Mandy Baggot


Made in NashvilleMandy’s latest book is Made in Nashville (you can read Tracey’s 5 star review here)

An on-stage attack left Honor Blackwood with more scars than just the one on her face. It’s been ten years since she left her spot as Nashville’s brightest country music star. Is now the time to return? And is she brave enough to do it?

Country rebel and rock star, Jared ‘Jed’ Marshall is hot property on the Tennessee music scene in more ways than one. He’s wild, he’s sexy and everybody wants a piece of him. But when he sets his sights on Honor, is it pure attraction or just distraction on his mind?

Honor’s record label sign the ex-boyfriend that dumped her and suddenly going back to her old life is harder than she thought. And when a secret from the past becomes public knowledge it’s no longer just about the music. Are all the people in her life lying to her to get what they want?

Join the country scene to find out!

Made in Nashville – where the off-stage action’s as hot as the music!


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, irregular feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into our curious heads. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Maybe this Christmas

Christmas is a great time for romance and I love it. If you love romance too, you will love this book – read it snuggled up in a duvet on a cold winters night and prepare to be transported to the snowy mountains of Vermont.

Maybe This Christmas (Snow Crystal trilogy, Book 3) Brenna Daniels has been in love with Tyler O’Neil forever. After an accident ended his champion downhill skiing career he returned to Snow Crystal, and Brenna finds it harder and harder to work alongside him. Tyler is focusing on bringing up his teenage daughter Jess and coping with the loss of his career, but when circumstances force Brenna to move into his home he finds himself  thinking thoughts about his best friend that could ruin their friendship.

This is the final book in the O’Neil trilogy and I must say I think it is the best one. While all three books are stand alone, one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much is the way we have grown to know and love Tyler through the previous two books. I would therefore recommend reading the previous ones to develop that deeper connection with the characters but it isn’t essential!

I love the setting of Snow Crystal and can very easily imagine myself there – although I would definitely be in a cabin with a log fire rather than skiing. The imagery through the writing was really well done.

Tyler feels he is struggling with his teenage daughter and I loved the way their relationship developed. I also had a good chuckle at the embarrassment he felt when he realised why Jess needed to go to the store urgently. Tyler is also struggling with the loss of his skiing career, which in turn has an impact on his relationship with his daughter who wants to do nothing but ski.

Brenna is a character who comes across as confident in some situations but in actuality has very low self esteem and issues dating back to high school. Tyler being a man of course is oblivious to all this, and never thinks to compliment her on what she is wearing to boost her confidence. She is also very passive and allows people to rail-road her even when the situation makes her uncomfortable. Fortunately she does start to grow a set after she downed tequilas with the girls.

Of course the rest of the Snow Crystal family are in the book as well (including the dogs), and it was great to catch up and to see the resort doing so well after nearly closing the year before (I know it’s just a story but still…)

The ending for this book is so romantic, one of the more romantic ones I have read and a very fitting end for this couple. I loved the ending, loved it 🙂

Christmas is a great time for romance and I love it. If you love romance too, you will love this book – read it snuggled up in a duvet on a cold winters night and prepare to be transported to the snowy mountains of Vermont.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Morgan
  • Series: O'Neil Brothers (3)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

The Winter Lodge

The Winter Lodge (The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 2) Jenny’s lived her whole life in Willow Lake, finding safety and warmth running her little bakery. Until one winter she loses everything in a devastating house fire. Sifting through the ashes she finds a chance for a different life…

I really enjoyed this contemporary romance by Susan Wiggs – the first book I have read by this author. The protagonists Rourke McKnight and Jenny Majesky share a history which is explored at various points within the book. I  liked the way we were taken back and forth as their past was revealed bit by bit, just enough to keep you wanting more.

There are various recipes throughout the book which I didn’t really take much notice of and skimmed over after the first couple not being much of a baker, but if you enjoy making cakes I am sure they are very interesting.

While Jenny and Rourke are the main characters there are lots of other characters who have things going on in their lives and I am looking forward to reading more in this series of books.

This book is not just about the romance, it’s about finding who you are and what you really want when everything has been pulled out from under you. I did experience many emotions and yes, I cried!

Jenny and Rourke are both a tad irritating at times and at some points in their past I wanted to shout ‘get a grip!’ Ultimately though, you cannot help rooting for them and of course there is the required happy ending.

I will definitely be looking for more books in this series.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Susan Wiggs
  • Series: Lakeshore Chronicles (2)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Genre: Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Just for Christmas

Just For Christmas When Alex Munro learns that the love of her life is getting married to another girl, all she wants to do is to be alone – and as far away from Edinburgh as possible. Moving to a Cornish Cottage, which comes complete with the world’s scruffiest dog, Alex finds that her new neighbours are determined to involve her in their madcap Christmas festivities. Then she meets her sexy neighbour Ruan and somehow Alex doesn’t want to be alone this Christmas after all.

I picked this book up because I love Christmas stories and it seemed like a perfect book to curl up with on a cold winters day.  I really enjoyed it and it met that criteria perfectly – it was romantic, funny and emotional.

The cast of characters are likeable and everyone from Buoy the dog to Lucy the barmaid have their own stories and personalities that shine through. This is not just a story about Alex and Ruan, it’s a story about life in a tight knit community and the people (and animals) who get under your skin before you know what’s happening.

Of course nothing is plain sailing and there a few misunderstandings along the way along with one huge problem when Alex’s reason for running to Cornwall turns up – what a jerk he is!

I love Ruan, fell in love with him the minute he stormed into the pub soaking wet looking to kill the new harbour master. The description of him was so perfect I wanted to move down there myself (but not to be a harbour master!)

Away from everything she knows, Alex has an opportunity to find herself and realises she’s not the person she and everyone else thought she was for so many years.

Ultimately this is a feel good romance perfect to escape with for a few hours and leaves you feeling very satisfied. I will definitely be looking for more by this author

Book Information
  • Author: Scarlett Bailey
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Crystal Cove

Crystal Cove: Number 4 in series (Friday Harbor) Justine Hoffman yearns to feel real love, the kind her friends have recently found. In desperation she does the one thing she was told never to do – she looks at page 13 of the family spell book and learns she was cursed to never find her soul mate.  Justine is desperate to change her fate but in doing so she unleashes a series of complications that she could never have foreseen. Jason Black is mysterious, sexy and secretive and is strangely drawn to Justine – he is hiding his own secrets however, and when their hearts collide he learns loving a witch is more dangerous than he could have ever imagined.

I loved this book, this is the continuing story of Friday Harbour and takes up pretty much where the last one finished. Justine was one of my favourite characters from the previous books with a hint of mystery that is all explained fully in this one.  Jason seemed a bit of a jerk and control freak when his assistant was describing him but all it took was the right woman to break down his reserve.

The romance was pretty much a case of love at first sight and oh so intense from the get go. Some people might find this irritating and far fetched but if you believe in magic, anything is possible. “This happens once in a lifetime. You meet someone and have this crazy reaction…and you know you could never be bored with her because she’s interesting even when she’s doing nothing. Even without knowing everything about her, you get her.” Jason says this to justify why he knows Justine is the one, despite only knowing her a couple of days. It’s so romantic it made me sigh.

There is a lot more sexual content in this book than the rest of the series, and it’s very well written, so keep your fans close at hand!

While I knew there would be a happy ending -not a spoiler, after all this is Lisa Kleypas, as the story progressed I was finding it harder and harder to see how! Right up to the last few pages I was still trying to work out how the HEA would come. This is a magical highly romantic story where anything can happen if you want it badly enough and are prepared to do anything to achieve it.

I love Ms Kleypas’ writing and this book is no exception – it will definitely be on my shelf to re-read, after all as Zoe says at the beginning of this book “a good happily ever after is worth reading more than once”

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lisa Kleypas
  • Series: Friday Harbour (4)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

A Walk in the Park

A Walk In The Park When she was sixteen, Lara Carson left her home and disappeared.  Eighteen years later, she finds herself back again, much to the delight of her old best friend Evie.  When an unexpected event causes Lara to extend her stay, she dreads bumping into the gorgeous Flynn Erskine again; her boyfriend back when she was sixteen, and the reason she left in the first place.

One of the most reassuring things about picking up a new Jill Mansell book is that you know what you are going to get. Plot and pacing are generally the same in most chick-lit novels, along with the required happy ending.  This might come across as a little boring and predictable but it’s not only what I expect in the genre, but also exactly what I want.  The brilliance of a Mansell book then, comes from the characterisations and situations built onto that standard framework.  Her ability to make me care about the characters in a very short space of time and be emotionally invested in what happens is second to none.

There are more peripheral characters in this story than usual and I actually really liked how they were linked together, rather than the more typical solution of having them just living in one area.  It made for a richer experience and some very comical moments.

Jill Mansell manages to catch personality types perfectly and it’s one of her greatest talents, being able to build believable and realistic characters without going over the top.  A Walk in the Park is no exception and even went above and beyond what I consider to be a good read.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jill Mansell
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Irreverent Questions With… Katie Fforde

I was absolutely beside myself when Katie Fforde kindly agreed to be our next victim guest on Irreverent Questions!

She is without a doubt one of the finest writers of contemporary romance (or chick-lit if you prefer) and I have been a huge fan for the longest time.  Her books are sweet, funny, and utterly engaging with characters you can easily empathise with.  The settings are as unique as the characters; quaint rural english villages, highlands of Scotland and even a canal barge to name but a few.  As they aren’t part of a series, you can pick up any book of hers and be absorbed, so if you haven’t experienced any of Katie’s wonderful stories, what are you waiting for?

Katie Fforde’s latest book is Recipe for Love and is released on 1st March 2012!

On with the Irreverence!

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
I’d like to be a torch singer but failing that an agony aunt.

Do you have any rituals or processes before you can start writing?
I play a lot of spider patience on my computer and go on Twitter. This can take hours!

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I have a little, incredibly untidy office. It has a lovely view though. And a lot of books, a kettle, a heater and a radio.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I felt weird when my first book was published. It just felt very very scary. Still feel like that really.

Whose opinion matters most to you?
My readers opinions matter to me. Also my editors’ (I have two) and my daughter’s.

Do you get fully dressed to write?
I usually write in my nightie and dressing gown – slippers in winter, Berkies in summer.

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Professional writers always have to be in the mood to write. Although sometimes you really don’t feel like it and your have to just start. You get into it by doing it.

Who would play you in the film adaptation of your life?
Very hard to think of who would play me in the film of my life. Have a horrible feeling it would be Imelda Staunton.

What is the weirdest comment you’ve had?
It was from a German journalist interviewing me about the fact my books are being made into films for TV in German. She said, ‘Would you like to be as famous in the UK as you are in Germany.’ I don’t think I’m famous in Germany!!!!

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
All experiences with fans are good. I suppose it’s best when they become friends.

What do you value most?
My family, no question.

How do you deal with negative comments?
I don’t deal well with negative reviews as I always think they are right! But I don’t comment on the whole. I am a bit too sensitive.

It’s movie night, the credits are just about to roll, Happy Ever After or Everyone Dies?
Happy Ever After! Who likes Everyone Dies? That’s what happens in real life!

What do you do to relax?
Read, watch television.

Do you have pets, and if so, describe them?
I have many pets currently, including three puppies that need homes. Apart from them, there are two dogs (Cavalier King Charles Spaniels) and a cat who thinks it’s funny to scratch me.

What are your preferred conditions for writing, i.e. silence, background noise, TV?
I quite often start writing with the radio on (R4) but as I get into it I turn it off and have to have silence. Sometimes I have to go downstairs and turn the radio off down there if I can hear it.

What is your favourite type of music?
I like many sorts of music and love singing. I’m a member of a choir. That said, I mostly listen to talk radio. I really hate churches with bands in them that include drum kits.

Do you have any phobias?
I don’t like heights at all although have agreed to abseil down our church tower to raise funds. Yes I am mad.

Do you find the time of year makes it easier or harder to write, are you inspired by spring or delayed by the summer heat for instance?
I like to write in summer but my deadlines mean I mostly write in autumn and winter.

Slippers, socks or barefoot?
Slippers in winter, sometimes barefoot in summer.

Many thanks to Katie Fforde for taking the time to answer our questions and if you want to know more, visit her Website, Facebook or Twitter!

Pictures provided by, and used with permission of Katie Fforde


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, weekly feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into Grete’s curious head. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!