Saturday, 31 October 2015

Book Review - Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies

Amazon UK
Title:  Merry Mistletoe
Author: Emma Davies
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Lawsome Books
Publication Date: 22nd October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

Sherbourne Mistletoe has been prized and sold at the annual Mistletoe Fair for over a hundred years; but could this year possibly be the last? With her father’s sudden death and debts mounting up it looks as though Freya’s only hope for the future is to sell her beloved family home. And to make matters worse, the only contenders to buy Appleyard Farm, are the people she’d least like to sell it to – the dreaded Henderson brothers who seem always to make life so difficult.

It’s magical stuff though, mistletoe, and the arrival of the mysterious Amos Fry brings a glimmer of hope that just maybe Freya can fall in love with Christmas all over again.

Merry Mistletoe was a sweet story, that really brings home the value of friendship and goodwill at Christmas. 

Freya is dreading losing Appleyard Farm and the Sherbourne orchards, having had it in the family for over a hundred years, but when her dad did, he left a lot of debts, so Freya can't see any way out but to sell. But first she needs to do the last harvest and sell off the produce at the Mistletoe Fair. 

Freya's only offer on the farm come from rival brothers the Hendersons, who she would rather not sell to, but may not have any choice. As the story progresses we discover she has had an interesting history with the brothers, one that I would have liked explained in greater detail than it was. 

Freya has two main allies as this time, Sam, the Henderson who she doesn't hate as much as the other and Amos Fry. Amos Fry appeared randomly in the autumn, and has turned into a really good friend and helper on the farm, when Freya's boyfriend wasn't willing to do anything. 

There is just something about the way Amos is described which makes me wonder if he was human, or some sort of spiritual being. 

There is a countdown to mark each passing of time, and it is a countdown to Mistletoe Day, but having never heard of Mistletoe day, I would have loved an explanation as to what it is. 

Merry Mistletoe is a entertaining novella, that is well written, although more details would have been nice in places, and a great snapshot into a December at a Mistletoe Farm. 

Thanks to Lawsome Books and Netgalley for this review copy. This was my honest review. 

Book Review - Sex, Snow and Mistletoe by Laura Barnard

Amazon UK
Title: Sex, Snow and Mistletoe
Author: Laura Barnard
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: 27th October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

Melinda is already having a crappy Christmas. Forced to attend some snotty bitch's wedding is not the way to start out the holidays. But when a car crash pushes her into the path of a handsome stranger she's glad to follow his snowy, sexy and seductive path. But is he too good to be true? And will she make it to the wedding before her best friend loses her mind with worry? 
Please note this is a short story of 10k words

Sex, Snow and Mistletoe was my first introduction to Laura Barnard's writing style. I found it to be witty and fast paced, and I will definitely be reading her longer books in the future. 

The cover for Sex, Snow and Mistletoe is stunning, lovely colours combined with a title that is very apt to the story. 

There are three main features in the story, the fact its snowing, making travel harder, sex (with a gorgeous stranger), and some mistletoe. And wow the sex scene was smoking hot (just not hot enough to make the snow melt!).

I found this to be the sort of story you could read when you have a quiet short period of time to yourself, and you want something humorous and light hearted to read.  

It is an incredibly short story, around 30 pages or so, but gives an accurate snapshot of Melody's life on that day, as well as serving as a good introduction to what this author is about. 

Thanks so much to Laura Barnard for this review copy. This was my honest review. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Book Review - Christmas at Coorah Creek by Janet Gover

Amazon UK
Title: Christmas at Coorah Creek
Author: Janet Gover
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Choc Lit
Publication Date: 30th October 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

What if you don’t want to be home for Christmas? 

Spending Christmas away from home is one thing but English nurse Katie Brooks is spending hers in Coorah Creek; a small town in the Australian outback. 

Katie was certain leaving London was the right decision, but her new job in the outback is more challenging than she could have ever imagined. 

Scott Collins rescued Katie on her first day in Coorah Creek and has been a source of comfort ever since. But Scott no longer calls the town home – it’s too full of bad memories and he doesn’t plan on sticking around for long. 

Scott needs to leave. Katie needs to stay. They have until Christmas to decide their future … 

This was my first book that I have read by Janet Gover, and it definitely won't be my last. I was gripped from the first to the last word. Its a relatively short novella, and only took me around 90 mins to read it, and I was hooked.

It was also obviously my first encounter with Coorah Creek, a small town in the Australian outback, but as Scott returns to the place and takes a look around, you soon get a very vivid picture of what the town is like, and what life in the outback must be like.

Even in the first few pages, where Katie's car breaks down on a long very empty looking long road, there is a mention of the only sign of life she had seen for ages being a lone kangaroo, which really brought home the seriousness of her initial predicament, and also how the book is clearly set in Australia!

Katie is a young English girl, a nurse who has come to Coorah Creek to rediscover her love of nursing, after being fed up with doctor's attitudes in London to her. Scott is her rescuer, and he is dreading returning to Coorah Creek for the first time in 8 years. 

There is a lot of action and drama is this book, as you would expect from Katie being an outback nurse, but she does have a lot of doubts as to whether its really the best place she should have escaped to. She also is doubting just how Christmas would be celebrated, since there is no chance of a white Christmas in the outback.

I won't tell you just how Christmas day is celebrated, but it does summon up the key themes of Christmas, in a really good way, and there is a, I hate to say Christmas miracle, but lets go for something unlikely happening,. 

Christmas at Coorah Creek didn't completely feel like a Christmas book to me, however I really didn't care either, as I was enjoying the story so much, which was more the focus of the book, than the time of year. I loved my trip to Coorah Creek, and I hope to return there again one day soon. 

Thanks to Choc Lit and Netgalley for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Happy publication day to Janet Gover. Christmas at Coorah Creak it out now!

Book Review - A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley

Amazon UK
Title: A Christmas Cracker
Author: Trisha Ashley
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 22nd October 2015 
Rating: 4 Stars

This Christmas is about to go off with a bang!

Things can’t possibly get worse for Tabby. Framed for a crime she didn’t commit, she suddenly finds herself without a job. Then to make matters worse, Tabby’s boyfriend dumps her and gives her cat away to a shelter.

But rescue comes in the form of kindly Mercy. A master of saving waifs and strays, Mercy wants Tabby to breathe new flair into her ailing cracker business. Together, they’ll save Marwood’s Magical Christmas Crackers.

But someone has other ideas. Mercy’s nephew Randal thinks Tabby’s a fraudster. Stubborn, difficult and very attractive, her future depends upon winning him round. But it’s that time of the year when miracles really can happen. Standing under the mistletoe, Tabby’s Christmas is set to be one that she will never forget . . .

This was a really great story, which contained a few things that I haven't seen often in books if at all. 

Tabby is an ex-con, she was sent to prison for a crime she didn't commit, but was framed for. When she is in prison she is visted by Mercy Marwood, who offers to take her in and provide a job and accommodation when she is released.

Mercy is a Quaker, and it was fascinating to learn more about the religion, in a gentle way. I recall when I was about 11 having a couple of lessons about the Quakers and then not given it or them another thought until this book. Part of this means she is a wonderful person, who is accepting of people's faults, believes Tabby to be innocent, and has a habit of hiring ex-cons. 

Mercy runs what is now the failing Marwood's Magical Christmas Crackers workshop, but as she had her eye off the ball recently, while doing charity work in Malawi. It is very refreshing to have a Christmas Cracker workshop as the setting and main workplace for a book. I had never given much thought to how they were made before, and its quite nice to think that in this case, its a group of older people, being given their second chance in life, making something that is actually quite skilled. 

Tabby along with Randal, Mercy's nephew, have some impressive plans to turn the business around. However Randal doesn't trust or like Tabby, and was partly instrumental in her old bosses fraud being discovered. 

The plot is possibly simpler than I am making it sound. It is though a great story, running for almost a year, finishing with Christmas, but due to the nature of the business you are thinking about Christmas a lot. But for this reason, I wouldn't say its my favourite festive book, although if I ignore that its a brilliant book, and one I really enjoyed. 

There are some great characters including Mercy who has such energy and enthusiasm for everything, and such a loving personality.  

The setting of Godsend, near Little Mumming will be familiar to Trisha Ashley fans, especially mentions of a chocolatier in Sticklepond. There are small of various places and characters that have been present in previous of her books, and its also nice to see a nod to other books. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Avon for this review copy. This is my honest opinion. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Book Review - The Dead Dog Day by Jackie Kabler - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
Title: The Dead Dog Day - A Cora Baxter Mystery
Author: Jackie Kabler
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Author supplied reivew copy
Publisher: Accent Press
Publication Date: 22nd October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

When your Monday morning begins with a dead dog and ends with a dead boss, you know it’s going to be one of those days. And breakfast TV reporter Cora Baxter has already had the weekend from hell, after the man she’d planned a fabulous future with unceremoniously dumped her. 

Now Cora’s much-hated boss has been murdered – the list of suspects isn’t exactly short, but as the enquiry continues the trail leads frighteningly close to home. Why is Cora’s rival, glamorous, bitchy newsreader Alice Lomas, so devastated by their boss’s death? What dark secrets are Cora’s camera crew hiding? And why has her now ex-boyfriend vanished? 

The race to stop the killer striking again is on…

The Dead Dog Day is an entertaining book, that became compulsive, unputdownable reading as it progressed. 

Cora is a breakfast TV reporter, who travels up and down the country reporting on anything from the serious to the ridiculous. She was at the main studios on the fateful morning, where to start with one of the guests, a dog, died before it was at the studio. Jeanette the boss tried to insist they just continue with the dead dog on air (in a series of conversations that sets the tone for the humour that is present throughout the book). Shortly afterwards Jeanette is found dead, murdered to be precise. 

Occasionally towards the ends of chapters there would be an aside from the murderer although I can't imagine who would have guessed who it is, and especially the motivation, until it was revealed. At least I had no idea. 

Various chapters were either focusing on Cora and her life, Benjamin her new boyfriend, and Adam the detective running the murder investigation (who Cora may also fancy). 

Work on the case is very slow, and soon questions are asked over various of Cora's colleagues who are acting more oddly than before. 

However it wasn't necessarily the mystery aspect that gripped me from the start. It was the indepth details of Cora's job, and the sheer range of stories she was expected to report from. It was a regular occurrence for her to have to be a ridiculous O'Clock, to travel 3+ hours by car, sometimes just in search of a specific weather condition, and then be ready to be live on air during the broadcast. 

I believe this must be where Jackie Kabler's TV knowledge comes in, and everything about the outside broadcast teams sounds very feasible and realistic, and you really had a good idea about the circumstances these teams work in. 

There were efforts to step up the tension, and as they were introduced, I think it was then, that I started wanting to read more and more of this story, to see the final outcomes. 

I am really hoping the Cora is going to be a recurring character of Jackie's, as you get such a great feel for her various sets of friends and colleagues, I can imagine this being a fantastic series. 

As it is I found it to be a very entertaining, funny at times, and definitely gripping story, that I loved reading.  An excellent debut novel, and a fabulous start to Jackie's writing career. 

Thank you so much to Jackie Kabler for offering me a review copy. This was my honest review. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Guest Post - Carol Thomas talking about Crazy Over You her new book

Thank you to Carol Thomas, for coming onto Rachel's Random Reads, to talk about her new romance, Crazy Over You. My review has also been posted today, so take a look after you read what Carol has to say.

Love, loyalty and living happily ever after are put to the test in my new romance novel Crazy Over You!

Have you ever been driven crazy by love? As the subtitle of my book states, love can drive you crazy in more ways than one. There are times – particularly in the early stages of a relationship – when you can feel completely crazy, head over heals in love, and then there are the times when you can feel aspects of your partner or relationship might literally drive you crazy! It is this range of emotions that I set out to explore in Crazy Over You

Like many women Abby Turner always assumed her take on infidelity would be zero tolerance – walk away, don’t look back (cue Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive) and move on in the knowledge that the person left behind didn’t deserve you. From the vantage point of her mostly happy, fifteen-year marriage and with her opinions informed by books and films it had all seemed so straightforward. So why isn’t it that simple when it becomes her reality? 

Abby’s story begins almost two months after she has discovered her husband Simon has had an affair. In the wake of their separation she feels ashamed of the darkness that sometimes engulfs her and unwilling to confide in those closest to her (her family perceive her as one of life’s copers, while her best friend is away, working in America). Abby feels hurt, confused and unable to move forward in the way she had always imagined she would. 

This, for me, was an important starting point. I had read other great novels on the theme of infidelity but often found that the impact of the affair on the central character tended to be sidelined in order to move forward with the plot. In writing Crazy Over You I felt I had something different to offer; the exploration of Abby’s feelings is very much part of the plot. In fact they are the driving force throughout the story.

That is not to say that Crazy Over You is grounded in sadness, far from it. Yes it has its moments but I think this isn’t a subject you can tackle honestly without reflecting some of the impact on those concerned. However, as we follow Abby as she attempts to gain control of her life and make decisions about her future, it becomes very clear that this is as much a story about friendship, family and love as it is of infidelity.

Yes, Crazy Over You is a novel for all those who have experienced a break up, but it is also very much a story for all those who know that living happily ever after is not quite as simple as meeting your man. 

Crazy Over You: Love can drive you crazy… in more ways than one!

When Abby met Simon it was the start of something special, a love Abby believed would last a lifetime.

A wedding, two daughters and fifteen years later Abby’s world is falling apart. Having discovered Simon has had an affair her normally ordered mind is spiralling out of control. Crushed by the betrayal and shocked by her own reaction, she knows she needs to get herself together. She’s just not sure where to start.

With Simon on a mission to win her back and a close friend hiding a secret that could push her further over the edge, Abby finds strength and support where she least expects it. But as she attempts to gain control of her life and make decisions about her future, it may be more than the limits of Abby’s mind that are put to the test!

Genre: Contemporary romance
Release date: 28th October 2015
Publisher: Matador

Buy Crazy Over You:

Author bio:

Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and two lazy Labradors. She enjoys taking on a challenge and writing her novel, Crazy Over You, while looking after her children and working part-time has proved to be one of her most exciting challenges to date. Carol has taught in the primary sector for fifteen years and works as a copywriter for commercial websites. 

Commenting on the release of her ‘thought provoking and entertaining’ debut novel, Carol states, “While Crazy Over You is undoubtedly a work of fiction, I enjoy writing from real experiences, drawing on what I know and depicting emotions I, and hopefully others, can relate to.”

She has a passion for reading, writing and people watching and can often be found loitering in local cafés, drinking too much tea and working on her second novel. 

To find out more about books by Carol Thomas:

Book Review - Crazy Over You by Carol Thomas

Amazon UK
Title: Crazy Over You
Author: Carol Thomas
Format reviewed:  Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Troubador
Publication Date: 28th October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

Love can drive you crazy… in more ways than one! 

When Abby met Simon, a drink in the uni bar lead to keeping in touch, late-night phone calls and intimate catch-ups. It was the start of something special, a love Abby believed would last a lifetime. 

A wedding, two daughters and fifteen years later, Abby’s world is falling apart. Having discovered Simon has had an affair, her normally ordered mind is spiralling out of control. Crushed by the betrayal and shocked by her own reaction, she knows she needs to get herself together; she’s just not sure where to start. 

She wanted all the pain and angst gone from inside her. Would meeting someone do that? She was one lone person in a world of people. Who would notice her? Nobody had in the last fifteen years. 

With Simon on a mission to win her back and a close friend hiding a secret that could push her further over the edge, Abby finds strength and support where she least expects it. But as she attempts to gain control of her life and make decisions about her future, it may be more than the limits of Abby’s mind that are put to the test! 

Crazy Over You is a refreshingly honest portrayal of a woman’s reaction to her husband’s infidelity while also being a touching story of friendship and love. It is a novel for all those who have experienced a break-up and know that living happily ever after is not quite as simple as meeting your man!

There is a lot to like in Crazy Over You, especially the sense of humuor, Abby's children (her own and the ones she teaches), and also some of the soundtrack that is mentioned at points. I had very similar tastes in music. 

For a debut novel, its witty, charming and has a good story. I did though find I was struggling to get into the story a bit, but suspect that is more to do with me, than the book itself. 

Abby has just discovered Simon, has cheated on her, and she is struggling to come to terms with it. Her emotions fly all over the place, but it takes the help of fellow teachers Melissa and Brad for her to start feeling normal again, let alone anything else. 

There was a clear chemistry between Abby and Brad, but I found I wasn't sure I was really willing them together. Can't put my finger on it, but I didn't take to Abby that much in the beginning, and even by the end had formed no real bond with her, which is a shame for a main character. 

That being said despite that I found plenty to enjoy, there are some great scenes, including abseiling, and  lingerie party, both outside of Abby's comfort zone, with some interesting reactions from her. 

You can tell that Simon really is trying his hardest to win Abby back and has some romantic gestures. Watch out for origami animals, they are more relevant than I thought when they were first mentioned. 

Overall a pleasant and entertaining book, that I enjoyed. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Troubador for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Fabulous Freebies #1

It has come to my attention in the past few days that there are some brilliant books being offered for free at the moment, for the Kindle. So it only seems fair, that I share my findings with you.

Please note all books were FREE at time of writing this post. Please do double check the price of anything you click to look at, as prices do fluctuate. Equally, this is for my UK followers, that use Amazon, please do check your other e-book reader sites in case of price matching things going on.

I also urge you if you do like the look of these, to pick them up while they are free, for the best bargain, as if you come back later, who knows what will have happened to the price!

Some of these I have read, some have been reviewed on this blog, and others are ones I have picked up myself, but have heard from people I trust that they are good!

Prada and Prejudice (Dating Mr Darcy, Book 1) by Katie Oliver

Amazon UK
He’s a man in possession of a large fortune….but is he in want of a wife?!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Natalie Dashwood loves to shop. After all, as the heiress to the renowned London department store Dashwood & James she’s been wearing designer shoes since she could walk! But a socialite’s life isn’t as perfect as you might imagine… Natalie’s spending is spiraling slightly out of control, her rock star boyfriend is engaged to someone else, and it seems the family business is in financial crisis. New high-flying business exec Rhys Gordon has been brought in to save the company from ruin, but what are his motives? And infuriatingly even a shoe-shopping spree can’t take her mind off his distracting and oh-so-charming smile… Couture and confetti mix with scandal and intrigue in this wonderful tale of retail, romance and redemption.

#PleaseRetweet by Emily Benet

Amazon UK
Social media whizz kid, May Sparks has landed her dream job. Well, not quite, but the salary is great and all May has to do is handle the online profiles of Z – list celebrities who have the tendency to say inappropriate things. Easy, right? #wrong

May’s clients include an ex big brother star (who she's definitely not going to sleep with #neversaynever), a disgraced TV presenter (who wants May to sort out his marriage as well as his Twitter account), and a woman who once flashed her boobs on X-factor. They're all relying on her to turn them into stars. But they're not going to make her job easy.

As May is sucked further and further into her job she begins to lose her grip on real life. Her friends don’t ‘like’ her Facebook posts anymore and even her gorgeous neighbour, who once seemed to be on the same wavelength, criticises her career choice. Worse, May’s clients start getting trolled by an annoying tweep, who May happens to agree with.

Then May’s secret online identity is leaked, causing her to start trending on Twitter. It looks like the status update is over. Unless May can leave the superficial social media word behind and find her own voice again…

‘One of my most enjoyed books this year’ – Rachel’s Random Reads

The Half Truth by Sue Fortin

Amazon UK
She thought she knew her past. She thought her past was the truth.

Tina Bolotnikov, widowed after her husband, Sasha, is killed in a car accident, relocates back to her hometown on the south coast of the UK, to bring up her young son. Her life back in London with her adored husband is now nothing but a memory; a history to pass onto her son.

DS John Nightingale saw his partner killed in the line of duty and has made it his personal and professional quest to bring to justice the Russian gang responsible. Five years on and the killer is still free but as reports come in of Sasha Bolotnikov’s brother returning to the UK, John is tasked with tracking him down and following him to the seaside town of Littlehampton.

Tina finds herself an unwitting connection to a world she knew nothing about. She thought she knew her husband. She thought their past was the truth. But now as the investigation draws her closer to DS Nightingale, professional lines are blurred and crossed, and only he holds the key to her future.

The Grand Reopening Of Dandelion Cafe (Cherry Pie Island, Book 1) by Jenny Oliver

Amazon UK
Home, Sweet Home….?

There’s nowhere more deliciously welcoming…

When Annie White steps back onto Cherry Pie Island, it’s safe to say her newly inherited Dandelion Café has seen better days! And while her childhood home on the Thames-side island idyll is exactly the same retreat from the urban bustle of London she remembers, Annie’s not convinced that Owner of The Dandelion Cafe is a title she’ll be keeping for long. Not that she can bear the idea of letting her dedicated, if endearingly disorganized staff lose their jobs. Plus café life does also have the added bonus of working a stone’s throw away from millionaire Matt and his disarmingly charming smile!

One (shoestring budget) café makeover, a few delightful additions to the somewhat retro menu and a lot of cherry pie tastings later, The Dandelion Café is ready for its grand reopening! But once she’s brought the dilapidated old café back to life, Annie finds herself wishing her stay on the island was just a bit longer. She always intended to go back to the big city…but could island living finally have lured her back home for good?

Picnics in Hyde Park by Nikki Moore

Amazon UK
‘Whoever said romance was dead has clearly never read a Nikki Moore book’ – Rachel’s Random Reads

The last story in the fun & flirty #LoveLondon series from exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore! The perfect novel for reading in the sunshine … and falling in love with London.

Hot summer romance…or cold revenge?

Super nanny, Zoe Harper is mad! It was bad enough discovering her ex-fiancé Greg cheating on her just weeks before their wedding. But now she’s returned home to London to find her younger sister Melody has been left jobless, homeless, broke and dumped.

Zoe is determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak. So when an unexpected opportunity gives Zoe a way in to uncaring—and dizzyingly gorgeous!—successful music producer Matt Reilly’s world, she jumps at the chance to make him pay.

But living with Matt as nanny to his two adorable, but complicated children, Zoe soon begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems… Matt insists on pushing everyone away including his children, but why? And if his delicious summer kisses are anything to go by, he can’t be that bad surely?

Can Zoe convince Matt to open up a little and help fix this family before she leaves…or worse, before Matt learns who she really is?

Survival of the Christmas Spirit by Aimee Horton

Amazon UK
“Cooking for nineteen people will be a cinch!” Ever-optimistic Dottie Harris is preparing for the biggest and best Christmas celebration ever, and nothing—not even unexpected guests or running out of gin—will get her down. 

But as always, things don't run smoothly for Dottie, and it's not long before her two energetic children, hapless husband and a nasty stomach bug wreak havoc on her carefully planned spreadsheets. 

Can Dottie throw the perfect family Christmas (without so much as a swig of gin to help her through) or will preparing for the festivities get the best of her? One thing's for sure: This will be a Christmas to remember! 

Room For Love by Sophie Pembroke

Amazon UK
Can she make room for love?

When wedding planner Carrie Archer inherits the crumbling Avalon Inn where she spent her childhood summers, she knows she’ll do whatever it takes to make it home. With no money for renovations, that means finding investors if she ever hopes to turn the Avalon into a dream wedding venue.

But Carrie has been left more than the inn—she’s also inherited its occupants, including three senior citizens, a single-father chef with childcare issues, a panicky receptionist, and one very gorgeous gardener.

So when her cousin Ruth declares her intention to get married at the Avalon on Christmas Eve, Carrie finds herself juggling decorating with dance nights, budgeting with bridge games…and sabotage with seduction.

A Very Country Christmas by Zara Stoneley 

Amazon UK
A short Christmas story of three courses.

Love is in the air in Tippermere as Lottie dreams of a white Christmas with no trimmings – other than her hot and hunky eventer, Rory. But things are never quite that simple on the Tipping House Estate.

Festive fervour takes over and it isn’t all seasonal peace and goodwill as expectations rise and it soon escalates from cosy dinner for two, to all the trimmings for ten!

With missing turkeys, loose horses, troublesome terriers and randy huntsmen, Lottie is hard pushed to find time for a kiss under the mistletoe, let alone find the opportunity to woo Rory with her sexy Santa costume.

But there is only one thing Lottie really wants for Christmas, and only one man can deliver it…

Gut Feeling by Victoria Browne

Amazon UK
Ashleigh Lands is a twenty six year old dental nurse, who after meeting Dave Croft, a gorgeous twin, finds herself in an impossible dilemma. Living in the heart of London, Ashleigh and her group of friends find themselves in numerous situations, parties, traumas and sexual experiences. With Ashleigh's love cheat lawyer ex-boyfriend Lee Preston pulling on her heart strings Ashleigh goes on holiday to Ibiza with the girls; Rachel a buyer for a large child's clothing company and also Ashleigh's best friend. Beautiful Jules who works for a well-known magazine company. And Gemma a house wife who has just found out her husband was sleeping with his personal trainer. Ibiza brings the girls new friends along with love and loss. Whilst the girls are away Dave has an unwanted sexual encounter. Ashleigh returns home only to have her life thrown into turmoil. "But I heard it with my own ears". Must be true then? ? ? "A gripping romantic chic-lit fiction novel at its best" - Independent quote "Laugh out loud best seller"

This Family Life by Jon Rance

Amazon UK
Things that might happen during your first year of parenthood: 

1. You’ll get covered in a ‘nuclear’ poo. 
2. You’ll be convinced your son is talking with a Japanese accent. 
3. You’ll worry that when your son waves, it looks like a Nazi salute. 

Of course, this might just be Harry Spencer. 

Taking up where 'This Thirtysomething Life' left off, Harry Spencer and is wife Emily are back and trying to survive their first year of parenthood. It has its ups and downs (and a few bits in the middle), but along the way they begin to understand the true meaning of family and what it takes to be a parent. 

Featuring a hilarious cast of extras including Harry’s father-in-law Derek, who has a unique problem with Scotch, Steve and Fiona, the parents from children’s entertainment hell, and a yoga instructor with a prominent camel-toe, 'This Family Life' is the ultimate comedy for anyone who is a parent, has a parent, or is thinking about becoming one. 

Book Review - Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson - #BookoutureXmas

Amazon UK
Title: Bella's Christmas Bake Off
Author: Sue Watson
Format reviewed: Ebook 
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 22nd October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials. 

But this year things are going to be different. 

For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever. 

Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off… 

After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember… 

A hilarious, heart-breaking and feel good read about best friends, baking and the magic of Christmas. 

Before the book had even started I looked at the the list of contents, which had all the chapter titles, and from them, I could tell this book would be filled with food, fun and Christmas, and I wasn't wrong. Even the dedication had me laughing, which is a great way to relax you before you start reading the book. 

Amy and Bella were childhood friends, until one error of judgement tore them apart from 20 years.  Now Bella is a top TV baking personality, huge celebrity and queen of the Christmas specials. To the outside world her life is perfect. 

Neil, Amy's husband has just told her that he is leaving her for another woman (one with a pole in her bedroom!), and with three weeks to go until Christmas she is broken and left without the Christmas spirit. 

When Amy's misery hits rock bottom she is shown St Swithins, the homeless shelter a colleague volunteers at, and that changes Amy profoundly. Amy has watched Bella's Christmas specials throughout her career, and when she then realises that the recipes in this years Christmas recipe book, are ones that Amy's mother used to make, being passed off as Bella's, Amy is rightfully angry. 

And when Amy and Bella re-meet, that is when the book really starts to get going. Seeing the sparks fly between the two old friends and their different approaches to Christmas are hilarious. You have Bella who wants to use the finest ingredients, including flying in figs from Portugal, and a liberal use of gold leaf in her food and then Amy who lives and believes in frugality. 

Add in a film crew, and you have a spectacular week to remember, full of laughs, tears, secrets being revealed and learning just what goes on under the surface of  the TV cameras. 

I loved all the food descriptions, and it made me hungry for my own Christmas dinner, and some of the home made decoration ideas were so simple, but effective, that I would love to try them for myself. 

The dynamics between Bella and Amy are fabulous to watch, as a friendship is re-discovered. So many good scenes, and funny lines.  

There is a lot packed into Bella's Christmas Bake Off, but with Sue Watsons warmth and story telling ability, you are left feeling really good. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Bookoutre for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Extract of Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson - #BookoutureXmas

Bella's Christmas Bake Off

Amazon UK

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials. 

But this year things are going to be different. 

For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever. 

Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off… 

After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember… 

A hilarious, heart-breaking and feel good read about best friends, baking and the magic of Christmas. 

Chapter One
Naughty Custard and Severely Whipped Cream
I was icing the Christmas cake when he told me.
‘Amy...I have to talk to you,’ he said.
I lifted the palette knife to create a snowy effect on the soft, mallow frosting and stood back, then turned to him.
‘What?’ I was gazing at my beautiful frosty white cake. ‘Silent Night’ played on the iPod, and it was just three weeks before Christmas. I glanced up at Neil standing next to me, and the look in his eyes scared me so much I put down the palette knife.
‘What is it? Are you ill...has something happened?’
He nodded, slowly, his eyes still cold, like they belonged to someone else.
‘I was going to leave it until after Christmas to tell you, but I’ve...I can’t go on like this. Amy, I’m sorry but it feels like a charade to go through the whole Christmas thing and...I’ve met someone.’ He was standing in front of me now, making eye contact, ensuring the message was clear and there was no room for misunderstanding. My mind went blank. The pink tie I’d bought for him was loosened at his neck. He’d just come home from work.There were pork chops in the oven.
‘Is this a joke?’ There were no words for this. I’d sometimes imagined a scene where we parted, but it was usually the other way round and me telling him I was going. I wasn’t ready for this, now –ever.
‘Because I can’t live a lie any longer, Amy,’ he said, his speech obviously well prepared, learned by heart. I could see by his set jaw and steady gaze he was damn well going to say every word without interruption from me.
‘You’ve been so busy with work, you’ve got your friends and your life and I feel like there’s no room for me...’ he started.
‘Oh no, Neil. You sleeping with someone else is not my fault, so don’t even try to pull that one,’ I snapped, moving swiftly from shock to anger, aware I was spitting in his face– not pretty...or festive.
‘I’m sorry, I’m not blaming you, but I just...I want to be with her. She loves me, she cares what happens to me, asks me about my day...I’m sorry, Amy...’ He stood there, ashen-faced.
‘So after twenty years you’re just walking out on your marriage because some other woman asks if you’ve had a nice day?’ I was becoming irrational, but who could blame me? ‘Perhaps I should have made more like an American waitress and said ‘have a nice day,’ when I ‘served’ you your evening meal.’
The panic was rising in my chest, I couldn’t deal with people leaving, the thought of being on my own scared me. Things hadn’t been great for a long time between us, but he didn’t have to go and throw it all away– not now, just weeks before Christmas. I glanced through the living room door at the Christmas tree, the lights twinkling, gifts from relatives and friends already underneath.This was a time for being together, for rekindling love and family, not abandoning it.
‘I don’t understand?’ I asked, trying to calm down and not to bare my teeth like a wild animal. I didn’t know how I felt about Neil, but I wasn’t ready for this and I didn’t want him storming off into the night and leaving me alone. I needed to keep everything on an even keel, especially myself.  ‘I know we’ve had our problems Neil, but all marriages have problems, we just have to work at them.’
 ‘That’s what I thought too, but...she’s special.’
‘Special? More “special” than the woman you married, who you’ve been with for over twenty years,’ I snapped, losing any chance of staying calm at this.
‘No...of course you’re special too, but we both want different things, Amy.’
‘Yeah, you want someone else.’
‘It’s not like that...I care about her.’
So this really was it? After several years of our relationship hanging by a thread, one of us had finally decided to do something to end it, but now it was finally here I felt sick. I was about to throw up, but swallowed hard to prevent it. Whatever I might think about him, I didn’t want my husband’s last moments with me to be infused with the sight and smell of me vomiting noisily in the kitchen.
‘Who is she?’ I heard myself croak.
‘Someone at work, she works in the Legal don’t know her.’
 ‘Well I do now, don’t I?’I started. ‘Because it looks like this woman who I “don’t know”has been playing quite a big part in my life without me even realising ...’
He just stood there with his head down like I was reprimanding him. He reminded me of one of the teenagers I taught at school who’d been found smoking or downloading porn on their iPhone.
 ‘Neil, the kids will be home from Uni in three weeks...and I made a cake...’ I gestured towards the snow-topped, perfectly iced confection like it would make a difference to his planned departure. Three minutes ago this beautiful fruit cake had, along with the Christmas Tree, been the centre and beginning of my pre-Christmas world. We both stared at the cake as though it held the answers and if we stared for long enough all the bad things would go away. But they didn’t, and when I looked back, the eyes staring out of my husband’s face were a stranger’s eyes.
‘When are you going?’ I asked, trying to bring myself round.
He shrugged, ‘Tomorrow...?’
I suddenly couldn’t bear another minute of this and as another wave of anger engulfed me, I called his bluff. ‘How about now? Go now,’ I said.
‘You think I should go now?’ He looked almost relieved, which hurt and angered me even more.
‘You can’t wait to leave, can you?’ I spat incredulously.
‘No, no... I don’t want to upset you...neither does Jayne; she’s so upset and feels terrible about everything.’
That did it.
‘Oh poor, poor Jayne is upset? Why didn’t you say? You must go to her, how selfish I am thinking only of me when she’s the one who’s devastated...I feel awful for keeping you.’
He made an awkward move towards me and I picked up the palette knife in a threatening manner like I’d seen crazy people do in crime dramas on TV. In that moment, with the panic rising in my chest, I felt just as mad as those wild murdering types, slashing around with a cleaver. It was just as well my weapon of choice was only a round-edged, blunt decorating tool and not a big, sharp chef’s knife,especially when I started waving it at himaggressively.
 He edged back along the kitchen wall like the wimp he was, flinching as I punctuated my harmless but dramatic palette waving with swearing and ridiculous threats.I couldn’t stop and the more he cowered, the more I flailed my ‘weapon’ around while starting on a detailed personality assassination. As therapeutic as this was,I had to stop because I was reaching volcanic levels and could feel a panic attack coming on. I stood back, put down the knife and leaned against the kitchen unit to get my breath back. Just as I put my head in my hands and he thought I wasn’t looking, the little coward made a bid for freedom. He weaselled his way out of the kitchen and ran upstairs to pack his pyjamas and toothbrush, without even asking if I was okay.
‘I could have died,’ I yelled at him as I heard his tentative steps on the stair carpet before he put his head round the door like a rabbit in the headlights.
‘I’m going to go now, because I think you need to calm down and me being here might just make things worse,’ he said, like he was dealing with a petulant child.
Too late. I had a brown paper bag over my mouth (which I always kept at hand in the event of a panic attack) whilst continuing to ladle a thick layer of snowy frosting on the cake on auto-pilot like a woman possessed. In my state of shock all I heard was him mutter something about calling me ‘tomorrow’, and as he walked out of the front door I cracked, picked up the cake and blindly chased him down the hall. Halfway down the drive he turned back and I saw the fear in his eyes as he spotted my frosty confection coming straight for his head accompanied by my season’s greetings;  ‘Happy bloody Christmas’, I screechedalong with other non-festive expletives I would rather not repeat. He ducked of course, but as the cake frisbeed past him and across the street the whole thing was witnessed by Alfie Mathews, the son of my neighbour, who also happened to be a pupil of mine. There was frosty icing everywhere, a large cake sliding down the garden wall, me standing in the doorwayscreaming like the madwoman in the attic ...and one of my pupils filming the whole spectacle on his mobile.
It was all very surreal and I was so distressed and disorientated I couldn’t face tackling the film-maker sojust staggered back indoors.
Once inside I slammed the door, sat down on a chair, and marvelled at how in less than thirty minutes my life had melted like snow in hot hands. Everything I thought I had, everything I’d thought I was,had gone in a whirlwind...along with the now smashed Christmas cake.
Eventually, I stirred and picked up the TV remote without moving from my seat in the kitchen, and turned on the TV.
‘Ooh you have to have squidgy ones,’ the voice purred from the screen on the wall. Neil had put it up there a couple of years ago because I liked to watch cookery shows in the kitchen, particularly Bella Bradley’s shows, and the ‘squidgy ones’ to which she was now referring were chocolate brownies, which as always looked perfect – but then she had no need to throw them at anyone did she? I stared at the screen numbly. It seemed as though as my life was collapsing, while Bella’s was going from strength to strength. Each year she and her lovely home seemed to be glossier, more expensive, her Christmas cakes more ornate, her tree taller. Bella’s eyes glittered from her fairy lit kitchen, colour matched in red and green with a hint of classy sparkle. The long dark hair, luscious red lips and happy marriage made her look at least ten years younger than she was and despite loving her show I couldn’t help but sometimes feel a twinge of resentment. I wished my life had been as glamorous and successful as Bella’s and felt the envy and regret even more keenly after what had just happened. I found vague comfort in watching Bella add mixed spice to a bowl, stirring vigorously, causing the reindeers on her tight red ski jumper to frolic across her full bosom. I wondered for the millionth time what it would be like to have Bella’s Christmas, her marriage – her life.
What made the contrast in our very different lives so painful was that Bella Bradley used to be my best friend. We’d once shared everything, from secrets to perfume to clothes, we’d been best friends from our first day at school and watching her now on screen I found it hard to reconcile this well-groomed, accomplished woman with the crazy, funny friend I used to love. When we were kids Bella was the one who took risks while I stood on the sidelines watching in awe, and sometimes horror, while she got herself into the most horrific scrapes. Throughout her school days she had been involved in smoking, playing truant, swearing and writing obscene words on the gym wall – yet still she seemed to charm her way out of it all. I didn’t have her charisma or her daring; I suppose that’s why Bella’s a TV star and I’m a maths teacher, I thought, absently watching her whisk up a batch of chocolate brownies with the kind of noises one would associate with an orgasm.
‘Ooh that’s very, very naughty,’ she was saying, her eyes looking into the camera, a tight close-up of just her tongue licking chocolate-covered fingers I assumed were her own. Mind you, from the sounds she was making one had to wonder if her delicious husband was somewhere off camera reaching into her red-lipsticked mouth. Who knew what was going on behind that soon to be batch of warm bad boys?
Just thinking about Bella’s husband reminded me of my own, or sudden lack of - making my stomach churn. I tried to shake the thought of Neil having sex with another woman from my head while pacing around the house, wondering what to do, asking myself so many questions. Had I known, or at least suspected he was having an affair? Had I become lazy and complacent, not necessarily wanting Neil around, but not brave enough to make any changes? There were times when I’d doubted if Neil and I would make ‘forever’, but they were just blips weren’t they? Didn’t everyone go through times when they wondered if they’d married the right person? You just got on with it, which is why I was so surprised to find myself suddenly single. I wandered into the living room and stared at the Christmas tree I’d put up the previous week. It had been decorated with hope and anticipation for the season ahead. I’d hung each bauble imagining the four of us sitting round a glistening turkey on Christmas day lit by the glow of that tree. But looking at it now, days later, I felt nothing–just sad and disappointed.

It was an ancient white tree, and even the sparkly white fairy now looked less like a sparkly young girl and more like Miss Haversham, the ageing bride whose groom had left her on her wedding day.
I couldn’t take it in, I looked at the sad fairy seeing myself reflected back - Neil had gone and my Christmas was over before it had begun. Then my eye caught the icy blue bauble we’d bought together on a trip to Paris one Christmas. Carefully plucking the bauble from the tree I held it, feeling the cool Christmas roundness in my palm. There was a raised hand-painted picture of a glittery, snow-covered Eiffel Tower, a lovely memory I hung every year and went straight back to the French Christmas market where we’d bought it. Holding the bauble, watching it sparkle,I was on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées,more than twenty years before, a cold wind was swinging the lights on the stall and heavy rain splashed our faces. Neil and I had been so young and in love back then we only saweach other in the twinkle of fairylights in the rain. It was bustling with noise, festive music played and the air was heady with Christmas as we held hands and chose our special souvenir of our first holiday together. I was eighteen. Looking into the bauble now, watching the glitter change from white to pink to blue as I twirled it I felt sad for what we’d lost. Then I remembered with a jolt how later on that evening we’d argued about something trivial and Neil stormed out of the hotel. He came back very late and quite drunk and I cried all night while he slept soundly next to me. We barely spoke to each other all the next day, despite it being Christmas Day, and my dreams of Christmas in Paris floated off down the Seine. Funny how I’d forgotten about that, perhaps Neil’s leaving had made me more cynical, more aware of what we were, and not what I’d wanted us to be? I should have known then we wouldn’t last; if a couple fall out in the city of love on Christmas Eve then cupid’s trying to tell them something. We were such different people, Neil and I, and in those early days I’d naively thought he would change, but he never did.

I thought of all the Christmas Eves since then that the kids and I had waited for him to come home.They always wanted to wait for Daddy, but he was usually ‘caught up at the office,’ and I was so busy making Christmas for them I didn’t have the time or the energy to worry where he was. I did everything without him, not just Christmas,  but days out, barbecues in the garden, even parents’ evenings - it was usually just me and the kids. I lived like a single mum, with Neil working away, late at the office or on a golf course somewhere (though there were times I queried his ‘night golf’ sessions, which went on way too late for my liking). Suddenly, it dawned on me, perhaps he wasn’t busy or golfing – perhaps he just didn’t want to come home to me? While I was imagining pitch black golf courses and heavy late night meetings he was ‘going home’ to Jayne from the legal department. As my thoughts drifted back over my marriage to Neil, I realised I had stripped the Christmas tree until it was bare and everything was packed away. All trace of Christmas gone.

I was now alone, I had no husband and all I could think was ‘How will I tell the kids?’ My only consolation was that the twins were now both away at their respective universities and though the break-up of their parents’ marriage would hurt, it wouldn’t impact on their lives as it might have when they were younger. Resentment rose in my chest and I was glad Neil wasn’t there with me because I had a whole block of kitchen knives and who knew what might have happened? Neil and I didn’t have an idyllic marriage, we didn’t ravish each other passionately every night of the week, life got in the way. Neil needed new friends, sparkly objects and flashing lights in his life – whereas I was happy with the status quo and a nice cup of tea.
I returned to the kitchen, my Christmas was over, but Bella was still on the TV creating a Christmas heaven in her home.
‘People laugh when I put bananas in my trifle,’ she was saying, making her eyes wide, her mouth forming a soft O. ‘But I implore you, if you do nothing else this Christmas –have a go with a big banana.’ This was breathed into the lens rather than actually spoken, and was pure cooking porn. ‘Whisky soaked, damp with alcohol, crushed nuts, a scattering of sour cranberries to cut through that icky-stickiness and snowy peaks of cool, white, severely whipped cream. Oooh,’ she was now dipping her finger in the cream, eyes closed, licking slowly, she was no doubt engaging more viewers than just the country’s amateur chefs. Every straight male and gay woman in the UK must have been transfixed by Bella’s culinary Christmas spectacle. I bit my lip, she was too much. Even Nigella would baulk at ‘severely whipped cream’ to describe a bloody trifle.
‘Bella’s Christmas Bake Off’ always started in early December and for years had prepared me and the rest of the country for the culinary season ahead. Bella basted beautiful, golden turkeys, cooked crispy roast potatoes, baked magnificent cakes and biscuits, causing power surges throughout the country as people turned on their ovens and baked. She would sprinkle lashings of glitter, special olive oils, the latest liqueurs and all in a sea of Christmas champagne bubbles.
Bella’s style was calm, seductive, and gorgeous. Her very presence on screen made you feel everything was going to be okay and Christmas was on its way. She didn’t just stop at delicious food either – her tables were pure art and her Christmas decorations always the prettiest, sparkliest, most beautiful. Bella Bradley had an enviable lifestyle and she kept viewers transfixed all year round, but her Christmases were always special. Her planning and eye for detail was meticulous, from colour-matched baubles to snowy landscapes of Christmas cupcakes and mince pies – and soggy bottoms were never on her menu.
 So in an attempt to forget my own life and fill myself with something like Christmas cheer,I watched Bella now, as she poured the whipped cream on ‘naughty’ custard. Oh if it were only the custard in my life that was ‘naughty,’ I thought as sheadded edible pearls for decoration, fingering each one as she pushed them firmly into the cream. I sat in my little kitchen just waiting for the Christmas sparkle to land on me, the frisson of Christmas baking, the preparation, the anticipation that always came with the first ‘Bella’s Christmas Bake Off.’ But this year I just couldn’t get excited by her baking or her beautiful, twinkly home or her magnificent tree. She had everything – and I had nothing...which had always been the case, but now I didn’t even have a husband anymore.
Bella’s husband, Peter Bradley, or the Silver Fox, as Bella affectionately referred to him, was gorgeous. He was a foreign news correspondent who, when he wasn’t making ‘impromptu’ appearances in Bella’s busy kitchen during the show, could be seen on battlefronts across the globe. He’d wander into Bella’s kitchen all five o’clock shadow and war-weary as she iced her voluptuous buns or titivated her tarts. He always looked quite out of place in this domestic idyll after doing a piece to camera in a war-torn city, but he was obviously happy to support his wife’s career by just being there. Unlike my husband, he hadn’t left her alone at Christmas for another woman – he’d stayed by her side, happy to brush the flour from her décolletage and stick his finger in her buttercream.
‘The Silver Fox loves my plump, tasty breasts,’ she was now saying while tearing at tender white turkey flesh with a knowing look. Peter was there in all his war-torn glory, taking her proffered morsels with a twinkle in his pale blue eyes, a crinkly smile on his well worn features. He was so handsome, fit for his late forties, and no doubt, given his career, very strong, intelligent and brave. He was the perfect accessory to Bella, bringing just the right amount of rough masculine charm and good looks to her glossygirlishness. And as a delicious bonus, the Silver Fox wasn’t afraid to show his feminine side judging by the previous year’s Christmas special, when he’d flown in from Iraq to whisk cream in nothing but combats and a tight vest. I was transfixed - trust me, Christmas had come early!
Bella was now informing us that we had to rehearse for Christmas Eve. Rehearse? As if one Christmas stress-fest wasn’t enough? She was wearing silk pyjamas and a girly grinwhich, given my current state, seemed to me like she was bordering on smug.
‘So, imagine it’s Christmas Eve – the turkey has soaked in something fabulous, and so have I, and now I’ve put my jim jams on,’ she giggled, shaking her breasts for no apparent reason – she did that a lot.  I noted with envy how her chocolate brown eyes matched the chocolate brown silk of her pyjamas and considered my own nightwear, a pair of frail pyjamas, once pale pink now edging towards grey after too many washes. If I needed any proof that her life was completely different to mine – it was all there in those ancient pyjamas.
‘Me and the Silver Fox just love a pyjama party at Christmas,’ she twinkled, a little wink and a sip from the crystal flute.‘But then, don’t we all?’
‘Speak for yourself,’ I said, turning off the TV and finishing the last of a bottle of cava I’d found in the fridge. Oh yes, Bella Bradley had always been the lucky one, even when we were kids – but it didn’t stop me loving her – she was my best friend. Then, when we were eighteen I did something stupid which affected her life so profoundly she left the area where we lived and I hadn’t seen her since. I tried not to think how our friendship had been destroyed by what I’d done all those years ago. I still felt guilty about what had happened and longed for her forgiveness. Watching her on screen was the nearest I would ever get to her, and despite the odd twinge of envy I found it therapeutic to see her in a wonderful new life, knowing she was okay... even if I wasn’t.

About Sue Watson

Sue Watson was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers before leaving it all behind for a career in TV. As a producer with the BBC she worked on garden makeovers, kitchen takeovers and daytime sofas – all the time making copious notes so that one day she might escape to the country and turn it all into a book.

After much deliberation and copious consumption of cake, Sue eventually left her life in TV to write. After a very successful debut novel, Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes, Sue signed with Bookouture and has gone on to write four fabulous books. 

My review of Bella's will be on the blog tomorrow, so please check back then to see what I thought of this book. 

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