Tuesday 28 February 2017

Guest Post - When In Rome... by Robert Enright - Rome Week

Rome was a city I had always wanted to travel to. As a big lover of Italian food and beer, I wanted to gorge myself, whilst also seeing the wonderful sights such as The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Roman Forum. So I took my partner for her birthday in 2015 and it was absolutely brilliant.

Now straight away, we were conned. That’s right, due to our lack of research, we didn’t realise how easy it would be to get to our hotel from the main train station. Instead of a 10 minute, 6 Euro train ride, we got swindled by a cabbie for 35 Euro’s. You live and learn!! It didn’t detract from what an unbelievable few days we had.

After checking in, we walked a few streets to a small, local pizza house and had dinner. Sat on the roadside, watching Rome tick by and eating genuine, Italian pizza was lovely. Add a pint of Moretti and I was laughing. We then proceeded down towards the Vatican, the massive buildings hidden by the surrounding walls. Whilst Sophie suggested we go straight ahead, I was sure we would get there quicker if we went right. I was wrong. We ended up walking the entire way round the Vatican, before we made it, the sun having set and Sophie reminding me she was in the right. Still – it was beautiful!

The next day was Sophie’s actual birthday so we hopped on an early train and had breakfast opposite the Colosseum. The heat blazed down upon us all as we wandered around the incredible structure, our guide was a small, overly animated Italian woman that we wanted to keep. The tour was fascinating and I would recommend it to anyone who goes to Rome. The sheer size of the building is incredible. The tour also took us to The Roman Forum, another brilliant march through history. The old city, reduced to rubble, is the perfect setting for a gothic horror book. Hmmm….

Once we finished that tour we headed back to the city centre, only to find the always beautiful Trevi fountain covered in scaffolding. Not to be undone, we marched up the Spanish Steps and had some lunch just outside The Pantheon. The tourist dream come true! The true highlight however was hiring Segways and racing each other through the massive park at the top of the hill, annoying Sophie with my endless video’s of me being an irritating travel presenter. 

We spent our final evening strolling through the city, stumbling across an evening market and some bizarre drama show in the park. We had dinner at a lovely little restaurant down a side street, where a live violinist played and demanded money. With a heavy heart, we left the next day but made a promise to return one day.

If you haven’t been to Rome, go! It’s so beautiful (although I was stunned at how much graffiti there was) and there is so much to see. As an author, I am doing my level best to set a book in this city, as the architecture and the landmarks are second to none! I fell in love with Rome, and I always knew I would. (Although we did have Gelato twice a day, every day. So maybe my waist line didn't love it that much!)

Sounds like your partner and you had a wonderful trip to Rome, and I feel as though we were there alongside you. Thank you for sharing Rob.

About Robert Enright

Born and raised in North West London and now residing in Hertfordshire, Robert Enright has been writing for over 10 years. His debut novel – ONE BY ONE – was self published on Amazon in March 2015, receiving critical acclaim and was nominated for Books Go Social Book of the Year 2015. The violent, revenge thriller gave Rob a path into crime fiction, but the constantly embraced geek within him went a different way.

2016 will see the release of DOORWAYS – published by Urbane Publications – the first in the Bermuda Jones series, a dark sci-fi about an agency dealing with the threat of a parallel world. He can’t wait to write the whole series – if he can put down his Xbox controller or his Nerf Guns!

Follow Rob on Twitter https://twitter.com/REnright_Author
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robenrightauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robenrightauthor/
Purchase - Doorways: Jones Case File - http://amzn.to/2kwATbc

Book Review - Roman's Having Sex Again by Nikki Ashton - Rome Week

Well it wouldn't be one of my feature week's without at least one book that is tenuously linked to the theme, so when I was offered the chance to review and take part in the release day blitz for Roman's Having Sex Again, I just couldn't resist. After all, Romans are from Rome....once you have finished groaning, please enjoy my review! 

Amazon UK
Title: Roman's Having Sex Again
Author: Nikki Ashton
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 28th February
Rating: 4 Stars

"My life is shite, and more boring than an iced finger – it’s basically bread for goodness sake; where’s the cream? To top it all off my boss, Roman ‘The Ego’ Hepburn, hates me."

Summer James has suffered a devastating change to her life, one that could shape her future and to make matters worse she now has a new boss. Not such a major problem, some would think, but that boss is Roman Hepburn. He's rude, grouchy and impatient and has a damn fine ass!

Very quickly her feelings for the dark, brooding, Roman change and it soon becomes evident that some highly charged sexual tension has been bubbling under the surface, and Roman makes it clear that he intends to make Summer his.

Will Roman succeed in getting the girl, and if he does will he succeed in keeping the girl? Or will circumstances and Roman's hilariously strange, but loveable family, send Summer tottering to the hills on her six inch heels?

This is a sexy, fun romance with some laugh out loud moments. Full of quirky characters, broody men and feisty women you won't be disappointed.

This book contains some sex scenes and bad language

Great mix of humour and a romance brimming with sexual tension, in addition to a storyline with far more serious undertones. 

As the first book I have read by this author, I really had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book. The interactions between Roman and Summer were fabulous right from their first meeting. It was clear there was a spark of attraction between them, but then Roman turned into a nightmare boss, and Summer had to fight her growing feelings for him. 

The story is written in an easy to read style, and the author has come up with some fantastic characters. My favourite characters just for the humour involved with them are Roman's parents. The first time they meet Summer will definitely raise a laugh or two, and had me smiling, while also cringing in embarrassment for Roman. 

In fact Roman's mother is the one that comes out with the memorable line, in celebration, that has become the title of the book. To give you an idea her name is Twinkle, and she named her children after things to do with Audrey Hepburn, which when you discover certain facts becomes hilarious. 

There are some more serious topics in the story too, including Summer's health worries, and the secret that makes Roman the way he is. I won't go into any more detail, but it is always good to see a bit of depth in a romance novel, and this definitely gives it a slightly grittier edge. 

Overall though Roman's Having Sex Again is a relatively light hearted and easy to read romantic comedy, with plenty of sex, some great sibling dynamics, a bad guy, a few secrets and generally all around good feel to it. 

Thank you so much to Laura Barnard for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 


Nikki lives in Cheshire with her husband, two dogs and lovely mother-in-law who supplies her with endless cups of tea. She writes romance with a touch of humour and lots of love, and hopes that she puts a smile on her reader's faces. Her ambitions of becoming a writer started at the age of 10 when she started writing poetry at school, and was given the honour of reading one of her poems to the rest of her year group (a truly embarrassing experience that she will never forget).
Nikki is grateful for the wide variety of strange and wonderful people in her life, 
otherwise she'd never know what to write about! She is currently talking to family and friends, finding out their innermost secrets in readiness for her next book.

Although all Nikki's books are stand alone stories characters do make 'guest
appearances'. So, the best order to read them is:

Guess Who I Pulled Last Night
No Bra Required
Get Your Kit Off
Rock Stars Don't Like Big Knickers
Rock Stars Don't Like Ugly Bras
Rock Stars Do Like Christmas
Cheese Tarts & Fluffy Socks

Head on over to Nikki's facebook page to enter her giveaway - https://www.facebook.com/NikkiAshtonBooks/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NikkiAshtonBooks/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/NikkerAsh
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/nikkiashtonauthor/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7085471.Nikki_Ashton

Pinterest - https://uk.pinterest.com/davnikash/

Birthday Bonanza 2017 - Giveaway!

It appears that once again my birthday has come around. Has it really been a whole year since last time, I'm not sure if feels like it.

I'm not really doing much at all for it this year, however mum has promised to take me out to dinner tonight, and I'm hoping unlike previous years she won't object to me ideally ordering cake for dessert, as if you can't have cake on your birthday, then when can you?

I'm not really one for reflecting on the past year, and if I do decide to, well I always have a blogiversary coming up soon!

I am though in the mood for a celebratory giveaway. For various reasons I failed to celebrate the huge milestone of 6k twitter followers, and I have recently hit the 7k twitter followers mark and want to celebrate everything!

Firstly let me thank every last one of you that already follows me on twitter which is the main social media platform I use. I really do appreciate every single follow and RT that I receieve, and probably don't say Thank you enough.

So Thank You!

I've decided for my Birthday Bonanza giveaway this year, to give away 7 books, one per thousand twitter followers!

This is going to be a lucky dip, from my lucky dip bag of books!

Giveaway to win one of 7 lucky dip books at random (Open to Europe only)

This bag contains 7 books that I am happy to giveaway. They are a mix of genres and could appeal to anyone, or could be great presents at some point! I will get my postage assistant (and hopefully supplier of birthday cake), to randomly draw your book from the bag as she sends out the prize, so no blaming me if you don't like it! 

Giveaway is open to Europe only, all options, with the exception of follow on twitter,  are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 7/3/2017. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

Monday 27 February 2017

Guest Post - All Roads Lead to Rome by Nicky Wells - Rome Week

When I was younger, I used to hang out in Rome with my friends. That sounds cool, huh? Like I had the jetsetting lifestyle and all that. You couldn’t be more wrong. “Rome” was a café-bar-cum-ice-cream-parlour down the road from where I lived. It opened up one day when I was about eleven. Overnight, the front of a pretty ordinary 1960s shop acquired a lime-wash, marble pillars, and a green vine trailing its way towards the first-floor windows. The marble was fake, but the vine was real.

And inside—wow. The old folks said the place had some kind of identity crisis, didn’t know what it wanted to be: Café? Bar? Ice-cream parlour? But my friends and I, we thought it was marvellous. As you walked in, you were greeted by a large counter groaning under the weight of pastries. Further back, the bar was made of shiny dark mahogany, with glass shelves full of Italian beers, wines and fancy liqueurs. At the far end, the ice cream counter offered flavours of “gelato” that nobody had ever seen before or knew how to pronounce. Stracciatella soon became my favourite.

The place was furnished with rickety, mismatched wooden tables and chairs without table cloths, and the walls were beige-washed. I say that because the colour was irregular, like a white-wash, except it wasn’t white and it wasn’t brown. It should have looked dirty and horrible, but it was amazing, especially with all the hanging baskets of flowers and the artful patterns of tiny coloured tiles and mirrors.

Pretty soon, Rome was where we congregated to do our homework. Rome was where we went on our first dates. Rome was where we drowned our first heartaches in ice cream. And Rome was where we had our first, totally illegal, taste of alcohol when Joe—short for Giovanni—made us his special Limoncello ice cream cocktail on our fourteenth birthdays. It was heavy on the ice cream, and the Limoncello only made a token guest appearance, but we loved it.

Joe was the beating heart and soul of Rome. He and his wife Anna owned the place. They were from Italy, and their English was broken (if you wanted to be generous) to non-existent (if you were brutally honest). Yet somehow, we managed to communicate, and it was Joe who listened to our woes, Joe who advised us how to fix arguments and bikes, and Joe who straightened out our mathematical confusion. In Rome, we listened to Italian music, twisted our tongues around some basic Italian phrases, tried out Italian coffee, and feasted on Italian pastries and bread.

And then, as abruptly as it had opened, Rome disappeared. One day, the place was boarded up, and Joe and Anna were gone. Just like that. 

Needless to say, we were bereft. Tears were shed and desperate attempts were made to trace Joe and Anna, but it was as though they’d never existed. The whispers started—about how Joe and Anna had been illegals, had been spies, criminals on the run, mobsters, you name it.

Me, I was grieving and angry. How could Joe and Anna leave like that, without a word, like our friendship didn’t mean a thing? In time, the grief and anger turned to sweet nostalgia. If it hadn’t been for Rome, I’d have probably never thought of leaving the village. But the glimpse of another world proved irresistible, and I applied to uni in London. I became a translator and interpreter, Italian being one of my six languages, and I travelled a lot. It was because of Rome that I saw the world before I settled back in London with a husband and—later—two kids.

Imagine my surprise then when twenty years later, on a business trip to Rome—yes, the actual place—I stumbled across a place called “GiovAnna’s”. Marble pillars outside, a vine trailing up the front, and, just visible from my vantage point on the road, a counter groaning under the weight of pastries.
I stood there, on the Vicolo dei Modelli, just round the corner from the Trevi Fountain, in the glaring heat of noon in the middle of July, and time and space slipped away from me. My heartbeat skittered and fluttered as flashbacks assaulted me hard and fast. Could it be?

Hesitantly, I stepped over the threshold. The inside was larger, much larger, than I remembered—but of course, I didn’t remember this place at all. Yet, the furniture and beige-wash and colourful tiles were all the same. The place was busy, evidently popular with tourists, and my eyes scanned the bar impatiently. Disappointment lodged in my throat when the barman turned out to a young woman, and the ice-cream server a teenager.

“Mia Bella! At last!”

I nearly jumped out of my skin when a hand alighted on my shoulder and I found myself being gently spun around. I locked eyes with Joe, a much older version of himself, but his voice hadn’t changed.

“Mia Bella,” he repeated. “You found us. What took you so long?”

I shook my head. “Why did you leave? You didn’t even say goodbye!”

“You learned our language!” Joe broke into a big smile at my Italian phrases and continued our conversation in his native tongue. “And I’m sorry we left. That’s a long story. Come.”

He took my hand and led me towards a table at the back. He sat me down, ordered some food, and summoned Anna. And at last the story emerged. As a young woman, Anna had witnessed a vicious crime. She had given testimony at trial, and then she and her husband had fled the country that very same night after a policeman warned them they wouldn’t be safe. They went to France, but that wasn’t far enough. Therefore, they decided to hide where no-one would expect them, namely in rainy old England. They picked an obscure place in the middle of nowhere and poured what little money they had in a small eatery. They laid low for six years, but they got ratted out again. They went to Denmark next, and then to Hungary. It was only a year ago that they finally received the all-clear and settled back in Rome.

“It was worth it,” Anna offered quietly. “Justice was done, we are still alive, and we made many friends along the way. And now we have this.” She made an effusive hand gesture and smiled.

“And this.” Joe pointed towards a pinboard covered in smiling faces, all with names and dates. “Our friends, they keep finding us, and they tell us stories of their lives. Now’s your turn,” Joe smiled. “What brought you to Rome?”

What a fascinating story Nicky, and its really made me smile. I love that you have shared this with us as part of Rome Week!

Cat Hope doesn’t want to go to prison. She needs a job, and she needs it fast: judge’s orders.

Kay Mahon, office worker by day and hacker by night, is on the run from a past life that he’d rather not remember.

When their paths cross, they discover that the night that derailed Cat’s future nineteen long years ago also changed the path of Kay’s life. Confused and intrigued, they begin to investigate the truth behind the deaths of the successful rock star couple Jackie and Adam Hope. Little do they know that their quest is putting Cat in grave danger. 

Purchase Dead Hope on Amazon UK or Amazon US

About Nicky Wells: Love & Thrills

Nicky Wells writes captivating romance and breathtaking thrillers featuring famous (or infamous!) feisty heroes and extraordinary villains. DEAD HOPE is her eighth book and the first published novel in her “Wake Up Dead” themed thriller series, with the next two books scheduled for release through the course of 2017 and 2018. Nicky has previously published seven works of romantic fiction both with US publishing house, Sapphire Star Publishing, and independently.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. She loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s hopelessly addicted to reading crime novels by the truck load.

Book Review - The Little Theatre By The Sea by Rosanna Ley - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #54

Amazon UK
Title: The Little Theatre By The Sea
Author: Rosanna Ley
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: 9th March 2017
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Faye has just completed her degree in interior design when she finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less. While debating what to do next she receives a surprise phone call from her old college friend Charlotte who now lives in Sardinia and is married to Italian hotelier, Fabio.

When Charlotte suggests that Faye relocate for a month to house-sit, Faye wonders if a summer break in sunny Sardinia might be the perfect way to recharge her batteries and think about her future. But then Charlotte tells Faye that there's something more behind the sudden invitation: her friends Marisa and Alessandro are looking for a designer to renovate a crumbling old theatre they own in the scenic village of Deriu. The idea certainly sounds appealing to Faye, but little does she know what she's letting herself in for if she accepts this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . .

I'm not entirely sure whether I fell for the town of Deriu in Sardinia first, or the Little Theatre By The Sea, for within the very early part of the book both found their way into my heart to stay. 

I found so much to love in this book, from the various secrets that were being hidden, to the various villagers in Deriu, to all of the Italian food being consumed that sounded delicious, and just the overall story as it was unfolding. 

It has been many years since I last read a book by Rosanna Ley, so really wasn't sure what to expect with this one, and was pleasantly surprised by just how much I was enjoying it. The theatre that is at the heart of the book has a certain charm to it, and the aim is for it to be renovated back into working condition and to become the heart of the community. 

However not everyone likes the Rinaldis, Alessandro and Marissa who own the theatre, and they determined to stop the project from going ahead. Faye is persuaded to visit Sardinia, primarily as a holiday but also to offer her thoughts on the theatre project, as she had recently qualified as an interior designer. 

In amongst the main story of Faye, the Rinaldis and the theatre, we occasionally have chapters where the focus changes to the story of Molly and Ade. They are Faye's parents are are going through a rough patch. Mainly we see things from Ade's point of view, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for him in places, he is just a man that doesn't really know what he wants. 

I think this may be the first time I have visited Sardinia, either in real life or fiction, and I feel as though I now have a great feel for at least some of the island, as well as the way of life, and some of the history of the place. Keep you eyes out for a bit of local history, set in the second World War that tells of a courageous man.  

I really enjoyed the writing in this book as well as the story as a whole. I read the first 20% or so before bed one night and spent most of the night when I was meant to be sleeping, wondering what was going to happen next, and in awe of the first views of the little theatre by the sea, which to me is the sign of a good book. 

For me The Little Theatre By The Sea was a brilliant reintroduction to Rosanna Ley, so now I just need to work out why I haven't read as many of her books as perhaps I should, or at the very least keep an eye out for future releases. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Quercus for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thank you to those of you which voted for this book, a three way tie was a tough result but ultimately given I'm drowning in review books I pretty much had to go for this one for the sake of my sanity. 

Rachel Reads Randomly - Vote #55

Thank you everyone for your input last time. The results of the last vote were:

1 Votes - Finding You by Danielle Ryan
2 Votes -  Save The Date by Allie Spencer
3 Votes - Head Over Heel: Seduced by Southern Italy by Chris Harrison
3 Votes -  Gardens of Delight by Erica James
3 Votes -  The Little Theatre By The Sea by Rosanna Ley

Well that was a surprising result last week. I think that is the first time in 54 weeks that we have had a 3 way tie,and definitely the first time a non fiction book has been on the top number of votes. So obviously I had a bit of a decision to make, well having only read an Erica James a couple of week ago, I thought I'd pass on this one, and purely because I'm slightly behind and overwhelmed with my review pile, I went with The Little Theatre By The Sea by Rosanna Ley, as it killed 2 birds with one stone. 

It is another paperback week this week, I really don't read enough of them, and seem to keep getting distracted by ebooks whenever I'm not randomising paperbacks! 

Below is my initial theory for this feature, and then a bit further, what you are all waiting for... This weeks's vote! Enjoy!

I am also awful at deciding what book to read next, as I often have about 10 titles or authors jumping into my brain at any time, shouting at me to read them, and I tend to worry I have made the wrong decision while reading a perfectly good book. I am hoping this will save me having to make at least 1 choice a week, while possibly providing a review to the site of a book you all either love or are curious about yourselves. 

So what I am proposing, is my lovely loyal readers of Rachel's Random Reads, select one book for me to read a week, and I will post the review the following week. 

This week's random numbers are...

And the books these numbers correspond to are...

So the 5 choices with my gut feeling responses are:

15 - Now That I've Found You by Ciara Geraghty - Irish author, who I've still not read, but I keep eyeing up this paperback in my stacks thinking I should read this
17 - Highgate Mums by Dan Hall - This is a small book that is full of insights as to what you may hear mums in Highgate saying. Think it would be a bit different to what is often featured on my blog
46 - Upside Down by Lia Riley - How many times does this book have to come up on a random vote, before I listen to fate and start reading it. 
51 - Hungry for Love by Lucy Beresford - Took this on a cruise with me last year and then didn't read it for no apparent reason. Suspect it is the sort of book that may have food descriptions in it! 
65 - A Time For Friends by Patricia Scanlan - I do like this author and have read a few by her before. However slightly gutted it wasn't the new book by her that has come up! 

I'm incredibly curious as to how this vote will turn out. I've not read four out of five of these authors before but I'm always very open to trying out new authors. 

Pick your favourite or the one you most want me to review, or just the one you are curious about, and leave me a comment below, before midnight on Wednesday. 

I look forward to seeing what I will be reading over the weekend, courtesy of you all.

The explanation if you haven't seen the feature before. 

How is this going to work?

Every Monday, I am going to have a post like this, which is going to have some choices on it. I am planning on using random.org to select 7 random numbers, to coincide with my spreadsheet of unread books.  

I will from that produce a list of hopefully 5 books, I reserve the right to veto any books, and will give reasons for them, if it occurs.

I will take screenshots and post them, of the chosen books, and also give you my instinctive reactions to the choices (without checking blurbs or any other info about them, which could be interesting as there are probably many forgotten about books on my spreadsheet!). 

Your task is to post a comment on this post, with the book you would like me to read this week. At midnight on Wednesday I will take a tally of the votes and the book with the most, I will read and review for the following Monday, where you will also get a new choice post. 

In the event of a tie, I will chose which one appeals most, for the Monday review, and possibly try and read and review the other to appear when I can. 

I am hoping this will provide some variety to the books appearing, and will let me potentially read or discover some great authors that I have wanted to read but not got around to yet.

Sunday 26 February 2017

Book Review - To Rome, with Love by T. A. Williams - Rome Week

Amazon UK
Title: To Rome, With Love
Author: T. A. Williams
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 17th February 2017 
Rating: 5 Stars

Escape to Italy this summer with this fabulously feel-good beach read!

A summer of second chances…

Just a week before her big day, Sarah returns home to find a note from her husband-to-be – the wedding’s off! So when her boss decides to send her on an epic cycling trip, from Venice to Rome, it seems like the perfect distraction…

Although she never expected the distraction to come in the form of her oh-so-handsome, but slightly serious, cycling companion, Miles. And with still 600 miles of beautiful scenery, mouthwatering food and delicious wine yet to cover, anything could happen!

Pure joy to read, this is without a doubt one of my favourite T. A Williams books of all time. It combines in the perfect ratio, a lot of the elements I love in a book in just one compact parcel.  Let's see well there is Italy, a cycling holiday, mouth watering food, romance, chocolate labradors, and some really good characters, which combined make To Rome, With Love a winner in my eyes. 

Sarah is the space of a couple of weeks goes from her wedding being called off a week before, by a note no less, to a week after when the wedding was going to be, in Italy leading a group  of tourists on a Venice to Rome cycling trip. She has guided holidays in the past and speaks fluent Italian, and not only that is a keen cycler. 

What could be good, or could turn out to be a disaster are her brand new bosses coming along on the trip too, brothers Miles and Paul hall, who are both gorgeous, but with quite different personalities. 

The group of people on the trip thankfully are all really good cyclers and have a great mix of personalities, and nationalities. Sometimes on group holidays you will just have arguments galore but this group seemed to get on and were all really supportive of each other. 

What brought this book alive though was the trip itself, with the descriptions of all the little towns and villages that Sarah and the group travel through and stop in on the way to Rome. I feel as though I know a lot more about that part of Italy now, and although I may have heard of some of the places featured, I had never known about others, but now have a good picture in my mind of them,. 

Miles was brilliant at providing additional information at some of the places, such as the history, or restaurant recommendations. Just about everything eaten by the cast of this book on this trip sounded delicious, and left me really hungry. There was seafood in more coastal towns, to a menu of assorted pasta dishes in Ravenna. 

If you are a fan of T.A. Williams you may by now have spotted that the majority of his books feature a chocolate labrador somewhere in them. Now obviously having a dog going along on an epic bike ride would not have been practical, instead there is a gorgeous pair of black labs featured, and they are very gentle and utterly adorable, and featured quite heavily while they were around! 

Given this was a holiday, as well a a charity  bike ride, it probably comes as no surprise that some new romantic attachments were formed between some of the characters, and they were all lovely to hear about. Nothing in huge details, but definitely some potential romances that may last past the end of the trip. 

From Venice, to Rome, this is many kilometres of pure pleasure to read, travelling alongside Sarah and her group, with T.A Williams trademark easy to read writing style and just all around good summery feeling emanating from this book.  However even this wonderful story couldn't change my mind about one thing....my preferred method personally of going from Venice to Rome, is still cruise ship, which is far more relaxing, and you can still get great scenery! 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and HQ Digital for this copy of the book which I reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Fab Firsts - Q&A with T.A. Williams - Rome Week

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

Today on Fab Firsts, I’ve got TA Williams, otherwise known as Trevor Williams. You may already know his What Happens… series, romantic comedies set in all sorts of lovely parts of the world. This month sees the publication of Trevor’s tenth book, To Rome with Love and, as the title implies, it’s set in sunny Italy. This book marks the start of a new series of To ??? with Love and he’s going to tell us a bit more about it here.

1. Can you tell us a bit about this first book in the new series?

First of all thanks, as ever, to you, Rachel for the support you have given me throughout my writing career. I really appreciate it. One of the nicest things about being a writer is that I’ve been able to make friends with a whole host of like-minded people from all over the world. 

Anyway… the new book: To Rome with Love. The What Happens… series has been pretty successful so, after five of them, the idea is to make this the start of a new series of romantic comedies. The book opens with Sarah receiving a body blow – just one week before getting married, her husband-to-be gets cold feet. The wedding’s off and her heart is broken. Sarah works for a big tour operator and she finds herself sent off almost immediately to look after a bunch of people doing a charity bike ride from Venice to Rome. She’s a fit girl so the cycling doesn’t frighten her. It’s having to be charming and cheerful for two weeks without a break, when all she feels like doing is locking herself away and crying her eyes out. She finds herself in the company of brooding, serious Miles but, to her surprise, she finds herself getting drawn closer and closer to him, even if she can’t quite make him out. And with still 600 miles of beautiful scenery, mouthwatering food and delicious wine yet to cover, anything could happen (and it does…).

2. What was your original inspiration to become a writer, and to write your debut?

I started writing when I was 13 (that’s over half a century ago now). That 44 page book, written in pencil with more spelling mistakes than I care to admit to, was the start of a life-long obsession with the written word. I’ve always loved telling stories, so I suppose it was a natural progression. As for this new series of romcoms and To Rome with Love, the inspiration was easy. I do a lot of cycling and over the past twenty years I’ve cycled with a bunch of friends just about all over western Europe, crossing France, Spain and Italy from west to east and then from north to south. The bike ride in To Rome with Love is one we did a few years back from Venice to Rome, riding through some fabulous countryside, visiting amazing historic places and swimming in the warm Mediterranean. I just knew I had to write a book about it.

3. How long did it take you to write?

I’m a binge writer. Once I’ve made up my mind about the story, I just sit down and get on with it. I gave up my day job a few years back so I can blast on, almost without a break. Correction – I do take breaks, and frequent ones, because I knackered my back windsurfing year ago and if I sit for too long at the computer I tend to set solid. So I am constantly getting up, walking round the village, and making far too many mugs of tea. So the honest answer is that I wrote the first draft of the book in about 6 weeks. It then took another 6 weeks of edits and rewrites to get it to its final form.

4. If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about the book or how you went about it?

Not a lot, I’m pleased to say. I quite like this one. I just hope the readers do too.

5. Was your first book self or traditionally published, and how did you go about making that decision?

I have the utmost respect for people who choose to go down the self-publishing route. There’s no doubt that gives you so much freedom. I’m pretty rubbish at anything to do with computers so I did my best to find somebody who would look after that side of things for me. I was lucky enough to find a good publisher, formerly Carina, now HQ, both part of the colossus that is Harper Collins, and they take all the decisions out of my hands and this frees me up to do what I really want to do – to write.

6. Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

Tip one – persevere. There will come a time, maybe even after just a few pages, but more probably when you’re about halfway through, when you decide that what you’re writing is rubbish and should be shredded. Don’t give up. Just keep writing.

Tip two – don’t imagine that when you finally write the words, The End, that you have finished. Open a bottle of booze, celebrate what is a fantastic achievement and then start reading and rewriting. To give you a rough idea, my previous book, Chasing Shadows, came to 120,000 words the first time I wrote it. After numerous rewrites, some radical pruning and a number of fairly major changes of direction, the finished book that came out in January was just under 90,000 words.

Tip Three – don’t do it for the money. There’s a wonderful line in that excellent movie, Get Shorty, where Gene Hackman advises a client, “The only kind of writing that makes money is ransom notes”. You might be very lucky and strike it rich, but most writers don’t. So, write because you want to write, not for the fame or fortune.

Other firsts in my life:

First book I bought – For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway. Great book.

First holiday – Really showing my age here. We went on a family holiday when I was little in my parents’ Morris Minor. The holiday was in France and, to get there, we flew with the car. That’s right, I can still remember getting into the big old ex-RAF transport aircraft while my dad drove the car up a ramp into the bowels of the plane. Next time Easyjet try to charge you £20 for a suitcase in the hold, try to work out how much they’d charge for a car.

First Sport – no question, rugby. I love the game.

First pet – a black cat called Mephistopheles.

Thank you so much Trevor for taking the time to talk to us today about your new series, starting with To Rome, With Love, which I have also reviewed today.

Author bio:
   My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...

      I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. 

   I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.
   My most recent books, published by Harper Collins, are the What happens… series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Amazon.uk Romantic Comedy chart recently and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. I’ve just finished writing two more romcoms, the first one, To Rome with Love, coming out next February and I also have a timeslip romantic thriller, Chasing Shadows, that came out in January.

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MTJW0ZF/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks
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