Book Review: How (Not) To Marry A Duke by Felicia Kingsley

My latest review is of How (Not) To Marry A Duke by Felicia Kingsley.

One minute, Jemma Pears is a struggling theatrical make-up artist in London.  The next, she’s been left a vast fortune by her estranged grandmother.  The catch: she must marry a man with a title to inherit.  Jemma thinks this is truly impossible: she’s a romantic, searching for true love, not just a convenient marriage…and besides, where wicked she even find a titled guy?

Enter Ashford, the new Duke of Burlingham.  His legacy: massive debts that he must pay back immediately or risk the bank seizing his assets.  Or worse: his mother’s wrath!

When their lawyer hears of their situations, a secret match is made despite their mutual hatred of each other: through marrying Ashford, Jemma can inherit and Ashford can pay back his debts immediately.  Problem solved.  That is, until their marriage is leaked to the press and everyone finds out…

Now they have to play out the charade for at least a year or risk going to jail for fraud!

A hilarious pretence ensues and Jemma must battle against a crazy mother in law, a stuffy aristocracy, and finally, and most surprisingly of all, confusing feelings for Ashford…!

I was looking forward to reading How (Not) to Marry A Duke as it looked like it would be a light-hearted, opposites attract type novel.  Thankfully I was not wrong!  This is a novel about two people from two very different worlds, who find themselves married; Jemma in order to inherit a life changing sum of money from her grandmother, and Ashford to pay off the debts left behind by his dead father.

There are no surprises here – Ashford and Jemma could not be more different, and being forced into such a stressful situation only accentuates their differences.  You know what they say though, opposites attract!  I really enjoyed this novel, it was lighthearted and fun, following these characters as they essentially torment each other!  If I was to have one criticism though, it would be that the ending felt quite rushed.  A few months of events are crammed into a few short chapters before we finally reach our happy ending.  Jemma’s stubbornness was also a little too far-fetched for my liking.  However, these things did not detract from my enjoyment of the novel.  I am therefore more than happy to recommend it for a chilled out Sunday afternoon reading!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖

Thanks to Netgalley and Aria for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

*BLOG TOUR* A Village Affair by Julie Houston

Today it is my pleasure to share with you my review for A Village Affair by Julie Houston on her blog tour.

Cassie Beresford has recently landed her dream job as deputy head teacher at her local, idyllic village primary school, Little Acorns.  So, the last thing she needs is her husband of twenty years being ‘outed’ at a village charity auction – he has been having an affair with one of her closest friends.

As if it weren’t enough to cope with, Cassie suddenly finds herself catapulted into the head teacher position, and at the front of a fight to ward off developers determined to concrete over the beautiful landscape.

But through it all, the irresistible joy of her pupils, the reality of keeping her teenage children on the straight and narrow, her irrepressible family and friends, and the possibility of new love, mean what could have been the worst year ever, actually might be the best yet…

I was very excited when I heard from Julie Houston and she told me about her new novel, A Village Affair.  When you live in a village, you are all to aware that everyone around you knows a lot about you, sometimes too much!  A Village Affair highlights both the good and bad sides to this.

Cassie Beresford is very happy.  She has a long, loving marriage, two wonderful teenage children and she is just about to start her dream job as Deputy Head Teacher at her local primary school.  So it comes as a shock when she finds out in front of the whole village that her husband of 20 years, Mark, has been cheating on her with her best friend Tina.  To add insult to injury, she then finds herself in the position of Head Teacher the day before term starts.

In the face of all of this stress and trauma, Cassie also finds herself at the forefront of a fight with some developers who are seeking to build on the local green belt land surrounding the village.

The number of challenges that unexpectedly face Cassie take her through many emotions, as she seeks to find her place in the world again whilst fighting a number of battles.  A Village Affair is a story about a women who has to find herself when she thinks she is lost.  It is a story about reaffirming relationships, forging new ones and discarding broken ones.  Cassie is a strong independent woman, she just doesn’t know it yet!

I am more than happy to recommend this novel.  I really enjoyed following Cassie and her family as they faced these intense challenges, overcoming them together.  If you are looking for a novel with a bit of heart, this is the novel for you.  Let me know what you think!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Julie Houston, Netgalley and Aria for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you also to Vicky Joss as Aria for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

About the Author

Julie Houston is the author of The One Saving Grace, Goodness, Grace and Me and Looking for Lucy, a Kindle top 100 general bestseller and a Kindle Number 1 bestseller.  She is married, with two teenage children and a cockerpoo, and like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village.  She is also a teacher and a magistrate.

*BLOG TOUR* Mistletoe & Mystery by Daisy James

Today it is my pleasure to be a stop on the blog tour for Mistletoe & Mystery by Daisy James.

Welcome to the Cotswolds Festive Feast cookery course…

Fresh off the successful opening of the Paradise Cookery School in St Lucia, Millie Harper is headed to the Cotswolds for Christmas!

Co-presenting Claudia Croft’s famous Festive Feast cookery course at Stonelea Manor is a dream come true for Millie…as is reuniting with gorgeous estate manager Zach Barker.

But arriving in a winter wonderland Millie learns the manor is under a mysterious threat. It’ll take a holiday miracle, but Millie is determined to save the school and get Zach under the mistletoe to finally finish what they started in the Caribbean!

I was very happy to be given the opportunity to rejoin Millie Harper, following her return from St Lucia where she had successfully opened the Paradise Cookery School for famous chef, Claudia Croft.  Mistletoe & Mystery is the third book in The Paradise Cookery School series, a series that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  I must admit that I was a little disappointed when I discovered that this novel would be set in the Cotswolds….I have nothing against the beautiful Cotswolds, but I really have enjoyed the St Lucia setting of the previous two novels.  I shouldn’t have worried though – a book set at Christmas really should be in a cold, snowy, magical English village and so it didn’t disappoint!

I have really loved following Millie, a woman who at the beginning of the series doubted herself following a harsh break up.  She doubted herself both as a person and as a chef.  Opening the Paradise Cookery School in St Lucia really made her character flourish as she gained confidence in her own abilities.  Mistletoe & Mystery continues to see Millie grow as a person, and we also get to see if her relationship with Zach could grow into something more.  We also get the meet the elusive Claudia Croft, as she opens her home to Millie.  There is of course some plot twists thrown in, which are full of emotion as we learn more about the owner of the Paradise Cookery School, a company we have grown to love across the three novels.

I am more than happy to recommend this novel (along with the previous novels, Sunshine & Secrets and Confetti & Confusion) – all three could be read as standalone novels, but personally I would recommend reading them all.  Let me know what you think!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Netgalley and Canelo for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you also to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

 

Author Bio

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England.  She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plot lines.  When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter.  She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china teacups are a must.

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Todays review is of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine? (Thanks Netgalley)

Firstly, I am late to the party.  Everyone is reading or has read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.  Everyone.  I have had this recommended to me so many times, and I still didn’t manage to pick it up until now.  It’s won awards, and it has still take me this long to read it.  I can only apologise.

Secondly, I am giving this novel 5 stars.  That’s right, this is my second 5 star review in a matter of weeks.  I don’t know what is happening! I feel it is important that you know this is a 5 star novel from the outset, rather than waiting until the end of this review to find out!

So, I loved this book. Eleanor is a beautifully crafted, complicated character who really gets inside your head and stays with you. Her matter of fact statements, the shocking way she’ll sometimes impart information makes you feel for her all the more. Despite her tough, somewhat lonely life, she has come through it all (albeit with a quite serious drinking problem). You can’t help but want her to connect with other people to build the life you know she deserves.

I am often put off reading award winning books – I know this is a little controversial – because critics (in my opinion) do not always represent the wider audience. For example, how many Best Picture Oscar winning films do you actually like? But I am happy to confirm that this novel thoroughly deserved to win its awards. It is an amazing debut from Gail Honeyman, and I look forward to seeing what else she brings us. I also cannot wait to see what Reese Witherspoon does with the book now that she owns the films rights – exciting times ahead!

So, to round up – if you haven’t already read this book, go out and get yourself a copy.  You will not regret it!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

*BLOG TOUR* A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Jean Fullerton’s A Ration Book Christmas.

With Christmas approaching, the Brogan family of London’s East End are braving the horrors of the Blitz.  With the men away fighting for King and Country and the ever-present dangers of the German Lutwaffe’s nightly reign of death and destruction, the family must do all they can to keep a stiff upper lip.

For Jo, the youngest of the Brogan sisters, the perils of war also offer a new-found freedom.  Jo falls in love with Tommy, a man known for his dangerous reputation as much as his charm.  But as the falling bombs devastate their neighbourhood and rationing begins to bite, will the Brogans manage to pull together a traditional family Christmas?  And will Jo find the love and security she seeks in a time of such grave peril?

As we near the centenary of the end of First World War, I am finding myself reading more and more historical novels set during war time.  I think it is good to be reminded what our not-too-distant relatives had to live through, and novels such as A Ration Book Christmas work hard to paint a picture of what it was like living through such a perilous time.  I usually read historical novels that are from the view point of frontline nurses or the soldiers that are off fighting, so it was a pleasant change to be able to read something from the perspective of those families that were working hard for some kind of normality back home whilst the men were away fighting.  Despite the bombs dropping on London every night, these families were carrying on with daily life, stepping over the rubble of their homes to try to ensure they could, in this instance, celebrate Christmas.

A Ration Book Christmas really highlights what families went through, embodied by the Brogan’s.  We follow Jo, the youngest Brogan daughter as she seeks her own position in the world whilst bombs literally drop around her.  Like any teenager, she wants freedom, and she wants love.  The war provides her with more freedom, and she is hopeful that Tommy, a local man, will return the love she has for him.

This is a book about the love a family has for each other, about how they work to protect each other, and how in the face of adversity they will work hard to be there for each other.  It is about a young girl becoming a young woman as she fights for the future she so desperately wants.  Ultimately this novel highlights the strength of those men, women and children who endured night after night of bombing to succeed in creating a future despite the German’s persistent attempts to keep them down.

I am more than happy to recommend this novel – I felt that it gave an accurate portrayal of the strength those family in the London’s East End had, enabling them to withstand such a brutal assault.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Purchase Linkhttps://goo.gl/eZ4TD5

Author Bio

Jean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born.  She is also a retired district nurse and university lecturer.  She won the Harry Bowling prize in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

Social Media Links

Website: http://jeanfullerton.com/

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/Jean-Fullerton-202631736433230/?ref=bookmarks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeanFullerton_

*BLOG TOUR* The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr

It is my pleasure to help kick off the blog tour for The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr on publication day!

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Young nurse, Gemma, is struggling with the traumas she has witnessed through her job in the NHS. Needing to escape from it all, Gemma agrees to help renovate a rundown farmhouse in Doullens, France, a town near the Somme. There, in a boarded-up cupboard, wrapped in old newspapers, is a tin that reveals the secret letters and heartache of Alice Le Breton, a young volunteer nurse who worked in a casualty clearing station near the front line.

Set in the present day and during the horrifying years of the war, both woman discover deep down the strength and courage to carry on in even the most difficult of times. Through Alice’s words and her unfailing love for her sweetheart at the front, Gemma learns to truly live again.

This is a beautifully written epic historical novel that will take your breath away.

It is rather apt that I should be able to read such a book when we are so close to the centenary of the end of the First World War; the war to end all wars, although we now sadly know this not to be true.

The Poppy Field is set in two time periods – both present day and war time – and tells the story of two strong women, both of whom have seen unimaginable things in their roles as nurses.  One works on the frontline, tending injured soldiers whilst the other is a trauma nurse who is seeking to work out what she wants from her life.  Both show tremendous courage in the face of an uncertain future after dealing with trauma and tragedy, both professionally and personally.

The two women are linked across the decades by a series of letters, written by Alice Le Breton from her frontline hospital and discovered by Gemma as she renovates an old farmhouse in France.  Despite the different expectations placed on them by society, both women seek independence, stability, peace and love.  Alice’s letters bring to life a time long since gone by but never to be forgotten as she sees the impact of war on hundreds of young men, some of whom will never again return home.  In present day, Gemma is dealing with her own tragedy and can relate to Alice’s life, despite the fact that they lived almost a century apart.  With the help of Tom, an ex-military man who is assisting her with her renovations, and Alice’s letters, Gemma attempts to create herself the life she never knew she wanted.

The Poppy Field is such a lovely novel – I always enjoy novels set during the war and this is no exception.  I really loved the way that Alice’s letter linked her time with the present – I felt that this was beautifully and seamlessly achieved.  I therefore have no hesitation in recommending this book, which is published today!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Rachel at Rachels Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and to Deborah Carr for writing such a lovely novel!

Purchase Link: http://mybook.to/ThePoppyField

 

Author Bio

Deborah Carr lives on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands with her husband, two children and three rescue dogs.  She became interested in books set in WWI when researching her great-grandfather’s time as a cavalryman in the 17th 21st Lancers.  She is part of ‘The Blonde Plotters’ writing group and was Deputy Editor on the online review site, Novelicious.com for seven years.  Her debut historical romance, Broken Faces, is set in WWI and was runner-up in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and given a ‘special commendation’ in the Harry Bowling Prize that year.  The Poppy Field is her second historical novel.

Book Review: Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams

Todays review is of Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams.

When post-graduate student Flora falls unexpectedly pregnant during her final year studies she hits a huge predicament; continue a recent affair with her handsome but mysterious lecturer who dazzles her with love letters taken from the ancient tale of ‘Abelard and Heloise’, or chase after the past with her estranged first love?
But will either man be there to support her during the turmoil ahead? (Thanks Amazon)

As you may have noticed, I do not regularly give 5 star reviews.  This is not because I don’t love the books that I read, I just have a habit of comparing all books (even when it is not necessarily right to do so) which means that very few get that coveted 5 stars.  I am going to go big (spoiler alert) and let you know at the beginning of this review that this novel will be getting 5 stars.  That’s right – 5 stars.

So I am ashamed to say that I have had this novel sat in my ‘to be read’ pile for far too long.  Having now read it, I am so annoyed that it took me so long to pick it up!  You know how it is – sometimes it’s a reading deadline for another novel, sometimes the kids won’t let you sit down, sometimes you just pick up another book.  Well quite frankly I am irritated that it took me so long to pick up this book, because once I did, I could not put it down.

Firstly, I feel that I must acknowledge that this was Emily Williams’ debut novel. Debut! If this is what she produces for her first published work, then honestly I will be devouring anything and everything she writes in the future!

I don’t really want to tell you very much about this novel if I’m completely honest because I’m rather hoping that you will pick it up and read it yourself.  However, as the title implies, this novel is a series of letters to Eloise.  It is not about Eloise though.  It is about Flora, a young woman who is at the most pivotal moment in her life.  This is a story almost entirely about love.  Sometimes the love of a man, but ultimately it is a novel about a mothers unwavering love for her child.  Emily William’s captures a mothers love perfectly; the love that sprouts from nothing the moment you realise you are growing another person inside you.  The moment you realise that you would do anything to keep them safe and give them the life they deserve. I unashamedly laughed and cried in public reading this book (my eleven year old sons will confirm this if required!) – I know you will too.  So, I insist that you go and get yourself a copy of this book, a glass of wine and big bar of chocolate, then settle in and read it from cover to cover.  You won’t regret it.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Emily William’s for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.