*BLOG TOUR* It’s My Birthday by Hannah Pearl

It's My Birthday Cover

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for It’s My Birthday by Hannah Pearl – thanks for joining me!

It’s My Birthday

… I’ll cry if I want to.

Oh boy, another birthday …

Karen could be excused for crying on her birthday, especially as it’s the first one since her husband got on a plane to the States and never came back. Then there’s the fact that her workmates were practically bribed to attend her birthday meal. But when a restaurant double booking leads to her sharing a table with single dad Elliot and his daughter, things start looking up.

As Karen gets to know Elliot she experiences feelings she thought she’d never have again. But is it enough? Or will the thing that destroyed Karen’s previous relationship also ruin things with Elliot?

I was really looking forward to reading this – the premise of this story felt realistic, covering real life topics.  Whilst reading fiction is definitely for escapism, it is sometimes nice to read about people dealing with real issues, and discovering how they work through them.  It gives you the opportunity to compare yourself with others in a safe environment!

Karen is struggling with turning 40.  Her husband has left her, getting on a plane to the States and not coming back.  She is not where she thought she would be at this point in her life; married with children, enjoying life with her own family.  Instead she has spent years in turmoil, going through emotional and physical changes that ultimately pushed her and her husband apart.  When her best friend Sally forces her out for her birthday (having bribed her work colleagues to attend), Karen is at rock bottom.  A chance meeting with single dad Elliot and his daughter Sophie, forces out of the dark hole she has dug herself, and makes her evaluate what is really important to her.

This story isn’t just about a blossoming relationship.  It is about learning from your past mistakes, being open to making new mistakes whilst also discovering what you really want from your life for your future.  It’s about working for what you really want from life, and creating the opportunities to achieve them.  This is a story about a strong woman who manages to rescue herself from the darkness she finds herself in, with a little help from her friends.  It’s about love, it’s about forgiveness and it’s about learning from your past to ensure your future is filled with the things you really want from life.

This novel deals with some emotive topics, but I am more than happy to recommend it to you all.  It’s a lovely novel that deals with some emotional issues.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Hannah Pearl and Rachel at Rachels Random Resources for asking me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with a copy of this novel.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Birthday-heartwarming-romance-ebook/dp/B07N5LXS93

US – https://www.amazon.com/Its-My-Birthday-heartwarming-romance-ebook/dp/B07N5LXS93

Author Bio

Its My Birthday Author Photo

Hannah Pearl was born in East London. She is married with two children and now lives in Cambridge.

She has previously worked as a Criminology researcher, as a Development Worker with various charities and even pulled a few pints in her time.

In 2015 she was struck down by Labrynthitis, which left her feeling dizzy and virtually housebound. She has since been diagnosed with ME. Reading has allowed Hannah to escape from the reality of feeling ill. She read upwards of three hundred books during the first year of her illness. When her burgeoning eReader addiction grew to be too expensive, she decided to have a go at writing. In 2017 she won Simon and Schuster’s Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine, for her short story The Last Good Day.

Hannah is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.

Blog – dizzygirlwrites.wordpress.com 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/HannahPearl_1

*BLOG TOUR* The Serial Dater’s Shopping List by Morgen Bailey

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for Morgen Bailey’s The Serial Dater’s Shopping List – thanks for joining me!

Are you looking for the perfect summer holiday read?  Then you’ll love this laugh-out-loud comedy about the highs and lows of dating.

Izzy is a journalist who usually writes a technology column for a local newspaper.  Her somewhat intimidating boss William sets her the task of dating thirty-one men, via an internet dating site, all within a month, and writing about it for the paper.

Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend Donna, Izzy knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts and starts ticking them off as she meets the men.

Follow the ups and downs of the dating process including Tim ‘the Weeble’, whose date leads Izzy to see banoffee pie in a whole new light, Lawrence the super-skinny social worker, Felix with his bizarre penchant for Persian Piranhas, and ‘the music maestro but don’t talk about dead pets’ Jake.

By the end of the month, will Izzy have met Mr Right?

So, I was more than happy to read and review The Serial Dater’s Shopping List when it popped up in my emails.  It looked like a fun, easy-read based around internet dating, which is now apparently the only way to date – I haven’t dated in 15 years so I cannot confirm or deny this!

As you can see from the blurb, this is recommended as a ‘perfect summer holiday read’ and I have to say, I would completely agreed with this.  Sadly I had to read it during a wet and blustery weekend, but it would have been ideal to read sat on a hot beach with a cocktail in hand!

Izzy is our central character, a journalist with a technology column in her local newspaper.  When her boss William sets the task of dating thirty-one men, she takes the bull by the horns, sets up her online dating profile and gives it her best shot!  What follows is a number of funny, interesting or non-existent dates, pushing her out of her comfort zone to meet men that she probably would not normally meet.  The project enables her to write her ‘shopping list’ –  a list of do’s and don’t for dating, and it makes her evaluate what she is actually looking for from a man.

I enjoyed following Izzy in her quest to date thirty-one men – she met men that we have all met at one time or another in our lives, making her experiences more than relatable.  I’m not sure she convinced me that online dating is the way forward should I ever find myself in that position, but I enjoyed following her nonetheless!  So if you are looking for a light-hearted, easy-read this could well be the book for you this summer!  Don’t forget that cocktail!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📕

Thank you to Morgen Bailey and Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side Publicity & Promo for providing me with a copy of this book.  This is my own honest review.

Author Bio

Morgen Bailey is an author (of novels, short stories, writing and editing guides), freelance editor (for publishers and indie authors), writing tutor (in person and online), Writer’s Forum magazine ‘Competitive Edge’ columnist, blogger, speaker and co-founder of Northants Authors.  The former Chair of three writing groups, she has judged the H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, RONE, as well as the BBC Radio 2, BeaconLit and Althorp Literary Festival children’s short story competitions.  She also runs her own monthly 100-wod competition.  2018 events included talks and workshops at Troubador’s Self Publishing Conference speakers, workshops and panels at Delapre Book Festival, interviewing and workshops at BeaconLit, and NAWG Fest with her ‘Editing your Fiction’ weekend residential course.  Morgen can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and many others.  Her blog is http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com

*BLOG TOUR* No Place Like Home by Maxine Morrey

Today it is my pleasure to be a stop on the blog tour for Maxine Morrey’s latest novel, No Place Like Home.

Two hearts. One home?

Eleanor Laing has a very good reason to want to stay single: her last relationship put her in danger.  And she’s worried that while the physical scars will heal, the emotional ones never can. So, travelling to Kansas for her best friend Sandy’s wedding, Eleanor’s in need of some time alone.  And Sandy’s brother Ben’s rural and idyllic ranch seems like the perfect place for it.

Ben comes with his own baggage – a failed marriage in his past, and a big question mark over his future – and he knows the feelings he had for Eleanor belong firmly in the history books.  But, sitting on his porch with her, he’s never felt more at home.

Both of them swore they were better off alone…yet is it possible that two broken hearts could come together to heal?

I could not have been happier to have been asked to take part in this blog tour.  I really love Maxine Morrey’s novels, and in particular the new direction she has taken (I love her light hearted romance novels, but I am really loving her newer, grittier novels – check out my review of Second Chance at the Ranch)

If i’m honest, i’m not sure the blurb really does this novel justice.  There is a darker side to this novel which is not really covered there, but it explores the after effects of domestic abuse and how it can affect someones future.  Ellie Laing is such a strong character, but this novel really highlights how the strongest of people can be broken, even when there are no longer any physical signs of pain.  I loved the character of Ellie.  She is beautiful and resilient, fighting against the things that have happened to her in the hope that she can build herself a normal life.  In order to do so, she works hard whilst surrounding herself with her closest friends, Sandy, Kate and Zak.

Ben is a highly successful musician who also happens to be Sandy’s older brother.  Sandy and Ellie were so close, next door neighbours who were relied on each other and each others families as they grew up together.  Even when Ellie and her family returned to England, their bond remained.  As a result, so did Ben and Ellie’s.  Their easy closeness, like family, pulls them together at such important times in their lives when they really need each other.

The characters in this novel are so well thought out.  Maxine has really brought them to life, particularly by bringing their internal pain to the forefront.  We are often not defined by our happy times, but by how we cope with pain and suffering and I feel that she captures this within her novel perfectly.  Ben and Ellie’s budding romance is beautifully flawed by indecision, lack of confidence and concern about how things will change.  Its realistically imperfect, just how all relationships are.

I loved this novel, and am more than happy to recommend it to you all.  If you haven’t already discovered Maxine Morrey, then this is your chance!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📕

Thank you to Maxine Morrey and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel.

Author Bio

Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten.

As time went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way.  She has written articles on a variety of subjects, as well as a local history book on Brighton.  However, novels are her first love.

In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her first romantic comedy, ‘Winter’s Fairytale’.

Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words loves to read, sew and listen to podcasts.  Being a fan of tea and cake, she can (should!) also be found doing something vaguely physical at the gym.

Follow Maxine Morrey

Website: http://www.scribblermaxi.co.uk

Twitter: @Scribbler_Maxi

Instagram: @scribbler_maxi

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MaxineMorreyAuthor

*BLOG TOUR* A Rebel at Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for A Rebel at Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble.

One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote.  Perfect for fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store.  She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.

Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life.  But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.  With the coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

I was lucky enough to read and review the first book in the Pennington’s series, The Mistress of Pennington’s last year, so was very pleased when I was offered the opportunity to read and review the latest instalment in this series.  I really do enjoy revisiting places and getting to know characters that previously only played a small role.  This novel gave me just that.  I found myself back at the prestigious Pennington’s department store located in Bath, the setting for the first book in this series.  We are given the opportunity to check in with Elizabeth Pennington and Joseph, which is always lovely as we get to see where characters we have grown to love are at in their lives.  A Rebel at Pennington’s brings Esther, a window dresser at Pennington’s, to the forefront of the story.  A friend of Elizabeth’s, we learn that Esther is a staunch supporter of the suffragist movement and is keen to enable women’s progression in society at a time when they didn’t yet have the vote.  Kicked out by her own father for her beliefs, she is fiercely independent and forever fearful that if she were to let a man into her life he would attempt to hold her back.

Lawrence Culford is a very successful businessman, and widowed father of two beautiful children.  Despite his adult successes, his own upbringing has scarred him making him shy away from love.  Lawrence and Esther find themselves pulled together by their mutual support of the Cause, but also by something deeper – we follow them in this novel as they both attempt to overcome their own internal barriers to really work together, both in life and love.

I love novels set in years gone by.  I am a big fan of history, yet I have actually read very little about the suffragists and suffragettes.  Historical fiction such as A Rebel at Pennington’s intertwines a beautiful fictional story with the factual events of the past, ensuring that we are able to learn something new whilst immersing ourselves in such a wonderful, vivid story.  Rachel Brimble really brings this story to life with the vivid descriptions of Pennington’s and Bath, along with a group of flawed but well-rounded characters who you can really relate to, despite the decades separating us.  I really enjoyed this novel, and do not hesitate to recommend it to you – if you enjoy novels featuring strong, independent women (and equally strong, independent men) then you will love this series.  I look forward to reading the next one!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Rachel Brimble and 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.

Author Bio

Rachel lives with her husband their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK.  Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eith books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victoria romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store.  The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest.  When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family.  Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.  She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers.  Rachel would love to hear from you!

 

*BLOG TOUR* Love Heart Lane by Christie Barlow

Today I am pleased to say that it is my stop on the blog tour for Love Heart Lane by Christie Barlow.

Welcome to Love Heart Lane…

When Flick Simons returns to the small village of Heartcross she only expected to stay for a few days.  The white-washed cottages of Love Heart Lane might be her home, but the place holds too many painful memories, and of one man in particular – Fergus Campbell.

When a winter storm sweeps in, the only bridge connecting the village to the main land is swept away!  As the villagers pull together, Flick finds herself welcomed back by the friends she once left behind.  And as the snow begins to melt, maybe there is a chance that Fergus’s heart will thaw too…

Love Heart Lane is the first book based in Love Heart Lane, and I am pleased to confirm that it will not be the last!  It is the first novel that I have read by Christie Barlow, and I really enjoyed exploring the village of Heartcross and getting to know its inhabitants.  As you all know, I am a fan of authors who revisit places in future novels, as it often means that we get to learn about new characters, or find out more about characters we have fleetingly met, whilst also hearing about the characters we already know and love.  So as I’m sure you can imagine, I am already sitting waiting to read Foxglove Farm so that I can revisit Heartcross!

Anyway, back to Love Heart Lane.  Flick Simons is a woman living in the city, far away from her home, escaping a past full of tragedy and loss.  When her beloved Grandmother passes away, she finds herself back in her childhood home with her mother, grieving and faced with regret about the time she has lost with her Grandmother.  When the village finds itself cut off from the outside world, and Flick finds herself unable to return to the city, she is forced to face up to what, and who, she left behind.  Flick finds herself in the centre of a village which is pulling together to rescue itself, surrounded by friends and loved ones who, despite her running away years ago, welcome her back into their fold with open arms.

Fergus Campbell is Flick’s childhood sweetheart, and father to the beautiful Esme.  He is less pleased to see Flick again – when she ran away to the city, she ran away from him too.  Having finally recovered from his heartbreak, he is less than happy to find her back in the village, forgiving her seems an almost impossible task.

This is a novel about love, friends and family.  Its about loss, but it’s also about what you can find when you are forced to re-evaluate your life, whilst overcoming obstacles.  It’s about forgiveness, and it is about admitting when you were wrong.

I really enjoyed Love Heart Lane.  I loved watching a wealth of characters pull together in a time of need, forgetting past wrongs to really achieve something together.  Of course I love a bit of romance thrown in, but this was also a novel about how important friendships are, and family.  It is about discovering that you do not have to cope alone – there is always someone there if you are willing to let them in. I am more than happy to recommend this novel if you enjoy a light read, full of family, friends and romance!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Christie Barlow and 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 book in exchange for my honest review.

Author Bio

Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm and Love Heart Lane.  Her writing career came as somewhat of a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams.  The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA and Australia.

Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being as well as Literary Editor for http://www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk bringing you all the latest news and reviews from the book world.

Website: http://www.christiebarlow.com

Twitter: @ChristieJBarlow

*BLOG TOUR* Second Chance at the Ranch by Maxine Morrey

I am very pleased to say that today is my stop on the blog tour for Second Chance at the Ranch by Maxine Morrey.

It’s never too late for a second chance at love in this uplifting and warm-hearted romance.

It’s never too late to find love…

When Juliet Scott falls for ruggedly handsome Pete while away travelling, she never imagines how different her life will be to that of her sister, successful and beautiful model Hero.  Based on a cattle station in the vast Australian Outback, Juliet’s life is now simple, down-to-earth and honest, and the perfect antidote to the chaotic celebrity lifestyle that Hero leads in the UK.

With her striking brunette hair, perfect posture, and mesmerising green eyes, it is no wonder Hero has come so far in such a superficial industry.  But when tragedy strikes, Hero finds herself in the arms of her sister, recuperating from a terrible accident on the other side of the world.

With her modelling career in tatters, and her scars more than just skin deep, Juliet worries that Hero will hide behind the mask she wears forever.  But does Australia have something, or someone, to offer that London never could?

Well…what can I say.  I am a fan of Maxine Morrey’s, having already read Winter’s Fairytale, The Christmas Holiday and The Christmas Project (click the links to check out my reviews), all of which I loved.  So I was excited when I discovered her newest novel, Second Chance at the Ranch.  This is a very different novel to Maxine’s previous offerings.  It is a little harder, a little more emotional – it doesn’t have the light-hearted edge that her other novels have.  Please do not think this is a bad thing – the grittier nature of this novel really adds to its appeal.

Hero is a top class model, with the glamorous life to match.  Her beauty is unrivalled, making her highly sought after worldwide.  When her sister Juliet falls in love with Pete and moves to the Australian outback, Hero finds herself torn between two worlds; one glamorous but superficial, and the other rough and simple but full of love.  When Hero has a tragic accident she finds herself following her sister to Australia as she tries to put back the pieces of her life.  She also finds that she can no longer hide from a past that she has spent a lifetime protecting herself from.  I am pleased to confirm that whilst this novel does have a sad side, I am pleased to confirm that we also have some romance!

I really loved all of the characters in this novel.  Hero is such a beautiful person, both inside and out.  Despite living in such a superficial world, she still retains a sense of realism.  Her anchor to the real world is her sister Juliet, another lovely, well-rounded character.  She pushes her sister to reveal her true self not only to her, but to others too.

This novel is full of sadness, tragedy and pain, but it is also the story of a sisters bond, recovery and love.  Whilst there is romance in this novel, I really felt the love between Hero and Juliet – a bond that really could not be broken.  I could not be happier to recommend this novel!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📕

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

Author Bio

Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten.

As time went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way.  She has written articles on a variety of subjects, as well as a local history book on Brighton.  However, novels are her first love.

In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her first romantic comedy Winters Fairytale.

Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words loves to read, sew and listen to podcasts.  Being a fan of tea and cake, she can (should!) also be found doing something vaguely physical at the gym.

*BLOG TOUR* Island of Secrets by Diane Demetre

Today it is my pleasure to bring you Island of Secrets by Diane Demetre, as part of her blog tour.

Two love stories separated in time.  Two women following their dreams.  In a paradise littered with painful secrets, will love turn the tide?

1973.  Cecilia “CiCi” Freemont has a restless soul and the voice of an angel.  Leaving her privileged upbringing behind, she chases her dreams to the sandy beaches of an unspoiled Hawaiian paradise, Harbor Island.  But life takes an unexpected turn when she falls for the island’s heir-apparent and her newfound adventure becomes too much to bear…

2017. Investigative journalist Tina Templeton has dedicated herself to the pursuit of truth.  But when she inherits Harbor Island, her career plans take a confusing twist.  Managing the sprawling island estate is a tough business even with the help of ageing cabaret singer, CiCi Fremont.  Especially when a massive ecological disaster threatens to destroy her beautiful beaches – and the responding coast guard captain steals her heart.

As the investigation into the disaster reveals a 40-year-old mystery that could change their lives forever, will Tina find love among the secrets, or will CiCi’s painful past dash her dreams on the rocks?

I regularly enjoy a dual timeline novel, and this was no exception. In fact, it was probably a little easier to read, because rather than having two stories set in different eras running at the same time, they are very clearly defined and separated.  In part one we find ourselves in 1973 following CicCi Freemont, a free-spirited young woman who unexpectedly finds herself on Harbor Island, a Hawaiian paradise that is seemingly separated from civilisation.

In part two we move forwards in time to 2017 where we meet Tina Templeton, an Investigative Journalist.  When she unexpectedly inherits Harbor Island from her uncle, Tina finds herself back on the island where she spent many happy childhood summers.  Taking on the responsibility of managing such a historic island comes with its own difficulties, particularly when Tina finds herself joint owner with her brother Sebastien, a man with his own agenda.  With the arrival of the mysterious cabaret singer, CiCi Freemont, and the huge ecological disaster that appears to be happening on her beaches, Tina finds herself fighting to save the island that she never expected to call home.

CiCi and Tina are two very different characters, which I feel helps to differentiate between the two time periods.  CiCi can be described as a free-spirit, someone who is trying to escape her privileged but stifling upbringing.  I think it is clear that she is a little lost in the world, struggling to find where she fits and what she really wants.  Tina is very ambitious: she knows what she wants, and she strives to achieve it.  When she finds herself unexpectedly back on Harbor Island following the death of her beloved Uncle Dickie, she is thrown off course, and made to question everything that she has come to know about both herself and what she really wants from her life.

Island of Secrets is beautiful novel about love, loss and finding yourself in the most unexpected of places.  Harbor Island is a lost gem; it is a Hawaiian paradise hidden from the world, with traditional practices, untouched by the outside world.  It is the perfect setting for such a lovely novel.

I am more than happy to recommend this novel – I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thank you to Diane Demetre and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for asking me to be a part of this blog tour.

Author Bio

Diane began her career as a school teacher before moving onto the entertainment industry as a choreographer, director, event manager, dancer and actress, working in television and live theatre, and managing multi-million dollar productions.

Following her onstage career, she spent many years as a stress & life skills therapist, keynote speaker and presenter, appearing on national radio and television.

When she launched into a writing career, Diane’s debut erotic romance series, the Dance of Love was voted Luminosity Publishing Readers’ Choice Best Books and Best Covers for 2015 and 2016.

Her romantic suspense, Retribution won the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Pro Award 2017 for Best Unpublished Manuscript. Diane loves to write genre-busting stories with a twist.  Her works are packed with emotional punch and featured empowered heroines who live life to the fullest, much like the author herself.