Book Review: The Summer House.

jennyhaleReading The Summer House was a bit like having some delicious leftover birthday cake sitting in the kitchen – it was so moreish, I kept nipping back to it (just one more slice).

Amazingly, this is the first time I’ve read one of Jenny Hale’s books, despite her being a USA Today and Amazon best-selling author of romantic women’s fiction – with eight (I think) titles to her name.

Her latest sounds like it’s come straight from one of my (very best) dreams – not only opening a bed and breakfast on the coast but also managing to capture the attention of the local millionaire at the same time.

Here’s the blurb:

Callie Weaver and best friend Olivia Dixon have finally done it: put their life’s savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

They’re going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed and breakfast.

Callie’s too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He’s heir to his father’s property empire, and the papers say he’s just another playboy, but as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there’s more to this man than money and good looks.

Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets… secrets that stretch across the island, and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor.

Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm it unleashes, or can true love save them?

It’s heartwarming, charming and a proper page turner. The characters are all likeable, the plot keeps you engaged and the setting is dreamy (I want to see wild horses on the beach).

In fact, I can’t really fault The Summer House…and yet there was just something that didn’t quite flow for me in the writing.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I did, but just not as much as some of the other books I have read this year. I know Jenny Hale has lots of fans so maybe it was me?

It certainly wouldn’t put me off reading her other books or watching the film adaptation of Coming Home For Christmas if I got the chance.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99.

My rating: Three and a half stars.

With thanks for the Bookouture (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for my honest opinion.

New Series Alert: Behind The Book – Meet The Author.


I love to read (as you can probably tell by the number of reviews I post) but quite often when a book is finished I am left with questions – not about plot or character development, necessarily, more about the author and their path to print.

Sometimes I itch to send them a tweet or an email but, for some reason, they feel a bit unreachable – probably because they have done the thing I aspire to and not only written but published a book. It’s like on publication day they are transported to a hall of fame where they stand on a pedestal with a plaque stating “author” underneath. While you are invited to admire them from a distance, a strict no touching rule is in force. Not that I want to touch the authors, just to be clear, but I would really like to talk to them.

After I started posting reviews at the beginning of last year I found myself chatting with some of the writers and I discovered they are actually quite open to communicating with readers, maybe even enjoy it, in some cases. I tentatively asked a couple whether they would be willing to let me pick their brains about the writing process and post about it here. I’m delighted to say the responses have been positive. See, they are just like us, after all.

So amid posts about my parenting fails, photography, my rubbish attempts at crafting (and cooking, for that matter), book reviews and general nonsense, I’m going to occasionally feature Behind The Book interviews.

I already have a couple of lovely people lined up but I thought I’d throw open the floor and see if anyone else is willing to share their story.

If you are a published author (any genre and self-published more than welcome) I’d love to interview you about your journey into print (or ebook). I will email you 10 tailored questions and will require the answers along with a photo of you and an image of your book cover. In return you will have my heartfelt thanks and I will, of course, provide a link to your work and your social media details (I promise there is no touching involved).

If you’re a reader/writer with a burning question about publishing a book please let me know and I’ll add it in when the time is right. When I use your question I’ll link to your blog or Twitter etc.

Fancy joining in? Please drop me an email at tara@taragreaves.com.

Book Review: Stuck With You.

stuckWhile the idea of being trapped in a lift fills me with terror (hello, claustrophobia), in her new book Carla Burgess has some how managed to make it seem a little less frightening – possibly even ever so slightly appealing.

Stuck With You sees Elena come face to face with her unrequited teenage love, Daniel, for the first time in years, in just this situation.

After getting over the initial shock and embarrassment, they spend the time waiting to be rescued getting reacquainted – and it’s clear she still has feelings for him (and it’s not all one sided).

Carla has hit the nostalgia jackpot with this book, which had me laughing out loud – and slightly cringing – at times because it sailed so close to some of my own experiences of unrequited young lust.

It is oh-so-romantic in places and makes me believe in second chances and true love.

Here’s the blurb:

One lift. Two strangers. Anything could happen!

Elena thought that today would be just like any other day…until the supermarket lift jams and she realises she’s stuck.

And not just stuck in the lift. Stuck with her childhood crush, Daniel Moore, who unfortunately seems to be just as gorgeous as she remembered…

While I might not have saved any chewed pen lids or written poetry about my teenage crush (I did walk by his house several (million) times), I totally remember moping about just the way she describes because he failed to acknowledge my existence.

When you read a story like this, it’s hard not to think ‘what if?’ and that made me smile long after the book was finished.

I so wanted it to work out for Elena and Daniel even though, like Elena’s best friend Rachel, I did wonder whether he was too good to be true.

I think this one is even better than Carla’s first book, Marry Me Tomorrow, which I also loved (and I was delighted to see Sam and Emily make a brief appearance in her second novel).

Carla has such a warm, easy to read style that I didn’t really want this book to end while at the same time I was desperate to know if it all worked out.

On those occasions when I can’t avoid a lift, I’m going to think about this story and hope it takes my mind off things.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99.

My rating: Five stars.

My thanks to HQ Digital for the ARC in return for my honest opinion.