Book Review: Coming Home To Maple Cottage.

maplecottageComing Home To Maple Cottage is the final book in the latest series by Holly Martin – and definitely the one I’ve been waiting for.

I bought the first two but simply couldn’t wait until publication day to find out Isla and Leo’s story so turned to NetGalley to get an early fix.

The story is just as good as I hoped it would be; a rollercoaster of a tale full of heart and humour – and exactly what I’ve come to expect from Holly, who writes with such wonderful warmth.

Here’s the blurb:

Isla Rosewood is creating a new life for herself and her sweet nephew Elliot in their cosy, yellow-brick family cottage, brimming with special memories. Living in Sandcastle Bay was never part of Isla’s plan but, after her brother Matthew’s tragic accident, her whole world changed as she unexpectedly became a mother to the little boy she adores so much.

Leo Jackson was always known as Matthew’s fun-loving and wild best friend. But now Matthew is gone, it’s time to put his colourful past behind him. His role as Elliot’s godfather is the most important thing to him. And even though Leo and Isla are two very different people, they both want to give Elliot the childhood he deserves.

As the three of them enjoy time together watching fireworks, baking cakes and collecting conkers, Isla begins to see a softer side to charming Leo, with his twinkling eyes and mischievous sense of humour. And, despite herself, she begins to fall for him.

But does Leo feel the same way? Isla knows their situation is complicated but is it too complicated for true love… or will the year end with a happy new beginning for them all?

While I think this book would work as a standalone, I definitely felt more connected to all of the characters knowing a bit more of their backstory from The Holiday Cottage By The Sea and The Cottage On Sunshine Beach. While I enjoyed all three, I think because Isla and Leo’s story had been teased in the other two, this was the one I was most looking forward to.

As always, Holly creates a cast of eclectic, likeable characters who can all see how much Isla and Leo belong together – and do their best to help them along.

Little Elliot provides a fair few comedy moments – along with the indomitable Agatha –  as well as provoking a few tears too.

While I’m happy to know how Isla and Leo’s story concludes, I’m sad that there are no more books in the series.

The only consolation is that hopefully, even as I type, Holly is hard at work on her next book.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99 (via Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to Bookouture for making me very happy by letting me read the ARC (via NetGalley) in return for an honest review.

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A Look Behind The Book With Lucy Mitchell.

IMG_3074 2Monday mornings were always just that bit more manageable when I knew Lucy Mitchell would be posting the latest instalment of The Diary of Roxy Collins on her blog.

Her funny, warm and relatable series, featuring a single mother of three, looking for love after some disastrous relationships, has since been turned into a popular podcast, read by Lucy (links at the end).

For now though, Roxy is having to step aside – not that she’s very happy about it – while Lucy is busy writing her debut novel.

I’ve been a fan for years and can’t wait to see what she comes up with but first I was very happy when she agreed to chat to me for my latest Behind The Book post.

Let’s start with the big one, what’s the dream writing-wise? And how do you keep that dream alive?

I want to see one of my stories turned into a book. I want to frame the cover and put it on my living room wall. Every night I sit in my writing corner, in the lounge, and glance up at the bare wall, near my book shelves. One day it will contain a framed book cover and I will be so proud of myself.

At what age did you start writing? Were you encouraged at school?

I wrote a lot as a child and excelled at English at school. When I went to university I wrote to my mother every week. Instead of terrifying her with my student adventures I turned them all into little comedies. Mum tells me laughed her head off each breakfast time, as she read my lengthy account of student life, and she knew I would one day do something with my writing.

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You write romantic comedy fiction. Were you always interested in that genre? What was the lure? 

I enjoy writing stuff that makes people laugh and I also enjoy reading romance. I write about real romances as for years I have grown tired of reading about stick thin heroines with glamorous jobs and angelic children. It is time for the real life heroines with failed marriages, ex partners, unsuccessful diets, money issues and wild best friends, to make an appearance.

Can we talk about your very successful blog? When and why did you start it?

My kids and husband were doing my head in one Sunday back in April 2014. I crept upstairs and started my blog. I wanted a place where I could come out as a writer and gain some confidence.

You’re very open about the ups and downs of a writing life, which I can totally identify with. Was that a conscious decision? I know a lot of authors feel like they shouldn’t talk about rejections, what do you think?

My blog is a place where I sort out my head. I use each blog post to investigate an issue or deal with an emotional problem.

I will be talking about the highs and lows of my publishing journey on my blog.

How do you find time to blog, write, work and I’m sure do a million other different things?

I write in the bath, in motorway service stations, in hotel rooms, in cafes in my lunch hour and before I go to bed. I am tapping out words on dog walks, in lifts and in shopping centres. Writing is a huge part of my life.

 

Can you talk about your character Roxy Collins? As well as your blog, she also features on Wattpad and a very successful podcast.

Roxy Collins has become an old friend to me. I am so glad I turned her into a podcast and gave her a voice. She’s always in my head and never leaves me. Roxy makes me giggle as I know she gets jealous of new female characters who come into my mind.

The female character who makes it to publication better be tough enough to face up to Roxy.

How important do you think social media is to writers?

Social media has been a life saver for me. I have entered a supportive and encouraging community of creative people who have been like beacons of light for me on dark days.

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Who are your favourite authors to read?

I like Stephie Chapman, Victoria Cooke and Roxie Cooper. They all make me smile.

I know you share a lot of writing tips on your blog, do you have a top one you live by?

Keep writing. Even when you are having a tough time, keep writing.

~

Wise words, particularly at the end there. I completely agree about finding fellow writers on social media too – and Lucy has always been lovely.

You can find her brilliant blog, Blonde Write More, here, read Roxy’s story on Wattpad here and hear Lucy (and Roxy) in action on her podcast on iTunes here. It’s also available on Stitcher and Soundcloud.

A big thank you to Lucy for taking part and sending best wishes for her debut.

Book Review: The Summer Of Secrets.

tillytenHow have I got this far in life without reading a Tilly Tennant book before? It’s actually quite a feat, considering how many she has written – and if they are all like, The Summer Of Secrets, my TBR pile is about to topple over under the weight.

If you’re looking for something to make you smile, with a guaranteed happy ending – but with plenty of twists and turns in the middle – then this book is for you.

It did take me a chapter to ease into it but once I was there I got caught up in the lives of eclectic mix of characters.

Here’s the blurb:

Harper Woods wakes up every morning on Silver Hill Farm feeling like the luckiest woman in the world. She’s recently engaged to the tall, dark and handsome Shay, out of her window lie rolling golden cornfields, and just downstairs are the gorgeous tea rooms she’s always dreamed of owning.

But Harper is about to discover a secret that will change her luck forever. For better or worse? She has no idea.

Distracted by her find, Harper doesn’t notice Shay getting rather close to his ex from the village. And as news of Harper’s discovery spreads through Silver Hill, there are people who are keen to stir up trouble, in particular, Will Frampton, handsome recluse and Lord of Silver Hill House, the crumbling stately home the other side of the hill.

Can Harper trust any man in Silver Hill? And as relationships are tested and tea cakes begin to fly, will anyone catch the romance blossoming in the most unexpected of places?

While the blurb mentions Harper, we also follow the tales of Pip, Cesca and, to some degree, Allie.

There was one point in the book where love was in very short supply and I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to get their happy ending but I’m pleased to say it all works out in the end – and the story was more colourful for the ‘will they, won’t they’ moments.

Shay reminded me of a panto villain – I definitely wanted to boo and hiss every time he came on to the page – but posh Will and Kristofer, a “living, breathing viking”, tipped the scales on to the side of good.

All in all this was a great read which bounced along at quite a pace and, best of all, brought a smile to my face.

Now to pick which of her books to read next!

Format: Kindle.

Price: £1.99 (via Amazon).

My rating: Four stars.

With thanks to Bookouture (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.