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.

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Book Review: The Little Cottage On The Hill.

Thelittle cottageRolling my eyes at the main character of a book in the first few chapters wouldn’t usually end well but, actually, part of the joy of The Little Cottage On The Hill, by Emma Davies, is seeing how Maddie changes and grows.

She starts off not listening, being judgmental and condescending and completely ignoring what our hero, Seth, is saying but gradually the beauty and magic of the place (and people) does its job – and she turns into someone I wouldn’t mind being friends with.

Once again Emma has created a supporting cast who are engaging and immensely likeable – I can see at least three more spin off stories I’d like to read from this one book.

Here’s the blurb:

There’s blossom in the trees and daffodils as far as the eye can see. Maddie is looking forward to a fresh start in the countryside, but there’s just one little problem…

Following a scandal at her high-flying PR agency, twenty-six-year-old Maddie flees London to help promote what she thinks is going to be a luxurious holiday retreat in the countryside. Everything is riding on her making a success of this new job…

Yet when she arrives, Maddie is horrified to find a rundown old farm in a terrible state. The brooding and secretive owner, Seth, spent all his money on leasing the land when he fell in love with the beautiful, dishevelled farm cottages and the very romantic story behind them.

When Maddie discovers an old painting by the original owner’s wife, she unlocks the secret of the farm’s history and quickly realises she must start getting her hands dirty if this very special place is going to have any chance of survival. As she and Seth begin working together, the stunning view from the top of the hill is not the only thing that’s leaving her breathless…

After weeks of hard work the dream looks like it might become a reality, until a secret from Maddie’s past threatens to snatch it all away again.

Can Maddie find a way to save the business and herself? Will she finally find a place to keep her heart within the crumbling walls of the little cottage on the hill?

Described on the lovely front cover as a “feel-good romance” I’d say it’s pretty spot on, I definitely felt good once I had finished and the romance, though gentle, still had me sighing with pleasure.

This is a warm, sweet tale, written in a lively way that makes it hard to take a break.
I loved learning the back story of the previous inhabitants and the way everything came together felt magical.

The ending left me with a massive grin on my face – although that was after a few tears (both happy and sad) too.

Another great book from Emma, I can’t wait for the next.

Format: Kindle.

Price: 99p (via Amazon).

My rating: Four and a half stars.

With thanks to Bookouture for the ARC in return for my honest review.

A Look Behind The Book With Lynsey James.

me in jumperA school careers adviser once told Lynsey James that writing wasn’t a “good option”.

Six books later, I suspect she has something to say about that – and she’s still only in her 20s.

Her latest novel, A Winter’s Wish Come True, is a follow up to A Season Of Hopes And Dreams, which I was delighted about, as it marks a return of one of my favourite heroines of the year.

I was excited when Lynsey agreed to talk to me for my final Behind The Book post of 2017 as it was a chance to find out more about Cleo Jones and the inspiration behind her.

What a cracker to end on, as I hope you’ll agree.

Despite what the careers adviser told you, here you are a full time writer (yay!). Where did the confidence to follow your dreams come from? Has it been as you imagined?

Wow, what a brilliant first question to kick things off with. I think support from my family has definitely contributed to my confidence to follow my dreams. They’ve always believed I could do it, even when I didn’t. Apart from that, I genuinely couldn’t imagine loving anything as much as I love writing. It’s like oxygen to me. It’s been different to how I imagined, but in a good way. I’ve learned so much and made lots of amazing friends along the way.

What does your day look like? Do you treat it as a 9-5pm job? You’re still in your 20s, can you imagine doing anything else?

I get up, have breakfast, watch a bit of telly and then crack on with my writing. I don’t treat it as a 9-5 job as such, but I do structure my writing time and do some writing every day. If I don’t, things don’t feel right! I can’t imagine doing anything else, if I’m honest. Writing has always felt like the most natural thing in the world to me; I love it and I’ll do it forever if I can.

Can you talk about your path to publication? Did you submit your first book to agents or publishers? Was it an immediate hit?

I submitted my first book to agents first of all, and was lucky enough to get some amazing constructive feedback. Although they said no, I used the feedback to improve my draft and sent it off to Carina UK (now HQ Digital). A couple of weeks later, I got that wonderful email saying they’d like to publish me! It really was a dream come true. I signed with my awesome agent Sarah a year or so later. She’s a dynamo and truly the best in the business.

 

You now have an amazing SIX books under your belt, is there anything you know now that you wish you had known with your first novel? Are you ever tempted to go back and change something?

Wow, I know! Six books feels absolutely insane to think about. That’s a difficult question to answer because on the one hand, there are things I’d change if I was writing my first book now but on the other hand, I’m proud of how it turned out. And it’s kind of fun to see how my writing’s changed from book one to six.

I became a fan of your work after reading A Season Of Hopes And Dreams. I loved that your heroine had real struggles that she was still in the thick of. How much research did you do on the sensitive issues you tackle? What made you write her as still in the midst of them rather than having had them in the past?

A lot of the research actually came from my own experiences with body dysmorphia. It’s been in my life since I was teenager, but it got really bad a couple of years ago when I was trying to lose a significant amount of weight. I felt like I couldn’t trust my own self-perception and it really affected my confidence. It’s less severe now, but it really informed my decision to write Cleo as being in the midst of her struggles with it. I thought the journey would be an interesting one to write, and hoped it might help people going through similar things in their own lives. Body dysmorphia isn’t something I’ve seen a lot of in books, so to me it felt important to tell the story and to show how things can and do get better.

Your most recent book follows Cleo again. Can you talk about why you chose to continue her story (I’m thrilled you did).

In all honesty, I absolutely love Cleo. She’s one of my favourite characters I’ve ever written and I didn’t feel ready to say goodbye to her. I was talking to A L Michael, one of my best friends, and she told me to go for it and write a second part to Cleo’s story. I’m really glad I did!

I’m interested in the books you read – from your blog reviews you seem to have eclectic taste. Will there be a switch in writing genre for you in the future?

Never say never! I love to read a whole mix of books, so I’m really open to trying new things. As long as I’m creating stories for people to hopefully enjoy, I’m happy.

Did you ever consider using a pen name?

I haven’t so far, but if I decide to switch genres then I would.

Are you able to share what you working on at the moment?

I wish I could! All I’ll say is it’s top-secret and will be out next year. Watch this space for more announcements…

Do you have any writing tips you can pass on?

Read as many different books as you can. Have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment.

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Thank you very much to Lynsey for answering my questions so honestly, I really appreciate her opening up about her own struggles – and I have no doubt that Cleo Jones is an inspiration to many people, myself included.

You can find out more about Lynsey via her website, on Twitter or buy her books via her Amazon page here. Her latest, A Winter’s Wish Come True, is currently £1.99.

I’m looking forward to posting some more Behind The Book interviews in the New Year but, just in case you have missed any, you can find the archive here.