Christmas at Lock Keepers Cottage – Lucy Coleman

Welcome back everyone, the first Christmas book of the year is here! And it’s only the start of September!

It took me like two weeks to read this book for a few reasons. The first being all the shows on TV taking up what little free time I have, the second being my general mental health with the lockdown in my city and finally, I really struggled to fall in love with the characters.

For what felt like the first 75% of the book, next to nothing happened. A lot happened in that final 25% but that doesn’t help me get engaged in the story from the start. Normally I really enjoy Lucy’s books, so this is a bit weird for me.

Maybe because the characters are so straight? And by that I mean, they don’t really drink, they don’t seem to have strong opinions about anything and it felt like they were people pleasers who know what to say to keep everyone happy without ever really having an opinion. I only know one person like this and that mask dropped away once we all got to know each other  better so I know it was more of an “I don’t know how to behave around you yet” thing rather than that’s what they’re like all the time.

To me, I find those kinds of personalities quite fake, so maybe I spent the whole time trying to figure out their angle? What were they trying to achieve? Why wouldn’t they just say what they thought even when they’re “alone”?

For me, their personalities was the biggest detractor. The community spirit, the stuff that goes wrong, the secrets that came out. That was all juicy and great. But it felt like it fell flat a little without the human drama to follow it.

If you’d like a feel good, wholesome, no unnecessary drama, relaxing read about Christmas, then this is the book for you!

If you’re like me and like a little more drama, you may find it’s not as great as you’d hope. It may have also been because my life is so boring in lockdown, I NEEDED more drama. So maybe it’s my fault for reading this while in Stage 4 lockdown?

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Who Wants to Marry a Duke? by Sabrina Jeffries. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.

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Hopeful Hearts and Glendale Hall – Victoria Walters

Welcome back everyone, I hope you’re all doing well in these difficult times. My city is heading into it’s final (I HOPE!) week of Stage 4 lockdown. Surprisingly enough, work’s been too busy to take advantage of the forced home time to be able to read much.

The third instalment of Glendale Hall is here and it’s not quite what I was expecting. It’s a little bit like Foxglove Farm by Christie Barlow in that it’s about an established couple going through a “rough patch”. But it has its own little quirks and intricacies.

With an ex back in the picture who reminds you of your younger self it can be hard to know your own mind. Especially when things keep going wrong and they keep pointing out how you don’t belong where you are. As suss as that felt to me, I can sympathise with Heather and how she doesn’t recognise the suss nature of it all.

When Heather found her stride I felt so proud, even though she’s just a character and not even one I created! Every little thing she did to move forward felt huge, especially because her loved ones supported her and let her grow. It wasn’t forced, it wasn’t like she’d consciously been doing it. It just clicked and started coming together in such a beautiful way.

Personally, I was hoping for the epilogue to be set on a very different day. I would’ve loved the closure all at once. Although, if there’s a fourth book coming maybe that’ll give me the details I was craving.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing Christmas at Lock Keepers Cottage by Lucy Coleman. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of three novels, THE SECOND LOVE OF MY LIFE, SUMMER AT THE KINDNESS CAFÉ, and COMING HOME TO GLENDALE HALL. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for an RNA award. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

Find out more about Victoria by following her on social media.

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The Return of the Disappearing Duke – Lara Temple

Welcome back everyone, you know that feeling when you start a book and realise it’s a sequel, yet can’t figure out to what? Yea I had that with this one.

Within like 2 pages I knew this was a sequel to another book I’d read. Yet when I looked through all of Lara Temple’s books on Goodread’s that I’ve read I should figure it out based on the series names.

After a quick email to Rachel I figured it follows the Sinful Sinclairs but I’m still not sure if it’s meant to be part of that series or not since there was barely a Sinclair in this one.

If you are a fan of reading a series books in order you’ll find this one slightly annoying since most of it is set before The Lord’s Inconvenient Vow, yet if you tried to read this first you’d just spoil some of the good things in that. So please don’t read this one first!

The way Cleo is treated by others and how she acts in response felt authentic to me, mostly because she often pretends to be a man in order to go about doing things that women can’t otherwise do. She even made a comment about how much easier it is to be a man. A sentiment I don’t think has changed too much in all these years for many women.

The slow development between them was such a bonus. It wasn’t something that happened too quickly, they respected when the other didn’t feel the same. I mean, Rafe was in touch with his emotions enough to actually clear up the misunderstanding between them!

That is a rare man that can do that without even realising it!

I loved every minute of this book and easily finished it within a few days.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Hopeful Hearts at Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Lara Temple writes strong and sensual Regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion. She lives with her husband, two children, and one very fluffy dog and they are all very understanding about her taking over the kitchen table so she can look out over the garden as she writes and dreams up her Happy Ever Afters.

Giveaway – Win 3x e-copies of The Return of the Disappearing Duke (open internationally)


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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Losing Control – Rachael Stewart

Welcome back everyone, I know Thursday’s aren’t my usual posting days, but it’s publication day for Rachael again!

I always look forward to a new Rachael Stewart novel. They’re always short, steamy and suck you in so much it doesn’t take long to read.

In so many ways this one did all that. And yet, something was still missing. It took me a while to place it, and I think it comes down to the lack of details of the characters business and town. In her other books, Rachael has enough detail about these that you know what job people do, you know where they’re living, and you get little details to describe the location as you’re going.

Even after finishing the book I don’t know what the family business does, other than something techy. And even though we got a little bit location description, it was so sporadic and minimal that it didn’t feel like I got to picture the location at all.

On the other hand, the level of detail provided in the characters history, backstory, thoughts, emotions etc was phenomenal. I don’t know if she’s ever done to that level of detail before. But, there’s also a downside to this as well.

I know it’s traumatic, but I did feel like the mention of why Alexa hates Cain so much was talked about too much. It felt like it controlled her life rather than being something that she’s either over, processed or is still processing.

I’m so glad Rachael used this as the sensitive topic for this book. It’s another topic that really isn’t talked about enough and needs to be recognised and accepted so people CAN feel like they can talk about it. I just felt it controlled Alexa too much. But I’ve never gone through that, so maybe that is an accurate perspective of someone who’s gone through it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing Summer Island by Natalie Normann. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heartwarmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.

She’s been writing since she could put pen to paper as the stacks of scrawled on A4 sheets in her loft will attest to, and the lovingly bound short stories that her father would run off at work and proudly share out with his colleagues. Thinking it was a pipe dream to be published one day, she pursued a sensible career in business but she was really play-acting, achieving the appropriate degree and spending many years in the corporate world where she never truly belonged. Always happiest when she was sat at her laptop in the quiet hours tapping out a story or two. And so here she is, a published author, her full-time pleasure, a dream come true.

A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she’s not glued to her laptop, she’s wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.

Giveaway – Win an e-copy of Losing Control by Rachael Stewart (open internationally)


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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Starcross Manor – Christie Barlow

Welcome back everyone, today we find out way back to Love Heart Lane and all the drama that seems to surround this one small village.

One of the things I love about Christie Barlow is that she doesn’t write about “regular” characters. We’ve had someone who can’t have kids, a marriage on the verge of collapse, a relationship going places (but not) and now, a woman turning 40 and yet to find love.

So few of the romances I read have a main character over 32. I think there needs to be greater representation of these women because there will be more and more women in this age group in the future who don’t need to be made to feel inadequate because they’ve put their career first.

Thank you, Christie, for making sure there are books like this available for when these girls are ready to read these stories. And I’m sure it won’t hurt anyone who currently reads romance!

In so many way’s it’s a standard romance done really well. Yet in subtle ways, there’s some things that make this book so amazing!

Those amazing parts are what really stuck with me and make me believe this is worth a read if you enjoy romance. It’s got an element of second chance romance, enemy’s to lovers and even some other trope I can’t even name!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Thursday I’ll be reviewing Losing Control by Rachael Stewart. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Christie Barlow is the number 1 International bestselling author of ten bestsellers including A Home at Honeysuckle Farm, Love Heart Lane and Clover Cottage. Her writing career came as somewhat 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, Canada & Australia.

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As Luck Would Have It – Zoe May

Welcome back everyone, I can’t believe Zoe already has another book on tour. She’s had two books in two months on tour!

I thought this would be an enemy’s to lover’s style trope given the blurb. Who else is with me there?

Yet it turned out to be a second chances trope! Who would’ve thought?!

Set in beautiful Marrakesh we get a tiny glimpse of the sights, the food and the culture. I don’t think it’s enough for anyone familiar with that culture and city to take issues with anything, yet at the same time enough to give us the sense and feel of the location.

We had a little bit of everything in this story. Second chance love, getting over the betrayals of others, learning about a new culture and place, emotional growth, professional development and growth and even finding a new family.

I think my favourite part was when they went to see the Atlas Mountains. Even if I’m not sure that would actually happen in real life, I loved the romanticism of it. The whole time Natalie had been protecting her heart, and the time in the Atlas Mountains really showed her growth when it came to Will.

The ending also surprised me. Well, the main part of it was pretty predictable since it’s a romance. But one aspect of it was something I wasn’t expecting, and it made me so happy! It spoke true to Natalie’s personality and I hope it helps to break down some traditional views. Even if it is only just a tiny bit.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; next week I’ll be reviewing In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Zoe May is an author of romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She worked in journalism and copywriting in London before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

Perfect Match was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading! She adores animals and if she’s not taking a photo of a vegan meal, she’s probably tweeting about the dairy industry. She is half Greek and half Irish and can make a mean baklava. Zoe has a thing for horror films, India, swimming, hip hop and Radiohead. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of handbags having spent several years working in fashion copywriting and could probably win Mastermind if this was her specialist subject!

Zoe loves to hear from readers, you can contact and follow her on all her various social media channels.

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You May Kiss the Bridesmaid – Camilla Isley

Welcome back everyone, do you remember From Thailand with Love? I reviewed it earlier in the year and it’s the book in the First Comes Love series that made me go back and buy the first few books I’d missed.

Well this is the NEXT book in the series! I’ve yet to go back, but this was coming on tour so I had to jump on board!

We’re still following the Knowles twins. Both in the sense that the female protagonist is Summer Knowles, and because it’s set at Winter’s wedding. We finally get to see what happened with Summer and Lana’s ex from Summer’s perspective, and boy was I not expecting that!

I never expected to feel sorry for Summer and yet I did. Maybe not so much for what she did to Lana. But for the treatment she receives from everyone else. That is, everyone except Archie.

Meet cute where Archie thinks she’s Winter and we’re off!

He protects her from the worst of the cattiness the girls try to throw her way while somehow making himself out to be the best possible boyfriend material in front of her parents. Obviously without them knowing what’s going on!

The way Winter interferes with their relationship is comical. And yet it gives Archie the shove he needs for their romance to take it to the next level. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t the best it could have been. Although, that’s kind of the point of a romance isn’t it? For you to be left going “NOOOO!!!!” about the timing?

When it all finally comes together Camilla was able to surprise me yet again! I won’t spoil it for you, but I wasn’t expected that ending!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Friday I‘ll be reviewing the final book in the Bluebell Castle trilogy, Starlight Over Bluebell Castle by Sarah Bennett. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad.

She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

You can check out Camilla on Bookbub, Pinterest and the below socials.

Giveaway – Win 3 e-copies of the boxset of the first three books in the series First Comes Love (open internationally)


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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Author Interview: Shami Stovall

Hi Shami,

Thank you for taking the time to do a Q&A with me. I was a little upset I’d already committed to as many reviews as I could handle when Dave told me about your book, Knightmare Arcanist, coming on tour. It sounds fascinating so I wanted to get in the tour in any way I could.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say, so I’ll kick off my questions now!

  1. You’ve released the first 4 books since June 2019, how long was this story in your head
    • First off, thank you for having me!
    • It’s a pleasure to be here! In terms of books? The series is set for 7 books and one spin-off of short stories from the viewpoint of other characters.
  2. What was the inspiration for these characters?
    • Each character is a little part of me, but it’s actually a bunch of archetypes I just love to see. Volke is filled with determination, and clashes with the haughty Zaxis. Illia is resourceful, and helps Volke whenever she can—the dynamics are what I love best!
  3. How did you come up with such a unique take on magic and mythical creatures?
    • I really love magical creatures, I have Pokemon to blame! Anything to do with creature companions as well. These are my jam. As for the magic system, I just thought it would be interesting to have magics based on the creatures themselves. Finding the biggest and best creature—the adventure of growing alongside them. So many possibilities!
  4. Which character is your favourite and why?
    • Volke and Zelfree are tied for me. Volke because of his personality. I adore it. And Zelfree because he gets lost in his own failings sometimes—very relatable, at least to me!
  5. Does this series have a finite number of books, or could it go on forever?
    • The series is planned for 7 (plus 1) but I’ve given thought to a sequel series already. Maybe it could go on forever?
  6. Have you got plans for more books in the series?
    • I’m currently writing the fifth book, World Serpent Arcanist. So, yes! Plenty more!
  7. If you could pick any actor to play Volke, who would it be and why?
    • I would probably go with Alex Landi—but maybe someone younger? I think he might be too old now.
  8. Does the cover artwork represent something significant in each book?
    • Yes, definitely! The cover of Knightmare Arcanist has the phoenix and Volke’s black sword!
  9. What are you currently reading? What do you think of it so far?
    • I’m currently reading A Daughter of Blood by Anne Bishop. I love it! This is the third time I’m reading through it.
  10. If you could sum up this book in one sentence to make people read it, what would that sentence be?
    • Probably: a coming-of-age fantasy filled with pirates, mythical creatures, and a plague most foul!

Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions! I hope you had as much fun as I did. And I’m looking forward to reading your books in the future.

Anthea – Proud Book Reviews

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Flying Solo – Zoe May

Welcome back everyone, also, welcome back to the genre of romance! It’s been almost a month since you’ve featured on a Monday review!

This was not the romance I thought it’d be either at the start, or end of the book. How many times can you say that about the romance genre?

The first thing I want to say is any woman dumped by a guy like Paul should be happy. He obviously lacks basic communication skills, so much so, even I wasn’t clear whether he was wanting a “break” or an end to the relationship. And from the blurb it kinda tells you she’s going to be dumped.

I also loved her point of view of things. This was first made clear to me when she made a comment about buying a pair of cheap sunnies coz she’s going to an ashram when she has perfectly fine sunnies already available. Even if they are Burberry.

All her conversations with Seb feel real. They’re both people who think through both sides to something, are willing to grow and question the information they’ve been given. It’s the kind of thing I’d do. I don’t take something as being gospel just because someone “better informed” than me says it. I want to know both sides before making a decision.

I also loved that the main focus of the book wasn’t the romance, even though it kind of was. To me it felt more like a story of self-discovery, building positive relationships with others and recognising what’s truly important to you.

I smashed through this pretty quickly, so it’s not too deep and soul searching. But it scratches the surface and makes you think. In some cases it made me think of how stupid some people can be and that I can totally see some people calling Zoe a racist for describing the colour of someone’s skin even though we can’t build an accurate picture of what someone looks like in our heads without these descriptions.

You can’t help some people. And I don’t know enough about Indian culture and their way of life to comment on that, but I did enjoy the spiritual feeling I got from it. I even got to the end and wished for an epilogue to find out how the non-romance stuff plays out. Zoe, if you’re reading this you know what I mean!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Crazy for Your Love by Lexi Ryan. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Zoe May is an author of romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She worked in journalism and copywriting in London before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

Perfect Match was one of Apple’s top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as ‘a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery – fresh and very funny’.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading! She adores animals and if she’s not taking a photo of a vegan meal, she’s probably tweeting about the dairy industry. She is half Greek and half Irish and can make a mean baklava. Zoe has a thing for horror films, India, swimming, hip hop and Radiohead. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of handbags having spent several years working in fashion copywriting and could probably win Mastermind if this was her specialist subject!

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