Poppy’s Christmas Wishes – Annette Hannah – A Festive Blog Blitz

Today, I’m delighted to be taking part in a festive Blog Bitz for Poppy’s Christmas Wishes, the latest novel by Annette Hannah.

Here is my review of this lovely book, which is full of Christmas magic, romance and friendship:

Having moved miles away from home to be with her boyfriend only to have him break up with her, Poppy is understandably not in the mood for Christmas. Then she meets a genie – well, he’s playing the role of a genie in a pantomime! – who tells her he will do his best to make her three Christmas wishes come true… This was a delightful, feel-good story, that had me hooked from the beginning, and, with its unexpected twists and turns, kept me guessing throughout as to whether Poppy would get her wishes before Christmas comes around again – and without giving away the plot, there was one wish I certainly hoped she wouldn’t get! With an extremely likeable heroine, and a host of well-drawn secondary characters, the book is not only a heart-warming love story, but it is also about friendship and fresh starts – a book that is ideal to curl up with, and not only at Christmas.

Here is an extract from the novel:

Prologue

Breathlessly, they pulled away from each other. He exhaled loudly, adjusted his clothes and helped her dismount from the table.

‘So that’s the kitchen christened, which I believe is a full house.’

‘Oi cheeky.’ She slapped him playfully on the arm and slipped back into her robe, her heart still racing. ‘I don’t think we’ve done it in the airing cupboard yet.’ She laughed.

He gave her a cheeky wink and kissed her on the cheek, raising his arm behind her to check his watch as he did so. ‘I’ve probably got time for a quick coffee before I head off.’ He patted her on the bum on his way past to get his overnight bag.

Poppy had been hoping for a bit of an afterglow moment before normality kicked in, but she knew he needed to get back to Liverpool as he was back in work the next day. She filled the kettle and rinsed out his flask.

‘I wish you didn’t have to go back. It’s so unfair, we should have been moving in together.’

‘I know, I’m sorry but it just couldn’t be helped, they need me up there for just a little while longer. But it’s only a few weeks and it’ll fly by.’ He pulled her over to the living room window and cuddled her from behind, kissing her cheek. ‘Look at that view of Market Square and the amazing fountain.’

‘It is gorgeous, isn’t it? The quaint little shops, a pub on the doorstep, just a stone’s throw away from the river… and so handy for the station so I can get the train home whenever I want to.’ She laughed. ‘I’m beginning to sound like the estate agent now, extolling the virtues of the historical market town of Bramblewood.’

‘I think you’re going to be very happy here.’

‘Don’t you mean we?’ she replied.

‘Yes, of course.’ He walked away from the window, gulped down his coffee and got ready to go.

Poppy’s heart sank.

‘I’m going to miss you.’ She wound her arms around his shoulders and lifted her face to him. He kissed her passionately.

‘You too. Good luck with the new job.’

‘Thank you. Well, it’s the training course first in London. I’m a little bit nervous but I’ll be counting down the days until you join me and then it’s Christmas in New York here we come. I’m so excited for that, it’s going to be amazing.’

‘You’ll be great and I’m sure the time will fly. Bye then.’ He kissed her and went to walk away but came back and pulled her into his arms. ‘I do love you, you know. Always remember that no matter what happens.’

‘Are you OK?’ she asked.

He took a deep breath as though he was about to say something important but then shook his head. ‘I’m fine. Apart from the fact that I’ll miss you a lot.’

‘Aw, I’ll miss you too. Bye then, have a safe trip and text me when you get home.’ After closing the door, she went into the main bedroom, picked up the framed picture of the two of them from the bedside table and hugged it to her chest as she curled up on the sofa to watch a film.

A few days later after completing the training course, she arrived at the office bright and early following a short bus ride from Bramblewood. A lady called Tania showed her to her desk and introduced her to a young man called Dan; the three of them sat next to each other in the corner of the office. Tania showed her where the facilities and the stationery cupboard were and Dan got her a coffee. Poppy had spoken to them both on numerous occasions when she worked at the Liverpool branch, so it was good to finally meet face to face. As she unpacked her bits and pieces into her desk and drawers, she felt that she might like it here after all. She would miss her best friend Layla, with whom she’d worked for years and who had cried buckets when Poppy had left but she’d promised she would visit lots.

‘I can’t believe it’s lunchtime already,’ said Poppy, as Tania invited her to the canteen.

‘Hopefully that means you’re enjoying it so far then if it’s going quickly.’ Tania handed Poppy a tray. ’So, what was it that made you move two hundred miles away from home?’ she asked as they moved their trays along the counter past displays of sandwiches and glass screens showcasing various hot meals.

‘Oh, my boyfriend Ed was offered an amazing job opportunity down here that was simply too good to turn down. It was a huge promotion. He’d been bypassed for the directorship at our branch which he’d been working towards for years, so he was really disappointed about that – devastated, in fact, as it was his dream job. However, this job was a close second. He wasn’t keen on moving but asked me to come with him. I wasn’t so sure as I loved my job and have great friends there. But he eventually managed to persuade me especially when he told me about the New York proposal he had in mind. He suggested this job, so I applied for it and, lucky for me, I got it.’ She placed an egg and cress sandwich on her tray and a cup under the spout of the drinks machine, which after a bit of fiddling around with, soon filled with coffee.

‘Oh, that’s worked out perfectly for you then,’ said Tania. ‘So, when’s he moving down?’ She chose a jacket potato and thanked the lady behind the counter for adding tuna.

‘Well that’s just it, he was meant to move down the same time as me, but his job was delayed until the new year. So as soon as he breaks up for Christmas, we are off to New York to get engaged and then after Christmas, he starts his new job here.’

‘What lovely news and how exciting for you,’ replied Tania.

‘I know, I can’t wait, in less than a month I will have a fiancé and we’ll have moved in together.’

‘What’s his new job?’ asked Tania as she paid for her food.

‘He’s going to be the financial controller,’ Poppy said, her heart bursting with pride.

‘No, he’s not,’ interrupted a woman who pushed Poppy’s tray along the shelf whilst she searched for her purse in her bag. Poppy only just managed to catch the tray before it fell off the end of the counter. The unsmiling woman continued. ‘David Bimble is the new Financial Controller; he starts next Monday.’

‘Well, that’s not true. You must be mistaken?’ said Poppy, her voice caught in her throat as a feeling of nausea washed over her. ‘I was only with Ed the other night; he was saying how much he was looking forward to moving in with me.’ He did say that, didn’t he? She wracked her brains to see whether he had said anything of the sort and realised he’d actually worded his answers very carefully.

‘I can assure you if it’s Ed Casey you’re talking about then he turned the job down last minute and caused me a lot of extra work in admin.’

‘But why would he do that?’ she asked, more to herself than this smug woman.

‘I heard he had a better offer.’ She pushed past Poppy and paid for her food.

‘I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding,’ said Tania, shooting the woman a look as if to say shut up.

Poppy gathered her tray up along with her feelings of confusion and joined Tania who was waiting for her by the till.

‘Britt likes to cause problems, watch out for her as she’s not the nicest. Are you OK? You look a bit pale.’

‘I’m not too sure?’ answered Poppy honestly as prickles of unease crawled down her back.

*

To purchase Poppy’s Christmas Wishes and read more of this enchanting story, please click on the link below:

Poppy’s Christmas Wishes eBook : Hannah, Annette: Amazon.co.uk: Books

Poppy’s Christmas Wishes

What would you wish for if you were granted three wishes? For the first time she can remember, Poppy is dreading Christmas. Unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend after moving across the country for him, there’s nothing cheery about the festive season this year. Dragged to a Christmas ball by best friend Layla, Poppy meets gorgeous actor Gabe, who stars as a genie in a play. When he asks her what three wishes she would make, she realises it’s quite simple: love, a job she’s happy in and, just once in her life, to do something extraordinary. Gabe and Poppy make a pact to help each other make their dreams come true. As they tick off their wishes, their friendship blossoms… But, as they discover, sometimes, what you want for Christmas isn’t necessarily what you need…

A delicious romance to snuggle up with this festive season from the author of Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Café and The Cosy Little Cupcake Van.

About Annette Hannah

Annette Hannah is a Liver Bird who relocated to leafy Hertfordshire in the 80’s and now lives near a river with her husband, two of their three grown up children and a crazy black cocker spaniel. She writes Romantic comedies in settings inspired by the beautiful countryside around her and always with a nod to her hometown.

She worked in Marketing for many years as a qualified Marketeer which she loved as it tapped into her creative side. As an avid reader, she began to review the books she read, became a book blogger and eventually plucked up the courage to fulfil her life long dream of writing a book.

For four years she was a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s new writers’ scheme, during which time she wrote a book a year. After signing a two book deal with Orion Dash in 2020 she graduated to full member of the organisation and is also their Press Officer. She loves long walks along the river, travelling to far flung places and spending time with her friends and family.

You can follow Annette on

twitter @annettehannah

http://www.sincerelybookangels.blogspot.com

http://www.annettehannah.com

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Frost Falls At The Potting Shed – This Writing Life #33 – Jenny Kane

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Jenny Kane with a guest post about garden centres, her writing life and her new novel, Frost Falls At The Potting Shed.

Over to Jenny . . .

Frost Falls at The Potting Shed: This Writing Life

by Jenny Kane

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved garden centres. I’m not particularly green fingered – although I wish I was – but I love being around plants, whether in my own garden or in the countryside. And, of course, within most garden centres, there lurks a café of some sort.

If there is one thing I love more than the natural world – it’s being able to enjoy a good cup of coffee while looking at flowers, shrubs, trees and so on.

And if that coffee is accompanied by toast or a scone…well, that’s heaven for this author.

I visited garden centres regularly as a child. My parents would take me each weekend – treat me to a drink and a cake – and we’d all do a crossword or word puzzle together. This tradition continues to this day, but these days they take their grandchildren instead!

As an adult, I’ve found my own garden centres to love – a particular favourite is The Old Well in Uffculme, Devon. This family run haven is the inspiration behind The Potting Shed. I can be found there at least once a week, happily munching toast, while my husband devours a teacake- watching the world go by. All human life is there! From the regulars who offer cheery greeting, to afternoon tea pensioners, middle aged couples, bored teenagers waiting in the café while their parents shop for shrubs, families trying to install café etiquette into their young children, and beyond.

Then there’s the staff! Always friendly – I know they won’t mind me calling them quirky! Full of fun, they work on in all weathers, and have thus – in their quiet way – formed the basis for the characters of Maddie, Ed, Sabi, Jem, Henry and more – and helped me turn a vague idea I had about setting a novel in a nursery or garden centre into a reality.

Frost Falls At The Potting Shed

From the author of the bestselling Mill Grange series a new exciting series perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Jo Thomas and Trisha Ashley!

It has always been Maddie Willand’s dream to take over her father’s plant nursery. But after his sudden death, she is devastated to discover that she might lose The Potting Shed forever.

Maddie’s bossy older sister, Sabi, is joint owner of the nursery, and she’s convinced that the best thing for both of them would be to sell up. Determined to keep the business going, Maddie can’t afford any distractions, but staying focused might be harder than she thinks when – after a major garden centre chain puts in an offer – her search for legal advice throws her into the path of attractive lawyer Ed…

As frost begins to fall over The Potting Shed, will Maddie find the strength to save her father’s legacy and open herself up to new beginnings?

Here’s a short extract

(Maddie and her sister Sabi, are discussing the future of the nursery with their father)

Prologue

‘That’s settled then.’ Tony smiled as his younger daughter poured a fountain of tea into a row of mismatched china cups. ‘You’ll get the house and nursery Maddie, and Sabi, you’ll inherit your mum’s antique furniture and a portion of the profits from this place.’

Lifting their teacups as one, the Willand family clinked them together.

‘How about a custard cream to seal the deal?’ Maddie waved the regularly refilled biscuit tin towards her father. ‘One or two?’

‘Three.’ Tony laughed as he took a handful of biscuits before passing the tin on to his son-in-law. ‘Grab plenty Henry, or the girls will demolish the lot. I learnt that lesson a long time ago. I once witnessed them consume a packet of chocolate chip cookies in less than two minutes.’

‘A slight exaggeration.’ Maddie grinned at her brother-in-law. ‘We were helping clear The Potting Shed’s far polytunnel. Dad needed it done that day, I can’t remember why now, but there was no time for a lunch break and biscuits were the easiest option.’

‘And we were famished.’ Sabi put her palm up, refusing the offer of a biscuit as the tin continued around the table. ‘Are you sure you want to inherit all that hard work, Mads? I can’t help thinking I got the better deal with Mum’s furniture.’

‘Only because you’ve gone off gardening. Anyway, Mum’s things will look fabulous in your house.’ Maddie gave her sister a hug. ‘I can’t wait to help Dad upgrade The Potting Shed from a nursery to a garden centre.’

‘And I’m delighted to think the place will continue to flourish – or should I say blossom – long after I’ve gone.’ Tony’s habitual smile faded as he stared into his tea. ‘I can’t say discussing changes to my will is a fun way to spend a late Sunday afternoon, but once it’s done we can forget all about it and get on with living.’

‘When do you intend to start upgrading this place?’ Henry flicked through a pile of scrap paper and old envelopes on which Tony and Maddie had scribbled their plans for changing their business – which currently provided seedlings, vegetables, potted bulbs, flowers and herbs to the local shopkeepers and hotels, as well as, at weekends, the general public – into a small garden centre.

‘As soon as possible.’ Tony refilled his teacup. ‘It will take time to build up of course. But, if we are careful not to neglect our current customers, while expanding our range for sale on site, then I know we can do it. Might even have a café eventually.’

‘Sounds fabulous.’ Henry fished another biscuit from the tin.

Quiet for a moment, Tony turned to his daughters. ‘You are both completely sure you’re happy with these arrangements?’

‘Totally.’ Maddie looked at her sister.

‘Absolutely,’ Sabi agreed.

There was a clatter of china against china as Tony dropped his cup back into its saucer. ‘Then tomorrow, I’ll call our solicitor and set the wheels in motion. Then you and I, Maddie, can make a start on our plans.’

*

Many thanks for inviting me over today, Lynne

Thank you, Jenny. Garden centres are some of my favourite places, and I look forward to reading your book.

If you’d like to buy Frost Falls at The Potting Shed, you can find it in paperback and as a download from all good retailers, including…

Amazon UK – Frost Falls at the Potting Shed eBook : Kane, Jenny: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Amazon.com – Frost Falls at the Potting Shed – Kindle edition by Kane, Jenny. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Kobo – Frost Falls at the Potting Shed eBook by Jenny Kane – 9781801101998 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom

Nook – Frost Falls at the Potting Shed by Jenny Kane | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Waterstones – Frost Falls at the Potting Shed by Jenny Kane | Waterstones

About Jenny Kane

‘I love Jenny Kane’s writing.’ Katie Fforde

From the comfort of her cafe corner in Mid Devon, award winning author, Jenny Kane, wrote the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Frost Falls at The Potting Shed, (Aria, 2022), Winter Fires at Mill Grange (Aria, 2021), Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, (Aria 2021), Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange, (Aria, 2020), Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange (Aria, 2020), A Cornish Escape (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020),  A Cornish Wedding (2nd edition, HeadlineAccent, 2020), Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018),  Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016),and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).

(Bluebell Season at The Potting Shed will be published by Aria in March 2023)

Jenny has also written 3 novella length sequels to her Another Cup of… books:  Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent, 2016). These three seasonal specials are now available in one boxed set entitled Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection (Accent, 2016)

Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)

Under the pen name, Jennifer Ash, Jenny has also written The Folville Chronicles (The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw, Edward’s Outlaw, Outlaw Justice – published by Littwitz Press, 2016-2020), The Power of Three (Spiteful Puppet, 2020) and The Meeting Place (Spiteful Puppet, 2019). She has also created five audio scripts for ITV’s popular 1980’s television show, Robin of Sherwood.

The Waterford Boy, Mathilda’s Legacy, The Baron’s Daughter, The Meeting Place and Fitzwarren’s Well were released by Spiteful Puppet in 2017/2018/2019/2020.

Jenny Kane is the writer in residence for Tiverton Costa in Devon. She also co-runs the creative writing business, Imagine. Jenny teaches a wide range of creative writing workshops including her popular ‘Novel in a Year’ course. (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk)

All of Jennifer Ash’s and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk

@JenAshHistory

@JennyKaneAuthor

@Imagine_Writing

Jennifer Ash https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/

Jenny Kane https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011235488766

Imagine www.imaginecreativewriting.co.

A Crisis At Clifftops – Rosie Travers – Armchair Travel #6 – The Isle of Wight

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Rosie Travers to Armchair Travel, with a fab guest post about the Isle of Wight, the location of her cosy crime series featuring amateur sleuth Eliza Kane.

Over to Rosie...

The Isle of Wight

by Rosie Travers

First of all I’d like to thank Lynne for giving me the opportunity to talk about one of my favourite places and the setting for my current cosy mystery series – the Isle of Wight.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve visited this magical little island over the years.  For much of my life I’ve lived within a stone’s throw across the Solent, and to be honest, I probably took the island for granted. It was a destination for childhood holidays and teenage day trips. A short ferry ride and we were “overseas” with sand, sea and sunshine, and all the home comforts of traditional entertainment and tacky kiss-me-quick-amusement arcades. 

It’s only as I’ve got older, I’ve come to appreciate the island’s real charm – the stunning coastal scenery, lush rolling downs, dramatic cliffs, and isolated creeks. Memories of seaside fish and chips and Hi-di-Hi style holiday camps have now been replaced with boutique B&Bs, quaint country pubs and a diverse range of gastronomic delicacies.

The fast-food kiosks and slot machines are there if you want them, but if you can step away from the sandy beaches at Ryde and Sandown, and travel to the lesser known resorts of Seaview, Steephill Cove and Yarmouth, you’ll find yourself in a very different world.

It was the Victorians who first discovered the joys of the Isle of Wight. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert commissioned the building of Osborne House in the north-east corner of the island as their holiday home. And while most people might now associate the island with the annual music festival or Cowes Week sailing, it is also a mecca for fossil hunting enthusiasts, cyclists and walkers.

It was during a family mini-break with our grown up kids over a damp, cold New Year, that I came up with the idea for my cosy mystery series. The esplanade at Shanklin was bleak in the middle of winter; the only signs of life radiated out of a neon-lit dinosaur themed adventure golf course, which bore little resemblance to the simple humps, bumps and windmill mini golf courses I recalled from my childhood. I immediately pictured a tired, jaded professional golfer returning to his home town, cajoled into rejuvenating the family amusement business which had set him on his road to golfing glory…and then turned the idea on its head. My golfer was going to be female, and she was a going to need a lot more than a crazy golf course to keep her busy,

Eliza Kane, my sassy amateur sleuth was born, and as soon as the opening line “my grandmother had picked the perfect day to get arrested” popped into my head, a vintage mystery began to emerge.

A Crisis at Clifftops launched in July 2021 and The Puzzle of Pine Bay, followed in July 2022. Eliza’s third adventure, Trouble on the Tide, is planned for release next summer.

*

Thank you, Rosie, for writing so vividly about the Isle of Wight. It’s many years since I visited the island, and I look forward to re-visiting it in your books.

A Crisis at Clifftops

When Lilian Hathaway is named as the chief suspect in a murder enquiry, her granddaughter Eliza drops everything to rush to her side. After a string of crushing defeats, professional golfer Eliza is facing a career crisis of her own. She seizes the opportunity to hide away with Lilian at Clifftops Hotel, the family’s home on the Isle of Wight, determined to defend her beloved nanna’s innocence. But just how innocent is Lilian?

As the evidence starts to mount up, Eliza turns amateur sleuth in a race to uncover the truth. Family loyalty is stretched to the limits when she discovers a series of events in her grandmother’s past which could have far-reaching consequences, not just for Lilian but also for Clifftops, and Eliza’s own future.

If you would like to purchase A Crisis At Clifftops, please click on the link below or copy and paste into your browser: https://www.amazon.co.uk/ebook/dp/B0975WTWPK/

About Rosie Travers

Rosie Travers grew up in Southampton on the south coast of England. She spent many years working in local government before moving to California in 2009 when her husband took an overseas work assignment. Creating a blog about life as an ex-pat wife, rekindled Rosie’s teenage desire to become an author. On her return to the UK she took a course in Creative Writing and the rest, as they say, is history. Rosie’s first book The Theatre of Dreams was published in 2018. She currently lives on the edge of the New Forest with her husband Neil and her cat Ed.

Website: www.rosietravers.com

Twitter: @RosieTravers

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosietraversauthor/

Instagram: rosietraversauthor

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rosie-Travers/e/B07CVZ2CQ5/

RNA: https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/rosie-travers/

The Famous City of Bath – The Ladies of Carson Street trilogy – Rachel Brimble – Armchair Travel #5

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Rachel Brimble with a guest post about Bath, the setting for her Ladies of Carson Street Trilogy.

Over to Rachel…

In 2001 my husband and I moved to a small market town just a short 30-minute drive from Bath, along with our eldest daughter who was two and our youngest daughter who was happily whiling away the time in my belly!

Back then, writing was little more than a pipedream I’d harboured since I was eight or nine. Yet, once we were living so close to Bath it quickly became my one of favourite places to visit and all sorts of story ideas began to float around in my mind.

I didn’t start writing properly until my youngest started school full-time in 2005. As a voracious reader of historical fiction and romance and a huge fan of period drama, to be so close to where so many famous film and TV scenes have been filmed is a constant thrill. Bath has been used for BBC adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey and films such as The Duchess, Vanity Fair and Harry Potter. Most recently, it has featured in seasons one and two of super-fabulous Bridgerton.

One of my favourite places to visit is No 1 Royal Crescent, which is open to the public for most of the year. As well as the wonderful rooms, it has a fantastic staircase, immaculately restored kitchens and a small yard all being shown as they would have looked in the mid-late eighteenth century. This house has been used several times in my books albeit in different guises! Other famous Bath landmarks I have used in my books are Pulteney Bridge, Parade Gardens, Victoria Park, the Assembly Rooms, the Pump room and many of the pubs dotted around the city, some of which date back to early fourteenth century.

Every September, Bath hosts the Jane Austen festival will draws Janeites from all over the world. The events list is immense and varies from tours around the city and nearby Lacock, to balls, regency markets and book readings. It’s two weeks of Jane Austen and Regency fun which culminates in the grand Regency Parade. Actors and the public dress up in Regency costume, including military uniforms, day dresses, ball gowns and clerical dress to walk thought the city. The events list is available now if you are tempted – I will definitely be there on the 10th! (https://janeausten.co.uk/pages/festival-2022-overview)

It was during the winter 2019, that I was walking along North Parade, a beautiful row of Georgian townhouses opposite Parade Gardens, and Carson Street was ignited in my imagination. This would be where my heroines, Louisa, Nancy and Octavia lived and worked together. As the series unfolds amid the backstreets of Bath with only a spattering of the more upmarket places featuring in the books’ pages, I spent a lot of time walking through the lesser explored streets and back alleys and it really solidified the themes and characters in my mind.

The Ladies of Carson Street trilogy is extremely special to me in that its inspiration arose from my reading of The Five by Hallie Rubenhold. An amazing non-fiction book on the lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims. It led me to want to write about three very different women and how they became prostitutes and also give them a story which would lead to each finding their happy ever after.

All three books in the series are available on Amazon, but here’s the blurb and buy link for book 1…happy reading!

A Widow’s Vow

From grieving widow…

1851. After her merchant husband saved her from a life of prostitution, Louisa Hill was briefly happy as a housewife in Bristol. But then a constable arrives at her door. Her husband has been found hanged in a Bath hotel room, a note and a key to a property in Bath the only things she has left of him. And now the debt collectors will come calling.

To a new life as a madam.

Forced to leave everything she knows behind, Louisa finds more painful betrayals waiting for her in the house in Bath. Left with no means of income, Louisa knows she has nothing to turn to but her old way of life. But this time, she’ll do it on her own terms – by turning her home into a brothel for upper class gentleman. And she’s determined to spare the girls she saves from the street the horrors she endured in the past.

Enlisting the help of Jacob Jackson, a quiet but feared boxer, to watch over the house, Louisa is about to embark on a life she never envisaged. Can she find the courage to forge this new path? 

A Widow’s Vow is the first in a gripping and gritty new Victorian saga series from Rachel Brimble. You won’t be able to put it down.

BUY LINK: https://geni.us/sHuF

Thank you, Rachel, for a very interesting guest post. I look forward to reading A Widow’s Vow and to visiting Bath with a book.

Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of 29 novels, including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girls series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin). Her latest novel, Victoria & Violet, is the first book in her new Royal Maids series with the Wild Rose Press and releases 17th October 2022.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.

To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here: https://bit.ly/3zyH7dt

Website: https://bit.ly/3wH7HQs

Twitter: https://bit.ly/3AQvK0A

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A Meet Cute in Rome – Rome For The Summer – Lynne Shelby – ArmchairTravel #4

One of my favourite things to write is the ‘meet cute’ when the heroine and hero of a romantic novel set eyes on each other for the first time. In my new novel, Rome For The Summer, Kate, let down by her (now ex) boyfriend, escapes to Rome and a new job in The English House in the Piazza di Spagna. On her first day in Rome, she meets artist Jamie . . .

I was trying to decide whether it was too early for me to knock – a glance at my watch told me that it was only twenty past nine – when the small inset door swung open and a young woman, maybe a couple of years older than me, stepped out. With a mass of dark curls falling half-way down her back and a curvaceous figure, I’d have described her as beautiful if it wasn’t for the scowl marring her face. As I watched, she turned and shouted angrily in Italian through the doorway, swept past me – so close that I had to jump back or she’d have bowled me over – and stalked off across the piazza, vanishing into the crowds. An instant later, a guy, roughly the same age as the woman, appeared in the open doorway, his face glowering and unshaven, his very dark hair sticking up as if he’d just got out of bed. Both the black T-shirt and the denim shorts he was wearing were liberally splattered with paint.

‘Lucia –’ he shouted, his gaze rapidly scanning the piazza, until it came to rest on me. ‘Vuoi visitare la Casa Inglese? he said, with a frown. ‘Are you wanting to visit the English House?’

‘I’m –’ I began.

‘We don’t open until ten,’ he snapped, interrupting me. ‘You can book a guided tour on-line.’

‘Oh, no, I’m –’ Before I could explain that I wasn’t in fact a tourist but a new employee, he’d gone inside the house and slammed the door. If I hadn’t realised that I’d inadvertently managed to barge into the middle of someone else’s drama, likely a lovers’ tiff, I’d have been more than a little annoyed. As it was, I stood staring up at the house, unsure what to do next. Doubting that my knocking would bring the guy back until the appointed hour for opening the house to the public – and not wanting to irritate or get off on the wrong foot with someone who, it seemed, was one of my future co-workers, especially as he was obviously not in the best of moods – I retreated to the centre of the square. A brief consultation of my guide book reminded me that the Piazza di Spagna was the site of the famous Spanish Steps, which seemed as good a place as any to while away the next half hour.

Heading towards the point in the piazza where the crowds were thickest, I came to a broad, sweeping, white stone stairway that ascended up a steep slope in a series of terraces, with a fountain at its foot – La Barcaccia, according to my guide book, and designed to look like a sinking boat – and a church, gleaming white against the clear blue sky, at its top. Skirting past the cluster of tourists blocking my view of the fountain, and picking my way carefully through the people sprawled on the steps – couples taking photographs and chatting in a variety of languages, a group of back-packers – I climbed up as far as the first terrace and sat down on the sun-warmed stone. From here, I could see that the fountain was indeed shaped like a boat with water leaking from its sides, which made me smile.

I took a panoramic photo of the piazza on my phone, and then, because I still had half an hour or so before I could go back to the English House, pushed my sunglasses onto the top of my head, fished my sketchbook out of my bag and, resting it on my knees, started to draw the scene in front of me, surprised at how natural it felt to hold a pencil after such a long time – and relieved that the cut on my hand had left me with no lasting damage other than a vivid scar across my palm. I was quite pleased with the way the fountain turned out, although when I attempted to draw the people gathered around it, I soon remembered the limitations of my artistic ability.

A shadow fell across my sketchbook, and a male voice said, ‘Is your name, by any chance, Kate Harper?’

I looked up, shading my eyes with my hand, and saw a tall, broad-shouldered, dark-haired man standing next right to me – I’d been too absorbed in my drawing to notice him until he spoke. At first I didn’t recognize him, but then he took off his sunglasses, and I realised that he was the guy who’d so abruptly turned me away from the English House, although he’d replaced his paint-splattered clothes with a white T-shirt and jeans. He was, I thought, quite good-looking – now that he wasn’t glaring at me. I wondered if he was English or Italian.

‘Yes, I’m Kate,’ I said.

‘I’m Jamie,’ he said. ‘Jamie Taylor. I work at the English House.’

‘I guessed as much,’ I said. ‘Good to meet you, Jamie. Properly, I mean. I know we’ve already met…sort of.’ Definitely English, I thought, with that name.

‘Yeah, so we did,’ Jamie said. ‘Ah – this is awkward – but I owe you an apology. I was unpardonably rude to you just now. It was only when I spotted you sitting up here that it occurred to me that you just might possibly be the girl starting work with us today.’ He ran his hand through his unruly hair. ‘I am so sorry. You caught me at a bad time – not that it’s any excuse. I hope you’ll forgive me.’ His gaze caught mine, and held it, and I saw that his eyes were a warm brown flecked with gold, fringed with thick dark lashes, and with laughter lines in the corner. If I had been mad at him – which I wasn’t – I doubted very much that I’d have been able to stay mad with those beautiful brown eyes gazing at me so soulfully.

‘It’s fine,’ I said. ‘Please don’t worry about it. I could see you were in the middle of something.’

‘So I’m forgiven?’

‘Nothing to forgive,’ I said, with a smile. Jamie smiled back, and then sat down beside me on the step.

‘You’re an artist?’ he asked, nodding at my sketchbook.

‘No, I’m really not,’ I said. ‘This is the first time I’ve picked up a pencil in years.’

‘May I see what you’ve drawn?’ He held out his hand.

Oh – I don’t think so,’ I began. Then it occurred to me that the guy was trying very hard to make up for the way he’d behaved earlier, and refusing to show him my drawing was not exactly friendly. ‘OK,’ I said, passing him my sketchbook, ‘but I have to warn you that it’s not very good.’

Holding the sketchbook at arms’ length, Jamie regarded my drawing in a silence that lasted long enough for me to wondered if it was so bad that he was having trouble thinking of anything positive to say about it. Then he looked at me and smiled.

‘I like it,’ he said. ‘You should frame it, and then whenever you look at it, you’ll remember your first morning in Italy.’

I felt absurdly pleased, even though I knew he was only being polite. ‘Thanks,’ I said.

‘May I borrow a pencil?’

Bemused, I handed him a pencil and he turned my sketchbook to a new page.

‘Can you turn your head – not your body – towards me?’ he said. I did as he asked. ‘Now don’t move. I won’t keep you long.’ He studied my face for a moment, and then started to draw, his hand moving rapidly over the paper, looking back at me once or twice, before passing the sketchbook and pencil back to me.

I looked at his drawing and gasped. With just a few strokes of the pencil, he’d captured my likeness, sitting there on the Spanish Steps in Rome.

‘Oh my goodness,’ I said. ‘That’s brilliant. Thank you so much.’

‘My pleasure,’ Jamie said. ‘And now, as it’s almost ten o’clock, I’d better let you get back to the English House.’ He rose to his feet. Having stowed my sketchbook safely in my bag, I stood up also, and together we walked down the steps.

‘I’m not actually working today,’ he said, when we reached the bottom, ‘but I’ve a class tomorrow, so I’ll see you then.’

I thought, a class? I’d assumed he was a guide like me. Then, slowly, realisation dawned. ‘Jamie,’ I said, ‘what work is it that you do at the English House?’

‘I’m the artist in residence,’ Jamie said. ‘Literally in residence. I live in the apartment on the ground floor.’

With a smile, he spun on his heel, and vanished into the crowd.

Rome For The Summer

Kate Harper has always loved the painting that has hung in her parents’ dining room for years, never suspecting that it is worth a fortune. When her art dealer boyfriend cheats her family out of the proceeds of the painting’s sale, she is left devastated and alone.

Kate discovers that two hundred years ago, the girl in the painting, Charlotte Browne, ran off to Rome with the artist who painted her portrait, but her eventual fate is unknown.

Hoping to uncover the mystery of what happened to Charlotte, Kate seizes the chance of a summer job in Rome, where she strikes up a friendship with Jamie Taylor, an English artist. As they explore the city and start to piece together the surprising secrets of Charlotte’s life, Kate finds herself wondering if a summer in Rome can mend a broken heart…

Purchase link:

Rome for the Summer: A feel-good, escapist summer romance about finding love and following your heart eBook : Shelby, Lynne: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

An Interview With Sandy Barker – A Wedding In Tuscany – Armchair Travel #3

Today I’m delighted to be chatting with Sandy Barker whose latest novel, A Wedding In Tuscany, the fifth book in her Holiday Romance series, whisks readers away to beautiful Italy …

Me: Hi Sandy, and welcome to Armchair Travel. Can you tell us what inspired you to write A Wedding in Tuscany?

Sandy: Hi Lynne. I knew some time ago that I wanted to bring all the characters from this series back together for one final story. This is Book #5, and includes the protagonists from Books 1-4, Sarah and Cat Parsons, and Cat’s friend, Jaelee Tan.

I had originally planned to set this story in France – we were supposed to travel to wine country in 2020 during a European trip and I was going to set this story there. Then, when we couldn’t travel anywhere, I had to consider where I could write that would feel as authentic as my other books, as I only write places I have lived in or visited enough times to make the setting authentic.

And the answer was Tuscany!

It was a destination on the tours I ran in my 20s, so I knew a lot of the ‘city states’ as they’re called – Orvieto, San Gimignano, Sienna – but I decided to set the book in a town called Montespertoli. That’s where we stayed in 2016 when we travelled to Italy with my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. We stayed in an apartment at a castle( yes, really!) – it was a converted outbuilding and as well as being a castle, the property was a winery. Much of my description of the accommodation in the book is based on the castle, but I changed its name.

And Tuscany is such a beautiful part of the world. We have so many wonderful memories from there, so it ended up being the perfect setting for this book.

Me: What do you love most about being an author?

Sandy: Hearing from readers who have loved my books. It still feels surreal to me that there are thousands of people around the world reading and enjoying my stories. So, if you have read something of mine that you’ve enjoyed, I’d love to hear from you – tag me on social media or send me a message. You will make my day.

Me: What has been your author highlight over the past year?

Sandy: ‘Re-starting’ the Holiday Romance series. There was a 20-month gap between Books 3 and 4 (due to shifts in publishing schedules and other factors) and it has been wonderful seeing readers pick up that series again.

Me: What are you working on now?

Sandy: I have just finished The Christmas Swap 2: The May Ladies’ Christmas, which is out this October. Draft #2 will be off to my publisher, One More Chapter, by the end of the month and it is currently on my agent’s desk. Once that’s done, I will be working on launching this book (Tuscany) and drafting an outline for my next series (very excited about this one).

Me: What do you hope readers will take away from A Wedding in Tuscany?

Sandy: For readers of the series, I hope they will feel like it is a resolution – that they know where everyone ends up and can then imagine their futures clearly. For all readers, I hope it is a chance to escape, to laugh and to armchair travel. There are some deeper themes in this book, although (as usual) handled with a lighter touch, so it may also be an opportunity for some readers to reflect on their own lives.

Thank you so much for having me and thank you so much for being an early reader of A Wedding in Tuscany. As someone who admires you and loves your books, it means the world to me.

Me: I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Wedding In Tuscany and meeting up again with not only Cat and Sarah, but also the other characters we have come to know and love over the Holiday Romance series. The book really is a fabulous finale to the Parson sisters’ story.

Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog.

A Wedding In Tuscany

The Parsons sisters are all loved up.

Sarah is living in Sydney with Josh and their cat, Domino, but is anxious about her fast-approaching fortieth birthday.

And Cat is still living in London with her flatmate, Jane, but is in a long-distance relationship with Jean-Luc, her childhood sweetheart and recently re-discovered love.

One of the sisters receives a surprise wedding proposal – it’s a yes! – and everyone heads off to Tuscany for a destination wedding.

Reunite with favourite characters from the Holiday Romance series in one of the most beautiful locations yet for love, laughter, wedding vows, and just a smidge of sisterly mayhem.

Out June 2022 (ebook) and September 2022 (print).

To purchase A Wedding In Tuscany, please click (CTRL + right click) the links below:

Amazon UK | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks | Nook

Waterstones | Foyles

About Sandy Barker:

Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob.

Sandy lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the five-book Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins.

The series continues in Paris, Sydney, and Bali with Tuscany the final destination in the series. Sandy’s standalone novel The Christmas Swap celebrates her favourite time of the year, and her romcom, The Dating Game, is set in the (fascinating) world of Reality TV.

For more information about Sandy and her books, and to follow her on social media:

Twitter: @sandybarker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandybarkerauthor

Website: https://sandybarker.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sandybarkerauthor/

The Spanish Wedding Disaster – Karen King – Armchair Travel #2 – Andalucia, Costa Del Sol, Spain

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Karen King to Armchair Travel. Karen lives in Andalucia, on the Costa del Sol in Spain, the setting for her new novel, The Spanish Wedding Disaster, which is published on 16 June.

Over to Karen . . .

The Spanish Wedding Disaster is my third romance novel set in Spain, and as with my previous two novels The Year of Starting Over and Never Say Forever, it features places I have personally visited and some of my own experiences. Four and half years ago, I moved, with my husband, Dave, from the UK to Andalucía, Spain, where The Spanish Wedding Disaster is set.  We live in a rustic house in the campo with a pool and many fruit trees about an hour’s drive from Estepona, where the beach ceremony in TSWD takes place.

Kate and Steve’s legal wedding service takes place in Gibraltar, a place I have been to many times. Because it is British territory, many British people living in Spain go to Gibraltar to get married. We were witnesses at the wedding of some dear friends there a couple of years ago, so I am familiar with the ceremony. The wedding dance scene in the registry office in the story is taken (with permission) from their wedding. It was such a sweet, poignant moment that I wanted to feature it in the story.

Gibraltar is a fascinating place, steeped in history, and has been British territory since the 1700s. It always seems strange to drive over from mainland Spain then step out into ‘little England’ with its red telephone kiosks and post-boxes. Many expats regularly take a coach trip to Gibraltar to go shopping in the familiar shops of Morrisons, Marks&Spencers, and Boots, although there are, of course, more restrictions on what we can bring through Customs since Brexit.

A couple of years ago, along with my daughter and two grandchildren, we stayed overnight on a gorgeous yacht hotel in the Marina by Ocean Village in Gibraltar. It was similar to the one Kate and Steve stay on in the book. Like Kate, Steve, Maddie, Sophie and Josh, we went on a tour of St Michael’s Caves, The Great Siege Tunnels, World War II tunnels, Europa Point, saw the Barbary Apes and went on the famous Skywalk.  We also went on a dolphin sightseeing boat trip and were delighted when the dolphins leapt joyfully out of the water in front of us, some of them swimming alongside the boat as it cruised through the water. It was such a wonderful sight.

A few months ago we went on the popular Caminito del Rey walk high above the Guadalhorce Valley. Like Maddie, I am not good with heights and spent most of the walk fearfully clutching to the wire along the cliff walls as I inched along the pathway. The views – if you’re brave enough to look down – are breath-taking and I am chuffed that I managed the complete walk despite my fears.

Andalucía is a beautiful region and the perfect setting for a romance novel. Writing The Spanish Wedding Disaster brought back many lovely memories for me of the places we have been to and the things we have seen. I hope readers enjoy it.

*

Adalucia sounds a fabulous place, Karen, and as you say, a wonderful location for a romantic novel. Thank you for writing such a fascinating guest blog. I’m looking forward to reading The Spanish Wedding Disaster and being whisked off to Spain.

The Spanish Wedding Disaster

Some people are romantics. Some aren’t. When Sophie and Maddie are summoned to a mysterious, top-secret meeting by their best friend Kate’s partner, and told that he’s planning to whisk Kate away for a surprise wedding in Gibraltar, it’s immediately clear that bubbly florist Sophie is a total romantic. And that freewheeling, purple-haired Maddie is not. Soon, Maddie finds herself reluctantly organising venues, planners and ceremonies; trying not to think of her own memories of Andalucía, and those she’s lost touch with there. Meanwhile Sophie’s hoping this dreamy gesture might spur on her own boyfriend to similar plans . . . and absolutely not thinking at all about Kate’s gorgeous brother-in-law-to-be. But Kate’s got no idea what’s going on. And as the stress piles up and the group jet off to the sunny south, it seems it’s not just Kate who might get a surprise in Spain – one that could change everything . . .

To purchase The Spanish Wedding Disaster, please right click on the link:

The Spanish Wedding Disaster: The escapist summer romance you will fall in love with! eBook : King, Karen: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. She has had eleven romantic novels published, two psychological thrillers (with another one out in July, and one in February 2023), 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her thrillers, The Perfect Stepmother and The Stranger in my Bed and her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became Amazon bestsellers. Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors, the Crime Writers’ Association and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

For more information about Karen and her books, please click on the following link:

https://linktr.ee/KarenKing

Not Just For Christmas – Poppy’s Christmas Wishes – Annette Hannah

While Poppy’s Christmas Wishes by Annette Hannah does feature a Christmas pantomime, this feel-good festive novel can be read with great enjoyment at any time of the year. Here is an extract:

Prologue

Breathlessly, they pulled away from each other. He exhaled loudly, adjusted his clothes and helped her dismount from the table.

‘So that’s the kitchen christened, which I believe is a full house.’

‘Oi cheeky.’ She slapped him playfully on the arm and slipped back into her robe, her heart still racing. ‘I don’t think we’ve done it in the airing cupboard yet.’ She laughed.

He gave her a cheeky wink and kissed her on the cheek, raising his arm behind her to check his watch as he did so. ‘I’ve probably got time for a quick coffee before I head off.’ He patted her on the bum on his way past to get his overnight bag.

Poppy had been hoping for a bit of an afterglow moment before normality kicked in, but she knew he needed to get back to Liverpool as he was back in work the next day. She filled the kettle and rinsed out his flask.

‘I wish you didn’t have to go back. It’s so unfair, we should have been moving in together.’

‘I know, I’m sorry but it just couldn’t be helped, they need me up there for just a little while longer. But it’s only a few weeks and it’ll fly by.’ He pulled her over to the living room window and cuddled her from behind, kissing her cheek. ‘Look at that view of Market Square and the amazing fountain.’

‘It is gorgeous, isn’t it? The quaint little shops, a pub on the doorstep, just a stone’s throw away from the river… and so handy for the station so I can get the train home whenever I want to.’ She laughed. ‘I’m beginning to sound like the estate agent now, extolling the virtues of the historical market town of Bramblewood.’

‘I think you’re going to be very happy here.’

‘Don’t you mean we?’ she replied.

‘Yes, of course.’ He walked away from the window, gulped down his coffee and got ready to go.

Poppy’s heart sank.

‘I’m going to miss you.’ She wound her arms around his shoulders and lifted her face to him. He kissed her passionately.

‘You too. Good luck with the new job.’

‘Thank you. Well, it’s the training course first in London. I’m a little bit nervous but I’ll be counting down the days until you join me and then it’s Christmas in New York here we come. I’m so excited for that, it’s going to be amazing.’

‘You’ll be great and I’m sure the time will fly. Bye then.’ He kissed her and went to walk away but came back and pulled her into his arms. ‘I do love you, you know. Always remember that no matter what happens.’

‘Are you OK?’ she asked.

He took a deep breath as though he was about to say something important but then shook his head. ‘I’m fine. Apart from the fact that I’ll miss you a lot.’

‘Aw, I’ll miss you too. Bye then, have a safe trip and text me when you get home.’ After closing the door, she went into the main bedroom, picked up the framed picture of the two of them from the bedside table and hugged it to her chest as she curled up on the sofa to watch a film.

A few days later after completing the training course, she arrived at the office bright and early following a short bus ride from Bramblewood. A lady called Tania showed her to her desk and introduced her to a young man called Dan; the three of them sat next to each other in the corner of the office. Tania showed her where the facilities and the stationery cupboard were and Dan got her a coffee. Poppy had spoken to them both on numerous occasions when she worked at the Liverpool branch, so it was good to finally meet face to face. As she unpacked her bits and pieces into her desk and drawers, she felt that she might like it here after all. She would miss her best friend Layla, with whom she’d worked for years and who had cried buckets when Poppy had left but she’d promised she would visit lots.

‘I can’t believe it’s lunchtime already,’ said Poppy, as Tania invited her to the canteen.

‘Hopefully that means you’re enjoying it so far then if it’s going quickly.’ Tania handed Poppy a tray. ’So, what was it that made you move two hundred miles away from home?’ she asked as they moved their trays along the counter past displays of sandwiches and glass screens showcasing various hot meals.

‘Oh, my boyfriend Ed was offered an amazing job opportunity down here that was simply too good to turn down. It was a huge promotion. He’d been bypassed for the directorship at our branch which he’d been working towards for years, so he was really disappointed about that – devastated, in fact, as it was his dream job. However, this job was a close second. He wasn’t keen on moving but asked me to come with him. I wasn’t so sure as I loved my job and have great friends there. But he eventually managed to persuade me especially when he told me about the New York proposal he had in mind. He suggested this job, so I applied for it and, lucky for me, I got it.’ She placed an egg and cress sandwich on her tray and a cup under the spout of the drinks machine, which after a bit of fiddling around with, soon filled with coffee.

‘Oh, that’s worked out perfectly for you then,’ said Tania. ‘So, when’s he moving down?’ She chose a jacket potato and thanked the lady behind the counter for adding tuna.

‘Well that’s just it, he was meant to move down the same time as me, but his job was delayed until the new year. So as soon as he breaks up for Christmas, we are off to New York to get engaged and then after Christmas, he starts his new job here.’

‘What lovely news and how exciting for you,’ replied Tania.

‘I know, I can’t wait, in less than a month I will have a fiancé and we’ll have moved in together.’

‘What’s his new job?’ asked Tania as she paid for her food.

‘He’s going to be the financial controller,’ Poppy said, her heart bursting with pride.

‘No, he’s not,’ interrupted a woman who pushed Poppy’s tray along the shelf whilst she searched for her purse in her bag. Poppy only just managed to catch the tray before it fell off the end of the counter. The unsmiling woman continued. ‘David Bimble is the new Financial Controller; he starts next Monday.’

‘Well, that’s not true. You must be mistaken?’ said Poppy, her voice caught in her throat as a feeling of nausea washed over her. ‘I was only with Ed the other night; he was saying how much he was looking forward to moving in with me.’ He did say that, didn’t he? She wracked her brains to see whether he had said anything of the sort and realised he’d actually worded his answers very carefully.

‘I can assure you if it’s Ed Casey you’re talking about then he turned the job down last minute and caused me a lot of extra work in admin.’

‘But why would he do that?’ she asked, more to herself than this smug woman.

‘I heard he had a better offer.’ She pushed past Poppy and paid for her food.

‘I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding,’ said Tania, shooting the woman a look as if to say shut up.

Poppy gathered her tray up along with her feelings of confusion and joined Tania who was waiting for her by the till.

‘Britt likes to cause problems, watch out for her as she’s not the nicest. Are you OK? You look a bit pale.’

‘I’m not too sure?’ answered Poppy honestly as prickles of unease crawled down her back.

* * *

What would you wish for if you were granted three wishes? For the first time she can remember, Poppy is dreading Christmas. Unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend after moving across the country for him, there’s nothing cheery about the festive season this year. Dragged to a Christmas ball by best friend Layla, Poppy meets gorgeous actor Gabe, who stars as a genie in a play. When he asks her what three wishes she would make, she realises it’s quite simple: love, a job she’s happy in and, just once in her life, to do something extraordinary. Gabe and Poppy make a pact to help each other make their dreams come true. As they tick off their wishes, their friendship blossoms… But, as they discover, sometimes, what you want for Christmas isn’t necessarily what you need…

A delicious romance from the author of Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Café and The Cosy Little Cupcake Van.

To purchase Poppy’s Christmas Wishes, please follow the link below:

Poppy’s Christmas Wishes eBook : Hannah, Annette: Amazon.co.uk: Books

About Annette Hannah

Annette Hannah is a Liver Bird who relocated to leafy Hertfordshire in the 80’s and now lives near a river with her husband, two of their three grown up children and a crazy black cocker spaniel. She writes Romantic comedies in settings inspired by the beautiful countryside around her and always with a nod to her hometown.

She worked in Marketing for many years as a qualified Marketeer which she loved as it tapped into her creative side. As an avid reader, she began to review the books she read, became a book blogger and eventually plucked up the courage to fulfil her life long dream of writing a book.

For four years she was a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s new writers’ scheme, during which time she wrote a book a year. After signing a two book deal with Orion Dash in 2020 she graduated to full member of the organisation and is also their Press Officer. She loves long walks along the river, travelling to far flung places and spending time with her friends and family.

You can follow her on

twitter @annettehannah

http://www.sincerelybookangels.blogspot.com

http://www.annettehannah.com

A Staycation Story – Rosie Travers – This Writing Life #32

Today, I’m delighted to host a guest post from Rosie Travers…

A Staycation Story

Rosie Travers

One thing the enforced lockdowns over the last twenty months or so seem to have taught us all, is to appreciate our local surroundings. How many of us noticed things about our immediate neighbourhood we’d never noticed before?   An unusual building, or an area of wasteland transformed into a thriving wild-flower meadow? To me, the idea of finding inspiration on my doorstep isn’t that new.

I’ve just relaunched my debut novel, The Theatre of Dreams, the story of an unlikely trio of characters who form an uneasy alliance in a campaign to preserve an iconic seaside pavilion. The original idea for the story came from a blustery walk along the sea front in Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire back in 2016 when I stopped to read an information plaque on the seafront. I grew up less than ten miles from Lee-on-the-Solent, but it was only on this walk that I learned about the town’s historic art deco entertainment complex which had been built on the promenade in 1935 and demolished less than forty years later. The site is now a carpark. I had no idea the building had ever existed.

My imagination was well and truly captured. I wondered why the vast complex, with its 120 foot observation tower, cinema, restaurant and ballroom, hadn’t been saved for prosperity. Later research revealed the building had been a loss-making white elephant ever since its construction, and had undergone many transformations before the local council decided to demolish what had become a neglected eyesore in 1971.  

My writer’s brain was soon buzzing.  The wonderful thing about writing fiction is being able to incorporate snippets of real life into an imaginary world and adding our own happy endings. I invented my own unfashionable south coast town, Hookes Bay, and created my own art-deco pavilion, which had once been a glorious seaside theatre but had closed its doors for the last time as a seedy nightclub, and now stood in the way of a prime seafront property re-development.

Naturally the plot to save my pavilion had to be far more interesting than a simple quest to raise funds and canvas the local council. Readers deserved something far more entertaining! In no time at all I had come up with a trio of main characters, Kitty, the pavilion’s elderly owner desperate to cling onto her family’s legacy, Tara, the disgraced actress unwittingly recruited to help her out, and Dominic, a building conservationist, reluctantly caught up in Kitty’s convoluted campaign.

Despite their differences, Kitty and Tara are both passionate about ensuring performing arts are available to all members of the local community. That accessibility is one of the more serious themes running through the book and seems quite apt in the current climate. If ever there was an industry which needs our support right now, it’s live entertainment.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend time living overseas, and travel to some amazing places, but The Theatre of Dreams is living proof we don’t have to stray too far from home to find the spark to ignite a story.

Thank you, Rosie, for writing such a fab guest post and giving us an insight into your writing life. I look forward to reading The Theatre of Dreams.

The Theatre of Dreams

Musical theatre actress Tara is down on her luck and in desperate need of a job. When octogenarian Kitty invites her to take over the running of her former dance academy in the old-fashioned resort of Hookes Bay, Tara thinks she’s found her guardian angel. However, it soon becomes apparent Kitty is being far from benevolent as Tara becomes unwittingly embroiled in the old lady’s elaborate plot to save her family’s derelict seaside pavilion. When Tara finds herself falling for Dominic, the dedicated conservationist who shares Kitty’s passion, if not her motives, for restoring the old seafront theatre, she realises saving the pavilion could also provide the chance to salvage her career. But only if she can pull off the performance of a life-time…

About Rosie Travers

Rosie Travers grew up in Southampton on the south coast of England. She spent many years working in local government before becoming a lady of leisure when her husband took an overseas work assignment in California in 2009. She began a blog about life as an ex-pat wife which rekindled a teenage desire to become a writer. Now back in the UK, Rosie lives with her husband Neil and cat Ed on the edge of the New Forest.

Rosie’s novels are inspired by the landscape and cultural history of her native south coast and contain sprinklings of mystery and dashes of romance. Her debut, The Theatre of Dreams was first published in August 2018 and was a contender for the RNA Joan Hessayon award. In July 2021 she published A Crisis at Clifftops, the first in a series of humorous cosy mysteries set in the Isle of Wight featuring a former pro-golfer turned amateur sleuth, Eliza Kane.

For more information about Rosie and her books, please click on the links below:

Website: www.rosietravers.com

Twitter: @RosieTravers

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosietraversauthor/

Instagram: rosietraversauthor

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rosie-Travers/e/B07CVZ2CQ5/

RNA: https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/rosie-travers/

To purchase Rosie’s books, please click on the links below:

The Theatre of Dreams https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B084C5753Y/

Your Secret’s Safe With Me https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09HV7Z5TR/

A Crisis at Clifftops https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0975WTWPK/

The Best Christmas Ever – Karen King – Blog Tour

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Karen King’s wonderful Christmas novel, The Best Christmas Ever, which is published on 7 October. Here is an extract from the beginning of the book…

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Well, that was school finished for a couple of weeks, Lexi Forde thought as she started up her car. She loved her job as a primary school teacher at Rudcup Primary but it was very demanding and, whilst the run-up to Christmas was rewarding and fun, it was crazily busy. She was glad to have a couple of weeks off now and was looking forward to catching up with her family down in Devon. This is going to be the best Christmas ever! My first one with Ben, and the whole Forde family together again.She waved to some pupils she passed walking up the hill with their parents, then turned right to head for the shopping centre. She wanted to get some new fairy lights so that she could put up the Christmas tree at the weekend, and buy a couple more presents for her boyfriend, Ben. She’d already bought him a Ferrari drive experience – she knew he would love that – and a retro arcade machine, which her best friend, Fern, was keeping in her spare bedroom so that Ben didn’t stumble across it. There wasn’t much room to hide anything in their one-bedroom flat. And she had just finished the Christmas jumper she’d secretly been knitting while he was working late. She wasn’t sure if Christmas jumpers were Ben’s thing, but all her family would be wearing one so she hoped he would join in the festive spirit and don it for the day. This Christmas was going to be so special because her elder brother, Jay, and his family were coming over for a visit. She hadn’t seen Jay since he went to work in Canada five years ago or met his wife Sonia and their three-year-old son, Toby. They’d video called, of course, which was great, but it wasn’t the same as seeing them in the flesh. Her younger brother, Ryan, would be there too, with his girlfriend, Nell. And Granny Mabe, who had moved in with Lexi’s parents a few years ago when Grandpa Huey had died. Luckily, Lexi’s parents’ sprawling four-bedroom detached house, with the garage conversion for Granny Mabe, was big enough to put them all up. It would be a fun-filled Christmas and Lexi was longing to see them all again. Especially after last year when she couldn’t travel to Devon because of the Covid restrictions. Unfortunately, Ben didn’t finish work until midday on Christmas Eve and he had to return the day after Boxing Day, but at least they would all be together for Christmas Day…

Thank you, Karen, for sharing the opening of The Best Christmas Ever with us today. It sounds like a really Christmassy book, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

The Best Christmas Ever

A heart-warming Christmas romance, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Mandy Baggot and Milly Johnson.Lexi Forde adores Christmas. She’s especially looking forward to it this year as it’s the first Christmas with her boyfriend Ben and her older brother is visiting from Canada with his family. So they’re having a family Christmas at her parents’ house in Devon.
But then Lexi sees Ben kissing someone else and discovers he’s been having an affair. Devastated, she travels to Devon alone. She’s determined not to let her break up with Ben spoil her family Christmas. But when she arrives, Lexi discovers the council won’t allow the Christmas tree on The Green to be decorated this year; it’s too dangerous and has to come down. Lexi is desperate to save their favourite family tradition and make this Christmas extra special.
Can she save the tree and mend her broken heart in time for Christmas?
To purchase The Best Christmas Ever, please click on the link below: Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08X1STJ4V/

About Karen King

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. She has had ten romantic novels published, two psychological thrillers, 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became an international bestseller, reaching the top one hundred in the Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia. Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

For more information about Karen King and her books, please click on the links below:

Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Twitter

Bookbub