Posted in Rachels Random Resources

Shoot The Moon by Bella Cassidy

Tassie Morris is everyone’s favourite wedding photographer, famous for her photos of offbeat ceremonies and alternative brides. Yet commitment is proving impossible for Tassie herself, who cannot forget her first love.

When she’s sent to photograph a ceremony on Schiehallion – the Fairy Hill of the Scottish Caledonians – she meets Dan, who might be the one to make her forget her past. That is, until a family crisis begins a chain of events that threaten to destroy not only Tassie’s love life, but her entire career.

Set in a colourful world of extraordinary weddings, Shoot the Moon explores the complexities of different kinds of love: romantic love, mother love, friendship. And, ultimately, the importance of loving yourself.

There was an awful lot to admire in this novel about a young woman who makes her living capturing the love of others, while struggling to find the love she needs. I say needs rather than wants, because Tassie doesn’t really know what she wants or even the type of man that’s best for her. Largely this is because she’s stuck on a relationship she had when she was a teenager. I really felt for this woman, because she has so much going for her, but doesn’t realise it. She has had an exciting career in photography across the world, but more recently has worked for a U.K. wedding magazine. Tassie is given a file containing all the details of a wedding that her work colleague and friend has picked for their next real wedding feature. Tassie then travels down to that wedding to photograph it for the magazine. I particularly loved this rock and roll wedding, with the bride in a black dress and the mother of the bride performing the ceremony in her role as vicar. The author captures the beautiful details of the wedding so well I felt I was there. The Scottish wedding is also spectacular, not just the ceremony but the scenery around them. Scotland is the first time I see Tassie truly relax and let go of plans and schedules, leaving her phone to one side. It’s a moment of quiet in an otherwise busy story. In her spare time Tassie is a homebody, either tackling some of the DIY on her flat or tending the well-kept garden where she grows herbs and vegetables. She seems comfortable with who she is.

However, she doesn’t seem to know who she is when it comes to finding a partner. She harks back to her teenage years and the time she spent as Alex’s girlfriend. I love the way the author depicts our formative romantic relationships as something that shapes our love life into the future. Her seemingly perfect relationship with Alex possibly wasn’t that great, but when we put our rose tinted glasses on it can seem. Also, teenage relationships don’t have the pressures that our adult relationships do. They’re intense because it’s a new experience, but also because we don’t have the constraints or worries of work, money, mortgages and children. We have all the time in the world to be in love when we’re younger. Tassie only sees Alex occasionally these days and I wondered how much the relationship really suited his agenda, but left Tassie quite lonely and blocked her from moving on. There was an emotionally intelligent look at how attachment issues affect our relationships too; if we fear abandonment then we might put up with difficult behaviour just to avoid confrontation and potentially being abandoned again. I think Tassie is aware that Alex is not a fulfilling relationship for her, but can she cope with the feelings of being without it? Dan is a fantastic romantic lead character and has a lot of the qualities Tassie values in a man. He seems like someone who is straightforward, honest and loyal. Their personalities fit together well and he seems ready for a serious relationship, but can she take that step with someone she’s just met without fearing abandonment?

The author pulls everything together well as Tassie’s world changes completely when she makes a mistake at work and risks the reputation of the magazine. She has to think quickly because living in a London flat with her lifestyle won’t be financially sustainable. This seems like rock bottom for her, but could it possibly be a blessing in disguise? Could it be the right time to go home to the farm, given that her lifelong issues with her mum are still causing her emotional pain? Maybe it will also give her the opportunity to try something completely new as a career? I was keeping my fingers crossed for her because I wanted her to feel comfortable with who she was and feel whole. She might also be ready for that real, committed relationship to come along – but I didn’t need that for a happy ending. My only criticism of the book is that there were moments I felt like I was reading a different story. At the beginning we learn that Tassie sees a little blonde girl, who could be an imaginary friend, except Tassie continues to see her from time to time. Tassie feels like they’re connected in some way, but doesn’t know how. I found this really interesting and it had a different feel to the rest of the book. It didn’t seem to fit with the lighter tone around the wedding magazine and I had a feeling this could have been the start to quite a different novel. It’s a small thing, and I did like the way it was tied into her childhood anyway. All in all this was a great read for Valentine’s Day, and should suit romance readers as well as those who like their romances to have some emotional depth.

Meet the Author

Bella Cassidy grew up in the West Country – reading contemporary romances, romances, historical novels, literary fiction… just about anything she could lay her hands on. After a few years in London, working as a waitress and in PR and advertising, she went to Sussex to read English – despite admitting in her pre-interview that this rather sociable period in her life had seen her read only one book in six months: a Jilly Cooper. She’s had an eclectic range of jobs: including in the world of finance; social housing fundraising; a stint at the Body Shop – working as Anita Roddick’s assistant; as a secondary school teacher, then teaching babies to swim: all over the world.

She’s done a lot of research for writing a wedding romance, having had two herself. For her first she was eight months pregnant – a whale in bright orange – and was married in a barn with wood fires burning. The second saw her in elegant Edwardian silk, crystals and lace, teamed with yellow wellies and a cardigan. Both were great fun; but it was lovely having her daughter alongside, rather than inside her at the second one.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/BellaMoonShoot/

https://www.instagram.com/bellamoonshoot/

https://mobile.twitter.com/bellamoonshoot

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/SHOOT-MOON-alternative-game-hearts-ebook/dp/B09D2DHZYG

US – https://www.amazon.com/SHOOT-MOON-alternative-game-hearts-ebook/dp/B09D2DHZYG

Posted in Rachels Random Resources

Daughter of the Sea by Elizabeth J. Hobbes

On a windswept British coastline the tide bestows an unexpected gift…

It was the cry that she first noticed, the plaintive wail that called to her over the crash of winter waves. Wrapped only in a sealskin, the baby girl looks up at Effie and instantly captures her heart.

Effie has always been an outcast in her village, the only granddaughter of a woman people whisper is a witch, so she’s used to a solitary existence. But when Midsummer arrives so too does a man claiming to be the child’s father. Effie is surprised when he asks her to continue looking after his daughter, mysteriously refusing to explain why. When he returns six months hence she pushes him for answers. And Lachlan tells a story she never anticipated … one of selkies, legend, and the power of the sea…

I’ll be honest up front and say I don’t often read romance novels. I enjoy novels that look at relationships or contain a love story, but I often find novels categorised as ‘romance’ to be far too light or saccharin for my taste. However, this wonderfully romantic story drew me in thanks to the interesting female characters, historical detail and Scottish folklore. For those who do not know their Celtic and Nordic mythology, a Selkie is a seal which when it sheds its skin transforms into a human. For some reason, it’s a piece of folklore that’s always caught my attention, rather like mermaids. I love to imagine the freedom of the endless ocean and having a body that can swim gracefully and effortlessly through the waves. I’ve also thought of the two legs we see as essential for day to day life, being such a restriction to someone used to a powerful, streamlined tail.

I really loved how independent Effie is and the strength she has to stick to her principles, even when they go against those of the rest of her village. She’s very independent and modern in her thinking. She rejects the local church and only goes at Christmas. Her grandmother Alice provides herbal remedies for the people of the village, and this has kept Effie separate from others who think of Alice as a ‘wise woman’. In fact some of the most respectable women in the village rely on Alice for remedies that help with menopause or other hormonal symptoms, but only in private. In public they would deny all knowledge. Effie’s marriage to John, her son Jack’s father, seemed to happen rather quickly and caused gossip in the village too. Her friendship with Walter, who is from a very respectable family, raises the odd eyebrow, but has also helped her in many ways. Without him she might not have gained parish financial support for Morna – the child she finds floating in a wicker basket. It’s possible he expects more than friendship, but would he tolerate Effie’s wilder ways and allow her the freedom she craves? In a world that’s very restrictive for women, Effie’s widowhood and ability to support her children without a man leaves her in quite a lowly place in society, but free to live her own life, at least in the short term.

I was absorbed into this woman’s relationship with her children. Widowed on the same night she finds a baby girl floating in the sea, Effie raises the girl with Jack. She can’t find a name to suit her, but doesn’t worry about that. Jack is not the easiest child, with symptoms that in more modern times might have labelled him with an autistic spectrum disorder. The children get along well and seem to find ways of communicating together, despite Jack’s difficulties with speech. Effie loves both of them fiercely and is haunted by the worry that one day she may have to give up the little girl she rescued as a baby. So, when a mysterious man turns up and claims her, Effie is wary, but finds it hard to deny their likeness especially when they have exactly the same eyes. Lachlan calls his girl Morna and explains something that most women would find hard to accept. He and Morna carry seal skins, but they’re not just to keep them warm. The skin is as much a part of them as their dark, impenetrable eyes. Morna and her father Lachlan are Selkies. They are part human and part seal, from a tribe in Scotland. Effie is relieved to find he isn’t there to take Morna, because he recognises that she and Effie have a bond, but he leaves a perfect pearl to pay for her upkeep and promises to return in six months. However, can this arrangement continue indefinitely?

Even more complicated, is the fascination that Effie starts to feel about this dark eyed, handsome man. As for Lachlan, every time Effie touches seal skin, he feels a corresponding pull in his human body. I must admit I was rather enchanted by this wild, but noble and honourable man. I felt he would accept Effie as she was, rather than try to mould her into a respectability that would leave her so unhappy. To strengthen this romantic tale and give it historical context, there were other strong female characters such as Alice and Effie’s friend Mary. Alice is wise, funny and open to the more magical side of life. Effie is shocked that the very respectable Mary would have her as a friend. In fact she asks if Effie will help her set up a school for some of the poorer girls in the village. She gives Effie solid advice, based on the sensibilities of the time which gives us a contrast to Effie’s life choices – some of which would be seen as scandalous! It’s interesting to think that both Effie’s friends, Walter and Mary, are progressives in their time, whereas now their ideas can seem patronising or even horrifying. I felt that Mary shows us what Effie’s life could be should she decide to choose the life Walter might offer her.

The setting is exceptionally well drawn, capturing a rugged Yorkshire coastline so perfectly that I could imagine standing on a windswept cliff watching Lachlan and Morna slipping through the waves. I found myself browsing for holiday cottages as soon as I’d finished reading, because the author’s description of the sea was so evocative. Her romantic descriptions of eating freshly caught and fried mackerel on the beach, or sailing to a private cove in the sunset enchanted me just as much as any of the relationships. I was hankering after a sunshine stroll through the waves and I would look up from my book and be surprised to find myself in my bedroom looking out at Christmas lights. If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book and it’s definitely worth a read if you have an interest in folklore or magic realism. I found myself taking long baths or having a lie-in so I could shut the world out and really relax into the story. I would definitely look at this author’s other work on the basis of this novel and it’s made me have a rethink about the romance genre as a whole. Thank you so much to HarperCollins UK-One More Chapter and Rachel’s Random Resources for giving me the chance to read the book. It’s been a pleasure.

Purchase Link – https://getbook.at/DaughteroftheSea

Meet The Author

Author Bio – Elisabeth’s writing career began when she finished in third place in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013. She was offered a two-book contract and consequently had to admit secret writing was why the house was such a tip. She is the author of numerous historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon covering the Medieval period to Victorian England, and a Second World War romantic historical with One More Chapter. She lives in Cheshire because the car broke down there in 1999 and she never left.

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/elisabeth-hobbes?follow=true

Daughter of the Sea Giveaway

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of Daughter of the Sea (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494465/?

Posted in Rachels Random Resources

Red Roses by Katie Ward.

Today I’m sharing some thoughts on a book about friendship, love, and following your dreams.

Autumn is stuck in a rut and desperate to escape the fears that bind her to the life she’s outgrown. Back home and living with her parents after university, with a degree that seems to count for nothing, she knows something has to change. After a chance meeting with a stranger at the beach, she makes the spontaneous decision to move to Dublin and chase her dreams. However, what Autumn doesn’t realise is that she has just made the decision that will lead to her death. But does a short life have to mean an unsuccessful life? Will she be able to make it count?

Red Roses is a great book for grabbing a cuppa or a glass of wine (tea and chocolate for me) and settling in for an afternoon read. It’s a simple story of a young woman called Autumn who wants a different life for herself and has the bravery to up sticks and move to another country to make her life goals happen. I felt that the most successful parts of the novel were based around female friendship, especially with Amelia who is also travelling to Dublin before going around the world. I also loved Maggie, an older lady who Autumn meets on the beach, where Maggie is throwing rose petals out to sea in memory of her late husband. There was so much more that I wanted to know about Maggie and I felt she could be a rich and wise source of advice for the younger woman.

Red Roses is an uplifting story that shows the beauty of life, love and friendship.

Katie Ward always knew she wanted to write for a living. However, she was told by her careers advisor that “it might be more appropriate for you to work in a shop”. When Katie didn’t get the grades she needed to get into college, she negotiated a three month trial. After successfully completing the course she secured a place at her first choice university to study Journalism.

After realising she wanted to be an author, Katie moved to Dublin where she worked her way up from receptionist to Executive Assistant at Merrill Lynch. Katie continued to write in her spare time, submitting her short story into the “Do the Write Thing” competition being run by Irish TV show ‘Seoigeand O’Shea’. This story was originally written when Katie was 14 after she was inspired by an article in her favourite teen magazine. Katie was the only non-Irish author selected to have her story published in an anthology of the same name which reached 19 in the Irish Best sellers List. Katie was also shortlisted for a competition judged by MAN Booker Prize winning author Roddy Doyle which was run by Metro Eireann newspaper. 

Katie currently lives in Devon with her cat (aka ‘Her Royal Fluffiness’) where she sings in a community choir and has recently taken up Archery. Katie’s favourite author has been Roald Dahl since she was a child as she loves the dark edge he brings to his books. On the flip side though, Katie loves Disney, magic, unicorns and a good rom com film at the cinema with her friends.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KatieWWriter

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KatieWWriter

Website – https://katiewardwriter.com/

Posted in Rachels Random Resources

The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas

As we turn into autumn, there’s less lounging in the garden with my book and a cold flask of squash and more snuggling by the log burner with a hot chocolate and a book. For some reason, that cosiness and the darker evenings draw me towards haunted or magical stories. So I was keen to read this time slip story full of ghostly goings on. In 1903 we visit All Hallows’ Asylum on Dartmoor and Nurse Emma Everdene has a new charge to look after, away from the usual inmates in an attic room. A mother and young daughter are found by a fisherman, the woman completely unconscious from a blow to the head. While she is transferred to one of the best private rooms and remains in a coma, her traumatised daughter is left in the care of Nurse Everdene. The little girl is clearly shocked and exhausted, so a room is made up with a single bed and a rocking chair near the fire so she can be monitored. She is completely mute, so the nurse doesn’t pressure her but makes sure she is warm, dry and fed. For comfort she gives her a small toy rabbit that once belonged to her son Herbert, who died when he was small.

In 1993 we meet two boys sent to All Hallows’, which is now a boarding school. Lewis is coping with grief after losing his mother and in an attempt to express himself has started dressing as a Goth. His Dad has quickly married again, and his stepmother clearly wants Lewis out of the way. She reports on how difficult he is and manipulates his father into thinking boarding school is his best option. Once there, Lewis is shorn of his Goth persona and is feeling very vulnerable, especially when he has to share room just under the attic with another boy, Isak. Isak, he finds out, is also an outcast and he gives Lewis some tips on surviving the school. They also share an interest in a nurse who was buried outside the consecrated ground of the churchyard ninety years before. What does this have to do with the abandoned room above them on the attic floor, containing only a rocking chair and a single bed? A rocking chair that the two boys can hear rocking in the middle of the night, thumping against the floorboard, as if someone is sitting in it.

It’s hard not to feel for Lewis, as he ends up with all his armour taken away from him. Without his Goth gear he’s just a boy with ears that stick out a bit too much. Luckily he finds another outsider to be with in Isak, although at first we don’t know why he is so ostracised. Emma Everdene is also fascinating and because I hate the practice of burying people outside of consecrated ground I really wanted to keep reading to find out why. The journey she takes in life is incredible, elevating herself to becoming a nurse, from very little in monetary and status terms. I also found her very resilient, having come through the deaths of both her husband and her son. I liked how her nursing manual showed working women supporting other women in their journey. When it is found in the library in 1993 the dedications show that it was passed from woman to woman, possibly because books were out of reach for women in poverty. The author also makes the point that many women were in the asylum for little more than thinking differently, or being in the way of their husband’s next conquest. Thalia is an example of a woman who has pushed the boundaries for someone of her class and gender. Staff talk about her cutting her hair short like a man and habitually wearing trousers, not to mention being a suffragette.

Emma sniffed. ‘And why shouldn’t she do those things if that’s what she wants to do? Because by doing so she causes embarrassment to her family? Because they’re hoping to marry her off to some chinless wonder with more money than manhood, some… some milksop who would be humiliated to stand beside a woman who shone more brightly than he?’

I found her father’s request that she be punished severely much more chilling than whatever was going on in the room upstairs. Emma talks about the asylum as a last resort for men who want to control and silence their women. The thought of all these people falling victim to early 20th Century asylum ‘treatments’ is terrible. It really hits home when Lewis finds iron fitments on the floor and wall in one of the classrooms in 1993. The manacles may be gone, but it still paints a picture of human misery. When Emma talks to the girl who brings their food, they talk about the treatments that are commonplace in the asylum such as the ice cold baths. Then there’s the less commonplace. When a new doctor arrives and is given the case of Mrs March, mother of Emma’s charge, he wants to try new European treatments. The staff gossip about the time he spends touching her, moving all of her limbs in turn and bending her spine in order to keep the flexibility while she’s in a coma. Emma can see that it would make sense to keep her supple, but when he moves his desk into her room so he can work there and spend more time in her company it starts to feel strangely voyeuristic. Her complete vulnerability becomes worrying.

The supernatural goings on are genuinely scary, Lewis finds the creaking rocking chair a bit unnerving but is able to be in the room and stop it moving. At first he thinks of obvious explanations like a draft setting it off, but after a few weeks he can’t brush it off any longer. The dark presence felt by both Lewis, and Emma ninety years earlier, seems to fill the room with its power. Lewis feels as if something huge is in the room and Emma feels it’s malevolence. The jumpier scares are unexpected and add to the mystery unfolding before the boys. The surrounding isolation creates a claustrophobic atmosphere and as Emma starts to feel more unnerved and more attached to the little girl we now know is called Harriet, I felt I was being rushed towards some terrible event. I thought the way both the asylum and the school were painted as places to dump inconvenient people was very apt. Even some of the techniques they used were the same, such as taking away the patient or pupil’s identity through removing their own clothing and shearing their hair off. There’s a strong feeling of trying to break individuals and make them conform. The author has created an interesting and unnerving tale, that has the tension of a thriller and creates a need to keep reading to find out all the building’s secrets. It has also reignited a childhood terror of looking into the bathroom mirror!

Published by Boldwood Books 12th October 2021.

Meet The Author

Louise Douglas lives in Somerset in South West England & writes contemporary Gothic mysteries mostly set in the countryside close to her home. She has won the RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller award 2021 for The House by the Sea.

When She’s not writing, she loves to spend time with family, friends, and animals – especially dogs, birds and whales. She’s passionate about nature, being outside, drawing wildlife, walking, beaches, fictional drama and books. If you’d like to connect with Louise you can find her on Facebook Louise Amy Douglas or @LouiseDouglas3 on Twitter.

Posted in Rachels Random Resources

Being Netta Wilde by Hazel Ward.

An uplifting story of love, loss and second chances that celebrates friendship and human connections.

Netta Wilde was all the things Annette Grey isn’t. Netta Wilde was raw, unchecked and just a little bit rebellious. She loved The Clash and she loved being Netta Wilde.

Annette Grey is an empty, broken woman who hardly knows her own children. Of course, it’s her own fault. She’s a bad mother. An unnatural mother. At least, that’s what her ex-husband tells her.

The one thing she is good at …

the one thing that stops her from falling …

is her job.

When the unthinkable happens, Annette makes a decision that sets her on a journey of self-discovery and reinvention. Along the way, her life is filled with friends, family, dogs, and jam. Lots of jam.

Suddenly anything seems possible. Even being Netta Wilde again.

But, is she brave enough to take that final step when the secrets she keeps locked inside are never too far away?

I chose to read this novel, purely because I am a middle-aged woman who looks back to the nineties from time to time and wonders what would that girl think of who I am now? I still wear floral dresses, Doc Marten boots and big slouchy cardigans. I still listen to the same music sometimes, go to gigs and read, constantly. Of course there are times I think I’ve lost myself – that underneath the avalanche of life experience I’ve taken on a different shape. There are times life has been so difficult I haven’t been able to find the girl I was. I’m at my happiest when I’m close to her. When I feel we’re still connected. The times when I can’t find her and I feel completely lost, she’s still there. She never really goes away.

Annette Gray doesn’t know that. She thinks she’s lost her self. She’s become drab, miserable and as Gray as her name suggests. I thought it was clever to create a structure where the actual story feels dull and slow, just as Annette does. It just didn’t come alive at first. Then I realised what the author was doing. As we see flashbacks to her university days they do come alive like the bit in Wizard of Oz where Dorothy wakes from her black and white world to glorious technicolour. It isn’t surprising that she feels so drained. Under the pressure of a terrible marriage where all of her confidence was eroded, it was no surprise to me that she had lost herself. Colin, thankfully now her ex-husband, is unfortunately still playing a huge role in her life. Not only is he a spiteful bully, he has conditioned his children to treat their mother the same way. While working she has footed the bill for their life, while never getting chance to see her children or even put across what life was life was like for her. Even now they’re grown up, their Dad still influences how they feel about her.

When Netta is made redundant I worried that this was another setback for her and when Colin starts complaining about his hand-outs I worried she would crumble. However, this is where the book really does take on some colour and Annette Gray starts to find her inner Netta Wilde again. I loved the joy she found at the foodbank and the new friends she makes there. She also has time for a new hobby that brings her happiness and self-fulfilment – jam making. As a jam maker, I know the satisfaction that comes from a completed batch on the pantry shelf. Like Sophie’s mum in Peep Show, I like to give my batches quirky names that remind me of when I made them – Blair Resignation Plum and Downton Abbey Zingy Damson being two from my shelves! This new lease of life and financial upheaval really opens Netta’s eyes. She can no longer afford to subsidise Colin or her children the way she has, and when she realises she’s been taken for a ride, even more revelations come to light that made me furious. I was dying for the children to realise what a thoroughly unpleasant man Colin is. I also wanted them to see the real person Netta was, someone willing to give up her home to live more simply so she could look after others. Her fellow volunteers at the foodbank really do rally round and become the family she’s been missing for so long.

I think many women lose each themselves, because of the expectation that we’re the caregivers in life. Not just for children, but for elderly parents, disabled siblings and sick spouses. Instead of rebelling, we internalise this and blame ourselves for our rebellious and ‘unnatural’ feelings if we don’t want to do it. Often we don’t even stop and ask ourselves if the men in our family and of our age have the same expectations placed upon them. I think the book captures an experience familiar to many middle aged women. It is peopled with great characters and has a real sense of someone awakening to who they want to be for the next chapters of their life. Someone who’s still a little bit Netta Wilde of yesteryear, but brought bang up to date. The Netta Wilde for now.

Meet The Author

Hazel Ward was born in a back-to-back house in inner city Birmingham. By the time the council knocked the house flat and packed her family off to the suburbs, she was already something of a feral child who loved adventures. Swapping derelict houses and bomb pecks for green fields and gardens was a bit of a culture shock but she rose to the occasion admirably and grew up loving outdoor spaces and animals. Especially dogs, cats and horses. 

Strangely, for someone who couldn’t sit still, she also developed a ferocious reading habit and a love of words. She wrote her first novel at fifteen, along with a lot of angsty poems, and was absolutely sure she wanted to be a writer. Sadly, it all came crashing down when her seventeen-year-old self walked out of school after a spot of bother and was either too stubborn or too embarrassed to go back. It’s too long ago to remember which.  What followed was a series of mind-numbingly dull jobs that paid the bills but did little to quell the restlessness inside. 

Always a bit of a smart-arse, she eventually managed to talk herself into a successful corporate career that lasted over twenty years until, with the bills paid and the children grown up, she was able to wave it all goodbye and do the thing she’dalways wanted to do. While taking a fiction writing course she wrote a short story about a lonely woman who was being made redundant. The story eventually became her debut novel Being Netta Wilde.

Hazel still lives in Birmingham and that’s where she does most of her writing. When she’s not there, she and her partner can be found in their holiday home in Shropshire or gadding about the country in an old motorhome. Not quite feral anymore but still up for adventures. 

Social Media Links – 

https://hazelwardauthor.com

https://www.facebook.com/hazelwardauthor

https://twitter.com/hazelward

https://www.instagram.com/hazel.ward

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrmdeA7DKEXhrj6n


Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Netta-Wilde-Hazel-Ward-ebook/dp/B0947351XQ

US – https://www.amazon.com/Being-Netta-Wilde-Hazel-Ward-ebook/dp/B0947351XQ

Posted in Rachels Random Resources

The Cornish Key To Happiness by Laura Briggs.

Today on the blog I’m taking part in the publication day push for the final instalment in Laura Briggs’ ‘A Little Hotel in Cornwall’ series. For the past seven books we have been following the fortunes of aspiring writer and hotel worker, Maisie. Now finally we reach the conclusion of a series of books that have been like a little ray of sunshine in a difficult year. We left Maisie in a relationship with the lovely Sidney and on the verge of celebrating her first published book.

However, past secrets return to complicate Maisie’s future with the charming in the final installment of the Cornish romance series.

Picking up where book seven left off, Maisie’s plans to celebrate her book’s thrilling news remain on hold after Sidney has vanished from Port Hewer overnight, following a brush with his secret past. His departure leaves Maisie with a head full of questions and a heart torn in two, made even worse by the rumors flying about him through the town. Where and why has he gone? Will he ever come back again? And—foremost in Maisie’s mind—was the heartache from his younger days somehow to blame for his sudden and mysterious flight?

But when Dean convinces her that Sidney may be facing a choice that could ruin his life, Maisie must set out to find him, once again leaving behind the Cornish seaside haven of Port Hewer she’s come to think of as home, and leaving behind the answer to a secret she’s been longing to know since the beginning. Not knowing when or if she’ll return, she’s taking the biggest risk with her heart so far…and the truth she discovers waiting for her at the end of her journey will make her wonder if things can ever possibly be the same as they were before.

Questions are answered, secrets are spilled, and the biggest reveal of the series is finally unveiled as A LITTLE HOTEL IN CORNWALL reaches its exciting conclusion.

Purchase Link – https://smarturl.it/cornishroad

Author Bio –

Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

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Posted in Rachels Random Resources

A Stargazy Night Sky by Laura Briggs.

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At the sleepy Cornish hotel Penmarrow, there is a rare celestial event bringing new guests. The staff are tasked with hosting an astronomer’s conference to coincide with the appearance of a rare comet. Romance abounds amongst the staff as timid maid Molly is flustered by the return of charming astronomer George and seems to need a little advice on how to rekindle the spark they shared last autumn. Hotel porters Gomez and Riley are vying for the attentions of a mysterious female guest, and the eccentric ‘Megs’ Buntly pays another visit. For our main character Maisie, romance is blossoming between her and Sidney Daniels. All is well, that is aside from the small matter of some secrecy about his past. That isn’t Maisie’s only uncertainty though. She’s happy to be working at the hotel, but it’s future ownership is still up in the air and even more anticipation surrounds her manuscript which will be soon be in the hands of acquisitions editors in London. There is so much excitement about the future in the air but trepidation too. When a dramatic revelation comes to light about someone on staff, it leaves Maisie and everyone else reeling from the unexpected news. Is this the moment for the revelation Maisie has been waiting for since her Cornish journey began?

This was my first time in the Penmarrow’s universe so I had to go back and read some of the other parts – this is the 7th in the series. The best way I can describe these stories is the reading equivalent of a good Sunday night TV series, with beautiful surroundings, loveable characters and gentle storylines. There’s nothing here to frighten the horses. I felt soothed by the descriptions of the cosy hotel and the surrounding countryside. Everything about this place is restful, apart from Sidney’s mischievous terrier digging up bulbs of course. Maisie is a lovely central character to root for and as an aspiring writer I could understand her anxieties about her potential future career. What will happen if her book isn’t accepted? How much will her life change if it is?

The format was interesting too. I’ve become more aware of these short reads in my past year as a blogger. I have MS and can suffer cognitive symptoms that make reading difficult such as an inability to concentrate – I can find myself reading the same paragraph over and over till it sinks in. Or I can have physical symptoms such as optic neuritis which makes my eyes ache, sting and become blurred. As you can imagine this is very frustrating for an avid reader and in my therapy work I’ve met many other disabled people who also struggle to read. I always recommend audio books, but have found that short books like this one are also a great way for people like me to carry on enjoying stories even while feeling unwell. They can continue to enjoy the escape and when the escape is as feel-good as this it can lift the mood considerably. It really is a little gem of good-natured humour, heart-warming romance and packs a little surprise at the end for good measure. Just enough of a cliffhanger to have readers looking forward to the last instalment of Maisie’s story.

Purchase Linkhttps://smarturl.it/stargazynight

Author Bio – Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

Posted in Rachels Random Resources

Tipping Point by Emily Benet.

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Tipping Point centres on an apartment block in Mallorca, and it’s various inhabitants. Retired couple George and Ellen have come to Mallorca with two very different expectations of how that retirement will look. George would like a secluded farmhouse inland for some peace and quiet. Ellen is more of an extravert and hopes to meet new friends, especially if they own yachts. They’re no longer busy and their differences have become even more apparent. Salva is a private investigator, here on behalf of his family who have been the victims of a property scam. However, he is distracted by his recent heartbreak; his usual work involves investigating adultery so it came as a surprise and embarrassment when he found out his own girlfriend was cheating on him. Finally, Robyn is a motivational speaker, touring round the country with her new book on avoiding toxic relationships. Ironically, she has a boyfriend who is avoiding her. The sunshine and surroundings may be enviable, but for all of these residents Mallorca is not what it appears to be.

The book is told across chapters from each of the characters perspectives – Robyn’s chapters appear in italics because we are being let into her diary so we read her written thoughts instead of spoken ones. Although each character is experiencing their own problems, the issue of property scamming is central to the plot. Any google search on buying property in Mallorca brings up recent scams where people were sold properties off plan from a building company. They would pay their deposit, see the plans filed and approved, pay the next instalment of cash and then see the company disappear with their money. There are scams where people have booked apartments that were not for rent, and even looked around properties and left deposits only to find they were not on the market. This must be a terrible blow for those who are looking for their final home in the sun and don’t have the money to start again. Ellen and George have been looking forward to their retirement in the sun for so long and they’ve been viewing George’s dream farmhouse. However, its not really Ellen’s dream because she can’t understand why he’s brought them so far inland, when she wants to near to the sea. I found myself hoping they wouldn’t be the victim of scammers taking their life savings.

The focus for me became trying to work out who the scammer was. Salva’s family, victims of the scam, are crammed into his tiny apartment while he tries to find the identity of the criminals behind the scheme. Robyn, in the meantime, doesn’t seem to fit and I felt like she was hiding many secrets.

I didn’t get a full sense of place throughout the novel, beyond how sunny it is, the book could have been set anywhere. I wanted the characters to be more grounded in an identifiable setting. When the place is hard to picture, the reader can lose their way in the story. I wanted to know what was so wonderful about this place and why these people were willing to spend large amounts of their life savings to live there. However, I did find it a very addictive experience because I was determined to work out who was scamming who. This was a good beach or holiday read that was diverting without needing lots of concentration, perfect for the summer.