THE HOLIDAY CRUISE by VICTORIA COOKE

Today I’m excited to be part of the book birthday blitz for The Holiday Cruise by Victoria Cooke:)

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What they say: 

As if it weren’t enough to be cheated on by her husband of ten years, Yorkshire lass Hannah Davis is losing her beauty salon business too. Luckily, her big sister is there to pick up the pieces, but Hannah is desperate to find some independence.

Impulsively, Hannah applies for a spa job…on a cruise ship! Christmas in the Caribbean, springtime in the Mediterranean, what’s not to like? But, despite being in her thirties, Hannah has never done anything on her own before, and she’s terrified.

As the ship sets sail, Hannah has never been further from home…or closer to discovering who she is and who she wants to be. 

The Review: I have to admit when I heard the blurb for this I was excited to review as it sounded very different to anything I’d read- a cruise ship sounds like a great place to get away from your troubles! I also loved that her job would be in a spa so we could sample some of the more decadent things, as opposed to her struggling to survive (sometimes when you’re up for a bit of holiday escapism, you want the works!).  I’ll admit I didn’t always get on with this book, for me it was a case of picking it up and putting it down a fair bit more than I’d have liked and I think it was Hannah’s character that did it, we just didn’t click. There was also some repetition of words and editing issues that the pernickety side of me would’t let go of, but I doubt this would be a problem for most.

The cast around Hannah pulled me in, as did the settings, not only on board but also when they visited the places they stopped at and I got to experience all the different countries. The group dynamic of the people that worked on the ship was well done, and I crossed my fingers for them all. I adored the ending, which was very satisfying. I have to add that the me from ten years ago would have devoured and ingested this book in one go, it really ticks all the boxes for a light enjoyable read and one that is great for, not just holiday escapism, but for any time of the year escapism. Thanks so much to Rachel’s Random Resources for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

About the author

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Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, ‘The Secret to Falling in Love,’ in 2016

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No Safe Place (Detective Lottie Parker Series Book 4) by Patricia Gibney

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Length: 440 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: There’s nothing more dangerous than a familiar face…

As funeral mourners stand in silence at Ragmullin cemetery, a deafening cry cuts through the air. Lying crumpled at the bottom of an open grave is the bloodied body of a young woman, and Detective Lottie Parker is called in to investigate.

Knowing the body can’t have been there long, Lottie wonders if it could be Elizabeth Bryne, a young woman who vanished without trace just days earlier. And with a new boss who seems to have it in for her, Lottie is under pressure to solve both cases quickly.

As two more women go missing from Ragmullin, Lottie and her team fear there is a serial killer on the loose. And the disappearances are strikingly similar to a cold case from ten years earlier. Could history be repeating itself?

As journalists begin to interfere with Lottie’s investigation, she fears the killer is about to strike again. Lottie is in a race against time to find the missing women, but the killer is closer than she thinks. Could Lottie be his next target?

If you love Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza and Rachel Abbott, you’ll love the latest pulse-pounding thriller from Patricia Gibney. No Safe Place will keep you guessing until the very last page.

The Review: I suppose I should start by sending you to previous gushes about this, the Detective Lottie Parker Series: Book 1 here, book 2 here, book 3 here . All three books I raced through, gobbling up every-single-word. I’ll be honest, I don’t even know how to begin this review. This was without doubt my favourite of the Lottie Parker series. I’m pretty sure that i haven’t said that before and if I have apologies but I honestly cannot think of how it can. And breeaathe.

Okay, so we begin, as you do, with a young girl running through a graveyard, trying to get away from someone. What happens next of course, I can’t tell you but I can tell you it’s been done before (and not just in my nightmares as a child), but never this well! I was shocked and sat up straight and then ran out of the room to get snacks as I knew I was in for the long haul. So with what just happened (read the book), you’d really expect that the next thing would be that this the DI Lottie Parker heads off looking for this particular person but no, the way this book is done, as you look at it with the unforgettable team at Ragmullin, there is nothing to look for, only a whole lot of local tales (special mention to the first witness, what an amazing lady!) and thoughts and speculation on people who are missing.

There are a lot of characters in this book but they are all easily traceable and trackable, you remember each of the missing women through encounters both on and after their train journeys, you remember the suspects through their quirks and attitudes, the police force are of course always unforgettable and very entertaining. There were some changes in the usual faces, most notably with Superintendent Corrigan, and I hoped upon hope that it wasn’t the end for a character that I always look forward to hearing.I loved getting to know some new characters, in particular a viper of a reporter whose making life difficult for Lottie and on a fully different spectrum, the lovely Grace who defin superseded any relations they usually arrive in books to make things difficult for a character. I loved Grace and was excited at her involvement which meant more air time for Boyd who  I also adore.The baddie came in the form of a stranger who we hear on the train and who is worrying in his thoughts throughout the book.

There are of course a few unlikeables scattered throughout and at many times there were boulders in my stomach as I watched women being stalked on the train and then was passed over to suspects homes, where things were as dark and worrying.

There were shocks and tragedies of ASTRONOMICAL proportions and at one stage I found myself cursing out loud in surprise. As said above this is my favourite book in the series. I may have said this for other books (I don’t think I have), but without a doubt it really is, pacing, setting, thrills, spills, shocks, tragedies and some very magnetic off kilter romance. Exceptional. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Bookouture for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

 

Dinner Party by Tracy Bloom

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Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Never has an unexpected guest caused such chaos!

Three couples take it in turns to host a monthly dinner party.

Beth, Sarah and Marie have been friends forever. Now they are grown up, with busy lives, busy husbands, busy kids… but they still find time to meet up over dinner once a month. A cosy, comfortable gathering of happy couples – or so they thought.

Until one night, someone brings along a last-minute guest whose wife has just left him.

Simon is standing on the doorstep in floods of tears. While the women do their best to console him, their husbands feel the need to mark their territory.

And as Simon becomes more involved with the group, his presence changes everything these three couples thought they knew about each other, leading to a final dinner party that no-one will ever forget.

From Amazon chart bestseller Tracy Bloom, Dinner Party is a funny and moving read that will make you see your marriage and friendships in a whole new light… and make you think twice about inviting your best mates round for dinner. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes, Nick Spalding and Gill Sims.

The Review: So I reviewed The Last Laugh only the other day but I felt the need to get straight to this, The Dinner Party, which sounded like exactly what I was int he mood for. And it totally was! Sorry to tell you but the link will lead you to a pre-order link, so you’ve a little bit to wait before its release, but I think, at that time of the year, ie end September, a comedy such as this will be a treat to randomly arrive into your Kindle in-box, so I’m thinking of you here;)

As you see above, Beth, Sarah and Marie are old friends, but ones that don’t catch up that often anymore. There may be a reason for this as we are given three very different women, all with their own insecurities and all with ranging personalities. The book leans more towards Beth than the others, but we are nicely put into the shoes of the others and, in a nice twist, we get to meet their husbands too. Now I know people who read my reviews are about to say ‘oh no, here we go again,’ but it has to be done. I love love love multiple povs and a cast of characters that’s done well and they most definitely are here! Depending on your personality you’ll empathise with different people, but I have to say that the people I considered bang on were the husbands, and in particular Chris and Duncan. The women, on the whole, weren’t really my cup of tea and I have to say I was so disappointed that I leaned towards a full on dislike of Beth and could not get what everyone was saying about her being so amazing. Beth was one of these people who decided that everyone only saw her for her weight, and we heard about it very regularly. We were constantly told how lovely and helpful she was, but actually all I saw was someone who was meddling and way too critical of everyone else. Her blurts were mean and cruel at times and I got a bit tired of everyone acting like it was endearing that she was so upfront. Marie, was an, um interesting character, obsessed with how she looked and Sarah, well actually I loved Sarah who was having a crisis of confidence of her own.

The guys were brilliantly done, from Chris, who was so underappreciated, to Duncan who reminded me of one of the side characters in Notting Hill to Tony who played his role to a tee! Then there was Simon, lovely Simon, who I nodded along with. I loved the concepts of the dinner party and laughed along with the guys as they were aghast at all the etiquette involved (reminds me of previous rants I’ve had on how things have gone so crazy in terms of food and drink, how Gin and Wine are treated as if they’re not alcohol, breadsticks are acceptable while your sliced pan isn’t, people use the term ‘pan-fried’ and ‘rustic’ to make things sound posher -that sort of thing!) and the comedy flowed along. I’ll admit that (in the same way someone on eg the X Factor might give someone who sings like Leona Lewis a bit of advice-they know she’s the best at what she does but it’s just a little aside), the ending was a bit rushed or something, I’m not quite sure what it was, but I felt it could have been a bit more neatly parceled, and I think Duncan’s story could have flowed a little bit more and been rounded up nicer so we saw it happening, but as I’ve just said, this is just an opinion and all in all I loved this book. Very much recommended. Thanks so much to Bookouture and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom

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Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Jenny discovers her days are numbered at the same time she discovers her husband is having an affair…

Frankly, she had enough on her plate already. Two tricky teenagers, her mother’s constant complaints, friends who aren’t up to the job and a career which has been spiralling downwards since she won ‘Sunseeker Tour Rep of the Season’ twenty years ago.

And now this. Enough is enough! Jenny vows to keep both revelations a secret. She takes her life into her own hands and decides to live as she did when she was happiest… in 1996. She plans a spectacular 1990s themed party in place of a wake that she herself will attend. But will she be able to keep her secrets for long enough to have the party of a lifetime?

The Review: I have to admit I put this book off and off (very oddly as I agpred Ms. Bloom’s ‘No On Has Sex on Christmas day’ read review  here

). I dreaded the fact that most people seemed to be laughing through the tears, and had had a few weeks of tough things happening to all of those around me, and this coupled with a lack of sleep had left me both fragile and not feeling very ‘me.’

The odd thing, so, was that I should choose the ten year anniversary of my dad’s death and a weekend of knocks and bumps in general to say ‘eff it’ and read both this and The Happiness List by Annie Lyons (another excellent book- read the review here ). Maybe I thought I was all cried out. Maybe I was challenging myself. Either way I’m so happy I read both. But enough about me-this is all about Emma. Lovely Emma who we meet first in the prologue on the 25th June 1996 in Bataria Beach Kassiopi in Corfu, where she is celebrating her 25th birthday and having the time of her life. It actually is the time of her life because fast forward to present time and she uses that day as a placemark for when she was at her happiest. The prologue leads you with a one-liner that says ‘boom! You’re in for one hell of a ride!’ (It doesn’t ACTUALLY say this, but you know what I mean).

Now, twenty years later she’s at her birthday dinner and it isn’t quite as special. We get the impression that the love of her life is the same guy from before, but things aren’t so rosy and Emma has potentially devastating news. This book drops a large cold boulder into your stomach with Emma’s health, her lovely dad’s dementia, a mother who doesn’t realise her daughter’s worth, a daughter who needs a mother and a son who’s growing up. As Emma decides to make the end count, you are met with a cacophony of images that bring you back to your own old friends, your own life, while making you appreciate what you have.  It is fun, funny, beautiful and devastating and reminds me that Tracy Bloom is at the top of the pile for rom com authors. Thanks so much to Bookouture and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

 

Escape to Oakbrook Farm: A wonderfully uplifting romantic comedy (Hope Cove Book 2) by Hannah Ellis

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Length: 322 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: Village life is supposed to be quiet…

Josie Beaumont is a free spirit. She changes jobs about as often as she changes her relationship status. Frequently! The only constants in her life are the comfy old shoes that she refuses to part with.

When unemployment looms again, she’s intrigued by a job opportunity at a dog kennels in rural Devon. As someone who thrives on change, a move to the sticks doesn’t faze her at all. She’s expecting life in the country to be quiet and uneventful.

What she’s not expecting is Sam.

The charming, sensitive neighbour makes life much more interesting. In fact, when she gets involved in the local community, things really aren’t as dull as she anticipated. But just when she finally feels settled, she’s offered the job of her dreams back in London. It’s time to move on.

Or is it?

Being part of a small community has stirred something in Josie and she begins to question what she really wants. Can she turn her back on her new life and say goodbye to Sam? Or is she ready to hang up her running shoes and stay put? Maybe she’s finally found something worth sticking around for…

The Review: There are a multitude of ways you can see an author’s writing spring to life that isn’t just from the book itself, in fact, this is the reason that I buy more books on the basis of guest posts or interviews or a writer’s review of a book. Here, the dedication itself was enough to make me swoon and settle down, glad I was reading another one of Hannah Ellis’ gorgeous books (Note: the dedication was “To Dua, You deserve the world … here’s a book instead.” Isn’t that so lovely!)

And indeed we are back to another gorgeous book, amazing given that Hannah ( I know her well from being an all round helpful and motivational writerly person on social media and in a writer group we both inhabit) has been probably one of my most reviewed authors on this blog. (You would assume at some stage I wouldn’t connect with a book, as what are the chances I feel so smiley and excited after all her books, but there you go!!)

Here is the story of Josie who we meet at a wedding at the start of her book, dressed in her bridesmaid’s dress and a pair of Converse, speaking to the best man, Sam. Josie has just broken up with her boyfriend and is shocked that she feels a sort of pull towards Sam, given that she’s assuming the break up is just another glitch and they’ll be back together very soon. I have to admit the banter, and Sam in particular, drew me in and I was keen to see where this would go.

Josie was a lovely character too, only changing when we see her with her on/off boyfriend, which reminded me a little of the film ‘The Break Up’ (it always gets me thinking about balancing being naggy and not having to do everything yourself), but soon her and her boyfriend are back together even though she’s agreeing to move to Devon during the week to work in Annette’s dog kennels.

This was another lovely touch. Happy as I was to move to the countryside and enjoy the quirks of country life (in particular the creepy laneways when walking home from the pub and indeed the pub itself with a whole new range of friends for Josie), I was THRILLED that she was going to be working with dogs. The book moved nicely for me and I enjoyed the new friends, the banter, the settings,the drama and the many, many smile along moments. I will admit that just after middle I felt a lull and was afraid nothing would happen but then we went to the one place I’d forgotten we could go and one of the character’s reactions smarted and shocked me! In terms of comedy there were a few very well done, nicely timed moments that had me nodding along. All in all a great book but I’d advise you to move back to the start of the series, to book 1  just to savour it all and meet some other characters that pop up here (here’s my gush about  The Cottage At Hope Cove which seems to be FREE at the moment-get it here on Amazon!). Thanks so much to the author for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the author

Hannahellis

Hannah Ellis lives in Munich with her husband and two little boys. She’s originally from England and has also lived in America, Australia and Ireland. As well as writing, she also teaches English to kindergarten kids. In her spare time she likes to read books, drink tea and eat chocolate. She goes jogging regularly but hasn’t decided if she really enjoys it or not. She’s a huge fan of sunshine and the many Munich beer gardens.

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#BlogTour Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman #BookReview

I am so thrilled to be part of the blog tour for this today, ‘Oh Crumbs’ a romance designed to never allow your eyes to leave the page!

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Purchase Links

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What they say: Sometimes life just takes the biscuit … Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag. Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her. But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is. 

The Review: Onto a book that I’m sure I’ll remember for some time to come because of characters that leapt off the page, and romance and heat that took my breath away!!! So this is the story of Abigail Spencer, who stole my heart from page one, where she showed how willingly she took up the role of surrogate mother to a huge household and I knew she was something very special. Abby is one of those characters that only comes along in books every so often, a girl with a big heart that evolves into a woman that’s not only enthusiastic about everything in life, but wants everyone else to be happy too. I read so many books that try to be Abby, but then you meet the happy, over the top, accident prone ‘real life’ version and you sigh in happiness, because she is ‘The One!’ Abby has a fire in her to better herself and be the best she can be and we see her graduate form night school and end up at an interview for Crumbs, the biscuit manufacturer.

Enter Doug, the millionaire Managing Director, who against everything his gut tells him, hires Abby, although he worries afterwards that he has just hired a disorganised, chatty, tell-it-too much like it is scatterbrain. A word of warning, if you’re not a fan of not only the ‘will they, won’t they’ scenarios, but also the ‘when will they?’ notion, then this book is most definitely not for you! Blowing hot and cold is as rampant as moments when you have to fan yourself for the expectation of them not only getting but deciding to be together. The chemistry from the off with the two of them was mesmerising and blew me away! This book was like a lesson in how to do romance and heat and I willed them together from the off, unable to take my eyes away.

I loved not only the banter between two of the most likeable characters I’ve read in some time, and their alternating povs, but the everyday in the ‘Crumbs’ biscuit factory and how the power structure was playing out with Doug’s dad, the owner of the business. There is tension and drama aplenty, in fact it is thrown at us from all angles, work, home and Doug’s family too, and I was never bored or even contemplating having to push my eyes back to the book. I will tell you that there’s cliches aplenty, but if you’re willing to accept them they’re impeccably done, the millionaire in his flashy car saving the day, some over the top baddies, Abby stepping in to help the company, that sort of thing, and I devoured it all!

Actually there was a hint of ‘Me Before You’ by JoJo Moyes about this book, in relations to characters, circumstance and Abby’s huge and larger than life (I adored them all!) family, and that being one of my favourite books, I took it excitedly. My only issue at all was that there’s some books out there that I find myself editing (just a little) as I read, substituting one word for another along the way, and unfortunately I was doing that sometimes here, finding eh odd word repeated, or a word I would have rathered but when I thought back over it it didn’t in any way take away from the enjoyment of a book that kept my heart and senses racing on a cliff edge throughout. A book that has you smiling from the start, I have to say this is a book that is going to stay with me for some time to come and I can’t wait to read more from Ms. Freeman. Thanks so much to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Win a paperback copy of Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman (Open Internationally)

And, now, before we meet the author, how about a Giveaway?! (Click here!)

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

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About the author

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A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

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Madame Love Actually by Rich Amooi #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Today I am so so excited to bring this gem to your attention: Madam Love Actually by Rich Amooi. Oh and there’s a giveaway too!! Thanks so much to Rachel’s Random Resources for the book in return for an honest gush. (I mean review!)

Madam Love Actually

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To buy:

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What they say: Lance Parker is an arrogant know-it-all. As author of the bestselling book Your Soulmate Doesn’t Exist, he says love is for losers. Madam Love is a fortune teller and matchmaker who has brought hundreds of couples together.

When the two clash during a radio interview, she admits even someone as irritating and impossible as Lance has a soulmate. He says she’s delirious and a fraud. Then the gauntlet is laid down: Madam Love has two weeks to prove Lance wrong and find him a soulmate.

When Lance meets wonderful Emma by chance, he doesn’t know what to think anymore. But Emma has a secret. She’s Madam Love, actually. And it’s going to take a whole lot more than a crystal ball to get her out of this mess.

About the book: This is the story of Emma Wright, known as Madam Love to her clients in San Francisco. Madam Love tells her clients how about meeting ‘the one.’ She has a step of instructions for her to get to the person of her dreams, but can’t tell her the specifics. I cannot tell you how taken I was with Emma straight away in both iterations, both as herself, and as the talented Madam Love. As Madam she is the totally together, wig and fortune teller garb adorning, tell it like it is because I’m totally right, fortune teller, but as Emma things are a bit more difficult, with bills to pay, rent increases and a decision made that she herself will never meet the love of her life.

Enter arrogant Lance Parker. I loved him too and was practically jumping up and down when I met him on air, speaking about his book ‘Your soulmate doesn’t exist.’ (Guess what it’s about). He was sarcastic and cheeky and yet rational and lovely and if I hadn’t been in before (I was, from the get go), I was most definitely all in when Emma rang in as Madam Love to put her two cents in and we found out that he’s also fully against fortune tellers too. And so a challenge is put to Lance; take Madam Love’s advice and NOW try to prove there’s no such thing as a soul mate and that fortune tellers are frauds.

So now it’s up to Madam Love to send Lance off to meet his perfect match, only she doesn’t realise that fate has made a decision for her too! The magic in this book, the intervention of fate, is genius, as wee see how one decision changed, can suddenly impact others and yet one thing knocking on to another, was very likely always decided.

I do see what I’ve done here, I’ve just told you all about the book and not gone into the characters (swoonerific, not just the mains, but her landlord and partner in crime Randy), the pacing (perfection, what with the back and forward between Emma, Madam Love and Lance that you watched with, jaw slightly dropped , as if watching a movie heading to a climax that had me holding my breath), the settings (oh and what a dog festival, especially because I got to meet the lovely Typo!) and the general perfectness of the romance and zingy chemistry. I defy people not to read this book and smile, laugh, gasp and swoon and will never be able to recommend it enough-totally up my street and beyond recommended and I cannot WAIT to get to the author’s back catalogue!

Rating: A million out of five (that’s a five;))

About the author

Rich Amooi -Author Photo

Rich Amooi is a former radio personality who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. They live in San Diego, California with their very hairy daughter, a mini goldendoodle puppy. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

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And now for the Giveaway!

 

Win a Sterling Silver Lucky Charm Pendant, plus an autographed paperback copy of Madam Love, Actually. (Open Internationally).

Rich Amooi Prize

To enter click here 

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

And now, how about you head off to follow the rest of the blog tour!

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