Excerpt: The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett @MicheleGormanUK

 

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Amazon UK

Amazon US

Length: 228 pages

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

I’m afraid this is horrendously late, as it was due by the weekend, and a big big apology needs to go to both Michele Gorman and Harper Impulse, but I suppose the silver lining is that instead of telling you to pre-order, I can tell you that The Big Dreams Beach Hotel is now available on Amazon. I’m reading a lot of thrillers at the moment and wanted something a little lighter and I really enjoyed The Second Chance Cafe In Carlton Square (read review here), so when I remembered I had this to promote I went straight to Kindle Unlimited to download. Anyhoo, enough rattling on, here’s the story!

A heartwarming, cosy romance from Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman, now writing as Lilly Bartlett

This is a brand new standalone novel from the author of the Carlton Square series with a whole new cast of characters to fall in love with!

What they say: Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face at the hotel that’s full of dreams…

 Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

 What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

 That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

 How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

The Excerpt:

New York is where I fell head over heels for a bloke named Chuck. I know: Chuck. But don’t judge him just because he sounds like he should be sipping ice-cream floats at the drive-in or starring in the homecoming football game. Rah rah, sis boom bah, yay, Chuck!

Believe me, I didn’t plan for a Chuck in my life. But that’s how it happens, isn’t it? One minute you’ve got plans for your career and a future that doesn’t involve the inconvenience of being in love, and the next you’re floating around in full dozy-mare mode.

I won’t lie to you. When Chuck walked into our hotel reception one afternoon in late October, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was lust.

Be still, my fluttering nethers.

Talk about unprofessional. I could hardly focus on what he was saying. Something about organising Christmas parties.

‘To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ he confided as he leaned against the reception desk. His face was uncomfortably close to mine, but by then I’d lived in New York for eighteen months. I was used to American space invaders. They’re not being rude, just friendly. And Chuck was definitely friendly.

‘I only started my job about a month ago,’ he told me. ‘It’s my first big assignment, so I really can’t fuck it up. Sorry, I mean mess it up.’ His blue (so dark blue) eyes bore into mine. ‘I’m hoping someone here can help me.’

It took all my willpower not to spring over the desk to his aid. Not that I’m at all athletic. I’d probably have torn my dress, climbed awkwardly over and landed face-first at his feet.

Keep him talking, I thought, so that I could keep staring. He looked quintessentially American, with his square jawline and big straight teeth and air of confidence, even though he’d just confessed to being hopeless at his new job. His brown hair wasn’t too long but also wasn’t too short, wavy and artfully messed up with gel, and his neatly trimmed stubble made me think of lazy Sunday mornings in bed.

See what I mean? Lust.

‘I noticed you on my way back from Starbucks,’ he said.

At first, I thought he meant he’d noticed me. That made me glance in the big mirror on the pillar behind him, where I could just see my reflection from where I was standing. At five-foot four, I was boob-height behind the desk in the gunmetal-grey fitted dress uniform all the front-desk staff had to wear. My wavy dark-red hair was as neat as it ever got. I flashed myself a reflected smile just to check my teeth. Of course, I couldn’t see any detail from where I stood. Only my big horsy mouth. Mum says giant teeth make my face interesting. I think I look a bit like one of the Muppets.

‘Do you have the space for a big party?’ he said. ‘For around four hundred people?’

He didn’t mean he’d noticed me; only the hotel. ‘We’ve got the Grand Ballroom and the whole top floor, which used to be the restaurant and bar. I think it’s even prettier than the ballroom, but it depends on your style and your budget and what you want to do with it.’

Based on his smile, you’d have thought I’d just told him we’d found a donor kidney for his operation. ‘I’ve been looking online, but there are too many choices,’ he said. ‘Plus, my company expects the world.’ He grimaced. ‘They didn’t like the hotel they used last year, or the year before that. I’m in over my head, to be honest. I think I need a guiding hand.’

I had just the hand he was looking for, and some ideas about where to guide it.

But instead of jumping up and down shouting ‘Pick Me, Pick Me!’, I put on my professional hat and gave him our events brochure and the team’s contact details. Because normal hotel receptionists don’t launch themselves into the arms of prospective clients.

When he reached over the desk to shake my hand, I had to resist the urge to bob a curtsy. ‘I’m Chuck Williamson. It was great to meet you, Rosie.’

He knew my name!

‘And thank you for being so nice. You might have saved my ass on this one. I’ll talk to your events people.’ He glanced again at my chest.

He didn’t know my name. He’d simply read my name badge.

 

About the author:

Michele Gorman square (2015_02_13 17_34_58 UTC)

Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.

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Extract: Pot Love 2 The Sinking Chef by Sylvia Ashby @bysylvia_a

So, apologies to everyone, as this is days late, but, as promised, here is an extract from the brilliant Pot Love 2- The Sinking Chef (review here) which I adored.

First off, though, a reminder of the book:

index

Length:339 pages

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

What they say: Bridget Jones meets Burnt in this delightful comedy novel about a talented YouTuber and the guy who keeps trying to bring her down. Although part of a series this book is completely standalone, as are all other novels in the Pot Love Series.

In Belsize Park, London, Ashley works hard on her daily YouTube channel “The Sinking Chef”. It’s filmed right in her kitchen, so she doesn’t go out much.

James is a gruff British TV director, turned publisher, who Ashley had a crush on ages ago. She has moved on but when he calls with an offer to take her out to lunch she doesn’t say no. It’s only lunch – what can go wrong?

The day Ashley meets James for lunch and he promises her a book deal, she makes the worse decision in her life – to hide the book deal from her boyfriend, Giacomo. As things progress Ashley’s secrets mount up and other things in her life unravel. Is there a connection? And how is she going to get out of this without losing Giacomo and the life she loves?

Set in the heart of fast-paced London, The Sinking Chef is a charming story of love, recipes, secrets, and the determination to do thinks right by those you love most in your life.

The Extract:

I stare at the screen exasperated.

Am I being pressured by a bunch of women I’ve never met before into having a baby asap? Isn’t that like the most important decision in your life? One that you don’t take lightly but think about long and hard? Preferably with your partner. Haven’t these women ever heard of family planning?

Then it dawns on me. I know what’s happening here. This is cyberbullying. It’s when people use social networks in a deliberate manner to harass other people. I’ve read a lot about this on the internet. There’ve been suicides. Jobs have been lost over this.

I just never thought it’d happen to me.

I rub my nose with the back of my hand. I brush against the mug of tea, which I’ve put too close to the edge of the table. It shakes perilously. A few droplets splatter over Giacomo’s beige shagpile rug.

‘Shit!’ I jump up and rescue the mug from toppling over. I run to the kitchen for some paper towel and dab the droplets until they dissipate.

‘Phew!’ I plonk back in the chair. Where was I?

I peer at the screen.

SkinnyMumof2: But if u are not pregnant and u don’t have kids and u are not necessarily trying what are u doing on mumsnet AshleyPiccolaMia?

She has a point.

What exactly am I doing on Mumsnet? On a non-bank holiday Monday. When everyone is hard at work milking the cash cow or saving the world.

I can’t tell the truth. Because… thing is… the reason I’m online so much and spend all this time talking to people on Mumsnet and Gay.com (it only happened once! I was curious…) is because I’m bored.

Ever since I moved my cookery show online I don’t get out much. The TV crew I work with comes to the house to do the filming. It’s cheaper that way, and Giacomo’s kitchen is way more swanky-looking than most of the studios’ ones out there.

I’m terribly, mind-numbingly, tear-jerkingly bored.

I get all my groceries delivered.

I don’t have a pet to keep me company. Not even a goldfish—

AshleyPiccolaMia: Finding new friends I guess *smile*

SkinnyMumof2: On mumsnet of all places…

PinkBear87: How has it come to this? To look for friends online? You should be going out there. You should be meeting with real people…

TatianaTopBanana: Honestly, AshleyPiccolaMia you should get a life.

SkinnyMumof2: Yeah. Why don’t you go out instead of lurking online?

PinkBear87: No offence AshleyPiccolaMia but that sounds a bit weird… like stalking…

I gasp. Lurking? Stalking? It’s not like that at all.

AshleyPiccolaMia: That’s not what I’m doing!

But everyone has left the chatroom.

‘Well, that went well,’ I say to nobody in particular. My voice echoes in the empty room. I put my hands to my face. My cheeks are flaming hot. Whatever. I don’t need to talk to people. There are lots of things I could be doing instead.

 

About the author:

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Three random facts (from her lovely website): SAshby

I graduated university with a Graphic Design degree and spent my twenties working in advertising. Never did it occur to me that my degree would come in handy when I start publishing books.

In my early thirties, I was a shop owner. I owned four shops, one of which was in St. Christopher’s Place London W1. I was doing everything from buying the collections to submitting monthly PAYS. It was madness. I’m so glad the economy crashed in 2008 and I had to give up retail.

Then I started writing. It felt like the first conscious decision I’ve ever made in my life. I felt a sense of belonging. The thought “I could be doing this for the rest of my life” didn’t scare me half to death. Four years and four books later I still feel the same way. This is love, home and vocation wrapped in one.

My first book, Pot Love, was about food and love.
My second, The Treachery of Trains, is about finding love in unlikely places.
The third book I wrote is actually Pot Love‘s second instalment. It’s called The Sinking Chef (Pot Love Book 2) and in it, my eponymous heroine Ashley is in even bigger trouble than she was in Pot Love. The two books are standalone and you don’t have to read them in order.
My fourth is The Offical Pot Love Series Cookbook and you can get it completely FREE.

Currently, I live in Belgium with my family.

Author page on Amazon

On Twitter @bysylvia_a

On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sylviaashbywriter/

Or follow on Goodreads

Or her  blog (complete with reviews, book info and writerly stuff!)

 

 

 

Calling Major Tom by David M. Barnett @orionbooks

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Length: 304 pages

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

What they say:

AS FEATURED ON THE GUARDIAN – THE HEARTWARMING EBOOK BESTSELLER

Forty-something Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems. But beneath his grumpy exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world… for good.

The Review: A blurb such as this, a cover such as THAT, and reviews that were spread across Twitter stating what a lovely, heartwarming read this was- well, there wasn’t any chance I was going to pass up a chance to review Calling Major Tom, was there? Given that Space Oddity would be one of my favourite ‘sit and ponder the world’ type songs (I don’t get a chance to do it often, mind you;)), I ran for this one.

The blurb doesn’t give much away, but this is the story of Thomas Major. Thomas is one of those grumpy, witty characters that make you nod along. You know, as far as journeys go, that he has to go on one, and yet, you have the feeling he doesn’t have to travel too far. Physically, however, Thomas Major goes on one heck of a journey- as, as a result of an unfortunate mix up (done brilliantly, I just had to laugh!), Thomas Major is chosen (on the day David Bowie dies), to go into space.

At the same time we meet a family, fronted by Emily, who’s too young to front a family, but who has to, due to issues with her nan, Gladys, who was just so gorgeous. We hear the voices of each of the different characters and wander along with them, wondering how this can all possibly get sorted in the end. Their story made my breath catch a few times, as I waited for the crossover between Thomas’ (dubbed Major Tom by the media) story and theirs (well, you knew it had to come, didn’t you?). One thing I would say is that the point of view and day could change without it being addressed and that put me off a little at times but this wasn’t too big a deal.

I won’t give away too much but I will say that the comedy made me snort out loud, and I was quite emotional at times too. To describe it I’d have to say if you like films such as Little Miss Sunshine you’d be quite on the mark for loving this book and I’ll probably pull it out again in the future for a re-read. Thanks so much to Orion books and Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Sinking Chef (Pot love 2) by Sylvia Ashby @bysylvia_a

 

index 

Length:339 pages

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

What they say: Bridget Jones meets Burnt in this delightful comedy novel about a talented YouTuber and the guy who keeps trying to bring her down. Although part of a series this book is completely standalone, as are all other novels in the Pot Love Series.

In Belsize Park, London, Ashley works hard on her daily YouTube channel “The Sinking Chef”. It’s filmed right in her kitchen, so she doesn’t go out much.

James is a gruff British TV director, turned publisher, who Ashley had a crush on ages ago. She has moved on but when he calls with an offer to take her out to lunch she doesn’t say no. It’s only lunch – what can go wrong?

The day Ashley meets James for lunch and he promises her a book deal, she makes the worse decision in her life – to hide the book deal from her boyfriend, Giacomo. As things progress Ashley’s secrets mount up and other things in her life unravel. Is there a connection? And how is she going to get out of this without losing Giacomo and the life she loves?

Set in the heart of fast-paced London, The Sinking Chef is a charming story of love, recipes, secrets, and the determination to do thinks right by those you love most in your life.

 

The Review: Some things you’ll already know from my previous reviews of The Treachery of Trains (review here) and Pot Love 1 (review here):

  1. Sylvia Ashby can transport you straight to any part of the world with just a few words.
  2. Her stories are captivating and she does romance and heat like no other (swoon!)
  3. I’ve ‘met’ her through the internet and she’s beyond lovely!

So, now that’s out of the way: Pot Love 2. When I heard this was coming out I was very excited. I’ve told you all before how horrendous I am in the kitchen and so I lean towards all books where there’s talent or not shown in terms of food. I have to admit I worried a bit that it wouldn’t come close to Pot Love 1, where we watched Ashley struggle to overcome her culinary gremlins, but I needn’t have.

We begin the book (as we did last time) with a recipe, although this time it’s that of Pasta alla Puttanesca. The recipe was written in lay person’s language which really made me warm to the Pot Love series all over again. Our story, however, begins not in the kitchen, but back with Ashley. She’s wandered in error onto Mumsnet, and is speaking to a number of mothers, horrified at what she’s hearing. She has no children, but is being pressured into getting pregnant since her and the lovely Giacomo are together three years now. The comedy made me settle in, and I knew I was in for a treat.

As the story flowed on, I was reminded of how much I enjoy Ms. Ashby’s characters, with her mother, new husband and kids, who weren’t exactly au fait at showing Ashley love, then of course the lovely Giacomo and the re-introduction of her nemesis James, who I was sure was out to get her. In terms of comedy, there’s some oldies but goodies in there, from an employee who is worried about getting into trouble abandoning the phone with ‘a feeble voice saying “Hello!’ and “Is anyone there?” from the receiver,’ to Ashby’s pros and cons list for relationship issues : ‘PROS: I Can’t go back to dating I CAN’T! … CONS: I Can’t go back to dating I CAN’T!’ There is also a cookery book deal (yay to us seeing the inside of an agent’s office!), some underhanded dealings with Giacomo’s top restaurant and some backstabbing.

This is a lot perkier than either of Ms. Ashby’s previous books, and not one for people whose reviews tend to make sure to tell us all that something was fine for a book in this genre (chick lit) or that they don’t usually read books in this genre etc. For those who are fans of a good romantic comedy or chick lit book, however, this is a quirky fun read with a nice lashing of sophistication on the side. Extremely enjoyable and very much recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Oh by the way just to tell you that the recipes from the books are actually found in a new Pot Love Recipe book which I had to have as the recipes were written so simply even I felt I could have a go! (I’m going to make it easy for you, you’ll find it here!!)

Pps Tune in tomorrow for an excerpt from Pot Love 2!

That is all!

A Dog Like Lloyd by Jacqueline Sheehan

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Length: 304 pages

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

What they say: Happiness can be found in the most unexpected places…

Roxanne Pellegrino’s world collapses when her husband dies unexpectedly, and overwhelmed by her all-consuming grief, she runs away for a new start on Peaks Island.

But her new life of solitude is interrupted when she meets Lloyd – a stray black Labrador with an equally unhappy past. As both slowly begin to heal, a remarkable friendship blossoms, and Roxanne will soon discover she’s not so alone after all…

The Review: Considering half of the volume of books I used to read were stories about dogs and horses (other half were Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell and John Grisham- bet you’d never have guessed!) I don’t read enough stories with pets and dogs as the subject matter. I figured this out the other week when my son came home with a Michael Morpungo book and it got me thinking back to how I’d fall into stories of loveable, honest pets that would give up their life to get back to their master, would save humans at the drop of a hat no matter how they’d been treated, or who were strugging to find ‘the one’ in terms of an owner.

This is the story of Lloyd. Lloyd had found ‘the one,’ but has somehow been separated from them, and has landed in the hands of the new Animal Control warden of Peaks Island, Roxanne. Roxanne is struggling after the loss of her husband, the lovely vet, Bob, who she feels she could have saved. It is a beautiful, rich story, and I found myself immersed in it, but was sometimes disappointed that it wasn’t told just a little bit more simply, that it had to be on a bit of a grander, more spiritual level, but this is just personal preference (you know at this stage I like them kept simple!).

Although Roxanne is very familiar with the animal world from being with Bob, we get to study and experience the warmth and vividness of the descriptions of the animals as she meets them in text and in real life and we learn so much, both in relation to what they are and their care.

There is also the story of Melissa, a teenager, who is also finding life tough and we wonder where the lives of the three (Lloyd being one), will cross over. Melissa’s story is a tough one, she is hiding an eating disorder, and at times I found it a bit difficult to read.

I adored Lloyd, the big black Labrador, who even told us his story at one point in the book, a piece I had most definitely been looking forward to. The descriptiveness of the rugged, wild surroundings was fantastic, as were the nuggets of information on different, unusual animals that came to them, and I found Roxanne’s actual journey to be well done too, although very sad in places. All in all it was a lovely, thought provoking read that will get me looking out more doggy tales! Thanks so much to Ebury Publishing for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

whileyou

Length: 326 pages

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

What they say:
Tara Logan adores her perfect little family: husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer. 

But her happiness is shattered when she wakes up one morning in her neighbour’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them. And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee and scared of losing everything she cares about, Tara flees home and stays silent, holding her breath as the investigation grips the neighbourhood.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara starts to wonder if someone in her life knows what really happened that night. When the police turn their questions towards her, Tara realises she has to find out.

But what will it take to uncover the real story, and can she survive the truth?

The Review: Okay. So anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows of my love for all books by Kathryn Croft. (The Girl You Lost’s review is here while The Girl With No Past’s review is  here

This was another book designed to keep you guessing as to who (if not Tara herself) was involved in the murder, this read featuring the demise of her neighbour Lee. From the off I was pulled straight in, as always the characters are everyday people next door types, with varying personality traits that have you wondering what they themselves know, and as a result I was basically suspecting everyone. Throw into the mix her issues with her husband Noah, a very difficult daughter, Rosie, who was the one person I hoped hadn’t been involved in the crime, and the addition of characters as you went on and you were pretty sure it could have been anyone! Central to the story was that Tara couldn’t remember what had happened and had no idea how she woke up next to a dead body and so you didn’t know if she was involved or not.

While You Were Sleeping kept me gripped, and waiting for the ending, but I think a problem was that there were a few too many unlikable characters. Saying that, I kept reading on, being thrown from one conclusion to the next with my head all jumbled, waiting to see what happened. A really enjoyable read, although I have to admit it didn’t quite grab me in the same way as the two books I’ve named above.

Rating: 4/5

Blog Tour: Review: The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square by Lilly Bartlett

Second Chance Cafe UK small (1)

Amazon UK

Amazon US

What they say:

Everyone expects great things from Emma Billings, but when her future gets derailed by an unexpected turn of events, she realizes that getting back on track means traveling in a different direction.

She finds it in the closed-down pub on Carlton Square. Summoning every ounce of ingenuity, and with the help of her friends and family, she opens the Second Chance Café. The charity training business is meant to keep vulnerable kids off the streets and (hopefully) away from the Metropolitan Police, and her new employees are full of ideas, enthusiasm … and trouble. They’ll need as much TLC as the customers they’re serving.

This ragtag group of chancers have to make a go of a business they know nothing about, and they do get some expert help from an Italian who’s in love with the espresso machine and a professional sandwich whisperer who reads auras, but not everyone is happy to see the café open. Their milk keeps disappearing and someone is canceling the cake orders, but it’s when someone commits bloomicide on all their window boxes that Emma realizes things are serious. Can the café survive when NIMBY neighbors and the rival café owner join forces to close them down? Or will Emma’s dreams fall as flat as the cakes they’re serving?

The Review: Today is my stop on The Second Chance Café in Carlton Square, the second in the Carlton Square series. Here we meet Emma Billings, who is refurbishing an old pub, with a plan for it to become a café that will help the locality, in part by taking on employees who need a little bit of help. I always love stories where there’s a big job to be undertaken to start a new place, and so I was happy out! This is an interesting book, kind of mom lit where we see Emma with the kids meets cosy read, where we experience all the goings on in setting up and being in the café.

There were a myriad of characters, so so many and this was the reason I wish I’d read the first-so that I could have gotten to know them earlier, and in more detail. The characters range from her family, with a great group of older characters, in particular her lovely Dad, to her friends, a very varied group of mothers who I liked in places and perhaps found a little loud in others, and of course her employees and customers. In fact it is because of all these characters that I wouldn’t recommend this as a standalone.

So. Emma’s feeling overwhelmed with this big task because she also has very young twins and feels everything is left to her (I agreed with this in places but then also found Emma to be a tad ott on that front in others, just because I loved Daniel!) The book on the whole was very enjoyable, I couldn’t believe the sabotage when it came, hitting us hard and fast and I couldn’t wait to see  the end result. The whole book was like this, always something happening, which was great in places, and then in others I kind of wished we could slow down a little, in particular for the parts I really enjoyed.  All in all a very enjoyable read, not always my cup of coffee, but most definitely one that will appeal to so many! Thanks so much to Michele Gorman and Harper Impulse for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Now follow the blog tour!

The Second Chance Cafe blog tour graphic (1)

About the author

Michele Gorman square (2015_02_13 17_34_58 UTC)

Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.

Website: www.michelegorman.co.uk
Blog: http://michelegormanwriter.blogspot.com
Instagram: @michelegormanuk
Twitter: @MicheleGormanUK
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