Book Review: The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow

f seamstressThe Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: 16th January 2014
Rating: 4.5/5
Buy: Paperback | Kindle
Amazon Description:

A stunning novel set in the Edwardian era about a seamstress working at Buckingham Palace. Full of drama, betrayal and addictive real-life detail – The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow is perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Joanne Harris.

When Caroline Meadows discovers a beautiful quilt in her mother’s attic, she sets out on a journey to discover who made it, and the meaning of the mysterious message embroidered into its lining.

Many years earlier, before the first world war has cast its shadow, Maria, a talented seamstress from the East End of London, is employed to work for the royal family. A young and attractive girl, she soon catches the eye of the Prince of Wales and she in turn is captivated by his glamour and intensity. But careless talk causes trouble and soon Maria’s life takes a far darker turn.

Can Caroline piece together a secret history and reveal the truth behind what happened to Maria?

Having read the publisher’s release for “The Forgotten Seamstress”, I could hardly wait to get started; historical romance plus an exquisite patchwork quilt with royal connections? Yes, please! I’ll try not to throw in too many needlework puns, but I have to say I was “hooked” from the start… There’s something intriguing, nay chilling, about a prologue written as a clinical letter, in which we are tacitly informed that “existing and former patients may not be the most reliable of informants.” Yet Maria, primary narrator, seems quite lucid as she relays her sorry tale: a doomed love affair with a very young Prince of Wales- later crowned Edward VIII- resulting in personal tragedy and a lifetime’s forced incarceration in a mental institution. According to “official evidence”, of course, she is an unreliable narrator; yet her voice, captured on cassette recorder by a pHD student in 1970, is so charismatic, so warmly sincere, it’s hard to know how to respond. This dynamic certainly adds an edge to an already compelling narrative. Touching, heart-rending, and incomprehensibly painful at times, Maria’s story remains plausible, poignant, and ultimately worthwhile, despite the magnitude of her sufferings. I was particularly moved, as a female reader, to contemplate the mistreatment of women like Maria, locked away from the world as the best part of a lifetime’s opportunities seem to disappear forever… (Paradoxically, there’s a happy ending, of sorts.)

Plot-wise, the juxtaposition of modern day heroine Caroline’s narrative works really well; there’s a strong sense of destiny unravelling from past to present which makes for a satisfying read. Maria herself is a strikingly courageous and colourful character; there’s no mistaking her strength of spirit as her voice echoes down the decades with all the vigour of a former self. Her masterful creation, the extraordinarily executed patchwork quilt seems to embody some of this spirit as its story becomes inextricably linked with hers. This astonishing piece of needlework is actually the star of the show in this book, playing the role of destiny as all the loose threads come together…(sorry! But true.) – as it’s through her attempts to uncover more of the quilt’s history that Caroline meets her new love interest, and the subsequent disappearance of her beloved heirloom stimulates her creative talents in unexpected ways, opening doors to an exciting new career.

If all this sounds too good to be true, believe me, it isn’t- the characters and plot are drawn in very real terms; I felt myself sympathising with each character’s trials and dilemmas to the extent that I had to stop reading a few times to remind myself that it was “just a book”! It’s easy to identify with intrepid 30-something Caroline, and Maria’s story is equally vivid; the descriptive passages are excellent, and really make you feel as if you are right there with the characters in the palace, the hospital, Caroline’s mother’s cottage etc.

Overall, this is a well-written, superbly researched and highly evocative novel. It’s well worth the read, and may even have you reaching for your long-lost handicrafts bag/basket/box with a view to conjuring your own creation, who knows- Read it and see..?!

Reviewed by Tilly

Book Review: Bring Me Sunshine by Janet Gover

Bring me SunshineBring Me Sunshine by Janet Gover
Publisher: Choc Lit
Release Date: 18th December 2013
Rating: 4/5
Buy: Kindle
Amazon Summary:

Sometimes, you’ve just got to take the plunge …
When marine biologist, Jenny Payne, agrees to spend Christmas working on the Cape Adare cruise ship to escape a disastrous love affair, she envisions a few weeks of sunny climes, cocktails and bronzed men …
What she gets is an Antarctic expedition, extreme weather, and a couple of close shaves with death. And then there’s her fellow passengers; Vera, the eccentric, elderly crime writer and Lian, a young runaway in pursuit of forbidden love …
There’s also Kit Walker; the mysterious and handsome man who is renting the most luxurious cabin on the ship, but who nobody ever sees.
As the expedition progresses, Jenny finds herself becoming increasingly obsessed with the enigmatic Kit and the secrets he hides. Will she crack the code before the return journey or is she bound for another disappointment?

This story follows Jenny Payne, a smart, friendly and, above all, passionate lady who, in the blink of an eye, loses almost everything she holds dear – her job, her boyfriend, and her house. On a whim, she takes a job on a cruise ship that promises sun, sea, sand, and maybe a bit of eye-candy too! Surely her bad luck must be over by now, right? Well… Maybe not; it turns out she’s headed straight for the cold, miles away from all her comforts, friends, and family.

On her journey, Jenny meets many people who have their own secrets they’re trying to hide, with one such person captivating her completely. On board the cruise ship, there’s one passenger that nobody sees or knows anything about but it turns out that he and Jenny could be just what each other needed on the trip.

I couldn’t put this book down – it’s amazing. The characters are a delight to read about and each have their own interesting tale to tell. The imagery is rich enough to paint pictures but not overpowering, so you don’t get bogged down with it all. The story has an element of surprise and intrigue about it which keeps you turning pages. You can’t help but find yourself emotionally attached to each character and their story – particularly Mr Mystery!

There was a scene where all isn’t well at sea and I was at the edge of my seat (okay, maybe I was laying down, but you know what I mean) wondering what was going to happen and, in my opinion, that’s the sign of a good story and excellent writing. It brings a little something extra to the book and the chick lit genre itself.

I genuinely can’t think of a really bad thing about this book, other than the fact it ended. It made me smile and filled me with that lovely warm feeling you get when you read about lovely characters you wish you knew in real life or, in some cases, could be.

All in all, this book is fantastic and I’ve no doubt that I’ll it again someday and love it just as much, if not more.

Reviewed by Melisa

Book Review: Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

dont call me babyDon’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: 22nd April 2014
Rating: 3/5
Buy: Paperback | Kindle
Amazon Summary:

Perfect for fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Huntley Fitzpatrick, Don’t Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and our online selves and the truth you can only see in real life.

All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on that blog.

Imogene’s mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. The thing is, Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her. In gruesome detail. When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online . . . until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to define herself for the first time.

As soon as I spotted Don’t Call Me Baby on Edelweiss, I thought it sounded like a thoroughly fascinating read – blogging is such a “thing” nowadays, but this is the first book I’ve ever seen that features it as the topic of a novel, and it’s not even about a blogger, but about the daughter of a blogger! I’ve had a good run of enjoyable books at the moment, and though I did enjoy Don’t Call Me Baby, and I did whizz through It (it’s such a short read) it took only three or four hours to complete the whole book, it was probably a bit young for me.

Considering I started Don’t Call Me Baby after reading a book about teenage bullies, it was something of a relief to have a much lighter read. Sometimes you just need a book you don’t really have to think about, and Don’t Call Me Baby is such a book. But despite the characters being 15, they seemed very young at heart. There’s nothing at all in this novel that an 11 or 12 year old couldn’t read. Which is a good thing, but I do like my grittier YA novels, I must be honest. This was quite sugary sweet, but it was fun nevertheless.

I actually expected more from the book – the synopsis promises that Imogene is going to essentially take back her life by using her school project to start a blog to get back at her Mom for all the years of crappy pictures posted online and having to know the whole world has read about her first period. But Imogene gives up on the idea fairly quickly, although I quite enjoyed her revenge posts, they were cute and gave her Mom a taste of her own medicine, but Imogene did eventually get her point across, even if she was a touch tame about it!

One thing I very much enjoyed about Don’t Call Me Baby was Imogene’s best friend Sage. She was all gung-ho about the getting back at their mothers plan, and I felt she followed through quite well, although I hated seeing her and Imogene’s friendship suffer. Don’t Call Me Baby was a very sweet, quick read. I don’t really have any complaints, it wasn’t a bad book at all and it was quite well written – for all her softness Imogene was an enjoyable narrator, one young girls can very much look up to and aspire to be like. I just personally prefer my characters to be a bit more ballsy, a bit older, perhaps. But I’m glad I read it, it was a fun read and just what I needed after my previous read.

CLsig

Book News: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

heather gudenkauf little merciesHeather Gudenkauf is back with a new novel this year! Little Mercies is out in July and sounds fantastic! I’ve read one of Heather’s novels in the past and I liked it, so I’m really looking forward to Little Mercies! Here’s the synopsis:

Sometimes, one small mistake can have life-altering consequences…

As a veteran social worker, Ellen Moore has seen it all – the vilest acts one person can commit against another. The only thing that gets her through the workday is knowing her job helps children. That, and her family: her husband, Adam, and three beautiful kids, twins Leah and Lucas, and eleven-month-old Avery. But with a blink of an eye – with one small mistake – Ellen is suddenly at the mercy of the system she works for. Avery is ripped from her clutches, and her whole world begins crashing down around her.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but good-for-nothing father since her mother left them. When her father decides to pack their belongings and move to a new state, Jenny thinks she might be on the road to a better life. But soon she finds herself on her own, forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. Evading police and the social system, Jenny finds refuge with a kind-hearted waitress. The last thing she needs is a social worker, but when Ellen and Jenny’s lives collide unexpectedly, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

Pre-Order your PAPERBACK or KINDLE copy of Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf from Amazon.co.uk now!

Book Review: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

lori nelson the life listThe Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman
Publisher: Arrow
Release Date: 1st August 2013
Rating: 5/5
Buy: Paperback | Kindle
Amazon Summary:

Brett’s Life List

1. Go to Paris

2. Perform live, on a super big stage

3. Have a baby, maybe two

4. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. All in all, a charmed life. That is, until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she’d written when she was a naïve girl of fourteen.

Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision-her childhood dreams don’t resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest. Some seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other goals (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future.

As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear. Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

In The Life List we follow the story of Brett Bohlinger, who has a seemingly perfect life; a good job, a nice home and a gorgeous boyfriend. However, things start to unravel for Brett when her beloved mother dies. Struggling to come to terms with her grief Brett’s world is turned upside down when she discovers that she has been completely left out of her mother’s inheritance.

Expecting to become CEO of her mother’s cosmetics company, Brett is left bewildered when the role is given to her sister-in-law. Even her two brothers’ get left their share of their mothers estate, but Brett? She gets nothing. Well, not quite nothing. One thing she does receive is a letter from her mother, along with a list… This is soon to become Brett’s ‘life list’ – a wish list that she wrote when she was just fourteen, but which her mother has kept. The catch is that Brett is to achieve all of the goals on the life list in exactly one year’s time; otherwise she won’t receive any of her inheritance.

Reluctantly Brett begins to work her way through the list, even perhaps thinking she has already achieved many of the goals (fall in love…already accomplished! Right?) But some look to prove trickier than others (buy a horse!?)  Each time Brett completes a task on the list she receives a letter from her mother and we follow her on her journey as she ends up learning more about herself and others than she could ever have imagined.

I loved the sound of The Life List; it sounded emotional, entertaining and unusual all at once and it definitely lived up to my expectations.

Not only is it fantastically written and based on a brilliant idea; it’s also a novel that will make you stop and question your own life and dreams. It made me think back to what I would have wished for at fourteen and how these things could relate to my current life so many years later. It really gets you thinking and I found it to be quite an inspirational read. It’s definitely a feel good story and will make you realise exactly what you can achieve in life, but be warned – it will make you cry too! There are parts that will really tug on your heartstrings and parts of this story will stay with you long after you read the last page.

I loved the character of Brett and it was really eye opening to follow her on her journey. I guarantee you’ll be happy for her, sad with her, angry on her behalf…completely on her side throughout the whole story. I was shocked for her to start with over her mother’s decision to implement this ‘Life List’ for Brett, but before long the pieces of the story started to click into place and I knew that Brett’s mother was doing the right thing all along.

There’s a fantastic mix of characters in the story which helps to bring it to life. I really liked Brad and was never quite sure where his relationship with Brett was actually going. At one point I was certain they would get together but there’s plenty of twists and turns in The Life List to keep you guessing RIGHT up until the last few pages.

If you like Cecelia Ahern’s books or are a fan of anything a bit ‘magical’ then you’re sure to enjoy this novel, or if you want something fun that will make you think then look no further.

The Life List really is top quality writing – the best word I can think to describe this story is beautiful. You won’t be able to put it down but I found it to be one of those stories that you don’t want to finish because it’s so good at the same time. I really hope we get to see more from Lori Nelson Spielman soon because I cannot wait to read what she does next.

Reviewed by Holly K

Author Article: Putting The Dance In “Dance Until Dawn” by Berni Stevens

berni_newToday I am super pleased to welcome Berni Stevens to the site who has written us a fantastic guest post about dancing! It’s a fantastic read, enjoy!

When I started writing the character of Elinor, I had her image pictured firmly in my head. She had to be a professional dancer. There was never any doubt in my mind, but I can’t tell you why. Except I have always loved to dance.

I started ballet, tap and modern jazz when I was six years old, and carried on long after my contemporaries had discovered things they liked better. I went to a North London stage school until I was ten, and then we moved to Sussex. Not anywhere cool like Brighton, but a tiny village where all the kids hated me because I came from London. They hated me even more when they knew I did ballet!

I think there were at least three different dance schools I tried over the years, the best being the third one, and I stayed there until I went to art college. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day to do everything then. My father had point blank refused when I asked to go to dance college. Some people have very strange ideas about what a professional dancer actually does, and sadly he was one of them. He wasn’t overly impressed with the thought of art college either, but I did win that time.

YEIKjIbWhen I graduated from art college I skedaddled back to London, and someone told me about Pineapple. I thought I’d found heaven! Pineapple consists of four floors of dance studios in an old pineapple warehouse in Covent Garden. I was instantly addicted. I dread to think how much money I’ve spent there over the years. Jazz classes were my main addiction. And sometimes I liked to creep in to watch the professional dancers audition for West End shows. Luckily I worked only a five-minute walk away from the Studios for many years, so I sometimes crammed in a lunch-time class too.

This then, is why I made Ellie a professional dancer. She’s doing something I couldn’t. That’s the beauty of fiction. Although sadly for her, her career is cut short by a terrible accident. (That wasn’t my jealousy by the way, but a necessity for the story arc!)

The hero Will, whilst wrestling with his own conscience and justifying the reasons for turning Ellie into a vampire, says she will always dance. But only until dawn – hence the title.

I thought about starting the story earlier, in order to have some theatre scenes and maybe some auditions, but decided against it. Then again, the length of the book would have been huge had I done that. Will does give Ellie roses one Valentine’s night as she leaves the theatre, and he also mentions the many times he’s been in the audience watching her dance. I felt maybe that was enough ‘humanity’ in the book, so to speak. A lot of vampire romances have the ‘will he won’t he’ cliché when it comes to turning the human love interest into a vampire and I really wanted to avoid that. So I resolved it by killing her off in the beginning!

It was also important to me that Ellie loved music, which as a dancer of course she would. So I made her a bit of a rock chick. She goes to Glastonbury, where she comes into contact with Will face to face, for the very first time. He engineered the meeting of course. He’s been around for over three hundred years, so he’s pretty good at being sneaky. Later in the book they go to a big rock concert together. Part of the fun of writing contemporary fantasy is having the characters do ‘normal’ things.  So going to a London concert, even going to the cinema, are both normal fun things any new couple would do together. This meant that as Will detests driving, they either have to go by cab or travel on the London Underground. One friend who read the book, said she would now always be highly suspicious of any impossibly good-looking couples on the Northern Line between Camden and Highgate. Actually, she recently moved out of London to the countryside and I wonder whether it was my fault she did!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/berni.stevens.5

Twitter: @circleoflebanon

http://bernistevens.blogspot.co.uk

Follow Will on Twitter: @austen_will

Book News: Where We Belong by Catherine Ryan Hyde

catherine ryan hyde where we belongCatherine Ryan Hyde is one of my favourite authors, and I think she’s very under-rated which is a massive mistake as she’s an amazing writer! Really, everyone should read her books. I look forward to everyone of her releases and her latest Where We Belong is out in July and sounds (AND LOOKS!) fantastic! Here’s the synopsis:

Fourteen-year-old Angie and her mum are on the brink of homelessness… again. The problem is her little sister, Sophie. Sophie has a form of autism, and a tendency to shriek. Home never seems to last long.

Until they move in with Aunt Vi, across the fence from a huge Great Dane. Sophie falls in love, and begins to imitate the dog’s calm nature. The shrieking stops. Everyone relaxes. Until Paul, the dog’s grumpy, socially isolated owner, moves away.

Much to Angie’s humiliation, her mum thinks they can follow Paul and his dog. Once reunited, despite a huge age gap, Angie and Paul form the closest friendship either has known. But Angie risks everything to help Paul’s dream come true, even their friendship and her one chance at a real home – the only thing she’s dreamed of since her father was killed. A place she won’t be thrown out of. A place she can feel she belongs.

Pre-Order your PAPERBACK or KINDLE copy of Where We Belong by Catherine Ryan Hyde from Amazon.co.uk now!

Book Review: The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E Smith

the geography of you and me jennifer e smithThe Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E Smith
Publisher: Headline
Release Date: 15th April 2014
Rating: 4/5
Buy: Paperback | Kindle
Amazon Summary:

For fans of John Green, Stephanie Perkins and Sarah Ockler, THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME is a story for anyone who’s ever longed to meet someone special, for anyone who’s searched for home and found it where they least expected it.

Owen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking…

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can’t shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can’t, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy – and pain – of first love.

And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.

When I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith a few years ago I loved it – it was such a warm and charming read and Jennifer became an author whose books I had to keep reading and buying whenever they were released because I just couldn’t miss out on such an enjoyable author so I was super happy to download a copy of Jennifer’s new release The Geography of You and Me and I couldn’t wait to dive in! I may have only read one of Jennifer’s novels – though I have the another of hers on my shelf to be read, but I thought her new book sounded amazingly charming, even more so than The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight any any book that begins with a blackout and a stuck elevator is going to seriously appeal to me.

The Geography of You and Me is yet another sweet, charming read. Jennifer E Smith is one of the best YA novelists around and you always know what you’re going to get when you pick up one of her novels. The Geography of You and Me opens with a city wide NYC blackout and Lucy and Owen find themselves stuck in a lift in their apartment building. Once freed, they spend the evening together, chatting and getting to know one another and end up sleeping on the roof. The two form a bond like neither have ever felt, but when Lucy’s parents inform her of their decision to move to England and Owen’s father is told his job is no longer his own, the two find themselves on opposites side of the continent. Their only form of contact is postcards and emails, but is that enough to keep these two together or will their friendship fade into oblivion?

The opening few chapters of The Geography of You and Me were super great. I really felt the connection between Lucy and Owen, it was instantaneous not helped by the circumstances which made it all the better and all the more intimate. It’s the sort of fairy tale meeting you dream of, and this is something Jennifer E Smith excels at – she can go no wrong with the way her characters meet, they’re dreamy and perfect. (But also disappointing – as I have yet to meet my perfect guy on a plane or in an elevator!). As Lucy and Owens paths diverged I felt super sad because I enjoyed their back and forth chatter so much and it just wasn’t the same for me when Lucy was in England and Owen was travelling across America, although I did like reading about Owen’s travels, mostly because I am a sucker for road trips and especially when a novel is set in parts of America I love to visit!

The Geography of You and Me is another funny, sweet, charming read. I wasn’t perhaps as engrossed as I was in TSPOLAFS but I still kept reading on and in because I was desperate for Lucy and Owen to meet again, it was surely written in the stars – or, an elevator! Jennifer E Smith is easily one of my favourite YA writers – I always fall in love with her characters and her writing is sublime. No one engages me with third person narrative as Jennifer E Smith does and she does it in such an easy way – her writing just flows and seems to easy to read. I enjoyed the novelty of Lucy and Owen sending each other postcards – a lost art, let’s be honest! It’s another fantastic, cracking read and I can’t wait until next year when we’ll hopefully get another new Jennifer E Smith novel.

CLsig

 

Author Interview: Beverley Eikli

Beverley Eikli author picWe’ve recently had the opportunity to do author interviews with some fantastic Choc Lit authors! Up this week is Beverley Eikli, author of the recent release The Reluctant Bride!

1. Hello! Welcome to the site, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi Leah, it’s lovely to be here. Well, my life’s a bit of a travel story. I spent my early years in the mountainous African kingdom of Lesotho before the family emigrated to Adelaide in South Australia. When I was 29 I took leave from my job as a journalist to run a luxury safari lodge in Botswana where I met a handsome Norwegian bush pilot around a camp fire the day before I was due to return home. We’ve been married 20 years and have lived on all seven continents of the world – although only my husband Eivind flew in Antarctica for 5 months when I was pregnant. For many years, though, we worked together on airborne survey contracts around the world as the only husband/wife pilot/operator team in the business, with home bases in Canada, Sydney and Perth.
My husband and I and our two daughters now live in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne, which just avoided being burned out in the recent bush fires, though the countryside is blackened in great swathes as far as the eye can see. And Choc Lit has just released my 8th book. So life’s good!
2. Can you tell us a bit about your books?
I write historicals set in many time periods – Georgian, English Civil War, Regency, Victorian – usually with a redemption theme, I’ve discovered. I love exploring themes of women’s powerless in an age where they had virtually no legal rights or financial freedom. Therefore fulfilment for my characters comes through a variety of avenues, cunning and manipulation included.
maid in milan3. How did you react when you found out your book was being published? What was your road to publication?
I was absolutely thrilled when I got my publishing contract with Choc Lit. I’d just won their Search for an Australian Star competition with The Reluctant Bride, a Napoleonic Espionage romantic suspense. This was published in late 2013 but prior to that I’d had three Regency romances published by Robert Hale, the first one in 2009. Until then, I’d been getting rejections for 23 years, having completed my first romance at the age of seventeen. Nevertheless, I’d kept trying because I loved creating my stories so much, and writing romance was often a welcome diversion when I worked in survey, often as the only woman on crew in remote locations.
4. Do you base your characters on real people, or are they entirely fictional?
Until now they’ve been entirely fictional. I like writing about flawed characters, or characters who’ve made a fatal error of judgement which, in the context of their times, have enormous social, legal or financial repercussions. Of course, these same actions wouldn’t be as devastating as today but I like to remind the reader that there was a time, not so long ago, when women had almost none of the legal rights they often take for granted today, and that the power they did wield was often dictated by their personality and the ways in which they were able to influence those on whom they were dependant.
Reluctant Bride cover5. How do you write? Any naughty habits or guilty pleasures?
Whenever I can grab a moment. Now that our two girls are at school I try and make the most of the hours the house is quiet, combined with rising at 5.30am or 6. It’s very much a two-tiered schedule, since when Eivind is flying long-haul and in the US or Abu Dhabi for a fews days at a time, I can neglect the housework and write until the wee hours. When he’s at home I like to cook nice dinners for him and keep him company, which usually means watching a Scandinavian crime series these days.
6. Did being a published writer change the way you write?
Definitely. I much prefer working to strict deadlines.
7. If you weren’t a writer, what else would you be doing?
Probably spending too much time thinking how much I wished I could be a writer. That said, though, if you write, you’re a writer. So if nothing else, I’d be entertaining myself and the family with my stories.
8. What’s your favourite Chick Lit book of all time?
Impossible to answer. It’s whatever book I’m reading at the time, because I won’t persist with a book that doesn’t hold my interest. Obviously we all have different reading tastes so I’m certainly not in the habit of telling others I didn’t enjoy a book. I’m well aware that books I mightn’t enjoy will be thoroughly enjoyed by others. So if I’m reading a book, it’s because I’m loving it.
9. Where does the inspiration for your novels come from?
Social histories and real-life cases of women battling society’s inequities often provide inspiration for my stories.
10. Finally, are you working on something new, can you tell us anything about it?
Today I’m hoping to write ‘The End’ on my 1960s illegal diamond buying romantic suspense – working title Lammergeier Rock – set in the African mountain kingdom of Lesotho where I spent my early years. My father was a District Commissioner in the remote highlands region of Mokhotlong and I’ve based this story around some of his medicine murder and illegal diamond trading prosecutions. The hero is a bush pilot based on my husband who, as I mentioned earlier, was a handsome Norwegian bush pilot I met around a camp fire when I was managing a luxury safari lodge in Botswana. There’s lots of romance, skulduggery, drama and action in this story which is quite different to anything I’ve done before.
I’m also shortly submitting to the Choc Lit ‘Tasting Panel’ a Georgian-set ‘Dangerous Liaisons-style’ story with even more ‘gritty intrigue’ than The Maid of Milan. I was absolutely delighted with my first review of The Maid of Milan which calls it a ‘Regency version of Dynasty’ and adds: ‘The book has the genteel opulence of Anthony Trollope’s The Pallisers but underneath the waving fans it is all gritty intrigue.’
I also write under the name Beverley Oakley and am half way through my third book in a series for Ellora’s Cave. So there’s a lot happening in my writing life, which keeps life busy and interesting.
Thanks so much for having me here today, Leah.
Thanks so much, Beverley!

Book News: Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

julie cohen dear thingDear Thing by Julie Cohen is published in paperback in May and to celebrate, it has a fantastic new cover! I really loved the original, hardback cover, but the paperback cover is even better! It’s serious, but touching at the same time! Be sure to pick up your copy on the 8th May! Here’s the synopsis:

After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily offered to give them the one thing they most wanted.

But Romily wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire – and even destroy their marriage.

Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make . . .

Pre-Order your PAPERBACK or KINDLE copy of Dear Thing by Julie Cohen from Amazon.co.uk now!