Books that made me go wow in 2016

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I’ve had a great year of book reading and would like to share a few books that I’ve read this year that to me gave me the ‘wow’ factor.  A few of the books I have chosen stretched my reading and took me out of my comfort zone but I was so pleased that I trusted in the publishers and authors to open my eyes to new words.

I would like to say a big thank you to all the publishers and authors who kindly sent their books for me to voluntarily review.  I’ve also purchased a fair few books this year there have been so many great new releases that I’ve been excited to add to my TBR pile.  One of these days I will get to the bottom of this pile, or maybe not!?  I’d also like to add my thanks to the great book blogging community.  It is a wonderful arena of likeminded people sharing the love of books and reading and the support is amazing, thank you all 🙂

the ballroom
The Ballroom by Anna Hope

“This was a truly beautiful love story, a unique one, one that I’ll never forget. I was totally heartbroken at the end and couldn’t control my emotions. A stunning, poignant story that left me shattered with emotions. I’m expecting The Ballroom to be a huge success for Anna Hope, this story is just beautiful.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ballroom-Anna-Hope/dp/0857521969/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1482586120&sr=1-1

 

Dear Dad by Giselle Greendear dad

“This was a beautiful story, well written dealing with some difficult subjects. Although the storyline was very raw and emotive at times the underlining current was heartwarming, inspiring and full of hope.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dear-Dad-Giselle-Green-ebook/dp/B01D7E5GPY/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482586456&sr=1-1&keywords=dear+dad+giselle+green

the curious charms of arthur pepper

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

“This was such a remarkable story and has been one of my favourite reads so far this year. I believe it would make a great movie and would love to see the actor Bill Nighy play the character of Arthur.  A wonderful, charming, quirky, life affirming story.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Curious-Charms-Arthur-Pepper/dp/184845435X/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1482586766&sr=1-1

 

Valentina by SE Lynesvalentina

“The story takes lots of twists and turns that keep you gripped and guessing to the very end. To read a book in a genre I don’t normally read and to be gripped by the complexities of the characters and storyline is the sign of a great author. A very promising start to a debut author’s career. I’m so pleased I stepped out of my comfort zone.”

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Valentina-Hauntingly-Intelligent-Psychological-Thriller-ebook/dp/B01EVRUUMU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482587061&sr=1-1&keywords=valentina+by+s+e+lynes

sunshine over wildflower cottage

Sunshine over Wildflower Cottage by Milly Johnson

This was such a wonderful feel good story about love, loss, friendships, new beginnings with a touch of magic and mystery. From the first sight of the sunny, gorgeous illustrations on the cover of this novel you can expect an equally delightful read. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Milly’s previous books and this book was just as good, if not better, than her others.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunshine-Wildflower-Cottage-Milly-Johnson-ebook/dp/B0151VOGD4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482587216&sr=1-1&keywords=sunshine+over+wildflower+cottage

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Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

“Just as the young stars were drawn to drink and drugs I felt myself as a reader ‘drugged’ by the words on the pages. I couldn’t get enough. I was eager to know what happened next. On the one hand Valley of the Dolls was shocking, tragic and heart breaking BUT on the other it was also glamorous, sexy and very indulgent!”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Valley-Dolls-Anniversary-Jacqueline-Susann-ebook/dp/B01E1QW4KC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482587461&sr=1-1&keywords=valley+of+the+dolls

devastation road

Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt

“This was a very poignant, engaging read that throws no punches and shows the raw side of people trying to survive a war that has shaken the world to it’s core. Jason Hewitt manages to open your eyes and feel the hidden sights and sounds in a landscape torn apart. Such a horrific time for all but humanity remained and the tender, heartrending moments felt more intense. This is a story that I won’t forget in a long time.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Devastation-Road-Jason-Hewitt-ebook/dp/B00O65XA5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482587628&sr=1-1&keywords=devastation+road

late summer in the vineyard

Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas

“This story was so beautiful and warm hearted however, there were some quite poignant, tender moments that took over my emotions. The author was so detailed with her descriptions of the setting, the vineyards, the food I was enthralled throughout. With chemistry sizzling between several characters the story was given even more charming moments. When I finished this gorgeous novel I wanted to go back to the beginning and read it all over again. A warm and welcoming read with enough depth and sparkle to leave you hungry and thirsty for more.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Late-Summer-Vineyard-Jo-Thomas-ebook/dp/B0113JMEZ0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482587837&sr=1-1&keywords=late+summer+in+the+vineyard+jo+Thomas

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Somebody Else’s Boy by Jo Bartlett

“Jo Bartlett has written a wonderful tale set around an idyllic coastal bay in the south of England with characters that are easily relatable and you find yourself loving as each page is read. I instantly fell for little Toby. This story subtly deals with grief, loss, betrayal, abuse, new beginnings all with such a warmth that you get enveloped in the emotions the characters are feeling but you don’t feel depressed … a story with hope and strength emanating from new beginnings mixed with a big dose of love.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Somebody-Elses-Boy-Nicholas-Bay-ebook/dp/B01IDPQBSI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482588119&sr=1-1&keywords=somebody+else%27s+boy

Moondance by Diane Chandlermoondance

“I’ve never read a story based around IVF before and initially you would imagine it to be quite depressing but Moondance was an altogether different story. Diane Chandler has created a masterpiece in wrapping a highly sensitive, emotive storyline with scenes of warmth and humour. This raw, honest story will tug at your heart and will never leave your mind.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Moondance-WINNER-PEOPLES-PRIZE-FICTION-ebook/dp/B01K0LA8KU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482588245&sr=1-1&keywords=moondance+by+diane+chandler

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The Shogun’s Queen by Lesley Downer

“This was such an epic story that sent my emotions soaring high and dramatically cascading low. I was enchanted by the author Lesley Downer’s beautiful words describing a colourful world. I felt instantly transported to a land far, far away to a time where legends and rituals were significant and paramount. To a time were the unknown were feared. A time when sacrifices had to be made for the sake of the countries survival.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shoguns-Queen-Shogun-Quartet-Book-ebook/dp/B017DIJ2ZK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482588405&sr=1-1&keywords=the+shogun%27s+queen

 

Cedarwood Lodge series by Rebecca Raisin

Cedarwood Lodge has been such a treat. I’m now feeling quite hungover with book love for the friends I’ve grown to love at Cedarwood Lodge. I do hope Rebecca Raisin will revisit Cedarwood Lodge in the future. I could happily read the whole series back to back again!”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Celebrations-Confetti-Cedarwood-Lodge-hilarious-ebook/dp/B01JNHHDP0/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1482588636&sr=1-2&keywords=rebecca+raisin

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brides-Bouquets-Cedarwood-Lodge-Christmas-ebook/dp/B01I9AEIEQ/ref=pd_sim_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=RCK7P1N5SE6NE5NE6139

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Midnight-Mistletoe-Cedarwood-Lodge-uplifting-ebook/dp/B01JBIQOOC/ref=pd_sim_351_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=DA7NGZMEM5VJ52DM7F0Q

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I’d like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Healthy, Prosperous New Year … keep the books flowing 🙂

Midnight and Mistletoe at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin book review/blogtour

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Midnight and Mistletoe at Cedarwood Lodge written by Rebecca Raisin, publisher HQ Digital is available NOW in ebook format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Midnight-Mistletoe-Cedarwood-Lodge-uplifting-ebook/dp/B01JBIQOOC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1482348021&sr=1-1&keywords=midnight+and+mistletoe+at+cedarwood+lodge

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Planning a New Years Eve Party might be the kind of event Clio Winters used to dream about organising, but when everything is feeling a bit up in the air, she has to hope that this New Years her wish really will come true.

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is the final part in this feel-good romance serial.

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I’m so pleased to be involved in the blogtour promoting and celebrating the launch of Rebecca Raisin’s final instalment in The Cedarwood Lodge trilogy.  Cedarwood Lodge has been such a treat.  I’m now feeling quite hungover with book love for the friends I’ve grown to love at Cedarwood Lodge.  I do hope Rebecca Raisin will revisit Cedarwood Lodge in the future.  I could happily read the whole series back to back again!

We rejoin Clio and her friends and family at Christmas, just after their first major wedding expo at the lodge.  With the excitement of the prospect of new events planning for the new year the gang can now relax a little and enjoy Christmas.  Until Tim, an old school friend of Clio’s, throws a party opportunity their way which is too good an offer to refuse.  One week to plan a major New Year’s Eve party for a big business.  Clio and Amory are already excited and are busy scribbling down ideas but with the boss of the firm making last minute changes the team at Cedarwood Lodge have lots to do.

Kai, the Australian builder who has caught Clio’s eye, is still on site finishing off work.  The relationship between Clio and Kai is so lovely.  They are both sensitive souls with background heartache between them.  Can Clio trust her heart and break down her barriers to let love in?  Or will it be too late with Kai with his family and other work commitments elsewhere?

The secrets of Cedarwood Lodge slowly start unravelling in this book and for someone it is such a heart breaking moment for them to reach out to others and let them understand this heartache.

Cedarwood Lodge, I can see from the words on the page, is a remarkable place that needs to let people in to share it’s beauty.  It just needed some like minded folk to refresh the bones of the place and bring some magic and love to the community that live, work and visit the lodge.  A gorgeous read 5/5*

To find out more about Rebecca Raisin and her books please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.rebeccaraisin.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/@jaxandwillsmum

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Brides & Bouquets by Rebecca Raisin book review/blogtour

brides-and-bouquets-blog-tour-banner

brides-n-bouquets

Brides and Bouquets At Cedarwood Lodge written by Rebecca Raisin, publisher HQ Digital, is available NOW in ebook format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brides-Bouquets-Cedarwood-Lodge-Christmas-ebook/dp/B01I9AEIEQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1480270083&sr=8-2&keywords=brides+%26+bouquets

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Dreaming of a happily ever after at Cedarwood Lodge is Clio Winters’ current focus, especially with a winter wonderland wedding expo planned. But with brides coming from far and wide the heat is on for Clio to fulfil everyone’s dream of a Christmas wedding!

It seems like Clio’s new business might be off to a rocky start and surrounded by love struck brides she can’t help but hope for a little Christmas romance of her own…

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part Two.

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I absolutely adored revisiting Cedarwood Lodge with Rebecca Raisin. Brides and
Bouquets is the second instalment in the new trilogy by Rebecca Raisin set on Clio
moving back to her hometown Evergreen and purchasing Cedarwood Lodge,
renovating and refurbishing it back to life.
We find Clio, joined by her best friend from New York Amory, preparing the lodge for
Christmas and their first wedding expo. The Lodge and grounds are now beautifully
restored and it sounds so idyllic with the mountainous backdrop. Snow has arrived in
Evergreen making the preparations even more beautiful and realistic.
Clio is still concerned about the secrets the Lodge holds and her mom being part of
them. The townsfolk are very guarded about the secret but Clio makes a startling
discovery and doesn’t know were this discovery will lead to and what it will do to the
already frosty relationship with her mom.
Amongst all this history Cedarwood Lodge is casting its spell in the present with love
blooming and possibly blossoming for the characters we’ve grown to love.  Rebecca
has left us with a cliff-hanger and I can’t wait for book 3.   A wonderful heart-warming
story that will leave you wanting more.  5/5*
I’d like to share one of my favourite quotes from the book:
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About the Author

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Website: http://rebeccaraisin.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Celebrations & Confetti by Rebecca Raisin book review and blogtour

celebrations-and-confetti

Celebrations & Confetti At Cedarwood Lodge written by Rebecca Raisin, publisher Carina, is available NOW in ebook format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Celebrations-Confetti-Cedarwood-Lodge-hilarious-ebook/dp/B01JNHHDP0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477468371&sr=8-1&keywords=Celebrations+%26+Confetti

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.

Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.

Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?

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Celebrations & Confetti is the first instalment in the new Cedarwood Lodge series written by Rebecca Raisin.

I’ve always loved Rebecca Raisin’s style of writing especially how she draws you into the setting of the novel.  I totally could see myself walking into Cedarwood Lodge and could imagine the before and after in the renovations that new owner Clio had in mind.  Clio has been recently working in New York as a wedding planner but she is now back in her hometown of Evergreen after purchasing Cedarwood Lodge.  The Lodge has been left empty for years and is looking a little tired but Clio has plans to turn it into the best lodge around to host all matters of events.  Clio remembers the Lodge when she was a child playing in the grounds and the location of the lodge is just perfect with it’s vast gardens overlooking the mountains.

The Lodge however, holds many secrets and Clio discovers that her own mother is privy to one of these secrets.  Clio also has her own secret and she is holding back about the real reason she left the city.

With the renovations in full swing and the first booking for the lodge in place Clio’s life is full on.  No time for romance but love is blossoming for someone at the lodge.

This was such a wonderful, heart warming story and a great introduction to a new series.  I was totally swept away with Clio and her dreams.  I’m looking forward to more from Cedarwood Lodge and am intrigued to find out if the new renovated walls will reveal their secrets and whether cupid will cast it’s spell.  5/5*

To find out more about Rebecca Raisin and her books please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.rebeccaraisin.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/@jaxandwillsmum

 

The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower by Rebecca Raisin book cover reveal

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I am so pleased to be involved in the Cover Reveal blogtour organised by #KEPR tours.  What a gorgeous summery cover it is …

Don’t miss the exciting new title in The Little Paris Collection, The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower.  The book is due to be published on the 1st July 2016 and is now available to pre-order with the following link

The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower by Rebecca Raisin, publisher Carina, is the 2nd book in the Little Paris Collection.  The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower can be read as a standalone but to enjoy the full series I would highly recommend reading all the books in The Little Paris Collection:

  • The Little Bookshop on the Seine
  •  The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower
  • The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées

Rebecca Raisin is a contemporary romance fiction writer and all her novels are beautifully detailed with characters to fall in love with and a storyline to warm your heart …

To find out more about Rebecca Raisin and her books please visit the following links:

 

The Little Bookshop on the Seine book review and excerpt

book cover the little bookshop on the seine

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin, publisher Carina, is available now in ebook format.

To buy links:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00R1O444Q?keywords=the%20little%20bookshop%20on%20the%20seine&qid=1447081394&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Bookshop owner Sarah Smith has been offered the opportunity to exchange bookshops with her new Parisian friend for 6 months! And saying yes is a no-brainer – after all, what kind of a romantic would turn down a trip to Paris…for Christmas?

Even if it does mean leaving the irresistible Ridge Warner behind, Sarah’s sure she’s in for the holiday of a lifetime – complete with all the books she can read!

Imagining days wandering around Shakespeare & Co, munching on croissants, sipping café au laits and watching the snow fall on the Champs-Élysées Sarah boards the plane.

But will her dream of a Parisian Happily-Ever-After come true? Or will Sarah realise that the dream of a Christmas fairytale in the city of love isn’t quite as rosy in reality…

reader on booksI’d like to thank the publishers and the author for an arc in return for an honest review.

This was such a delightful story set around a bookshop in Paris, what more could a book lover want?

I love Rebecca Raisin’s style of writing she creatures lovely, warm hearted characters and has made some wonderful series of stories based around these characters who reside in the charming fictional town of Ashford, Connecticut.  Its been wonderful to carry on reading about the much loved characters of Ashford and to learn more about them and watch them grow.

Sarah is the owner of the bookshop in the sleepy town of Ashford.  She has gained a great relationship with a fellow book owner in Paris.  When Sophie suggests a shop swop for 6 months to help her out during a trying time Sarah jumps at the chance to spread her wings and stay in Paris working in Sophie’s shop Once Upon a Time.  Sarah is hoping for a dreamy, romantic time working in the city of love, strolling along the streets steeped with so much history.  However, when she arrives in Paris it doesn’t initially live up to her expectations and the delights of Paris have to be ignored while she tackles the stress and strain of owning a very busy city centre bookshop (the total opposite of her little shop in Ashford).

Sarah’s love life is also suffering whilst she is in Paris.  Ridge is constantly working away and struggles to spend much time with Sarah.  When he finally visits Sarah in Paris, Sarah starts to believe her relationship with Ridge is back on track.  However, the lure of his job beckons and Sarah is left alone again.

We are introduced to some lovely new characters in Paris.  I particularly loved Oceane, she sounded so glamorous and vivacious.  T.J. was also a great character and his personality shone through the more you read about him.  Once Upon a Time sounded like the best bookshop in the world, I hope a bookshop like this does exist and if it does I hope Rebecca lets us know.

This was a gorgeous, feel good story that eclipsed with a fabulous ending at Christmas time.  I’m looking forward to hearing more about Paris and the lovely new characters we’ve been introduced to in the next two instalments in the Little Paris Collection.  A wonderful story filled with festive charm and romance 4.5/5*.

The Little Paris Collection:

The Little Bookshop on the Seine

The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower

The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées

book borderCarina and Rebecca have kindly given me an excerpt to share with you:

My email pinged and I dashed over to see who it was from. That’s how exciting my life was sans Ridge, an email was enough to make me almost run, and that was saying a lot. I only ran if chocolate was involved, and even then it was more a fast walk.

Sales@littlebookshop.fr

Sophie, a dear Parisian friend. She owned Once Upon a Time, a famous bookshop by the bank of the Seine. We’d become confidantes since connecting on my book blog a while back, and shared our joys and sorrows about bookshop life. She was charming and sweet, and adored books as much as me, believing them to be portable magic, and a balm for souls.

I clicked open the email and read.

Ma Chérie,

I cannot stay one more day in Paris. You see, Manu has not so much broken my heart, rather pulled it out of my chest and stomped on it. The days are interminable and I can’t catch my breath. He walks past the bookshop, as though nothing is amiss. I have a proposal for you. Please call me as soon as you can.

Love,

Sophie

Poor Sophie. I’d heard all about her grand love affair with a dashing twenty-something man, who frequented her bookshop, and quoted famous poets. It’d been a whirlwind romance, but she often worried he cast an appraising eye over other women. Even when she clutched his hand, and walked along the cobbled streets of Paris, he’d dart an admiring glance at any woman swishing past.

I shot off a quick reply, telling her to Skype me now, if she was able. Within seconds my computer flashed with an incoming call.

Her face appeared on the screen, her chestnut-colored hair in an elegant chignon, her lips dusted rosy pink. If she was in the throes of heartache, you’d never know it by looking at her. The French had a way of always looking poised and together, no matter what was happening in their complex lives.

“Darling,” she said, giving me a nod. “He’s a lothario, a Casanova, a…” She grappled for another moniker as her voice broke. “He’s dating the girl who owns the shop next door!” Her eyes smoldered, but her face remained stoic.

I gasped, “Which girl? The one from the florist?”

Sophie shook her head. “The other side, the girl from the fromagerie.” She grimaced. I’d heard so much about the people in or around Sophie’s life that it was easy to call her neighbors to mind. “Giselle?” I said, incredulous. “Wasn’t she engaged – I thought the wedding was any day now?”

Sophie’s eyes widened. “She’s broken off her engagement, and has announced it to the world that my Manu has proposed and now they are about to set up house and to try immediately for children –”

My hand flew to my mouth. “Children! He wouldn’t do that, surely!” Sophie was late-forties, and had gently broached the subject of having a baby with Manu, but he’d said simply: absolutely not, he didn’t want children.

The doorbell of her shop pinged, Sophie’s face pinched and she leaned closer to the screen, lowering her voice. “A customer…” She forced a bright smile, turned her head and spoke in rapid-fire French to whoever stood just off-screen. “So,” she continued quietly. “The entire neighborhood are whispering behind their hands about the love triangle, and unfortunately for me, I’m the laughing stock. The older woman, who was deceived by a younger man.”

I wished I could lean through the monitor and hug her. While she was an expert at keeping her features neutral, she couldn’t stop the glassiness of her eyes when tears threatened. My heart broke that Manu would treat her so callously. She’d trusted him, and loved him unreservedly. “No one is laughing at you, I promise,” I said. “They’ll be talking about Manu, if anyone, and saying how he’s made a huge mistake.”

“No, no.” A bitter laugh escaped her. “I look like a fool. I simply cannot handle when he cavorts through the streets with her, darting glances in my bookshop, like they hope I’ll see them. It’s too cruel.” Sophie held up a hand, and turned to a voice. She said au revoir to the customer and spun to face me, but within a second or two, the bell sounded again. “I have a proposal for you, and I want you to really consider it.” She raised her eyebrows. “Or at least hear me out before you say no.” Her gaze burned into mine as I racked my brain with what it could be, and came up short. Sophie waved to customers, and pivoted her screen further away.

“Well?” I said with a nervous giggle. “What exactly are you proposing?”

She blew out a breath, and then smiled. “A bookshop exchange. You come and run Once Upon a Time, and I’ll take over the Bookshop on the Corner.”

I gasped, my jaw dropping.

Sophie continued, her calm belied by the slight quake in her hand as she gesticulated. “You’ve always said how much you yearned to visit the city of love – here’s your chance, my dear friend. After our language lessons, you’re more than capable of speaking enough French to get by.” Sophie’s words spilled out in a desperate rush, her earlier calm vanishing. “You’d save me so much heartache. I want to be in a place where no one knows me, and there’s no chance for love, ever again.”

I tried to hide my smile at that remark. I’d told Sophie in the past how bereft of single men Ashford was, and how my love life had been almost non-existent until Ridge strolled into town.

“Sophie, I want to help you, but I’m barely hanging on to the bookshop as is…” I stalled for time, running a hand through my hair, my bangs too long, shielding the tops of my eyebrows. How could it work? How would we run each other’s businesses, the financial side, the logistics? I also had an online shop, and I sourced hard-to-find books – how would Sophie continue that?

My mind boggled with the details, not to mention the fact that leaving my books would be akin to leaving a child behind. I loved my bookshop as if it were a living thing, an unconditional best friend, who was always there for me. Besides, I’d never ventured too far from Ashford let alone boarded a plane – it just couldn’t happen.

Please,” Sophie said, a real heartache in her tone. “Think about it. We can work out the finer details and I’ll make it worth your while. Besides, you know I’m good with numbers, I can whip your sales into shape.” Her eyes clouded with tears. “I have to leave, Sarah. You’re my only chance. Christmas in Paris is on your bucket list…”

My bucket list. A hastily compiled scrappy piece of paper filled with things I thought I’d never do. Christmas in Paris – snow dusting the bare trees on the Left Bank, the sparkling fairy lights along the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Santa’s village in the Latin Quarter. The many Christmas markets to stroll through, rugged up with thick scarves and gloves, Ridge by my side, as I hunted out treasures. I’d spent many a day curled up in my own shop, flicking through memoirs, or travel guides about Paris, dreaming about the impossible…one day.

Sophie continued: “If you knew how I suffered here, my darling. It’s not only Manu, it’s everything. All of a sudden, I can’t do it all any more. It’s like someone has pulled the plug, and I’m empty.” Her eyes scrunched closed as she fought tears.

While Sophie’s predicament was different to mine, she was in a funk, just like me. Perhaps a new outlook, a new place would mend both our lives. Her idea of whipping my sales into shape was laughable though, she had no real clue how tiny Ashford was.

“Exchange bookshops…” I said, the idea taking shape. Could I just up and leave? What about my friends, my life, my book babies? My fear of change? And Ridge, what would he have to say about it? But my life…it was missing something. Could this be the answer?

Paris. The city of love. Full of rich literary history.

A little bookshop on the bank of the Seine. Could there be anything sweeter?

With a thud, a book fell to the floor beside me, dust motes dancing above it like glitter. I craned my neck to see what it was.

Paris: A Literary Guide.

Was that a sign? Did my books want me to go?

“Yes,” I said, without any more thought. “I’ll do it.”

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To find out more about Rebecca Raisin and her books please visit the following links:

http://www.rebeccaraisin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor?_rdr=p

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin book review

secrets at maple syrup farm

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin is available in ebook format from TOMORROW Friday 17th July 2015.

To buy links:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secrets-Maple-Syrup-Farm-Lifetime-ebook/dp/B00OQD8HNY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437059253&sr=8-1&keywords=secrets+at+maple+syrup+farm

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Lucy would do anything for her mom…but she never expected to end up promising to leave her. After her mom got sick, Lucy dropped everything to take care of her, working all hours in a greasy diner just to make ends meet and spending every spare moments she had by her mom’s hospital bedside.

Now, Lucy is faced with a whole year of living by her own rules, starting by taking the first bus out of town to anywhere…

Except she didn’t expect to find her next big adventure just around the corner! Especially when on her first day in town she bumps into grumpy, but oh-so-delicious Clay amidst the maple trees. Surrounded by the magic of Ashford, Lucy has the chance to change her life forever and finally discover a life she wants to live!

Fall in love with Ashford, Connecticut in this dazzling and beautiful romance from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin.

black n white maple leaf clipart

I’d like to thank the author Rebecca Raisin, Carina UK and netgalley for an arc in return for an honest review.

Lucy has been run ragged working double shifts in the diner so she can pay the rent and also the hospital fees for her seriously ill mother.  She doesn’t find this routine a chore, it’s just what is needed at this moment in time.  However, her passion is art, especially painting, and her dream would be to further her learning at The Van Gogh Art Institute in Paris.  Her mom asks her for one favour and that is to take a year off from the daily routine of working and looking after her and to travel and apply to the Art Institute in Paris to pursue her dream.  Lucy reluctantly agrees and promises her mom she will have an adventure for a year.  She packs her bags, catches the first bus and ends up in the sleepy town of Ashford, Connecticut.  The town is very warm and welcoming to Lucy and she soon makes friends.  However, she needs to find a job asap to help save for her Art course and also to send money back home for her mom.

On the outskirts of the town is a rundown farm, Maple Syrup farm.  Lucy finds out that the new owner of the farm is looking for a farm hand.  Lucy has never worked on a farm, but wonders how hard can it be?  She sets off to introduce herself to the new owner and is immediately met with a moody, hunk of a man named Clay.  Sparks fly immediately between them but they agree on a trial for Lucy to work on the farm.

What follows is a wonderful tale of friendship, new beginnings.  A tale of a mysterious history of the farm and it’s previous and present owner.  A tale of community spirit.

I loved all the characters from the story.  Ceecee and Lil sounded so warm and friendly and Rebecca first introduced us to them in her Gingerbread Café series.

Clay, the moody ‘love god’ sounded gorgeous even with his moodiness.  I’d love to hear more from Rebecca with a follow up to Lucy and Clay’s growing friendship.

At the end of the novel we are given a glimpse into Rebecca’s next book; The Little Bookshop on the Seine.  This follows the story of Sarah the bookshop owner from the town of Ashford.

I really can’t recommend this book enough and I need to catch up with Rebecca Raisin’s back catalogue with the wonderful characters from Ashford, Connecticut.  A gorgeous, warm hearted, romantic 5/5* read.

I’d like to share a little snippet from the book.  This particular paragraph is really beautiful and I could picture the scene in front of me.

quote secrets at maple syrup farm

To find out more about Rebecca Raisin and her books please visit the following links:

http://www.rebeccaraisin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor