Jenny Hale

The Summer House [Jenny Hale]

Some summers will stay with you forever…

Callie Weaver and best friend Olivia Dixon have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They’re going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed and breakfast.

Callie’s too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He’s heir to his father’s property empire, and the papers say he’s just another playboy, but as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there’s more to this man than money and good looks.

Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets… secrets that stretch across the island, and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor.

Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm it unleashes, or can true love save them?

My thoughts on the book: This is the first “summer” book I’ve read from Jenny Hale. I had already reviewed one of her Christmas novels a few months ago and I had really enjoyed the author’s writing style. So I knew that I was likely to enjoy this new publication.

And the promise of a feel-good, romantic story has been delivered. I really had a lovely time delving into this heartwarming tale. The whole cast was endearing and easy to like. Although at first, I was having some reservations about the “millionaire” side of Luke.

I couldn’t not say anything about this element of the book, especially given that I sort of criticized this recurring theme/cliché in chick lit in my last review of the French translation of “A Night With Grace Kelly” by Lucy Holliday. But, last weekend Pippa Middleton did marry that kind of rare man, so it is not as unrealistic as one would think, right? Let’s accept this feature as part of the wild romantic fantasy we might all nurture to some extent at some point! 😊

Overall, I enjoyed seeing the main protagonists slowly get to know each other. The author really managed to write warm scenes with vivid, dynamic descriptions. I really was under the impression that the film was unfolding before my eyes.

The Summer House is a feel-good love story for the hopeless romantics we all secretly are. Luke is the dream boyfriend we’d all wish to meet one day — kind, supportive and reliable. I recommend this book if you need a sweet, easy read to escape.

My score:  ♥ ♥ ♥ (= I liked it a lot)

*****

Special question for the author: I’m having some doubts about a short sentence that I found a bit odd in the context of the hurricane taking place near the end. Since Luke is a wealthy man, how come his sister is worried about where he would stay if his house is destroyed? One would think that accommodation wouldn’t be a problem for a millionaire? Or did I miss something?

EDIT (May 24) : Jenny Hale kindly answered my question on Twitter. If you need some background info like me, here it goes:

In a year, 38 million people visit overnight on a strip of land a mere 200 mikes long. During a big storm, People need to be in town for repairs but it’s a busy little place and very few hotels. Thanks for the review! Glad you enjoyed it. And all those visitors have rented cottages so they’re all booked or destroyed during a hurricane. Hope all that makes sense! 🙂

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Victoria Cooke

The Secret to Falling in Love [Victoria Cooke]

Status Update: I’m going offline for a while… Wish me luck! xx

Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta’s and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.

That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.

If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

My thoughts on the novel: If you’re looking for a feel-good, romantic novel, The Secret to Falling in Love will not disappoint you. It is a lovely, bubbly rom-com about Melissa, a thirty-something journalist who cannot wait to settle down and put an end to an endless stream of fruitless dates. She spends an incredible amount of time online and up until now, it has failed to provide her with a good partner. Has Tinder really killed romance?

The writing style is lively, the characters endearing and the plot interesting — going offline and trying to live life the old-fashioned way. Will Melissa find life better when she’s unplugged? Has technology really become an obstacle to social life? If you’re looking to know what Melissa’s conclusion will be after this enlightening experience, don’t forget to pick your copy of The Secret to Falling in Love due to be released on February 9th.

It is a vibrant chicklit novel that will appeal to those who enjoy a good read with a happy ending.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥

Darcie Boleyn

Interview with author Darcie Boleyn

Last weekend, I finished reading A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn, a great holiday novel I reviewed here. Darcie Boleyn kindly answered a few questions. Hope you’ll enjoy learning more about her!


Thanks for agreeing to this interview. First off, can you tell us more about yourself? How did you become an author?

D.B: I’ve always written, and as a child I used to enter short story and poetry competitions. This continued when I went to university but then, as life became busier, writing took a back seat. I nursed the dream to write for years when my children were young, and I tried to write a novel but spent far too much time procrastinating, which meant that it didn’t get finished. A few years ago, my husband encouraged me to really try again, and following a few false starts, I finally had that amazing acceptance email. Since then, I haven’t stopped!

Your latest novel A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is a festive, enchanting read whose main character, Lucie, has a very dark, heartbreaking past. Where did you find the inspiration to write such a poignant story that manages to combine both light and deep content?

Thank you so much! I try to combine comedy with reality in my writing. I want to create moments where readers laugh out loud but also ones where they feel other emotions, as, after all, life is a mixture of good and bad times. I also aim to give my characters motivation for their behaviour and decisions, whether linked to positive or negative experiences. I begin with an outline and character profiles, but as I write, these take off in all directions and the characters tell me things about themselves; it’s very exciting. Lucie was actually hiding her darkest secret from me, until I reached the point where she reveals it. I had an idea of what it was but when she actually spoke about it, even I was surprised.

What do you love the most about storytelling?

Creating new characters and watching as their lives unfold. It’s a very enjoyable process and the way I described it recently to my husband was like entering a dark corridor where the lights come on automatically, one at a time, as I move forwards. I don’t always know exactly what’s at the end, or even the next step, but as one light comes on, I can see more of the way ahead and this keeps going until I reach the end.

What do you find hardest in the writing process?

The fact that I have a day job too. There are days when I long to just stay home and write but I can’t and this definitely slows me down. Also, when you write, you’re putting yourself out there, and if you’re gentle and a softy like me, you do have to try to toughen up when it comes to some of the more critical reviews.

Can you describe your typical writing day?

I write whenever and wherever I can, although my most productive time seems to be early morning straight after breakfast. I make a cup of tea or coffee, read over my notes and the previous scene, visualize the scene I’m about to write, then off I go!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers willing to write a good Christmas story?

All stories are different and depend upon the author’s own views of Christmas and own experiences. For me, a Christmas story should include some traditional Christmas themes and activities but also create that all important festive setting. Elements such as the weather and music can all help to pull the reader into your novel, so really appeal to the five senses. In a more general sense, I would encourage aspiring authors to keep trying. The success of the ebook industry means that there are more opportunities to become a published author than in the past. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, you just have to sit down and write. You can edit later, but you have to get the words down on the page first.

Are you currently working on a new novel? If yes, can you tell us more about it?

I’m working on a summer novel right now and it’s set in beautiful Italy. I don’t want to say too much at this point because it’s early days, but I hope to have some very good news to reveal in coming months.

Thank you so much for hosting me at your lovely blog! Have a fabulous Christmas!

Love, Darcie XXX


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darcie Photo copy 2Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Connect with Darcie online:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/darcieboleyn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/public/DarcieBoleyn

Blog: https://darcieboleyn.wordpress.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darcieboleynauthor

 

You can purchase her books here:

CANELO: http://www.canelo.co/books/very-merry-manhattan-christmas/

AMAZON: http://lrd.to/A-Very-Merry-Manhattan-Christmas

manhattan-christmas-out-now-alternate

Warm your heart with this perfectly festive romance…

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas – Book Spotlight

In my writing, themes such as the importance of family and friends and the modern family unit often emerge. I’m a hopeless romantic; I believe in true love, and that it’s worth fighting for. I also adore Christmas and hope to spend it in New York one year. I went out to Manhattan in late October 2009 and my husband proposed to me in Times Square, so New York has a special place in my heart.

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is about two friends, Lucie and Dale, who’ve always been there for each other. This year, Lucie has been asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Christmas wedding in New York. She asks Dale to go with her because they do everything together and because she can’t imagine going without him.

I wrote the story in the summer, as often happens with Christmas books. My family find the whole process quite amusing, as while the sun is shining outside the window (on those days when we get sunshine, of course) and others are jetting off on exotic holidays, I’m hidden away in my study humming along to Christmas tunes and yearning for a mince pie.

My inspiration for the story started as a seed of an idea that bloomed into a novel. I love festive stories, especially A Christmas Carol, and one day I started thinking about a character who might, in some ways, be a modern female version of Ebenezer Scrooge – but not as miserable or miserly. I thought, what if there were a few ghosts of Christmas past haunting her; a few events that she couldn’t quite get over? Then I added a very positive spirit of Christmas present – to help her learn to love the festive season – in the hunky form of Dale.

But will he be the spirit of Christmas future?

You’ll have to read A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas to find out!

Jenny Hale

Interview with author Jenny Hale

Christmas is a perfect time to binge-read warm, festive novels about love, friendship and family. I’ve recently finished All I Want for Christmas by US best-selling author Jenny Hale. After posting my review (click here), a new idea popped into my mind: Why wouldn’t I follow-up with an interview in order to more actively engage with the author? Jenny Hale kindly agreed to answer a few questions. Enjoy!

***

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. As a best-selling author of romantic women’s fiction, do you find it easier to write novels or does the success put more pressure on you?

J.H: Every single novel is its own adventure. Each time, it doesn’t get any easier for me, just different. I enjoy the ups and downs of all of them, though.

You’ve already written four Christmas novels, including the recently published All I Want for Christmas. Is there a reason for this recurring theme?

I usually like to write one winter and one summer novel, and what better time during the winter than Christmas?

You’ve opened up about needing to be outside (e.g in coffee shops) to find inspiration. Do you have a specific process to source ideas and put together a good plot? How do you go about creating a brand new world?

It usually occurs during collaboration with my editor. Once we’ve agreed on something, I just go with it and see what I get. As for the actual writing, I like to be around people and in new places—something to spark my creativity.

Were any of the characters and/or situations inspired by your friends and relatives?

No. I try not to base any characters on real people.

To the readers who haven’t read your books yet, which one of your novels would you recommend them to read first? And why?

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses – I had so much fun writing this book. I was at a very high point creatively and just adored the characters.

What storytelling tips would you give to aspiring writers wishing to write a good Christmas story?

Think about Christmas elements and then go deeper. Like in All I Want for Christmas, Nan put up a Christmas tree. But going deeper, she was so tidy and organized that she’d write notes to herself as to where the ornaments went so the next year she’d remember. The characters then played a game to try to guess the locations.

Christmas movies are always very popular at this time of year. Would you ever consider writing a script for a holiday TV movie?

No. I leave that to the professional screenwriters. 🙂

Can you tell us more about your next novel?

It’s set in the Outer Banks, barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. The heroine has just moved there to open a bed and breakfast and she gets swept up in a romance with a famous local playboy. That is, until a secret threatens to tear them apart…


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Jenny Hale is a US best-selling author of romantic women’s fiction. She has already published six books — A Barefoot Summer, Summer at Oyster Bay, Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses, Summer by the Sea, A Christmas to Remember, Coming Home for Christmas, All I Want for Christmas.

To learn more, visit her website: http://itsjennyhale.com/

Twitter @jhaleauthor

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jennyhaleauthor/

jennyhale

Susan Hatler

A Christmas Kiss [Susan Hatler]

Harper Avery is a jaded divorce attorney who loves helping her clients move on to better things. After all, they’ve struggled enough being in an unhappy marriage. When one client’s soon-to-be ex-husband suddenly says he wants a second chance with his wife, Harper’s dubious, certain that her client is just going to get hurt again.

Despite his career as a divorce attorney, Gabriel Hart still believes that love can work miracles. Sure, there are no guarantees, but he totally supports his client’s efforts to reconcile with his wife—even if it means Gabriel has to go head-to-head with Harper to keep her from ruining the couple’s chances.

With the holidays approaching, husband and wife set out to see if they can work through their issues, while Harper decides to spend the long Christmas weekend at her friend’s cabin in Lake Tahoe. Only when she gets there, someone is already occupying her last-minute rental—Gabriel Hart. Both refuse to give up their holiday retreat. Will their adversarial working relationship make for a stressful weekend? Or will the magic of Christmas sprinkle them with a love that can beat the odds?


My thoughts on the novel: Hatco Publishing and author Susan Hatler are offering us a brilliant Christmas story you’ll read from cover to cover in no time. The 100-page long rom-com stars two headstrong attorneys who have had their hearts broken in the past and are in need of some peace and quiet over the holidays. But fate had another plan in store for them. Chance has it that they are « stuck » with one another in a lodge cabin in the woods over Christmas. The perfect setting for a budding love story between two opposing counsellors.
This festive, feel-good story is about believing in true love and second chances. Harper and Gabriel are relatable and easy to like, although Gabriel’s personality may sound too good to be true at times. He’s such a helpless romantic, almost sappy character, you think it is indeed a fiction. But, it is precisely why we, romance aficionados, love romance fiction so much, right?!
We want more Gabriels in real life as well!

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥

Nic Tatano

The Empire State Cat’s Christmas Gift [Nic Tatano]

The night her house catches fire, kick-ass lawyer Tish McKenna’s neatly ordered life is thrown into chaos. At least she’s alive—thanks to her adorable cat, Socks!—and after her near-death experience Tish realises she wants more in her life than late nights and case files…

Professionally speaking, hot-shot attorney, Spencer Capshaw hadn’t realised how far off track he’d come. Sure, he had his reasons originally—saving his dad’s life required more money than the DA’s office paid him—yet helping corrupt corporate bigwigs was not why he became a lawyer…

With a little help from a furry friend, these two lost souls find each other in the heart of Manhattan. But when Tish and Spence are pitted against each other in a trial that pushes them both to their limits, can their budding relationship survive?


My thoughts on the novel: If you’re looking for a lovely, warm and festive rom-com, look no further. This novel is a combination of Ally McBeal and a typical Meg Ryan movie, all wrapped up with a magical touch of holiday cheer. What’s not to love?

Tish and Spencer are two charming characters with strong personalities. They’re brought together thanks to Benny, a very endearing secondary character, and also through the unexpected help of Tish’s cat. But, when the reader learns the pair already crossed paths years ago, you only want to keep turning the pages to find out whether the stars will finally align perfectly for them.

It’s particularly refreshing reading about Spencer’s frame of mind. He’s an astonishingly romantic male character. The way he depicts his relationship goals in life is utterly sweet. Any romantic soul indulging in this novel will really enjoy this part of the book.

As far as the narration goes, it flows really well with a series of vivid, well-paced twists, all set in wonderful, magical New York.

The author instills a good amount of humour in serious scenes like the court hearings where the female judge is worth mentioning. It’s an amusing character in all its seriousness. I really enjoyed the dynamic created between the two attorneys and the judge. I couldn’t help but think of episodes from Ally McBeal.

I highly recommend this novel. It will easily appeal to those who love a fun, heartwarming love story with a happy ending.

Score : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Leigh W. Stuart

The 12 Dares of Christmas [Leigh W. Stuart]

Lauren Hall has one wish for Christmas this year — raise money to build a new, no-kill animal shelter for the town of Sycamore Cove. And she is prepared to do anything to make it happen. Even dare a man she just met to perform a strip tease for the local knitting society.

Gabe Nicholson has one wish too — obtain the job of a lifetime to launch his career. Only his wishes get snowballed when his best friend’s little sister hands him a pair of stripper pants and a bottle of eggnog-flavored body oil.

It’s all sugar plums and mistletoe until a scandal caused by Lauren’s fundraiser threatens to ruin it all. With Gabe’s work opportunities disappearing before his eyes and Lauren’s fundraising efforts tanking, their game of dares stands to burn them both. Unless it ignites a spark of Christmas magic.

My thoughts on the novel: I would like to thank NetGalley and City Owl Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book. From the lovely cover to the enticing summary, I knew it would be a great pick. And after reaching the ending, I concluded that it was indeed a good Christmas book to recommend. The 12 Dares of Christmas is a page turner that will make you feel warm inside this holiday season.

The plot is fun, yet credible. The characters are relatable and lovable. Throughout the many twists and turns, you find yourself asking for more chance meetings between the two main characters, Lauren and Gabe who are undeniably attracted to each other. This inevitably leads to pretty steamy scenes that will most definitely send the temperature rising through your roof, in case you’re having a cold, cold Christmas.

This novel has all the main ingredients required for a successful Christmas story.

A fun and romantic read not to be missed.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥