The Winners!#RBRT Rosie’s Book Review Team presents: The Gold & Silver Rose Awards 2016
*Cough* … On behalf of my team, I’m delighted to announce the winners and runners-up in the #RBRT 2016 book awards!
Books were selected from the several hundred submitted to our team for review over the past year, with the 24 finalists voted for by the reviewing team. These finalists were then offered up to the public for voting. Congratulations to the 8 winners and runners up!
A click of the book’s title will take you to Goodreads, where you can see reviews, and also leads to the Amazon, etc, buy links.
If you like reading #Romance then I can recommend these books
Bella Abbascia has returned to Seaside Cottages in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, as she does every summer. Only this year, Bella has more on her mind than sunbathing and skinny-dipping with her girlfriends. She’s quit her job, put her house on the market, and sworn off relationships while she builds a new life in her favorite place on earth. That is, until good-time Bella’s prank takes a bad turn and a sinfully sexy police officer appears on the scene.
Single father and police officer Caden Grant left Boston with his fourteen-year-old son, Evan, after his partner was killed in the line of duty. He hopes to find a safer life in the small resort town of Wellfleet, and when he meets Bella during a night patrol shift, he realizes he’s found the one thing he’d never allowed himself to hope for—or even realized he was missing.
After fourteen years of focusing solely on his son, Caden cannot resist the intense attraction he feels toward beautiful Bella, and Bella’s powerless to fight the heat of their budding romance. But starting over proves more difficult than either of them imagined, and when Evan gets mixed up with the wrong kids, Caden’s loyalty is put to the test. Will he give up everything to protect his son—even Bella? Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Twenty-one-year-old Lizzie Adler had everything a young woman could want: she was beautiful, bright, and had both a faithful best friend and a handsome boyfriend with whom she was deeply in love. In one fell swoop, calamity strikes, stripping Lizzie of all that she holds dear. While driving with her best friend, Nan, en route to a party, Lizzie collides with another car.
The results are devastating: Nan doesn’t survive the accident, while Lizzie is forever crippled and disfigured. Lizzie undergoes scores of surgeries and endures ample physical therapy, which ultimately leave her with a face and body she can no longer recognize.
Meanwhile, Daniel has just recently left Lizzie to stay with his ailing grandparents in England. He intended to return to her arms after just one summer. Little did he know that, after months of silence from his beloved, he would receive a cold, curt break-up letter, devoid of explanation.
Unable to bear the pain brought on by memories of who she used to be, Lizzie casts her former identity aside forever and decides to go by the name of Beth.
Fast forward twelve years, and Beth is now an almost-happily-married stay-at-home mom with a five-year-old daughter, Stacy. Boredom and pressure from her husband, Alan prompt Beth to join Stacy’s school’s PTA. There, she meets Noreen: the first woman she is able to connect with since Nan’s death so many years ago. Beth is delighted to have finally found someone with whom to face the travails of womanhood.
Unfortunately, friendship with Noreen comes at an unexpected – and painfully high – price. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Erik “Fish” Fiskare loves the theatre, but he’s more intrigued by the wizardry behind the red curtain than the spectacle center stage. That is, until Daisy Bianco steps into the spotlight. The moment Erik lays eyes on this ballerina, his atoms rearrange and the young stagehand will never be the same.
For two years, the romance thrives within a tight-knit circle of artists and friends. Then, a newcomer arrives—James, a brilliant but erratic dancer with a misguided infatuation and a burning desire to belong. Rejection sets James on a course for destruction and when the smoke clears, Erik’s world is torn apart. He soon discovers that in the face of heartache, grief and betrayal, love is not always enough to make you stay. And sometimes, it’s the only thing that can bring you back.
Spanning fifteen years and following a man’s thrilling emotional journey back to the truth of himself, this award-winning novel has gripped readers and placed Laqueur as one of the most exciting debut authors of 2015. The Man I Love is an epic tale of love and forgiveness that will linger long after the last page is turned. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Discover beautiful South Africa in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting.
When it comes to men, if physiotherapist Caitlin Sutherland didn’t have bad luck, she would have no luck at all. To help cope, Caitlin starts blogging in her spare time, about the types of men she meets and the bad dates she goes on.
While on duty during the annual Wines to Whales bicycle race, a gorgeous, sweaty cyclist walks in and sets her hormones dancing. But he is Don Cavallo; one of the four Cavallo brothers — hotel tycoons, famous as much for their business skills as for the number of beauties regularly seen on their arms.
Don Cavallo has his own issues with the other sex. He has yet to find one who is interested in him and not in his money or hotels. But when this sexy physio puts her hands on his back she not only touches his body, but also his heart.
They’ve both been burned before, but neither of them can stop themselves from playing with fire. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS
Where men are men and women are glad of it!
ISHABEL STUART is at the crossroads of her life.
Her wealthy industrialist father has died unexpectedly, leaving her a half-share in a ruined whisky distillery and the task of scattering his ashes on a Munro. After discovering her fiancé playing away from home, she cancels their lavish Christmas wedding at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and heads for the only place she feels safe – Eilean na Sgairbh, a windswept island on Scotland’s west coast – where the cormorants outnumber the inhabitants, ten to one.
When she arrives at her family home – now a bed and breakfast managed by her left-wing, firebrand Aunt Esme, she finds a guest in situ – BRODIE. Issy longs for peace and the chance to lick her wounds, but gorgeous, sexy American, Brodie, turns her world upside down.
In spite of her vow to steer clear of men, she grows to rely on Brodie. However, she suspects him of having an ulterior motive for staying at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast on remote Cormorant Island. Having been let down by the men in her life, will it be third time lucky for Issy? Is she wise to trust a man she knows nothing about – a man who presents her with more questions than answers?
As for Aunt Esme, she has secrets of her own . . . Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Rose O’Carroll has been single for most of her 40 years. In her search for love she packs up her life in Melbourne and moves to London. Guided by her special friends – her angels, she soon lands a great job, makes great friends and begins her spiritual journey.
It doesn’t take long for Joe DeMarco, the handsome American, to turn Rose’s world upside down and change it forever. Rose intuitively knows she has met her twin soulmate. But how does she cope when he tells her “it’s just the wrong time.”
Everything happens for a reason and soon Rose discovers why she had to meet Joe DeMarco when the timing was wrong. She had someone else to meet first… and it wasn’t only the dishy Dr St. Claire! Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Marianne Coltrane is a feisty, award-winning journalist who is far from lucky in love. Taking herself off to the wilds of the west of Ireland to recuperate, she literally runs into Ryan O’Gorman, the most conceited, infuriating man in the world.
He’s an actor who’s just landed the biggest role in movie history and he loathes journalists. One thing they do have in common is they both think their chance of true love has passed them by…but fate has other ideas!
Sexy, moving and funny, this heart-warming duo and cast of colourful characters will stay with you, long after the last page leaves you smiling. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Marcus has sworn to avenge his wife’s death—even if it takes an eternity to hunt down the vampire who murdered her. Once a Roman Centurion, Marcus is now immortal and, for the past two thousand years, impervious to human emotions. Until the night he rescues Diana…
Diana knew nothing of the paranormal world until her transformation into a vampling, a newborn vampire entirely reliant for survival upon the distant and seemingly emotionless Centurion, who found her in the throes of changing. Her protector turned her without her consent, but at his untimely death, she becomes the distant and cold immortal’s responsibility.
The entire vampire community is determined to kill Marcus as he protects one of their own. While Marcus and Diana travel the Italian countryside, being chased by their enemies, Marcus must choose between avenging his dead wife or saving Diana from the same vampire who ruined his life. Will the power of love win over his desire for revenge? Bewitched by the Amalfi moon, he soon discovers life might still surprise him. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
1924. The English Shires, after the Great War.
When her jazzing flapper of an aunt dies, Gerardina Mary Chiledexter inherits some silver-topped scent bottles, a wardrobe of love-affair clothes, and astonishingly, a half-share in a million-acre ranch in south-west Texas.
Haunted by a psychic cat and the ghost voice of that aunt Leonie, Gerry feels driven to travel thousands of miles to see the ranch for herself.
Against a background of big sky, cattle barons and oil wells, she is soon engaged in a game of power, pride and ultimately, love, with the Texan who owns the other half.Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Luccia has been reading Scotch On The Rocks by Lizzie Lamb
Scotch On The Rocks is the first book I’ve read by Lizzie Lamb, and it won’t be the last! I already have her two other books on my kindle, Tall, Dark and Kilted, and Boot Camp Bride.
Scotch on the Rocks is a contemporary romantic comedy set in a small, picturesque village in Scotland.
The author brings to life an unconventional cast of characters in the small local community, including a histrionic and egotistical opera singer, her best friend, fanciful Lindy, who calls herself Lola, a cheating ex-fiancé, as well as a foul-mouthed and cheeky parrot!
The plot thrusts the heroine, Issy, straight into the action. She’s upset because she’s just broken up with her fiancé, whom she was about to marry, and drives back home across a flooding causeway, to her eccentric aunt Esme’s home, transporting her father’s ashes. On her arrival at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast, she meets the attractive and secretive, American, Brodie.
As the plot unfolds, Issy will gradually find out why Brodie is there and who her family really are. No-one is who they seem, and the secrets of the past, going back to the WWII, will be disclosed. Their lives will never be the same again.
I loved the sharp dialogue, which makes the characters come alive, the vivid descriptions, which made me feel part of the scenery, and the passion, which made me fall in love with all the lovers (young and older), and the island.
The setting was a real plus. The last time I visited Scotland was many years ago, and I can’t wait to go back and visit places like Cormorant Island and picturesque coastal locations. I enjoyed the local customs, dialect, food and drink. I’m so glad I read it over the Christmas holidays, because although it takes place in summer, it has a Christmassy feel to it. It’s definitely a novel to curl up with on a comfortable armchair by the fireplace!
Scotch on the Rocks is humorous yet tragic. It’s also surprising, exciting, heartwarming and romantic, too.
Finally, there’s a satisfactory ending and hopeful message: It’s never too late to follow your dreams, and by never, I mean that some characters are well over the age of retirement when they made their dreams come true!
I’d like to thank Lizzie for gifting me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review, and Rosie for organizing the team and making it possible for readers, writers and reviewers to connect.
Barb has been reading Scotch On The Rocks by Lizzie Lamb
My Review: 5 stars out of 5
When I want to read a good romance, it simply makes sense to reach for one of Lizzie Lamb’s books. Not only are her heroines strong, snarky women, her heroes appropriately gorgeous and misguided, but… Scotland!
Since moving to Scotland, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty, color, and rugged appeal of the country. (Yes…the scenery. What did you think I was talking about? Oh. Well…that too!) So Lizzie’s books full of kilts and bagpipes and whisky are incredibly fun.
Her latest release, Scotch on the Rocks, certainly doesn’t disappoint. From heroine Issy’s first exhilarating dash across a fast-flooding causeway to reach her island home, the pace and story never falter. And how could it? The author subtly channels Emma, one of trope-defining Miss Austen’s most enchanting characters. Like Emma, strangers might have said Issy was “handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence…” (Emma by Jane Austen, 1815) As Emma might have done had she lived now, Issy had a successful career as an interior designer, her success due to her matchmaking abilities to produce dream interiors for her delighted clients.
Unlike Emma, however, as Issy flees back to her home with her father’s ashes strapped into her backseat, she is escaping a life whose appearances never matched reality. Her dysfunctional family—the rich father and famous mother who left her with neither love nor any of their wealth—her cheating fiance, even her job were left behind as Issy heads back to the only love and home she’s ever known, her Aunt Esme and her beloved Cormorant Island off the coast of Scotland.
Like Emma, Issy is bright, strong-willed, and painfully clueless. She has no concept of how to treat her attraction to and distrust of Brodie, no idea what secrets those around her hold.
“She felt as if she’d fallen asleep during a blockbuster movie, and had woken to find that she’d missed a pivotal scene; the one where the hero gets the girl, or the murderer is revealed. The scene which explains what the movie is really about. ‘Why are you all looking at me like that? Anyone want to tell me what’s going on?’”
If you’ve ever lived in a small village—and especially if you haven’t!—I think you’ll enjoy the way everyone casually assumes ownership rights to everyone else’s business. Chief among them is the adorable Lindy, whose drive to escape her island heritage has her showing up in completely different persona almost every day.
Poor Issy is often lost among the strong personalities around her. And, more often than not, she acts first and regrets her actions later. In another homage to Emma, she is then left to berate herself with an update of Mr. Knightley’s famous line— “Badly done, Ishabel Stuart. Badly done.”
Author Lizzie Lamb’s gift for dialog lets the reader hear the lilt of Scottish voices without overwhelming us with over concentration on syntax and grammar. I absolutely loved hearing the phrases I hear around me here in Glasgow, where a woman is affectionately called hen, everything from the dog to the chippy shop is wee, and health is toasted with a slainte mhath. And who wouldn’t love a heilan’ coo (Highland Cow)?
Of course, for American readers, it also holds a few surprises. For example, I was laughing out loud at Issy’s plans to renovate “outhouses” into artists studios. (My fellow Americans are used to picturing outhouses as Appalachian one-holer conveniences, perhaps with a little moon-shaped window cut into the door.) Or the way All-American Brodie’s university degree mentions taking a “first degree”, which is certainly not available from an American university.
For the beautiful pacing, character development, and that all-important HEA, I would give Scotch On The Rocks 5 out of 5 stars and would be the first in line to pick up any future books by this accomplished author.
Scotch on the Rocks is a wonderful romance set on a small Scottish island. Pull up a chair by a cosy fire and dive into this tale of love lost and found.
It opens with a daring dash across a tidal causeway by Ishabel Stuart to the island of Eilean na Sgairbh or Cormorant Isand. With her father strapped safely in the back seat she has just minutes to make it before the sea engulfs the only access to the island for another few hours.
Gunning the engine and with the water lapping at the wheels Issy is desperate to make it to the safety of the island and the waiting arms of her Aunt Esme, where she can lick her wounds and hide from the world. But much to her dismay Esme has a full house and is herself just off to one of her activist protests. Issy is left still full of her woes and on top of that there is a paying guest to accommodate.
For Issy the island has been a family safe haven, here the family once owned Stuart’s Twa Burns whisky distillery and Issy wants to give back something to the island and its inhabitants. She’s given up her job, and intends setting up artist workshops.
Stuck with Brodie, the American guest, she finds him annoying and intriguing, what is it he’s not telling her? And why does he have a tattoo of the McIntosh clan?
Lizzie writes with great passion and her characters feel like your best friends, from Lindy, Issy’s best friend who tries to win Brodie’s heart, to Pershing the talking parrot whose choice of words add so much to the tale. I also had a real soft spot for Aunt Esme, who, although “off set” for much of the storyline was there in so many other ways.
Feel good romance in a wonderful Scottish setting with Gaelic charm and a dram or two of whisky.
Jessie chose to read and review Scotch On The Rocks by Lizzie Lamb
“Romance novels are birthday cake and life is often peanut butter and jelly. I think everyone should have lots of delicious romance novels lying around for those times when the peanut butter of life gets stuck to the roof of your mouth.”
– Janet Evanovitch
Life had too much peanut butter in it. I needed a birthday cake of a romance novel and, thankfully, Scotch on the Rocks was on the menu.
Why a birthday cake of a romance novel?
Well… because like birthday cake, you aren’t expecting nutrition from your romance novel. You don’t expect your latest romance or slice of birthday cake to make you a better person. And you don’t actually want much of a surprise. “Surprise – your birthday cake has nuts!” Is not something anyone wants to hear.
The comfort of predictability, reliable sweetness, a touch of decadence, and a great big pile of happy… that’s what makes both a good birthday cake and romance novel.
Scotch on the Rocks was a true birthday cake of a romance novel.
The woman is beautiful, but in a girl next door way: Yellow cake.
The man is gorgeous: Chocolate frosting.
And rich: Chocolate ganache frosting.
The banter between the two is witty: Two layers!
The steamy scenes are steamy without being raunchy: Extra big slice!
He, on occasion, wears a kilt: Frosting roses!
There is a super sassy parrot: Sparkler candle!
But then, of course, there is the terrible, everything has to fall apart so they can get back together section.
I hate that part.
It’s like when your husband pretends to steal all your frosting and then gives it back right at the last second. You’re pretty sure that since he hates frosting, he’s going to give it back but it’s always a relief when it’s back on your own plate. Just in case this is the time he changes his mind.
Sure, it adds some drama to the experience but I don’t actually want drama. I just want to eat my frosting and be happy. It was a relief that, while reading this birthday cake, frosting was merely scooped off my plate with a flourish before I received a wink and it was plopped right back on top!
Would I recommend it? Well… do you like cake?
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!
Liz chose to read and review Scotch On The Rocks by Lizzie Lamb.
Scotch on the Rocks by Lizzie Lamb
From the first few lines of Scotch on the Rocks we know exactly the kind of character we are meeting in heroine Ishabel Stuart. Brave and intelligent, her single minded determination could achieve anything but she may well antagonise anyone who crosses her path. Returning to her home island in the Scottish Highlands she is seeking peace and a new life after the break down of her engagement.
But first she must arrange her father’s funeral and she is not best pleased to find her Aunt Esme’s B and B brimming with guests. The guests depart, sadly taking Esme with them but Issie still has to deal with the unwanted presence of a tall, handsome, charming American. Why is she so rude to him and what is he hiding?
On the face of it, we have the recipe for a sweet romance as conflict gives way to love but Lizzie Lamb’s books offer far more than just that. Mystery builds up as to why Brodie has come all the way from Kentucky to stay for the entire summer. Parallel to this we wonder why Issie’s father and Aunt Esme had been estranged for so many years. The more we learn, the more it appears that any relationship between Brodie and Ishabel is doomed.
And then there is Lindy, or Lola as she is calling herself that week, a zany, madcap young lady who helps out at the Guest House. Lindy longs to escape Cormorant Island and she sees Brodie as her passport to Las Vegas. Adding to the hilarious household is Pershing the Parrot, a cantankerous, vociferous bird who makes helpful remarks such as, “You silly tart!”
The beauty of the island landscape and the colourful characters living there make this novel a pleasure to read. There are several incredibly funny scenes involving “ladies of the parish,” or Issie’s mother, an “Italian” Diva (well Dumbarton actually!). The blunt description of Ishabel’s cheating ex-fiancé are refreshing to read and this is very much a contemporary story even though set in an idyllic location.
The love and passion experienced by more than one couple is intense and explicit and no-one would doubt the inevitable matching. But in addition, a 50 year old wrong is righted and mysteries solved in a very unexpected conclusion. There is something for everyone in Scotch on the Rocks, including the bottle of Scotch!
Our guest today is Lizzie Lamb with her book Scotch On The Rocks
Where is your home town?
My home town is in the middle of England, Leicester. It is very old settlement and has roots stretching back to pre-Roman times. More recently, the bones of Richard III (The King in the Carpark) were discovered, excavated and reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. A fact I am immensely proud of.
How long have you been writing romance?
It seems fanciful to say ‘since I was about 11 years old’, but its true. I have the embryonic romances I wrote (all about highwaymen and Jacobites!) in a box file to prove it. Seriously, though, I have been writing with a view to publication since about 2009, which was when I left the teaching profession to concentrate on writing. I have now written and self-published three novels.
What is your favourite sub-genre of romance?
I would have to say romantic comedy. I love the ‘screwball’ comedies of the 30’s and early 40’s. And, although I do like chick lit, I increasingly find myself drawn towards romantic suspense and something more historical (especially Scottish history).
Where is your book set?
Scotch on the Rocks is set on an imaginary island off the west coast of Scotland – Eilean na Sgairbh, where the cormorants outnumber the inhabitants 10:1. Gratifyingly, readers have told me that once they have finished the novel they really miss being on ‘my island’.
Introduce us to the main characters
The heroine is Ishabel (Issy) Stuart. The hero is Brodie, an American guest staying at her Aunt Esme’s B&B. (I can’t reveal his surname as that is part of the mystery embedded into the book. Issy has left a failed relationship behind in Edinburgh and intends spending her life on Cormorant Island establishing a craft centre for designers, much like one she’d visited on the North West coast of Scotland at Balnakeil. She’s also sworn off men and vowed to die an old maid, surrounded by cats and copies of Vogue. That all changes when her left-wing Aunt Esme goes off on a fracking demo and leaves Issy in charge of the B&B – and Brodie.
Tell us about the remote island that Ishabel escapes to.
The island is called Eilean na Sgairbh, Cormorant Island. Issy’s family have lived there since the early 19th century when they won a slice off land off a gambling laird, stopped making ‘moonshine’, went legit and stablished a whisky distillery – Twa Burns. Once, the island community was thriving and the distillery employed most of the inhabitants. However, after the distillery was bombed at the end of WWII (it was producing industrial alcohol), it has lain a ruin and all the young people have left the island to find work elsewhere. Issy loves the island and wishes she had the money to rebuild the distillery, prevent the young islanders from leaving and make Eilean na Sgairbh back a thriving community once more. The island is wild and beautiful and is cut off several times a day as the tide floods over the ancient causeway linking it to the mainland, known as The Narrows.
Why is Aunt Esme, hiding out there too?
Without giving away too much, Esme has never married and has devoted her life instead to the Peace Movement and other ‘worthy’ causes. In her youth she alienated half the island by joining the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and blockading The Narrows to prevent US servicemen based on Holy Loch from visiting the island and spending their dollars. Now in her mid-seventies, she trundles off on her converted library bus to demonstrate against fracking, using drones in Afghanistan and the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. But, wherever she goes, she always returns to Cormorant Island . . . despite the islanders holding her left-wing sentiments and bohemian lifestyle against her. WHY she returns is made clear at the end of Scotch on the Rocks.
What do you like most about writing about wild men of Scotland?
I think I like writing about them because I can weave lots of history and atmosphere into the story and it feels ‘right’. Doing that is more difficult in an urban setting. For me, the highlands of Scotland is a magical, mythical place – the ideal setting for writing the perfect romance. This sense of ‘other worldliness’ and thousands of years of history is embodied when someone tall, dark and kilted puts on plaid (natch). And of course, the thought of a kilted hero, such as Jamie Fraser in Outlander series would make the heart of any romantic novelist beat faster. In Scotch on the Rocks, Brodie the hero, wears his grandfather’s and sets off a chain reaction.
Tell us what you are working on at the moment
I have two projects on the go and I’m feeling my way into them, seeing which one grabs me the most. I rather suspect it will be the Scottish-themed one, into which I want to weave a bit of Highland mysticism and second sight. After publishing it, hopefully next summer, I may return to writing something a bit more in the romantic comedy genre, about a girl who ‘accidentally’ becomes the nanny to the children of a burned out playwright . . .
Where can readers find out more about you?
The best place is my Amazon page or my website where there is more information about me and my books.
Day 12 of our lovely beach holiday where all we are doing is sitting back with a book or two.
My guest today is Lizzie Lamb.
A few lines about my ideal holiday destination where I can sit back and relax with a book
My ideal holiday destination where I can kick back, relax and read a book would be an air conditioned villa whose garden leads on to a tropical beach. That being unlikely in the grand scheme of things, I’ll settle for our caravan on the edge of a Scottish loch in high summer when it is possible to read out of doors without a light until well after 10pm.
The ideal format my choice of book would be available in (for me as a reader) –why?
I spend a lot of time in front of a screen – writing, texting, blogging etc. I have an array of glasses (and contact lenses) for distance, reading and using computer glasses. When I read, it’s the one time when I don’t need glasses and I prefer to get away from the screen and read a paperback, thus giving my eyes a rest. I don’t fare very well with audio books as they lull me to sleep! If I travelled abroad, I’d take my iPad and listen to audio books, read kindle downloads that way.
This is my comfort read, the one (along with The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer) I return to from time to time. I have read this story to the children I have taught (10+) and it holds the attention of boys and girls alike. Not the easiest of tasks. The children have often recommended it to their parents who have later commented to me how much THEY loved the story, too. I read it to remind myself what a great story teller Rosemary Sutcliffe was; her language is spare yet descriptive and it is hard not to be caught up in the romance of the times and the love between Tristan and Iseult. The end always has me in tears. Although once, when I closed the book and looked around the children sitting at my feet for a reaction, one boy put his hand up and asked: ‘is it playtime yet?’ Which just goes to prove, you can’t win ‘em all.
A book from my favourite genre (rom com) – Notting Hell – Rachel Johnson
I’ve long been a fan of Rachel Johnson’s writing. I loved this book because I read it as I was writing Tall, Dark and Kilted – which opens in Notting Hill, and then moves on to Wester Ross, in the highlands of Scotland. Inspired by the novel, I took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to look round the private gardens enclosed by Elgin Crescent, Rosemead Road and Ladbroke Grove – and sat on the bench featured in the film Notting Hill. I used the novel as a way of getting into the mind-set of the uber rich who inhabit the grand houses surrounding the communal gardens. And, in a moment of pure synchronicity, there was an article in the Times about the daughters of a certain nobleman who were causing mayhem while their parents were away. Just like the Urquhart sisters in my novel. A great summer read and one I return to many times.
A book I’ve been meaning to read for ages – River of Destiny – Barbara Erskine
I’ve been a fan of Barbara Erskine since The Lady of Hay (1986); over three million copies sold to date, so I’m not alone. I enjoyed this author’s books because they are (generally) time slip novels, meticulously researched, involve a high degree of the paranormal and the ‘heroine in jeopardy, trope. In particular, I want to read River of Destiny because I have visited the Sutton Hoo ship burial site, which is bordered by the River Debden, many times and thought what a great setting it was for a novel. I am also considering writing a paranormal/time slip and I can do no better than to immerse myself in Erskine’s great writing. Pleasure and research at the same time – a no brainer.
A book that interests me – The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
I have added this to the list because I really do have to give Ms Tartt’s writing another go. I started (and later abandoned) her earlier books because they didn’t strike a chord with me. However, I am assured by friends that I will enjoy this one. Checking the amazon.co.uk reviews for Goldfinch (2346 – wow) I see that she has been awarded four stars overall, so it’s worth a punt. Tartt has also been awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, not just for this book but for her body of work. It’s a bit of a massive tome so I think I’ll take it on holiday with me to read when there are fewer distractions. I hope I do enjoy it and it doesn’t remind me too much of books I had to read when I was studying for my degree, many moons ago.
When I was teaching full time I was always on the lookout for feel-good romantic comedies which would raise my spirits at the end of a long, hard day. Now, as a writer, I want to create novels with the same ‘ahh’ factor, where my reader becomes so immersed in the story that she forgets her cares and woes for a time. As one of my reviewers said of Boot Camp Bride –“It’s impossible not to love the main characters and to dream you could live their story!” So, if you like love stories with a light, comedic touch, sexy Americans researching their Scottish roots and a hardworking, believable heroine you can root for – give Scotch on the Rocks a try.
And, if you’re still looking for some really great holiday reads, let me add the three books from the New Romantics Press, all of which are available on Kindle and in paperback.