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28 July 2022

Book Review: A Summer of Castles by Rachel Walkley *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of A Summer of Castles by Rachel Walkley ahead of the blog tour.

This book will make you want to get your camera out and spend the summer exploring castles. Now how am I going to have the time to read? 

A Summer of Castles by Rachel Walkley book cover

A Summer of Castles. A secret in ruins.

At the beginning of the sultry 2003 English summer, Robyn Yates quits her job to photograph fifteen castles for a man she’s never met. A man who won’t tell her his real name. 

What motivates her is an unusual ability she can’t explain nor understand. Somebody does though and is keen to exploit her secret.

But Robyn isn’t alone on her journey. An artist is painting pictures of the same castles. Wherever she goes, so does he, like a stalker. But is he dangerous? And could this man be the same person who wants her photographs? 

She decides to challenge him, never anticipating that the confrontation will change the path of both of their lives.

The stifling summer will eventually end, but will Robyn find out the truth in time?


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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy


5 Word Review: Castles, history, photography, family, self-discovery.


When I was younger, before I got A Proper Job, I spent a long time wandering about with my camera taking pictures. Mostly of castles and other historical sites. For the experience, of immersing myself in history and capturing it through a lens.

So I really enjoyed the nostalgia of this book. It took me back.

Also, how pretty does Bam burgh look on that cover? I'd recognise those walls anywhere.

The writing style is so different from anything I've read recently that it took me a while to get in to the flow, but by the time Robyn had made up her mind I was hooked. And I wanted to know who Medici was, as desperate as Robyn to work it out.

The story starts with a small mystery that unfolds excruciatingly slowly, but I was so eager to work it out I didn't want to put the book down. A Summer of Castles will surprise you.

I loved the way that the story wove through the North and hit up so may familiar places. I'm a bit of aa castle collector myself. I also loved the people Robyn meets on her journey and how she pushed herself out of her comfort zone by opting for B&Bs instead of hotels. The settings really come to life, especially when Robyn's unique abilities come out to play.

I want to re-visit every castle in this story. I loved how there were facts about them throughout the story too, and bits of folklore. The small details in the writing really brought the castles to life in my minds eye.

A Summer of Castles by Rachel Walkley

Aspiring writer who pens Women's Fiction and magical tales about family secrets.
What else?
An East Anglian turned Northerner - almost.
Information professional, always.
Biologist, in my memories.
Archivist, when required.
Amateur pianist and flautist.
Reluctant gardener.
Scribbler of pictures.
And forever.... a mother and wife.
Oh, not forgetting, cat lover!


26 July 2022

Book Review: The Duke's Bluestocking by Josie Bonham *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Duke's Bluestocking by Josie Bonham ahead of the blog tour.

You know when you know from the cover alone that a book is perfect for you? That.

This is the fourth Reluctant Brides book, but I easily read it as a standalone.

The Duke's Bluestocking by Josie Bonham book cover historical romance

Temptation like never before for the fashion-loving bluestocking when she meets an unconventional duke.

Headstrong Grace Bamford is determined to remain unwed and keep her independence. Which means interesting, marriageable men are best avoided. Her classical studies and philanthropy are more important to her than a husband and a lot safer.

Angus Medley's life is turned upside down when he unexpectedly inherits a dukedom. He is wrenched from the career he loves as an Edinburgh advocate to take up responsibility for the Duchy of Evesham and the people relying on it for their livelihoods.

Grace rescues Angus from a knife-wielding attacker outside the London orphanage she helps to run. He dismisses the attack as a failed robbery but Grace suspects foul play. Is someone from Angus's past trying to kill him? Grace offers to help him investigate, concerned for his safety, even though it means spending time with the most attractive man she has ever met.

Marriage is the last thing on Angus's mind as he grapples with his new responsibilities and his hidden enemy, until he falls in love with Grace. Will Grace find the courage to follow her heart?

Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy 

5 Word Review: Trust, generosity, family, intrigue, love.



Grace isn't your typical bluestocking, and from the very moment we met her I loved her. She's kind and generous and brave. She might be on the shelf according to society, but she has so much to give. She's very much ahead of her time and I loved how she cared for so many others. She wasn't just involved in the orphanage because it was the thing to do, to be charitable, she was giving it her everything because she truly cared. We need more Graces in the world.

Angus is a bit of a fish out of water - he's new to his role as Duke and has grand ambitions of the best kind. He's like Grace in that he wants to give back and demonstrate care for those around him. He's just about out of his depth in London society and I loved the details of him navigating it and the friendships and alliances he formed.

I loved the instant attraction and the immediate reluctance when Grace and Angus meet. The slow build of feelings between them is exquisite and I want to read more of their story. They're the kind of characters with the kind of love story that sticks with you and I know I will think of this book often.

I loved the small threads of mystery in the story and how they added an extra layer of danger - it really picked up the pace of the story even as the slow burn romance smouldered away. I could not put this book down.

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the cover? It is stunning and so perfect for the story. I really feel it captures Grace excellently.

I can't wait to read more by Josie Bonham. The Duke's Bluestocking was an exceptional historical romance full of heart in all its forms.
The Duke's Bluestocking by Josie Bonham full blog tour banner

osie lives in the English midlands, surrounded by towns full of history such as Evesham, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwick and Worcester. Which is perhaps why her favourite reads are historical. Out of all the periods to choose from the Regency Era stirs her imagination the most. The true Regency lasted from 1811 until 1820 but dates as wide as 1789 to 1837 have been included in the extended Regency period. For Josie the true flavour of this period emerges after the iniquitous hair powder tax of 1795, unsurprisingly, scuppered the fashion for hair powder almost overnight.

Josie has always dabbled in stories but it took the combined efforts of her sister and eldest niece to set her on the path to writing novels. Her Regency romances, with a dash of adventure and intrigue, are the result.

There is more information on her website at www.josiebonhamauthor.com 

22 July 2022

Book Review: The Beekeeper at Elderflower Grove by Jaimie Admans *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Beekeeper at Elderflower Grove by Jaimie Admans ahead of the blog tour. I ended up reading it via Kindle Unlimited because of the formatting so I guess we can count it purchased too.

Every chapter starts with a bee fact and let me tell you, I am OBSESSED and will need more books like this, thanks. Feed my inner inquisitive elf please.

The Beekeeper at Elderflower Grove by Jaimie Admans book cover

Her new start is about to bee-gin!

Having moved into her mum’s spare room after a disastrous break-up, Kayleigh Harwood is desperate for a fresh start. When she sees an opening for a new beekeeper at the old manor house at Elderflower Grove she jumps at the chance – despite not knowing a thing about bees…

The abandoned house holds a mystery of its own – the previous owner vanished years ago – and locals have been inventing stories about the manor ever since. Unable to resist the urge to look around, Kayleigh is shocked to find drop-dead-gorgeous gardener Carey living inside!

Carey explains that the house and surrounding land is at risk of being demolished, endangering the bees, and he has been staying there to protect it.

Convinced the secret of the house holds the key to saving Elderflower Grove’s bees, Kayleigh is prepared to do everything she can to help. But is she ready to find her own happy-ever-after too…?

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy | Purchase


5 Word Review: Bees, community, family, love, nature.


I haven't laughed so much reading a book for a long time, and I snorted tea out my nose in the first chapter. This book is a ray of freaking sunshine and Kayleigh is right at the centre of it.

Kayleigh has had a crap time of it when we meet her, but she's in a bizarre interview with a bee on Zoom (no, really). She's so passionate though, and the kind of person who can throw herself into any challenge. Seeing her take on the bees was amazing, I was impressed by her bravery and tenacity.

I was wary of Carey when we first met him, but as we got to know him we discovered that he has a heart of absolute pure gold. He's a kind soul, and generous, and so freaking lovely. I loved his drive.

Carey and Kayleigh do not have it easy, but boy is their relationship worth reading.

I loved the slight threads of mystery to the story, how it kept me questioning and kept me reading,

This book as a lot of romance as a theme in general. I loved how Kayleigh compared the estate to Beauty and the Beast and Pride and Prejudice, and it made it so easy to picture. The hall felt almost like a character in itself, with the tiniest touch of the supernatural. I loved the lore that had built up around Elderflower Grove, it really helped cement the village setting where everyone know everyone and rumours abound.

I loved the descriptions, how nature was so present in the story. When Kayleigh first steps on to the roof and hears the hum of bees, I heard it too. I saw the frothy elderflower blossom, smelt the musty dust, felt the grime crunch underfoot. Truly marvellous writing.

This is feel-good and funny at its summery best. I would absolutely read this book again, it just made me so happy and made me laugh so much. 10/10 recommend.

The Beekeeper at Elderflower Grove by Jaimie Admans full blog tour banner

Jaimie is a 36-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots. She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She is the author of several romantic comedies for HarperCollins - The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, The Little Wedding Island, It's a Wonderful Night, The Little Vintage Carousel by the Sea, Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm, The Little Bookshop of Love Stories, The Wishing Tree Beside the Shore, The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane, The Post Box at the North Pole, and The Beekeeper at Elderflower Grove.


20 July 2022

Audiobook Review: Bootcamp for Broken Hearts by Joanna Bolouri *AD Gifted

Bookouture Audio sent me a free audio-copy of Bootcamp for Broken Hearts by Joanna Bolouri via NetGalley.

I saw the cover and I knew I needed this book, so I requested it straight away. And boy was I impressed by what I listened to.

Bootcamp for Broken Hearts by Joanna Bolouri book cover audiobook



A stunning Scottish castle, a tall dark stranger, and a vow to stay single happily ever after… what could go wrong?

Nora Brown is totally happy single. The men in her life have all been selfish, cheating liars and being alone is far easier than risking a broken heart again – for her and for her daughter. She’s only going to Romance Reboot – a posh ‘singles’ bootcamp’ at a castle in the Scottish Highlands – to keep her sister quiet.

But surrounded by tumbling waterfalls and sweet birdsong, Nora can’t deny she’s starting to relax. Even better, she finds another guest with no intention of finding love. Will Thomson has dark tousled hair, a sly grin, and a shocking sense of humour. Everybody else hears their laughter and thinks they’re falling for one another, but Nora knows she’s safe – he’s just here on a research trip.

Determined to ignore the spark between them, Nora agrees to be Will’s cover, fending off other suitors with private sniggers over wine and quite convincing public displays of affection. Just when she starts to question if she might be missing something important, she starts to suspect Will might be hiding something from her.

Will is just another cheater-in-the-making like all the others, isn’t he? Nora will go home to her daughter happy and single, just like she always intended. Even if she could find out the truth about him, she isn’t interested… is she?

An absolutely hilarious, totally unputdownable romantic comedy from a bestselling author. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Sorry Not Sorry and Marian Keyes.

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Source: NetGalley | Review Copy 

5 Word Review: Family, love, self-empowerment, belonging, happiness.


I needed a romcom, and it turns out Bootcamp for Broken Hearts by Joanna Bolouri was just the ticket.

Helen McAlpine did a truly marvellous job narrating the audiobook. I would definitely listen to more of their performances, and I love the life they brought to the characters and the emotions displayed as the story played out.

I want Nora to be my mum and my best friend, because she's exceptional at both. She is a wonderful mother to a daughter that loves her deeply. She is a smart business woman who values her customers no matter their age or wealth. She's a brilliant friend to anyone who may need her. Nora is a gem.

I loved Nora's cynicism when she first got to the camp, and once she met Will and they started the banter? I couldn't put this down. They get on so well, like their souls were made to meet.

I want to go to the bootcamp myself, it sounds amazing. The luxury of the place alone would have me sold, but the self discovery attainable there is something special. I loved how every character was challenged and got something from it, no matter how cynical.

I loved the twist at the end that brought them together, I thought it was so clever and I only just worked it out myself before it was revealed.

Bootcamp for Broken Hearts is the perfect audiobook to escape in to. I don't think I've ever got so much housework done in one go before, because I kept finding more things to do so I could keep listening. It was was bloody brilliant and I will definitely read more by Joanna Bolouri.

18 July 2022

Book Review: A Change of Heart by Hannah Ellis *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of A Change of Heart by Hannah Ellis ahead of the blog tour.

Take me away to a coastal cottage in the Isles of Scilly, please. A Change of Heart is the perfect summer escape.

A Change of Heart by Hannah Ellis book cover

She was never meant to fall for her best friend’s brother... 

Seren has had a soft spot for her best friend’s brother for as long as she can remember. But when she starts to see Kit as more than just a friend, she knows she’s on dangerous ground.

Avoiding him is probably her best course of action, but that’s easier said than done when you live on a tiny island.

When Kit declares he’s in love with her, she’s forced to deny her feelings. There’s too much to lose for her to do anything else.

If only her heart would get the message that she and Kit aren’t meant to be.

As the tension between them builds it becomes more and more difficult for Seren to keep her feelings hidden.

Can she find the courage to risk everything for love? And will Kit still be waiting for her when she does?


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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy


5 Word Review: Family, love, friendship, business, trust.


A Change of Heart is the second Isles of Scilly book, but it can absolutely be read as a standalone. That's how I read it, and I don't feel like I lost out on anything. Although seeing Kiera and Noah has me itching to pick up the first book The Weekend Getaway. I flew through this book in a single afternoon, I didn't want to put it down.

I loved Seren, her openness and generous heart. She's the kind of person you want to be friends with, she's not had the happiest past but she's very much found a family.

Kit is like the perfect book boyfriend. Can I have one? Right from the moment we met him I was as smitten as Seren pretended she wasn't.

I love a friends-to-lovers romance, and all of the drama and hesitation that comes from it, the complicated feelings and the deep love that stems from years of mutual care and affection.

Age gap romances can sometimes give me the ick, but in A Change of Heart it really worked - Seren and Kit just belong together, OK? An the easy way they work together (despite the small dramas and reluctance) made this a very easy read. This book is perfect for the beach.

This book really is the perfect summery romance, and the heart-warming story is almost impossible to put down. I will definitely be reading more by Hannah Ellis. This book will leave you with the biggest ever smile on your face.

A Change of Heart by Hannah Ellis full blog tour banner

Hannah spent many years working in childcare before deciding she'd like to write books. When she's not busy writing she likes to read, drink tea and eat chocolate. She also enjoys yoga and jogging.


09 July 2022

Book Review: An Italian Dream by Kate Frost *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of An Italian Dream by Kate Frost ahead of the blog tour.

Kate Frost has yet again captured summer on the page in An Italian Dream. It's like the author's super power.

An Italian Dream by Kate Frost book cover

Follow your heart and then your dreams…

Best friends since childhood, Fern Chambers and Stella Shaw have been through everything together and are at a crossroads in their lives.

Carefree Stella has a monumental secret and put upon Fern’s happy life is not all it seems.

With their 40th birthdays approaching, a luxury holiday to the island of Capri is a chance for them to reconnect, let their hair down and celebrate in style. But untold truths and frustration bubble beneath the surface, turning what should be a holiday of a lifetime into an opportunity to make life-changing decisions.

Far from home, where anything feels possible, secrets are revealed, heartache is shared, love discovered and new friendships forged.

Will their Italian dream turn into a nightmare or lead to newfound happiness?



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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy


5 Word Review: Family, love, loyalty, wealth, secrets.


What would you do if you won the lottery? I have ideas of what I'd like to do, and you know what? A luxury holiday in Capri sounds just the ticket.

An Italian Dream was the perfect poolside read. It begs to be read on a hot sunny beach. You will want to pick it up on a long summer's evening in the garden. It's just perfect.

Stella and Fern are both amazing character, living rather different lives. Fern is married, perhaps not happily, with two grown daughters who have flown the nest. Stella is twice divorced but not on bad terms, and although her oldest is grown, her son is still young enough to split time between her and her ex.

They have such an amazing friendship, and I want to be like that with my besties in ten years time. But their friendship is tested in this book: are there some betrayals you cannot heal from? 

I loved the themes explored in this book: friendship, family, love, trust, betrayal. Emotions were high

Kate Frost has yet again worked magic with the setting: I. Was. There. As much as I loved the luxury of Stella's experience, I loved the sound of Fern's more. I like a quiet life, and the thought of the retreat is just amazing.

I can't wait to read more of Kate Frost's books, they're fast becoming an auto-buy author. 

An Italian Dream by Kate Frost full blog tour banner

Kate Frost is the author of several bestselling romantic escape novels including The Greek Heart, and The Love Island Bookshop. She lives in Bristol and is the Director of  Storytale Festival, a book festival for children and teens she co-founded in 2019. 



08 July 2022

Book Review: The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall ahead of the blog tour.

The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall is the third book in the Portuguese Paradise series - but you can absolutely read it on its own.

The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall book cover

Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!

Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.

But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.

Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?


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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy


5 Word Review: Yoga, family, friendship, love, paradise.


I've been practising my sun salutations since I picked this book up.

We meet Layla first - she's very much the main character of the story and I loved learning about her. Her past is slowly drip-fed to the reader, and it meant I couldn't put this book down. I wanted to know her big secret! Layla is simultaneously the most chill and chaotic person ever. All of her rushing around and alarm setting really built her character, especially against her role at House on the Hill 

When we first met Tomas I didn't like him at all - all I can say about that is that I loved how the story went for him.

I loved the mystery that Luke brought to the story - he's a figure from the past that Layla keeps so hidden. I loved the instant tension, the spark of attraction, the quick withdrawal when she recognised. I loved the reactions he provoked in Layla, it made for some hilarity.

I loved the settings in this book, they really came to life on the page. I was there doing yoga, eating at the restaurant, gazing at the beach and contemplating a class there (I've always wanted to do yoga on the beach, sand aside).

This was the perfect summer escape, and it has made me long for hot sunshine and cool shade. It made me laugh and smile, and I couldn't recommend it more.

The House on the Hill by Chris Penhall full blog tour banner

Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Both are available in paperback, e-book and audio and are part of the Portuguese Paradise series. Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales is available in e-book, audio and paperback, and The House on the Hill - A Summer in the Algarve, the third novel in the Portuguese Paradise series, is published in e-book on 28th June 2022.
Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.

She also has her own podcast - The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!

Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!

A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.