#BlogTour: Prosecco Christmas by Sylvia Ashby @bysylvia_a @NeverlandBT #Review #Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the Prosecco Christmas blog tour, this is a romantic comedy set in the foodie world. Check out my review below and the giveaway which you don’t want to miss. Huge thanks to Sylvia Ashby and Jenny from Neverland Blog Tours for having me.

Follow the link if you missed my review of the last book in this series The Sinking Chef.

Description

Family is where life begins.
And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and stepdad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.
She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned for New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?

A Prosecco Christmas - Tour Banner

Review

I didn’t particularly warm to Ashley in The Sinking Chef and her ditzy ways didn’t enamour her to me anymore in Prosecco Christmas. They did, however, add lots of laughter to my reading experience and you can’t ask for much more than that.

When a heavily pregnant Ashley and her swoon-worthy Italian partner Giacomo travel to Upper Swainswick (a rather idyllic village just outside Bath…I highly recommend a visit if you have never been) to spend Christmas with Ashley’s family. They don’t expect the baby to make an appearance, she does have three weeks left until the due date. But babies will do what they want and this one wants to be a Christmas babe.

Joined by Giacomo’s family the house becomes extremely full and soon lots of mishaps and craziness ensues. Again Giacomo comes out on top for me, seemingly the only person who has a head on his shoulders that isn’t filled with nonsense. How he got himself mixed up with Ashley and all her craziness I just can’t work out because he is so sensible and nice! But he loves her and he seems to take her special brand of crazy with a pinch of salt.

Ashley just seems to make bad decisions, not understand things, take things too personally, and add to that new Mum hormones it’s like a big witch cauldron full of explosions waiting to happen. There really is so much hilarity that follows her around. She is someone I would never want to be friends with, but I could happily stand in the corner and laugh at her…sorry not sorry!

This is a festive, humorous novel continuing the Pot Love series and has lots of food and hilarious characters.

Sending a huge thanks to Sylvia Ashby, and Neverland Blog Tours for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

Prosecco Christmas - Tour Schedule

About Sylvia Ashby

Sylvia Ashby - Author Image

Sylvia Ashby is fond of the written word: books, blog posts, recipes, even an explanation to the HM Revenue & Customs as to why she thinks skirts should be exempt from VAT – she’s written it all!

She likes travelling and has lived all over Europe – London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently, she lives in Leuven, Belgium with her husband, daughter, son and a sparrow called Jack, who comes occasionally to peck the seeds she leaves for him on top of the garden shed.

 

Giveaway

3x eCopies of Prosecco Christmas

INTERNATIONAL

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TitleProsecco Christmas
Series: Pot Love #3
Author: Sylvia Ashby
Genre: Rom Com | Romance | Chick Lit
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: 2 November 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: N/A
Pages: 428
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US

#BlogTour: The Sinking Chef by Sylvia Ashby @bysylvia_a @NeverlandBT #Review #Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on The Sinking Chef blog tour, this is a romantic comedy set in the foodie world. Check out my review below and the giveaway which you don’t want to miss. Huge thanks to Sylvia Ashby and Jenny from Neverland Blog Tours for having me.

Description

Bridget Jones meets Burnt in this delightful comedy novel about a talented YouTuber and the guy who keeps trying to bring her down. Although part of a series this book is completely standalone, as are all other novels in the Pot Love Series.

In Belsize Park, London, Ashley works hard on her daily YouTube channel “The Sinking Chef”. It’s filmed right in her kitchen, so she doesn’t go out much.

James is a gruff British TV director, turned publisher, who Ashley had a crush on ages ago. She has moved on but when he calls with an offer to take her out to lunch she doesn’t say no. It’s only lunch – what can go wrong?

The day Ashley meets James for lunch and he promises her a book deal, she makes the worse decision in her life – to hide the book deal from her boyfriend, Giacomo. As things progress Ashley’s secrets mount up and other things in her life unravel. Is there a connection? And how is she going to get out of this without losing Giacomo and the life she loves?

Set in the heart of fast-paced London, The Sinking Chef is a charming story of love, recipes, secrets, and the determination to do thinks right by those you love most in your life.

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Review

Ashley is our protagonist, a foodie YouTuber who has a wonderful Italian chef and restaurateur for a boyfriend. Then she goes out for lunch with James, who for all intents and purposes is an ex, and a not nice ex at that. And then proceeds to make a string of stupid decisions which in turn spiral her life completely out of control.

I didn’t like Ashley, not one iota. This dislike started before she started being a prize plonker. As I started reading I just got the “this girl is a whiner” vibe and there are lots of different personality types I adjust to in my reading, more than in real life believe me. But whiners, hell no!

Now don’t think my disliking Ashley ruined my enjoyment of the book, we all know disliking people doesn’t have to ruin anything. Seeing her dig herself into the hole she dug herself into was actually quite satisfying. It turns out along with being a whiner she was also really stupid. How she didn’t forsee the trouble she was going to cause herself I have no idea. I agree she couldn’t possibly have seen the details but honestly, there was no way keeping secrets was going to go well for her.

James was a vile little weasel of a man who needed to be put in his place. Why she didn’t just tell him to do one when he first phoned her I will never understand. I can’t talk about him anymore he makes me angry.

Giacomo her boyfriend is lovely, so committed to his vision and his business and he really cares for her and his family as well. I love his sense of humour and it’s a shame we don’t see a bit more of it.

This is a book that made me laugh, made me feel extremely frustrated and made me glad I’m a lot more street savvy than the main character! I think a lot of people will be enjoying this book, the recipes through the book should be adding some enjoyment to people’s dinner menu’s as well.

Sending a huge thanks to Sylvia Ashby, and Neverland Blog Tours for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

The Sinking Chef - Tour Schedule

About Sylvia Ashby

Sylvia Ashby - Author Image

Sylvia Ashby is fond of the written word: books, blog posts, recipes, even an explanation to the HM Revenue & Customs as to why she thinks skirts should be exempt from VAT – she’s written it all!

She likes travelling and has lived all over Europe – London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Sofia, Bulgaria. Currently, she lives in Leuven, Belgium with her husband, daughter, son and a sparrow called Jack, who comes occasionally to peck the seeds she leaves for him on top of the garden shed.

 

Giveaway

1st prize: £25 Amazon voucher and an eCopy of the book
2nd and 3rd prize: ecopy of the book

INTERNATIONAL

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(Tour-Wide Giveaway)

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TitleThe Sinking Chef
Series: Pot Love #2
Author: Sylvia Ashby
Genre: Rom Com | Romance | Chick Lit
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: 17 April 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback
Pages: 428
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US

#BlogTour: The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper @toodletinkbaby @HQDigitalUK @NeverlandBT #Review #Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on The Law of Attraction blog tour, this is a wonderful romantic comedy set in the legal world. Check out my review below and the giveaway which you don’t want to miss. Huge thanks to Roxie and Jenny from Neverland Blog Tours for having me.

Description

Amanda Bentley has always dreamed of being a barrister…

But as a platinum blonde bombshell from the wrong side of town, with a perfect tan and sleek high heels, she doesn’t exactly look the part – or fit in with the brash public school boys and cold posh girls of Newcastle Crown Court’s robing room. Amanda’s never been one to back down from a challenge, and so when she wins a prestigious pupillage following law school, she’s determined to make the most of her chance – and make all her dreams come true.

Only three things stand in her way: Sid Ryder – the sexy, irresistible barrister who she absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, sleep with. At all. Marty Gregg – her smarmy law school nemesis, who she’s in direct competition with for the top job. And her big, dark secret that could jeopardise everything she’s worked so hard for.

Who said that following the laws of attraction was going to be easy…?

Perfects for fans of Legally Blonde, Lindsey Kelk and Joanna Bolouri

The Law of Attraction - Tour Banner

Review

Amanda Bentley has won a pupillage at the Barristers Chambers she most wanted to work at and now after law school the hard work really begins. Especially as a platinum blonde, girly girl, she keeps being told things will be especially hard for her if she doesn’t conform to be like everyone else.

The poor girl starts with such high hopes but the odds are stacked against her, when she starts, an old enemy from law school, Marty, is the other Pupil, who she has to compete against to win a permanent tenancy at the end of the year. Everyone loves Marty and it seems no matter what she does she cannot make them see the truth behind his charisma.

Then there is Syd, who is sex in a wig, a senior barrister and dripping with everything Amanda could want in a man, except she’ll be run over the coals if she sleeps with him, or looks at him or does anything with him really.

And then she has a secret from her past which is catching up with her, and if it does it could blow up her entire career. Then nothing would matter anyway.

Seeing Amanda navigate her year in chambers is absolutely hilarious. You can tell that Roxie has worked as a barrister, and having worked in a set of Chambers for a few years myself I can vouch for the fact so many of these things actually happen. I had so much fun following her journey, laughing with her, crying and getting to know the different barristers, some I loved some I hated.

Syd was a wonderful character, I had no idea how to take him, what his motives were and whether he was looking for a quick shag with Amanda or if he wanted a relationship. Roxie does such a good job of keeping us guessing as to his true motives. Despite this I loved him and every time he was on the page I was totally captivated.

At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like Amanda, often characters who are given her physical appearance are given stereotypical personalities which I don’t like, but Roxie turned that on it’s head completely and I loved how gutsy and determined she was. Her intelligence rang through at every turn and although she got into a few binds she found her way through and held her head high when things backfired. She was a wonderfully likeable character and someone I would love to be friends with.

I could have read this book for days, it was such a wonderful read, full of humour, great characters and romance. I was disappointed when it finished and that’s the only thing I was disappointed with. I’m going to just say everyone needs to read it, an absolutely spellbinding debut.

Sending a huge thanks to Roxie Cooper, HQ Digital and Neverland Blog Tours for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

About Roxie Cooper

Roxie Cooper - Author Image

Roxie was born and bred in Middlesbrough.  After studying Classics at University, she became a dancer in a nightclub for a few years, before going travelling and living in Australia.  When she returned, she swapped dancing on a bar, to practising at the Bar, and became a barrister for 7 years.

It was after being constantly told “Ooh! You don’t look like a barrister!” by absolutely everyone she met, that the idea for her debut novel was born.

Roxie lives in Yarm, a pretty little market town in the North-East.  She’s a bit (lot) obsessed with Prince and spends far too much time watching him on YouTube.  Her hobbies include watching musicals, making her hair as big (and blonde) as possible, and wishing she was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  

Giveaway

This giveaway is for a copy of the book, a legally blonde DVD and a £10 MAC gift card. UK Only.

Click Here.

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TitleThe Law of Attraction
Series: N/A
Author: Roxie Cooper
Genre: Rom Com | Romance | Chick Lit
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 23 June 2017 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: N/A
Pages: 384
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US

#Review The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett @MicheleGormanUK @HarperImpulse

Description

Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face at the hotel that’s full of dreams…

Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

Review

After having her heart broken by a guy named Chuck in New York, Rosie rushed back home, giving up on her career working in top flight hotels and started working in a small run down hotel in the seaside town she grew up in. When three years later the hotel is sold and Rory is brought in to manage the transition she realises she may have to learn to trust and love again because Rory is determined to break down her walls.

Lilly Bartlett has created a beautiful story here, we get to see in flashback chapters exactly what happened with Chuck, how he created the perfect relationship and ripped it all away. Why her trust is no longer won easily and why she can only see the worst in Rory.

Rory does everything he possibly can to show her he is honest and kind but she cannot see it. She looks at each situation and see’s betrayal and deceit. His job doesn’t help and other circumstances which happen making things look worse than they are.

There are a wonderful cast of characters in this book, there are such a lot of laugh out loud moments from these flamboyant characters who keep the mood up. It leaves you in no doubt why Rosie has continued working at the hotel for so long with such hilarious permanent residents to keep her entertained.

This is definitely a book you will want to go back to again and again, it’s a perfect pick me up and will keep your shelf happily warm.

A huge thanks to Lilly Bartlett and Harper Impulse for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this wonderful novel.

 

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Big Dreams Beach Hotel
Series: N/A
Author: Lilly Bartlett
Genre: Women’s Fiction | Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 18 August 2017
Review Format: N/A
Other Formats: eBook | Paperback
Pages: 228
Buy: Amazon UK | Waterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery

The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett @MicheleGormanUK @HarperImpulse Excerpt

I’m so pleased to be sharing an excerpt from this lovely novel with you today, I highly recommend it, and if you aren’t sure keep sharp because I will have a review coming to you later in the month.

Description

Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face at the hotel that’s full of dreams…

Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

Excerpt

New York is where I fell head over heels for a bloke named Chuck. I know: Chuck. But don’t judge him just because he sounds like he should be sipping ice-cream floats at the drive-in or starring in the homecoming football game. Rah rah, sis boom bah, yay, Chuck!

Believe me, I didn’t plan for a Chuck in my life. But that’s how it happens, isn’t it? One minute you’ve got plans for your career and a future that doesn’t involve the inconvenience of being in love, and the next you’re floating around in full dozy-mare mode.

I won’t lie to you. When Chuck walked into our hotel reception one afternoon in late October, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was lust.

Be still, my fluttering nethers.

Talk about unprofessional. I could hardly focus on what he was saying. Something about organising Christmas parties.

‘To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ he confided as he leaned against the reception desk. His face was uncomfortably close to mine, but by then I’d lived in New York for eighteen months. I was used to American space invaders. They’re not being rude, just friendly. And Chuck was definitely friendly.

‘I only started my job about a month ago,’ he told me. ‘It’s my first big assignment, so I really can’t fuck it up. Sorry, I mean mess it up.’ His blue (so dark blue) eyes bore into mine. ‘I’m hoping someone here can help me.’

It took all my willpower not to spring over the desk to his aid. Not that I’m at all athletic. I’d probably have torn my dress, climbed awkwardly over and landed face-first at his feet.

Keep him talking, I thought, so that I could keep staring. He looked quintessentially American, with his square jawline and big straight teeth and air of confidence, even though he’d just confessed to being hopeless at his new job. His brown hair wasn’t too long but also wasn’t too short, wavy and artfully messed up with gel, and his neatly trimmed stubble made me think of lazy Sunday mornings in bed.

See what I mean? Lust.

‘I noticed you on my way back from Starbucks,’ he said.

At first, I thought he meant he’d noticed me. That made me glance in the big mirror on the pillar behind him, where I could just see my reflection from where I was standing. At five-foot four, I was boob-height behind the desk in the gunmetal-grey fitted dress uniform all the front-desk staff had to wear. My wavy dark-red hair was as neat as it ever got. I flashed myself a reflected smile just to check my teeth. Of course, I couldn’t see any detail from where I stood. Only my big horsy mouth. Mum says giant teeth make my face interesting. I think I look a bit like one of the Muppets.

‘Do you have the space for a big party?’ he said. ‘For around four hundred people?’

He didn’t mean he’d noticed me; only the hotel. ‘We’ve got the Grand Ballroom and the whole top floor, which used to be the restaurant and bar. I think it’s even prettier than the ballroom, but it depends on your style and your budget and what you want to do with it.’

Based on his smile, you’d have thought I’d just told him we’d found a donor kidney for his operation. ‘I’ve been looking online, but there are too many choices,’ he said. ‘Plus, my company expects the world.’ He grimaced. ‘They didn’t like the hotel they used last year, or the year before that. I’m in over my head, to be honest. I think I need a guiding hand.’

I had just the hand he was looking for, and some ideas about where to guide it.

But instead of jumping up and down shouting ‘Pick Me, Pick Me!’, I put on my professional hat and gave him our events brochure and the team’s contact details. Because normal hotel receptionists don’t launch themselves into the arms of prospective clients.

When he reached over the desk to shake my hand, I had to resist the urge to bob a curtsy. ‘I’m Chuck Williamson. It was great to meet you, Rosie.’

He knew my name!

‘And thank you for being so nice. You might have saved my ass on this one. I’ll talk to your events people.’ He glanced again at my chest.

He didn’t know my name. He’d simply read my name badge.

No sooner had Chuck exited through the revolving door than my colleague, Digby, said, ‘My God, any more sparks and I’d have had to call the fire department.’

Digby was my best friend at the hotel and also a foreign transplant in Manhattan – where anyone without a 212 area code was foreign. Home for him was some little town in Kansas or Nebraska or somewhere with lots of tornadoes. Hearing Digby speak always made me think of The Wizard of Oz, but despite sounding like he was born on a combine harvester, Digby was clever. He did his degree at Cornell. That’s the Holy Grail for aspiring hotelies (as we’re known).

Digby didn’t let his pedigree go to his head, though, like I probably would have.

‘Just doing my job,’ I told him. But I knew I was blushing.

Our manager, Andi, swore under her breath. ‘That’s the last thing we need right now – some novice with another Christmas party to plan.’

‘That is our job,’ Digby pointed out.

‘Your job is to man the reception desk, Digby.’

‘Ya vol, Commandant.’ He saluted, before going to the other end of the desk.

‘But we do have room in the schedule, don’t we?’ I asked. Having just come off a rotation in the events department the month before, I knew they were looking for more business in that area. Our room occupancy hadn’t been all the company hoped for over the summer.

‘Plenty of room, no time,’ Andi snapped.

I’d love to tell you that I didn’t think any more about Chuck, that I was a cool twenty-five-year-old living her dream in New York. And it was my dream posting. I still couldn’t believe my luck. Well, luck and about a million hours earning my stripes in the hospitality industry. I’d already done stints in England and one in Sharm El Sheikh – though not in one of those fancy five-star resorts where people clean your sunglasses on the beach. It was a reasonable four-star one.

There’s a big misconception about hotelies that I should probably clear up. People assume that because we spend our days surrounded by luxury, we must live in the same glamour. The reality is 4a.m. wake-ups, meals eaten standing up, cheap living accommodation and, invariably, rain on our day off. Sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?

But I loved it. I loved that I was actually being paid to work in the industry where I did my degree. I loved the satisfied feeling I got every time a guest thanked me for solving a problem. And I loved that I could go anywhere in the world for work.

I especially loved that last part.

But back to Chuck, who’d been stuck in my head since the minute he’d walked through the hotel door.

I guess it was natural, given that I hadn’t had a boyfriend the whole time I’d been in the city. Flirting and a bit of snogging, yes, but nothing you could call a serious relationship.

There wasn’t any time, really, for a social life. That’s why hotelies hang out so much with each other. No one else has the same hours free. So, in the absence of other options, Digby and I were each other’s platonic date. He sounds like the perfect gay best friend, right? Only he wasn’t gay. He just had no interest in me. Nor I in him, which made him the ideal companion – hot enough in that freckle-faced farm-boy way to get into the nightclubs when we finished work at 1 or 2a.m., but not the type to go off shagging and leave me to find my way home on the subway alone.

 

‘I hope you’re happy,’ Andi said to me one morning a few days later. The thing about Andi is that she looks annoyed even when she’s not, so you’ve got to pay attention to her words rather than the severe expression on her narrow face. Nothing annoyed Andi like other people’s happiness.

But I had just taken my first morning sip of caramel latte. Who wouldn’t be happy?

‘You’ve got another assignment,’ she said. ‘That Christmas party. You’re on it.’

‘But I’m on reception.’ My heart was beating faster. She could only be talking about one Christmas party.

‘Yes, and you’re not going to get any extra time for the party, so don’t even think about it. I can’t spare anyone right now. You’ll have to juggle. He’s coming in at eleven to see the spaces and hopefully write a big fat cheque, but I want you back here as soon as you’re finished. Consider it an early lunch break.’

Even though my mind warned me to stop questioning, in case she changed her mind, I couldn’t resist. ‘Why isn’t Events handling it?’

‘They would have if he hadn’t asked for you especially. It’s just my luck that it’s a huge party. We can’t exactly say no.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘Then wipe that stupid grin off your face and next time try not to be so frickin’ nice.’

‘I need to use the loo,’ I told her.

‘Pee on your own time,’ she said.

I didn’t really have to go, despite the industrial-size caramel latte. I just wanted to put on some make-up before Chuck arrived. Instead he’d see my green eyes unhighlighted by the mascara and flicky eyeliner that I rarely remembered to use. Pinching my cheeks did bring up a bit of colour behind my freckles, at least.

Every time the revolving doors swung round, I looked up to see if it was Chuck.

‘You’re going to get repetitive strain in your neck,’ Digby pointed out. ‘And you know our workmen’s comp sucks, so save yourself the injury. Besides, you look too eager when you stare at the door like that.’

‘I’m putting on a convivial welcome for our guests,’ I said. ‘Just like it says in the Employee’s Manual.’

He shook his head. ‘There’s no way that what you’re thinking is in the manual.’

The weather had turned cold, which was the perfect excuse for woolly tights and cosy knits or, if you were Chuck, a navy pea coat with the collar turned up that made him look like he’d been at sea. In a suit and dress shoes.

‘I’m so sorry I’m late,’ he said. ‘I hate wasting people’s time.’

‘It’s not a waste,’ I told him. ‘I’m just working.’ I caught Andi’s glare. ‘I mean, I’m on reception. I can show you the rooms any time you want.’

Anytime you want, Digby mimicked behind Chuck’s back. Luckily Andi didn’t catch him.

‘Thanks for agreeing to take on the party,’ he said as we shared the lift to the top floor. ‘Not that I gave your colleagues much of a choice. I told them I’d book the party if you were the one organising it. I hope you don’t mind. It’s just that you seemed … I don’t know, I got a good feeling about you.’

‘No, that’s fine,’ I said, willing my voice to sound calmer than I felt. Which meant anything short of stark raving mad. ‘Once you decide which room is most suitable, we can start talking about everything else.’

‘I knew you’d get it,’ he said.

The lift doors opened on the top floor into the wide entrance to the former restaurant. ‘As you can see, there’s still a lot of the original nineteen thirties decor,’ I said. ‘Especially these art deco wall sconces. I love them. Ooh, and look at that bar.’

I’d only been up there a few times, so I was as excited as Chuck as we ran around the room pointing out each interesting feature, from the geometrically mirrored pillars to the sexy-flapper-lady light fixtures.

‘I’m such a sucker for this old stuff,’ he said. ‘I grew up in a house full of antiques. Older than this, actually, in Chicago.’ Then he considered me. ‘You probably grew up in a castle from the middle ages or something, being English.’

‘That sounds draughty. No, my parents live in a nineteen fifties semi-detached with pebble-dash.’

‘I don’t know what any of that means except for the nineteen fifties, but it sounds exotic.’

‘Hardly. Let’s just say it looks nothing like this. Will this be big enough, though? You said up to four hundred. That might be a squeeze if we want to seat them all.’

‘My guest list has halved, actually,’ he said, shoving his hands into his coat pockets. ‘The company isn’t letting spouses and partners come. Isn’t that weird, to exclude them from a formal social event like that? It’s going to be black tie with dinner and dancing. They were always invited wherever I’ve worked before.’

The painful penny dropped with a clang. Of course he’d have the perfect girlfriend to bring along. A bloke that cute and nice wasn’t single.

‘Which company?’ I asked, covering my disappointment. ‘Your company now, I mean.’

‘Flable and Mead. The asset managers? Sorry, I should have said before.’

Of course I’d heard of them. They were only one of the biggest firms on Wall Street. No wonder Andi had to say yes when Chuck made his request. We were talking big money.

And big egos. ‘I’m not surprised that other halves aren’t invited,’ I told him. Surely he’d worked out why for himself. ‘They usually aren’t invited in the UK either. The Christmas do is your chance to get pissed and snog a colleague.’

Chuck laughed. ‘I’m really glad I’ve seen all those Hugh Grant movies so I know what you’re talking about. So maybe it’ll be everyone’s chance at Flable and Mead to snog a colleague too.’ When he smiled, a dimple appeared on his left side. Just the one. ‘And as you’re working with me to organise the party, I guess that makes you my colleague, right?’

Did he mean what I thought he meant? The cheeky sod. ‘Come on, I’ll show you the ballroom.’

But the ballroom had nowhere near the ambiance of the top floor, and I knew before Chuck said anything that it didn’t have the right feel. Whereas upstairs had character and charm, the ballroom had bling. I’d only known Chuck for a matter of hours, but already I knew he wasn’t the blingy type.

‘Definitely upstairs,’ he said. ‘So it’s done. We’ll book it. Now we just need to plan all the decorations, the food, the band, DJ. I guess the fee goes up depending on how much in-house stuff we use.’ He laughed. ‘I’m sorry, I really am in too deep here. I talked my way into my job. I have no idea how. My boss is a Northwestern alum like me and that must have swung it for me. Before I only worked organising conferences and a few parties at the local VFW hall. This is the big time.’

I knew exactly how he felt. When I first started at the hotel I had to pinch myself. There I was, about to live a life I’d only seen on telly. All I had to do was not muck things up. Digby had been on hand to show me the ropes when I needed it. So the least I could do for Chuck was to help him as much as I could.

That’s what I told myself. I was paying it forward.

‘We’ve got a range of decorations we can do,’ I told him, thinking about how much I was going to get to see him in the upcoming weeks. I could really stretch things out by showing him one tablecloth per visit. ‘And we work with a few good catering companies, who I’m sure can arrange anything from a sit-down meal to a buffet. One even does burger bars, if you want something more quirky.’

‘What I’ll want is for you to help me, Rosie. You will be able to do that, right?’

‘Of course,’ I said. ‘Whatever you need. It’s a whopping great fee your company is paying. That buys a lot of hand-holding.’

‘I was hoping you’d say that,’ he said. ‘The second I came in and saw you, I knew this was the right choice. We’re going to be great together, Rosie.’

I was thinking the exact same thing.

 

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Big Dreams Beach Hotel
Series: N/A
Author: Lilly Bartlett
Genre: Women’s Fiction | Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 18 August 2017
Review Format: N/A
Other Formats: eBook | Paperback
Pages: 228
Buy: Amazon UK | Waterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery

#BlogTour: Little Cottage in the Country by Lottie Phillips @writercharlie @HQDigitalUK @sparklyword #Excerpt

Today I have an excerpt to share with you from Little Cottage in the Country by Lottie Phillips, this is going to be a perfect summer read.

Description

Escape to the country!

Anna Compton thought that moving to the countryside, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution. Goodbye life of thirty-something, crazed single mum of two, hello country glamour queen, domestic goddess and yummy-mummy extraordinaire.

But her new life at Primrose Cottage isn’t quite what she expected! Very soon she’s chasing pork pies down hills, disguising her shop-bought cakes at the school bake sale – and trying to resist oh-so-handsome Horatio Spencerville, who just so happens to be the Lord of the Manor…

Could moving to the country be the biggest mistake she’s ever made?

​Perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Holly Martin and Tilly Tennant.

The Little Cottage in the Country - Tour Banner

Excerpt

‘Right,’ her mother said, shooting the twins a hard stare, ‘are we ready?’

 

Anna helped the twins up and solemnly held her hand across her heart. ‘I, your mother, Anna Compton, do solemnly swear that this will be the last time I dress up as a member of Abba and I swear I will try to sing at least one note in tune.’

 

Minutes later, the twins had piled into Diane’s car and Anna was leading the convoy to the school. She found the reflection of a female Freddie Mercury in her rear-view mirror disconcerting, but no more so than her sixty-year-old mother, by her side, puckering her lips and admiring herself in a handheld mirror.

 

They arrived at the school gates and Anna noticed that the saner parents had decided just to watch the show and not participate. Anna climbed out of the car, all too aware of the looks she was getting from women and men perfectly kitted out in Joules and Boden. Angela spotted Anna and came over in a few long-legged strides.

 

‘Amy, you look divine. What are you? No, don’t tell me… A clown? No, actually, I think you’re that man out of that bank ad…’ She watched Anna’s face. ‘No? Oh, go on then, tell me.’

 

‘We’re meant to be Abba.’ Anna gestured to her mother and Diane. ‘Only, the fourth member is ill.’

 

‘How splendid.’ Angela flicked her straight red hair to the left and then to the right, and then back to the left. ‘I didn’t know Charlie Chaplin was in Abba.’ She looked at Diane. ‘You learn something new every day.’ She turned on her heels. ‘Anyway, must be off as I’m introducing Lucinda’s dressage. She prepared a few words for me.’

 

Anna watched her lope towards the school gates and they followed suit. Mrs Beecham stood at the entrance to the hall greeting everybody and, on seeing Anna, smiled and waved.

 

‘Wow. You all look marvellous. What an effort you’ve gone to. Brilliant. Now, we’ll be starting in about ten minutes and I believe you’re up after Lucinda, who’s after little Charles on the recorder.’ Mrs Beecham looked at the twins over her spectacles. ‘Now, what are you two doing?’

 

‘I’m playing drums,’ Freddie said proudly. ‘Antonia is playing the triangle.’

 

‘Wonderful.’ Mrs Beecham looked up at Anna. ‘Great that you’re all getting involved and in the spirit of it.’

 

‘Yes, we’re very excited,’ Anna said, pushing down her nerves. ‘Where’s Lucinda’s dressage being shown?’

 

‘She’ll be linked up to the big screen at the front of the hall. I believe Angela is au fait with all the technology involved.’

 

Anna nodded and smiled before heading backstage. Larry was waiting for them, wearing an incredibly convincing long, frizzy wig, and T-shirt and jeans.

 

‘God, how have you managed to grow you hair over two days? I want whatever you’re getting,’ said Anna smiling.

 

‘Steady on.’ Diane kissed Larry on the lips.

 

‘No, it’s my dreadlocks. I don’t need the hairpieces any more so I decided to backcomb them.’ He paused and looked at Anna’s mother. ‘I look a lot like you, Linda.’

 

‘I’d say not,’ her mother said, jutting out her chin.

 

‘Why don’t you need the hairpieces now, Larry?’ Anna said as she rammed her forefinger between her scalp and the wig in a last-ditch effort to relieve the itching.

 

‘I’m going to be a dad. I was only doing all that stuff because I was young with no direction.’

 

‘And now,’ Anna said, ‘you’re forty-eight hours’ older and dressed up like Brian May. Brilliant.’

 

‘Exactly,’ Larry said smiling.

 

Mrs Beecham’s voice boomed through the hall as she announced the first performer. ‘I’d like you all to put your hands together for Charles Bray who will be performing ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ on his recorder.’

 

A round of applause erupted and Anna, surprised at the level of noise, had a peek out at the audience. ‘Crikey, it’s full. Can’t you lot go and perform alone? Not sure I can do this.’

 

‘You said that about the bake sale and the pork pie competition and you did those,’ Diane whispered. ‘You’re a natural.’

 

‘At what? Making a tit of myself?’

 

‘Yep, something like that.’

 

Minutes later, the final squeak of Charles’s recorder sounded and everybody clapped. A man in the front row stood and wolf-whistled.

 

‘That’ll be you one day,’ Anna said to Larry, who grinned back at her like the cat who’d got the cream.

 

‘And now,’ Mrs Beecham said, ‘Angela would like to introduce our next act.’

 

Angela bounded onto the stage. ‘Hi everyone, Lucinda asked me to say a few words. She wrote them for me. So here goes…’ Angela cleared her throat. ‘As you will all know, Lucinda Deville is a woman of many talents and that’s why she’s my best friend. She won the baking competition here only a couple of weeks ago and today is going to show us what an amazing horsewoman she is via a live link. She really is an asset to this school and I’m sure we all wish we could be more like her.’ She smiled at the audience but no one stirred except for a woman at the back who snorted. ‘Right. Well, now I will press the appropriate button to join Lucinda via satellite link.’ Angela pressed a remote and the screen behind flickered to life. ‘Enjoy, everyone.’

 

Anna glanced at the giant screen and, when she saw Lucinda, her hand flew to her mouth. The audience, quickly registering the situation, simultaneously gasped. Lucinda standing in a dressage ring, fully kitted out in her riding gear, talking on her mobile. She had a long glass of something in her hand and she was ranting.

 

‘Oh yeah, Rupert, that’s the way to be a man… What? You thought you’d ring me and let me know you’ve left for the Bahamas. You’re a stupid… What did you just call me?’ She started to pace. ‘You hear me? You’re an absolute pillock. I mean, you don’t even have enough imagination to run off with someone outside of your office?’ There was a long pause. ‘Oh no. Don’t give me that, Rupert. I’m going to take you to the cleaners.’

 

Anna cringed and looked at Angela, who stood, frozen, on the stage, her mouth gaping like a goldfish.

 

‘I mean,’ Lucinda continued, ‘you had an affair with your sodding PA. You tell me her name like I’ve never heard it before. Yeah, well, just thought you should know, Rupert…’ She stopped moving. ‘I don’t care because I happen to know that Belinda is a bimbo, and not only that, you moron…’

 

Anna watched Lucinda wobble. ‘Not only that, I’ve already kissed her and it’s like being stuck in a washing machine. But mainly you should know, I couldn’t give a flying one because I love women and I’m in love with Angela.’

 

The audience gasped and stared at Angela, who turned to look at the audience.

 

‘First I knew,’ she said, giggling nervously. ‘I think I’d better just give Lucinda a ring.’

 

Anna looked over to Mrs Beecham, at the back of the hall, desperately jabbing at the computer’s keyboard to no avail. As Angela walked hurriedly past, Mrs Beecham grabbed her by the arm. Angela, looking terrified, shrugged and ran out the back of the hall.

 

Anna’s eyes returned to the screen in wonder. ‘You know, Rupert, I’m hanging up now because I have to ring Angela and find out when I’m on. I can’t believe you would choose today of all days to do this. I have dressage to perform.’ She jabbed at the phone, cutting the call, and then, on hearing her ringtone, focused on her mobile once more.

 

‘Speak of the devil.’ Lucinda answered, ‘Hi, darling one. Rupert’s left me. Oh, you know already? There’s something I want to tell you actually… What?’ She turned slowly towards the camera and stared down its lens. ‘Oh, I didn’t think I’d switched it on yet.’ Lucinda stood up straighter, the phone clamped to her ear and her mouth started to twitch. ‘Right. OK. Thanks.’

 

She finished the call and dropped her shaking hand to her side.

 

‘Um,’ she started and came up close to the camera. ‘Hello, dear audience. I join you live this evening from my home.’ She paused. ‘So, I hope you all enjoyed my piece of improv. I decided, as a woman of many talents, to ditch the dressage and concentrate on my acting. So, that piece was called…’ She paused. ‘That piece was called Marital Hiccup and, needless to say, the events mentioned in the piece were all fictional and, while you may have recognised the names, there is no link between the names and events depicted.’ She smiled at the audience, her smile cracking. ‘Thank you, dear watchers, and back to you in the studio.’ She nodded, walked over to the camera and could be heard muttering, ‘How do you turn this off? I need to turn the sodding thing off.’

 

Mrs Beecham moved slowly towards the front of the hall, the audience now silent. She climbed the steps to the stage and cleared her throat. ‘Well,’ she said, clasping her hands together, ‘that was fun. I’ll just say that we weren’t expecting that, so please don’t take offence at the content, but…’ She nodded unconvincingly. ‘Didn’t she put on a fine performance?’

 

A spattering of applause came from the audience and a mother and her three children got up to leave.

 

‘Anyway, on a lighter note, we now have the fabulous Abba and Queen montage I’ve heard so much about it so, if Miss Anna Compton and her family and friends would make their way to the stage…’ She nodded at Anna. ‘Keep it clean!’ Mrs Beecham let out an hysterical laugh and descended the steps.

 

Anna looked at Diane, panic in her eyes.

 

Diane shrugged. ‘Listen, whatever we do now will look like a work of genius after Moose-inda’s nervous breakdown.’

About Charlie Phillips

Charlie Phillips, writing under the pseudonym Lottie Phillips, worked as a teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She was brought up in Africa and the Middle East and then – as an adult – travelled extensively before moving to London and finally settling in the Cotswolds with her partner and toddler. When she’s not writing, you will find her scouring interior design magazines and shops, striving toward the distant dream of being a domestic goddess or having a glass of wine with country music turned up loud. As a child, she always had her nose in a book and, in particular, Nancy Drew.

The Little Cottage in the Country is Charlie’s debut romantic comedy. She is very excited to be sharing Anna Compton’s hilarious story with you! She also writes psychological thrillers under the pseudonym Louise Stone, including the best selling novel, S is for Stranger.

Readers can find Charlie Phillips on Twitter @writercharlie or at http://www.writercharlie.com or http://www.writerlottiephillips.com.

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Little Cottage in the Country
Series: N/A
Author: Lottie Phillips
Genre: Women’s Fiction | Romantic Comedy
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 3 July 2017
Review Format: N/A
Other Formats: eBook
Pages: 289
Buy: Amazon UK | Speedy Hen

Cover Reveal: Breakfast at Poldark’s by Samantha Tonge

Welcome to the cover reveal post for Breakfast at Poldark’s by Samantha Tonge. Organised by Neverland Blog Tours, it’s a beautiful summery cover as you can see and is described as a perfect summer romantic comedy, so be sure to click on the pre-order links to grab yourself a copy as soon as it’s released!

Continue reading Cover Reveal: Breakfast at Poldark’s by Samantha Tonge