Friday, 15 September 2017

Review | Summers Lease ~ Carrie Elks


Summer's Lease
Shakespeare Sisters, Book 1 
Carrie Elks
Piaktus
July 2017
Rating 5/5


             

A free summer holiday in a beautiful villa in Lake Como. The catch? Sharing a house with her worst enemy . . .
Cesca Shakespeare has hit rock bottom. After one prize-winning play that ended in disaster, writer's block turned up, moved in and got a Netflix subscription. Six years later, she's just lost her crappy job and is about to lose her flat. Worse still, her sisters have no idea how far she's fallen. So when her fairy Godfather offers her a free summer holiday in a beautiful Italian villa, she grudgingly agrees to try writing a new play. That's before she finds out the house belongs to her arch-nemesis, Sam Carlton.
Having just hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons - again - Hollywood heart-throb Sam Carlton needs a place to hide out. Where better than his family's gorgeous empty villa on Lake Como? Except when he arrives, it isn't as empty as he'd hoped.
One thing's for sure - this is going to be a red-hot, scorching summer . . .

             

I have to start this review with an apology as it should have been done a fair few weeks ago, however life got in the way and when I came to picking up the book again I just had to re start it because Summers Lease is one of them books that you completely emerge yourself in and although I'd already read about 60% of the book, re reading it simply felt like picking it up for the first time.

Summers Lease I believe is the first of 4 books Carrie Elks featuring the Shakespeare sisters and we kick off with Cesca Shakespeare. 

Cesca is down on her luck, for the past 6 years she's gone from job to job and losing the latest one - working in a cat cafe of all places - really does make her hit rock bottom.
Barely able to feed herself or pay this week's rent, Cesca is persuaded by her godfather Hugh to head to Italy for the summer.
Her role there is to house sit a villa owned by some of Hugh s friends whilst the current housekeeper take a holiday.

No sooner as Cesca arrives there she quickly realises that the villa is own by the Carlton family. Assured they won't be coming this summer Cesca agrees to stay on.... only one night she is rudely woken by someone entering the property. Sam Carlton.

Sam is an actor making quite a name for himself over the last  6 years and becoming one of Hollywood's hottest heartthrobs - however some bad press has forced him to leave the hustle of L.A. an head for a summers break at his families private and secluded Lake Como villa.

Things get off to a bad start between cesca and Sam - he can't understand why a girl he thinks he's  never met hates him so much but for cesca, Sam walking out as the leading role in her west end play all those years ago had  left herblaming him for her  unabiltoty to write  causing her to flit from job to job. 

After a few heated conversations the pair eventually find some common ground and agree to at Least be amicable to each other... but that, along with the Italian heat, wine and good food leads to flirting and eventually more.

The couple get closer and closer and cesca opens up to Sam but every time the tables are turned she gets pushed away again leaving her heart broken when the time eventually comes for her to head home. Only after she has gone does Sam realise his true feeling for her.

Summers Lease is full of emotion. I felt like I was there with the couple as they fought and argues and Carrie wrote the sexual scenes with warmth providing just the right amount of details for your imagination.
The location and descriptions were stunning, forcing me again to Google holidays in Italy - much to my other half delight! 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cesca and Sam's story in Summers Lease and hope it's not the last we hear of them as I look forward to more from the Shakespeare sisters.

Summers Lease is the perfect book for a summer escape!


      


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Review | The Art of Hiding ~ Amanda Prowse


The Art of Hiding
Amanda Prowse
Lake Union Publishing
July 2017
Rating 5/5

Kindle | Paperback

            

What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?
Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

            

It seems a long while since I got stuck into an Amanda Prowse novel, so when The Art of Hiding dropped through my letterbox, I was excited to get started right away!

What I love about Amanda's books is her ability to take what appears to be a normal family and turn their world upside down, resulting in the heroine of the book becoming a strong and confident woman... and as a read Amanda manages to break your heart before fixing it again by giving an uplifting ending which in my opinion makes great reading material.

Nina's story is no different.
She has a wonderful life, a gorgeous husband, two handsome son's and a marvellously grand home which includes a cinema room and swimming pool!

Nina wants for nothing as her husband, Finn, owns a successful construction company. Her boys, Connor and Declan, go to a top of the range private school and she even has fresh flowers delivered fortnightly to her home!

Life is good for Nina and her family, that is until Finn fails to arrive at one of Connor's rugby matches. Willing him to hurry up and arrive, Nina answers her mobile which is the point her life as she knows it, is to be no more.
Finn has been involved in an accident and sadly not made it, the story quickly travels through scenes where Nina has to tell the boys their Dad has died, the funeral and immediate aftermath, all of which Amanda writes with warmth and empathy which is guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye.

Once the funeral is over, Nina discovers from Finn's accountant that they are bankrupt - the business has been financially failing, the boys' school fees are behind and their home, with all their precious memories of family times with Finn, is about to be repossessed with the bailiffs expected to arrive any day.

It's hard to comprehend how you would feel in this situation but Amanda being her, writes expertly as Nina goes through grief, shock, upset and anger.
With no choice, Nina and the boys pack up what little is left and head to Southampton to stay in a run down flat owned by a distant relative.

It's not ideal but with pennies to her name, Nina sets about making the best of a bad situation - enrolling the boys in a local school and looking for a job to bring in some income, all whilst trying to hold it together for the boys and trying to build some bridges with her sister that had broken over the years.

I love the way Amanda took Nina as a character, pretty much ruined her life and then re-built her into that strong, confident, independent woman she does so well.

The Art of Hiding is an emotional roller-coaster of a read, by the end you will have tears forming in your eyes again but of the happier ones as you see how far Nina and the boys have come in a few months and this is due to Amanda's ability to write about characters you instantly connect with.

I also love that the title, The Art of Hiding, has more than one meaning - Finn hides away their money troubles,  Nina and the woman she was hiding away in their mansion and Connor hiding away his feelings.

The Art of Hiding is a fabulous, warm and uplifting (despite the original heartache!) book about new beginnings, moving on and finding that inner strength.

     


Monday, 11 September 2017

Review | Her Last Breath ~ Tracy Buchanan


Her Last Breath
Tracy Buchanan
Avon
June 2017
Rating 4/5


           
A girl has gone missing. You’ve never met her, but you’re to blame.
FROM THE #1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF MY SISTER’S SECRET AND NO TURNING BACK
Food writer Estelle Forster has the perfect life. And with her first book on the way, it’s about to get even better.
When Estelle hears about Poppy O’Farrell’s disappearance, she assumes the girl has simply run away. But Estelle’s world crumbles when she’s sent a photo of Poppy, along with a terrifying note: I’m watching you. I know everything about you.
Estelle has no idea who’s threatening her, or how she’s connected to the missing teen, but she thinks the answers lie in the coastal town she once called home, and the past she hoped was long behind her.
Estelle knows she must do everything to find Poppy. But how far will she go to hide the truth – that her
perfect life was the perfect lie?

           

Her Last Breath is a great novel that will keep you gripped throughout.

As Tracy does so well, we are treated to the main thread of the story but at odd chapters there are extracts from the culprits point of view.

Estelle Forster is an up and coming chef who focuses of clean, pure ingredients and eating and the book starts with her hosting a dinner party where conversation is focused on two key events. The first being Estelle's debut book launching and the second is the mention of a local 15 year old girl going missing.

Not much is said about the girl other than they hope its just a stroppy teenager who has run away, but the following day when Estelle recieves her weekly bucthers delivery, there is a polaroid photo enclosed addressed to 'Stel' - a name associated with Estelle's past that she would rather forget.

What follows is as very detailed back story for Estelle, who was passed from foster home to foster home as her birth parents were more interested in drink and drugs than looking after their own daughter.
Estelle eventually settled in the little coastal village of Lillysands, with foster parents Autumn and Max Garland, their son Aiden and Alice, another girl being fostered.

As Estelle recieves more and more of the polariod photos and threatening notes, it becomes clear that the young young gone missing - Poppy - is the baby Estelle gave up for adoption, the same day that Alice took her own life, fifteen years ago.

As Estelle returns to Lillysands to inform the biological father he has a child, strange things start to happen and alongside Estelle searching for Poppy, we learn more about her time at the Garlands and the events surrounding Alice's death.

Her Last Breath was well written and kept me guessing throughout - just when I thought I had worked the plot out or figured why Alice had jumped, something else would happen to doubt me and change my mind.

Although Her Last Breath was an enjoyable read and held my interest, I have to honest though and say that the outcome wasn't quite what I expected and did leave me a little flat.
However if you are looking for an intriguing book that has plenty of twists and turns, then Her Last Breath is definitely one for you!