Mini Reviews #13

36097412The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley | Goodreads

I didn’t connect with CeCe like I have the previous 3 sisters. I found her a little naive, immature and unrelatable to me. I couldn’t form a personal connection with her. I felt the Ace side story was a little unneeded, and it just made the book drag a bit more than it should have. Everything seemed to be plain sailing for her. Kitty’s story on the other hand was more enjoyable for me. I would have read a whole book about Kitty’s life, her problems, her loves. I loved Kitty’s story in Australia. The difference between the two stories is unbelievable, I would go as far as to say that it felt like they were written by 2 completely different authors.


34433755Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan | Goodreads

The idea of this story is incredible, the backstory and the myths, the history, the layout of the story is incredible. The actual execution of the idea? Sadly I found it lacking. The ending? That was the biggest shock of the whole book. I felt like not a lot actually happened in any one part of it. It felt like you were just there in an everyday situation. The descriptive style of writing was one of the only things that really kept me going through the whole book. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, and I felt that it was a tad too predictable for what happens to the characters. I feel like we could have had a whole lot more from the story, more action, more drama. It was lacking in shocking moments.


28875687.jpgThe Caller by Chris Carter | Goodreads

While not as good as the previous books, this was a good read. Gruesome, shocking, yet slightly addictive. Was very repetitive though. There were huge chunks of info from previous books that people who have read all the series know. The dialogue and other parts seemed fairly basic on this book compared to some of the others. As for the killer? I don’t think anyone would have got that. It was a bit far-fetched to have that person as the killer, I can’t really say more than that. Overall, while a good book it is not the best in the Robert Hunter series.

 


13057372Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan

Yet another amazing book from Karen Swan. I loved the characters, I felt connected to all of them. The heartbreak that Cassie feels is real, the loss she experiences is painfully real. The settings are beautifully written as usual. The writing style is wonderful, and I wish that Henry would make me a list. It is such a brilliant idea. Karen Swan has firmly become a favourite, and I buy without reading the description now.

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Blog Tour Extract: The Step-Sister by Jenny O’Brien

thumbnail_stepsister cover The Stepsister by Jenny O’Brien

Published: 29th October 2018
ASIN: B07H3TH4HT

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Description

She should never have let her go. That was her first mistake. She trusted him. That was her second…

When a stranger leaves stepsisters, Victoria and Ness, a half-share in a house in Holland, they think it must be a mistake.
But there’s no mistake when Ness goes missing.

Desperate for the truth, Victoria travels from Guernsey to Holland to find out what’s happened to her. Has she, as her texts show, embarked on a whirlwind romance? Has someone abducted her or even worse?

What she doesn’t know is there’s someone watching, and that person wants her dead.
Can Victoria find out the truth before it’s too late?

Author Biothumbnail_8715CB6B-8F86-4241-9D71-D504CE5E13A4

Jenny O’Brien was born in Ireland and, after a brief sojourn in Wales, now resides in Guernsey. She’s an avid reader and book reviewer for NetGalley in addition to being a RoNA judge. She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. She’s also an avid collector of cats, broken laptops, dust and happy endings – two of which you’ll always find in her books.

In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off.

Readers can find out more about Jenny from her blog: https://jennyobrienwriter.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JennyOBrienWriter/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScribblerJB


Extract

Two

His face wavers into a frown before dissolving under my lids and a welcome black obliterates all colour, light and sound.

‘You’re back. Good. Drink this.’

I’ve been back a while. How long a while is difficult to gauge as the watch situation has yet to be resolved. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been back; seconds, minutes but probably not hours. I’m not sure I’m a good enough actress to play possum for hours.

Lying here, it’s fascinating just how much information can be garnered with one’s eyes closed. I know, for instance that I’m not in the Dutch house; my Dutch house. I can’t begin to guess where I am or how I got here. But when I left the lounge there wasn’t a fire burning in the grate, the flames leaping up across the back of my lids to the gentle sound of spitting wood. The room is so warm after that stone cold floor and the sofa is so soft. I know it’s a sofa. I’ve spent many an hour in the very same position, my head at that funny no-man’s-land angle and my legs just that little bit too long to fit neatly over the seats. It’s not my sofa and it’s not Aldert’s. He had a sit up and beg version in matching green but his had been pushed into the window recess and not in front of the fireplace. What else? I know I’m not alone. I don’t know who’s with me but they’re close by, no doubt with their eyes trained in my direction; a creaking chair, the crinkle of a paper, a long sigh. All sounds I’d usually dismiss but now they take on a sense of importance, entirely out of sync with their homely nature.

I try to heave a calming breath without moving a muscle. If he was going to harm me, surely he’d have done it by now? So I try to dismiss the fear. It’s warm and comfortable on the sofa. I’ve never been more afraid of anything in my life as I am of this man.


Giveaway

1st Prize Win an e copy of The Stepsister and crystal, tulip slider necklace , 2 x 2nd Prize – an e-copy of The Stepsister (Open Internationally)

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

 

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Hocus Pocus Tag

I can’t remember where I found this, I’ve had it saved for so long just for Halloween. I really need to start making a note of where I find tags!! Anyway, thank you to the creator (I have no idea who you are, but thank you lovely person!)


A Great Trilogy

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Take your pick!! I’m choosing The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.

Winifred Sanderson – A book with a truly evil female villain.

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Dolores Umbridge. Just, grr. She’s a vile character. She’s one the ones you love to hate.

Sarah Sanderson – A book that uncannily attracts children.

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The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. This is a well loved book in my house. Our copy is on it’s last legs.

Mary Sanderson – A book that is just plain silly.

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Cat in The Hat by Dr Suess. Another well loved book in this household!

Max – A book that is trying really hard to be cool, but doesn’t always succeed.

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This isn’t just one book, but a whole load of books. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. Some of the things that are in the books just shouldn;t even be in there. The possible brother/sister thing? Just nope.

Dani – A book that isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

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I’m choosing a character, not a book. Although the book could be included. Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom. Never shy of saying how it is.

Binx – A book series that just won’t die.

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Anything by Cassandra Clare. Her Shadowhunter world is massive.

Ice – A book with a character that’s dumb as a rock.

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Third mention of this. Clary from Mortal Instruments. I wouldn’t say she’s dumb. Just a little… Naive? Immature?

The Black Flame Candle – A book or series you wish you could resurrect. 

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One Thousand Stars and You. I want to see where Max and Alice go for their next adventure.

Headless Billy Butcherson – A book that’s not as bad as people make it out to be.

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I’m going to say Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I’ve seen a lot of bad press about this recently over on Facebook. I thoroughly enjoyed it though and don’t see the issues with it.

Winifred Sanderson’s Spell Book – A book with a mind of its own.

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Another series here: The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I love this trilogy. Really love it. But. One minute it’s a love story, the next it’s an alchemy based story, the next it’s bordering science fiction… Help, send help!!

Garry Marshall – A book with a cameo.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. I won’t go into details but there are characters towards the end from The Grisha Trilogy.

Children’s Books We Recommend As A Family

So, today is my little one’s FIFTH birthday. I do not know where the last 5 years have gone. I want to say this though: People lie. They say you forget the pain of child birth once you see your beautiful baby. Rubbish. I remember every excruciating moment of my 15 hour labour with continuous contractions. I wouldn’t change him for the world though. Anyway, in honour of the smallest, yet loudest, member of my family today I have something different. Children’s Books We Recommend As A Family. The child loves books as much as I do so this post is perfect. This is all the books that we love to read to him, and the books that he loves to have read to him the most.


The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson


Don’t Call Me Sweet by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

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Say Goodnight…./Say Hello…. by Ian Whybrow


Kipper by Mick Inkpen

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There’s A Monster In Your Book by Tom Fletcher

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The Cat in The Hat by Dr Suess

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Dave’s Breakfast Blast Off by Sue Hendra

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The Large Family books by Jill Murphy


See You Later, Alligator by Sally Hopgood

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I’m Special, I’m Me by Ann Meek

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The Struggles of Not Buying Books

Time for honesty. This is the honesty circle, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. You get the idea, blah blah blah.

We may laugh and joke about being in a book ban, that we are all trying so desperately not to buy that book that is on offer. And the struggle is real. Really real.

Have you ever admitted to somebody how many books, physical and digital, that you actually do own? This is a horrible thought, but… You see these posts on Facebook or whatever, in the book related groups and there’s someone saying “Oh, I really need to stop buying! I have 10 books stacked up!” I always think to myself in a sarcastic tone “10? Oh how cute, try this many……” And this is part for My confession: on my kindle I have (at the time of writing this post) 824 books on my kindle purchased from Amazon (quite a few actually have been read and I have had a kindle for probably about 6/7 years now), I have got 971 documents from many sources (I couldn’t tell you how many I have had and read from NetGalley and authors). My bookcases? Well, I’ll get back to you on that one. But imagine 3 six foot tall bookcases (maybe taller or shorter), and 2 half that size full. Double stacked in places. I would probably say it’s close to 200, maybe 300? I  rarely get rid of books, and I only pass on the ones that I’m likely not to read again. So overall, let’s say I own 2000 books… The number of unread? I have no idea… My problem? I buy, buy, buy and never know when to actually stop. Enter one unhappy husband who doesn’t understand the struggle.

I try so desperately not to buy books, then I see one and think “oooh, I’ve seen great things about that one!!!”. At the moment, I’m trying hard not to buy books for the pure fact that 1- we’re moving so everything is being packed up and 2 – the cost. Books are not cheap. I have probably spent a blooming fortune on books recently. Or in this year in general actually. It’s an expensive hobby, but an author has to eat right?

The struggle of not buying a new book? A new book is what I would buy if I’m having a crappy day, or if there’s a new release I’m desperate to get my hands on. Actually, I buy a book just for the hell of it at times. A book is my happy drug. It’s not shoes like some women, or clothes. Books (and food) are what I reach out to when I need that endorphin release. How do I feel when I haven’t brought a book for a long time? The only way I could probably explain is agitated. Irritable. Frustrated. I feel like I’m denying myself one of life’s simple pleasures. I’m denying an author a wage in a sense as well.

I’ve seen a post recently about the addiction of buying books. And I agreed with that post. There is an addiction, a thrill, to getting a new book, of feeling a new cover, an uncracked spine, fresh pages. The excitement of getting something through the door in the morning, or finding it there when you get home.



I’ve asked a group of bloggers 3 questions:
1 – How do they deal with not buying books?
2 – How do they stick to not buying books?
3 – How do they feel when they’ve not brought books for a while?

This is some of their answers (along with some tips):

Q1:

  • Avoiding sites like BookBub who do love advertising freebies, and avoiding bookstores
  • Using libraries more often, including digital copies

Q2:

  • Having a stern word with yourself.
  • Sticking with review copies, review requests
  • Reminding yourself that it will still be available in a few months (unless it’s a limited edition!)
  • Having a husband you complains when a new one appears,and sometimes a child as well!!

Q3:

  • Jittery (which I can completely relate to)
  • Itching to buy something
  • Disappointed when you think you’ll be missing out.

 

 

Blog Tour Guest Post: Cottage on a Cornish Cliff by Kate Ryder

sgeTDPjg.jpeg Cottage on a Cornish Cliff by Kate Ryder

Publisher:  Aria
Published: 16th October 2018

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Description

Returning to the heart of her beloved Cornwall, Kate Ryder weaves another deliciously irresistible tale of desire, jealousy and the search for understanding, set against the stunning backdrop of the glorious Lizard Peninsula.

Globally renowned actor Oliver Foxley has made the most difficult decision of all and set the love of his life free, in order to try and bring his family back together. But there’s a magnetic pull back to both Cara and Cornwall that Oliver can neither deny nor resist…

Heartbroken for a second time in her short life, single mother Cara knows she has no choice but to pick up the pieces yet again and carry on. Perhaps a complete change of scenery would help her, and her young family? Yet her mind, spirit and heart yearn for the windswept shores of her Cornish Cove…

Cara and Oliver face the agonising choice between following expectations, or following their hearts. How will their story end…?


Guest Post

What inspired you to write the sequel?

Oliver and Cara were first introduced to readers in Summer in a Cornish Cove, and when I finished writing the novel I knew their story wasn’t over.  In my head their journey continued, but it was only when a number of reviewers begged me not to leave the story where it ended that I realised I had to share Oliver and Cara’s continuing story!

Character spotlights

To the outside world Oliver Foxley leads a charmed life.  In his mid-forties and still on his first marriage, he is a successful, internationally recognised, award-winning actor with the world at his feet.  He and his wife, and their four children, live in a handsome, secluded lodge house nestling in the Surrey Hills.  However, all is not as it seems.  Oliver lives with depression, a fact only known to family members and a few select friends, and his life is one huge jigsaw puzzle with the pieces never quite falling into place.

Cara Penhaligon is a beautiful soul, with a God-given light that leaves no one untouched.  A child of nature and a free-spirit, she lives simply and quietly in a ramshackle, clifftop bungalow on the wild and untamed Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.  She is also a talented artist and makes a living from painting commissions and selling through her art gallery in Porthleven, which has become ever more popular since she won the prestigious Threadneedle Prize.  Previously married to her childhood sweetheart, and devastated by his early death, she now concentrates on raising her children with the support of her loving parents.

Deanna Foxley is Oliver’s attractive and independent wife.  They met at drama school and she has been with him since the very first, tiniest flicker of his fame.  She doesn’t understand his depression but has lived with it long enough to heed the signs, and over the years she has fashioned herself as Oliver’s ‘rock’.  However, Deanna is increasingly resentful of Oliver’s career and her lack of one.  Although she tries to console herself that being mother to his children is her compensatory career, as their daughter and sons grow towards independence she is ever more impatient at having to play second fiddle to her husband’s fame.

Greg Latimer-Jones is an illustrious art critic with The New York Times.  He first met Cara in Summer in a Cornish Cove whilst staying in the cove with his terminally ill wife, and instantly recognised her undiscovered talent.  Cara represents a breath of fresh air to his jaded and somewhat world-weary nature and, cleverly, he has manipulated his way into her life and managed her career.  Now widowed, and despite viewing her as raw and unsophisticated, Greg believes with careful guidance he can mould Cara into someone befitting not only of the wider art world, but also someone worthy of him.

Dame Heather McMullen is an award-winning actress and Oliver’s co-star in his breakthrough Hollywood film.  Despite the intervening years she has never forgotten the vigorous, good-looking actor who was cast as her love interest two decades before.  They have history together and when she commits to a role on the West End stage for six months she immediately makes contact with Oliver in the hope that they will be reacquainted for the duration of the play’s run.

Johnny is an American freelance illustrator, in his mid-twenties, who meets Cara on a flight from New York.  They share an interest in art and strike up an immediate friendship.  He is at the start of a year-long tour of Europe but decides to make a detour and visit Cara’s art gallery in Cornwall.

Find Kate on social media…

Website:  http://www.kateryder.me

Twitter:  @KateRyder_Books

Facebook:  kateryder.author

Blog Tour Review: No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

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No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

Publisher: HarperImpulse
Published: 19th October
Source: NetGalley and Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you for my copy, and for the chance to take part in this blog tour in exchange for my honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Description

It’s the most magical time of the year, and for travel agent Sarah it’s also the busiest! But this year one man threatens to ruin Christmas for Sarah’s customers – Mr Grinch, Will Armstrong.

The Shooting Star Mountain resort is a magical place, and Sarah has fond memories of Christmas here as a little girl – visits to Father Christmas, husky rides in the snow and hot chocolate by a roaring fire. But as the resorts new owner, Will refuses to play snowball or to deck the halls with anything remotely resembling tinsel!

With customers complaining their Christmas is ruined, Sarah decides it’s up to her to convince Scroogey Will just how magical Christmas can be….

But getting Will into the Christmas spirit is hopeless – he is Bah Humbug personified! But as Sarah gets to know him better, she realises that underneath all the gloom is a man struggling with a pain of his own.

With the big day approaching, Sarah realises that the magic and sparkle can wait. This year, she’s going to spend Christmas day with someone special her very own Mr Scrooge…

Author Bio

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Born in a small village in Staffordshire, I wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when I grew up. After many years, and many different jobs, my dream of writing a bestseller came true. I write about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hope that my tales make you cry a little, laugh a lot, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’. I now live in a Cheshire village with my family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.

Where you can find her-

Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zarastoneley/


My Review

I liked this story, there was a sort of seriousness to it that I wasn’t expecting. There were light hearted moments, touching moments and funny moments.

I liked Sarah. She was carefree and fun. Except for when it came to Will and his resort. I connected quite quickly with her, she certainly felt the same as me about Christmas. It’s a time for family and friends. A little thing that irritated me with her though was that she was very repetitive. She said that someone was cute numerous times within a couple of sentences, that Will’s eyes were intense or something similar god knows how many times in one paragraph.

I liked Will, even if he did come across a grump. He had his moments though. I was also sort of surprised by his background, as nothing was hinted at throughout the whole book. I sort of wish that we had his point of view in this book. I think it would have worked really well as we only ever got one side of the story and I felt there was a lot missing.

I didn’t really get the chemistry between Sarah and Will until late on in the book. It just wasn’t an instant thing for me. To be honest, I was sort of rooting for Ed (Will’s brother). There was more chemistry between him and Sarah than Will if I’m honest.

The serious notes to the story… Sarah’s past is tragic, yes, but it does hold her back when she could have quite easily been a fantastic character without that hovering about. I think this story could have been more… magical without the backstory it has. Obviously it does work for the book though, and we do get to know Sarah a lot better for it.

Zara Stoneley’s writing style is so easy to get into, and you do feel like you’re right in the middle of all the action, drama, romance. Her location choice is fantastic and her descriptive style is incredible.


thumbnail_No One Cancels Christmas Full Tour Banner

Book Review: Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood

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Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood

Publisher: Aria
Published: 4th September 2018
ASIN: B07F2N54K4
Source: NetGalley and Aria, thank you for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Description

Worlds collide when two strangers meet at Waterloo station. It’s a moment they’ll never forget. Perfect for the fans of Milly Johnson.

Christmas is a joyous time, but not everyone is merry and bright.

Nicola is a rising star at the top of the corporate ladder, but her personal life is a disaster. Her office affair has lost its allure, and the last thing she wants to think about is Christmas. A night of cancelled trains and festive Christmas carols at Waterloo Station is just about the last straw…

Dmitri loves conducting his pop-up choir during the festive season, meeting people, and spreading joy and cheer around London. But he carries deep secrets from his past that robbed him of his dream to become a concert pianist.

Can their hearts and souls be unlocked by music and moonlight and will they discover the healing power of love?


My Review

This story could have happened at any time of year really. Christmas didn’t really make an difference to the book, it just made a nice setting. Fair enough it wasn’t the best season for Nicola, but I don’t think it really made a big enough impact for me.

I’m not actually sure where I stand with this book to be fair. I liked Dmitri’s story more than Nicola’s, which isn’t necessarily a good thing considering he had awful experiences. I found that I liked him more, and looked forward to his sections more than her. It’s not that I didn’t like Nicola, I just found her cold and uncaring. I didn’t connect with her on an emotional level and it was a little off-putting. The chemistry between the pair was undeniable though. It was an instant thing, even if they didn’t start of on the best foot. I liked how they were able to connect on a level that enabled them to share they’re secrets and overcome them.

This is the first book I’ve read by Lauren Westwood, and I can say it won’t be the last. Her writing style is engaging, captivating and does keep you glued to the pages. I think if I connected to Nicola like I did Dmitri, then this book for me would be a spectacular book. The authors descriptions of everything, her knowledge of pianists, and just her way with words is what kept me going with this book.

While this book isn’t the best to start of a Christmas feature, I think that the only way is up now. This book had such a sad undertone to it, especially for a story to be happening at Christmas time. But, it also has the sense of Christmas magic in a way. Nicola becomes a different person by the end of book. Dmitri has faced up to his demons, Nicola doesn’t seem as cold.


Blog Tour Extract: What’s Love Got To Do With It? by Anna Premoli

-9cWQqLw.jpeg What’s Love Got To Do With It? by Anna Premoli

Publisher: Aria
Published: 16th October 2016

Goodreads

Kobo:http://bit.ly/2BDkoDh
iBooks: https://apple.co/2BBkAmz
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MKpPok
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2o438gA

Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction


About the Author 7YRGyJ2Q.jpeg

Anna was born in Croatia but moved to Milan as a young child and has lived there since. She has worked in the Asset Management industry for JPMorgan and is now employed in Private Banking for an Italian bank, where she manages HNW positions. She started writing romantic comedies to fight financial markets stress after the Lehman crack, when she was expecting her son, now six. Writing was supposed to be only a hobby, but her husband self-published her first novel as a birthday present four years ago, and it was a great success in Italy.


Description

Kayla David is a high-flying journalist in New York City, spending all her time drinking martinis and writing about fashion trends. She is perfectly happy with her life, and she certainly has no time for falling in love.

That is, until, her boss decides to send her on a secret mission back to her hometown of Arkansas: she is tasked with exposing the truth about the fracking industry and to use her reputation as a lifestyle columnist as a disguise. She is horrified at the thought of returning to this boring country town, but up for the challenge.

Yet, she didn’t plan on having to deal with Grayson Moir, the sexy but aloof mayor of Heber Spring. As Kayla settles into life there she soon realises that it might be a bit more difficult than she thought to keep her real mission a secret. And what’s more, she finds it increasingly difficult to keep her heart under control too …


Extract

“So where are you sending me, then?”

“To Arkansas,” he says, as if it was perfectly normal.

I open my eyes wide in panic. “No! Not to Arkansas, please!” I’m all set to get down on my knees and beg.

My sadist of a boss is actually looking amused by my desperate reaction. “What the hell are you getting so worked up about going to Arkansas for? It’s hardly the Far West! And isn’t it where you were born anyway?” he asks as he scratches his chin.

“That’s the point: I know the place well enough and I hate the countryside! Can you imagine me living out in the boondocks? I need to see the crowds in the street and smell the awful stink of the underground: it’s reassuring!” I say. Hey, as far as I’m concerned, everybody is entitled to their own weirdness.

“Girl, you are out of your mind. Well I think that spending a few months in the countryside can only be good for your health…”

“Months? Did you say ‘months’?”

My voice is starting to get a little loud, but Roger doesn’t seem to have noticed.

“I have a fantastic project in mind, and you’re going to love it too,” he explains. “But to avoid raising suspicion, I need someone local to take care of it.”

“I am not ‘local’! My mother and I got the hell away from there when I was only five!” I say imploringly, trying to get him to change his mind.

“Don’t you have an aunt who still lives there?” he asks innocently.

Never, and I really do mean never, ever speak to your boss about your family. Sooner or later, they will use all the information they’ve managed to gather against you.

“She’s not really my aunt,” I reply in a quiet voice, “she’s my late grandmother’s sister.”

“Look, Kayla, let me be blunt: I don’t care if she is or isn’t your aunt… She’s still a damn good excuse for you to spend a bit of time there. Where exactly does she live?” he asks, peering at me the way a predator looks at its prey.

“In Heber Springs…” I mumble, hoping that he won’t be able to hear me. But my hopes are vain, because he seems to be able to hear me perfectly well. Scores at the moment: exceptional Hearing 1 – Kayla 0.

“That’s perfect!” His face is so ecstatic that for a moment I’m scared he’s about to kiss me. I still don’t understand what the hell he’s so happy about, though.

“I really don’t get why you’re suddenly so interested in a small town that nobody has ever heard of before,” I say with a disgusted expression.

“Have you ever heard about shale gas and shale oil?” he asks me cryptically.

The question takes me by surprise. I hadn’t really been expecting him to come out with something like that. “Err, kind of, I guess. Like everyone else… I mean, I know what it is, in theory. Let’s say I have a very superficial knowledge of the matter. I guess it’s when you drill a hole in the ground and put various substances in there until you provoke a hydraulic fracture that liberates some gas or oil or something? That’s all I know. I’ve never had the chance to study the subject in depth, as I’m sure you can imagine.” And who cares about it anyway?

“That’s because you spend all your time drinking Cosmopolitans instead of getting informed about the real problems of the country,” he scolds me in a teasing voice. I feel like a lazy student being criticised in front of the whole class, and it’s working – I’m actually starting to feel guilty. But luckily, I’m only capable of feeling guilt for a couple of seconds at a time.

“Look, I don’t know anything about nuclear fusion or fission either and I don’t think that’s a problem for anyone, to be honest. What am I anyway, an environmental engineer? I don’t think so. My job is to take care of our newspaper’s New York social life column,” I remind us both.

“And on paper that’s what you’ll continue to do, except that you’ll be doing it from Heber Springs. You current assignment will be your cover.”

I’m trying very hard to follow him, but I still don’t know where he’s going with all this. “There is no social life in Heber Springs, and so there’ll be nothing for me to talk about. The place is just straight up dead! There’s nothing there, except for the few hundred people who haven’t run away from it yet.”

“Few thousand, to be precise,” Roger corrects me while checking the town on the Internet.

“That’s only if you count the whole county. In any case, it doesn’t change the fact that more people live in my block than in miles and miles of that deserted wilderness of Arkansas.” I hope he’s getting the message: I need to be surrounded by people at all times. I love crowds!

Roger’s face, though, tells me that he’s not actually inclined to sympathise with my personal necessities. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“It’s going to be a great column: A City Girl in the Country. Our female readers will love it,” he says, completely ignoring me.

“But I am going to hate it!” I reply stubbornly. “Don’t you think it’s important for me to like my assignments?”

He doesn’t even bother to answer.

“And when you’re not busy with your cover column, you’ll be investigating the shale gas thing.”

“In Arkansas?” I ask doubtfully. The last time I was there – which was a fair few years ago – the local economy was mainly based on agriculture, farming and not much else. I know that there were some bauxite caves or something like that, but I never really looked into it. I just wasn’t interested, and I bet nobody else would be either.

“You need to catch up, Kayla. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, there is one of the biggest shale gas sites in the whole United States. And as soon as you start to look into it, you’ll realise how important shale gas is for the energy independence that the US is hoping to achieve. All our future energy plans are based on this new method of methane extraction, and it’s all on the basis of assumptions which have yet to be completely proven, in my opinion,” he says cautiously.

His last words pique my curiosity. “What do you mean?” I ask.

“Let’s just say that some States, like Arkansas, are embracing fracking without hesitation while in other states the authorities are doing the exact opposite: they are banning it completely.”