Friday, 27 February 2015

Review of One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker

The bit on the back…

“Make me proud.” These were the last words Livie’s father ever spoke to her. In the seven years since her parents’ tragic death, Livie has done her best to keep this promise through her every choice, word, and action, while looking after her sister with strength and maturity. But with college right around the corner, unexpected challenges will test her resilience—and her heart.

Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy to marry someday. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots; a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say “no” to; and Ashton, the arrogant—and extremely attractive—captain of the men’s rowing team who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?

As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.

I bought this when it was on offer at the end of last year shortly after falling in love with K.A. Tucker’s writing in her novel Burying Water. I started it pretty much as soon as I’d finished Ten Tiny Breaths.

One Tiny Lie is all about Livie (Kacey from Ten Tiny Breaths’ sister) and her life at college.
Livie is off to Princeton following the path she is sure her father would have wanted for her while trying to live up to Kacey’s expectations to party and meet guys and have a fun, all round college experience.

Livie is sensible, mature and wise beyond her years – almost to the point of being introverted – for an 18 year old. Her past saw her lose her parents and she had to witness her sister lose herself. Both of those things have really moulded per character and personality. I felt quite sorry for Livie in TTB because it was sort of as if she hadn’t been through enough losing her parents she had to live through the impact the accident had on Kacey too. It almost made me pity her a little until right near the end of TTB where she really holds her own and shows she can kick ass when she wants to. That side of Livie seems to have retreated in the beginning of this book.

Throughout the story I felt a palpable sense of feeling trapped and those vibes were rolling off of Livie. She is just as practiced in avoidance as her sister is although she is doing it to try and live her life the way her parents dreamt she would. The pressure she feels is palpable and keeps you on tenterhooks throughout.

In order to fulfil her college experience Livie does let loose sometimes and parties with her roommate and the boys from the college rowing team. Enter Ashton and Connor. The guy Livie wants to be with and just like everything else in her life the guy she feels everyone expects her to be with. I felt really sorry for her that she felt she couldn’t live her life the way she wanted, and with who she wanted.

The chemistry between Livie and Ashton is incredible. It’s felt vital and real, and it felt like Livie started to rely on their connection. Ashton is gorgeous and athletic and completely arrogant in a way that is such a turn on. He’s good looking and knows it but can get away with it because actually he’s a great guy. There was always something about him that while he threw almost his whole self into being friends with Livie there was something held back and restrained and a lot of that related to his family.

The story is fast paced and gripping and I was on the edge of my seat most of the way through waiting for everything that Livie was feeling inside to rip out of her. I loved this book and Ashton really won my heart. Definitely one to read after Ten Tiny Breaths!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Release Day Review! Playing With Fire by Kat Black

The bit on the back…

The steamy story of Annabel Frost and Aidan Flynn continues … Can you handle the heat?

Before Aidan Flynn had swept into her life with the destructive force of a wildfire, Annabel Frost had thought she'd had all she needed from her life. A successful career, financial independence, emotional restraint. Things that were safe, secure, steady. Everything her childhood hadn't been.

Aidan represented none of that. Reckless and risky he'd been the red hot flame that melted the icy layers of her long-frozen heart. Having run from him once, Annabel should have learnt to leave trouble well enough alone.

But now Aidan is back, turning up the heat. And regardless of the danger of getting herself badly burned, Annabel can't seem to resist the temptation to play with this particular fire.

Firstly, thank you to Kat Black and Avon for inviting me to view an ARC of this title on NetGalley. I read Melting Ms Frost last year and fell head over heels for sexy Irishman Aidan Flynn and found a brand new author to fan girl over! You can read my review of Melting Ms Frost here.

I was soooooo so looking forward to reading this and it completely did not disappoint. To answer the question in the blurb – “Can you handle the heat?” BARELY! I love love love Aidan Flynn with his sexy Irish accent and sexy Irish words spoken throughout the story to raise the hairs on the back of both yours and Annabel’s neck! Their story so far has been a turbulent rollercoaster of emotions and feelings – all of the sexy feels – and drama. Annabel really tries to live up to her frosty demeanour but the heat emanating from Aidan makes that hard.

The story picks up from where it left off just after Annabel’s run in with her mum’s ex-partner. Aidan came to Annabel’s rescue and has come back again to show her that he’s the real deal. Aidan, for all he is sexy and his intensity can be seen as intimidating, is a genuinely caring person with a kind heart. He wants to look after Annabel and care for her but she’s trying hard not to have any of it.

The story is set between London and Ireland where Aidan is trying to live out his dream of converting a run-down building into a hotel and refurbishing its neighbouring distillery. The story takes a brief dalliance in Monaco and I loved this part of the story. It’s only one weekend but allows for utter escapism. A few years ago I went to Monaco as part of a cruise and since then reading about it in books really brings the glamour alive. This part of the story was not short on glamour but it was definitely high on the heat. Aidan pushes Annabel’s boundaries and fully explores them in Monaco making it pretty memorable.

While their sex life plays a major part in this story, the relationship that Aidan and Annabel have here grows from beginning to end. I love how Aidan is always wholly there for Annabel and how it the story forces the tables to turn on Annabel.

The epilogue hit the nail on the head although it also confirmed that, alas, Aidan Flynn will never actually be mine boohoohoo! I loved this Kat, I can’t wait to read more from you!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Review of Deeper by Blue Ashcroft

The bit on the back…

Lifeguard Rain Wilson can’t afford to get distracted. After a horrible accident at her last park left her emotionally scarred, she’s determined to use her status as supervisor to keep everyone at her new water park safe.

Her co-supervisor Knight McAllister is the worst kind of distraction. Knight’s as gorgeous as he is stubborn, with electric blue eyes, a tall, muscled swimmer’s body, and the opinion that he doesn’t need a co-supervisor at all.

But as the season heats up, so does the temperature between the two head lifeguards. But as they find themselves drawn closer together, and their pasts start to surface, Rain and Knight are realizing that maybe too much broken can make a relationship impossible.

Then again, sometimes it’s the broken parts of us that fit together best.

I bought this book for two reasons. Firstly it was free. Secondly, this book and its sequel share titles with another two book series that I’ve read recently.

Deeper is all about MCs Rain and Knight. The story is set over a summer season. The pair spend time together as lifeguards at their local water park.

There are things about this book that I both liked and disliked.

The story is dual POV which is a big winner for me and is one of the main things that I enjoyed here. Dodgy names aside I quickly started to look forward to reading Knight’s POV more than Rain’s.
Both characters have experienced loss which unties them but also seems to make the storyline a bit samey and repetitive as they experience a lot of the same emotions – so it’s like reading the same thing twice at times.

I found Rain to be quite annoying for a main character. Her experience of loss felt like it was on a much lower level emotionally than Knight although it appeared as if she was suffering doubly. I almost wanted to shake her and say “get a grip”. Her situation in itself felt a bit farfetched for me as well which just strengthened the feeling of her over reacting to me.

The plot is repetitive and Rain constantly finds herself in situations that always involve some sort of sexual or physical threat. After I’d read about it once I was bored reading about that same scenario playing out a second and third time. All of the characters surrounding the MCs seemed so much younger than them which made the story feel very YA.

Without the repetition there would be much less reading to this story. It was ok, but I won’t be reading the second book.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Review of Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

The bit on the back…

Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.

Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, twenty-year-old Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. Struggling to make ends meet, Kacey needs to figure out how to get by. But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything—anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and he perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart—even if it means that an explosive secret could shatter both their worlds.

Last year I was part of the blog tour for K.A. Tucker’s Burying Water. I loved it! I loved the writing and the way she told the story totally capturing your attention and your heart. Ten Tiny Breaths has been on my TBR for a long while and I’ve been holding off for ages to try and get my request list down but I finally succumbed to my need to read it!

The story is all about Kacey. She’s a survivor of a drink-drive accident that claimed the life of her family and friends and is all about her fresh start in Miami looking after her sister Livie.

I really enjoyed Kacey’s character right from the start. I loved her determination to provide for her sister, to give her everything she wanted and needed to go some way to filling the gaping chasm in their lives. That earned Kacey my respect right from the beginning of the story. Although on the outside she appeared strong, fierce and independent there was always something that felt like avoidance rather than acceptance of her situation.

The whole cast of characters make the story really enjoyable. Kacey’s neighbour Storm adopts a mothering role over Kacey and Livie although she’s not that much older herself and that relationship felt like a security blanket for the girls and also allowed Kacey to start to open up a bit.

Her other neighbour is the gorgeous Trent Emerson. Trent immediately has this whole bad boy/good guy swagger going on that piques both Kacey’s interest and yours as the reader. I loved that playful way he had but also loved how at times it felt like he was battling to restrain his wild side.

There is one hell of a plot twist which I’ll admit I guessed what was going to happen. However although I knew what was going to happen I couldn’t anticipate the reaction of the characters and that really had me hooked.

I think this would be great for fans of Samantha Young, Colleen Hoover and Jamie McGuire. I’ve already devoured the second and third books in the series!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Review of Me and Mr J by Rachel McIntyre

The bit on the back…

Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.

Lara's life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.

And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings … can he?

Firstly, thank you to Electric Monkey for approving me for a copy of this title via NetGalley. I read a book with a similar storyline years ago, and then re-read it recently, and that is the main reason I requested a copy of this.

The story is all about high school student Lara and her crush on her teacher Mr Jagger.
Before I begin my review it is obvious that the subject of the story is controversial and realistic so you should know from reading the blurb whether this is something you would like to read, or indeed whether or not this is something you would be likely to buy for a teenage relation.

The story is written in a diary format from Lara Tittless’s POV. Lara is a 15 year old high school student who suffers at the hands of bullies alongside the usual trials and tribulations of growing up. 

The diarised format is very informal and felt quite easy to read. The story is very one sided because of this though and the only perspective that’s given is Lara’s. As there is very little dialogue and interaction recorded throughout it’s harder to read Ben’s thoughts and actions and translate them into something with a meaningful impact on the story. The story is very definitely aimed at the YA market however and I don’t know if I’m almost expecting too much from it. The actual progression of their relationship again seemed very one-sided and very much like it was merely the fantasy of a school girl where her feelings were not reciprocated.

There are three main themes throughout the story – family; bullying and the controversial student/teacher relationship. The bullying aspect of the story felt very realistic in parts and in others it seemed quite extreme. I’d like to imagine that in a perfect world no one found themselves in the situations that Lara did, however that would be blissful ignorance. The fact of the matter is that sometimes the language/scenario felt more mature than the rest of the story making it feel like there was a divide in the story. I think it could be quite relatable for other teens who suffer from bullies but I don’t know if it sets the right example, or what the right example would be.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, considering the nature of the storyline, however I did feel that the ending was rushed and didn’t feel as equally weighted as the rest of the story leading up to it, almost like a quick get out. I would recommend Love Lessons by David Belbin if you are looking for another story with a similar plotline. Read my review here.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Spotlight and Giveaway!! The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell

Today I am joining up with Sourcebooks to bring you a giveaway with your chance to win a Jill Mansell book bundle! Read on for more about her new book and to enter the giveaway!

The bit on the back...

Sophie has no interest in finding love. But what happens when love finds her?

Sophie Wells is a successful photographer with a focus on putting the past firmly behind her. When Josh Strachan returns to the seaside town of Cornwall from the States to run his family’s hotel, he can't understand why the fun, sexy girl has zero interest in letting him—or any man for that matter—into her life. He also can't understand how he's been duped into employing Sophie's impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited. Both girls remain mum about the reasons behind Sophie’s indifference to love. But that doesn’t mean Josh is going to quit trying…

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Release Date: 3rd February 2015

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

About Jill

With over 9 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella. She worked for many years at the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol, and now writes full time. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.

“Nearly done… Oh, it’s you.” Turning, she glimpsed him in the doorway and straightened up. Nodding at Griff, she said, “Have you come to get him? He’s shattered now. I’ve just finished the shoot.”
“I know, I saw the family driving off. And I am sorry. Dot did warn me about the door-opening thing,” Josh admitted. “I just forgot about it. Can I blame it on the jet lag?”
She gave him a look. “Only if you’re a complete wuss. You’ve had a whole week to get over it.”
Her eyes were bright and sparkling, silver-gray with very white whites. Her well-defined eyebrows were dark but tipped with gold and there was a smudge of mud on her left temple.
It wasn’t an expression he’d ever thought of using before, but it occurred to him that she had joie de vivre.
“True.” He dipped his head in acknowledgment. “All my own fault. So how did it go in the end?”
“Come over here and I’ll show you.” Leading the way across the room, she picked up her camera and began scrolling through the shots, starting with the half dozen or so pre-Griff originals, then on through the second stage of the shoot.
“These are great.” Josh nodded at them, genuinely impressed. “So it ended up not being such a disaster after all.”
“Thanks to me being a complete genius,” she agreed happily. He liked her attitude. “What’s your name?”
“Hi, Sophie. I’m Josh.”
“I know. Haven’t you noticed everyone whispering about you since you’ve been back?”
“Not really. Well, maybe a bit. You don’t take much notice after a while.” He paused. “Do you have a business card?”
She took one from an envelope in the side pocket of her black canvas camera case and handed it over.
Sophie Wells Photography. Portraits, Weddings, Commercial was written in silver on a black background, along with her contact details. Josh noticed that as well as the bracelets on her left wrist there was a key attached to a plain silver bangle. He reached out and touched it briefly. “What’s this for?”
“It’s the key to my secret Swiss bank account.” “Amazing. I didn’t know Swiss banks used Yale locks.”
A dimple appeared in her left cheek. “I started wearing it after I locked myself out of my flat three times in one week.”
“Look,” said Josh. “I still feel terrible about the photos.” “No need. I told Emma I’d do them for free.”
“But that means you’re losing out. Which is even worse.” Sophie shook her head. “They all like what we ended up doing instead. Emma’s still happy to pay.” “But their clothes…”
“They live on a farm. She says the mud’ll come out in a boil wash.” “But when I came back here with Griff, she was in tears.”
“I know, but you weren’t actually to blame for that. Relax,” Sophie said cheerfully. “It’s your lucky day. You’re off the hook.”
Women, he’d never understand them. Still, it was a positive result. Somewhat distracted by her eyelashes—were they also gold- tipped beneath the mascara?—Josh said, “Fine then. So long as you’re sure. Can I ask you a personal question?”
“You can try.”
He was charmed by her easy smile, playful humor, and feisty can-do attitude. Okay, and her body was pretty amazing too. “Are you single at the moment? Or seeing someone?”
If she were, he would have to say with good-natured regret, “Well, that’s a real shame,” and leave it at that.
“Me? Oh no, I’m not seeing anyone.” Sophie shook her head. “Completely and utterly single, that’s me.”
Excellent. Enjoying her honesty, Josh said, “So would you like to come out for dinner with me one evening?”
“It would have to be an evening.” Sophie nodded gravely. “Otherwise it wouldn’t be dinner; it’d be breakfast or lunch.”
“Definitely evening,” he agreed. “We could do it tonight if you like.” This is going so well.
“Oh, I can’t.”
“Yes, bit short notice. Friday, then? Or Saturday? You choose, whenever suits you best.”
But even as he was saying it, Sophie was shaking her head. “Sorry, no… I mean, thanks for asking, but I can’t meet you for dinner.”
“Right.” Taken aback, Josh said, “Not at all?” “No.”
“Okay. That’s fine.” It wasn’t remotely fine. What was going on? Did she have a small baby at home, or an elderly relative who couldn’t be left unattended? “Am I allowed to ask why?”
Her eyes sparkled. “Oh dear, are you offended?” “Of course not,” lied Josh.
Sophie gave him a who-are-you-kidding look. “I think you are. Don’t be. I’m just pretty busy right now.”
“So maybe in a couple weeks?” He couldn’t quite believe he was still asking.
“Look, thanks again, but no thanks. I just don’t really want to go out to dinner with…anyone.”
Aaaand another knock-back.
“No problem.” Josh wished he’d never started it. “Sorry.”
He managed a rueful smile. “Hey, all I need is a few months for my ego to recover. I’ll be fine.”
“It’s not you.” Sophie’s mouth was twitching. “It’s me.”
Okay, now she was making fun of him.

“Well, obviously,” said Josh

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Blog Tour: Author Interivew with Ameila Thorne

Firstly, thank you to Amelia for allowing me to be part of the tour for her new book Tied Up With Love. Today Amelia has joined me for her first interview with Erin's Choice to chat about her new book and some other random stuff!

Hi Amelia!

Welcome to Erin’s Choice! This is your first interview with me on the blog, are you excited?!
Sooooooo excited.

You’re new book has just been released. Can you tell us about Tied Up With Love?
It’s about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but finding out that wrong place is exactly where you're supposed to be.

The cover is gorgeous. Did you have input?
Not really, it’s always a wonderful surprise when it appears in your inbox as you have no idea which direction the designers have taken it. There were a few tiny tweaks but mostly the cover is exactly as the designers created it.

The story is set in Greater Chessingburyford. Where did you draw inspiration from for the fictional town?
It’s not inspired by any place; I just wanted to have a bit of long silly name. The winter market Ethan and Izzy go to was very roughly based on Winter Wonderland in London.

At first Ethan is a bit of a grump buy Izzy’s charming ways bring him round. Who would you cast to play Ethan and Izzy?
Oooh that’s a hard one. It has to be someone big and muscular for Ethan, but also sweet too so Joe Manganiello or Eric Bana. For Izzy someone dark haired, light eyes, very cute and with a vulnerability, so Zooey Deschanel or Alexis Bledel.

In the story Ethan runs his own business called “Kidnap My Wife”. How did this idea come about?
I saw a similar service on a documentary, where a couple arranged for the wife to be kidnapped for the sole purposes of adding spice to their sex life and I was intrigued with this, that people actually did this sort of thing. But the thought did occur to me that the company would have to be really careful not to kidnap the wrong person and in the case of Izzy, she was unfortunately at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ethan and Izzy sort of get off on the wrong foot but they certainly have chemistry. How did you make sure you wrote that into their characters?
I love books where the chemistry is instantaneous between characters, that spark that sizzles between them and something both characters fight against, so actually it was really easy to write that side of things, what I found hard was keeping them apart for so long.

Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
I'm not sure; I have lots of ideas at the moment.

Now for some more fun questions!

Are you a Fifty Shades or a Crossfire fan?
Oooh I dont know, I loved them both, there was something very addictive about Fifty Shades but if I had to choose probably Crossfire because Gideon never hits Eva and that was one of the things I found hardest to read about fifty shades.

What do you like to read when you’re not writing?
Chicklit is pretty much the only genre I like, sweet cute chicklit like Rebecca Raisin and Aven Ellis, funny, silly, lovely chicklit like Lisa Dickenson and sexy chicklit like Sarah Morgan.

Who is your favourite author?
Aven Ellis and Jill Mansell.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing?
Reading, making cakes, swimming, thinking about writing.

If you could be a character from a book you’ve read who would it be?

Oh probably Hermione Granger, I would love to be part of the magical world of Harry Potter or I'd be Kylie in Waiting for Prince Harry so I could kiss and be with Harrison.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Midweek Manicure

This is my first Midweek Manicure post of the New Year but actually feature the nails I had on New Year's Eve!

This is a regular feature over on my lovely friend Emsypickle's blog. You can check her blog out here and check out her Harry Potter themed Midweek Manicure here!

You might be asking yourself why I'm posting a Midweek Manicure of my New Year's Eve nail polish when we are in February but there is a simple explanation! I've basically lost track of time! How on earth are we in February ALREADY??!?!!? Anyway - exclaiming aside - I present you my NYE Nails! 

I decided to go for a pale pink with a top coat that I was given for Christmas. At first I wasn't sure if I was gonna go all out and use the top coat on all of my nails but instead opted for just the fourth on either hand. The pink polish is Barry M Gelly Hi Shine in Rose Hip 416 and the top coat is Bourjois 1 Seconde in 45 Glitterizer.

So the Barry M polish is definitely as expected as far as quality goes. I am pretty crappy at grown my own nails so these are actually Nailene glue on nails. The nails are not a natural colour to begin with they are a semi opaque white plastic however the Rose Hip pink covered over nicely with one coat.

This was my first time using a Bourjois nail polish that I can remember. One thing I really liked about the bottle itself was the length of the neck on the lid. It sits comfortably in your painting hand allowing you to hold it almost as you would a pencil which in turn allows you to apply with more precision even with your non-dominant hand. The brush is thick which meant that a lot of the silver strands could be applied at once. I only applied to the corner of the nail, layering there and extending in fewer layers outwards toward the tip of the nail. As this can act as a top coat and a nail polish it leaves your nail with a high shine coat on top of the glitter.

I love Barry M nail polishes and I use them almost every time I paint my (false) nails. The top coat applied and lasted well which is encouraging when sampling a new polish for the first time but I can definitely see myself using this again.

Review of First Love by James Patterson

The bit on the back…

When Axi Moore decides to take a road trip across the US, the only person she wants to go with her is her best friend Robinson – who she also happens to be secretly in love with. She’s planned it all out, and all he has to do is say yes.

Axi has had a tough life: her little sister died young, her mother walked out and her father turned to the bottle for comfort. Her parents escaped their grief in their own ways; this trip will be hers.
But life doesn’t always work out as you plan it, and there are some things you just can’t run away from.

Firstly thank you to Cornerstone (Random House) for approving me for a copy of this title via NetGalley.

This is the first James Patterson novel that I’ve finished – although not the first one that I’ve started. I liked the title and the cover and those are the main things that drew me to the book.

I’ve grown up around James Patterson novels because both my parents have read most of his books. I’ve tried before as I’ve said but found the short chapters hard to read and enjoy – so I wasn’t sure what to expect here.

This story is all about Axi and Robinson as they take off on the road trip of a life time.

Axi is smart and mature and everything about the road trip seems to go against the grain of her character. A lot of this story is about Axi embracing life outside of her comfort zone. Robinson her partner in crime is the complete opposite of Axi but is similar in so many ways, although the extent of their similarities is not revealed until much later in the book.

With the road trip as the main plot throughout I wasn’t expecting the twist which served to strengthen the bond between the characters and change the feel of the entire story from escapism and freedom to love, friendship and family.

I started to suspect that the story would end in a predictable way. Although I’ve not read it, I’m aware of the similarity between this and another book tackling the same issues. The ending served the story well, reflecting the level of maturity of both Axi and Robinson. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good read regardless of the YA feel.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

February Birchbox Unboxing

Just after Christmas I signed up to two beauty boxes. The first was Pink Parcel and the second was Birchbox. After hunting around online and having a look at the different (because there is a whole load) boxes I decided that Birchbox looked like the one for me. You can visit the website here. This box is £12.95 per month.

The February box comes with love in mind as Valentine's Day was just around the corner from the date I received my box. Inside this month Birchbox wanted to know what "love is..." to me and my answer is spending time watching boxsets with my boyfriend, spending time with my best friend and her 10 month old baby boy and discovering new beauty products of course!

Inside this month...

Vita Coco Coconut Oil (From £10.99)

I am really looking forward to trying this out. It's described as a "does-it-all wonder formula" and going on the list of ways to use this product it looks like it does. Anything from adding it to your morning coffee to using it on your cuticles or on rough/cracked heels. Those uses might seem like extremes but since I don't like coffee I'll be trialing the latter! 

London Butterflies Winter Jasmine & Starflower with Sweet Almond Oil Whipped Body Cream (£37)

I've started using this product already. The packaging is gorgeous, don't you think? I think it would definitely catch my eye on the shelf. Inside the jar of cream is relatively minimal which I think adds an element of sophistication and luxury. Look out for a full review of this product!

theBalm cosmetics Staniac in Beauty Queen (£10)

This is a two in one product. It can be used as a lip and also a cheek stain. The wand look as if it promotes easy application but we shall see!

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum (£45)

Cynthia Rowley Beauty Black Eyeliner (£11)

This liner could have came in either black or silver but fortunately I had the black version in my box. I regularly use black eyeliner in my make up routine and it is a staple in my make up bag. I usually go between Rimmel and Urban Decay liners as I feel like the apply well and tend to last out the day or night. Getting this product is a real winner for me this month and I can't wait to start using it!

Have you signed up to a beauty box or did you get something slightly different in your Birchbox? Let me know!

If you're not sure this is for you here are some things to love about Birchbox -
  • Some samples are full size
  • At only £12.95 per month it means that even on a limited budget like I am you can afford to sample new beauty products (there are subscription packages available)
  • When you sign up you fill in your beauty profile which can determine the products you receive!
  • Some months you are given the chance to choose which product you want to see in your box from a range i.e. from a range of mascaras
  • Some boxes are special packaging depending on the contents so you might want to keep and re-use your beauty box for something else!
  • Earn reward points and shop online with Birchbox

Inside my December Box...
Inside my January Box...

Review Playing By The Greek's Rules by Sarah Morgan

The bit on the back…

It’s time to throw away the rule book... Idealistic archaeologist Lily Rose craves a fairytale love, but in her experience it always ends in heartbreak. So now Lily’s trying a different approach – a fling with her boss, infamous Greek playboy Nik Zervakis!

Anti-love and anti-family, Nik lives by his own set of rules. There’s no one better to teach Lily how to separate sizzling sex from deep emotions! But, whilst Nik has the world at his feet, he also has dark shadows in his heart... It starts as a sensual game, but can Lily stick to Nik’s rules? And, what’s more, can he...?

Firstly thank you to Mills and Boon for approving me for a review copy of this title via NetGalley.
I became a fan of Sarah’s last year after reading her Snow Crystal series. I have been fortunate enough to receive an ARC of First Time In Forever which is out later this year and is part of Sarah’s Puffin Island series. Playing By The Greek’s Rules is Puffin Island #0.5 and is about archaeologist Lily Rose and her boss Nik Zervakis. It also introduces one of the other characters from the series.

Lily likes to spend her days exploring the past and learning from it while she’s not all that sure what to do with her future. To make ends meet she keeps up cleaning jobs on the side and inadvertently finds herself in the path of her powerful boss Nik.

As I’m a fan of Sarah’s I knew I was in for a treat. I found myself quickly getting to like Lily and I think her situation at the start of the book, and her determination to get her life sorted out, really made her character interesting to read about. She’s clever and her life has taught her to view situations with a different perspective. I liked the depth of her thought process and one of my favourite quotes from the book is one of hers. It’s a little saying about experience…

“Because you haven’t experienced something personally, doesn’t exist. I’ve never been to the moon but I know it’s there.”

Her sunny personality and ability to look for the best in life is the opposite of her icy, dominant and powerful boss Nik. What a guy! He’s gorgeous and driven and has a real sense of going after what he wants but he is completely at odds with Lily in that he is closed off in his relationships and appears to hold little value in his family. That doesn’t really make him sound like anyone’s ideal guy but Lily brings out a whole other side in him – and also shows just how sexy he is!

Family is the main theme throughout and as with any family there are secrets and troubles that stop Nik and his father being as close as they could be.

The story is set in Greece and the description of the setting is infused with beauty. Having visited the Greek Islands last year I had a real appreciation for the visual that Sarah gives you as the reader and could almost feel the heat described in the story.

This is great for Sarah’s fans and it’s a great introduction to the Puffin Island series!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Last Week I...

Originally this post was going to be a Sunday post but we are totally over looking that right? Has everyone had a good weekend? I did, then a relatively good Monday until I had to go to the dentist and now I feel like I have one of those cartoon tongues that I have to roll up to put it back into my mouth! Anyway, here's what I got up to last week...

So last week I took a trip with my parents and my boyfriend to our favourite local restaurant. It's an Italian called Prego and is a family run business. We've been going there for years, since the owners opened their first restaurant in the next town over from us and then opened a restaurant in my town. Every time we have a celebration we book a table. This last week we were celebrating me (yay go me) being made permanent in the post I had been promoted to on a secondment basis. So that was exciting! It was also sort of a last supper because I started dieting last Monday boooo...

OH and I decided to give Son's of Anarchy a proper go and over the last week we've watched the first 10 episodes. It's a bit different to anything I would usually watch but I'm definitely branching out. I am a little bit in love with Charlie Hunnam (an old flame from his Green Street days) and I've also developed a bit of a girl crush of Katey Sagal who plays Charlie's character's mum.

Incase you hadn't noticed it was Valentine's Day this week and my lovely boyfriend treated my to a card from him all about him (top left) but he made up for it was a bottle of sparkling wine! Samantha Young, one of my favourite authors, brought out an On Dublin Street Valentine's novella called Valentine funnily enough. This novella features stories from each of the 6 couples from the series about how they spend V-Day. Fifty Shades of Grey came out this week too and my bestie Kirsty and I went to see it on Friday night. Both of us came away having enjoyed the film but as with most book adaptions we felt there was something missing! What did you think of the film?

I received my February Pink Parcel box (although it did not arrive in time for it's purpose) and I'm really excited to get trying the Make Up Academy palette of 12 eye shadows. I also had my first midweek manicure of the new year - look out for that post in a couple of weeks.

Cathy Bramley's novel Ivy Lane was released in paperback this week and I was lucky enough to receive a copy!

Finally, my favourite picture, is the picture of Kirsty's baby Logan. How cute is that face! Check Kirsty's blog out here.

Did you do anything exciting this week? If you have a similar post please share the link in the comments! 

Erin x

Blog Tour! Promo Post & Giveaway!! Introducing Charlotte by Charlotte Hains

The bit on the back...

When Charlotte bumps into her old friend Anthony she is at her lowest...

Shocked by the revelation of her escape from a controlling and abusive relationship, Anthony enlists the help of Nats and Lloyd to help Charlotte find the confidence she once had. Charlotte is unaware, however, of the darker side of her friends’ lifestyle. And although Lloyd is deeply attracted to her, Charlotte is broken, hurt, and lacks control.

As Lloyd sets to work coming up with unique ideas to bring Charlotte back to life, she is introduced to an intimate world of secret passions and desire.


This book is for readers 18+ due to adult content

Enter here to win one of two e-copies of this Bookbzz finalist book!

Charlotte Hains left the UK for France after deciding she needed a change, taking on the huge project of renovating a house. In the UK her life consisted of getting up, going to work, coming home, going to bed, and just surviving. She now enjoys French life within the community of the village in which she lives, and feels privileged to be part of it. She describes her French neighbours as fantastic, offering her help in every way they can, and says she might have given up long ago if they hadn’t been so understanding.
With her house nearly finished she found herself with long nights and lots of thumb twiddling, reading anything she could get on her iPad. In honesty, she admits it was here that Fifty Shades of Grey caught her eye. Unbeknownst to her, her sister was reading it as well. Her sister thought that, because Charlotte has such a creative side, maybe she’d be able to write a book too. As a joke, Charlotte emailed her sister her stories, also written on her iPad. She researched blogs and BDSM sites on the internet, and so Introducing Charlotte came alive. Before she knew it, Charlotte had over 150,000 words which she’d sent by email in instalments to her sister, and there was more than enough for a book...or maybe even two!


Friday, 13 February 2015

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway! The Man Who Can't Be Moved by Tilly Tennant

The bit on the back…

Fledgling journalist Ellie Newton is keen to prove herself when she lands a hard-won job at the Millrise Echo.  So when reports come in of a man camped on the corner of a local street, refusing to move until the girl who has jilted him takes him back, Ellie is on a mission to get the scoop.

She arrives to meet Ben Kelly, a man she is instantly attracted to. But she has a job to do and an incredible story to write and has soon pledged to help him win back the girl of his dreams.  With Ellie’s help, Ben’s plight captures the hearts and imaginations of the public. And when a TV film crew appears to make a feature on the most romantic gesture the town of Millrise has ever seen, Ellie’s mission gets its happy ending...

But while Ellie has been busy fixing the lives of her wayward parents, providing shoulders for heartbroken friends to cry on, and worrying about her terminally-ill aunt, she hasn’t noticed that she has also been falling quietly in love – with the very man she has now ensured is hopelessly out of her reach

Ellie must choose between doing the right thing, and the thing that feels right. And whatever choice she makes, someone will get their heart broken.

Firstly thank you to Tilly and Brook Cottage Books for sending me a copy of this title for review and asking me to be part of the blog tour! I read Tilly’s first book when it came out last year and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to book two! I liked the cheeky little mention of the characters from Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn too!

This is all about journalist Ellie Newton and one of her subjects.

Ellie is really easy to like and relate to. She’s just a normal girl trying to reach her ambitions with normal family circumstances that every reader will be able to relate to in some way.

Ellie’s job is to report the goings on in her town of Millrise. A new story breaks about a man who is camping on a street corner as a declaration of love and Ellie goes out to get the story. This is how we meet Ben. Now in my mind, and most likely due to the title of the book, I totally imagined Ben Kelly to look like Danny from The Script - *swoon*. Ben has what seems like a very romantic notion to stick it out in an almost protest to try and win his girlfriend back. I liked his easy-going nature that shone through from the first time Ellie met him and I could see the attraction forming between the two characters.

Alongside the story of Ben and his corner there is another story running in the background with Ellie’s aunt and her mum and dad. The story shifts focus from Ben to Ellie’s family and then back again throughout but I felt that each strand was tied to the other as Ellie tried to make the best of less than perfect situations and it also showcased how Ellie was always trying to please everyone around her.

I liked that Tilly didn’t try to ignore the similarity between the song and the circumstances in the book – even referencing it at one point. This is a lovely easy read which will pull you in, having you turning the pages until, before you even realise, you’re finished!

About Tilly

Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing, graduating in 2009 with first class honours. She wrote her first novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

Tour Giveaway

1st Prize – ecopy or paperback of book plus £10 Amazon Voucher
2nd Prize – ecopy or paperback copy of book

Open Internationally

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Book News! First Time In Forever by Sarah Morgan

I bring you good news! Sarah Morgan is back with a full length novel next month!

The bit on the back...

Happily-Ever-After isn’t on Emily Donovan’s agenda…

Emily’s been too swept up in a challenging year of firsts, from becoming a stand-in mum to her niece Lizzy to moving to remote but beautiful Puffin Island, to think about love.

But that’s before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her…

Ryan knows Emily has a complicated past that she’s struggling to face. So he makes it his mission to help her unwind and enjoy the chemistry they share.

Can the welcoming community of Puffin Island work their magic on Emily and get her to take her biggest leap of trust yet —putting her heart in someone else’s hands?

Release Date: 1st March

Publisher: Mills & Boon

Review coming 4th March

Exclusive! Chapter One from Ameila Thorne's New Book!

Today I am delighted to be sharing with you the first chapter of Amelia Thorne’s new book Tied Up With Love! Check back next week to read my interview with her!

Chapter One

Izzy watched as the grey van skidded round the corner and tore down the street towards her. The driver definitely seemed to be in a rush. The van had blacked out windows, a foreign plate and was being driven really badly. It careened across the empty road, mounted the pavement right in front of her and stopped just before hitting a lamppost.
She was standing outside a recording studio and for one deliciously exciting moment, Izzy thought someone famous might step out, with mirrored shades and a huge entourage. Admittedly, the recording studio was generally used for making advertising jingles, but allegedly Chesney Hawkes had once been there.
Izzy inched closer. Nothing exciting ever happened in her sleepy little town of Greater Chessingburyford. Maybe today…
The van doors were suddenly thrown open and out stepped the biggest man she had ever seen in her entire life. His elf ears were huge and stuck out into comical points, his enormous eyes were magnified behind thick rimmed glasses. He looked friendly, kind of sweet, like a big puppy. So it came as the biggest shock in the world when he yanked a cotton bag over her head, threw her over his shoulder and bundled her into the van.
Izzy heard the van door close, plunging her into darkness. As the van took off, Izzy’s brain finally caught up with what had just happened. She had been kidnapped.
She was lying on the floor of the van – it was dusty and she could see a pair of black boots out the bottom of the bag. The legs attached to them knelt by her side.
‘We’re from KMW. Do exactly as you’re told and you won’t get hurt. Put your hands in front of you.’
Izzy obeyed, suddenly feeling a sick wave of panic consume her.
Rope was tied around her wrists, and although it wasn’t tight it immediately chafed her skin.
KMW? Who the bloody hell were they? Like KGB or FBI? What did they want with her? More importantly, what were they going to do with her? Would she be beaten and tortured? Would they kill her once they were finished?
Her throat was dry but she managed to find her voice. ‘What do you want?’
‘Someone wants to see you. We’re taking you to Oakwood House now. It’s in the middle of nowhere so no one will hear you scream,’ Black Boots said.
Izzy heard herself take a deep shuddering breath.
‘I don’t have any money.’
‘I don’t think it’s your money he’s after.’ Another male voice, which somehow Izzy associated with the huge man who had abducted her. He laughed and the lewdness of it sent shivers down her spine.
‘Leave it out Gizmo,’ Black Boots said.
Strong hands were suddenly around her arms and she was pulled up and sat in a chair. ‘When we get to the house, we’ll take you in and down to the basement. It’s been requested that you’re tied to the bed. After that you’ll be left alone.’
Izzy felt physically sick, her heart was racing in her ears, cold sweat prickled down her back.
‘She’s shaking,’ Gizmo said.
‘I know,’ Black Boots said, with a note of worry in his voice. ‘Look we’ll be there in a minute. We need to gag you.’
The bag was pulled from her head and she blinked in the muted light, getting her first glimpse of Black Boots. He was young, maybe early twenties. He was good looking and had brown eyes and warm skin of Mediterranean colouring. He proffered the bandana and she flinched away from him. Gizmo, she noted, was calmly reading the paper.
‘Please, let me go. I’m rubbish in bed, your boss or client will be very disappointed.’
Black Boots narrowed his eyes as he looked at her. ‘You don’t know what this is about, do you?’
Izzy shook her head.
‘Crap, he’s supposed to tell you. We say it time and time again, they have to tell them.’
‘We’re here,’ called the driver and she looked over to see the back of a shaved head in the driver’s seat. Izzy felt the van come to a halt.
Black Boots pushed his hair from his face and sighed. ‘Dave asked us to bring you here, you don’t need to worry.’
‘Dave?’ Izzy asked and Black Boots nodded. Who the bloody hell was Dave?
The door to the back of the van was suddenly thrown open, bright sunlight temporarily blinding her. As she opened her mouth to speak, Black Boots slipped the bandana in her mouth and tied it round the back of her neck.
Gizmo stood up and ducked to get out the van, then turned round and in an easy movement lifted her carefully back over his shoulder again.
She had never been as scared in her life as she was right then. She had read about this sort of thing in the papers, but never thought for one moment it would ever happen to her.
They were quickly inside and she had a chance to see dark wood flooring before Gizmo was carrying her down some stone stairs. He walked into a dimly lit room and laid her on the bed. Black Boots knelt on the bed next to her and lifted her arms above her head to tie them to the headboard.
Something snapped inside of her, there was no way she was going to let this happen. She lashed out with her feet, kicking Gizmo in the side of the face. He leapt back with a wail, she elbowed Black Boots in the nose and blood spurted from it satisfyingly. She leapt up and ran but only managed to get two feet before Gizmo had grabbed her and dragged her, kicking and wriggling back to the bed. Black Boots quickly held her feet down while Gizmo tied her hands proficiently to the headboard.
‘Jesus,’ Gizmo rubbed his head. ‘Anyone would think she doesn’t want to get shagged.’
Black Boots touched his nose. ‘This is exactly why she should have been told. I don’t get paid enough for this.’
Izzy wriggled against her restraints, pulling on the rope so hard it made her wrists sore.
‘Good luck to her husband, that’s all I can say, she’s going to skin him alive,’ Gizmo said.
There were footsteps on the stairs and Black Boots looked towards them. ‘Why the hell didn’t you tell her? That’s part of our agreement. She’s petrified.’
‘I did,’ said a voice, veiled in the darkness.
Izzy strained her eyes to look at her kidnapper and slowly he emerged into the light. A thin, scrawny looking man with glasses peered at her.
‘Who the hell is that?’
‘Your wife,’ Gizmo said.
‘No she bloody isn’t.’
Black Boots looked back at her, his tanned cheeks suddenly going pale. ‘That’s not your wife?’
Scrawny Man shook his head. ‘I’ve never seen her before in my life.’
They all stared at her. Maybe there was some little ray of hope. They’d clearly kidnapped the wrong person and now she would be set free.
‘Hang on a minute,’ Scrawny Man said. ‘If she’s here, who the hell has got my wife?’
‘No one, there are no other teams. Your wife is probably still standing at the pick-up point. Or gone home, bored of waiting.’
‘Bloody hell, I’ve paid four hundred pounds for this and you can’t even pick up the right woman. I bought Viagra and everything.’
‘Look, Ethan will be in touch with you. We’ll arrange a full refund or an alternative date but right now we have the very small matter of abducting a complete stranger off the street to deal with.’ Black Boots gestured to Izzy in exasperation and Scrawny Man nodded.
‘Right, of course. If the press get hold of this I want full anonymity.’
‘The press won’t get hold of this – besides, you’re not actually doing anything wrong.’
Scrawny Man nodded again. ‘I better call my wife.’
Izzy watched as he retreated back up the stairs. Gizmo and Black Boots continued to stare at her.
‘What are we going to do now?’ Gizmo asked.
‘I can’t believe you grabbed the wrong woman.’
‘Me? You told me it was her.’
‘The boss is going to kill us,’ Black Boots said.
‘We could not tell him.’
‘How do you suppose that’s going to work? We let her go now, she’ll go straight to the police. The police will come straight to Ethan with your description, you’re hardly inconspicuous.’
Gizmo paled. ‘I’m not going back to jail, no way.’
Izzy moaned against her gag and Black Boots approached her like she was a caged wild animal.
Carefully he removed the bandana from her mouth.
‘Please, let me go. There’s obviously been some terrible mistake. I promise, I won’t go to the police. I won’t tell anyone.’
Black Boots looked back at Gizmo. Gizmo shook his head, ‘She’s seen our faces. There’s no way I’m letting her go.’
‘Are you insane? We’re not criminals. What are you going to do with her, kill her and dump her body where no one will ever find her?’
Izzy’s heart, which had been slowing when she realised she wasn’t the intended target, started galloping again.
‘Please. Please don’t hurt me.’
‘We’re not going to hurt you.’ Black Boots leaned over to untie her from the headboard. But as she sat up Gizmo marched over and pulled the bag back over her head.
‘What are you doing?’ Black Boots said.
‘We’ll take her to the boss, he’ll know what to do.’
‘Jesus, Gizmo, we’re just making this situation worse.’
But Gizmo, it seemed, wasn’t to be talked out of this. He picked her up and threw her over his shoulder again. She saw the stone steps and then the gravel outside, and she was back inside the darkness of the van a moment later
The van journey was quite short but Gizmo and Black Boots were silent.
They surely weren’t going to kill her.
But she had seen their faces, she knew the van’s number plate off by heart. Why would they let her go?
How had it come to this? Her day had started so normally. Since being fired from her job two weeks before, she hadn’t had to get up too early, but her beloved cat Pete had woken her up demanding to be fed. She’d studiously ignored the first trickle of bills that had arrived on her doorstep. There were bound to be many more to come. She’d fed the cat, fed herself the remains of the cereal, gone for a run and spent three hours applying for different jobs. Bar maid, waitress, secretary, cleaner, bin man – or in her case, bin lady – sports coach, carpenter and driver’s mate, she’d applied for them all. She came across well on the phone, she had good experience and was never sick. She worked hard and most people seemed interested until they asked the fateful question. ‘Why did you leave your last job?’ Being fired for breaking her boss’s nose was not a selling point. Most people rapidly lost interest after that.
She’d wandered down to the college to see if there were any more free courses she could sign up for but she’d already done most of them. She’d just been on her way to meet her Aunt Sophie for coffee when Gizmo and Black Boots had crashed into her life.
The van stopped and she heard them climb out, leaving her alone in the darkness.
‘WHAT?’ roared a voice nearby as no doubt their boss, Ethan, was just informed they had kidnapped the wrong person.
‘WHAT?’ roared Ethan even louder as he was no doubt told she was still tied up in the van with a bag over her head. He sounded like a man not to mess with and Izzy found herself shaking again.
She heard running footsteps and the van door was thrown open. The bag was yanked from her head and she looked into the fierce blue eyes of the most freaking gorgeous man she had ever seen. He was huge, not quite as big as Gizmo in height but certainly the same broadness. He had curly dark hair and the same Mediterranean skin tone as Black Boots, which made the azure blue eyes stand out even more. In fact his eyes didn’t belong in someone so dark and they made him look interesting and unusual. He stared at her for a moment. Was he checking her out? Izzy nearly laughed at this crazy thought – she was dressed in tatty leggings, an oversized hoodie and battered knee high boots, there was definitely nothing sexy about her, but the look in his eyes was undeniably hunger, as if he wanted to eat her.
He moved forward to grab her and Izzy flinched away from him.
‘I’m not going to hurt you, I promise. I’m Ethan Chase. I’m so sorry about all this. Let me make you a cup of tea and I will explain everything.’
He took her arms in surprisingly gentle hands, pulled her to her feet and helped her down from the van.
Her legs were shaking and she wasn’t sure if she could stand.
‘Are you ok to walk? Here, let me help.’
Before she could answer, Ethan swept her up into his arms and carried her like a baby into his office. Gizmo and Black Boots were standing to one side, looking sheepish.
‘Get out, both of you.’
They hurried out and Ethan placed her in a chair. He knelt next to her and started to undo the rope around her hands. The office was a mess. There was a big desk with a phone that was ringing quietly. Paperwork was strewn everywhere, in piles on the floor, even on the big comfy sofa in the corner. There was a very swish looking computer with some kind of diary on the screen and mouldy coffee cups in various degrees of decay were all over the floor, windowsills and on top of the filing cabinet.
Sunlight was spilling through the open door and Izzy looked out at the fields and trees stretching as far as the eye could see. She tried to pick out landmarks so she knew where she was, but apart from a distant church, it was a landscape of green.
She would escape. She was a fast runner, she knew this. When she went jogging, she could run for very long distances and barely break into a sweat. Gizmo and Black Boots were lurking by the van but she could run in the other direction, leap over that fence and be down the hill before they could get anywhere near her. She looked at Ethan. He was very strong though. The shirt he was wearing did seem to be bulging at the arms. Even his exposed tanned forearms were muscular. The element of surprise would help her. With her hands released she put her head in them and pretended to cry.
‘Now, there’s no need to cry, I know it was scary for you, and I’m really sorry for that…’ he leaned in to comfort her and she punched him as hard as she could in the face, sending him sprawling on the floor.
She leapt out of her chair and ran through the door.
‘Jesus, not again,’ Black Boots said.
‘Gizmo, stop her,’ roared Ethan.
She ran towards the fence, but her legs were shaky with the adrenaline that was coursing through her and she couldn’t run as fast as she needed to. Gizmo lumbered towards her, she swung her fist in his direction but he caught both hands and threw her over his shoulder again. She fought against him but with one strong arm round her legs she could do very little to stop him. He plonked her back in the chair again, grabbed the rope that Ethan had taken from her hands and tied her to the chair.
Ethan had a blue ice pack pressed to his eye, making him look like an obscure pirate. With his thin lips and his dark eyebrows slashing downwards across his forehead, he was definitely pissed.
‘Now you will listen to me…’ Ethan started, his voice sounding like a growl.
‘HELP!’ Izzy screamed. ‘SOMEBODY HELP ME. HELP!’
Ethan rolled his eyes and moved into the little kitchen. As Izzy continued to scream, she watched him pour two mugs of tea and put a splash of whisky in one of them, then he came round and sat on the desk in front of her. He waited patiently for her to stop screaming, but if she screamed for long enough someone was bound to come.
After yelling for help for a good minute or two with no sign of anyone coming to her rescue, Izzy flopped back in the chair, exhausted.
‘Finished?’ Ethan said.
Izzy nodded in defeat. He clearly wasn’t going to hurt her, and with her not being the intended target she might actually get to go home tonight with all her fingers still attached.
‘Good. Now you’ll listen to me. We’re a company called “Kidnap My Wife.” We offer a service to couples who want to spice up their sex life by staging a kidnapping. We agree a time and place with the couple for the wife to be waiting at, we turn up in our van, kidnap the wife and take her to our house down the road where the husband is waiting. What happens next is a variation on a theme, the wife can be tied to a bed, or a chair, the husband normally acts out some kind of fantasy for him or her, and they end up having sex. It’s all above board and legal and hugely popular. We’ve been operating for about five years now. With the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey our list of clients has gone through the roof. It seems all women like to be tied up and threatened. Claire Reynolds was our client today, you look a lot like her I’m afraid and were in the right place at the right time. She must have been running late. You have my complete and utter apologies. I can assure you this type of thing has never happened before.’
Izzy blinked at him. It all sounded very plausible. She looked around the office for any evidence to this and sure enough she could see several headed sheets of paper with the ‘Kidnap My Wife’ logo on the top.
‘Now I’m going to untie you, you’re going to drink this tea and we can talk about some kind of compensation before I take you home.’
He knelt next to her and untied the rope with skilful fingers. The bruise on his eye looked painful.
‘I’m sorry I punched you,’ Izzy said, quietly.
He didn’t say anything as he shoved the cup of tea into her hand.
She went to take a sip but the smell of whisky was strong and she pulled a face.
‘Drink it.’ Ethan glared at her and she quickly took a big gulp. The whisky burned the back of her throat but at another scowl from Ethan she took another big sip.
‘Here.’ He passed her the ice pack. ‘Put this on the back of your hand, it will be sore tomorrow.’
She obliged and watched him go back round the other side of his desk. He shifted a big pile of papers from there onto the floor and sat down watching her.
‘So how much to make you forget about this?’
Compensation? That hardly seemed fair, yes she had been terrified but it had been a genuine mistake. All three men were going to have bruises to show for their accidental brush with her. Surely that made them even.
‘Shall we say two thousand pounds?’
Izzy choked on her tea and she saw the small smug smile of satisfaction from Ethan, knowing she had been bought.
Two thousand pounds. Bloody hell. That would give her spending money for her trip to Australia. If she was careful, it would pay for her bills and her food too, for the next five weeks until she left.
Ethan rifled through the papers on his desk until he found the cheque book. He quickly filled it in and offered it across the table towards her.
She looked at the three zeros, shining temptingly with their wet ink. Why shouldn’t she take it, she had been traumatised after all. But a small business like this, two thousand pounds could be the make or break of it. What if this money was the difference between paying their bills and putting food on their table? What if giving her money would bankrupt them? She wouldn’t take it.
The phone rang incessantly between them and suddenly an idea formed in her head. It was mean and underhand but right then she didn’t care.
‘I don’t want your money.’
Ethan looked confused by this.
‘I want a job.’
His eyebrows shot up. ‘Are you kidding?’
‘That’s the deal. Take it or leave it.’
‘I’m not giving you a job.’
‘I’m sure the police would be very interested in my story. Taking you to court and suing you for traumatisation would be long and messy. Poor Gizmo out there could end up behind bars again. The papers get wind of this and it’s all over for your company.’
His eyes flashed. The cheque was crumpled in his tight fist. He stood up, towering over her. ‘That’s blackmail.’
She stood up too, though this did nothing to diminish the height difference between them.
‘That’s correct, it is. I’m good though. I can type a hundred and twenty words per minute, I did events management as part of my business studies degree, so something like this is perfect for me. I have years of secretarial experience in various different roles. I work hard, I will be here nine to five every day to answer your phone. I’ll clear up all this mess and establish some proper system round here. You’re obviously good at what you do to run this company for five years and still be standing, but I’m guessing you’d be better suited in the field. If I’m here dealing with the paperwork and the phone calls then you can have two teams out doing the kidnapping. You and Baldy in one van and Gizmo and Black Boots in the other. And most importantly I can implement procedures that will assure this kind of thing never happens to anyone else ever again.’
Izzy could see the vein in his neck pulsing away but he didn’t say anything so she pushed home her trump card.
‘I’ll be going to Australia in just over five weeks, so even if you hate me being here, in five weeks I’ll be gone.’
‘How long are you gone for?’
‘Six weeks initially, maybe longer. I may get a job out there so I’m not sure if or when I’d be coming back. I wouldn’t expect you to hold my job open for me when it could be months before I return.’
‘You’ll need good references.’
Izzy shook her head. ‘No references.’
He narrowed his eyes.
‘You gave Gizmo a job despite his criminal record, you can give me a job on face value too.’
‘Gizmo is my brother. I don’t know you.’
‘Six weeks.’
‘Three. Then if I’m not happy you leave without a word.’
‘Fine, but you’ll still pay me for those three weeks. Six hundred pounds a week.’
‘Three hundred.’
‘Four hundred and fifty or I walk out of here now and go straight to the police.’
He glared at her, breathing heavily through his nose. ‘I want you here at eight-thirty tomorrow morning.’
She nodded, barely able to believe her luck.
‘And you’ll dress a lot smarter than you’re dressed now.’
She nodded again.
‘Now get out of my sight.’
She hurried out the door into the warm welcome sunshine and Gizmo straightened from leaning on the van, ready to catch her again if need be.
‘Gizmo,’ Ethan called over her shoulder. ‘Take her home.’
Gizmo opened the van door for her chivalrously and she ran towards it before Ethan could change his mind.
‘Wait.’ Ethan appeared in the doorway. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Isabelle Franklin.’
Ethan nodded and walked back inside, slamming the door between them.
The Frog and Sausage was warm and cosy, with little booths under turret type roofs and winding stairs that led to further seating areas. It was one of Izzy’s favourite places in the world. The food was amazing, the customers friendly and laidback and right now she was sitting next to a roaring fire listening to the rain howling outside.
It didn’t sit right with her, blackmailing Ethan into giving her a job. She just wasn’t that sort of person. Being underhand and conniving was not part of her make-up. She would just have to prove to Ethan that she was a hard worker and that he hadn’t made a mistake in hiring her.
The door slammed open and amongst the leaves and rain that blew in, so did a bedraggled yeti, hair like a bush, struggling with her umbrella. The yeti forced the door closed, dumped the now broken umbrella in a stand near the door and planted a wet kiss on Izzy’s cheek before sitting down at the table and taking a big glug of cider.
Izzy smiled at her. Bex always made a dramatic entrance. Bex swept the tangle of blonde hair out of her face, ran her fingers through it and seconds later the effortless beauty that Bex so easily pulled off had returned. Izzy always thought that Bex could be a supermodel, being so tall. She had big pouty lips that many women would pay good money to have, flawless skin, big blue eyes and a great pair of breasts. She was stunning. Unfortunately the fashion industry didn’t see beauty in size twenty women, which was their loss, Izzy thought.
‘Good day at the office?’
Bex shrugged. ‘My teeth fell out when I was with a visitor. It was hardly the professional image I was going for.’
Bex’s job was as far removed from the glamour of the catwalk as it could be. Working for The London Dungeon as one of the historical characters meant she spent most of the day wearing filthy clothes and looking as ugly and hideous as she possibly could be.
‘I’m sure teeth falling out works quite well with what you do, adds to the gore.’
‘When your fake black teeth fall out leaving behind a perfect set of white gnashers, it kind of lacks the authenticity my job requires. I couldn’t find my teeth this morning so I had to borrow someone else’s and of course they didn’t fit and kept falling out. For the most part I managed to hide it, but during one big speech they fell out, straight onto the floor. The visitors all just burst out laughing, I was gutted. I had to quickly pick them up and put them back in, but they were already covered in ten tons of fur and dirt. It felt like I was chewing on fluff for the rest of the day. But I did scare the crap out of a few grown men and made a few children cry so yes, it was a pretty good day.’
‘You’ll miss it when you leave.’
‘Yes I will. How was your day?’
Izzy felt the smile stretch on her face. ‘I’ve got a job.’
‘That’s fantastic, well done Iz, doing what?’
‘Have you heard of a company called, “Kidnap My Wife?”’
Bex’s face fell. ‘Isabelle Franklin, what have you got yourself involved in?’
‘It’s nothing dodgy. It’s a fantasy role play thing. We kidnap men’s wives and take them to some big house and the husbands tie them up and have sex with them.’
‘How is that not dodgy?’
‘It’s not, the wives know about it. Think Fifty Shades of Grey on a lesser scale.’
‘So people pay to be kidnapped and tied up?’
‘And what’s your job in all of this sordidness, you better not be the one being tied up.’
‘No – office work, answering calls and all that.’
Bex was clearly still not happy about it. ‘Who do you work for?’
‘Ethan Chase.’
Her eyes widened. ‘Ethan Chase? Oh god honey, you don’t half pick them. Couldn’t you get a nice sensible job in a library or somewhere safe like that, working for some eighty year old man that loves poetry and bird watching?’
‘What’s wrong with Ethan?’
‘What’s right with him? His family have a terrible reputation, if you’d grown up round here you would have heard of him. He’s a total womaniser too, different woman every week. He lays on all the charm, wines and dines them and they’re putty in his hands. Then he shags them and never speaks to them again.’
‘Well that’s ok then, I don’t plan to sleep with him – just work for him.’
‘Or under him.’
‘Is he fit?’
Izzy shrugged. ‘If you like that sort of thing.’
‘And what sort of thing is that?’
‘Big, muscular, blue eyes that look inside you.’
‘So yes then. Just don’t be another notch on his bedpost. My friend’s sister went out with him. He took her to dinner, shagged her and she never heard from him again. She did say he was like a god between the sheets though and if she had the chance to do it all over again she would in a heartbeat.’
Izzy stared at her glass, not quite sure what to do with this information.
‘Good with his tongue too, if you know what I’m saying.’
‘I think everyone in this pub knows what you’re saying. He’s my boss. I’m not going to sleep with him. How awkward would that be once it turned sour – which it sounds like it would do. And he would have to be a complete idiot to sleep with one of his employees. Rule number one, don’t mix business with pleasure.’
‘So you’re not attracted to him at all?’
‘No.’ That was a lie. She knew it and Bex knew it.
‘Does he have a nice arse?’
‘I hadn’t noticed.’ Though Izzy knew Bex had seen her blush. Thankfully she was momentarily saved by the arrival of a cowboy, wearing jeans over beaten brown boots, a blue shirt rolled at the sleeves and a black Stetson.
‘Mmm, now that’s a rump I’d like to get my teeth into,’ Bex said, her eyes suddenly dark with lust.
She stood up and stalked over to the unknowing cowboy, sank her talons into his behind and nipped at his ear. To his credit, he only jumped a little bit, then he whirled round and gathered her close, kissing her so deeply it was almost pornographic.
‘Put her down,’ called Brian the landlord as he plonked a pint down on the bar. ‘You don’t know where she’s been.’
Bex parted from her conquest and he whispered into her ear. Bex giggled. ‘Give me half hour.’
He whispered in her ear again and her eyes widened. ‘Ten minutes then.’
Clearly satisfied with this response, he dipped his hat in Izzy’s direction and walked back out.
Bex stared after him for a moment, and then finally recovering herself she re-joined Izzy at their table.
‘I’m in love with my fiancé, did I ever mention that?’
‘Only a few thousand times. You should have asked Gabe to join us for a drink.’
‘He’s gone home to sort a few things out.’ Bex ran her tongue across her teeth unconsciously and Izzy tried to block out from her mind what exactly Gabe had gone to sort out.
Izzy quickly changed the subject. ‘So apart from the womanising are there any other reasons I shouldn’t work for Ethan?’
‘Well rumour has it he’s a drug dealer.’
‘Come on, I don’t believe that for a second.’
‘I’m just saying what I’ve heard. Whenever things get stolen in this area, everyone points to his family. They’ve never had any money or real jobs but they all live in nice houses. He’s got a hell of a temper.’
Izzy had already borne witness to some of that, she could cope with grumpiness.
‘Quite violent, I hear.’ Bex took another big gulp of cider.
‘With women?’
‘No, I’ve not heard that, but he’s got into quite a few punch ups in his time.’
‘Maybe wrong place, wrong time.’
‘Wrong man more like. He hit a policeman when he was younger.’
Although Izzy was not surprised about this, she still felt like she needed to defend him. ‘I prefer to judge people on the type of person they are now, not who they were in the past. We all have a history, ours is hardly squeaky clean.’
Bex had the good grace to blush, but it was only fleetingly. ‘A leopard never changes its spots.’
‘You’re so cynical for someone so young.’
‘And you’re so naïve for someone so old.’
‘Eight months Rebecca Dale, eight months older than you does not make me old.’
‘Look, your decrepitness aside, the whole Chase family is a bad lot from what I hear, one of them went to prison.’
‘Gizmo. Ethan’s brother. He’s been in prison.’
‘Sexual assault. I’m sure it was.’
Izzy felt affronted on Gizmo’s behalf. ‘That definitely wasn’t Gizmo. He’s not the type to do anything like that.’
‘So rapists are all a type are they, tall, white, brown hair, evil look in their eyes?’
‘No, but Gizmo is … kind of innocent.’
Izzy had chatted to him when he had driven her home earlier and it had become obvious very quickly that he had a sweet childlike naivety. He loved Ethan with a fierce loyalty that was incredibly endearing. He loved his job, loved the frost on the trees that clung to the bare branches like fur. He loved his dog Sampson so much that there were fifteen photos in Gizmo’s wallet that Izzy had seen. After ten minutes in the van with his exuberant enthusiasm Izzy had fallen a little bit in love with him too. There was no way he could be a rapist.
‘Of Mice and Men, that’s all I’m saying,’ Bex said.
‘He’s not stupid Bex, nor is he violent.’
‘You always like to see the best in people.’
‘And you always like to see the worst.’
‘I’m a realist.’
‘I’m an optimist.’
Bex smiled. ‘And that’s why I love you. Just be wary of him, both of them, and if they lay one finger on you – you tell me and Gabe, we’ll sort them out.’
Izzy decided, then and there, that she wouldn’t tell Bex how she had met Ethan and Gizmo in the first place.
Bex fished around in her bag and pulled out a pot of green cream. She stuck her fingers in and scooped out a dollop which she rubbed into her hands. It stank of a peculiar combination of coriander and green tea. Bex was always carrying these homemade concoctions around with her, but her skin always looked radiant and blemish free so it must have some benefits. Bex had made cures for dry skin, spots, scars, burns and chapped lips to name but a few. Izzy was sure she probably had a truth telling ointment and one for eternal life somewhere up her sleeve. Five hundred years before, Bex would have been burned at the stake.
‘Do you have anything for sweat spots?’ Izzy sniffed at the green gloop.
‘Where are the spots?’
‘On my bum. I bought some new jogging pants and I wore them once and they made me sweat so much I came out in spots. Most of them have gone but one little bugger remains.’
‘You’re such a classy bird, I do wonder why you’re still single. Please tell me you’ve done something about your scary bikini line. Last time I saw it, it was like some kind of terrifying swamp monster was trying to escape from your pants.’
Izzy blushed. ‘Admittedly I have let things lapse a bit lately. It’s hard to find the motivation when the only person that sees it is me.’
‘And me. And to be honest darling, that’s not something I ever want to see again. Come on then, show us your spot.’
‘I’m not pulling my jeans down in the pub for all and sundry to see.’
Bex stood up and frogmarched Izzy into the nearest toilet. ‘Drop them.’
Izzy rolled her eyes. She had known Bex since before she could walk. There were no secrets between them. Izzy unzipped her jeans and slipped them down a bit so Bex could inspect the spot.
‘Bloody hell, Iz, that’s huge. It’s got a life of its own that one. It probably has its own brain cells, its own thoughts. We should give it a name. Bert.’ Bex prodded it and Izzy winced. ‘Hello Bert.’
Just then the toilet door swung open and a very glamorous women walked in. The Frog and Sausage had a very strict dress code. Jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, trainers, wellies and the occasional cowboy hat were all welcome. This lady looked like she’d come straight from Ascot with her tailored suit jacket and matching silk dress.
She took one look at Izzy with her bum out and Bex bent over to inspect the spot up close and hurried back out again.
Bex burst out laughing and Izzy groaned.
‘I’m going to the loo whilst I’m in here, get another round in will you?’ Bex handed Izzy a tenner.
Izzy walked out into the pub and saw Ethan with the Ascot Lady. His eyes caught hers and Izzy felt something shift inside her.
‘I just walked in on two lesbians about to have sex.’ Ascot Lady was saying, pulling her jacket tighter around her as she looked around The Frog with disgust. ‘It’s obviously some kind of sordid gay bar. I’d like to leave.’
Ethan still didn’t take his eyes off Izzy and Ascot Lady turned round to see what he was looking at. ‘That’s one of them,’ she hissed.
Great. Just great.
Ethan put his arm round Ascot Lady’s shoulders and ushered her out. He glanced back over at Izzy as he walked out and she was sure there was a smirk on his lips.

Tied Up With Love is out on February 14th but you can pre-order your copy here