Thursday, 29 September 2016

Q&A with Piper Lawson

Today I'm excited to welcome Piper Lawson, author of Stripped and Play! Click on the links to find the reviews of both books, but for now over to Piper!

Let's start off with you telling us a bit about your latest novel Play

PLAY is a short, quirky experiment. It has all my fave things - a slow build (that I promise pays off!), lots of heat, some 'aww' moments, and plenty of laughs. Life is serious enough - most of the time when I reach for a book, I want it to lighten and brighten my day.

What was the inspiration behind the story?

My fiance was talking about this game he got in the spring (he doesn't buy many :)), and it made me think 'how come gamers don't get more love in the e-romance world? and what would happen if I mashed a gamer up with someone really non-gamery? Would it be awful or awesome?' So I did!

Both Payton and Max are quite complex characters. Did you start out writing them this way or did their stories develop as you wrote?

Characters always get more complex over time for me. I tend to write in passes - so the layers build every time I go through the story. Where they start on the first pass isn't usually where they end up. It's more fun that way - I get to feel like I'm getting to know them too!

Gaming, and it's complexities, are prominent features throughout Play. How did you research the different ins and outs of behind the scenes gaming?

I played one hundred different games, just like Payton...KIDDING. Google. Lots and lots of Google. The game industry is actually super I enjoyed learning about the process, the studios, and some of the genius Max-like guys (and to a lesser extent gals!) who make it happen. 

I really loved the interaction between Max and Payton, especially when it was the frustration was heightened. I felt like Payton held her own against Max though! Was it important to you that Payton was able to hold her own?

Yes. A million times yes. Girls aren't doormats in the real world, and they shouldn't be in books either. Women are strong and capable and have ideas and opinions and feelings that matter. I love rooting for a woman who knows where she stands and isn't going to take crap from a guy (no matter what piercings he has).

I've also read some of your other work - Stripped, for example. One thing I noticed that carried over from that novel to this was the love the main female character had for fashion. Is that something that you are personally interested in?

Hehe, good observation! I do like style but to be honest, my fiance has more clothes than me. I'm not even joking - like 3 closets worth. I'd send you pictures, but it's just depressing. At least I have my shoe rack. It's mine. All mine...

Now for some different questions!

Who is your favourite author?

Hrmm. For romance, I love Jay Crownover. Her stuff's just so hot and her characters are so real. Real is important to me - I like reading a book I can believe. I like a clear line between my contemporary romance and my paranormal ;)

If you could swap places with a character for a day, who would it be?

Right now, it would have to be Charlie from PLAY. She's just so funny and she doesn't give a shit what anyone thinks. Plus, she has great clothes.

What is your writing process like, do you hide yourself away for weeks at a time?

I tried hiding myself away once. It lasted about three hours and I had to come up for air. And chocolate. I always have a schedule before I start and I write in sprints.  Usually they're a couple hours and about two thousand words at a time. But inevitably, I spend WAY longer editing than I intend. Some people hate it, but editing's one of my fave parts - that's when an idea goes from 'OK' to 'yeah, this is going to work'

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring authors what would it be?

Wow. I consider myself an aspiring author, so I guess I'd say...craft is king. Read as much in the genre as you can, but it's one thing to read romance and it's another to write it. I realized when I started writing that I had a LONG way to go. I still do, but there are amazing books, blogs, and resources like RWA sessions that can help even the newest newbie navigate stuff like conflict, character arcs and backstory like a vet.

Thank you to Piper for joining me today check out her website here and chat with her on twitter @piperjlawson!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Book News - Willow Cottage part 2: Christmas Cheer by Bella Osborne

Incase you missed the cover reveal last week here is your chance to read more about Bella Osborne's Willow Cottage...

The bit on the back...

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a warm, caring and safe place for little Leo.
When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Publisher: Avon

Release Date: 20th October 2016

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Review of Play by Piper Lawson

The bit on the back...

I'm Payton Blake. A successful, balanced twenty-something girl living the dream.

OK. So it's a big-ass lie.

I could be all of those things. If I had friends outside of work. And if I didn't mainline watermelon slushies like they were a food group. It wouldn't hurt if I'd had sex in the last year, either. (My best friend insists Jorge the Nightstand Boyfriend doesn't count.)
But when you know where you're headed, who needs to enjoy the ride?

Even if part of me longed for a little between-the-sheets adventure, Max Donovan would be the last guy I'd call.
Sure, he made the indie video game that broke the internet. His eyebrow piercing's sexy, in an 'are-you-in-a-band?' way, and fighting with him gets me off faster than Jorge on bezerker mode. But he's arrogant. Presumptuous. Colder than a cactus and twice as prickly.

None of it matters because I crave Max Donovan like a watermelon slushy on a hot summer day.
I should ignore him. But I can't, because he just became my biggest client. And whether he'll admit it or not, he needs me even more than I need him.

Game on, Max Donovan.

Firstly thank you to Victory Editing for the review copy of this title via Netgalley. I first read Stripped (review here) by Piper earlier this year and knew then that I'd be reading more from her in the future. The first thing that appealed to me about her latest novel, Play, was the blurb. I have a guilty habbit of wanting to read books based on the cover alone (doesn't he look like a young Captain America?!) but the promise of sparks between Max and Payton drew me to this one.

The story is all about main character and narrator Payton as she strives to prove her worth in her newly promoted position which leads her right to bad boy, gaming guru Max.

Payton is really down to earth which is one of the main things I liked about her. She's relatable and readers will be able to empathise with her easily. I think this definitely works in her advantage. She's true to herself throughout the book and not afraid to hold her own, especially when it comes to Max, although he does test her at times throughout the story!

Max and Payton get off on the wrong foot in the very beginning and that is the start of the spark between the pair of them. They bounce off each other and grow closer as they work on Max's new project until Payton is fully immersed in the gaming world.

I am a semi-proficient gamer but the complexities of the behind the scenes work that goes into making them is beyond me! The research is clear and while Piper does inject some gaming knowledge throughout it doesn't overwhelm the story as a whole. Payton's mom, her workmate Charlie and Max's business partner Riley round out the colourful and fun cast in this story. Check back in a few days for a Q&A with Piper!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Review of The One Real Thing by Samantha Young

The bit on the back...

Welcome to Hartwell, a quiet seaside escape where uncovering old secrets could lead one woman to discover the meaning of a love that lasts...

While Doctor Jessica Huntington engages with the inmates at the women's correctional facility where she works, she's always careful to avoid emotional attachments in her personal life. Loss and betrayal taught her that lesson long ago. But when she comes across a set of old love letters in the prison's library and visits the picturesque town of Hartwell to deliver them to their intended recipient, she finds herself unable to resist the town's charm-and her attraction to the sexy owner of a local bar proves equally hard to deny.

Since his divorce from his unfaithful ex-wife, Cooper Lawson has focused on what really matters: his family and the boardwalk pub they've owned for generations. But the first time Jessica steps into his bar, Cooper is beyond tempted to risk his heart on her.

Yet as their attraction grows hotter and Jessica remains stubbornly closed off, he begins to realize it will take more than just passion to convince her there's only one real thing in life worth fighting for....

Firstly thank you to Piatkus for the review copy of this title. As always Samantha Young books are high in my list of anticipated titles for the year and when she announced this brand new series - Hart's Boardwalk - I knew without a doubt I would be diving straight in. This is the first book in the series set in the small town of Hartwell.

Jessica Huntington impulsively visits the small seaside town of Hartwell after discovering undelivered letters in the prison where she works. She quickly fits in to Hartwell forming bonds with the locals and falling in love with the town.

I've always wanted to read a book with male POV from Samantha Young after snippets from her On Dublin Street series were posted on her website from the hero's POV. I loved them, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Logan shared the narrative with Jessica. It took a while for Jessica to relax in the story and while she was quick to form bonds, she was guarded, not wanting to give too much of herself away, particularly when it came to Logan. The story follows Jessica and Logan as they navigate their new relationship, their history making it's way into their present and fighting to save the boardwalk.

The story has everything you would expect from one of Sam's novels. It has romance; characters you're going to love; a beautiful setting and a storyline that will keep you hooked from start to finish. I zipped through this and I will definitely be adding it to the "to be read again" pile!

This book sets you up for the rest of the series where the remaining books will focus on a different couple as the series progresses. There is already tension forming between the characters from book two so I'm definitely looking forward to starting that!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Review of Furious Rush by S.C. Stephens

The bit on the back...

Too fast, too furious-and way too hot to handle . . .

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father's talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team's newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie's skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she's racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense--and strictly forbidden--attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind..

Firstly thanks to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing a review copy of this title via Netgalley. This is not the first book I've started by this author however it is the first that I've actually finished. The reason this book stood out to me was the blurb. I liked the sound of the chemistry and tension between the characters so I hoped for a gripping read.

The story is all about main character Kenzie and her new, ultimate rival Hayden. Kenzie is a keen motorcycle racer and is determined to prove her worth on the track, and also to save her father's business. Hayden is the latest to join the rival motorcycle team and causes many ructions throughout the story. He and Kenzie clash constantly in the beginning and the tension between them is instant.

A lot of the story takes place on the track and is very involved in the racing circuit, team rivalries and bikes themselves. Kenzie is portrayed as a strong and independent character although she always appears not only be trying to prove herself among her peers in a male dominated sport but it also felt like she was always trying to win her father's respect and sometimes love. Kenzie does a lot for her father in the book and goes above and beyond her duty to try and save his flailing business.

It takes a while for the tension between Kenzie and Hayden to reach boiling point. There is a difference between a slow, simmering build up and just taking a long ass time to get there and even after their chemistry took hold of them I was often frustrated with the way Kenzie treated Hayden, when it appeared that actually he hadn't done anything to deserve it.

This is the first of this author's books that I've finished. I have tried a few times to read Thoughtless but I honestly cannot get past the main character. I've tried so many times because my friends have all really enjoyed it. After reading this I found that I enjoyed the narrative much more, instead of finding it a chore to read. It does make me want to go back to Thoughtless to give it another go.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Review of The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche by Kate Forster

The bit on the back...

Paris, 1956. Eighteen year old Daphné may be from a tiny French village, but she knows she’s destined for more. Stepping off a bus into bustling Paris with a suitcase full of her home-made beauty products, she’s ready to do whatever it takes to claim her stake in the world.

London, 2016. Scandalous love affairs and an iconic cosmetics brand have kept Daphné Le Marche in spotlight – but her darkest secrets have never come to light. Now, in her London penthouse, enveloped in her rich signature scent, the Grande Dame of glamour has died.
But not even those closest to her could have been prepared for what came next.

Firstly thank you to HQ for providing me with a review copy of this title via Netgalley. This is the first book of Kate's that I've read and when better to start than on a ten hour flight to Las Vegas. This kept me hooked for the first 3-4 hours of the flight. I was so engrossed that I didn't stop until I'd turned the last (ebook) page.

The story is all about Daphne and her family. She's the head of her family and her family's business but as the title would suggest she is ready to hand the business over to someone else. In a twist that no one in the family expected, estranged cousins Cecile and Billy are brought back together.

The story flips between Daphne's younger years and how life goes on in the aftermath of her passing. The different family members all have their turn at narrating the story which really gives you a feel for how different they all are as individuals and how differently they view their own and others places and roles within the family. The two cousins, Ceclie and Billy are reluctant to follow their grandmother's chosen paths for them, and Cecile's father, Robert, is even less happy with their new path than the girls.

Robert is one of those characters that you just hate from start to finish. In all honesty he deserved exactly what happened to him in the novel and I was glad even Daphne could see her son was the way he was. When more is revealed throughout the story you begin to understand exactly where Robert takes his nature and character from.

The story is all about issues families face in their day to day life. Rivalries and bitterness, companionship and love. Each chapter of this novel revealed something different about the family keeping you on your toes until the very end. I will definitely be reading more of Kate's novels in the future!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

GIVEAWAY!! DVD and Book set of "A Hologram for the King" by Dave Eggers

I am beyond excited to have teamed up with Premier Communications to bring you this giveaway of A Hologram for the King. You are in with a chance of winning the DVD and original book by Dave Eggers. Make sure you click on the link below for easy Twitter and Facebook entry! Please note this giveaway is UK ONLY!

The bit on the back...

In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter's college tuition, and finally do something great. In A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers takes us around the world to show how one man fights to hold himself and his splintering family together in the face of the global economy's gale-force winds. This taut, richly layered, and elegiac novel is a powerful evocation of our contemporary moment - and a moving story of how we got here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Review of It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

The bit on the back...


Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. 

She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

   Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.
 As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

Don't you just love it when one of you're favourite authors brings out a new book? The last 3/4 of Colleen's releases I've devoured in a whole day and this was no different. I started it pretty much as soon as it downloaded to my kindle and stayed up late that night so I could finish it. It was one of those cases where you can't wait to find out what's going to happen but at the same time you want to read it reaaaaalllllyyyyy slowly just so you can prolong the amazingness of it. As usual Colleen has hit it right out the park.

This book is all about main characters Lily and Ryle. The pair meet by chance and a shared need to escape their days bring them closer. After an intense first meeting the first part of the book continues, jumping forward 6 months. The first half of the book focuses primarily on the beginning of Lily and Ryle's friendship and gives an in depth insight into Lily's past, and her relationship with Atlas.

The story is at times difficult to read, if you've finished and have read the "note to readers" from Colleen you will know how personal this story was for her to write. Something she wrote in that note really struck me. She writes that she had fallen in love with Ryle within the first few chapters. To be honest so had I. I loved him from the moment he opened his cocky and honest mouth. I love the way he challenged Lily trying to break down all her rules and although I admired Lily for sticking to her guns I honestly would have folded from just their first interaction.

I cried and cried throughout this book. It's not a book that I can relate to personally but I can definitely empathise with Lily. Lily is courageous and strong and that comes through for the majority of the book. It's so easy to get swept up in the romance and the budding relationship between Ryle and Lily that you almost forget that inking of what was to come, that you had at the start of the book.

I love it when the author makes reference to the title of a book when I'm reading and I loved the way Colleen snuck it into this book. I always have Colleen's books on pre-order and that is something I don't think will ever change. My favourite of Colleen's will always be Ugly Love but this book certainly battles it out with Maybe Someday, November 9 and Confess for 2nd favourite!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Review of Undertaking Love by Kat French

The bit on the back...

“Try not to wheel any dead bodies across the pavement when the bride’s outside, OK?”
When Marla Jacobs discovers that the vacant shop next to her Little White Wedding Chapel is to become a funeral parlour, she declares all-out war on the new proprietor Gabriel Ryan.
With an army of loyal supporters, she embarks on a campaign to sabotage his reputation and livelihood.

But when she finally meets Gabriel, she realises just how much trouble she’s in. With his effortless charm and Celtic good looks, Gabriel begins to form alliances with her so called ‘loyal’ army and, reluctantly, she finds herself falling under his spell. And destroying him becomes the last thing on her mind…

Firstly, thank you to Avon for the review copy of this title via NetGalley. After reading, and absolutely bloody loving, One Hot Summer (review here) I knew I needed to read more of Kat's books. I had this title and The Piano Man Project on my TBR list and have done for an admittedly long time. Having said that though I've finally managed to get round to this!

The story is all about main characters Maria and Gabriel. Maria and Gabe's jobs and businesses are at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Maria specialises in weddings while Gabriel specialises in funeral and having both on the same street causes major ructions between the pair. The story follows them both as they each take turns narrating the novel through the trials and tribulations of trying to get on with your neighbours!

Maria loves a good wedding, catering to her clients every whim, but doesn't believe in love herself. She's clever and quirky and very down to earth which makes her easy to empathise with. I loved reading from her point of view and there were plenty of laugh out loud moments. Gabriel reminded me of Gerard Butler in P.S. I love you. I could pretty much leave that sentence there and let you just enjoy that visual. He's a nice guy, hardworking and really feels like he's bringing something to the community. He puts up with an awful lot from Maria's friends and tries to work harmoniously alongside her.

A few spanners are thrown in the works when characters take it upon themselves to ruin what's budding between Maria and Gabriel. As well as laughing out loud you will also no doubt be in tears so make sure you have the tissues handy. This proved for me that Kat French is going to be one of those authors whose new books I will always look forward to. The Piano Man Project is up next!