The House on Sunset Lake – Tasmina Perry

Published by Headline Review

ebook & Hardback: 25 August 2016 | Paperback: 23 March 2017

 

Five minutes with Tasmina Perry

 

What is your average working day like?

In my dreams, I have a leisurely breakfast with my husband after my son goes to school, write 1500 words before lunchtime, then go to the gym and do my research in the afternoon. The reality is messing about on the internet for an hour, settling down to some writing, but getting constantly distracted by emails. As such, I often end up writing quite late at night when my ten year old has gone to bed. My husband has watched so many box sets on his own because I’m trying to finish my daily word count!

 

Are you a planner or do you just write away?

I used to be a lawyer and a journalist, and I think both careers have made me a real planner when it comes to writing my books. I spend weeks planning a novel before I start writing – I need to know exactly where each chapter is going otherwise I just stare at a blank page like a startled rabbit! I have notebooks full of flow charts, character sketches and have a folder on my desktop of locations and actors I mentally cast.

 

Your books are often set in beautiful locations. Why?

I was a journalist for many years and got to travel the world, seeing things and staying in places I wouldn’t have ordinarily got to see. They were such amazing experiences it seems a shame not to try and write about them all!

But if they say you should write what you know, I also think you should write about what you love. I’m obsessed with travel – when I was little my favourite book was an atlas and I collected thousands of stamps from far flung locations, so setting books in lovely locations is a way of tapping into that.
I also started my first book on honeymoon as I wanted an escapist beach read and had read most things the airport bookshop had an offer, so again, beautiful locations is my way of transporting the reader.

 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

All sorts of places. Most of it is from talking to people; I am a real chatterbox, I love meeting people and random conversations really can throw up the best stories. Gold Diggers came from meeting a girl who would only go out with high-net worth individuals, Private Lives is based on a media law firm and the work that some friends of mine do. The Last Kiss Goodbye was even based on a photograph I saw at a National Geographic exhibition about the first successful summit climb of Everest. I get asked about inspiration a lot from people who want to write novels themselves, and I always say: carry a notebook and talk to people.

 

 

 

Casa D’Or, the mysterious plantation house on Sunset Lake, has been in the Wyatt family for over fifty years. Jennifer Wyatt returns there from university full of hope, as summer by the lake stretches ahead of her. Yet by the time it is over her heart will be broken, her family in tatters, her dreams long gone.

Twenty years later, Casa D’Or stands neglected, a victim of tragic events. Jennifer has closed the door on her past. Then Jim, the man she met and fell in love with that magical summer, comes back into her life, with a plan to return Casa D’Or to its former glory. Their reunion will stir up old ghosts for both of them, and reveal the dark secrets the house still holds close…

 

Amazon UK link

WILDFLOWER BAY BLOG TOUR

 

Published by Pan Books

ebook and paperback 11 August 2016

This little island has some big secrets…

Isla’s got her dream job as head stylist at the most exclusive salon in Edinburgh. The fact that she’s been so single-minded in her career that she’s forgotten to have a life has completely passed her by – until disaster strikes.

Out of options, she heads to the remote island of Auchenmor to help out her aunt who is in desperate need of an extra pair of scissors at her salon.

A native to the island, Finn is thirty-five and reality has just hit him hard. His best friends are about to have a baby and everything is changing. When into his life walks Isla . . .

 

wildflower bay

 

I’ve previously read and very much enjoyed Rachael’s previous book, Coming up Roses (reviewed here on the blog) and when this unexpectedly arrived in the post, I was more than a little excited.

When we first meet Isla Brown she seems a rather cold character; with few friends she prefers a solitary lifestyle. Brought up by her widowed father, she has personal issues stemming from her unhappy schooldays and feels she has to prove herself to everyone. Working at an exclusive hair salon in Edinburgh, she loves her job and has just bought her dream car. However when she unexpectedly finds herself at a loose end, her father ‘volunteers’ her to take over at her aunt Jessie’s salon for 2 months whilst her aunt attends to family matters. The trouble is, Aunt Jessie’s salon is not in Edinburgh, nor on any other part of the mainland. It’s on a remote island of Auchenmor and Isla, who is used to the busy city life, gets a shock when she arrives and her favourite coffee shop chain is nowhere to be seen. Even worse, she is dismayed to find that the salon hasn’t really changed for decades and caters more for pensioners’ shampoo and sets than the modern hair styles she is used to. Faced with young staff who are not best pleased at having a newcomer telling them what to do, Isla is determined not to stay a moment longer than she has to and counts down the days until she can leave.

It may be a small island but people still have their secrets and Finn MacArthur’s family are no exception. Finn, an affable chap but with a reputation for being rather fond of the ladies is taking stock of his life when he realises his friends are settling down with families of their own and leaving him the last man standing at the bar. It’s inevitable that his path will cross with Isla’s but she has no intention of remaining on the island once her aunt returns and it looks as though he is wasting his time.

This was a lovely story with some interesting characterisations. The touches of  romance and humour (often provided unintentionally by the antics of Lily the hippy, owner of the Retreat (an alternative therapy centre) both add a lightness to the tale. When Finn and Isla are roped in to attend Lily’s sessions, they spark off each other very well and I too would have done a runner at the thought of Lily’s lentil stew!  Friendship is an important part of this story. Isla finds it hard to trust people and although there are decades in years between their ages, she finds a real friend in elderly Ruth and the elder woman’s wise words seem to soften Isla’s edges.

It’s a small point but there was one strand in particular that I felt could have been expanded on a little more – the school reunion. From the very beginning, there was this big build up to it, with Isla dreading the event whilst at the same time wanting to impress her school tormentors but when it finally happened I was left with a “…well was that it?” feeling.

The fictional island of Auchenmor has a remarkable sense of place. The remoteness – the only way on and off being by ferry, is well described as is that small town character. It may be the kind of island where everyone knows everybody else’s business but there is a realistic feel of community which is particularly prevalent in this engaging story.

Wildflower Bay was originally released in three parts, however this book is the complete story. Although this seems to be a publisher trend now, I’m not a fan of stories by instalments and usually avoid them and prefer to wait until the complete book is published. Those who have read Rachael’s debut novel, Sealed with a Kiss, will no doubt be pleased to be reunited with some of the characters from the Isle of Auchenmor. I haven’t yet read this but look forward to doing so. Don’t however think that you have to read Sealed with a Kiss first to enjoy Wildflower Bay.   I happily read Wildflower Bay as a standalone.

Wildflower Bay has that heart-warming feel where new friendships are formed together with the realisation of what is important in life. It’s not all sunlight and roses, but the appropriate amount of light and shade make this a recommended read.

My thanks to Lucie and the publisher for the paperback copy to review and for the invitation to take part in the tour.

 

About the author:

Rachael LucasRachael juggles working as an author, coach and freelance writer with the aid of quite a lot of tea. She and her partner (also a writer) live by the seaside in the North West of England with their six children.

She is the author of Wildflower Bay, Coming Up Roses and Sealed With a Kiss.

 

Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon UK | Goodreads | Pinterest |Instagram

With the 2016 Rio Olympics in full swing, it’s an ideal time to welcome to the blog Rebecca Powell.   Rebecca’s debut novel, The Brazilian Husband (women’s contemporary fiction), was published in June 2016 and is available from Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Brazil – the real star of The Brazilian Husband

As Brazil basks in the international spotlight of the Olympic Games, people around the world are starting to realise just how little they know of this vibrant country of contrasts. The fifth largest country in the world, with over 200 native languages spoken among its people, there is so much more to Brazil than Copacabana and carnival.

I knew very little of the country when, as a 21 year-old student, I arrived in Recife. From the age of 14, when I’d seen a photo of a boy digging in a rubbish tip in Rio, it had been my goal to travel to Brazil to work with street children. And so, seven years later, naïve but determined, I walked straight in to the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights and volunteered.

What I discovered was a country and a people so diverse, so vast, so beguiling, that in my year living and working there, I experienced only a fraction of its immensely rich culture.

Things I remember:

• Eating grilled sweet corn from street vendors on my way to work;
• Dancing Forró on the beach as an orange moon rose over the ocean;
• Sleeping under the stars at the Soão João festival in Campina Grande (a major setting in the book)

But as Ricardo, the human rights lawyer in the book says, ‘just because you’re on holiday, doesn’t make this Disneyland.’

Things I’ll never forget:

• Toddlers playing in the open sewers of the favelas;
• Sexually active 14 year-old girls, who didn’t know where babies came from, let alone what a condom was.
• Half-built medical centres in the poorest communities, promised by politicians in return for votes, then left in ruins after the elections;
• The diary entry of one girl, describing how her mother’s boyfriend would come in to her bed at night, and how she thought this was normal.

What I came to realise, after a year living and working in Brazil, was that my being there had made no more than a ripple on a tear in an ocean of suffering. Returning to London I started working for charities in the UK, but the stories I’d heard from the girls I’d worked with continued to haunt me. I needed to tell their stories. This was the motivation behind The Brazilian Husband.

What became clear, as I started to write the book, was, in the same way as the Heath is a character in Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native, so Brazil became a character in itself.

The Brazilian Husband is just one of Brazil’s many stories, which I hope is both accessible and informative (I have deliberately peppered the narrative with fun and frightening facts about the country) and which, as Tom the journalist says in the book, ‘gets people talking, throws a spotlight in to the shadows’, whilst celebrating the eclectic beauty of its cities, beaches, backlands, and people – in equal measures fascinating; devastating; passionate; stunning, and, quite simply, spectacular.

 

About the book:

“…scrawled in biro, the words which had brought me here…
‘Take me home’.”

Determined to honor her late husband’s final request, Judith and her teenage step-daughter, Rosa, set out on a journey from London to Brazil to track down his family and take his ashes home.

But when Judith’s search leads her to Ricardo, a handsome but haunted human rights lawyer, she begins to unravel a web of lies surrounding her husband’s past: a past which is about to come crashing into their present in the form of Rosa’s real mother.

As the two women navigate their way through this vibrant country of contrasts, they find themselves struggling to salvage their own fractured relationship and put the past behind them.

The perfect blend of romance and suspense, set against the stunning backdrop of northeast Brazil, The Brazilian Husband is a story of friendship, family and finding out who we really are.

 

 

About the author:

Rebecca Powell was born in Bristol and has a degree in French and Portuguese from the University of Leeds. In her early twenties she worked for a year at a women’s shelter in the northeast of Brazil, before moving to London, where she continued to work for a number of national charities. She now lives in the southwest of France with her husband and three children.

 

Author Website | Twitter | Amazon UK | Goodreads

It’s a pleasure to welcome to the blog, author Louise Marley.  Louise is the author of several novels – in the romantic comedy/romantic suspense genres, the latest of which is a suspense story – Trust Me I Lie.   I really like the look of this and hopefully it will find it’s way to the top of the TBR in the near future when I will post a review. In the meantime, Louise has kindly written a post especially for for the blog which I hope you enjoy.  Over to you Louise….

Louise Marley

 

 

Creating an Unlikeable Heroine

Many years ago I had a book rejected by an agent because the heroine was ‘unlikeable’. This book was later picked up by a publisher, but at the time I was heartbroken. New writers are told to write what they love to read, and I’ve always loved flawed ‘unlikeable’ heroines such as Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell), who is horribly selfish, always wanting what she can’t have and completely unable to appreciate what she does have until she loses it, and Perdita in Polo (Jilly Cooper), a spoilt brat who has to grow up fast. They are so much more interesting.

Skip forward a few years and ‘unlikeable’ and ‘unreliable’ female characters are now very much in fashion, but when I began writing my latest book, Trust Me I Lie, it was the hero who was uppermost in my mind. It was my sixth full-length novel; my previous heroes could probably be considered ‘alpha males’ and I wanted to write a ‘beta’ hero just to see if I could. Not ‘brooding’ or ‘maverick’ or ‘tortured-by-his-past’, just a nice regular guy.

So I created Detective Inspector Ben Taylor, so straight-laced and devoted to his job that even his own team think he’s boring. And, because my job is to make my characters’ lives hell, I saddled him with the unlikeable and unreliable Milla, who tells lies for the fun of it and is obsessed with finding the murderer of the woman she considers her mother.

And I didn’t go for half-measures either! I made a list of every character trait I hate and gave them to poor Milla. She lies and she cheats. She runs away when the going gets tough, turns up where she’s not wanted, and ‘borrows’ without asking. She tries to manipulate Ben (the only person willing to help her), thinks nothing of luring him into breaking the law and then almost gets him fired.

Implying Milla was just ‘misunderstood’ would have been a cop out. After all, in real life no one is perfect. But I knew Milla would have to have a very good reason for behaving badly. She has felt rejected and unwanted her entire life, and now automatically assumes everyone is against her, even when they are trying to help. It’s made her prickly and defensive, and more than happy to live up to everyone’s low expectation of her.

Yet Milla is equally aware of her own flaws. She knows she has done some reprehensible things in the past, such as breaking up her cousin Amita’s engagement. From Milla’s point of view, she did it for the right reason – Amita’s fiancé was a gold-digging pig. Only later does it dawn on Milla that she was more concerned with being proved right about his character, than caring whether Amita was likely to be hurt by her actions.

With much of the story leaving the reader wondering whether Milla is to be entirely trusted, I needed an even more unlikable character to be her arch enemy and show how vulnerable she really is. Lydia was once Milla’s babysitter, now she’s a detective inspector with the local police – and the one person who can confirm or deny Milla’s real identity. An excellent reason for Milla to try and keep the woman sweet, you would have thought, but – well, I expect you’ve already worked out how that’s going to pan out!

I would rather my characters were interesting than lovable or likeable, but I do have to ensure my reader will understand them. Maybe not at first, but definitely by the end of the story. While a reader might think, ‘I can’t believe Milla did that!’, at least they should understand why she did it – and be rooting for her to succeed. And hopefully love her as much as I do!

 

trust me i lie

 

Book Title: Trust Me I Lie
Author: Louise Marley
Pages: 350 pages
Genres: Murder Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Humour
Publication Date: 20th June 2016
Series: No

 

When Milla Graham arrives in the picture-perfect village of Buckley she tells everyone she’s investigating the murder of her mother, who died eighteen years ago. But there’s already one Milla Graham buried in the churchyard and another about to be found dead in the derelict family mansion.

Obviously she’s lying.

Detective Inspector Ben Taylor has no life outside the police force. Even his own colleagues think he’s a boring stick-in-the-mud. But now he’s met Milla and his safe, comfortable life has been turned upside down. She’s crashed his car, emptied his wallet and is about to get him fired.

He knows she’s a liar because she cheerfully told him so.

Unless she’s lying about that too …

 

About the author:

 

Louise Marley writes murder mysteries and romantic comedies. She lives in Wales, surrounded by fields of sheep, and has a beautiful view of Snowdon from her window.
Her first published novel was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which was a finalist in Poolbeg’s ‘Write a Bestseller’ competition. She has also written articles for the Irish press and short stories for UK women’s magazines such as Take a Break and My Weekly.

Her latest novel is Trust Me I Lie  – and is currently available to download from Amazon UK for 99p.

 

Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon UK | Amazon USGoodreads

The Family Man by T J Lebbon was published in ebook and paperback by Avon on 11th August.  This looks a real rollercoaster of a story and I’m looking forward to reading it.  In the meantime, for my turn on the blog tour, I have an extract.  The Family Man is currently available to download from Amazon for £1.99

 

You take one risk. Now, those you love must pay …

Dom Turner is a dependable husband, a loving father. A man you can rely on. But it only takes one day to destroy a seemingly perfect life.

Emma thought she could trust her husband, Dom. She thought he would always look after her and their daughter Daisy….

Then one reckless act ends in two innocent deaths – and Dom’s family becomes the target of a terrifying enemy.

There’s nowhere to hide. They’re on the run for their lives. And if Dom makes one more wrong move, he won’t have a family left to protect.

 

the family man

 

Chapter Twelve

Nothing Would Happen

Passing through the centre of town, Emma swung a left into the car park. It was hidden away behind the main street. ‘Mum? Aren’t we going to Mandy’s?’

‘Hang on,’ Emma said. She parked in the far corner in the shade of some trees, reversing into a space so that she could see the rest of the car park. She was holding the steering wheel hard, knuckles white, fingers cramped.

‘Mum,’ Daisy said softly. She touched Emma’s shoulder, and that simple contact broke a damof emotion. Emma sobbed loudly, once and tearless, pressing her hands to her face.

‘I’m okay,’ she said quickly. She rubbed at her eyes, ran her hands through her hair and checked herself in the mirror. Every few seconds she scanned the car park. No white Jeeps. Plenty of people on their way home from work, picking up a bottle of wine for an evening in the garden or a bag of groceries. A flock of old women walked across the expanse of tarmac, all white hair and backpacks, finishing an after- noon hike with a coffee and cake in the museum cafe. No wild-haired men. No dog killers.

Emma had to be strong, for herself and for Daisy. Jazz had been part of the family, but her immediate fear was for them- selves. Daisy’s grief was plain and direct. Emma’s was contoured with complexities. The family should be together now, not pulled apart by Andy and whatever he thought he could do to help them. And why would he? Was he really so guilty that he’d expose himself to such danger? She liked to think so but . . . she didn’t really know Andy that well at all.

What she did know indicated that he was probably a bastard.

Dom had been terrified. She’d seen truth behind his eyes that craved release, but Andy had guided their conversation. She’d seen fear, too. He’d loved Jazz as much as the rest of them, but the terror she’d witnessed in him had transcended what had occurred, and she hated seeing such fear in the man she loved.

Dom might have been quiet, content without adventure in his life, but she had never considered him a coward. In business he stood up for himself, and he was not afraid to fight for what was right. Sometimes he even surprised her. Two years ago his company van had been stolen from outside a house he was working on. By lucky coincidence, their friend Mostyn had seen it parked outside a country pub a couple of miles outside Usk, and he’d driven Dom out there to confront the two young thieves. She still remembered Mostyn’s delighted expression as he’d told her about

Dom approaching the beer garden table were they sat, crowbar swinging casually from his hand.

Today, a different Dom had faced her across that park bench.

‘We should bury Jazz,’ Daisy said. ‘She’s just lying there and . . . there are flies. It’s hot. What if the neighbours see her? What if they see the blood and that message?’