Thursday, 30 July 2015

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm- Rebecca Raisin BLOG TOUR

The Blurb

Lucy would do anything for her mom…but she never expected to end up promising to leave her. After her mom got sick, Lucy dropped everything to take care of her, working all hours in a greasy diner just to make ends meet and spending every spare moments she had by her mom’s hospital bedside.

Now, Lucy is faced with a whole year of living by her own rules, starting by taking the first bus out of town to anywhere…

Except she didn’t expect to find her next big adventure just around the corner! Especially when on her first day in town she bumps into grumpy, but oh-so-delicious Clay amidst the maple trees. Surrounded by the magic of Ashford, Lucy has the chance to change her life forever and finally discover a life she wants to live!

The Review

I've been a big fan of Rebecca Raisin's since reading the first Gingerbread Café book back in 2013, and I've been so excited for the release of Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm!  There's something so comforting about Rebecca's writing, and I love snuggling down and losing myself in her heart-warming stories.

When I started reading this one, I noticed a shift in style from Rebecca's other books.  The beginning of  Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm is still very much centred around family life with Lucy unsure of whether to pursue her dream of going to study art in Paris or staying home to care for her sick mother, but it felt much more serious from the off, more weighty somehow, than the other books in the Once in a Lifetime series.

Lucy ends up agreeing to a year out, where she'll learn to live without the strains of caring for her Mum.  Boarding the bus, she ends up in Ashford (Yay!  The home of the Gingerbread Café series!) and she immediately fits into the community.  Meeting the lovely Lil and everyone's favourite confidante CeeCee, she is quickly accepted as one of the girls.  However, it's reclusive Clay, the mysterious maple syrup farmer that gets to know Lucy best.  Working long, tiring days together, the pair often frustrate each other-but deep down there's a chemistry that can't be ignored...

Of course, Lucy can't switch off from her responsibilities back home, so the plot is built around her worrying about her Mums health and yet loving the freedom that Ashford brings.  She learns new skills, builds solid friendships and revels in comfort of the close-knit community, but it's Clay and the farm that inspire her.  After finding an old sketchbook hidden away, presumably belonging to Clay's late uncle, Lucy finds her love of art is renewed, her paintings now more vibrant and open. She longs to know more about the owner of the sketchbook, but it seems the men of Maple Syrup Farm have a habit of keeping themselves to themselves...  This gentle mystery added to the plot and the writings in the sketchbook had my romantic heart all aflutter!

I found myself enjoying this book more as it went on.  The interactions between Lucy and Clay were humorous and added light relief after the moving mother/daughter plot line, and Ashford remains as homely and welcoming as it always has been- almost a character in itself, I love that place. 

Overall, I was surprised- I never would have expected a book about tree tapping for syrup to have me hooked, but Rebecca Raisin managed it! This feels like a transitional novel for her.  It's longer than her previous releases, with some deeper-running storylines and more twists.  However, it worked well and proves that Rebecca Raisin can tackle these more serious themes.  That said, I do love the way she portrays friendship best of all, and Lucy's interactions with the residents of Ashford were my highlight- I'm always left wanting to hug my closest friends after reading these books!

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm is out now, published by Carina UK.

With thanks to the publisher who provided me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Waiting on Wednesday- Picnics in Hyde Park by Nikki Moore

I'm so excited about Nikki Moore's Picnics in Hyde Park!  I've loved the whole of the Love London series and that's why this final instalment has been chosen as my Waiting on Wednesday for this week. Thankfully, it's published on 13th August- so I don't have long to wait!

The last story in the fun & flirty #LoveLondon series from exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore! The perfect novel for reading in the sunshine... and falling in love with London.

A summer to remember... or forget?

When Zoe Harper returns to the UK after five long years in New York, the last thing she expects is to find her younger sister Melody jobless, homeless, broke and dumped. Unfortunately, life has a way of delivering the unexpected. She should know that, given her ex-fiancé Greg’s faithless behaviour.

Filled with rage and determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak, as well as get some answers, Zoe hatches plan Nannygate. Unfortunately that means moving in with the gorgeous but uncaring music producer Matt Reilly to be nanny to his two adorable, complicated children. But something isn’t adding up, and over the course of the hot London summer, she starts to think that perhaps Matt isn’t so bad after all.

Let down by his last nanny and weighed down with guilt about his wife’s death three years before, wealthy but camera-shy Matt has spent a long time pushing people away, including his own kids. His stunning new nanny challenges him every single day in completely different ways, but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

But what happens when you open your heart, and someone isn’t who you thought they were? And can it really be true love when it’s on the rebound, and starts off with a plan for revenge?

Out on 13th August as an ebook, paperback to follow. Get it from only £2.99!


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Happy publication day Michelle Betham! Resurrection is out today.


Michelle Betham's Resurrection, book #3 in The Lone Riders MC Romance Series, is out today! 

The Blurb

Forgetting the past can be dangerous. Re-living it can be deadly… 

Someone in the shadows wants Coby Walker dead.

He’s not the only one. 
Someone wants to bring The Lone Riders down.

He isn’t alone. 
The club is in danger, but even Coby isn’t aware how deep that danger runs. How personal it’s all become. How many lives are at risk because he got distracted… 

Ben Salter didn’t want to return to a life he’d left behind.

He was happy.

He was in love.

He was moving on.

But all of a sudden he finds himself thrust back into that world he’d never intended to return to, as the person he’d swore he’d never be again.

He thought he could handle it. 

He thought pushing her away would be easy. 

He was wrong. 

Lines become blurred and loyalties confused as Ben’s need to avenge a past he couldn’t forget intensifies. And as his world quickly spirals out of control, that past starts to threaten his future; truths are revealed that change everything, and a secret is exposed that threatens to destroy the one thing that can keep him from falling apart – the one person who can save him; a secret that leads to a bitter betrayal that becomes a catalyst for an endgame he’d never wanted to play out… 

Messed-up loyalties and a dangerous loss of focus puts The Lone Riders at risk; puts their resurrection in jeopardy. And they should have seen it coming… 

Buy Links



Author Bio

Michelle Betham is an ex-media technician turned author of hot, edgy, gritty romance, usually involving rock stars, sports stars, and bikers. But not usually all in the same book. Yet.

She is both self-published and published through HarperImpulse, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Addicted to binge-watching TV dramas she struggles to think of a life before Netflix, loves rock music, tattoos, spicy food, and Keanu Reeves - a crush that's lasted over twenty years, and one she blames entirely on 'Point Break'...

Her dream is to ride a Harley. And visit Las Vegas. And be able to eat any amount of chocolate without putting on weight...

She lives in County Durham, north-east England, with her husband and West Highland Terrier, where she can be found most days drinking tea and making up stories.

Contact Links


Twitter @michellebetham 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Only Ever Yours- Louise O'Neill

The Blurb

eves are designed, not made.
The School trains them to be pretty.
The School trains them to be good.
The School trains them to Always be Willing.
All their lives, the eves have been waiting.
Now, they are ready for the outside world.
companion . . . concubine . . . chastity.
Only the best will be chosen.

 And only the Men decide.

The Review

Every so often a book comes along that blows your mind.  Only Ever Yours is one of those books. 


Just wow.

I'm writing this review within an hour of finishing the book.  That's not something I usually do, but I feel compelled to, because it's got so deeply under my skin.  I'm trying to think of the best way to describe it and the only thing I can come up with is 'chilling'.  Vagenda's quote on the cover of 'Mean Girls meets The Handmaid's Tale' is pretty spot on as a description of the content.

The story revolves around sixteen year old girl (eve) frieda (lack of capital initial is intentional!)  Locked away in an all female school, eves are trained to be compliant and good.  They must stay within their target weight range or they will be punished, because to be fat is to be repulsive.  They must never cry.  They must be always be willing.  eves know that by the end of the year their future lives will be decided as they are selected into one of the thirds- companion, concubine or chastity.  Their fate is to be decided by the Inheritants, a group of ten sixteen year old boys who will choose their companions from the cohort of eves.  The whole book focusses on the build up to this selection day from inside the school.

I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy Only Ever Yours because although I've read and enjoyed dystopian fiction before, it isn't generally one of my preferred genres.  However, O' Neill is such a fantastic storyteller with the capacity to paint hideously vivid pictures through her words- I was captivated.  Gripped with horror and intrigue as I turned the pages, I greedily devoured every delicious word. 

I loved the mystery surrounding isabel, frieda's former best friend and megan, the ultra competitive superbitch had me pantomime hissing throughout.  Honestly, she's the epitome of everything I dislike and her character made me determined to become an even more of a staunch feminist than I already am!  And when the #1 Inheritant Darwin is introduced and the girls are vying for his attention- urgh- I was taken right back to the pain caused by adolescent lust and the overwhelming desire to be seen as attractive.

The relationships between the eves were so very believable- the two-faced one-up(wo)manship in the book is the same as it is in many a school, office, club or playground at pick-up time.  It is almost a warning, a brilliant beacon of a warning, of what could happen to women in a world where men have all the power.  The irony that we live in a world where men still do have the majority of power is not lost on me.  Although I highly doubt the world in Only Ever Yours is what's in store for our future, it could be.  And that's what's scary, hard-hitting and emotive about this book.

Originally aimed at a teen market, I can absolutely see why Quercus have repackaged this for an adult audience too.  It's necessary, and a book which deserves to be noticed for it's brave content, original premise and utterly frightening plot.

From the nasty, vicious backbiting of the first chapters through to the disturbing bitter end, Only Ever Yours had me hooked. 

It's one of the best books I've ever read, and I've read a lot.  Everyone needs to read it.  So, what are you waiting for?

Only Ever Yours is out now, published by Quercus.

With thanks to the publisher Quercus, who provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

YALC 2015

I'm a bit late getting around to posting this YALC round-up.  After a long, long day on Saturday I headed off to Scarborough for a few days with my family so blogging took a backseat for a while.  But I'm back with a vengeance now and excited to share all my photos and news with you!
It was just before 6am when my alarm went off.  TOO EARLY, but necessary in order to get the train from Sheffield down to London to head to Olympia for day two of the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC).  Having missed out on 2014, I was full of both nerves and excitement about going.  Workshops, panel events, the agent area, signings, plus of course the multitude of stands from a whole host of YA publishers...I couldn't wait to get there.
Arriving at Olympia's overground station, I was already hot, sticky and exhausted.  And once inside, it was even warmer- the humidity made my hair unenviably frizzy and I was so thankful I'd had the foresight to pack a can of Impulse!  So these photos- especially as the day wore on- don't show me in my best light!
I started off exploring the stalls, grabbing freebie bookmarks, badges and sample chapters and perusing the books on offer.  And the tote bags...honestly, if you want to double/triple/quadruple your tote bag collection, you just need to go to YALC.  Publishers are literally thrusting them at you.  It's amazing. 
It was as I was browsing the Hot Key Books stall that I stumbled across my first author of the day.  Robin Stevens, creator of Wells and Wong, was stood right next to me and I very excitedly introduced myself-having spoken on twitter many times it was great to be able to see her in the flesh and have a quick chat before each of us went back to snaffling books!
Meeting Robin Stevens
I bought a copy of Keris Stainton's next release Counting Stars (publication day is September 3rd, so to say I was chuffed to bits with my purchase is an understatement), turned to decide where to head next and ended up almost falling over Keris as she was stood right behind me.  Having recently taken part in the Writing YA course that Keris runs online, it was fabulous to give her a real hug as a thank you and get my book signed.  Liz Kessler was also there, telling us how she got to the event on a horse (not really- she rode a bike, but her mime of cycling was a bit ambiguous...) and we were debating where my twitter handle @katey5678 came from.  It was suggested I was a Steps fan, which was then misheard as being a sex fan, which left Keris wondering what a 5678 could involve...
FINALLY meeting my fellow directioner and all- round fangirl Keris Stainton
I quickly got Alice Osman to sign my copy of Solitaire before scooting off to my first panel of the day, Being a Girl, where Malorie Blackman, Holly Smale, CJ Daughtry, Laura Dockrill and Hayley Long were talking feminism with Anna James.  I loved this discussion, especially how Holly spoke of books being able to be subtly feminist and that Laura said she wrote real girls because she knows real girls. 
It also struck a chord when CJ Daughtry said some men never read books by women, and when Holly pointed out many words used to describe fiction by women, such as 'light' and 'fluffy' actually mean 'insubstantial' or 'of little weight'- thought provoking stuff!  The time flew by and I could have happily listened to them debating and sharing their experiences of being women writers and creating female characters for much longer.
Impossible to look good stood next to Holly Smale, who's gorgeous inside and out!
As I tweeted a few comments from the Being A Girl panel I noticed James Dawson- yes, the James Dawson I fawn over like crazy (see my Waiting on Wednesday for All of the Above if you need proof) - was also tweeting comments.  After the panel I saw him heading out and then made a very crap attempt at a joke which I'm now cringing over...I can only apologise profusely and say I was starstruck! James was heading off to get some lunch, but did say he'd be at the Hot Key stand later, so with that in mind I headed to the Writing YALC workshop led by Anna Mckerrow.  Anna put us into groups, and using flyers, comments people had made about YALC and freebie promo materials we created a piece of writing about the event.  Taking a less than serious approach, our group morphed the text from a flyer advertising a dystopian novel with the joy of finally meeting favourite authors to create this masterpiece...
One of the highlights of this workshop was meeting the lovely Blondie Camps -such a sweetheart!
Embarrassed by my earlier fangirlling, I skulked back to Hot Key Books (yes, they are one of my favourite YA publishers, in case you hadn't guessed!) to get my copy of Cruel Summer signed by James Dawson and he very sweetly wrote 'Thank you for all your support'-I can't have made TOO much of a fool out of myself.  I was delighted to get a taster sample of All of the Above (publication date September 3rd)- having read that twice already I'm itching to get my hands on the full book- I have a feeling it could be his best novel yet. 

Trying to rein in the fangirlling whilst meeting James Dawson- hard to do with a favourite author!

 The next panel I went to was Carrie Hope Fletcher's YALC Book Club, which had a very different feel to the Being A Girl talk.  Malorie Blackman, Holly Smale and Samantha Shannon, along with host Carrie, chatted openly about both reading and writing.  It was interesting to hear that Holly had always wanted to be a writer but had it drummed into her that 'people like us don't do jobs like that' and Carrie noted how no one ever tells you 'you could be a writer' when considering careers at school.  Both Holly and Malorie said they make an effort to visit schools as often as possible to show how writers are normal people, and also that they too fangirl over authors- Carrie said she was fangirlling at being amongst the authors she was with, Shannon admitted crying when she met Margaret Atwood, and Malorie said the first time she met Philippa Pearce she got tongue tied.
After this panel I got books signed by Carrie (another fangirl moment as I'm a huge fan- I saw her in Les Miserables back in April and when I read All I Know Now I found it packed with reminders of how I want to live my life).  She's just as cute in real life as she is in her vlogs and has this wonderful ability to put everyone at ease.  When I asked if her hand was hurting from all the signing, she said it was her face that ached from smiling so much!

In a smile-off with Carrie Hope Fletcher
I then braved the lower floor where the London Film and Comic Convention was happening because there was no way I was missing out on seeing Judy Blume in conversation with Patrick Ness!  This was a really enjoyable 45 minutes, especially as Patrick Ness seemed to be as big a fan of Judy as the rest of us!  I loved how he said 'No one is ever going to be as important to you as the people you meet as a teenager'- it absolutely says why Judy Blume is so revered by so many. It's hard to believe that Forever is forty this year, and Ness marvelled about how candid it is- having recently reread it (read my thoughts here) I could only nod in agreement.  I'm still planning my Judy Blume week on here and I'm extra excited for it following on from YALC.
After the panel I was fortunate enough to meet Judy and have a conversation about sanitary towels as she signed my copy of Are You There, God?  It's Me, Margaret.  This book had a huge impact on me as a teen, and talking about it with the author was mindblowing!  The version I first read back in 1990 still had Margaret experimenting using sanitary belts, whereas the version I have now has been updated to her placing a sanitary towel in her knickers to see how it feels- in terms of nostalgia, even though the belts were before my time I was sad they'd been changed, but Judy said when the UK publisher suggested it be modernised to pads she agreed outright.
A lifelong ambition- meeting Judy Blume
Before heading home I was honoured to meet both the previous Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman and her successor Chris Riddell.  It was wonderful to be able to tell Malorie how her much-told story of 82 rejections prior to publication have kept me writing and that when she followed me on twitter I squealed!  Chris was fabulous too, and after he ran out of art paper he happily doodled in my notepad whilst revealing he enjoyed drawing on different types of paper.  It was brilliant to be able to look at his sketchbook too- I'm still thinking of a wonderful 'Chasing Cars' illustration in it that Chris had done to match the lyrics of the Snow Patrol song...I want it as a poster, it was perfection.
Chris Riddell- Children's Laureate 2015-2017

My own personal Chris Riddell doodle!

Before heading home with my bookish loot I had a quick meeting with fellow blogger Faye, and when I finally arrived home at just before midnight I was seriously in need of my bed.  Every part of me ached with exhaustion, however, I wouldn't have swapped it for the world.  YALC 2015 was a wonderful experience and I can't wait for next year and what it'll bring!

Fairytale Beginnings- Holly Martin BLOG TOUR


The Blurb

Love is an open door…except when it keeps slamming in your face

Hopeless romantic Milly Rose has had her fair share of heartbreak. Obsessed with all things Disney, she refuses to give up on finding her Prince Charming – he’s out there somewhere, isn’t he?

When Milly is given a job to investigate the origins of a historical building in the village of Clover's Rest, she’s not sure what to expect. What she discovers takes her breath away - a beautiful real life Cinderella castle, complete with turrets, a magnificent drawbridge AND a very handsome owner…Cameron Heartstone.

As Milly and Cameron begin to unearth the secrets of Clover Castle, they can’t ignore the intense chemistry building between them. But they’ve both been hurt badly before. Can they take a big leap of faith and find their own happily-ever-after?

A deliciously enchanting read that will delight fans of Rachael Lucas, Lucy Diamond and Miranda Dickinson or anyone who has ever blubbed at a Disney movie. Who says real life can’t be a fairytale?

The Review
I have read and enjoyed some of Holly Martin's previous releases and now, as Fairytale Beginnings makes its way into the world, I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour.  I do enjoy a full-on escapist read and from the blurb alone I knew this book would fit the bill!
The story itself is a feel good romance- Milly, who is scared of getting hurt, and Cameron, who's been taken advantage of, are both quietly vulnerable beings and are surprised when Cupid's arrow strikes.  They fall hard, fast and deep, and with the magical castle setting as a backdrop, Milly feels like a princess in one of the Disney films she so adores. 
However, there are obstacles.  Boy, are there obstacles.  The unwelcoming villagers, Cameron's personal assistant Olivia, and Milly's desire to remain fully professional as she surveys the castle all threaten to damp down the fire between them.  And then there's the mysterious past of the building itself- the mishmash of eras and design styles are baffling enough, but the legends attached to Clover Castle are even more confusing. 
Surprisingly, the elements of suspense were what grabbed me the most.  Normally it's the romance that wins me over, but although I liked Milly and Cameron there were times I wanted to throttle them!  They were both quite egocentric and it was only when one of them went out on a limb to try and rescue something that was important to the other that I really believed what they shared could be more than lust.
Clover Castle was another character in itself, full of intrigue and secrets.  I loved all the passageways and turrets, the dungeons and drawbridge.  It was great fun imagining Cameron's eccentric Uncle Boris running riot as he added feature after feature to build a Disney-esque castle!
There were times during the book where I felt things moved on too fast-not so much in terms of Milly and Cameron's relationship, more that there were scenes I'd have liked to have known more about to firmly fix the setting and characters in my mind.  However, because Holly Martin writes in such an open, chatty style (with quite a few swear words thrown in!), Fairytale Beginnings had me turning the pages at breakneck speed. 
Witty and silly, romantic and mysterious- if you're after a fun, fresh holiday read, this could be just what you're looking for.  It reminded me a bit of Milly Johnson's It's Raining Men- you need to remember it's fiction, allow yourself to believe in the unknown and get washed away with the magic and humour of the story.  
I have a feeling Fairytale Beginnings could be the book that propels Holly Martin from 'bloggers favourite' to 'one to watch'.  And I really hope it is, because it's what she deserves.
Fairytale Beginnings is out now, published by Bookouture.  To 'try before you buy', you can read a sample chapter here.
With thanks to the publisher who provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Connect with Holly on Facebook:
Connect with Holly on Twitter :
Holly’s website link is


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Waiting on Wednesday- On the Other Side- Carrie Hope Fletcher

I admit it.  I'm a fangirl for Carrie.  I read and loved All I Know Now and actually let an audible squeak of delight escape from my lips when I heard her next book was going to be fiction.  I can't wait to see how her voice will develop as she takes this step into novel writing, and wish it wasn't such an incredibly long wait...
But I keep reminding myself, all good things are worth waiting for, and I'm sure On the Other Side will be fantabulous!

The Blurb

Your soul is too heavy to pass through this door,

Leave the weight of the world in the world from before

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It's the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she's become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won't open.

Evie's soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it's too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow, some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love . . .

On the Other Side will transport you to a world that is impossible to forget. Powerful, magical and utterly romantic, this is a love story like no other from everyone's favourite 'big sister', Carrie Hope Fletcher.

On the Other Side is due for release 14th July 2016, published by Sphere.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Question and Answer with Katharine Swartz

I was lucky enough to pose some questions to Katherine Swartz on her recent release ‘The Lost Garden’.  Here's what she had to say...
How long did The Lost Garden take to write?
I started a first draft three years ago, and got to the halfway point before I decided it wasn’t working. When I figured out what was wrong [a  character needed to change] it went much more quickly, and I managed to complete it in just a few months.
How challenging is it to write a dual timeframe novel, compared to writing just one story?
The most challenging part is making each of the two stories compelling, and also having them inform one another without being repetitive or stretch credibility too far.
You've also had huge success with M and B- are there any similarities between your romance books and your women's fiction releases?
Writing for Mills & Boon has helped me to tighten my writing and focus on strong emotional conflicts for characters. A lot of people think writing romance is easy, but writing good, compelling, believable, and emotional romance is quite difficult. I think I’ve learned something with every book I’ve written.
Are you a reader as well as a writer?  If so, recommend me a book!
Yes, definitely, I absolutely love reading.  Recently I've read I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh and Defending Jacob by William Landay.  Both highly recommended!
The Lost Garden is out now, published by Lion fiction.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm release blitz!

The Blurb

Maple sugar kisses...

Lucy would do anything for her mom…but she never expected to end up promising to leave her. After her mom got sick, Lucy dropped everything to take care of her, working all hours in a greasy diner just to make ends meet and spending every spare moments she had by her mom’s hospital bedside.

Now, Lucy is faced with a whole year of living by her own rules, starting by taking the first bus out of town to anywhere…

Except she didn’t expect to find her next big adventure just around the corner! Especially when on her first day in town she bumps into grumpy, but oh-so-delicious Clay amidst the maple trees. Surrounded by the magic of Ashford, Lucy has the chance to change her life forever and finally discover a life she wants to live!

Fall in love with Ashford, Connecticut in this dazzling and beautiful romance from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin.

I LOVE the Ashford books and am currently reading Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm -it's another belter!  I've spent years imagining Ashford's streets, and now finally there's a map of it! It's like the more I discover about this fictional place, the more I want to go there.  If only it were real...

Out now and available to purchase from-

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Australia




Author Bio:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She's been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Come and say hello to Rebecca on her Facebook page : or @jaxandwillsmum on Twitter.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Summer Q and A with Chrissie Manby!

Today my guest is the wonderful Chrissie Manby, whose new novel  A Proper Family Adventure is released today!  To celebrate summer, Chrissie has kindly answered some seasonal questions just for Books with Bunny. 

Ice cream or ice lolly?
Chrissie Manby

Ice cream. Preferably Bacio flavour (chocolate and hazelnut) from an Italian chain called Grom. They also make Bacio hot chocolate in winter.
Sea or Sand?
Sand. It has to be sizzling hot before I go into the water. My favourite beaches are in Wales and Cornwall so you can imagine how often that happens.
UK or abroad?
Both. There's nothing as beautiful as a wild beach in West Wales but I am also in love with Florence and Tuscany for the countryside, the people and the views.
Vacation or staycation?
Vacation. I love to travel. I live in Balham. I'm always looking for an escape.
Bikini or swimming costume?
Bikini. I'm long-waisted so one piece costumes never fit.
A glass of Pimms or a chilled beer?
Neither. Aperol spritz.
Tennis or cricket?
Neither. I'm afraid I am utterly disinterested in sport.
And finally, what's your favourite summer read?
Anything by Lucy Dillon, Fiona Walker or Alex Potter. Three immensely talented ladies I am lucky enough to count as friends.
Chrissie Manby’s new novel A Proper Family Adventure is published in paperback and eBook today (16th July) by Hodder & Stoughton, £7.99. Follow Chrissie on twitter @chrissiemanby
With many thanks to Chrissie for taking the time to answer my questions!  My review of A Proper Family Adventure will be up in August.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Waiting on Wednesday- Carry On- Rainbow Rowell

I love Rainbow Rowell.  Her writing is so wonderfully readable, she's not afraid to explore topics outside the ordinary and from following her on twitter I've discovered she's a proper, fully-fledged fangirl.  This all appeals to me.
I've loved her other releases and ran a Rainbow Rowell week on Books with Bunny last year, but I cannot wait for Carry On.   Can't it be October 8th already?
The Blurb
Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he'll be safe. Simon can't even enjoy the fact that his room-mate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can't stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you're the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savour anything.

Based on the characters Simon and Baz who featured in Rainbow Rowell's bestselling Fangirl, Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.

Carry On is released on October 8th 2015, published by Macmillan Children's Books.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Taster chapter of Holly Martin's brand new book, Fairytale Beginnings

Do you love romantic fiction with a fairytale twist?  Then have I got a treat for you! 

I've waved my magic wand and sprinkled a bit of fairy dust and today I'm able to share the very first chapter of Holly Martin's new novel Fairytale Beginnings!

I'm also on the blog tour for this one later in the month- here's where you can find reviews, extras and guest posts from Holly over the next few weeks...


Milly drove up the steep, curvy, cliff top lanes with the warm sun on her back and the wind in her hair. From up here, she could see the sparkling blue of the sea below her stretching out for miles into the horizon. It was a beautiful day, made even lovelier by the endless yellow fields of rapeseed on the other side of her. It smelt wonderful but she wished it was clover instead as that might be some indication that she was going in the right direction.

She was hopefully heading towards Clover’s Rest. The satnav had, of course, stopped working half an hour ago and all she was left with was a flashing question mark on the screen, indicating that the satnav had no idea where she was. Nothing seemed to be known about the village of Clover’s Rest or Clover Castle which presided over the tiny dwelling. It didn’t appear on any maps, and bizarrely there was no record of it on any kind of historical documentation. That in itself was a mystery and one Milly was keen to solve.

Dick, her beaten up old Triumph, was having trouble with the steep gradient of the inclines and she had spent most of the last fifteen minutes barely coming out of first gear. Her brother, Jamie, had begged her several times to buy a new car but her beloved white Triumph TR2 was her pride and joy.

Up ahead, on the very summit of the hill, she suddenly saw a flash of a blue-topped turret from behind the trees and her heart soared. But no sooner had it appeared, it had gone.

Dick whined as she pushed him round a very steep corner and she leaned forward and gave him a little pat of encouragement. He spluttered and coughed, but thankfully didn’t cut out. The handbrake wasn’t the best and she wasn’t hopeful that Dick could cling to the road surface without sliding back to the foot of the hill again.

Steam started to appear from under Dick’s bonnet as she floored the accelerator and crossed her fingers and toes. She glanced down at her multi-coloured star bracelet and absently made a wish that she would make it to the top of the hill.

‘Just a little further, Dick, come on.’

Dick was barely moving at all now, Milly could get out and walk quicker. As she begged and pleaded with Dick to just last a little bit longer, a kid on his bike rang his bell and scooted round her, disappearing into the trees up ahead.

How insulting to be overtaken by a kid on a BMX. And Dick obviously thought so too as he suddenly found a last bit of energy and groaned and coughed up the last few metres, where the hill finally levelled out.

They shuffled into a tunnel of trees, which swallowed her up, shutting out all the bright daylight behind her and overhead so she was driving through a canopy of total green. It was very dark, with just a tiny pinprick of light ahead of her that she pushed Dick towards. Movement swirled in her rear view mirror; as she glanced up it almost seemed like the trees were closing the gap behind her, covering the road with their tangle of branches so there was no escape.

Dick finally burst through the trees to the other side. Daylight temporarily blinded her, she briefly saw some houses and a village green and then a thick plume of white smoke burst from the engine and the village vanished from view. Dick let out what sounded like a really big fart and then died, smoke still pouring from underneath the bonnet.

Milly sighed. She had asked too much of him, she knew that. It had seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up; going out in her convertible along the seafront when the weather was so hot, and Clover’s Rest was only supposed to be an hour and a half away from where she lived. But Dick was over twice her age and was only really capable of short flat journeys, nothing like the mountainous terrain she had just traversed.

‘It’s ok Dick, you can have a few days to have a little rest and maybe we can find someone to tinker under your bonnet before we go home. And it’s all downhill from here so worst case scenario, we can just roll you home. Plus we’re on holiday next week, I promise you can stay at home every day. I intend to sit in the garden and do nothing but read for the entire week.’

Dick let out a sigh of relief and the smoke slowed and then stopped, revealing the most gorgeous, picturesque village she had ever seen.

Milly quickly got out and gazed across the village green, staring at the whitewashed cottages like a kid in a sweet shop. The roofs were topped with yellow thatch that glinted like gold in the sunlight. They were a hodgepodge collection; the nearest ones to her were timber framed and the ones on the far side were made from stone. But all of them came with their unique lumps and bumps, jutting out bits of stone or bent bits of timber indicating that these houses were hundreds of years old.

She quickly grabbed her suitcase, gave Dick an affectionate pat, and abandoned him on the edge of the green as she walked in awe along the cobbled road.

The historian in her picked out key features in the houses straight away. Of course without certain dating tests it would be hard to be specific, but the first house on the green had to be at least four hundred years old, which meant it should be a listed building. But there had been nothing in any historical documents or files that even indicated this place existed, let alone had listed buildings.

Her toes curled with pleasure at the prospect of what this mysterious Clover Castle looked like. Was it possible that she was going to round the corner of the green and see a sixteenth century undiscovered jewel?

She approached the nearest house and ran her hand appreciatively up the oak timber frame. There was something incredible and humbling about touching something that had been around for hundreds of years. What had this building seen and heard, what stories could it tell?

She leaned closer to the wood and sniffed it. The rich smells of smoke, wood and earth engulfed her and she smiled.

She suddenly realised she wasn’t alone. Milly looked up from the wood into the bulbous eyes of an old man, dressed in a tatty suit. His skin seemed to have shrunk against his bones, making his eyes seem more bulging and protruding. He was chewing on what looked like a small stone, rolling it around his mouth and back again as if he was trying to work out what it tasted like. His white hair stuck out making him look like he was a crazy scientist but he was looking at her as if she was insane, which she supposed she was, standing on someone’s front lawn stroking and smelling the side of the house.

He took a drag of his cigarette and then flicked it into the nearby bushes. She winced at the desecration of such a historic place but chose to ignore it as he still had the moral high ground at the moment, being the slightly saner one of the two.

‘You can’t leave your car there,’ said the man, indicating poor Dick, who looked so deflated and exhausted that even his headlights seemed to be drooping. ‘It’s double yellow lines.’

Sure enough, double yellow lines covered the roads on both sides, as if it was a main road through a busy city rather than a tiny remote village with probably no more than thirty houses. But closer inspection showed the lines to be very wobbly and most likely hand painted. Who would do such a thing? Traffic clearly wasn’t a problem up here, there wasn’t even another car in sight and Dick wasn’t blocking up the road, which was wide enough for two cars to pass easily in both directions.

‘Well unfortunately my car broke down, so it will have to stay there until I can get someone to have a look at it.’

The man sucked air through his teeth and shook his head. ‘Igor won’t like that. It’s likely the car will be towed.’

Igor? Wasn’t that the name of Dracula’s assistant?

‘Sorry, what did you say your name was?’ Milly asked, deliberately.


‘Danny, I’m sure Igor will understand that a broken down car is not my fault. I’m a guest of Lord Heartstone, so if there’s any problem Igor can come and see me at the castle.’

Milly hoped that using Cameron’s name and title would be enough to get Danny to leave her and Dick alone, but that wasn’t the case. Danny’s face suddenly filled with disdain.

‘He isn’t exactly Mr Popular round here at the moment. He’s only been back here a few months and he’s sacked all the staff already. Grumpy sod, too, keeps himself to himself.’

‘Well it’s a big responsibility to suddenly inherit a castle, I’m sure it will take a period of adjustment. I’m here to see if I can help him.’

She spotted a flag flying above the trees and grabbed her suitcase and started walking towards it, hoping that Danny wouldn’t follow her, but he did.

‘It’s the Summer Solstice this weekend, we always have a big celebration and he won’t even be a part of it.’

‘Well maybe I can talk to him.’

She squinted at the flag, it wasn’t like any she had ever seen before. It was hard to see from this distance what was on it, but it looked like a dragon eating a heart.

‘Are you staying up there?’ Danny yelled after her, finally giving up following her.

‘Yes, for a week.’

‘You’ll never leave. Those that stay there never leave.’

She stared at him. These sinister words sent shivers down her spine.

‘And whatever you do, don’t go out after midnight. The Oogie will get you.’

‘The Oogie?’

‘A sea monster who eats unwanted visitors.’

‘That’s a local myth, surely.’

Danny shook his head. ‘The village has lost lots of victims to the Oogie. Just don’t go out after midnight and make sure you keep all the doors and windows locked at night.’

He was clearly joking or just insane. Danny wandered off and she stared after him, realising he was only wearing one shoe. Definitely insane. She looked around at this calm, tranquil little village. With the bright sunshine beating down on the little houses, the scent of the roses that twisted round all the doors, she wasn’t going to let some crazy nonsense about a sea monster bring her down.

She had a castle to look at and she couldn’t wait to see it.

Milly walked round the corner into the trees. Up ahead she could see some large, highly decorative wrought iron gates, with swirls and flowers. The gate was probably Victorian or Edwardian. It was very pretty but her heart sank a little bit. It didn’t necessarily mean that the castle was from that era, but she hoped it wasn’t. Castle Heritage, who she worked for, would have nothing to do with the castle if it was from the Edwardian era. They were only interested in ancient relics, particularly those from the medieval period.

She wanted to help Cameron, she really did. She had spoken to him a few times on the phone and he’d sounded desperate. He had this deep, rich, voice that sounded velvety and she guessed he was about fifty years old. She had a way of accurately estimating people’s ages too, not just the age of houses.

It was the stuff of dreams to wake up one morning and find that not only were you a Lord but one that owned a castle too, yet from speaking to Cameron it seemed it was more like a nightmare than a dream.

He’d spoken to her about burst pipes, broken windows, rotting walls, crumbling masonry and a severe damp problem. It wasn’t the inheritance that he had hoped it would be.

If the castle was old enough, Castle Heritage would probably buy it off him or, at the very least, pay to have these things repaired and maintain the upkeep of the place. They might even make it into a tourist attraction if they thought it was a viable option. If she thought it was a viable option. That’s what she was here to assess. The steep incline of the hill was definitely a negative point. Thousands of people every year visited the big castles in the UK. The road she and Dick had driven up earlier couldn’t sustain that many visitors, nor could the tiny village. But if the property was worth it, her company would pay to improve the road too.

She ran her fingers over her multi-coloured star bracelet, as she always did when she wanted something really badly. Most of the time the bracelet let her down but occasionally her wishes came true. Singing the first few lines of the song ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ in her head, she closed her eyes and made a wish. ‘Let the castle be something truly spectacular,’ she whispered.

She opened the gate and it creaked in protest. Clouds skittered across the sun, casting long shadows across the curved drive. As she stepped through the entrance, a cool wind whipped around her, dragging her blonde hair into her face. The wispy summer dress she was wearing hardly seemed appropriate all of a sudden, she should at least have worn a jacket or a cardigan. English weather was always so unpredictable.

She shivered and walked round the corner, pushing the hair out of her eyes so she could get her first glimpse of Clover Castle. And suddenly there it was.

Her heart soared. For someone who had grown up obsessed with all things Disney, and still loved Disney now, years after it was socially acceptable for her to do so, seeing what was quite obviously a real life Cinderella’s castle in front of her was something out of her wildest dreams. Turrets jutted out from all parts of the castle, some protruding out of other turrets. There were four towers, all topped with conical blue spires. From her position at the foot of the drive, she could see twenty-three blue spires, some of which topped the turrets, some that were simply large conical topped pinnacles that didn’t seem to have any purpose other than for decoration. Each spire had a long, gold flagpole on the top with a scarlet banner, apart from the large flag in the middle that had that weird dragon design. She stared at the flag for a moment, although very different in its design, the theme of the dragon wrapped protectively around the heart was eerily similar to the tattoo she had on her right side.

The castle was beautiful but her heart had already plummeted into her shoes. This couldn’t be any more than a hundred years old. It looked Bavarian in its design and was built purely for enjoyment and certainly not to protect.

There was a splendid drawbridge in the middle of the front castle wall but as she walked up the drive she could see there was no moat for the drawbridge to go over.

It seemed as though, at some point over the last hundred years, someone had decided to build a castle, looked at what features other castles had and decided to have one of everything – whether it was needed or not. Or in the case of the spires, twenty-three of them.

Standing on the hilltop with the sea framed dramatically behind it, the castle was an incredible sight. It was magical and arrogant and wonderful all at the same time and … Castle Heritage wouldn’t come anywhere near it.

She might as well turn round and head home now. Her birthday was later this week, and she didn’t really want to be working on her birthday. If she left now she might even be able to start her holiday a few days early. But she had promised Cameron she would stay for a week to do all the tests and surveys. He had already paid Castle Heritage quite a significant sum for her time and services and although she could refund the money there must be something she could do to help him. At the very least she could stay for a couple of days in order to get a feel for the place.

She couldn’t feel too disappointed at her wasted trip, the place was spectacular and she got to sleep here, hopefully in a room fit for a princess in one of the tallest towers.

As she stared up in wonder at this thing of beauty, she heard two deep barks. She turned in time to see a heap of black, shaggy fur before she was knocked to the ground.

‘Gregory, NO!’ a deep voice yelled out.

But Gregory, if that was indeed the beast’s name, was not to be dissuaded. Standing over her, Gregory started bathing her face in pungent wet licks, his coarse tongue tickling her face and making her giggle.

Suddenly the dog was snatched from over her and she was yanked to her feet. She slammed into a hard wall of muscle and looked up into a pair of eyes that were so dark they were almost black. Dark, curly hair topped his head, but she was too close to see any other features. He smelt amazing though, all woody and earthy and wonderful.

‘Oh God, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise I pulled you so hard.’ He took a step back and Milly stared up at him, aware that her throat was completely dry. This guy was frigging hot. Dark stubble lined his jaw bone. He was huge too, muscles screaming from every single part of him. He was wearing a suit that was very tight around his broad, muscular shoulders. She felt very under-dressed all of a sudden in her beach dress and sparkly pink Converse trainers.

‘Oh God, your dress, I’m so sorry.’ He stepped forward and brushed her breasts, trying to wipe off the two muddy paw prints that had been imprinted onto the material. His face immediately turned pale as he realised what he had done. He leapt back, looking horrified. ‘I’m so sorry. I … God, I’m so sorry.’

Milly couldn’t help but take pity on him.

‘It’s not the usual greeting I get, normally a handshake would suffice.’

He stared at her for a moment, then laughed, a deep, booming laugh. He offered out his large bear paw of a hand, and she shook it. ‘I’m Cameron Heartstone.’

This gorgeous man was Cameron Heartstone? She had expected someone so much older, probably smoking a pipe and wearing tartan slippers.

‘Milly Rose. We spoke on the phone. It’s good to finally meet you.’

‘Yes of course, come in.’ He bent down to pick up her discarded suitcase. ‘Gregory, Sit! Stay!’ He commanded the black, hairy beast by his side. Gregory was so big Milly thought she might be able to ride him. His eyes were lost under a mass of fur, his pink tongue lolling out the side of his face. He gave a wag of his tail before running off and disappearing round the side of the castle. Clearly very obedient. Cameron sighed and ushered her through a small side door, with his hand in the small of her back. ‘He’s not my dog, he sort of came with the castle. The first day I arrived he turned up and hasn’t left since. He doesn’t belong to anyone in the village, so I guess I’m stuck with him.’

He was clearly nervous, though she wasn’t sure why. He pulled at his collar, obviously not comfortable wearing a shirt and tie. Had he dressed up for her?

She stepped through into a warm kitchen, with a large wooden table standing in the middle and wooden benches either side. The walls were painted a cosy terracotta. Delicious, tangy smells reached her and her stomach gurgled appreciatively. An Aga stood at one end of the room and something was bubbling away in a huge pot on top.

‘I’ll make us some lunch. Will your boss be joining us soon?’

‘My boss? I don’t really have one. Well, the board of directors at Castle Heritage are sort of my bosses, but I mainly work for myself.’

Her heart sank a bit. He had been expecting someone older, too.

‘Oh, well, the science people, the historians, the ones who will do all the tests?’

‘That would be me.’

He stared at her, disappointment registering on his face. He looked her up and down disdainfully. ‘They’ve sent me a child, is this someone’s idea of a joke? Your idea of history is probably what happened in EastEnders last week.’

Milly felt her mouth fall open. She was used to getting some prejudice when she turned up at these historic places. With her long blonde hair, large blue eyes and Mary Poppins style rosy cheeks, no one thought she was capable of having any knowledge of history at all. She knew she didn’t help these first impressions by having pink tipped hair and sparkly clothes and shoes, but generally the comments she got were little jokes. That remark about her historical knowledge hurt. And she had never been called a child before. This man couldn’t be any more than five years older than she was, although, being so short, she knew she looked a lot younger than her actual age.

She drew herself up to her full height, which did nothing to diminish the height difference between them.

‘I am not a child. I’m twenty-eight years old. You judgemental ass. You see the blonde hair and the pretty dress and automatically assume that I’m some kind of bimbo. I have a Doctorate in Archaeology and Historic Architecture. I have a Master of Science degree in Heritage Conservation and a Bachelor of Science degree in Medieval History. I have extensive experience in dendrochronological and geophysical surveying and my PhD studies required detailed research into archaeological remains, excavation and historic building construction. I guarantee I know more about this castle than you could possibly ever know but if that isn’t good enough for you, I will quite happily leave right now and take every chance of you ever working with Castle Heritage with me.’

She stormed to the door but he beat her to it, slamming it closed before she’d only opened it an inch.

‘You can’t leave.’

‘Just watch me.’ She tugged at the door but he leaned against it, so it didn’t budge. She tried again.

‘I’m sorry.’

She stopped tugging, but didn’t let go of the handle.

‘I really am.’

She looked up at him and his eyes were honest and concerned.

‘I’ve hurt you and it really wasn’t my intention to do that. It’s been a really bad couple of weeks, well, a bad couple of months if I’m honest. Since my dad died and I inherited this place, it’s been one problem after another. He was in so much debt and that debt doesn’t appear to have died with him. There is no money in this estate, none at all, and he was still paying all the staff here right up till he died but I can’t see how or where the money came from. I’ve had to let them all go, which means everyone in the village hates me and I’ve been going through all his paperwork and keep uncovering more and more problems. Without the staff the place will fall into ruin. I have no money for any of the repairs or to pay any of his debts and quite frankly the idea of selling the place to Palace Hotels and making it into a five star resort is looking very appealing right now. You are my last hope. I looked at you and thought …’

‘You thought wrong.’

‘I know, I’m sorry, I had no right to judge you by your appearance. I’m a terrible judge of character, I really am. I should have learned my lesson by now, not to judge a book by its cover. The people I’ve trusted have sold me out and betrayed me. I’ve had my share of model girlfriends, the types that look good on your arm but with not a lot else going for them and … I … Well, I’m really sorry. Please stay, at least have some lunch whilst I beg your forgiveness some more.’

Milly felt all the fight go out of her. She couldn’t hold a grudge for long. Besides, she was starving and the soup that was bubbling on top of the stove smelt amazing.

‘Ok. I’ll stay for lunch, but it depends how good the soup is whether I stay longer.’

His mouth lifted up into small, cautious smile and he gestured for her to sit down.

‘There’s a hell of a lot riding on this soup then. If I’d known that perhaps I would have thought about the recipe a little more carefully instead of just throwing everything into the pot with a bit of seasoning.’

She sat down on the bench and watched him fill two big bowls. There was nothing graceful about him. The soup splatted into the bowl and over the sides and he didn’t seem to care. There were big chunks of meat, large slices of potato, whole florets of cauliflower, all of which should have been blended or at least chopped smaller. He grabbed a large round loaf and tore it into chunks. He plonked the bowl down in front of her and left her half of the loaf on the table next to her bowl, not even on a plate. The man really had no finesse. He sat down opposite her and took a big bite of the bread. He was like a caveman and strangely she found his raw masculinity a bit of a turn on.

‘Do you normally have such gay abandon with your food?’

He paused with the spoon halfway to his mouth. ‘It seems to work.’

He gestured for her to try it and she took a small sip from her spoon. It was incredible, so thick and full of flavour. ‘It’s really good. Did you make the bread too?’

He nodded, before biting off another huge chunk from his loaf. ‘It’s potato bread.’

She took a small piece and bit into it. It tasted delicious. ‘You’re actually really good at this “throw it all into the pot and see if it works” method.’

He shrugged shyly. ‘It’s kind of how I write my books, too.’

‘What kind of books do you write?’

‘Children’s books, with magical forests and super powers and fantasy adventures. But I never plan anything or follow any set rules. A lot of my author friends will have post it notes and charts and character interviews or CVs but I never do any of that, I just sit down and write. People seem to like it. I mean, I have enough to live off and pay the bills but I’m not going to be buying an island in the Caribbean any time soon.’

‘Well if you have enough money to write full time, you must be doing something right.’

He shrugged again, obviously not keen to admit that he was any good.

‘I’d like to read them.’

He shook his head. ‘They’re just kids’ stuff, not your thing at all, I’m sure.’

‘As we’ve already established, my thing is very different to what you think my thing is.’

‘Right, of course.’ He swallowed a big lump of bread and didn’t look up at all after that.

She sighed. She didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable around her. She already regretted her little outburst earlier, she was normally much more professional than that.

‘Thank you for letting me stay, there was nowhere else anywhere near here apart from the tiny B&B I booked and when their pipes burst and flooded the house, I was at a bit of a loss for what to do.’

‘It’s fine,’ Cameron said, in a way that said it really wasn’t fine.

‘Don’t feel that you have to cook for me or anything. This is lovely,’ she gestured to the soup. ‘But I can look after myself. I presume the village has a shop. I can buy some food and make my own meals. You don’t have to worry about that.’

‘I have food here, it’s silly for both of us to be cooking separate meals, unless you’re on some weird diet,’ he glanced briefly at her slender frame. People always assumed she ate really healthily when the truth was miles apart.

‘I eat anything.’

‘Then we might as well eat together.’

‘I don’t want to be in your way.’

‘You won’t. I have work to do and you’ll have tests and measurements to do so I hope … I mean I guess we won’t be getting in each other’s hair too much.’

He didn’t want her there and her heart sank even more at this. Well, if he didn’t want her to stay and she probably couldn’t help him anyway, maybe she would only stay one night after all.

‘Tell me about the castle.’

He looked across the table at her. ‘I don’t know a lot. I used to live here when I was very young, but my mum took me away when I was about six. I never saw my dad after that and I never came back here either. They were always arguing, mainly about the lack of money, even back then. Mum wanted to sell the place and move, my dad refused, so she left. I know it’s been in the family for hundreds of years, hence the rather obnoxious title of Lord that I’ve been bequeathed.’

Milly sat up straighter. The castle she had seen from the outside was not hundreds of years old, but that didn’t mean there hadn’t been some recent modifications to the original structure. Perhaps the Cinderella façade was hiding something far more exciting and mysterious.

If you enjoyed the first chapter of Fairytale Beginnings, you can download the whole book here. Its only 99p for the next few days.