Wednesday, 29 March 2017

BLOG TOUR - Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings - REVIEW

Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings is the new novel from Wendy Holden. I have to admit, I wanted to read this the very moment I saw the title, and it made my day when this lovely novel came through the mail. I've read some of Wendy's previous books and enjoyed them, but Laura's adventures had me even more hooked.

Laura Lake has always wanted to be a reporter, following in the footsteps of her father. However, life hasn't gone as planned. Instead, Laura's living in Paris, taking care of her grandmother, blogging about holiday rentals and assisting barmy artists.

But when a chance encounter with magazine editor Carinthia lands her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work at a London glossy, Laura can hardly decline. After all, a job at one of the biggest magazines in the city can only lead to career greatness...right?

Sadly, things don't seem to go too well for Laura Lake; her London living plans fall through, her bag, phone and passport are stolen, and her internship is unpaid. But despite being broke, homeless and without even a phone, Laura is determined to make it work, sleeping in the fashion cupboard and earning favours from crazy yet kind-hearted celebrity Lulu, who she's sent to interview. The more she proves herself, the more chance she has of gaining that promised staff job...that is, until Laura's boarding-school nemesis turns up.

And just happens to be her boss.

Just as it seems her situation can't get any worse, Laura finds herself volunteering to get an insider scoop on some of the country's upcoming celebrity weddings. Exclusive, lavish and tremendously strange, these weddings would make the perfect exposé guaranteed to land Laura in Carinthia's good books. But getting them is a whole different matter. One with some downright hilarious results.

Soon Laura finds herself not only dealing with strange demands, Lulu and her female butler, her gran and her eccentric friends and of course, the matter of sneaking into exclusive star-studded events, but she also has to put up with a potential diamond thief, possible romance and a bullying boss who wants her fired. Oh, and some wildly hilarious shenanigans!

Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings is a slightly outrageous, wonderfully funny take on the world of glossy magazines. Wendy Holden was once a journalist on Tatler, and I like to think she might have had gathered some inspiration from her job!

Laura Lake is a wonderful character - determined, charismatic, still focused on her goal even when life doesn't seem to be doing her any favours. I absolutely adored her, and already can't wait for the next instalment (yes, this is the beginning of a series!). If you're a fan of The Devil Wears Prada then this book is very likely to appeal to you, however Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings is, in my opinion, ten times funnier, with a cast of fantastic, eccentric characters that help make the book so addictive.

Laura Lake and the Celebrity Meltdown will be out in Spring 2018.

Rating: 5/5


BLOG TOUR: Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings by Wendy Holden

Fans of Wendy Holden - author of many novels including Bad Heir Day, Honeymoon Suite and Gifted & Talented - will no doubt be delighted at the release of her new novel, Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings. In the book, which is the first of a series, wannabe journalist Laura is on an assignment for a glossy magazine, to go undercover at some of society's most elaborate weddings. It's an absolutely wonderful, hilarious read, and I can't recommend it enough! As part of her blog tour, we've got an excerpt from the novel as well as a review!

Read on for a chapter of Laura's adventures, and also for a chance to win a signed copy of Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings.

CHAPTER SIX

Laura walked through passport control with a spring in her step, swinging Mimi’s leather bag in excitement. She loved everything, instantly. The St Pancras station shopping hall heaving with people. The great soaring Victorian roof.

She pulled out her phone and called Caspar, smiling as she dialled. He was going to love the story about Harry Scott. But again there was no answer, which was unexpected. Laura checked the number, frowning. No, she had the right one. Where was he?

She took a deep breath. There was nothing to worry about. He might be at an audition or something; he needed the work. He would be in later. He knew she was coming.

But it was strange, even so. Might it be possible...? But no. Caspar was not a jewel thief on the run. It was out of the question that he had anything to do with the missing Bender bling. He would be at an audition, that was all. And later on he’d give her a wry account of it, and she would tell him off for not answering when she called. And then they would make up, which would be a lot of fun. She felt a frisson of lust. A lot of fun.

But that was all later. For now she would go to Society and check in with the HR department. She had investigated the location; the Tubes were either Oxford Circus or Bond Street. But it was only early afternoon and she had two hours before her appointment. Should she walk? Or take the bus? Yes – the famous, iconic, red London bus?

Outside, on the Euston Road, a stream of double-deckers was passing. Laura studied the timetable and caught the 73. She clambered upstairs; the seats at the front were empty. Perfect.

Off the bus chugged. Laura stared out at thronged pavements and choked crossings. It all seemed much busier than Paris. When, eventually, the bus reached Bond Street, she got out and walked down, examining the tableaux in the smart shop windows.

Mannequins in Bond Street were living the dream. In one display, top-hatted male and fascinatored female dummies were enjoying a champagne party. They stood about convivially on green fake grass studded with bright fake flowers. In the windows of an expensive lingerie store a group of mannequins in underwear were getting ready for a night out. One sat on the loo applying lipstick while another stood before the mirror. The third lay in the bath, one high-heeled mule swinging from the end of her foot.

It made Laura suddenly long for the banter and freedom of living in a flat full of girls. She had never shared a place with anyone but Mimi, and whenever she had made female friends at school, they had always been scared away by Clemency Makepeace. In the end she had given up trying. But hopefully London would bring opportunities to form new bonds. It might have to. She had just checked her mobile again and there was still nothing from Caspar.

Had he really robbed Mrs Bender? Was that why he’d gone AWOL? The jewellers’ shops had now begun: Cartier upon Bulgari upon Harry Winston upon Boucheron upon Van Cleef & Arpels. Pausing to look at pear-shaped emeralds, sapphires the size of Scrabble letters and diamonds strobing like disco lights, Laura could see how a penniless actor might be tempted. They were hypnotically beautiful, as well as worth a fortune.

Did Caspar have the ruthlessness that one associated with jewel thieves? Laura was beginning to wonder. She may have spent hours on end sitting just inches away from him and, yes, she had slept with him. But she didn’t really know him. She knew the funny, seductive, outrageous exterior, but had she ever glimpsed the inner man? How Caspar really felt about anything? Only when he’d been complaining about Orlando Chease. And he’d sounded pretty ruthless then. Positively murderous.

Passing Tiffany’s, she remembered her grandmother’s advice on acquiring a radiant complexion. ‘A stroll with the right man round Tiffany’s! The air there is excellent – very good for the skin.’

Laura smiled and felt better. She must focus on the fact that her professional future was as bright and brilliant as a jeweller’s window. Soon she was cheerfully entering an imposing garden square. Rising before her was a building of pale stone with letters cut above the entrance. ‘SOCIETY HOUSE’.

It was all she could do not to run towards the revolving silver door set in the large glass frontage. Beside it, mounted on the cream stone wall, was a highly polished brass plaque on which was engraved ‘The British Magazine Company’.

A pair of thin young blondes passed her as she entered. One wore a clear plastic cloak over a green neon tutu, the other a tweed boilersuit and pink jelly shoes. ‘Body chains with prehistoric teeth,’ she was saying. 

‘Vengeful ballet pumps with punky buckles,’ replied the other. 

Laura grinned. How wonderfully glossy! 

A woman with red glasses carrying an open MacBook swept past. She was barking into a phone. ‘The new interiors colours are Penis, Pigeon and Pout.’

Laura was delighted. She was going to absolutely love working here!

*

On the door was a sign reading ‘Suzanne Silver, Director of Human Resources’.

‘Laura Lake for you, Miss Silver,’ said the girl who had met Laura at the lift.

‘Thank you, Antigone...’

A plump, groomed blonde in a black dress looked up, unsmilingly, from a desk. On the desk were some enormously thick books, Who’s Who and Debrett’s among them, as well as a framed page from a newspaper, ‘London’s Most Powerful’, as well as a big red number 5 beside a photograph of Suzanne.

Laura realised she was in the presence of a media potentate.

‘I’ve got lots of features ideas,’ she began, reaching for her bag with her notebook in it.

‘Ideas?’ Suzanne looked startled.

‘For the magazine.’

Suzanne gave a dismissive chuckle. ‘I don’t need to know about that sort of thing. I do the background checks.’ Laura had previously filled in a form online, but that was incomplete anyway; her London address was yet to be added. Perhaps that was what Suzanne meant. But she had her passport, which she now put on the table.

Suzanne did not pick it up, however. She was consulting a huge red book with ‘Burke’s Peerage’ in gold on the spine. ‘Lake,’ she was murmuring to herself, flipping through the pages. ‘Hinton St Magna?’

‘Sorry?’

Suzanne looked up irritably. She had very hard blue eyes, Laura noticed. ‘Are you one of the Lakes of Hinton St Magna? A cadet branch of the Codde-Chitterling family?’

Laura sensed that Suzanne would quite like her to be. Ambition urged her to say yes. ‘I’m not sure,’ she hedged.

The personnel director had now turned to consult an enormous poster on the wall which was covered in coats of arms. ‘Mole rampant on a background of azure with gules and half suzerain. Motto: “I toil in the dark”?’

‘What?’

The hard blue eyes had swung back and were boring into Laura. ‘Isn’t that your heraldic achievement?’

Laura decided to err on the side of caution, as well as truth. She took a deep breath. ‘I’m sorry, but I’ve got absolutely no idea.’

The irritation went from Suzanne’s face, and she smiled.

‘Congratulations, you’ve passed the first test. ‘I always invite people to claim they’re related to bogus families. Just to see whether they’re truthful or not.’

Laura felt light-headed with relief at not having succumbed to temptation. ‘The last girl I had in here said she was one of the Prawn-Sandwiches.’ Suzanne was shaking her head and beaming fondly. ‘And I’ve had plenty of fun with Lew-Rolles and Jolly-Silleys in the past.’

Laura chuckled obediently.

Suzanne gave a happy sigh, then looked hard at Laura again. ‘So who are you related to, then?’

‘Er...’

The blue eyes froze. ‘We only want well-connected girls here.’

‘My father died when I was little. I’ve been living with my grandmother in Paris.’

‘Can you name some of your friends?’

Laura’s mind was blank. Thanks largely to Clemency Makepeace, she didn’t have many friends, as such. Apart from Ernest and Ginette. But a transvestite prostitute and an elderly bar owner were not what was being asked for here.

She sat silently, heart sinking, before the chill azure stare. Would her lack of grand contacts cost her the job?

It seemed not. Suzanne now leant forward with a conspiratorial smile. ‘Absolutely,’ she whispered. ‘The truly well connected never talk about the people they know. Quite right. Not at all the done thing. Just as long as you open your address book when Carinthia needs it, eh?’

Realising that, most unexpectedly, she seemed to have passed another of Suzanne’s tests, Laura nodded fervently. And she meant it. The minute Carinthia wanted to do a feature on Ernest, Laura would lay all his contact details at her feet.

‘Well, that’s it,’ Suzanne said brightly. ‘You can start tomorrow. Antigone will have an ID card ready, and your exes. £20 a week to cover travel. We don’t pay interns, as I expect Carinthia explained.’

Laura didn’t think Carinthia had, but decided it didn’t matter. It couldn’t matter. She would manage, and she had a roof over her head with Caspar. The main thing was, she was in!

Too excited to wait for the lift, she ran down the back stairs and almost danced across the lobby. The revolving door whizzed in her wake.

Outside, the sun beat down happily on the well-swept pavement. Laura felt for her mobile and called Caspar again. She was desperate to share her good news, as well as check in about the flat. But his end remained unanswered. Again, no answerphone clicked in.

Her joy faded. Worry clawed at her, as well as annoyance. This really was ridiculous. She was now definitely beginning to think he was a jewel thief on the run. Or had he simply forgotten all about her, gone off with the blonde from the train? She’d almost prefer him to be a jewel thief.

Well, she had to be practical. Wherever he was, whatever was going on, it left her homeless. She must find a hotel if she was not to sleep on the streets. She had enough in her account for a few days if necessary. Caspar was bound to have emerged by then.

And when he did, she would tell him what she thought of him.

The Euston Road seemed her best bet. It had three mainline stations on it; there would be cheap chain hotels offering a decent level of cleanliness and comfort. She set off towards the Tube.

It was horribly crowded; this was rush hour. At Euston she lost her way among the escalators and tunnels but eventually made it to the train station concourse. This too was heaving with people, shoving in the opposite direction and dragging after them suitcases whose wheels bashed her ankles and feet. Laura skipped out of their way as best she could. London was a battleground!

Spotting the logo of a bargain hotel chain, she hurried gratefully towards it. Saved!

In the purple, deskless foyer, a lank-haired woman in a trouser suit and corporate neckscarf stood behind a touch-screen console. A badge on her lapel read, ‘Kayleigh, Guest Welcome Operative’. She tapped the greasy screen. Yes, there was a room, and within Laura’s budget. ‘If you could just hand over your card,’ said Kayleigh in a nasal drone.

Laura reached for the purse in her bag. Strangely, the bag was not in her hand. She realised that she couldn’t remember the last time it had been. She glanced at the floor; had it fallen? It was not anywhere on the grey and purple carpet.

Panic closed in, but she forced herself to think rationally. Remember. Had she left it on the Tube? No, she’d had it at the exit, she had shoved her ticket in the zip front. She had had it on the concourse at Euston; she had put it down to put her coat back on. Was it then that someone had snatched it?

The hideous possibility clanged through her just as the nasal drone cut in. ‘Your card?’

Laura stared at Kayleigh. ‘My bag... I... someone’s taken it.’ Her mind reeled. Not only had her purse gone, her phone had too. She couldn’t even call Caspar now. His number was in its memory.

‘Someone’s taken your bag?’ The Visitor Welcome Operative sounded sceptical. She had clearly heard all this before.

Laura fought not to lose control. She spoke slowly, clearly.

‘Yes, it’s gone. And so I don’t have a card.’ God, and her passport had been in there as well. Her passport!

‘Can’t give you a room if you can’t pay for it.’

‘Yes, I see that, but it’s not my fault. Someone’s taken my bag.’

Kayleigh was tapping impassively into her console. ‘Reported it to the police, haveya?’

‘Well... no.’

‘Better do that then.’

Laura stumbled away. She was penniless, passportless and roofless, with the strange London night coming on. How on earth had this happened? Not long ago, she had felt on the edge of something big. But it was an abyss. A huge black nothing.

Oh God. What now?

Win free signed copies of Laura Lake And The Hipster Weddings by sharing your own hilarious wedding stories with me! I can't wait to read them! They might even inspire another novel! Please go to https://goo.gl/forms/xYaoaGCgxPpNR23g1  Thank you.  Love Wendy xx

Thursday, 23 March 2017

BLOG TOUR: Shipyard Girls at War by Nancy Revell

Following her novel The Shipyard Girls, Nancy Revell is back with the next installment in the saga about Polly, Dorothy, Hannah and the other young women working in a shipyard during World War Two. Nancy has stopped by as part of her blog tour for The Shipyard Girls at War, and has shared with us the bios of the main characters. Read on to find out more (and about two newly-introduced characters!)

Shipyard Girls at War by Nancy is published by Arrow, and out now.

MEET THE SHIPYARD GIRLS…

The Shipyard Girls – Polly, Rosie, Gloria, Dorothy, Hannah and Martha – start off as strangers, but end up forging an unbreakable bond of friendship in the most difficult times. 

The Shipyard Girls saga series is set in World War Two when many of the shipyard workers in Sunderland, County Durham have gone off to fight for King and country, and it has fallen to the womenfolk to step into the men's steel cap boots and get to work building ships.

Each of the women in the novel has their own story, their own reasons for choosing to work in the yards on the River Wear. They are all different and they all have their own personal struggles. As they learn to weld, their friendship grows, and we learn more about their lives, their loves - and their secrets.


POLLY is driven by her need to follow in the footsteps of her family’s shipbuilding heritage and to be a part of the war effort. Not long after she starts as a trainee welder, she falls for dock diver, Tommy Watts. She lives in the town’s east end with her widowed mother, Agnes, and her sister-in-law, Bel.

ROSIE is the welding instructor who leads a double life. By day she works in the shipyards, and by night she sells her body in an upmarket 'bordello' called Lily’s. Her parents died in a car accident when she was younger and since then, she has been desperately trying to earn enough money to keep her little sister, Charlotte, at an all-girl’s boarding school in Harrogate – and, moreover, out of the notoriously harsh and abusive children's home.

GLORIA is the mother hen of the squad. She signs up to escape her brutal husband, Vinnie, but finds she cannot run from her problems. Her two sons are in the Royal Navy and she lives in one of the newly-built council houses on the town’s Ford estate. Gloria purports to be working at the shipyards for purely financial reasons, but really it is to escape her cold and abusive marriage. Gloria enjoys her work at the yard and her verbal sparring with the group’s youngest welder, Dorothy, but she is troubled when she meets her old flame, yard manager Jack Crawford. There are obviously still feelings there. Will their love be resurrected? And will Gloria be able to break free from Vinnie?

DOROTHY lives for today and is the 'entertainer' of the group who loves nothing more than being the centre of attention and having fun. She left her job as a sales assistant in the town’s main department store to become a welder as she is obsessed with one of the riveters, Eddie. Dorothy gets her man but she has to learn the hard way that he is a no good womaniser. There is more to Dorothy than meets the eye, though, and it becomes apparent that underneath her ditzy, shiny exterior hides a more thoughtful and astute young woman.

HANNAH is the group’s ‘little bird’. She is just 19 and one of only a hundred or so Jewish immigrants living in the town. Her parents sent her to live with her Aunty Rina just before Hitler invaded Prague. She is small and fragile and struggles with the physical labour of welding. She comes from a well-educated Czech family, and like all the girls she too has her own reasons for working in the yard.

MARTHA is the squad’s gentle giant. To start with she rarely speaks, but gradually she starts to come out of her shell. She develops a fierce loyalty for the women who have accepted her for the person she is.

TOMMY is a deep-sea diver and has been brought up by his granddad, Arthur. The only love in his life has been the deep waters of the River Wear and the North Sea - until he meets Polly and falls hopelessly in love with her. But he is torn. He is desperate to go to war and use his skill to combat the Italian ‘frogmen’ who are putting limpet mines on Allied ships. He knows their love will be forever tainted by regret if he does not leave the shipyards for the war raging in the Atlantic Ocean.

JACK is married to Miriam Havelock, the daughter of one of the town’s richest families. She tricked him into marrying her twenty years previously when he was in love with Gloria. They have a daughter Helen. When Jack sees Gloria working in the yard it has far-reaching consequences.

LILY is the madam and owner of Lily’s bordello. She is a colourful character, with a heaving bosom and bird’s nest of orange hair. She loves all things French and tries to speak the language, but her cockney roots always prevail. Despite her eccentricities she is a successful business woman. She has a soft spot for her ‘favourite girl’ Rosie and worries when her Uncle Raymond turns up at the bordello. George is Lily’s friend/companion who is a decorated First World War veteran and spends most of his time at Lily’s.

HELEN is a raven-haired beauty - and knows it. Her father is Jack Crawford, the yard manager, and her mother is Miriam, who is from one of the town’s richest families. Helen works in the shipyard offices and uses her starlet-like looks to her full advantage. Most of her life she has succeeded in getting just what she wants. Now she wants dock diver Tommy, but realises he is falling for the new girl in the yard. She is a jealous and manipulative character, who will do anything to stop Polly from being with Tommy.

BEL is Polly’s sister-in-law and best friend. She is married to Teddy Elliot and lives with Agnes and Polly. She works as a bus conductress and has a two-year-old daughter called Lucille. When she was a child she was taken in by Agnes due to her own mother’s drinking and neglect. Bel is an entertainer and loves nothing more than regaling her adopted family with tales and gossip. All she has ever wanted in life is to have a close-knit family.

AGNES is Polly's mum who has turned her home into a day nursery to help look after a small army of local children whose mums have had to go out to work. Her twin sons, Teddy and Joe, are Desert Rats fighting in North Africa. She was vehemently against Polly’s decision to work in the yards, as it is a dangerous place to work as well as a target for Hitler’s bombs. Agnes is a widow (her husband Harry never came back from the First World War). She is a strong maternal character, who has had to bring up her three children single-handedly in one of the poorest areas of the town.

ARTHUR is Tommy’s grandfather, who used to also work as a dock diver when he was younger. Arthur brought up Tommy after his mother, (Arthur’s daughter), committed suicide when Tommy’s father was killed during the First World War. Arthur’s wife, Flo, died when Tommy was just a nipper. Arthur and Tommy live together in the Diver’s House on the south dock.

In ‘Shipyard Girls at War’ two new characters are introduced: Pearl – Bel’s no-good mother, who turns up on the door step out of the blue. And Joe, Polly’s brother, who has been medically discharged after being blasted with shrapnel while fighting out in North Africa.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Finding Secrets by Lauren Westwood

One of this month's most intriguing reads is Finding Secrets, the new novel by Lauren Westwood (author of Finding Home).

When Alex Hart left university, she didn't think she'd see herself as the manager of an Elizabethan country manor. Getting the job at Mallow Court wasn't part of the medieval history graduate's plan, but things worked out just nicely. Maybe too nicely - Alex has spent so much time in the grounds of the house, hosting weddings and giving tours that she's seemingly forgotten to have fun.

When a mysterious, attractive stranger turns up at Mallow Court, Alex is suddenly swept up by feelings and the realisation that maybe she's missing something in her life. However, things immediately change when she finds a beautiful and unique silver locket in the old coat belonging to Mrs Fairchild, the owner of Mallow Court.

Before she knows it, Alex finds herself in the middle of in a mystery - one that she has to get to the bottom of. A mystery that involves the London Blitz and the Russian Revolution, and a diary. Can Alex help Mrs Fairchild, and also find her own path to happiness along the way?

I haven't read Finding Home, so this was the first novel by Lauren Westwood I'd picked up. And I was so happy I did. Finding Secrets is the perfect mix of romance and mystery, with an intelligent, compelling heroine that I was rooting for since the beginning. Alex is relatable, smart and fun, and it's hard not to want her to find the answers - and the life - that she's been looking for.

Finding Secrets is a wonderful read with great characters, plenty of intrigue and a generous helping of romance!

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

UNCOVERED PICKS: Five March Releases

As we make our way into March, it's time for a peek at what's new in female fiction. This month sees new novels from Christie Barlow (author of Lizzie's Christmas Escape), Sophie Nicholls (The Dress) and Cathy Kelly (Between Sisters).

Finding Secrets by Lauren Westwood
Alex Hart loves her dream job as manager of Mallow Court, a historic Elizabethan house, even if her friends think she needs to get out more. But a discovery in the pocket of an old coat – a jewelled mechanical locket shaped like a bird – changes everything, and Alex discovers that things are not as they seem.

From an old diary, to a handsome barrister, a mysterious clockmaker, and the darkest hours of the London Blitz, Alex must follow the trail of the jewelled bird to uncover the truth about the things she holds dearest – and someone is determined not to let sleeping dogs lie!

Only by finding the secrets of the past can Alex find the keys to her future – and her heart.

The Difference Between You and Me by Celia Hayes
Trudy Watts has everything she's ever dreamed of: a job that she loves, a successful boyfriend and an ultra-modern apartment in one of the most fashionable parts of London. With a long-awaited promotion due to come her way and her wedding just around the corner, Trudy's life is just perfect...

That is until catastrophe strikes and her life is turned upside down. She's transferred to Turriff, a remote Scottish town to manage a small, struggling bank branch.

Her arrival is traumatic and she wishes she was anywhere but here... Until she sees him – Ethan, the charming pub landlord, who seems to enjoy nothing more than to tease her. And it's right there, in that pub, that her life will suddenly change...

Evie's Year of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow
Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books - after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.

Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother. 

Evie’s search leads her to meet handsome author Noah Jones. Charming and intelligent, Noah seems the perfect catch but what Evie doesn’t realise is that he is hiding something – a key to Evie’s past. 

As Evie gets closer to Noah and discovering her mother, she must take a giant leap of faith. Can she embrace the new and make this her year of taking chances? And if she does, will she get her heart broken? 

Miss Mary's Book of Dreams by Sophie Nicholls
In historic York, Ella seems to have the perfect life. She's a published author, her bookshop is thriving, she's married to the man of her dreams and they've started a family of their own. 

But Ella is struggling. Motherhood isn't quite everything she imagined it to be, and she's worried that there may be cracks in her marriage. 

On the other side of the Atlantic, despite endless blue skies and a stream of eager customers in her vintage dress shop, Ella's mother Fabia finds that life in San Diego is not enough for her. She misses York, and can sense that Ella needs her, so she flies home. 

And this is when they meet Bryony. With a complicated life and secrets of her own, Bryony may have some of the answers they're looking for. 

Can Ella and Fabia help her find her way, whilst also working out how to find their own happily ever after?

Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly
Bess is hoping to show everyone just how happy her recent marriage is, but behind all the party-planning the cracks are beginning to show. Why is joining a family so difficult?

Jojo, Bess's stepdaughter, has a point to make. Bess is not her mother, and she won't replace the one she's been missing every day for the last two years. And will she ever get the chance to become a mum herself?

Cousin Cari is a fierce career-woman who isn't unnerved by anything - apart from facing the man who left her at the alter, and he's on the guestlist. Her job has been a safe place to hide ever since - but is it time to let love into her life again?

Thanks to laughter, tears and one surprise appearance, the Brannigans might just discover the secrets of a happy marriage...but will they find out before it's too late?

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