Friday, May 30, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday! 5.30.14

Feature and Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet new people and gain more followers in the book blogging community. If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers. But you have to know, the point of this hop is to follow other blogs also. I follow you, you follow me. 

The general rules are: 
- Follow the Feature and Follow Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read)
- Follow the Featured Bloggers
- Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts. 
-Grab the button up there and place it in a post. This post is for people to say hi and that they are now following you in your comments. 
-Follow, Follow, Follow as many as you can. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Don't just follow, comment and say hi in the post! Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say 'hi'
-If someone comments and says they are following you, please follow back! 

This weeks question: How important is good writing to you? In an ideal world, a book would be beautifully written AND have great character development, plot, etc. But in the real world, which do you prefer: (1) Great characters and plot with lousy writing or (2) Middling character development and plot but gorgeous writing.

I would have to say that good writing is pretty important to me. If a story is badly written, it takes away from the characters and plot. That being said, just because something is written really well, doesn't mean the story is that great. So I would have to say that I'll take decent writing and a good story over really great writing and a poor or underdeveloped story/characters. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

[Review] Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
Series: Bride Quartet, #2
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publishing Date: Jan. 1, 2009
335 Pages
Format: paperback, borrowed
Buy Links: Amazon |  B&N


As little girls MacKensie, Emma, Laurel, and Parker spent hours acting out their perfect make believe “I do” moments. Years later their fantasies become reality when they start their own wedding planning company to make every woman’s dream day come true. With perfect flowers, delicious desserts, and joyful moments captured on film, Nora Roberts’s Bride Quartet shares each woman’s emotionally magical journey to romance.

In Bed of Roses, florist Emma Grant is finding career success with her friends at Vows wedding planning company, and her love life appears to be thriving. Though men swarm around her, she still hasn’t found Mr. Right. And the last place she’s looking is right under her nose.

But that’s just where Jack Cooke is. He’s so close to the women of Vows that he’s practically family, but the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. When Emma returns his passion—kiss for blistering kiss—they must trust in their history…and in their hearts.

My Review

I read this book in just about a day and loved it! It's the second book in Nora Roberts' series, but I read it last because I could never find it when I needed it. I'm so happy that my friend lent it to me finally!

Emma and Jack are a fun couple. They've known each other for years, have secretly had crushes on each other, but never show their feelings until now. Emma is a true romantic at heart, but knows that if she moves too fast, she'll scare Jack off. But at the same time, she wants to be true to herself and not hide how she feels. Jack on the other hand, is a little afraid of commitment, though he doesn't seem to realize that about himself. Thankfully, their friends are there to support them and help both Emma and Jack figure out their real feelings towards each other.

I think this may be my favorite book of the series, though Laurel and Del's story is right up there as well! I just found Emma and Jack to be so sweet and really fun to read about. If you've read anything by Nora Roberts before, definitely read this as well! And if you haven't, but really enjoy romance stories, pick these up!!

Others in the Series

                                           Review                                Review

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WWW Wednesdays! 5.28.14


WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should be Reading. To participate, simply answer the three following questions:

- What are you currently reading?
- What did you recently finish reading?
- What do you think you'll read next?

Currently Reading

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
Bride Quartet, #2

I just borrowed this book this past weekend from a friend and I'm halfway through! It's so good and I'm glad to finally be reading Emma's story! I've read the other 3 in the series... a little out of order, but thankfully they don't really need to be read in order. 

Just Finished

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger 
See my review here

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
See my review here!

Up Next

Harry Potter by JK Rowling 
I've read the series already, but I'm really in the mood to reread them, so this might be next! 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck 
Or I might possibly read this next. Not too sure yet (: 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

[Review] The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publishing Date: 1951
214 Pages
Format: paperback, purchased


Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins, "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them." His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

My Review

To be honest, I wasn't sure what this book was about when I picked it up. It was in the clearance section of my local used book store, and I've heard of it, so I thought I'd give it a try. Well, I didn't dislike it, but I didn't really like it either. When I first started the book, I was pretty interested in it. But as it went on, I found myself getting bored, and I had trouble finishing the last couple pages. It wasn't a bad book by any means; it just wasn't great. I thought Holden seemed like a pretty typical teenager, not really happy with anything, bored with life, sick of school and friends. There wasn't anything special about him to me.

This is a pretty short review, but I don't have a lot to say. I didn't love it and found myself getting bored with the story.

Tell Me Something Tuesday! 5.27.14

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Heidi @ Rainy Day Ramblings. Each week a new question is presented. Check out Heidi's blog for all the details :)

This week's question: Books to movies... do you prefer to read the book first or see the movie?

I definitely prefer to read the book first and then see the movie. Books are almost always better than the movies (to me, at least), so I like reading it first. Plus movies tend to leave parts out in the book, and I like getting the whole story first. There are so many books-to-movies coming out this year that I really want to see, but I definitely want to read the book first. I find that I'm less disappointed in the movie if I've read the book a bit before seeing it, that way I don't remember every exact detail from the book that was left out of the movie. 

There have been times, though, where I've seen the movie and then read the book. It doesn't happen often but I watched The Hobbit with my fiance, then bought the book and read it (though I had the LOTR books already, still unread). I've also seen Ender's Game but haven't read the book. I picked it up at a garage sale recently for $.50 so I'll read it eventually but now that I know what happens, I'm not in too much of a hurry. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

*Book Blast* Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Shecter

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Curses and Smoke 
by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Arthur A. Levine Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Genre: YA Historical


When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master's injured gladiators. But his warrior's heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

LUCIA is the daughter of Tag's owner, doomed by her father's greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she's been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air...

When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them -- to Lucia's father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?

Buy the Book

About the Author

Vicky Alvear ShecterVicky Alvear Shecter is the author of the young adult novel, CLEOPATRA'S MOON (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra's only daughter. She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta.

Author Links


To win a copy of Curses & Smoke or a $25 Amazon Gift Card please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on May 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on May 28th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday! 5.23.14

Feature and Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet new people and gain more followers in the book blogging community. If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers. But you have to know, the point of this hop is to follow other blogs also. I follow you, you follow me. 

The general rules are: 
- Follow the Feature and Follow Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read)
- Follow the Featured Bloggers
- Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts. 
-Grab the button up there and place it in a post. This post is for people to say hi and that they are now following you in your comments. 
-Follow, Follow, Follow as many as you can. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Don't just follow, comment and say hi in the post! Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say 'hi'
-If someone comments and says they are following you, please follow back! 

This weeks question: Have you ever convinced someone to read a book, a series, or a whole genre? What book(s) and who was it? Did they like it?

I've definitely convinced many people to read certain books. But the person I convince the most would be my mom! I've given her the Divergent and Hunger Game series. I've convinced her to download Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (though I don't think she's read it yet). I also gave her The Night Circus, Heaven is for Real, Room by Emma Donoghue, and so many more...I could go on and on! She definitely likes everything I give her and like me, she's expanded her reading a lot! (:


Thursday, May 22, 2014

[Review] The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publishing Date: Apr. 8, 2014
192 Pages
Format: ARC, ebook


An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world...if she lets go of the one thing she's found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twleve. Except Prenna didn't come from a different country. She came from a different time - a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they're from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she's told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

My Review

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

This was a very unique book. It wasn't really what I was expecting, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The synopsis makes it seem like the romance is a huge factor in the story. But I actually didn't find that to be true. Yes, Ethan and Prenna fall for each other, but I think the story is about so much more than that. They're friends, and when Prenna is confronted about the world she came from, she's told she can trust Ethan. They go on a journey together to find out whether they can change the future and prevent the pandemic from killing so many people.

I read a poll on Goodreads the other day asking what we're most sick of with young adult books. The choices were: insta love, the chosen one, or love triangles. I couldn't decide what I'm most annoyed with at this point.. it's probably a 3-way tie.Which is why I'm happy to say that this novel didn't really have any of those! Yes, Prenna and Ethan fell for each other, but to me, it didn't seem like it was "insta love." They were friends and kept it that way for a while; they knew they liked each other, but didn't act on it or fall in love immediately. Prenna also wasn't the "chosen one." Yes, it becomes up to her whether or not the future is the same as the world she came from. But it didn't feel like she was the only one who could. Ethan was there too and played a big role in it. Plus another character in the book was also involved in trying to change things. And finally - no love triangle!

I'm glad I was able to read and review this book. It was definitely different than what I've previously read. I also wasn't aware that it was written by the same author that wrote Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WWW Wednesdays! 5.21.14


WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should be Reading. To participate, simply answer the three following questions:

- What are you currently reading?
- What did you recently finish reading?
- What do you think you'll read next?

Currently Reading

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
This is an ARC ebook I received from Netgalley. I'm about 1/3 of the way through and its pretty good so far! 

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger 
A book on my TBR list/shelf since last year! Figured it was about time I started it (: It's pretty good so far and I'm about halfway through. 

Mistress by James Patterson (Audio CD) 
Since I'm listening to this, it's going to take me much longer to get through it. I generally only listen to audio books when Im traveling for work. Its still about once a week, but I don't get them done as fast as when I read a book. 

Recently Finished

Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts (Audio CD) 
See my review HERE

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
See my review HERE!

Up Next


The first is a book I won, and the second is an ARC. Every time I get an ARC or win a book in a giveaway, I want to get it off my TBR pile fast - but it generally happens. Then I see them and feel really guilty. So hopefully I can get to these soon! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tell Me Something Tuesday and Top Ten Tuesday 5.20.14

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Heidi @ Rainy Day Ramblings. Each week a new question is presented. Check out Heidi's blog for all the details :)

This week's question: Do you have to read a series in order no matter what?

Generally, yes. I want to know how the beginning starts, what happens to all the characters, and then find out what happens next in the following book. If I were to start a book in the middle of the series, chances are I wouldn't go back and read the first one because I would already kind of know what happened. Plus I have a little OCD and things need to be read in order.

The only time that I haven't read a series in order is when I was reading the Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts. I read the first one after I picked it up at a local used book store. I fell in love with the characters and the story line so I started looking for the next book. It's at the used book store I often go to, but its never in the clearance section, and I really only buy books that are $3 or under (if I didn't, I'd be completely broke). Well, since the second book is never there, I finally just moved on to the third, and finally listened to the 4th on audio. Reading the books out of order in this series was okay because each book was a different person's story.

I definitely won't be making a habit of reading them out of order though. It just doesn't seem right to me! I feel like I miss so much of the story because background and the main plot are often developed in the first book. Long story short, I guess I prefer to read them in order, but there has been a time when I didn't - and I survived! (:


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the The Broke and the Bookish. Every week she posts an idea for a 'Top Ten' list relating to books, and encourages other book bloggers to respond and participate. All the details are listed on her site. 

This week's topic: Top ten books about friendship

1. Harry Potter - kind of a given, but I couldn't leave it out! 

2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 

3. Me Before You
It's a bit of a romance as well, but the friendship between Will and Louisa is so moving and really the  main theme of the story. 

4. Faking Normal 

5. The After Girls 

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower 
While I didn't love this book, I think the friendships in here were pretty realistic 

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Review] The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publishing Date: 1999
213 Pages
Format: paperback, purchased


It is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through unchartered territory. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where are you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

My Review

I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I thought it was okay, but it definitely didn't live up to my expectations. I've heard so many times how amazing this book is, so I really wanted to read it. But I still tried to keep an open mind and not let the hype interfere with how I actually felt about the book.

To be honest, Charlie kind of annoyed me. I felt like in every other letter he wrote, he was crying. He was very sensitive and every little thing made him cry, whether it was because he was sad, felt bad about how he treated someone, or happy... it was constant! I don't think I've ever read a book where someone cries so much.

I also felt like the book should have been set in the 70's or something. There was so much talk about drugs, sex, smoking, etc and it felt like some of the people were hippies. It just didn't feel like the 90's to me. It didn't feel realistic.

I think the overall concept of the book was pretty good. We were able to get inside the mind of a high school freshman and see how he grows throughout the year. But for me, it just fell flat and I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to - and I really wanted to like (love) it! I'm glad I read it, but it's not going to be a re-read for me, and I won't really be recommending it to others.

*Book Tour and Excerpt* Catching Cameron by Julie Brannagh

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Catching Cameron
A Love and Football Novel #3
By: Julie Brannagh
Releasing May 6th, 2014


Julie Brannagh's sexy, charming Love and Football series continues …

Star sports reporter Cameron Ondine has one firm rule: she does not date football players. Ever. She tangled with one years ago, and it did not end well. Been there, done that.

But when Cameron comes face-to-face with the very man who shattered her heart—on camera, no less—her world is upended for a second time by recklessly handsome Seattle Shark Zach Anderson.

Zach has never been able to forget the gorgeous blonde who stole his breath away when he was still just a rookie. They've managed to give each other a wide berth for years, but when their jobs suddenly bring them together again and again, he knows he has to face his past once and for all.

Because as they spend more time together, he becomes less focused on the action on the field and more concerned with catching Cameron.


Cameron can’t stay away from Zach, either.

She could feel emotion surging through her, wild and uncontrolled. She didn’t like lack of control, and she really didn’t like messy and ridiculous displays of feelings—hers or anyone else’s. The accompanying adrenaline swamped any remaining restraint. The tears she’d held in by sheer will earlier were threatening another appearance. She shoved them down one more time. She still had things to say to him, and she’d be damned if she’d act like one of those women who cry over stuff at the drop of a hat.

His voice was quiet and annoyingly calm.

“You don’t want anyone to know we were married, huh? Too late for that.” He tried to look regretful, she thought. “I’m in a truth-telling mood, too. Confession’s good for the soul.”

“No, it’s not.” The tears were rising again, threatening to wipe out everything in their path with sheer force. “If you’ll come back in there and sit down—” She blinked as hard as she could, raised her face to the ceiling, and fought for control. “We can start over. We’ll get something on tape, and I’ll spend the next month pretending like you’re not even here. I promise.”

He shoved himself off the wall, and reached out for her hand. It felt so small in his. She couldn’t quite make herself yank it away, either. She was flooded with the knowledge of how it felt to be close to him. She breathed in the scent of his recently-showered skin, his freshly washed and ironed clothes, and a faint smell of liniment. He was twice her size. She concentrated on staring at the middle of his chest. If she looked up, he’d be giving her the half-indulgent smile she’d seen on his face a hundred times in seventy-two hours ten years ago.

“Is that so?” He bent over her. His voice was soft and sensual in her ear. “That’s not going to work for me.” She felt the warmth of his breath brush her skin. “You’ll pretend like I’m not here. Well, I’m going to make sure you can’t forget me, or the fact I’m here, twenty-four hours a day. I want you to remember me the way I’ve remembered you.” He let that sink in for a minute. “Your daddy’s not here to rescue you this time around.”

She squeezed her eyes shut. “He didn’t ‘rescue me’ the first time around! I—” It was hard to make air quotes with only one hand. “That’s not what happened.”

He slid his fingertips over her mouth. “I have twenty-nine days to make sure you’ll never forget me again. It starts now, Cameron.”

Buy Links

About the Author
Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab.

Julie hasn't quite achieved the goal of owning a pro football team, so she created a fictional one: The Seattle Sharks. When she's not writing, she's reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of four contemporary sports romances.

Author Links


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Stacking the Shelves! 5.18.14

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews. Its all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, whether physical or virtual books. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks! Tynga posts this meme on Saturdays, but you can post on any day that works best for you! Check out the guidelines by visiting Tynga's blog!

Another great weekend of garage sales! I bought SO many books! Can't wait to start reading them all! Best thing is that most of these were $.25 or $.50! And a few of them were free (: 

- Violets Are Blue by James Patterson 
- The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
- The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Just One Look by Harlan Coben
- Lost Light by Michael Connelly
- Double Cross by James Patterson 
- Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben
- Now You See Her by James Patterson 
- 10th Anniversary by James Patterson 
- 11th Hour by James Patterson 
- The Long Road Home by Danielle Steel 
- Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag
- Echo Park by Michael Connelly
- Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark
- Daddy's Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark 
- The  Search by Nora Roberts
- Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson 

Have you read any of these books?! What did you think of them? 

Friday, May 16, 2014

[Review] Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
Series: Bride Quartet, #4
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publishing Date: Nov. 2, 2010
Format: Audio CD, library


Parker Brown turned the quartet's childhood game of Wedding Day into their dream jobs. And now she's the face of Vows - the one who meets every bride's demands' keeps every event on schedule' and brigns Emma's romantic flowers, Laurel's delicious treats, and Mac's stunning photography together in one glorious package. She knows how to make dreams come true...

Mechanic Malcom Kavanaugh loves figured out how things work, and Parker Brown - with her mile-long legs - is no exception. But as a good friend to Parker's brother, Mal knows that moving from minor flirtation to major hookup is a serious step.

No man has rattled Parker in a long time, but the motorcycle-riding, raven-haired Mal seems to have a knack for it. His passionate kisses always catch her off guard, much like her growing feelings for him. Parker's business risks have always paid off, but now she'll have to take the chance of a lifetime with her heart.

My Review 

I've read the first book and the third book in this series and really loved them. I have to travel a lot for work, so I picked up an audio book for one of my trips and I'm so happy I picked this one! I never really know if I'll like audio books because I prefer having a book in my hands, but this was a good choice.

Nora Roberts has a knack for creating beautiful stories and its why I continue to read her novels! I love this story and have really enjoyed getting to know all the characters. I still need to read the second book yet (Emma's story) but I can never seem to find it! I'll have to buy in online soon or get another audio book!

What I loved about this story is that there wasn't a huge fight and then perfect makeup. It seems that a lot of romance stories have one really big fight between the characters and then they makeup and realize how much they're meant to be. In this story, there were a few small fights/arguments, but it wasn't anything like I tend to see in others. I like this because that isn't how real life is. People don't always have a huge fight and then get back together and live happily ever after; sometimes couples rarely fight.

Overall, this was a cute, happy book. I really do want to read the second book in this series so I can complete it! I obviously know how it turns out, but I still want to know what it was about! (: If you like romances, or anything else by Nora Roberts, you'll love this, too!

*Guest Post/Book Tour* Echoes of Love by Hannah Fielding

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The Echoes of Love 
by Hannah Fielding 


Seduction, passion and the chance for new love. A terrible truth that will change two lives forever.

Venetia Aston-Montagu has escaped to Italy’s most captivating city to work in her godmother’s architectural practice, putting a lost love behind her. For the past ten years she has built a fortress around her heart, only to find the walls tumbling down one night of the carnival when she is rescued from masked assailants by an enigmatic stranger, Paolo Barone.

Drawn to the powerfully seductive Paolo, despite warnings of his Don Juan reputation and rumours that he keeps a mistress, Venetia can’t help being caught up in the smouldering passion that ignites between them.

When she finds herself assigned to a project at his magnificent home deep in the Tuscan countryside, Venetia must not only contend with a beautiful young rival, but also come face to face with the dark shadows of Paolo’s past that threaten to come between them.

Can Venetia trust that love will triumph, even over her own demons? Or will Paolo’s carefully guarded, devastating secret tear them apart forever?


It was nearly seven-thirty and the shops were beginning to shut down for the night. The wind that had blown all day had dropped, and a slight haze veiled the trees, as if gauze had been hung in front of everything that was more than a few feet away. The damp air was soaked with silence.

Venetia tightened the belt of her coat around her slim waist and lifted the fur collar snugly about her neck. The sound of her footsteps echoed off the pavement as she hurried towards the Rialto Bridge from Piazza San Marco, a solitary figure in an almost deserted street. She was on her way to catch the vaporetto water bus, which would drop her off at Palazzo Mendicoli where she had an apartment. A few huddled pedestrians could be seen on the opposite pavement, and there was not much traffic on the great inky stretch of water of the Grand Canal.

Suddenly Venetia saw two figures spring out in front of her from the surrounding darkness. They were enveloped in carnevale cloaks, with no visible faces, only a spooky blackness where they should have been. A hand materialised from under the all-encompassing wrap of one of the sinister creatures and grabbed at her bag. Chilled to the bone, Venetia tried to scream but the sound froze in her throat. Struggling, she hung onto the leather pouch which was looped over her shoulder and across her front as she tried to lift her knee to kick him in the groin, but her aggressors were prepared. An arm was thrown around her throat from the back and the second figure produced a knife.

Just as he was going to slash at the strap of her bag, an imposing silhouette emerged from nowhere and with startling speed its owner swung at Venetia’s attacker with his fist, knocking him off balance. With a grunt of pain the man fell backwards, tripping over his accomplice who gave a curse, and they both tumbled to the ground. Then, picking themselves up in a flash, they took to their heels and fled into the hazy gloom.

‘Va tutto bene, are you alright?’ The stranger’s light baritone voice broke through Venetia’s disoriented awareness, and he looked down anxiously into her large amber eyes.

‘Yes, yes, I think so,’ she panted, her hands going to her throat.

‘Are you hurt at all?’

‘No, no just a little shaken, thank you.’

‘You’re shivering. You’ve had a bad shock and you need a warm drink. Come. There’s a caffeteria that serves the best hot chocolate in Venice, just a few steps from here. It’ll do you good.’ Without waiting for a response, he took Venetia’s arm and led the way down the narrow street.

Guest Post 

The Echoes of Love ‘Legendary’ Blog Tour: The Chianti rooster

For the love of legends

For me, researching a book is just as enjoyable as writing it. I set each of my novels in a passionate, romantic country, and so that I can really transport my readers there, I immerse myself in the setting: its history, its scenery, its cuisine, its culture. Top of my research list are local legends – I love colourful, age-old stories; the more fantastical, the better!

Since I was a young girl, tucked up in bed and listening avidly to my governess weaving bedtime tales, I have loved legends. Fairytales too, of course – they sowed the seeds for my romantic nature – but legends fascinated me most: those that have stood the test of time, that offer intriguing explanations for the modern world, that are at once fantastical and yet, somehow, believable.

My novel The Echoes of Love, set in Venice, Tuscany and Sardinia, incorporates various Italian legends – told by the hero, Paolo, who is a raconteur extraordinaire, to my heroine, Venetia – and in my research files I collected many more. What better way to share some of these most romantic, magical and atmospheric tales but in this Echoes of Love ‘Legendary’ Blog Tour!

Today, I’m taking you to Tuscany, that most beautiful of regions whose landscapes I very much enjoyed describing in my book:

The Tyrrhenian coast glowed under the wide arc of a burning, cloudless blue sky, the sea a shimmering golden mirror; the sweeping coastline looked out over the distant islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, echoing their beauty with its wild and mountainous landscape, the pale rock densely interspersed with exotically green pine groves, and its almost luminescent aquamarine waters lapping the shores.

The Chianti rooster

Baroness Victoria Sackville-West wrote of Tuscany: ‘Here the sweet legends of the world remain.’ Wherever one goes in Tuscany there is the sense of legend, for this is the land of the mysterious and ancient Etruscan civilisation, and many of the Tuscan tales have their roots in ‘the olden days’, having been told at the fireside from generation to generation.

One such legend is that of the black rooster of Chianti, which dates back to the 13th century. Then, Siena and Florence were engaged in a power struggle over who ruled Chianti. They came up with an idea to create a fair division of land: make the border between the two republics the midpoint between Florence and Siena. But how to determine the midpoint? Why, march a soldier from each city, of course, and where the two met draw the border. But for such a plan to work the two soldiers would have to leave their respective cities at exactly the same time. And in this era before synchronised clocks, the rooster would serve at the cue to walk – in both cities these birds would surely crow at the same time.

Perhaps the two roosters would have been in time, but for the Florentines, who hatched a cunning plan. They starved a black rooster in a darkened box for several days, so that on the day of the march, it awoke early out of hunger. The soldier marching for Florence set out in the dark as the rooster crowed, and he met his counterpart close to Siena’s city walls! And so it was that Florence came to dominate Chianti. Today, to commemorate this legend, the symbol of Chianti wine is the black rooster.

On the subject of roosters, do beware when in Tuscany a rooster lays an egg. Should this occur, legend tells that the egg will contain not a chick, but a Basilisco: a deadly serpent creature. Fans of Harry Potter will note that this Basilisco can kill through eye contact – but in variance to JK Rowling’s Basilisk, the Tuscan one has the head of a rooster. Supposedly, you’re most at risk of encountering one if the rooster lays a black egg on Christmas Day. Unlikely? Indeed. But then as JK Rowling wrote in The Order of the Phoenix, ‘Anything's possible…’

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About the Author 

Displaying Hannah Fielding.jpgHannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveler, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

Her first novel, Burning Embers, is a vivid, evocative love story set against the backdrop of tempestuous and wild Kenya of the 1970s, reviewed by one newspaper as ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. Her new novel, The Echoes of Love, is a story of passion, betrayal and intrigue set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany. It was picked by The Sun newspaper as one of the most romantic books ever written.

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See my review of her first novel here