Extract: A Dad Of His Own by Minna Howard (Blog Tour)

Is it too early for the C word just yet? Not in our house. We are all huge Christmas lovers and Christmas cannot come early enough. This year, we have something super exciting planned for our girls (and yes, for me too – the only one who is not as excited is my husband, but he is the perfect Daddy and is playing along nicely…). We are going to Disneyland Paris just before Christmas. We have told the girls already as I always feel the anticipation of something is just as good as the actual event. Talking about Christmas, this year’s first festive novels are starting to appear and I have the pleasure of sharing an extract of Minna Howard’s A Dad Of His Own today. 

About The Book

House-sitting in a castle over Christmas is a dream come true for Anna and her seven-year-old son Freddie. But there’s one Christmas present Freddie wants more than anything, and it’s the one thing Anna can’t give him – his very own dad.

As Anna settles into her new surroundings and a much slower pace of life, she is soon befriended by the local villagers and the castle workforce who provide a welcome distraction. Before even a Christmas cracker is pulled, Freddie shows a eager interest in the castle workforce; green-fingered Simon, salt of the earth Luke and charming castle manager Julius. Could one of them make Freddies Christmas wish come true and repair Anna’s broken heart? 

At the most magical time of the year, everyone needs a Christmas miracle if they’re to make it to Christmas Day . . . 

A comforting and emotional story that will make you hold those you love that little bit tighter this year. Perfect for the fans of Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.


The sun was out, the sky a hard, winter blue making a dazzling backdrop to the grey, flint castle that towered above them as they drove through the scatter of houses and a few shops in the village and the gleam of the river not far away. Anna, Freddie and Ozzie the guinea pig arrived at Northbrook Castle just after lunch on December 19th.

Anna always had a last-minute panic if she were leaving for somewhere abroad, checking and rechecking that their passports and money were still in her bag where she’d put them, as though goblins might have stolen them in the night. At least she and Freddie were staying in their own country with their own currency and didn’t need a passport.

Freddie, who was so like his father with brown curly hair and blue eyes, was ecstatic when he saw the castle lording over them. ‘Will there be dungeons and p’haps a ghost,’ he added a trifle nervously.

‘There probably were dungeons long ago when people called the Normans were here, but they took any ghosts with them,’ she said cheerfully, relieved they would be in the castle’s self-contained snug little flat and Freddie would not get lost in the long corridors and masses of rooms and stairs in the rest of the castle.

At least it wasn’t raining as they arrived. The castle looked huge with its battlements and even – she pointed them out to Freddie – arrow slits.

‘So they had bows and arrows,’ he said in wonder, ‘will we see some?’

‘They might have some old ones inside, we’ll have to ask, and you see the battlements?’ She pointed upwards.

‘So it’s a real castle,’ Freddie breathed.

‘Yes, I didn’t see much of it when I came with Daisy as it was raining and when we left it was dark, but look up there, up on that mound, that stone building is very old and it’s called a keep. Remember the pictures in that book of castles I showed you?’

They had reached the door of the flat and she parked the car outside. She felt a rush of nerves and struggled to control them. Although she’d met Luke and Cathie, it was a bit daunting being here all alone with just Freddie, but it was too late to cry off now and let Philly and Sidney down.

She glanced at herself in the driving mirror; she’d had highlights put in her light brown hair that touched her shoulders. She looked washed out; she was always exhausted by the end of term and the long drive from London hadn’t helped. She hoped being in the country would put a sparkle back in her skin.

Sidney and Philly were waiting at the flat for them and they ushered them in, Sidney helping with their cases – one hiding some secret presents wrapped up in her jerseys – and a box of other Christmas presents and bags of groceries, putting them all in a corner in the hall out of the way of their own bags standing ready to go by the front door.

He was about to shut the door when a truck pulled up outside and someone jumped out, lifting out a Christmas tree and a wreath from the back.

‘Hi, I’m Luke, we met when you came up before,’ he said, smiling at Anna and Freddie as they stood in the hall.

‘Of course, you came with Cathie,’ Anna said, pleased to see someone else she knew. ‘This is my son Freddie.’ 

Freddie said, ‘Are you a Christmas tree person, the man who brings trees and things?’

‘Sort of, we grow Christmas trees as well as other things on the estate and this one is yours.’ Luke said. ‘Shall I take it in? Hello, Philly, all ready for your trip?’

‘Oh, yes, Luke. Thank you. Usual place, I think.’ She turned to Anna, as Luke carried through the tree, which was wrapped in a net. ‘We always have it in the living room, so we can enjoy it with all its lights and decorations when we’re sitting there in the evenings. I hope that suits you, Anna, Sidney has put out the stand’ 

‘We bought our own decorations,’ Freddie jumped about in excitement as Luke released the tree from the net and the branches spread out filling the room with the sharp, fresh smell of pine. ‘We were going to buy a tree and now we needn’t.’ He followed Luke out into the hall.

‘No, you needn’t. So, tell me what’s in that wooden box,’ Philly said, pointing to a box on the floor. She knew it was a guinea pig as Anna had rung her to ask if they could bring him as Freddie couldn’t bear to leave him with a friend for as long as a month, if they stayed that long. Daisy had said she could possibly take over for a week after Christmas if they wanted to leave.

‘It’s Ozzie,’ Freddie opened the box and pulled him out, a toffee-coloured animal with a quivering nose and button-black eyes looking round with interest at his new surroundings.

‘You’d better put him away in case he escapes,’ Philly said nervously, standing back as if Freddie were holding a deadly snake instead of a curious rodent.

Luke was by the front door. ‘If you want mistletoe or holly just call my number, it’s on the hall table.’ He pointed to a piece of paper with a list of names on it. ‘You’ll soon get to know us all: Cathie you know, Simon is in charge of the grounds, Tessa and Nell are sisters and they do all the admin and have their office in the castle just along from you. They are only there during the day, but they are away now, they’ll be back soon. Oh, and the most important person who runs the whole thing is Julius and he’s away skiing.’ He smiled as if he’d recited some long and complicated poem.

‘Thanks, I hope I’ll get to know them and remember their names,’ Anna said.

‘I’m sure you will, we’re a friendly bunch.’ He smiled at her and she felt less shy at being here among strangers. ‘Oh, a guinea pig, my brother had one when he was young, kept escaping.’ Luke grinned, said goodbye and that he’d see them around, but he had a lot to get on with just now. He got into his truck and drove away.

Minna’s social media links:

  • Twitter: @Adelica
  • Facebook: @MinnaHowardBooks

Book Review: While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins (Blog Tour)


Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 23rd August 2018
Pages: 560

What if someone else was living your happy ever after?
When Maddie wakes up in a hospital bed, she can’t remember anything about what happened to her or what has changed.
She just remembers she was about to be married and had everything to look forward to.
But it seems life has become a lot more complicated while she has been asleep …


I started writing this review at least a dozen times, every time fearing that my words cannot do this amazing book any justice. I had read one of Dani’s novels in the past and knew I was in for a treat. Her fantastic way of storytelling is a true skill!

I could easily sum up While I Was Sleeping in one word: Incredible!, but I might just go into a little more detail. I can honestly say that I have never read a book before that made such a huge impact on me. Yes, I obviously read quite a few nail-biting page-turners before, but While I Was Sleeping is in a completely different league.

Maddie is a character that grew on me from literally the first page onwards. I could feel her pain and heartbreak and went through the emotions with her. Dani’s descriptive and emotional writing style makes it so easy to become fully absorbed into the storyline and into its characters. For example, and without going into too much detail for fear of giving anything away, but there was one specific character (Maddie’s rival if you like), that I thought I would very much dislike, but couldn’t help to massively empathise with in the end. By writing this novel from different character viewpoints, the reader gets an insight into the present and past of the entire main cast which completely changed my opinion of this character I mentioned earlier on. 

While I Was Sleeping is one of the best books I have ever read and I know that its storyline and characters will stay with me for a long time. A highly addictive, emotional and engaging novel that I can highly recommend.

Thank you very much to the publisher for providing me with an early proof of this novel. All opinions and thoughts are entirely my own. 

A Day Out In London (Elan Cafe, Liberty and Afternoon Tea with Rosanna Ley)

Last week, I was finally able to tick off a few things from my list of places I wanted to see in London. I had the opportunity to attend an afternoon tea in the wonderful Covent Garden Hotel to celebrate the launch of Rosanna Ley’s newest novel, Her Mother’s Secret. Such a treat! My lovely friend Laura and I decided to travel to London early and explore this fantastic city a little beforehand. I don’t go to London too often, and if I go, I usually go straight to a set place or event. So this time, I wanted to see a few more things. We headed to Elan Cafe first. I had seen so many gorgeous pictures on Instagram and was desperate to see this place. This cute little cafe certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a lot smaller than I anticipated, but luckily we managed to get a table straight away. The atmosphere in this place is amazing! I don’t think anyone left this cafe without having their picture taken – so when in Rome… (or, erm, London)

The food was superb as well. I went for avocado and egg on toast. Yummy!! Afterwards, we took a stroll through some pretty amazing back streets and made our way to Liberty.

And then it was already time to head to Covent Garden for afternoon tea. Meeting Rosanna in person was fantastic. We chatted so much about her new book and even got a small insight into the book she is currently writing.

About Her Mother’s Secret

For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland – the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany – afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea’s failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?

Despite Colette’s wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother’s flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette’s mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?

The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret – one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.

Her Mother’s Secret is currently available in hardback, with the paperback version to follow on 14th June 2018.

Thank you so much Rosanna and Quercus for such a brilliant afternoon.

Book Review: The Lido by Libby Page


PAGES: 384

PUBLICATION DATE: 19th April 2018

I cannot praise this stunning and charming debut novel by author Libby Page enough. It didn’t take me long to fall for this story of friendship and community empowerment. 

Main characters Kate and Rosemary are fantastically depicted. Kate is a twenty something journalist trying to built a career in London, but feeling rather overwhelmed by the big city. Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but the changes around her pose a challenge. Together these two embark on a journey to save the local Lido and in the process form an incredible friendship.

Rosemary’s persona really touched me. It is not all that often that you come across a main character in a novel who is already in her mid eighties. I found her extremely interesting, easy to relate to and completely admired her. She reminded me very much of my great aunt and only after a few pages I had a complete picture of how I imagined her to look in my head.

The storyline felt so incredibly real, raw and utterly relatable. This novel doesn’t only showcase the immense power a community has when everyone comes together to fight against something that is important to them (in this case the closure of their local swimming pool), but also how meeting different people and forming friendships (no matter how unlikely on first sight) can shape, heal and support a person. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a proof copy of this book. All opinion are entirely my own. 

Interview With Author Claudia Carroll

I have the huge pleasure of welcoming Claudia Carroll to the blog today. I’ve been a fan of her books for years and as part of the blog tour for her newest release, Our Little Secret, I was able to ask her a few questions. I met Claudia at an event a few years ago (you can read all about it here) and she is just the nicest person ever!!

I am so excited to read your newest novel Our Little Secret. Can you please give a brief summary of the book?

Did you ever see the old movie, All About Eve with Bette Davis? It’s basically about a good deed that comes back to bite you. Just like the song in Wicked (my all time favourite musical) about no good deed going unpunished. The movie All About Eve, was a huge inspiration point for me, so I got to wondering – suppose you had a middle aged, older woman who, with no motive other than kindness and a genuine altruism, decides to help a younger woman, who needs a bit of a leg up in her own career. But of course there’s a twist, and pretty soon, my leading character comes to deeply regret ever having giving this young one the time of day.

You have published several successful books. Did publishing your first book change your approach to writing?

Writing is writing, I always think. The process is exactly the same, whether you’re writing a TV script, a movie, a play or a novel. But publishing my first book certainly taught me a thing or two about discipline and writing to a tight deadline! 

 How do you select the names of our characters?

With great difficulty! It’s astonishing how fast you run out of names. And also I don’t like to name a character after anyone I actually know – people can sometimes get offended! 

 If you could be a character from any of your books, who would you choose and why?

Baddies are always such fun to write. So I suppose I really enjoying writing the character of Lauren, who is basically all sweetness and light on the surface, but tough as a boot just underneath and with an ambition that’s terrifying. Someone who would walk all over you, just to advance their own career. So the moral of the story is—- be on the lookout for Lauren’s everywhere! 

What does your research process for a book look like and how long does the research stage take?

It depends on the book really! For Our Little Secret, I did spend a lot of time talking to security men in shopping centres asking what happens to teenagers who shoplift, as happens in the book. I got more than a few funny looks, I can tell you.  

Do you ever face writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome this hurdle?

I find writing a good, watertight plot synopsis in advance really helps me on the bad days. It’s like having a roadmap that you can constantly keep referring back to. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t take up smoking just because all your friends are doing it. And stop worrying!

Thank you so much for visiting today, Claudia. I cannot wait to read Our Little Secret.