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Laura Bambrey Books

It's all about the books... News. Reviews. Interviews

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Blogtour: Guest Post: Dreaming of St-Tropez by TA Williams


I'm thrilled to welcome the lovely TA Williams to the blog today as a part of his blogtour. Trevor is going to tell us about his latest book, Dreaming of St-Tropez, and why he believes it’s not a romance, but a love story.

So what’s the difference? What is romance and what is love?

The Cambridge English Dictionary definition raises an interesting question. In fact, I was very surprised to read this.

Romance – a close, usually short relationship of love between two people.
Usually short…? So are we to interpret this definition as romance being something fleeting that can come along and go again just as quickly? If that’s true, then I’m definitely not writing romance. When my characters fall in love, they fall in love. I’m not writing about short-lived infatuation. 

What does the same dictionary say about love?
Love – to like another adult very much and be romantically and sexually attracted to them, or to have strong feelings of liking a friend or person in your family.

Between you and me, I’m not crazy about this definition either. How about “I love doughnuts” or “I love puppies”? But, putting my niggles aside, let’s try to compare love and romance. You hear people talk about “putting the romance back into a relationship” as if, by simply chucking in a few bunches of flowers and a few boxes of chocolates, you can rekindle something that shouldn’t have died out in the first place. When I get to the end of any of my books, I don’t see the budding romance between the main protagonists as something transitory. In my head at least, I see it going the distance.

At this point, I’m afraid I need to get personal. I have had the great good fortune to experience love in my life. Apart from my parents, my daughter and my beloved Labradors, I had the great good luck almost fifty years ago (you have to remember, I am very old) to meet and fall in love with my wife. I was working in Italy, teaching adults English in the evenings and I fell foul of the occupational hazard of adult education – I fell in love with one of my students. Fortunately, she fell in love with me at the same time. This summer we will have been married for 43 years and that has to prove something. I can’t remember the last time I bought her flowers or chocolates – or vice versa – but that stuff is just superficial, the icing on the cake. Without a good solid cake underneath, there would be nowhere to put the icing.

Now I’m not claiming that 43 years of marriage makes me an expert on the subject, but just as I would never dream of sending the characters in my books skiing or windsurfing without having tried it myself, I would never presume to make them fall in love without having experienced it myself. Write about what you know.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking romance. If Valentine’s Day cards and Prosecco are your thing, then I’m with you all the way. All I would say is that the romance in my books is definitely intended to go the distance – and that, in my estimation at least, means love.

Thanks so much Trevor for taking the time to visit us here today!

You gan grab your copy of Dreaming of St-Tropez here:

Kindle:

The Blurb:

The perfect summer escape on the French Riviera. Sun, sea and secrets…
After a disagreement with a billionaire, architect Jess Milton is ‘let go’ from her job. However fortune intervenes – an elderly client asks Jess to dog-sit overweight, but loveable dog Brutus in St. Tropez.

Fed up with the mega-rich, Jess is reluctant to visit the playground of billionaires, but an all-expenses-paid trip and the promise of sunshine seals the deal.

Little does Jess know how much time she’ll be spending with the family living in St. Tropez. The sullen, but very good-looking David and his millionaire father are both welcoming but guarded, haunted by their pasts…

Can Jess bring some sunshine back into their lives – and, just maybe, find love in the process?

A heart-warming, funny and emotional journey for fans of Holly Martin, Tilly Tennant and Jenny Oliver.

About TA Williams

I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...

I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.
I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador. 

I've been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she's right.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Blogtour: Review: Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen

I’m thrilled to be today’s stop on the blogtour for Oh My God, What a Complete Ailsling (OMGWACA) by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen.

What’s the easiest way to sum up how I felt about this book? I loved it. Yay for taking the golden age of the romcom and bringing it bang up to date. I know someone has already said this- but I second it- Aisling is the millennial’s answer to Bridget Jones.

OMGWACA follows the trials and tribulations of Aisling – and celebrates every single girl-next-door, practical, no-nonsense, uncool tendency which actually makes her unashamedly… well… cool. Aisling takes everything in her stride, from scandal at work, to brand-new big-city living with her glam flat mates, to tragedy and heartbreak in her personal life. She’s my brand new book-best-friend.

Full of gentle humour, you’ll enjoy rolling your eyes at every scrape she gets into – and her rather rural take on how to deal with life. I loved spending time with Aisling and the girls. I laughed a lot and I did cry a bit too. The only thing I’ll say is that I ended up rooting for a guy who didn’t end up getting the girl. I won’t say any more than that, as a spoiler on this book would be a sackable offence for a reviewer… but I can’t tell you how much I would love a sequel. I haven’t had my fill of our Aisling just yet.

Gentle, sunny, sweet and incredibly funny, this book has a huge heart and is an absolute joy to read.


Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                         Hardback:
   



The Blurb:

THE FUNNIEST BOOK YOU'LL READ THIS YEAR - ALREADY THE NO. 1 IRISH BESTSELLER...

'There aren't enough words for how much I love it' Marian Keyes

Twenty-something Aisling - that's pronounced Ashling - is the sensible sort.

She wears kitten heels for the sake of her arches.

And a great night out is knowing the immersion heater at home is securely switched off.

In other words, country girl Aisling likes to play it safe in the big city.

But that hasn't helped get her man John to hurry up and pop the question.

Throwing caution to the wind an impatient Aisling tries to encourage him, only for her whole life to come crashing down.

Now no umbrella, electric blanket, nor sensibly sized heel can save her.

What's a complete Aisling to do?

Monday, 23 April 2018

Review: A Girl's Best Friend by Jules Wake

Ah guys – if the Monday blues have got you by the throat, I’ve got the perfect pick-me-up book to treat yourself to! And of course, if you’re bouncy and full of the joys of spring – then this is the perfect read for that too!!

This weekend, I binge-read A Girl’s Best Friend by Jules Wake and adored every moment of it. Full of warmth and humour, the story follows Ella as she takes a break from her hectic London life. Ella might not realise that she needs to unwind and heal her heart and soul- but the whole village, including Tess the dog, certainly do, and go about helping with all the subtlety of a rhino in full charge.

I loved the broken, spiky Ella. It felt like a real treat to walk beside her as she gradually unfurls, rediscovers herself and, ultimately, begins to heal. To begin with, she’s far from loveable- but the author depicts her fragility so perfectly that the glimpses of the real character underneath her hard carapace meant that I was rooting for her from the start. And fear not- she might begin to heal- but she becomes even more kick-arse as she goes!

Then of course, there’s Mr Grumpy himself, Devon the vet. Well, what can I say – PHWOAR! I know, I know- you have to get past the stroppy, moody, world-is-out-to-get-me part, but again, Jules Wake is clever enough to weave glimpses of his kindness and underlying lovely character, and it doesn’t take long for you to forgive the grumpy sod and start fantasising about running your hands through his lovely curly hair. Ahem!

The rest of the village is painted to perfection – from the gorgeous houses and surroundings to the way that everyone knows everything about everyone else- and you’d better think twice if you recon you’ll get away without mucking in and doing your bit.

Of course, I’ve barely mentioned the real heroine of the piece yet – the naughty, eat-everything-in-sight barrel-cross-dog that is Tess the Labrador. Without Tess, Ella just wouldn’t begin to heal. Without Tess, she wouldn’t have become part of the community so quickly. Without Tess- I wouldn’t have been sobbing my heart out!

This is a gorgeous novel, full of heart and a wonderful story. Packed full of lovely characters, wagging tails, and self re-discovery – it’s the perfect, uplifting read.

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                          Paperback:                  Audible:

       


The Blurb:

Welcome to your new cottage in the country - complete with grumpy vet, village gossip and a very muddy dog...

City girl Ella wants to take refuge in the country, lick her wounds and work out what she's going to do with the rest of her life. She certainly doesn't want to have a four-legged house guest or anything to do with village life. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of Wilsgrave have other ideas.

Settling in to her godmother's house for a few months of R&R, Ella finds herself the reluctant babysitter of a badly behaved Labrador - and her plans of staying mainly indoors scuppered. But as she's forced into wellies and into the village's way of doing things, Ella meets people who make her think again about what she really wants out of life and love, starting with her new furry best friend...

A gorgeously romantic tale set in an idyllic countryside village, from the author of ebook bestseller Covent Garden in the Snow. Perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Out and About: An Evening with Erin Kelly and Sarah Vaughan: Sex, Power, & Consent in Crime Writing


A conversation about rape, consent and power in fiction is never going to be a comfortable topic, but
it certainly made for an eye-opening evening. On Friday, I joined a buzzing crowd in Waterstones Exeter to listen to crime writers Erin Kelly and Sarah Vaughan tackle this difficult and timely topic- central to the themes of both of their novels.

With the #MeToo movement high on the public agenda, and the founding of the Staunch Prize, now seems to be a key moment to have the discussion about how these issues are treated and presented in fiction.

Sarah began by speaking about the seeds that initially inspired her new book, Anatomy of a Scandal: the high profile Ched Evans case, and media commentary on this, including a column which quoted casual judgments from other young women about the alleged victim; the exposure of political sex scandals and how these were addressed. In fact, the beginnings of the novel came about years earlier - but the book was placed on pause while she wrote her second novel. Publication came as the conversation around consent became a more commonly discussed topic.

Erin said that she plans her novels around 2 to 3 key ideas. For He Said She Said she stated that she wanted to write a novel with a “large scope” after writing a couple of intensely claustrophobic books. The second element was to base the work around Eclipse Chasers- people who have their holidays planned for the rest of their lifetimes around these events- and including the theme of darkness and “writing about something bad that happens in the dark.” The third element was her desire to “redress the balance of how rape is often portrayed – where often the victim is nothing more than a trigger for the detective or lead on the case to learn something about themselves.”

Erin stated that books such as theirs were “part of a wave of treating the issues intelligently” while Sarah said that they would be “humbled and proud if our books become a part of the debate.”

Speaking of their writing process, Sarah credits her time as a political journalist as vital to her writing – especially in portraying the reality of a court case in action, having witnessed and reported on so many during her career. She has had feedback from both victims and barristers about the accuracy of her portrayal of the case in the book – something she’s incredibly proud of.


Erin likened writing a novel to running a marathon – but if she ever found herself flagging during her writing, she turned to her original research of high profile cases such as Brock Turner and Ched Evans to stoke her anger and get her writing again.

Huge thanks to excellent host Liv J Hooper and Waterstones Exeter (Roman's Gate), and of course to Sarah Vaughan and Erin Kelly for a fascinating evening. Please see below for more about He Said She Said by Erin Kelly and Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan.




Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan


The Blurb:
A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it. 

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                          Hardback:
    


He Said She Said by Erin Kelly


The Blurb:
Don't be left in the dark.

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden . . . something she never could have guessed.

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                           Paperback:
   

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Hump Day Bookish Treats: 5 Pick-Me-Up Gifts for Book Lovers

Hi folks - welcome to my new series - Hump Day Bookish Treats. Yup - every week, I'll be scouring the shops for goodies to help get you through to the weekend- whether you're treating yourself or a book-obsessed friend, I promise you that these goodies will bring you a nice mid-week rush of naughty retail-therapy endorphins!

Cosy Library Candle


Shop: Sonnet and Fable via Etsy
Price: £8.45

Turn your room into your very own bookish haven! As the good people at Sonnet and Fable say: "Surround yourself with the aroma of the perfect reading nook. This candle smells of leather, coffee, amber, musk, aged teakwood and caramel." YUM!








Library Card Socks


Shop: British Library Shop
Price: £9.50

Wear these with pride to the day-job and show your inner book-nerd :)












Librarian Badge


Shop: British Library Shop
Price: £3.00

Declare your true self! You might still have to go to the day-job for the rest of the week, but you can wear your heart on your sleeve... or your dream-job on your jersey in this case.











The Great Gatsby Scarf


Shop: Rooby Lane via Etsy
Price: £25.00

I love love love this fab scarf - and frankly the spring isn't quite springing yet so I know I'll end up living in this soft t-shirt jersey beauty for weeks to come.








Readers Gonna Read Pin


Price: £7.00

Because:
1. It's on library card backing- and how awesome is that?

2. I want to use the backing as a bookmark... and

3. Sometimes you just can't beat another book-loving badge :)



Let me know what takes your fancy! Laura x