White Lies & Wishes by Cathy Bramley

White Lies & Wishes by Cathy Bramley

Author: Cathy Bramley
Publisher: Corgi/Transworld (kindle edition)
Release Date: 26 January 2017
Genre: Romance Comedy


The Blurb: What happens when what you wish for is only half the story…?

Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business.

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm.

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September.

Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

The Review: 

Cathy Bramley has done it again. The author of Ivy Lane and The Plumberry School of Comfort Food has returned with a light and frothy, yet inspirational tale.

It takes no time at all to get attached to the three lead characters Jo, Sarah and Carrie. The trio are thrown together by fate when they meet at a funeral.

As they chat to each other it becomes apparent that they all want to get more out of life and they decide to set themselves goals to reach in just 9 months time. Business woman Jo wants to save her family business, accountant and new mum Sarah wants to be partner at her firm and bored housewife Carrie wants the bikini body of her dreams.

From the outset it is obvious that there is more to these women than what they are telling each other. Jo is a workaholic, who’s father told her that there is no space for love and business, just as Sarah cut short her maternity leave to return to work and leave husband Dave at home with baby Zac hates that she is missing out on a daily basis. Then there is Carrie, the character I related to straight away. On the surface she wants to lose weight, but underneath there is a hotbed of bottled up emotions of being hurt that she keeps locked away and finds herself pushing her husband Alex and anyone who even tries to be nice to her away.

Sarah is sure that everything will be better when she makes partner, is that what she really wants though? Aware of just how much she is missing out at home she begins to question her whole work ethic. A shadow of her real self she has a lot of questions to ask of herself before she can move forwards in her career and her marriage.

Jo blossoming from being a sharp and sarcastic singleton into a softer, humbler version of herself and opening her heart to the idea of love, and not just a ‘good’ time, she realises that life is too short to just work the whole time. Much of her growth comes from meeting Sarah and Carrie.

Watching Carrie grow from being a timid, unsure of herself housewife – using food for solace into a person willing to shed her dress and stand on top of the Empire State Building has been an honour and I truly wish that she was a real person I knew.

However, everything is not hunky dory. Along the way Jo almost loses her business, and her closest colleague. Sarah’s baby Zac is hospitalised when she’s at a meeting and while out shopping Carrie sees her husband with another woman, jumping to the conclusion that he’s having an affair.

At each event I could feel my heartbreak for these ladies. And as Carrie opened up about Alex my stomach flipped as I could feel her anguish.

This is where Cathy excels. Her talent in crafting characters that you feel could be your next door neighbour and giving them struggles and the opportunity to grow on the page. The way that the three every different women join together and help each other through thick and thin is a joyous thing to read.

The first of Cathy’s next series of novellas Lemon Tree Cafe lands in March. I can’t wait.



Blog Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 1 — Brides and Bouquets by Rebecca Raisin

Blog Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 1 — Brides and Bouquets by Rebecca Raisin

brides-and-bouquets-tour-bannerAuthor: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina
Release Date: 24 November 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

Christmas has come to Cedarwood Lodge in the second part of the feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!

Dreaming of a happily ever after at Cedarwood Lodge is Clio Winters’ current focus, especially with a winter wonderland wedding expo planned. But with brides coming from far and wide the heat is on for Clio to fulfil everyone’s dream of a Christmas wedding!

It seems like Clio’s new business might be off to a rocky start and surrounded by love struck brides she can’t help but hope for a little Christmas romance of her own…

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part Two.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads


The Review:

Last month I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the LLR Book Tour. If you get the chance go and check out Love Reading Romance for more heart-warming reads.

Today, on release day, I get to share with you my first read of Christmas and second in the Cedarwood Lodge series by Rebecca Raisin.

We pick up with Clio a few weeks after the epic anniversary party. Things are still not resolved between her and Kai, the Aussie builder. Amory’s boyfriend Cruz has hightailed it to Evergreen from New York.

Clio and co are focusing all their energy on preparing the lodge for their first Wedding Expo. This means that all of Cedarwood needs to be up to code. The venue needs to be sparkling, and as it’s Christmas Clio sets about creating a twinkling wonderland. But will it be enough? Can the doubts niggling in her mind, not helped by her mom’s indifference to her whole venture, be put to rest?

Again Rebecca pulls you into Clio’s whirlwind world. Within minutes my heart was in my mouth praying that everything was going to make it right. As the local authorities started to make them wonder if thing would work out.

A few obstacles are thrown her way, can she navigate them and come out the other side unscathed? And will she find out what the secret her mom is hiding?

Grab a festive mug filled with your seasonal drink of choice, a hot water bottle and a blanket. Snuggle down and enjoy the Christmas spirit.






Author: Monique McDonell
Publisher: Redfish Publishing
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Genre: Chick lit

Goodreads   Amazon US   Amazon UK   Amazon AUS



When Zara’s boyfriend can’t come home to Sydney from New York for Christmas she decides to surprise (go to) him instead. Sure, the ticket costs a bomb and her overbearing family thinks it is a bad idea but that’s what you do for love right? Or so she tells the tall and hunky ex-basketball star, Kyle who is squeezed into the plane seat beside her.

But when a blizzard hits and she finds herself snowed-in/stranded in Denver a few things become clear – her boyfriend isn’t that heartbroken about her absence, the airport doesn’t seem like a very festive place to spend the holiday/be snowed-in and there aren’t enough pumpkin spiced lattes to fix the situation.

So when Kyle offers to take her to stay at his buddy’s empty house she decides to take a chance and make the best of her first white Christmas. What she hadn’t banked on was Kyle’s ex and a reality television crew crashing the Christmas party.

If you like fun and flirty heroes, ugly sweaters, snow covered mountains and sugar cookies, you’ll enjoy reading Snowbound these holidays.


About Monique McDonell

I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction, including chick lit and romance. When I began to write again, I noticed a trend – writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.

I am the author of five standalone novels, including Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire and the Upper Crust Series. Many of my novels focus on Australian characters meeting and visiting US characters.

I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for ten years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia. In 2015, I had a piece on writing chick lit featured in the successful Australian non-fiction book Copyfight.

To learn more about my books, my writing, my caffeine obsession and my upcoming books please visit http://www.moniquemcdonell.com.au.

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Celebrations & Confetti at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Celebrations & Confetti at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin


Author: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina
Release Date: October 24, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

Part one in a feel-good romantic serial from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin!

Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.

Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.

Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part One.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

The Review:

In October I took part in a book tour for Celebrations and Confetti. The first in Rebecca Raisin’s latest novella trilogy, and this month I will be sharing part two with you too.

Clio grew up in Evergreen, a small town in New Hampshire. Cedarwood Lodge had been her playground. Closed for as long has she could remember, the grounds were overgrown but were perfect for her to run free. At 10 years of age Clio was she was certain that if the chance ever came up she would buy the lodge.

Fastforward twenty years, and Clio is stood in front of Cedarwood Lodge. After a successful wedding planner career in New York she has made her dream come true… and bought the lodge. Granted her return to Evergreen is under a bit of a cloud, however she is determined to make it work. School friend Micah is on board to help with the immediate renovations.

Can Clio regain her magic touch and breath new life into the Lodge in time to host a wedding anniversary party? Or will events from New York spill over and threaten her new life? Only time will tell.

Rebecca has created a coming-of-age tale mixed with a redemption story. I just wanted to reach into the page and give Clio a big hug, and a bit of a slap.

Like Jane Austen’s Emma Clio has a touch of the matchmaker about her, unlike Emma she isn’t as spoilt. If anything she is misunderstood and is rocked by the lack of support her mother seems to be giving her. Instead of being overjoyed that her daughter has come back home, her Mom is if anything standoffish and put out that her daughter decided to buy the Lodge. Not that Clio knows why.

I’m not ashamed to say how much I love novellas. They fit into working life really well. The stories are short and succinct but have lots to give in a lunch break, or while you are commuting. I’m already excited to read Clio’s next chapter.

Awful by Comparison

Awful by Comparison


Author: Patricia Caliskan
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Published: 4 Aug. 2016

The Blurb: We’re all searching for love…

Jennifer Taylor is home for the holidays, but she’s in no mood to celebrate.

It’s a month before Christmas, and she has been made redundant from her job as a bookseller. And to make matters worse, she’s lost her apartment and broken up with her boyfriend. With no income and no savings, her only option is to move home with her parents. Things could be better, but Jennifer is used to living in the shadows.
That’s what happens when your sister is the beautiful New York-based model, Lara Taylor.
As fate would have it, Lara is also home for Christmas with the whirlwind news that she is getting married. But it turns out that Lara’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems.

At 32 she is washed up – her agent won’t return her calls, her second ex-husband bankrupted her, and now she’s marrying Silvano who is nothing more than a good friend.
And it turns out Silvano is keeping a pretty big secret of his own.  After a huge family argument, Jennifer is the only member of the Taylor clan to travel to New York for the nuptials. But just when all hope is gone, the fairy-tale magic of Manhattan weaves its spell. Perhaps it’s not too late for Jennifer’s happily ever after after all?

Set against the magical backdrop of New York – the city of dreams – Awful by Comparison is a charming romance novel that will have you laughing and crying in equal measures.

The Review: This is a real redemption story, looking in from two sides of a family dynamic. Jennifer is the homebody, the every-man of the piece – whereas Lara is a model who on the surface has it all.

Jenn works as an assistant for a chain of bookshops, and Christmas is approaching. This, you would think, would be the busiest time of the year. The staff don’t think that there is anything to worry about when they are shuffled into a meeting room and each handed a large envelope. They were wrong, instead of setting up the displays Jenn is put on garden leave. Now the race is on to find a new job and start her life again. Now if she was only more like her big sister, the perfect model.

On the other side of the Atlantic Lara’s world is coming crashing down. As far as her family are aware, mainly because she doesn’t really keep in touch, Lara’s career is going from strength to strength. In fact she’s so close to bankruptcy that she can’t see a way out, that is apart from marrying a rich hotelier. Now she just has to tell her family that she’s getting married again, for the third time.

This brings the Taylor girls both back home for a family Christmas…

Patricia straddles the two world’s really well, it would have been easy to get confused between the separate voices. I quickly fell for Jennifer, she is that person that everyone knows, lovely, sweet, kind and a bit of a clutz. The job interview chapter had me laughing out loud, and reminded me of my driving test that I failed miserably as I turned up medicated to the eyeballs and sick as a dog, shivering and full of cold.

Seeing each sister slowly realise that they both felt the same way about each other. The revelation that each believed that the other was loved more by their parents, and had life easier than the other. I suppose this is really how families are. A batch of unsaid feelings that bubble just beneath the surface. So capitalising on this and sensationalising it makes perfect sense.

If you are heading to the beach anytime soon, or even if you have a spare couple of hours pick this book up and put it in your bag. You’ll get so stuck into the story that you’ll have a tan in no time!

Purchase link:

Amazon UK