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Love Me Or Leave By Claudia Carroll

Love Me Or Leave Me
‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ is the latest book by Claudia Carroll.

Two years ago Chloe Townsend was dumped at the altar and had to leave behind everything that mattered to her. Even now she’s finding it hard to move forward. That is until she lands an incredible job, running a brand new boutique hotel. Suddenly she’s starting to put her life back together, and, apart from the fact that her hard-to-please new boss is breathing down her neck, things are looking good. But what goes on in the Hope Street Hotel is a far cry from anything she’s ever dealt with before. This is a pioneering ‘divorce hotel’ designed to make every aspect of breaking up efficient and pain-free. In one single weekend, Chloe’s team promises to take care of everything – legal, technical, emotional – and guests check out carefree and single. No one is better qualified than Chloe to understand what couples need when their relationship is at breaking point, but she soon finds herself having to tackle the heartbreak she’s tried to bury. In particular three couples need her help – Jo and Dave, Lucy and Andrew, and Kirk and Dawn – and the opening weekend is full of revelation, trouble, memories happy and sad, facts that need facing, and some very big surprises.

I’ve been a fan of Claudia’s books for years, they are always warmhearted stories of love and friendship written with her signature Irish charm and wit.

The story is seen primarily from the perspective of the lead protagonist of the story Chloe Townsend, who fled Dublin for the bright lights of London after she was left embarrassed and jilted on her wedding day. Homesick, she returns home after an unique opportunity arises to become the general manager of Ireland’s first divorce hotel. A hotel that helps makes the stressful process of divorce a little bit easier. She is perfect for the role, organised and always in control, she is provides an essence of calm for the guests at the hotel and a shoulder to cry on when things get too much.

The story also concentrates on three couples on the lead up to their divorce and is written in a past and present scenario, so we know the history of the couples and why this is happening. The couples are all great characters, that provide elements of humour and drama that make this story poignant reading. Penny married Kirk when she was very young and was naive to think that this vegan, free loving hippy would love her forever but Kirk was unable to keep his love to himself and suddenly she finds herself in the divorce hotel. Meek and always happy to please, she finally finds her voice and is quick to tell laid back Kirk what she really thinks of him which is hilarious. Jo and David were a couple that I felt huge sympathy for. Jo is a busy, perfectionist businesswoman with a sharp tongue who likes everything to be in order. David is her complete polar opposite, a carefree actor, he enjoys an easy life which seems to stress Jo out. But, as the story develops, we see the true reason behind the couple staying at the hotel, which I found particularly heartbreaking. Finally the last couple are Lucy and Andrew. Lucy is a successful model and girl about town, who fell for Andrew who is quite a bit older than her and his son and daughter hate Lucy as she only a few years older than them. Another sad story, where this time the stepchildren don’t like their new stepmother and make her life hell particularly during the recession.

With a pretty cover and a catchy title, that had me singing Abba for the duration of the story, this book has a wonderful cast, which makes the story genuinely gripping. Cleverly written from the perspective guests of the hotel plus Chloe as an observer and a neutral being, we see the insights into their lives and the mutual heartache that they are all experiencing. I find Claudia’s books so easy to read and enjoy and last year I was fortunate to meet her at an event and ever since, when I read her books, I hear her voice telling me the story in her soft lilting Dublin accent. A compelling story that is hilarious in parts and a tearjerker in others, ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ is a lovely story that shows with a little bit of time and space, a divorce doesn’t have to be the last resort and occasionally we can all get our happy endings. Another treat from one of my favourite Irish authors.

You can buy Love Me Or Leave Me from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Alice Peterson

Alice Peterson

Alice dreamt of being a winning Wimbledon, but sadly this wasn’t to be when she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis aged 18 and she hasn’t picked up a racket since. Lost and scared, a friend encouraged her to write about her personal experience and she did. Alice wrote her first book called ‘A Will To Win’ which has been republished as ‘Another Alice’ Alice has written eight books since both non-fiction and fiction. Alice’s most recent book ‘One Step Closer To You’ won Best Romantic Read 2014 at the RNA’s.

  1. For the readers of the website, who are unfamiliar with your books, can you tell us about yourself and how you got into writing.
    I never thought I’d be a writer. To my friends and family I was always ‘Alice, the tennis player’. Tennis had been my childhood passion, and aged 18 I was ranked amongst the top 10 juniors in the country. However, overnight, my dreams of winning Wimbledon were shattered when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I have never picked up a racket since, a sadness that will always be with me. In my early 20s I didn’t have a clue what my future held except for pain and grieving my old life. It wasn’t until a family friend suggested I write my story about my tennis and RA that I began to feel hope again. I loved writing; I’d always written a diary from the age of 10 and I’d written the drama plays at school, so just loved the creative side. It was also very therapeutic making sense as to why bad things in life happen. My autobiography, Another Alice, was published in 1999, and that was the beginning of a new career, a new path.
  2. Your books tackle quite sensitive issues such as abuse, disability and addictions. What’s been your hardest book to write?
    Yes, I love romance and comedy and all my books are love stories, but I am definitely drawn to writing about things I have experienced too, such as disability. I think drama is when challenging things happen to people, so I want to give my protagonist as many obstacles as possible! The hardest book to write – probably, By My Side. It took many drafts to get it right. It’s a tough book to sell too – I think that the subject of spinal cord injury, the idea that life can change in just one moment, is possibly frightening for many readers. Yet, it’s one of my most uplifting novels, which really celebrates triumph over adversity and how people can change direction even on the darkest path in life. It also has the cutest dog in it called Ticket.
  3. What authors do you admire?
    Jane Austen, David Nicholls, Khaled Hosseini and it’s the biggest compliment when people compare my work to Jojo Moyes.

  4. If you were starting your writing journey again, is there anything you would do differently?
    Yes, I’d be much more outspoken about the covers and not nearly so accepting of decisions that are made about my career. One or two of my covers have been truly awful and have made readers positively not want to buy the book. I would have liked the confidence I have now, back then, to challenge agents and publishers. It’s important to have faith in your own decisions and vision.
  5. Do you have favourite literary hero/heroine?
    Elizabeth Bennett – love her strength of character, her loyalty and courage.
  6. What book did you read that made to decide to become an author?
    There wasn’t really a book that made me decide to be an author – it was more my circumstances, as mentioned, but I do remember loving books as a child. My father used to read Daphne Du Maurier to me on holiday and I recall being completely entranced by ‘Rebecca’ and ‘My Cousin Rachel’.
  7. What’s been the highlight of your career?
    When my dog walking romantic comedy, ‘Monday to Friday Man’, inspired by my own dog, Mr Darcy, knocked ’50 Shades of Grey’ off the Kindle No.1 spot – so exciting, I couldn’t sleep…
  8. What piece of advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
    Don’t be put off by people saying how tough the market is and how difficult everything is – someone has to be published so why not you. Don’t give up, have faith in yourself.
  9. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you bring with you to occupy your time?
    ‘Gone With The Wind’ (because I’ve never read it so it’s about time I did!), ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and ‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry. But, seriously, I hope I’d never be stranded on a desert island – I am completely unpractical, just like my father… I wouldn’t know how to survive.
  10. When sitting down to write, what one item do you need beside you?
    A cup of strong coffee (or a glass of wine in the evening).
  11. What is your favourite book of all time?
    I don’t think a book has ever moved me as much as ‘The Kite Runner’. I remember tears streaming down my face on the last page.
  12. And finally Alice, do you have any exciting new projects on the horizon?
    Yes, I have a novel coming out next summer with all the usual Alice Peterson themes of disability, love, romance – a story that will hopefully make the reader laugh and cry. It’s also half set in a beautiful location in Cornwall. So now I have to think up a new idea… any ideas welcome!

Follow Alice Peterson on Twitter Alice Peterson for updates or check out her website at Alice Peterson

The Year I Met You By Cecelia Ahern

The Year I Met You‘The Year I Met You’ is the latest book by Cecelia Ahern.

Jasmine loves two things: her sister and her work. And when her work is taken away she has no idea who she is. Matt loves two things: his family and the booze. Without them, he hits rock bottom.

One New Year’s Eve, two people’s paths collide. Both have time on their hands; both are at a crossroads. But as the year unfolds, through moonlit nights and suburban days, an unlikely friendship slowly starts to blossom. Sometimes you have to stop still in order to move on.

Cecelia is back with another charming treat of a story that you can easily absorb in one sitting. With a frank and outspoken leading lady and obnoxious man, the story was entertaining from the very beginning as we joined Jasmine on her gardening leave. A strong driven and passionate woman, Jasmine helps set up successful businesses before selling them on, but it all falls apart one day when she is headhunted from a rival company thus resulting in her losing her job. Jobless and unable to go back into the world of employment for a year, she is left at a loose end, having nothing to do but spy on her neighbour.

The story is narrated by Jasmine and whilst off work, she forms an unlikely friendship with Matt. A obnoxious and alcoholic radio presenter who like Jasmine finds himself without a job, after a particularly wild radio show. He repels Jasmine with his ways, causing a ruckus in the street, fighting and generally being disrespectful, she tries to stay away from him but finds herself drawn to him, feeling sympathy for his broken marriage and broken heart. Together they form an unlikely bond, being there for each other especially when Matt’s wife leaves him, leaving him with a letter that he can’t bear to read so he asks her to hold onto it. As time passes, Jasmine finds herself feeling an unexpected feelings of affection and protection for the loud and funny character. The scenes with Matt and Jasmine are particularly amusing, they are both outspoken and rarely hold back. The story is filled with lovely characters especially Heather, who is Jasmine’s older sister who has Down Syndrome. Gentle with a beautiful spirit, Heather is a sweetheart, always busy and looking out for her, Jasmine is so protective of her trying to shield her from the world.

With one of the prettiest covers of 2014 and written in Cecelia’s lighthearted trademark style with an injection of her Irish humour, the book is tender and dark in places and filled with engaging characters. Captivating and mysterious from the start and filled with gardening tips from the ‘The Year I Met You’ is a heartwarming story about starting over and new friendships.

You can buy The Year I Met You from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Miranda Mondays With Team Bea

I’m delighted to be part of Team Bea for the upcoming release of Miranda Dickinson’s new book ‘I’ll Take New York’. To celebrate the launch of the book, us lucky members of Team Bea will be posting some wonderful content on our websites such as giveaways, interviews and extracts. Check out the banner below which has the schedule of treats we have in store over the coming weeks. Keep up to date with the hashtag #TeamBea for further information.

Miranda Mondays

Humbugs And Heartstrings By Catherine Ferguson

Humbugs and Heartstrings‘Humbugs and Heartstrings’ is Catherine Ferguson’s debut novel.

Two ex-friends. One Christmas to remember. Bobbie’s boss Carol is a real misery-guts, dedicated to making the lives of everyone around her unhappy in pursuit of every last penny. What makes it worse is that the two women have history: they were once best friends. When handsome hotelier Charlie steps into the frame the two women go to battle as one sees a romantic future and the other a possible lifeboat for her business. With wonderful warmth and humour – and the odd mince pie fight – the women are forced to confront their shared past, the turbulent present and, most importantly, the potential of the future.

I have to admit I really enjoyed this book, it was fun and entertaining from the very beginning. The story is seen from the perspective of Bobbie Blanchett, a young woman who aspired to have a successful art career who has now ended up working for her ex best friend Carol in her cleaning business, as she tries to scrimp and save for her younger brother’s surgery to correct his curved spine.

Carol is the villain of the story, referenced throughout as ‘The Boss’, she has a nasty streak and is quite ruthless with her employees, thrifty with money although she is rich, she is forever buying from charity shops and car boot sales. Even though she is a horrible character, there are regular flashbacks in the story as Bobbie reflects back to when they friends and didn’t have a distance between them, there are also quite a funny moments in the story when they together.

The story is quite reminiscent of ‘A Christmas Carol’, as Bobbie has her future read by an amateur psychic who tells her that she will have three visits and this gives the tale a lovely warm and intriguing element.

It’s packed with fun characters, particularly Charlie who is main hero in the story, who Bobbie meets whilst trying to book a budget hotel for Carol and together they have an entertaining banter and repertoire with each other. Another person who I loved was Bunty, Bobbie’s mothers friend, wonderfully loud and outspoken she was always quick to tell people what she thought of them, whether it offends them or not.

A lovely story that I immediately fell in love with, ‘Humbugs And Heartstrings’ is a delicious festive story filled with likeable characters and an affectionate and funny plot line that flows at an easy pace.

You can buy Humbugs and Heartstrings from Amazon