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Jesse’s Girl By Tara September

Jesse's‘Jesse’s Girl’ is the latest book by Tara September and this short book can easily be consumed in one sitting, which I did over the weekend.

Successful Texas lawyer, Reade Walker, curses that damn song every time it plays, all too aware of the irony of its lyrics. After all, he has been secretly and painfully enamored with Jesse’s girl, Gwen, for nearly a decade. It was love at first sight for him, but sadly she’s not his girl. She belongs to the one man who betrayed him and knows Reade’s hidden family secret. Yet Reade can’t seem to love anyone except the one woman he can’t have. Or can he make her mine? When Gwen Clark’s senator husband runs off with his intern and all their money, the ensuing scandal turns her life upside down. Deserted, penniless and desperate to provide for her six-year-old daughter, Gwen has no one to turn to but Reade Walker. The one man her heart desperately wants, but her pride dreads having to ask for help. Despite welcoming them into his home, it seems like Reade can barely stand being in the same room with her anymore, let alone under the same roof—in the same bedroom. But Gwen is determined to get her life back on track. It is past time to rediscover her own dreams…if only she can keep her aching heart from breaking all over again.

The story is seen from the narrative of friends Gwen and Reade who have known each other for years with having one mutual friend in common, Jesse who is Gwen’s estranged political husband. When Jesse leaves Gwen for his younger intern and leaving her with almighty bills, Gwen is at a loss and decides to head to New York to create a new life for herself and young daughter Maddie and get away from the paparazzi who are wanting to hear her side of the story. Reade is Jesse’s former friend who has always had a thing for Gwen, but as she was Jesse’s Girl, he stayed away keeping a safe distance, even though he was always attracted to her.

Reade comes to Gwen’s rescue by offering her a place to stay whilst she tries to get her life in order and during this short time together that the pair become closer and confide in their feelings.

This is a great book to curl up with and read. Both Gwen and Reade are fiery and passionate people and when they come together, sparks literally fly. I loved Gwen, she’s’ smart, sassy and completely unaware of her beauty and it’s effect on Reade which makes for funny reading as Reade tries to control himself around her and hide his true feelings.

A steamy story filled with attitude and sass, ‘Jesse’s Girl’ is a fun and romantic story with witty dialogue, great characters and shows that with a little bit of patience, good things comes to those who wait.

You can buy ‘Jesse’s Girl’ from Amazon.

John Marrs

John MarrsJohn Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. ‘The Minders’ is his latest book.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
    My name is John Marrs and I’m fortunate to be able to write for two publishers. For Thomas & Mercer, I write psychological thrillers and for Penguin’s Ebury, I write psychological thrillers with a futuristic twist. Before giving it up three years ago to write full-time, I used to be a celebrity journalist and wrote for publications including ‘OK Magazine’, ‘The Guardian’s Guide’, ‘Total Film’, ‘Q’ and ’S’ Magazine. Books started as a bit of fun – a challenge to myself – and it ended up becoming an entirely new career.
  2. Tell us about your new book called ‘The Minders’.
    The premise is simple – if you could know every secret our country has ever kept – good and bad – but can’t tell a single soul, would you want to know? In The Minders, five ordinary people give up their lives for five years to take part in an experimental Government programme to store all our top secret data inside them. But as they start their lives afresh under new identities, someone is hunting them down and picking them off one by one.
  3. Congratulations on the exciting news of ‘The One’ being adapted for Netflix. Are you involved with the adaption of the book or have you passed the reins onto someone else?
    Thank you! But no, I’ve had nothing to do with the adaptation. It is an eight-part series and I think it will be very different to the book, but I’ve not read the scripts or storylines. I can’t wait to see what they have done with it. For me, once my book is complete, I move on to the next one and I’ll never read it again. With the TV version, it is now up to someone else to take my story and turn it into their vision. I did get to go on set and watch it being filmed in January which was a great and very surreal experience.
  4. Your books have been compared to the Netflix series ‘Black Mirror’, as they are quite futuristic. Where do you get your ideas from?
    They can come from anywhere. ‘When You Disappeared’ came from an article I read in The Guardian, ‘The Good Samaritan’ came from a conversation with a friend who worked as a phone line operator for vulnerable people. I thought of ‘The One’ on an escalator in London’s Underground and a book I’ll be working on soon came to me in a dream. I woke myself up and had to dictate it into my phone before I forgot it.
  5. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    I’ve got to know a few since I’ve been writing, so I’d start with Cara Hunter, Claire Allen, Darren O’Sullivan, Louise Beech and Tom Rob Smith. Then I’d send out invitations to Peter Swanson, Gillian Flynn and John Boyne. They could rewrite the phone directory and I’d read it.
  6. Who’s your favourite villain or hero?
    Patrick Bateman in ‘American Psycho’. What a book, what a character.
  7. The Minders

  8. Can you tell me about your planning process from planning to first draft?
    I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, although I am trying to change that. My last book, The Minders, was the first I have properly planned and I quite enjoyed the process. For me, the first draft is all about getting those words and plotlines out of my head and onto the screen. It’s the second draft when the work really begins – trying to make it into something readable for someone other than myself. By the third draft, it’s really starting to take shape, by draft number four, I gain confidence in it. But by drafts five and six, I am sick to death of it and never want to read it again! Every year my writing process changes. I used to write for 90 minutes on the train to London in the morning, then for an hour at lunch time, and a further 90 minutes on the journey home. In fact, my first five books were written on trains. Then I gave up journalism in 2018 and started writing from home full-time. But since our son was born a year ago, it’s now a case of making the most of the rare free time I have. When I’m writing, it’s always in silence. I can’t do background music. I always print the book out to do my edits, makes notes in coloured pens I buy from a shop called Muji and when I make the on-screen corrections, that’s when I’ll listen to playlists on Apple Music.
  9. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.”JRR Tolkein was nothing if not straight to the point.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts has been sitting on my bookshelf for a decade and I’ve still yet to read it. I’m intimidated by its 900+ pages. Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’ would be my second choice because after a lull of a decade in the 1990s, that book got me back into reading again. And my last choice would be John Boyne’s ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’, a novel I loved so much that I’d only read a chapter at a time as I didn’t want it to end.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    I’m still way too early in my journey to ever think I could offer anybody advice of my own! I can share these tips though – I was told to read out loud whatever I write when I start the editing process – and it has really helped me with pacing, grammatical errors and sentence structure. I’ve also learned that research is key – if you want to write a commercially successful book, then pick a genre that people want to read. You might know everything there is to know about Himalayan snowdrops, but it doesn’t mean other people want to read a book about them. And just get on with it – so many writers waste time procrastinating or trying to come up with the perfect plot before they write. Sometimes you just need to put pen to paper and see where it takes you.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    I don’t need anything other than a computer. Writing my first few books on trains taught me that I need nothing but a laptop. And that gives me the ability to write wherever I like – a pub, a restaurant, a garden or in bed.
  13. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m in the process of taking a year out, so I won’t be publishing anything new until probably 2022. It’s nice not having a deadline for once. It means I can write for pleasure again and at my own pace.

    Follow John Marrs on Twitter and follow his website

You can buy ‘The Minders’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

My One True North By Milly Johnson

My One True NorthMilly Johnston is back on our bookshelves with witty and poignant story about lost love and new beginnings.

Laurie and Pete should never have met. But fate has pushed them together for a reason. Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners. Struggling to manage the grief, they join the same counselling group – and meet each other. From their sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and they sense a fresh new beginning. Except, the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories. Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything. But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.

The story is primarily seen from the perspectives of recently bereaved people Laurie and Pete, who’s partners were tragically killed in a car accident. Now, months later the pair of them are trying to deal with their loss and with the help of their friends join a group for people dealing with grief. The group is lead by Molly, a kind woman who helps people deal with losses after the death of her own partner. In this group we meet a range of characters who are recovering from the loss of people and pets and the impacts that these deaths have had on their lives. The people are an interesting collective who are at different stages of their journey and are there to offer support and friendship when things get tough.

I adored this book and absorbed it in one sitting and was disappointed in myself for not reading it sooner. Pete and Laurie are two fantastic lead characters, both are united in grief and are heartbroken for the lives that were tragically taken from them. As the pair of them join the group, we see them tentatively embark on a new friendship and an understanding as they both share their grief and stories. It’s lovely to join them on their brave steps of making first solo cinema trips, dates and adventures together. As the story progresses we see that the pair have more in common than they could have ever imagined and that the lives they were leading, were far from perfect.

The story is a tender and poignant one that focuses on loss and how different people deal with it but with every bittersweet moment in the book, Milly delivers some wit with her Yorkshire humour that brightens the reader up. Having sadly experienced her own loss in the last year with the death of her father, Milly’s writing is reflective and tender with a special insight on grief.

The story sees the return of ‘The Daily Trumpet’ the local newspaper that is always printing apologies for errors in articles, whether it’s a wrong name or an incorrect letter to a word that gives a story a completely different angle. Alan, the poor the editor is regularly using creative and colourful language to describe his staff and the situations and these scenes with Alan genuinely make for hilarious moments.

‘My One Truth North’ is another wonderful story from Milly that delivers laughs, tears and new friendships, filled with warmth and charm, this is another stunning story from Yorkshire’s finest author.

You can buy ‘My One True North’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Dani Atkins Reveals New Book – A Sky Full Of Stars

A Sky Full Of StarsDani Atkins has revealed the name and cover of her new book for 2021 called ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’.

What the back cover says –

He’d have done everything differently, if he’d known. He’d have held her tighter, kissed her longer. He’d have refused to let her go.

When Lisa married Alex, she gave his life meaning. She was a professional astronomer: a stargazer. And when she gazed at Alex, she saw that behind his tough exterior was a man she could love.

Alex, Lisa and their young son Connor made a happy little universe. But then Lisa dies in a train crash, and their universe is destroyed. Alex is shattered by loss, and overwhelmed by the difficulties of being a single father to a six-year-old boy. How can he and Connor carry on without Lisa lighting up their lives?

Then Alex meets four strangers. Two men and two women, who never met Lisa, but whose lives changed profoundly because she died. As Alex hears their stories, he begins to realise the world may not be as cruel and senseless as it seems. Perhaps, after all, the future is written in the stars…

Each an absolutely stunning synopsis and stunning cover, ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ sounds like another emotional rollercoaster from Dani that will have you reaching for the tissues.

You can pre-order ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 4th February 2021.

Helen Fields Reveals New Book – The Shadow Man

The Shadow ManIf you’re a fan of Helen Fields, then exciting news as she has revealed her new book for 2021 called ‘The Shadow Man’, which is a standalone novel and not part of the ‘DI Callanach’ series.

What the back cover says –

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

And he’s watching.

I’m a huge fan of Helen Fields’ books and I look forward to curling up with this thriller.

You can pre-order ‘The Shadow Man’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 4th February 2021.