It's done!!! The 2022 Christmas book has left the building! OK, so it's not really done, because my lovely editor at Canelo will no doubt have lots to say about it (which usually means tons of edits for me), but at the moment I feel like a teenager sitting an exam, and I've just put my pen down and am feeling that intense rush of relief that it's all over.
However... I can't not write for long, so immediately after pressing send on the email to Canelo, I lovingly stroked the cover of my new notebook and started putting ideas down on paper for the brand new series out in 2023 (gosh, that seems so long away, but I know the time will fly!).
So, my life this week has consisted of little more than writing, planning and reading, with the odd bit of housework and cooking thrown in. I haven't even managed to get out into the garden, but my hubby informs me that one or two of the hyacinths I planted several weeks ago are putting up shoots, so even with the days getting shorter and gloomier, spring is already making plans.
Books I've read this week
Sisters Behaving Badly by Maddie Please.
I was part of a blog tour for this one, so you may have already seen my thoughts on this lovely book.
Sisters Kitty and Jenny haven’t spoken since a very disappointing Carvery lunch. Kitty, sixty-two, thinks Jenny is turning grey. Jenny, sixty-six, thinks Kitty needs to grow up! So when both sisters inherit a farmhouse in rural France, it gives them the perfect chance to heal the rift between them. Except the farmhouse is a wreck, the garden is terrorized by a flock of chickens, not to mention a donkey with a serious flatulence problem! Kitty is determined to enjoy herself, especially when she meets gorgeous French builder, Leo. Ooh la – la! And Jenny finds the fully stocked wine cellar helps enormously with missing horrible husband Paul – hic! And as the two sisters begin to repair their fragile friendship, they discover that being bad is actually very good for the soul.
I don't know about behaving badly - I thought these two ladies behaved very well indeed. Both of them were intricately drawn, two very different and succinct characters, and I adored how they interacted with each other.
Although there is a romantic interest for one of them, this story focuses more on family and relationships, reconnections and building bridges. It's about living life to the full, finding oneself, and starting over. And most of all, it's about never being too old for life, love and happiness.
Truly uplifting, I was totally immersed in Kitty's world from the very first page, and now that I've come to the last, I wish I still was. With her easy writing style, her attention to the details and her ability to draw her readers in, Madden Please has written another wonderful story.
A New Life for Ariana Byrne by Liz Hurley
What happens after all your dreams come true?
Ariana Byrne knows how to survive. After becoming guardian to her four little sisters after their parents died when she was only eighteen, she had to grow up quickly. Now she’s in her twenties, stuck in a loveless marriage to Greg, trying to make ends meet for her young twins, William and Leo.
So when Ari is told that she’s actually the Right Honourable Lady de Foix, Countess of Hiverton, owner of a sprawling estate in the village of Saxburgh in Norfolk, her first instinct is laughter. Surely the girl who has to choose between food and keeping the lights on isn’t really rich beyond her wildest dreams?
She knows how to take care of her sisters and her children, but how on earth can Ari take care of an entire village? Can she fight off the circling land developers from Saxburgh, and stop her in-laws from grabbing all the money for themselves?
And while she’s struggling to settle in and settle down, she’s making new friends and new mistakes. Trusting her gorgeous neighbour, Sebastian Flint-Hyssop, may be the biggest one of all…
She’s swapped sink estate for country estate…but can a girl from inner city London learn how to become a Lady?
Oh how I wish I'd read this first in the series before I read one of the others - I would have enjoyed that one so much more if I'd had.
I adored this story. The opening chapters were gutsy and a brilliant start to this wonderful story. I was fully invested in Adriana and her situation from the very first word, and I lapped up each and every page.
Sisterhood, complex relationships, community spirit, drams, romance... it has it all. I'm now off to check out the rest of the books in the series, and also reread the one I'd previously read.