8.5/10

#BookReview
House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick
@NicolaCornick @HarlequinBooks

Synopsis:

The wooded hills of Oxfordshire conceal the remains of the aptly named Ashdown House–a wasted pile of cinders and regret. Once home to the daughter of a king, its secrets will unite three women across four centuries in a tangle of romance, deceit and destiny…

1662–A queen

Bound by sex and birth to live for everyone but herself–and to love always in secret–Elizabeth Stuart entrusts a pair of arcane artifacts to her faithful cavalier to keep safe for her rightful heir. But fate will not be generous to the Winter Queen, throwing the question of succession into turmoil, the aftermath of which will resonate through the generations.

1801–A courtesan

Lavinia Flyte wanted so much more from life than to be a courtesan at the mercy of the cruel Lord Evershot. He has brought her to Ashdown, the home of his ancestors, for reasons he guards greedily. But the maids’ whispers of hidden treasures–a pearl with the power to foretell the future–consume her with a curiosity she confides only to her diary, unaware of the misfortune that threatens.

And the mystery that binds them

Alarmed to hear her brother has gone missing at Ashdown Park, Holly Ansell is inexplicably drawn to the clues contained in the journal of a Regency courtesan who was living at the historic home when it burned to the ground two hundred years ago. Lured by the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s search leads her not only to the truth about Lavinia, but deeper into her own connection with the Winter Queen.

For fans of Kate Morton and Barbara Erskine comes an unforgettable novel about the power one lie can have over history.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Romantic, fascinating, and exceptionally absorbing!

In Cornick’s latest novel, House of Shadows, she immerses us in an incredibly intriguing historical time-slip tale of love, life, duty, honour, friendship, family, passion, desire, and mystery.

The writing is fluid and vividly descriptive. The characters, in all time periods, are complex, independent, and strong. And the blended plot is a captivating, sometimes dangerous journey, from the Winter Queen’s exiled court in The Hague to the beautiful, wooded countryside of Sussex, England.

Overall, House of Shadows is a well written, exceptionally researched, entertaining novel that highlights Cornick’s knowledge and passion for history in a tale that interweaves historical facts, compelling fiction, suspense, and romance effortlessly and I can’t wait to read what she publishes next.

 

About the Author:

International bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes romantic historical mysteries and witty and passionate Regency romance. She studied History at London and Oxford and was awarded a distinction for her dissertation on historical heroes. It was a tough study but someone had to do it. Nicola has a “double life” as a writer and guide at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge, Ashdown House. Nicola lives near Oxford and loves reading, writing, history, music, wildlife, travel and walking her dog. She also loves hearing from her readers and chatting to them on her blog

 

Thank you to Harlequin Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Nicola Cornick, visit her website at: nicolacornick.co.uk

or follow her on Twitter at: @NicolaCornick

#BookReview
Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler
@AuthorLizLawler @BonnierZaffre @twenty7books

Synopsis:

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.

The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Fast-paced, gritty, and disturbingly creepy!

Don’t Wake Up is a character-driven psychological thriller that highlights how fragile the mind truly is and how easily someone’s behaviour can be questioned, misinterpreted, manipulated, and used against them.

It is, ultimately, a story about jealousy, revenge, hatred, violence, and murder.

The characters are multilayered, vulnerable, and at times believably unreliable.  The writing is well done. And the plot unfolds rapidly and has a nice balance of suspense, tension, suspects, and surprises.

Overall Don’t Wake Up is a compelling, well-written debut for Lawler that once started will keep you intrigued and entertained until the very end.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Bonnier Zaffre – Twenty7 for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

            

For more information on Liz Lawler follow her on Twitter at: @AuthorLizLawler

#BookReview
The Seagull by Ann Cleeves
@AnnCleeves @PGCBooks

Synopsis:

The much-anticipated eighth novel in Ann Cleeves’ bestselling Vera Stanhope series.

A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper – and Vera played a part in his downfall.

Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. He tells her that Marshall is dead, his body is buried close to St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two.

This cold case takes Vera back in time, and very close to home, as Brace and Marshall, along with a mysterious stranger known only as ‘the Prof’, were close friends of Hector, her father. Together, they were ‘the Gang of Four’, and Hector had been one of the last people to see Marshall alive. Vera must confront her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth, as the past begins to collide dangerously with the present…

The Seagull is Ann Cleeves’ searing new novel, about corruption deep in the heart of a community, and about fragile, and fracturing, family relationships.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Atmospheric, meticulous, and sophisticated!

In this latest novel by Cleeves, The Seagull, DI Vera Stanhope finds herself immersed in a cold case involving corruption, trafficking, drugs, blackmail, abuse, adoption, and murder that may just end up hitting a little too close to home.

The writing style is smooth, descriptive and effortless. The characters, including the nosy, complex, lovable heroine, are well-developed, relentless, and creative. And the plot is a well-paced, cleverly plotted police procedural full of suspects, clues, red herrings, solid deduction, and swirling emotions.

The Seagull is the eighth book in the Vera Stanhope series, and whether you’re new to the series or a long-standing fan this novel will be sure to please. It is an entertaining, gripping, mysterious tale that emphasizes the enduring psychological effects parents can have on their children even long after they’re gone.

About the Author:

Ann Cleeves is the author behind PBS’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. She has written over twenty-five novels, and is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez – characters loved both on screen and in print. Her books have now sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

Ann worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before becoming a crime writer. She is a member of ‘Murder Squad’, working with other British northern writers to promote crime fiction. In 2006 Ann was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger (CWA Gold Dagger) for Best Crime Novel, for Raven Black, the first book in her Shetland series, and in 2012 she was inducted into the CWA Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame. Ann lives in North Tyneside, England.

Thank you to PGC Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                          

For more information on Ann Cleeves, visit her website at: anncleeves.com

or follow her on Twitter at@AnnCleeves

#BookReview
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
@jesmimi @SimonSchusterCA

Synopsis:

A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers.

Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Haunting, atmospheric, and powerful!

Sing, Unburied, Sing is an incredibly moving novel about life in small-town Mississippi where life is constantly inflicted by ravishing hurricanes, enduring poverty, rampant opioid availability, and racial prejudices.

The prose is eloquent and descriptive. The characters are tormented, fragile, and raw. And the plot takes us on a heart-wrenching rollercoaster ride full of love, violence, hatred, addiction, biracial tension, incarceration, abandonment, death, loss and the spirit world beyond. 

Sing, Unburied, Sing is ultimately a poetic tale woven with a supernatural thread that reminds us that strength, compassion, and kindness is the base of humanity that transcends skin colour, socioeconomic status, and the deepest, darkest realities.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

                                            

For more information on Jesmyn Ward visit her website at: jesmimi.blogspot.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @jesmimi

#BookReview
Gone Astray by Michelle Davies
@M_Davieswrites @PGCBooks

Synopsis:

What if someone thinks they deserve their life more than you?

When a Lesley Kinnock buys a lottery ticket on a whim, it changes her life more than she could have imagined. . .

Lesley and her husband Mack are the sudden winners of a £15 million EuroMillions jackpot. They move with their 15-year-old daughter Rosie to an exclusive gated estate in Buckinghamshire, leaving behind their ordinary lives – and friends – as they are catapulted into wealth beyond their wildest dreams.

But it soon turns into their darkest nightmare when, one beautiful spring afternoon, Lesley returns to their house to find it empty: their daughter Rosie is gone.

DC Maggie Neville is assigned to be Family Liaison Officer to Lesley and Mack, supporting them while quietly trying to investigate the family. And she has a crisis threatening her own life – a secret from the past that could shatter everything she’s worked so hard to build.

As Lesley and Maggie desperately try to find Rosie, their fates hurtle together on a collision course that threatens to end in tragedy . . .

Money can’t buy you happiness.
The truth could hurt more than a lie.
One moment really can change your life forever.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Suspenseful, absorbing, and skillfully executed!

Gone Astray is a well-paced psychological thriller set in Buckinghamshire, England that is told from multiple perspectives; Lesley, Rosie’s loving, distraught mother who is not entirely comfortable with her new wealth; Maggie, the dedicated, appointed Family Liaison Officer whose own personal life is in tatters; and finally a menacing, aggressive character whose hostility and anger towards the Kinnocks is escalating rapidly.

The writing is crisp and fluid. The characters are flawed, complex, and intriguing. And the plot, using alternating chapters, does an excellent job of intertwining, unraveling and building not only all the tension and increasing family drama but also the suggestions, clues, and procedures of the unfolding police investigation.

Overall, I think Gone Astray is a fantastic debut for Davies that definitely highlights money doesn’t always bring happiness and often we don’t know people as well as we think.

The second novel in the DC Maggie Neville series, Wrong Place, is due out later this fall and you can be confident it’s already on my TBR list.

About the Author:

Michelle Davies has been a magazine contributor for over twenty years, including working the production desk at Elle, and as Features Editor of Heat. Her last staff position before going freelance was Editor-at-Large at Grazia magazine, and she currently writes for a number of women’s magazines and newspaper supplements. Michelle is also a crime reviewer for the Books section of the Sunday Express.

Michelle lives in London with her partner and daughter, juggling crime writing, freelance journalism, and motherhood. Gone Astray is her debut novel.

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Michelle Davies, visit her website at: michelledavieswriter.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @M_Davieswrites

 

#BookReview
Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
@SarahMorgan_ @HarlequinBooks

Synopsis:

The perfect summer escape?

Professional dog-walker Felicity Knight loves everything about New York…until her ex-husband starts working at her local vet clinic. She hasn’t seen Seth Carlyle in ten years, but one glimpse of him–too gorgeous, and still too good for her–and Fliss’s heart hurts like their whirlwind marriage ended yesterday. So when her grandmother in the Hamptons needs help for the summer, it seems the ideal way to escape her past.

Their relationship might have lasted only a few scorching months, but vet Seth knows Fliss–if she’s run away to the Hamptons, it’s because she still feels their connection and it terrifies her. He let her go once before, when he didn’t know any better, but not this summer! With the help of his adorable dog, Lulu, and a sprinkling of beachside magic, Seth is determined to make Fliss see that he’s never stopped loving her…


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Comical, sweet, and delightfully charming!

Holiday in the Hamptons is a second-chance romance set in the idyllic seaside community that features Fliss, the energetic, scarred business owner and Seth, the handsome, generous, veterinarian in a story that emphasizes that sometimes even when you’ve found the one when it comes to love timing is everything.

The prose is light and fluid. The characters are adorably warm and funny, including the saucy grandmother and all the four-legged furry friends. And the plot is a rollercoaster ride full of life, love, heartbreak, loss, friendship, family, trust, chemistry, and of course some delicious heat.

I have to say that once again, Holiday in the Hamptons has proven that when in comes to writing emotional, heartfelt stories with loveable characters and irresistible happy-ever-after endings Morgan is one of the best.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my review for Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3) be sure to check it out here:

Thank you to Harlequin Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Sarah Morgan, visit her website at: sarahmorgan.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @SarahMorgan_


 

#BookReview
Shattered by Allison Brennan
@Allison_Brennan @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

Over a span of twenty years, four boys have been kidnapped from their bedrooms, suffocated, and buried nearby in a shallow grave. Serial killer or coincidence?

That’s the question investigative reporter Maxine Revere sets out to answer when an old friend begs her to help exonerate his wife, who has been charged with their son’s recent murder. But Max can do little to help because the police and D.A. won’t talk to her―they think they have the right woman. Instead, Max turns her attention to three similar cold cases. If she can solve them, she might be able to help her friend.

Justin Stanton was killed twenty years ago, and his father wants closure―so he is willing to help Max with her investigation on one condition: that she work with his former sister-in-law― Justin’s aunt, FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid. Trouble is, Max works alone, and she’s livid that her only access to the case files, lead detective and witnesses depends on her partnering with a federal agent on vacation. She wants the career-making story almost as much as the truth―but if she gets this wrong, she could lose everything.

Haunted by Justin’s death for years, Lucy yearns to give her family―and herself―the closure they need. More important, she wants to catch a killer. Lucy finds Max’s theory on all three cases compelling―with Max’s research added to Lucy’s training and experience, Lucy believes they can find the killer so justice can finally be served. But the very private Lucy doesn’t trust the reporter any more than Max trusts her.

Max and Lucy must find a way to work together to untangle lies, misinformation, and evidence to develop a profile of the killer. But the biggest question is: why were these boys targeted? As they team up to find out what really happened the night Justin was killed, they make a shocking discovery: Justin’s killer is still out there … stalking another victim … and they already may be too late.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Fast-paced, spine-chilling, and extremely disturbing!

In this latest novel by Brennan she gives us an exciting crossover thriller featuring Max, the tough and tenacious investigative journalist of this series, and Lucy the troubled, extremely clever FBI agent from her other series as they take on a 20-year-old cold case that highlights just how psychologically and emotionally devastating the loss of a loved one, especially a child, can be on the entire family and may not be quite as cold as first believed.

The writing is clear and tight. The characterization is well done. And the plot is a skillfully executed police procedural with twists, turns, emotion, family drama, heartbreak, lies, murder and an ending that will not only satisfy but leave you wanting more.

Shattered is a highly entertaining, harrowing whodunit that doesn’t disappoint and even though it’s the fourth book in the series it can definitely be read as a standalone novel.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                       

For more information on Allison Brennan, visit her website at: allisonbrennan.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @Allison_Brennan

#BlogTour & #BookReview
It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan
@katekerrigan @HoZ_Books

Synopsis:

Set in late 1950s Ireland and New York, the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Set, like Maeve Binchy’s early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy’s heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Heartwarming, impassioned, and alluring!

This is a compelling story about first loves, friendship, community, goals, dreams, family and music that is set during the late 1950s when New York was a melting pot of immigrants and Manhattan was the hub of the American music industry.

There are four main memorable characters in this novel; Rose, a young Irish lass who leaves comfort and security behind in hopes of finding her first love; Ava, a woman with insecurities but a lot of heart; Sheila a Jewish orphan who has lots of spunk, tenacity and grit; and Danny, the dark-haired, blue-eyed small-town lad who turns all their heads with his angelic voice.

The writing is vivid and sincere. The supporting characters are multi-layered, unique, and true to character. And the plot is a wonderful mix of passion, drama, character development and emotion.

Overall this is an extremely engaging, memorable, enjoyable read that does a remarkable job of interweaving historical facts, fiction, and romance.

About the Author:

 

 

Kate Kerrigan lives in County Mayo, Eire, with her husband and children. Her novels include Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, shortlisted for the 2006 Romantic Novel of the Year Award and Ellis Island, which was a TV Book Club Summer Read.

 

 

Thank you to Head of Zeus for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Kate Kerrigan, visit her website at: http://katekerrigan.ie

or follow her on Twitter at: @katekerrigan

#BookReview
Eye Candy by Jessica Lemmon
@lemmony @readloveswept

Synopsis:

Jacqueline: As an adult woman–and the vice president of a marketing firm–I shouldn’t be waiting by my office window to ogle the mystery man who jogs by every morning at 11:45. Sure, he’s a gorgeous, perfect specimen of the human race, but I can’t bring myself to hit on a total stranger. However, my best friend-slash-colleague Vince Carson thinks I should do more than talk to the guy. In fact, he’s borderline obsessive about “getting me laid.” (His words.) But the more time we spend together, the more it’s clear: The one I’m falling for is Vince.

Vince: Jackie Butler’s got it bad for some pompous, over-pumped A-hole who struts his stuff past her window. That doesn’t bother me. I know she deserves nice things. What does bother me is that she friend-zoned me big-time last year, so I can’t ask her out myself. But what if I set her up with Mr. Steroids? Then, when he breaks her heart, I can swoop in and save her like the nice guy I am. Everything’s going according to plan . . . until we share a ridiculously epic kiss. And suddenly anything is possible.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Sweet, sexy, and fun!

This is a charming friends-to-more rom-com about moving on, learning to trust, taking some risks and remembering that games can often backfire and honesty is always the best policy.

The writing is humorous and light. The characters, including the supporting characters, are winsome, cautious, endearing, and real. And the plot is a romantic tale filled with heartache, friendship, introspection, exquisite chemistry, steamy tension, witty banter, and true love.

This is the first novel in the “Real Love” series and what a great start. It’s enjoyable, frisky, and highly entertaining and I can’t wait to read and review Arm Candy the second book in the series publishing in early September.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House – Loveswept for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available July 25, 2017.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                              

For more information on Jessica Lemmon, visit her website at: jessicalemmon.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @lemmony

#BlogTour & #BookReview
The Rainbow Player by David Kerby-Kendall
@dkerbykendall @Authoright

Synopsis:

England footballer, Sammy Hatchington, has never considered sexuality before. As a teenager, Sammy broke the mould of his youthful peers with his desire to open the door to life’s endless possibilities. He escaped a deprived estate and, with the help of Old Thomas, his surrogate father, Davey, his soul-mate, and Gran, the connoisseur of footballer’s bottoms, launched himself on a path toward his personal and professional goals. Now, several years later, he must make a decision that could destroy everything he has fought for, and create a furious media frenzy………

David Kerby-Kendall’s joyous and witty novel challenges preconceptions about professional sportsmen and love, and is also a delightful and moving story of a young man’s journey to self-knowledge.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Heartfelt, humourous, and incredibly moving!

This is an entertaining, captivating story that not only reminds us to live and love to the fullest, enjoying each high and learning from each low, but also highlights the unfortunate stigma and stereotypical mentality surrounding professional sports.

The characters are flawed, genuine, caring, and lovable. The writing is witty and direct. And the plot is a captivating tale about life, familial dynamics, coming-of-age, friendship, perseverance, support, and unconditional love that will not only make you laugh but also make you cry.

This truly is a well-written, thought-provoking novel by Kerby-Kendall with a nice amount of emotion, drama, humour, and character development. And even though this novel is certainly rooted in the LGBTQIA genre it’s so much more than that, at its core it’s a story about love, pure and simple, with no limits, no labels, and no regrets!

Author Spotlight:

I’m originally from Leicester, but I’ve had therapy and I’m now allowed out into polite society.

We don’t have culture in Leicester; we have Gary Lineker and Walkers crisps…..oh, and Richard III, though we did sort of borrow him from York.

Actually, that’s not fair. I love my home town. It’s wonderfully diverse, has two amazing universities and, for a short while, was the centre of the universe when our football team won the Premiership, at odds of 5000-1. There was more chance of the Pope having a Number 1 hit, apparently!

And, of course, it holds the most amazing memories; of living with my Grandmother, who was my soul-mate, and encouraged me in the arts and, most importantly, as a ridiculously shy teenager, to go on stage. Well, mostly encouraged; she did tell me I had a singing voice like a cat being ironed, but we’ll gloss over that!

After leaving school I spent eleven years in banking. I left the TSB with the worst cash error record in Leicester, but as a successful chief clerk as, with the latter job, I only had to organise the branch and talk to customers, not add anything up. And so began a journey to London to study acting at the London Theatre School and immerse myself in café society and shouting at people who stand on the left side of escalators.

I remember once, in my second year at drama school, standing in Trafalgar Square at 3 am, waiting for a night bus, having drunk Lake Windermere in Merlot (this is actually part of the drama school syllabus), looking up at the beam of light trained on Nelson’s Column, thinking, ‘This is amazing; I’m an actor living in London; I’ve found freedom’. And it was true. The move and the change in career broadened my mind wider than I had ever thought possible. I know it’s a cliché, but I began to find a part of myself I never knew existed (or maybe was just too scared to admit to). It was liberating and exhilarating.

After graduating, there followed a few somewhat unmemorable acting jobs, including dropping my leading lady into the orchestra pit during a production of The Boyfriend in Rhyl (I don’t think the twenty-seven people in the audience were very impressed) and a few normal jobs in order to pay that annoying ‘rent’ thing. Two years in advertising (wearing pink braces and throwing a hissy fit if your double-shot gingerbread latte wasn’t quite hot enough), telemarketing, stage-door-keeping and being a butler at Phantom Of the Opera (pouring champagne down rich people’s sleeves).

Finally, I got lucky and had a run of eight consecutive plays, including three productions of Jack Shepherd’s Half Moon. I still had to pinch myself (not hard; I’m a wimp with pain) that someone of Jack’s standing would cast me in his play.

Then, having played rugby and tennis and kept reasonably fit at the gym all my life, my body decided to age 104 years in six months and I ended up having twenty-four operations in ten years. However, there is always a silver lining as this is when I started writing.

In 2007 I wrote a play called Save Your Kisses For Me which actually included The Brotherhood Of Man’s Eurovision-winning song (the first record I ever bought. I was young and had questionable musical taste…..as opposed to now when I’m older and have appalling musical taste). From it’s small-scale success I became the In-House writer for Heartbreak Productions and have been lucky enough to have adapted some marvellous novels for the stage, including three of David Walliam’s children’s books (Billionaire Boy is currently on a national tour). I’ve also had my own independent plays produced and will be returning to the acting profession later this year in my next play, 20:40, which concerns depression.

When I was adapting my first novel, I found myself in a Soho café on a break between rent-paying jobs. Normally I have great difficulty concentrating on anything if there’s extraneous background noise. However, on this occasion, I started writing and didn’t stop for four hours, by which time my mocha was congealed and I was half an hour late for pointing a spotlight at the stage of Phantom Of the Opera. From that day, I have done nearly all my writing in cafes. I love the energy and atmosphere; like-minded people writing plays, books, composing songs, creating new business ideas, forming new friendships. It seeps into your pores and wraps you in this all-encompassing creative blanket. I love the fact that café society has been going on for centuries. You can just SEE Picasso and Modigliani discussing surrealism and Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac pushing the boundaries of acceptability in literature.

I write in longhand with a fountain pen. I know that sounds like I’m about to disappear up my own bottom but I genuinely can’t write with a biro, and get absolutely no inspiration from staring at a laptop screen. I re-read the last few pages to get myself back into the work again (this takes about ten minutes) and then I shift my mind a degree to the left of normality. If I’m writing dialogue, then I’ll read everything back in my head and act out each character. Being an actor, if it doesn’t sound natural, I will know straight away.

I love writing. No, ‘love’ doesn’t cover it; I adore writing.

Now most of the operations have finished and, as well as retuning to acting, I’m returning to the gym and the tennis court (at least I have an excuse to lose now).

I’m very lucky; I get to do two things that I love; making up stories and pretending to be other people. Also, I get to pay the bulk of the rent by lighting Phantom Of the Opera, playing David Garrick in the tours of Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and also taking tours of the Royal Opera House.

There isn’t much time to relax, but that’s OK. When I do get time, I love sport, poetry, music (Meat Loaf to Mozart), meditating in Highgate Wood, keeping fit, reading, and spending time with friends, being ludicrously immature one moment and putting the world to rights, the next.

What I love most about my life is that it can’t be labelled. I hate labels; they constrict us and are an excuse for people to hate each other. Someone recently said to me, ‘How can you like sport AND poetry?’. I replied, ‘Who made up the rule that you can’t?’.

Thank you to David Kerby-Kendall, Whiteley Publishing, and Authoright for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following link.

                      

For more information on David Kerby-Kendall, visit his website at: davidkerbykendall.com

or follow him on Twitter at: @dkerbykendall

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