It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for the latest three books in Jessica Redland’s Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (Book 2) and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (Book 3) were published on 20th February, and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (Book 4) was published on 12th March.
My thanks to those lovely people at Boldwood Books for the invitation – I think they might just have noticed that there was a point when I wondered if my blog should be changing its name to Being Jessica! I’m such a fan of her writing (and she’s rather lovely too), and I’m really delighted to be able to help spread the word.
Just a quick mention for Book 1 too – Making Wishes at Bay View was published back in January, and has been the bestseller it thoroughly deserved to be. You won’t find a review here on Being Anne, but only because it brought together two already-published books (before Jessica became a Boldwood author) that I’d already read and thoroughly enjoyed – Raving About Rhys (review here) and Callie’s Christmas Wish (review here).
Now I think it’s only fair to tell you that none of the other books are “brand new” either, and if you’ve already discovered the author’s lovely writing you might just have read some of them before they were revised and updated and packaged in those gorgeous new covers – I know Jessica’s keen that you should be aware of that too, just in case you should be in any way disappointed. But there are so many readers who will be enjoying them for the first time – you lucky, lucky people!!!
So, let’s take a closer look at the three latest books…
Sometimes love can bloom where you least expect it…
For Sarah Peterson, it’s time for change. Coming out of a dead end relationship and having had enough of city life, she just needs to escape and have a fresh start – a new job, a new home and a new lifestyle.
So when her Auntie Kay unexpectedly offers her the opportunity to take over her flower shop, Seaside Blooms, the timing could not be more perfect. She could escape to the beautiful seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, start a new chapter in her life – and learn how to run a business!
But, as she packs up her life in London, she isn’t prepared for the discovery of a clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All of the predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven…
As she prepares for the biggest move of her life, Sarah can’t help but wonder if Seaside Blooms could be a new beginning for love too?
A warm, uplifting novel of love, friendship and destiny from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.
New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is a new, revised and updated edition of a novel previously published as Searching For Steven.
I shared my review of this one when I read it as Searching for Steven back in June 2018 – and it’s a real pleasure to do so again…
As a rather older reader, Sarah’s search for “the one” could well not have been my cup of tea at all – but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. The clairvoyant’s prediction is an inspired idea for a story with a really difference, and I loved every twist and turn. The female friendships in this book are just magical, and I particularly enjoyed the sparring between Elise and Clare, and their obvious love for their friend, offering advice and support as she struggles to reconcile the prediction with the happy ever after that she really deserves.
The author really is just superb at creating characters – I so felt for Sarah at her treatment by the awful Jason (and through all her trials in the unfolding story), really enjoyed her relationship with her aunt, and thoroughly loved reading about her every internet dating experience. She creates sympathetic and real female characters, but her men are just perfect too (even if sometimes just perfectly awful), and the various Stevens who cross her path as she continues her search are all so wonderfully drawn. The whole story really captured my heart – I guess we all have that fear of ending up like poor Uncle Alan, and I was rooting for Sarah throughout, just hoping she could find what she was really looking for and not lose sight of her happy ending.
I loved the setting too – Whitsborough Bay itself, but particularly the florist’s shop, every customer who approaches the counter, the conversations in the Outback, every sale achieved (particularly with Clare’s help) on the way to building a successful business. The writing itself is as accomplished as ever, even though it was originally the author’s first book – beautiful tender moments, times of real sadness, plenty of laughs, misunderstandings put right, and the whole infused with a warmth that can’t fail to bring a wide smile to your face as you read. Just wonderful…
When it feels like everything is against you, sometimes you just need a little bit of hope…
Married to her childhood sweetheart for over twelve years, Elise feels like starting a family is the next natural step. However her husband, Gary, has other ideas…
Suddenly single, Elise is completely heartbroken and struggling to start over on her own. But when she’s enlisted to be bridesmaid to her best friend, Sarah, she has to put on a brave face, put her own feelings aside and find a way to get over Gary. Fast.
So when she meets handsome, recently-divorced, Daniel, she thinks he could be just what she needs. But why can’t she shake the feeling that he must be too good to be true?
Will she ever be able to take that leap and trust again?
This book was previously published as Getting Over Gary.
Now, although I invariably love Jessica’s books, I haven’t read them all (yet!) – so, with thanks to Boldwood, I’m delighted to share an extract…
‘Li! Are you ready yet?’ Gary shouted up the stairs. ‘I thought we were meeting them at seven.’
I glanced towards the digital alarm clock: 18:28. Still twelve minutes till we needed to leave. I took a deep, calming breath then called, ‘Just a few more minutes. We won’t be late. I promise.’
Squirting another mist of hairspray on my loose auburn curls, I blew a few flecks of make-up off my new teal dress, then pulled on a pair of black strappy, sparkly shoes. Grabbing a black pashmina and clutch bag off the bed, I took a quick glance in the full-length mirror on the wall. Not bad. Perhaps a little over-dressed for a meal at The Bombay Palace with my sister and her fiancé, but surely Gary would be impressed with the effort, especially as the dress was his favourite colour on me. Maybe he’d even pay me a compliment. I shook my head at my reflection. I wouldn’t get my hopes up on that one. I’d be lucky if he managed the ultimate cop-out non-compliment of, ‘You look nice.’
I paused at the top of the stairs and gazed down at my husband tapping something into his phone, a deep frown creasing his brow. Even in a mood, he was still irresistible with his dark hair, dark eyes and tall, athletic build.
‘I’m ready,’ I called, preparing myself to do a little twirl so he could appreciate the tightness of the bodice clinging to all the right places – a daring move for someone who normally wore long skirts and maxi-dresses – but he barely managed a cursory glance as he pocketed his phone.
‘About time too,’ he said. ‘I’ll get the car started. Can you lock up?’ Without waiting for an answer, he went outside.
I reached for the banister and clung onto it as I took a few deep, shaky breaths and willed myself not to cry. It was fine. Timekeeping stressed him out and, even though we weren’t actually late, he was understandably tired and irritable. He’d been working long hours with the surgery expansion recently and seemed to be permanently on edge. He’d likely skipped lunch again so was bound to relax when we ate.
‘Would you like me to drive back tonight so you can have a drink?’ I asked as Gary backed his Lexus off the drive. I reached across to give his thigh a gentle stroke but withdrew my hand when I felt him tense under my touch.
‘I’m fine, thanks. We’ll stick to the rule.’
‘Okay.’ Gary’s ‘rule’ was that if it’s your family or your friends, you drink and the other drives. I rarely drink so was happy to be the designated driver most of the time, but Gary refused to deviate.
I stared out of the window as he drove along Abbey Drive then guided the car out of the small new-build housing estate where we’d lived for the past six years. Glancing across at his tight jaw as we joined the main road into Whitsborough Bay, he certainly looked like a man who could do with a relaxing drink. Perhaps I’d have one more try at breaking the rule.
‘Are you sure? You know I’m never bothered about drinking when we’re eating.’
We stopped at the traffic lights, but Gary still didn’t look at me. His hands tightly gripped the steering wheel. ‘I’ve already said I’m fine. She’s your sister so I’m the driver. Can we just drop it, Li? Please?’
‘Okay. Sorry.’ I turned to look out of the window again, blinking back tears. He’d come round when he saw Jess and Lee. He loved their company, even if he didn’t seem to love mine at the moment.
For Clare O’Connell, home is where the heart aches…
Since the age of sixteen, Clare O’Connell has lived her life by four strict rules:
1. Don’t talk about Ireland
2. Don’t think about Ireland
3. Don’t go to Ireland
4. Don’t let anyone in
And so far, it’s worked well. She’s got a great career, amazing friends, and she’s really happy. The future is all that counts, isn’t it?
However Clare is about to realise that you can run from the past, but you can’t always hide from it…
When her boss insists she travels to Ireland for work, Clare finds herself drawn back to the village of Ballykielty – the home of her family, and the home of her secrets. The one place where vowed never to return to again…
With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Will Clare stick to rule number four?
Can she be brave and face up to her family and the demons of her past?
This book was previously published as Dreaming About Daran.
Another extract? My pleasure…
‘What the hell is that in the fruit bowl?’ I cautiously leaned forward on Ben’s sofa to get a closer look, hoping it wasn’t an enormous spider about to scuttle over me.
‘Apples, pears, kiwis and bananas,’ Ben said. ‘Don’t tell me that you’ve reached the grand old age of thirty-three and you still can’t identify your basic fruits.’
I raised my eyebrows at him. ‘Ha ha! You’re hilarious. You should be on stage, so you should.’ I reached my hand out towards the object.
‘Argh!’ yelled Ben as I was about to touch it.
I snatched back my hand, screaming.
‘Sorry. Couldn’t resist.’ He rolled around on the sofa, laughing hysterically.
‘You eejit!’ I whacked him with a cushion. ‘You scared the life out of me! Is this what it’s going to be like living with you? Because if it is, I can check into a hotel for the next few months instead. Are you ready to say goodbye to that new kitchen?’
I worked for a company called Prime PR, managing public relations campaigns for large corporates. Having recently been promoted, I needed to relocate from London to Leeds. Ben – or Saint Ben, as I called him – was the brother of my best friend, Sarah, and he lived in Leeds so I’d adopted him as my meal buddy for the past few years every time I visited on business. Meeting up with a friend for some good craic was far more appealing than dining in a hotel restaurant surrounded by suits staring into space, eating meals for one. On my last trip, I’d moaned about the prospect of living in a hotel for a month or two while I found somewhere to rent and, being the saint he was, Ben immediately offered me his spare room. Grand idea. It meant I could pay Ben rent using my allowance for not staying in a hotel, giving him the funds to refit his prehistoric kitchen. Win-win. Of course, he refused to accept payment, but I wore him down eventually.
Ben put his hands up in surrender as I lifted the cushion to whack him again. ‘Sorry. But you’d have done the same if it had been the other way round. You know you would.’
I smiled. He was right. ‘So, what is it, then?’
Ben reached into the fruit bowl, then held out the black object in the palm of his hand.
‘It’s a chess piece,’ I said, looking at the black king. ‘Why’s there a chess piece in your fruit bowl?’
He shrugged. ‘I came home from work last Tuesday and, quite randomly, it was on the front doorstep.’
‘With a note?’
‘No note. Just the king on his own.’
‘And it’s yours?’
‘Nope. I don’t play chess.’
‘Oh. Very random. But do you know what’s even more random? Why the hell it’s in your fruit bowl instead of the bin.’
‘It seemed like a good place for it.’
‘But you don’t know where it’s been. It could have been peed on by a dog. Or worse.’
Ben looked at the king thoughtfully. ‘Good point. Just as well it was between the bananas and kiwis, then, wasn’t it? They’ve got skins.’ He leaned forward and put it back.
‘Ben! Put it in the bin.’
I reached forward but he grabbed me and started tickling me, which he knew was a pet peeve of mine. I squealed, leapt to my feet and darted past him into his kitchen. Thankfully, I was saved from another attack by the arrival of our Indian takeaway.
‘Get your hands washed before you touch that food,’ I ordered Ben.
He winked at me. ‘I love it when you’re bossy.’
I dug out some plates and we busied ourselves dishing up the food.
‘Shall we watch a film while we eat?’ Ben asked. ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’s on TV and I’ve never seen it. My mate Pete said it’s really good.’
‘Is that the one with Jim Caviezel in it?’
‘I think so. And Guy Pearce.’
‘Ooh, two hotties. Grand. Count me in.’
I’m so jealous of all those first time readers – they’re going to love these books!
About the author
Jessica Redland is the author of nine novels including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.