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Food, glorious food!

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From Dinner Lady to Dream Job…

Caroline James talks to chef, presenter and author, Justine Forrest on how she overcame her compulsive eating demons, lost a huge amount of ...

Bookshelf Reviews

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The Bookshelf – author buzz and blogger reviews!

The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!     Our MARCH Bo...

People with a passion!

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Coffee time … home by design!

When you're looking for a new home, sometimes it's hard to get a sense of perspective if, when you view, it's full of someone else's furnitu...

In Search of a Happy Ending


The Love of My Life is Already Married

Q.  I’m single, 32-years-old, and I’ve been seeing a man I met through work (he doesn’t work in my office) for almost six months. I’ve dat...

Lifestyle articles


Your Move – House Chess For The French

[caption id="attachment_18721" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Lovingly matured waiting for a British buyer...[/caption]   Nea...

The Bookshelf – author buzz and blogger reviews!

Janice New Banner LLm 2015The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!


  Our MARCH Bookshelf GUEST AUTHOR is…

Alison Morton

 Alternate history thriller writer and self-confessed ‘Roman nut!’


Alison Morton lives in France, drinks wine, and writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. A ‘Roman nut’ since age eleven, she has clambered over sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. INCEPTIO and PERFIDITAS, the first and second in series were finalists in Writing Magazine’s 2014 Self-Published Book of the Year Award and awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion for independent fiction.  Alison’s third book, SUCCESSIO, was selected as the Historical Novel Society’s indie ‘Editor’s Choice’ for Autumn 2014 and ‘Editor’s Choice’ in The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014.

 I asked Alison about the alternate history genre and why she wrote in it. “Ever since I read Robert Harris’s Fatherland, which showed me you could divert history onto an alternative path from the one we know, I fell in love with the idea of reordering history. I wanted to write an exciting story about characters in that different society, but with a strong heroine at the core. My imaginary country of Roma Nova is a remnant of the Roman Empire founded by dissidents in the late fourth century. They’ve held on to Roman culture and values as they struggled through the centuries, but with a twist – they are ruled by women.

Why I write in this genre goes back to my own ancient history! I was eleven and fascinated by the stunning mosaics at Ampurias (Spain). My father explained about traders, senators, olive oil, Roman soldiers, people’s houses, the port, and so on. I turned to him and asked “What would it have been like if the women had been in charge?” Clever man, he answered, “What do you think it would have been like?” And that bubbled away in my mind for years.

I’m lucky – my novels allow me to combine my love of all things Roman, the pleasure of writing a tough but very human heroine, and twisty plots, all seasoned with a good dollop of romance and a hot hero. Why not explore Roma Nova for yourself…?”

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“Welcome to Roma Nova…”

Book Blurb – SUCCESSIO: Roma Nova – the last remnant of the Roman Empire that has survived into the 21st century – is at peace. Carina Mitela, the heir of a leading family, but choosing the life of an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces, is not so sure. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband Conrad’s lost daughter and Conrad tries to shut Carina out, she senses danger crawling towards her. Trying to resolve a young man’s indiscretion twenty-five years ago turns into a nightmare that not only sees her love slipping away but also attacks the imperial family itself. With her enemy holding a gun to the head of the heir to the imperial throne, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life…

Find out more about Alison, Romans and alternate history:

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LLm author, Melanie Robertson-King, lives in eastern Ontario, Canada, along the shore of the majestic St. Lawrence River. The daughter of a Scottish Home Child, she began writing articles (all historical in nature) which have been published in Canada, the US and the UK. In addition to writing, her interests include genealogy (especially the study of Home Children), photography and travel. A Shadow in the Past is her first novel. The Consequences Collection, an eclectic compilation of short fiction, creative non-fiction, non-fiction and poetry, has recently been published. Melanie is also a contributing author, with her short story Cole’s Notes, to Starship Goodwords, a cross-genre anthology.


Find out more about Melanie on her Website and on LLm’s Writer’s Cafe



A New Release from LLm author Linn B Halton

Linn is releasing the sequel to The Quintessential GeminiQuintessentially Yours in spring 2015.

Linn says: “Actually, I have two new releases planned for 2015 – The Man Who Can and the sequel to The Quintessential Gemini – Quintessentially Yours. I’ll be telling all in the weeks to come but if you get a chance to drop by my website don’t forget to leave a comment – I love to hear from readers and reviewers; it makes my day!”

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For more information on Linn B Halton visit her: Website and  LLm’s Writers’ Cafe


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Loveahappyending BOOK BLOGGER Reviews

Bringing you independent reviews from some of the Best Reviewers in the Book Blogging world!

Quint Ess GemThe Quintessential Gemini

Author: Linn B Halton. Publisher: Heartfelt Fiction Genre: Contemporary Romance

For twenty-one years, the focus of Katherine Dale’s life has been her work. Love interests and hobbies came and went, but what has always been there for her was her nine to five habit. Until she’s replaced. With her confidence dented, Katherine is angry at life and at herself. She’s ignored hints of “changes to come” in her horoscope forecasts, written by the wonderful and renowned astrologer, Mark Ainsley-Thomas. Mark is now an “A” list celebrity in the UK and his new Agent is determined to raise his profile in America, so he has to take on the new, but talented, astrologer James Kingman to help him run his web-site. Katherine lives her life according to her daily horoscope. When Katherine finds James has been writing her daily horoscopes rather than Mark, Katherine’s life explodes in confusion and, unexpectedly, love as the three lives become inextricably tangled. Now Katherine has to learn that the stars might be telling her that love is going to feature in her life, but when Katherine finds herself implicated in the headlines ‘Mystic Love Triangle Surprise’ she’s just as surprised as everyone else None of the men in her life are love interests – so what exactly does fate have in store?

Reviewed by: Jackie at The Book Maven  – a Top 5 LLm Reviewer!

Jackie says: “I really enjoyed this book.  It was fun and very clever.  I thought it was very interesting bringing in the astrology portion of the story.  Personally, I enjoy astrology and found its presence in this book interesting.  The three characters were very well written.  I liked how each chapter had a characters point of view.  Katherine and James had a very naturally developed love story that just grew.  The addition of Mark was important for the story to move forward and his insight into both characters was great. Overall, I really enjoyed this unique story told in only a way Linn can do it.  This was definitely a breath of fresh air with many of the cookie cutter love stories out there.  I can’t wait to read what Linn comes out with next.”

READ Jackie’s entire review at The Book Maven

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

  Find out more about Linn B Halton from her Website and at LLm’s Authors’ Cafe


Orion_s_Gift_230x357Orion’s Gift

Author: Anneli Purchase: Publisher: Acquiline Publishing: Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Beautiful, dependent, and insecure, Sylvia makes a sudden decision to leave her seemingly perfect California home. Kind, strong, capable Kevin walks away from his Alberta hardware store and fifteen years of unhappy marriage. When these two meet in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, they fill each other’s needs from day one, yet each has a secret they keep from the other. Before they can learn complete mutual trust, Kevin and Sylvia realize their spouses are not willing to let them go quite so easily.

Reviewed by: Jo at Cometbabe’s Books – a Top LLm Reviewer!

Excerpt from the review: “Kevin and Sylvia meet in Mexico, having escaped partners that neither were happy with, but this wouldn’t be a book if love ran so smooth. As their budding romance is building, they are then faced with the people that made their life hell. Can they survive against the odds and make their romance last? I liked how the chapters switched between the characters and loved seeing things from each point of view.  It takes you to a different location and is very descriptive.”

READ Jo’s entire review at Cometbabe’s Books

  Purchase: Amazon UK |

  Find out more about Anneli Purchase from her Website and LLm Authors’ Cafe


shannons lawShannon’s Law

Author: Emma Calin. Publisher: Gallo-Romano  Genre: Passionate Crime Romance

Falling in love with the south of France was no surprise to Katherine. Choosing to walk away from her past and start over was completely unexpected. A new country, a new lover, and the promise of a bright future beginning in mid-life … who knew? Now there were the exciting dreams of restoring the property on the Cap, of beginning a new career, of experiencing the traditions of Christmas in Provence, of falling even more deeply in love with the man who inspired these hopes. It was all so perfect, until it wasn’t. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, had become her mantra. Would it be enough? 

Reviewed by JB at Brook Cottage Books - a Top 5 LLm Reviewer! 

My Review: “Shannon’s law is fast paced from start to finish. Shannon is a strong-willed female character and takes no nonsense from anyone. She is tough but fair and I liked that side of her. We get to see her vulnerable side where the Earl is concerned and she is unsure of her place in his world. At the heart of the book is a love story between two very different people who society would not expect to be together. There are some very, very, racy sex scenes in the book which are quite explicit and had me heading for a cold shower! An enjoyable read.”

READ JB’s entire review at Brook Cottage Books

 Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

 Find out more about Emma Calin from her Website and LLm’s Authors’ Cafe

In March Look Out For…

cafe bannerGrab a coffee and have a read – free excerpts and latest author news!

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Your Move – House Chess For The French

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Lovingly matured waiting for a British buyer…


Nearly every survey about stress lists moving house somewhere near the top. Having moved to France I can quite agree. But, just why is it so stressful? Maybe the Anglo-Saxon psyche approaches the whole business in the wrong way. You see, in France they break the stress up into digestible chunks – rather like nibbling your baguette on the way home from the boulangerie. The Brit sees it as a Sunday lunch which has to be finished by tea time. The pressure is on and the Anglo chef has to deliver.

In France, you cannot have too many cooks or hands to shift possessions. The moving process is almost entirely amateur and takes place by way of an unscripted osmosis. In rural Charente-Maritime everyone knows someone with a trailer, wheelbarrow, or at least a serviceable husband or lover who can be loaned out. People are always borrowing mine!


My old man said follow the van….


If one is downsizing, possessions and furniture may be left in the old house. New occupants agree to care for them and hand them over as and when required. This may be a matter of years. If your new house doesn’t have enough space then it is simply a matter of knowing a friend or neighbour who does. One friend has moved three times around the same town in the last five years. Gradually her possessions have expanded until it was no longer possible to fit them into her latest home. The solution was a simple shrug of genius. You load them into a friend’s trailer, you go to the new house, you leave the spare stuff in the trailer and the friend takes them all away until you need them. And me? Yes, I am that friend. It’s been a year or so now. Occasionally she calls by for a chat and maybe a chair or a vase. Sometimes she brings them back. The trailer is dry and under cover and I’ve given her her own key.


Woodn’t it be lovely?

Then there is the matter of the heirloom. Just how much do you love your wardrobes? I have never told my children that one wonderful day ahead I will die and they will inherit a wardrobe. I’ve always worried it might overexcite them. Once a Charentais family has a wardrobe it always has that wardrobe. So, if you move to a smaller house you simply leave it with the new tenants or owners as part of the deal until it is ready to be handed down. Everyone understands this.

There can be complications. Another friend left two huge oak heavyweights in her previous home. The new guy did renovations which included smaller doorways and modern double glazed windows. Um – yes, you can see where this is going, can’t you? A few years passed and the house changed hands again and quel horreur – the new lot did not want the ton or so of woodwormed oak. There were many shrugs. An ancient craftsman sauntered along with a canvas sack of historical tools. The items were dismantled and slid across the roof into an apple tree where neighbours formed a chain to load them into yet another trailer. We helped out with a sack truck. Luckily another friend had offered to store them. It’s been a couple of years now, but one day, one day, that child will get a big house and will at last inherit her birthright.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo savour these comedies of French life, you would have to move there. Oh, to have just called the removals guys and given them the address. Since I’m still waiting for my big literary breakthrough, it had to be a D.I.Y. job. For our first run we hired a van. There were two problems. It cost a fortune and we had to take it back.


Chez nous

For the next runs we bought a secondhand trailer on e-bay. Not only was it a fantastic load lugger, it was our entrance into full frontal French life. In Charente-Maritime folk do not ask you what you earn or where you went to school. They ask you if you have a tow bar and even better – a trailer.


Once you have moved, the important thing is to have enough aperitifs, olives, and cheese  to keep everyone convivial while they re-assemble beds, connect cookers, and plumb in washing machines. Too much hospitality can lead to some odd looking furniture. No matter – things will come together – maybe in time for the next move. Francophiles worry that one day France will lose its character under the pressure of global efficiency. Just forget it. France is even more French than you can imagine.




Emma Calin was born in London in 1962. She currently lives part of the year in the UK and spends the rest in France.  She has been writing since childhood and has won numerous local, national, and international prizes for poetry and short stories.

Emma enjoys writing love stories firmly rooted in social realism and has recently published a series of illustrated modern fairy stories for children.  She blogs about the contrasts in life on both sides of the English Channel, which she likes to explore on her tandem whenever weather and fitness coincide. She is a Lifestyle Contributor on Loveahappyending Lifestyle.

She defines herself as woman eternally pedalling between Peckham and Pigalle, in search of passion and enduring romance.

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For books by Emma Calin: Amazon USA  Amazon UK
Emma Calin Blog: 
Emma Calin Website:
Twitter:@Emma Calin

Janice Horton’s Snap Gap Travel Guide to… Tenerife

SG TenerifeFollow LLm author Janice Horton’s adventures as she ‘snap gaps’ around the world in this unique and informative travel feature based on Janice’s own personal travel experiences.
 Magnificent Mount Teide   Photo: Wikimedia Commons: Michael Scheffler


The island of Tenerife is a popular destination for many European holiday makers. Temperatures are comfortable all year round, particularly so during the winter months, when it’s possible to sunbathe on the beach or lounge around the pool when it might be snowing at home. If spending all day on a sun lounger isn’t quite your thing however, then be assured that Tenerife also offers the more energetic snap-gapper lots of alternative fun and exciting activities. If golf is your game then Tenerife hosts nine golf courses, each with its own unique style, terrain, and exceptional views. With its National Park, it is also a great place for nature lovers and for hiking and trekking. For those who are interested in water sports, Tenerife is an excellent place to go scuba diving. Then, when the sun goes down on your day there are restaurants, bars, and a vibrant nightlife scene – if that’s what you are looking for.

We flew from Glasgow Prestwick directly to Tenerife

How Did We Get There? My husband and I booked our seven night ‘snap gap’ to Tenerife with and we flew from the UK with Ryanair from Glasgow Prestwick Airport. The flight time was just over four hours.

On Arrival: Tenerife is the only island in the Canaries with two airports – Tenerife North and Tenerife South. Like many who come to Tenerife, we flew into Tenerife Sur (south) airport and, as we had booked a package holiday deal, this included return transfers to our accommodation by coach. However, if you are doing things independently, as we often have in the past, there is a taxi rank conveniently outside the arrivals areas, a regular bus service, and the option to hire a car.

Travel Tip: Look to arrange your car hire or transfers between the airport and your accommodation online in advance for the best deals and to avoid waiting in queues upon your arrival.

Where To Stay: Whether you rent a self-catering apartment, stay in a five-star hotel, or choose anything in between, there is accommodation to suit all requirements and budgets on Tenerife. As to which area you choose to stay in, the island is made up of thirty-one counties or municipalities, commonly grouped in three categories: the metropolitan area, north area and south area. The most popular beaches can be found on the south coast of the island. We often choose to stay in the Golf del Sur or Costa Adeje areas in the south.

Pool and Pinehurst

We stayed at The Cordial Golf Plaza – a self-catering apartment hotel at Golf del Sur that offers many accommodation options – plus a pool, bar and restaurant facilities. It is also close to all other amenities in the Golf del Sur resort area.

Travel Tip: Decide what type of holiday is important to you and then spend time online checking out the latest deals with providers like Thomas Cook, Thomson, First Choice, or Low Cost Holidays just to name a few, in order to get your best holiday price. If you are booking your flight and accommodation separately, websites like will offer information regarding the many and varied accommodation options in Tenerife.

Best Time To Go: The weather in Tenerife stays moderate throughout the year, with temperatures averaging 20°C – 22°C in the winter months and 26°C – 28°C in the summer, making it a perfect destination for those seeking a winter holiday hot spot as well as for those travelers planning trips which coincide with spring and summer breaks from school and work. On our last visit, my husband and I went in December. We left sub-zero temperatures behind us in Glasgow and it seemed delightfully strange to see Christmas decorations going up while it was still warm enough for us to eat our meals outside. In the past, I’ve also enjoyed visiting Tenerife during the months of January, February, March, May, July and October. Can’t you just tell that I love Tenerife?

hotel xmas

It seemed delightfully strange to see Christmas decorations going up while it was still warm enough for us to eat our meals outside…

What to Pack: Light holiday clothes year round. Footwear to suit your lifestyle. At this time of the year, in the winter months, a cardigan, a sweat top, or a light jacket might be needed for after the sun goes down when it can feel a little chilly.

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At this time of the year – pack a cardigan, a sweat-top or a light jacket for after the sun goes down when it can feel a little chilly.

Money: As part of Spain, Tenerife is very firmly within the EU and its currency is the Euro. However, the island has VAT free status which means it falls outside of EU Customs allowances, which is something to bear in mind when buying duty free goods. Do bring Euros with you but your credit and debit cards are by far the best way to organise your funds. That way there are no large amounts of cash to worry about carrying and you have access to money at all hours. Banks do charge for each cash advance and ATM transaction so bear this mind if you are withdrawing small amounts often.

Travel Tip: Authorise your credit and debit cards for use in Tenerife before you travel, so that your bank is aware that you’ll be using it outside of your normal location. This can avoid those embarrassing card authorisation refusals.

Interestingly: The flag of Tenerife is almost the same as that of Scotland (the only difference being a slightly different shade of blue). It was originally adopted in 1845 by the navy at its base in the Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Some hypothesise that the similarity in the flag lies somewhere between Spain, Scotland, and an alliance with the whisky trade – but who really knows…?


Top Things To Do In Tenerife

Teide National Park: Go there for the lunar landscape and take a cable car to the top of the magnificent Mount Teide, the highest peak in Spain and the third largest volcano in the world. In the winter it can be covered in snow while on the coast the sun shines as usual. Mt. Teide is a live volcano, the last eruption being in the early 20th century.

Spot Whales and Dolphins: The waters between Tenerife and La Gomera are one of the few places in the world where you are pretty much guaranteed to spot the resident population of pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins.

Loro Parque: If exotic jungle parks are your thing then one of the best dolphin shows this side of the Atlantic is to be found amongst the eight thousand palm trees, the bicycle riding parrots, the flamingos, the gorillas, the killer whales, and the sharks. I’m not usually a fan of animals in captivity but the animal facilities at Loro Parque are (reported to be) a huge technical achievement built on expert and caring knowledge. There is an option to see behind the scenes for yourself. Why not check it out?

Siam Park: Not a natural attraction but still one that shouldn’t be missed. Named as one of the best  ten water parks in the world, if you like your thrills and spills wet, you have just got to go to this Thai-themed water park with loads of scream-inducing rides and slides, a gigantic wave pool complete with gold sand beach, and a mini-aquatic park just for kids. Sounds like fun to me!

Play Golf and enjoy Tenerife’s unique golf experience. There is a challenge for every golfer and every handicap. The fantastic scenery of mighty mountain ranges before the Atlantic Ocean provides for an exhilarating golf holiday. Check out:

Scuba Dive: There are many scuba diving centers on Tenerife. We have always used and would highly recommend Amarilla Divers - a multi-award winning PADI Five Star IDC Dive Resort that invites you to see a different side to Tenerife. Situated close to all the major tourist areas in the South of Tenerife, Amarilla Divers offer to pick you up free of charge from Golf Del Sur, Costa Del Silencio, Los Cristianos, Las Americas and Adeje. Whether you are a newbie or have lots of dives under your weight belt, discover a new world, full of new and wonderful things – with over fifty scuba dive sites – they always have something fresh for you to see.

My favourite places: I love drinks, tapas, and entertainment, and so would highly recommend Volares Cabaret Bar and Tapas and Chill in Golf Del Sur for evenings. I also recommend Indian food at Taj Indian Tandoori at San Blas Plaza. I positively swooned at the fresh seafood when we dined by candlelight at Perla del Mar at Los Abrigos; I had the mussels and my husband had the shrimp and it was divine. At lunchtime I would highly recommend  El Mirador at Los Abrigos for the views and for the hot smoked fish salad and jug of Sangria. Actually, I would recommend all restaurants at this authentic fishing village, where most have their own fishing boat. But, if it’s capturing that perfect moment while the sun goes down with a glass of wine then it has got to be La Marina, Golf del Sur. Cheers and happy holidays!


At Los Abrigos fishing village in December… bliss.

 Useful Facts of Tenerife:

 Area: Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands. It has an area of 785.47 sq miles or 2,034.36 sq kilometres.

 Tenerife is known internationally as the “Island of Eternal Spring” (Isla de la Eterna Primavera).

 Population: Around 900,000 but more than five million tourists also visit every year, making it the most populated Spanish island.

 Capital: Santa Cruz, located in the north.

 Government: The island is part of a Spanish province named Santa Cruz de Tenerife

 Electricity: The electric current used is 220 Volts AC 50Hz, which is the same all over the Canaries. Plugs have two pins, identical to the European mainland.

The Essence of Tenerife: Situated just 200 miles off the northwest coast of Africa, Tenerife is bathed in a reported three hundred days of sunshine per year so you can Feel the warmth of the Tenerife sunshine on your face and body whatever time of year you choose to visit. You can See the third largest island volcano in the world, Mount Teide,which is also the highest peak in Spain, as you fly onto the island and you can Marvel at the volcano that can be covered in snow during the winter months while down on the coast the sun shines as usual. Tourist attractions are Fun and plentiful on the island, so organise your snap-gap carefully to allow time for Relaxing on the beach while you plan to Experience the lunar landscape of Mount Teide National Park.

My Conclusion? Tenerife is and has been for many years my go-to island in the sun for any time of year. I’ve been fortunate to have visited the island during both its hot summer months and its mild and balmy winter months. Sometimes for just a couple of nights, more often for a break of week or so, and occasionally for a full two-week snap gap. Flights are frequent and regular from the UK and from Europe and most of the budget airlines come here, making the Canary islands a perfect escape. The island has so much to offer and caters for all tastes and budgets. The choice is yours. I really enjoy Tenerife and would highly recommend it to you as a tried and tested ‘snap gap’ travel destination.

Snapgap footerAuthor Website  :  Twitter @JaniceHortonFacebook Page  : LLm Author’s Cafe

Lie, Lady, Lie?

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“Lay, Lady, Lay” is one of my favourite songs from the olden days, but it uses terrible grammar.  I can accept the bad grammar because it comes under the “poetic license” umbrella, but if the lyrics were part of a novel, they would make me shudder.

I once  came across a sentence in a novel that said, “Ruth is laying on the bed.” Ruth is a woman, not a chicken, so I wondered what she was laying. In another chapter, “George laid on the bed.” For sure, George is not a chicken, but the writer doesn’t tell us what he laid on the bed.

Now if the author had said “Ruth is laying out her clothes on the bed,” or “George laid his suitcase on the bed,” that would make more sense. Unfortunately, as I read on, I realized that the author meant to say, “Ruth is lying on the bed,” and “George lay on the bed.”

The misuse of the verbs “to lie” and “to lay” is one of the most common errors made by authors. A large percentage of books I have read contain this error. It could be avoided so easily, but when an author misuses these verbs, it can take the pleasure out of reading an otherwise well-written novel.

Why does the verb “to lie” give writers so much trouble? Why didn’t the authors have their work copy-edited before rushing out to publish it?

To be fair to the authors, I’ve noticed that in many cases, the novels were published by traditional publishing houses who employ their own copy-editors. Surely, they should have caught these mistakes. However, the errors could have been avoided if the writers had a better grasp on their use of English grammar and had not made these mistakes in the first place.

In my copy-editing jobs I often come across the misuse of the verbs “to lie” and “to lay,” so I know it’s a widespread problem. I also know that authors could avoid it with a little effort on their part.

My advice to authors is to find a chart online or in a grammar book, and copy it. Then pin it on your bulletin board or tape it to your desk. The conjugation of the verb “to lie” can be found easily enough on the Internet. One of many sites is On this page you can type any verb into the space at the top and click on “conjugate” and the whole page will be filled with the cases of the verb in question.

For a quick version of how “lie” and “lay” are used with the pronoun “I,” here are some examples:

To Lie (down)

I lie (present)

I lay (preterite)

I have lain (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

To Lay (to set an object down)

I lay (present)

I laid (preterite)

I have laid (present perfect)

I am laying (present continuous)

To Lie (tell an untruth)

I lie (present)

I lied (preterite)

I have lied (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

There is no need for a writer to misuse the verbs “to lie” and “to lay.” If you have trouble with these verbs, referring to your chart will save you from making mistakes that undermine your writing abilities.

I am not lying when I tell you that once you have studied these verbs and have a reference chart pinned up, you won’t have to lay down your pen and give up writing so you can “Lie, Lady, Lie,” lie across your big brass bed to rest your aching, verb-befuddled head.

Find out more about Anneli:

Anneli’s Website



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Hobnobbing With Celebrities

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Who doesn’t like to hobnob with celebrities? Such fun to be caught up in the outer circle surrounding the famous, sharing their

Which famous, you ask?

Hostas…the best-selling perennials in North America, I crow.

Hosta sieboldiana

Hosta sieboldiana

Forgive me. I know there is much hoopla over famous actors, playwrights, musicians, and the like, especially as this year’s Academy Awards loom on the horizon…the presentation of Oscars to occur on February 22nd. But for me, the excitement is for those plants which perform well in my garden.

Let’s face it. Creating a beautiful garden can be just as difficult as snaring one of those Oscars. Some of us face some pretty big obstacles…poor soil, rocky ground, bog areas, too much sun, too much shade, interfering tree roots, deer, rabbits, moles…you name it.

But if gardeners are anything, they are tenacious…not easily thwarted from their visions. Lucky for us, there are plants to suit almost every garden situation. And in my case, it is dealing with a myriad of tree roots from the three large trees in my front garden. The very ones that cast shade over the majority of my garden for a greater part of the day.

Duchess of Dirt's office in spring

Duchess of Dirt’s office in spring

Can you see where I am heading with this? Guaranteed I am all for handing out Oscars to hostas for my garden! But don’t just take my word for this particular plant genus.

Since 1996, the American Hosta Growers Association (AHGA) has been selecting a special cultivar to showcase as their Hosta of the Year and all of them are stellar horticultural specimens. (2015 is “Victory”).

Then there is the American Hosta Society’s annual Popularity Poll. They canvass their membership for their recommendations of hostas worth growing. The first poll was conducted in 1975, and after a nine-year gap, has been held every year since 1984.

Hosta 'Krossa Regal' - Winner of the 1975 AHS Popularity Poll

Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ – Winner of the 1975 AHS Popularity Poll

I really like this Popularity Poll. American Hosta Society members from across North America have nominated the best-performing hostas from their gardens and the Popularity List is compiled from those species and cultivars with the most recommendations.

And the 2013 winners are:

Hosta 'June'

Hosta ‘June’

#1. “June”
Excellent choice! Definitely one I would put at the top of my nomination list. It has been on the Popularity Poll List a total of fourteen times since 1999…winning #1 spot a total of nine times, #2 three times, fourth place once and eighth place once. No other hosta rivals “June” for first place. Chosen Hosta of the Year in 2001. A sport of “Halcyon,” its leaves are irregularly edged in blue which dramatically sets off the central hues of chartreuse evolving into yellow, then ivory. Their very thickness makes this one of the few hostas that are largely resistant to slug and snail damage.

Hosta 'Sagae'

Hosta ‘Sagae’

#2. “Sagae”
Beautifully large hosta, but slow growing…eventually attaining 1.8 m (6 ft) in width. Well worth the wait! Hosta of the Year in 2000. Made the Popularity Poll List a total of eighteen times…winning #1 spot five times, #2 ten times, third twice and sixth once. It is another hosta that holds its own quite well against slugs and snails, although you want to keep an eye peeled for the slimy devils in early spring as the new leaves are emerging from the ground.

Hosta 'Liberty' - closeup

Hosta ‘Liberty’ – closeup

#3. “Liberty”
Many claim this cultivar is the finest introduction in the last ten years. It has held the #3 spot solidly since 2008 after moving up from #18 in 2007 and #21 in 2006. Named Hosta of the Year in 2012. All well-deserved for this upright-growing sport of “Sagae.” A recent addition to our collection of over fifty specimens…I really like “Liberty.” Looks good in a tall cobalt blue pot as a part of the display on my front porch.

Hosta 'First Frost'

Hosta ‘First Frost’

#4. “First Frost”
This is another sport of “Halcyon” and the exact reverse colours of “June.” Same deliciously thick leaves. Also another recent addition, it has been nominated to the Popularity Poll six times with fourth place, its highest to date. “June” is my favourite but John leans toward “First Frost” with very good reasons. Either, or…they are both deserving to be in everyone’s garden.

Hosta 'Sum and Substance'; blue-leaved H. sieboldiana 'Elegans' behind

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance'; blue-leaved H. sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ behind

#5. “Sum and Substance”
Okay…I have another favourite. This large hosta is one of the few which will tolerate full sun…in cool climates. (In warmer climates, this hosta will flourish in morning sun but must have shade through the hotter part of the afternoon.)

This cultivar has made the Popularity Poll an astonishing twenty-six times in the thirty-year history of the poll, eight of those garnering first spot. And very well deserved. “Sum and Substance” is one of the  first hostas we purchased early into our back garden makeover and it has never ceased to provide its unique wow-factor every year since. Highly recommend. Hosta of the Year in 2004.

Hosta montana Aureo-marginata

Hosta montana Aureo-marginata

#6. “Hosta montana Aureo-marginata”
While I will always opt for “Sum and Substance,” this one is its worthy rival for recognition, having also made the Popularity Poll a grand total of twenty-six times…but never reaching higher than second place.

lady beetle larva on Hosta 'Sum and Substance' leaf

lady beetle larva on Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ leaf

#7. “Blue Angel”
Distinguishing feature: one of the largest blue-leafed hostas…90 cm (3 ft) tall, it will eventually reach 1.8 m (6 ft) in width. I am still waiting for mine to stretch out that far but then it is just three years old. In second place after the previous two hostas, “Blue Angel” has made it onto the Popularity Poll List a total of twenty-four times. Was beaten out by one of its sports, “Earth Angel” which was chosen Hosta of the Year in 2009. Must have been the cream-flavoured edging on the leaves of “Earth Angel” that caught the judges’ eyes.

Hostas 'Sun Power' and Patriot'

Hostas ‘Sun Power’ and Patriot’

#8. “Orange Marmalade”
The first one in this list that we do not have in our collection…yet. But it is relatively new on the market. Bred by Robert Solberg and introduced in 2002, it is an offspring of Hosta “Paul’s Glory” (Hosta of the Year in 1999). Unique feature is the orange tinge to the yellow leaf centres in early summer before they fade to ivory cream. Has made the List three times so far…moving from #15 in 2012 to #8 in 2013.

Hosta 'Sum and Substance' in spring

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ in spring

#9. “Niagara Falls”
Another one not in our collection…this cultivar has very large, all-green leaves with piecrust ripple edges. Has dropped from #5 in 2012 after rising from #13 in 2011. Not to say it is not a great hosta but people do tend to lean towards the ones with variegation in their leaves.

#10. “Paradigm”
A sport of “Abiqua Recluse” and originally named “Abiqua Paradigm.” Introduced in 1999, this one is definitely standing out in the garden given it has made the List every year since 2003. Also named Hosta of the Year in 2007. Certainly caught my eye so I just added “Paradigm” to my hosta garden last spring.

Resting tree frog on Hosta 'June'

Resting tree frog on Hosta ‘June’

That completes the Top Ten Winners of the AHS Popularity Poll for 2013. I now give you the ones from #11 to #20 because they are worthy of mention. I note the ones that are in our gardens…if you need any further recommendation beyond the Popularity Poll.

Hosta 'Halcyon'

Hosta ‘Halcyon’

#11. “Guacamole” – Hosta of the Year 2002
#12. “Sun Power” – in our collection
#13. “Halcyon” – in our collection; 20 times on Popularity Poll List
#14. “Abiqua Drinking Gourd” – in our collection; Hosta of the Year 2014
#15. “Neptune”- recent introduction; first time on Popularity Poll List
#16. “Victory” – first time on Popularity List; Hosta of the Year 2015
#17. “Guardian Angel” – on Popularity List last 11 years
#18. “Striptease” – in our collection…the name lured me; Hosta of the Year 2005; 14 times on Popularity Poll List
#19. ‘El Nino’ – on Popularity Poll List last 5 years
#20. “Autumn Frost” – sport of “First Frost” introduced in 2010; first time on Popularity Poll List; on my Wish List

Hosta 'Striptease'

Hosta ‘Striptease’

Well…this is probably not the Academy Awards ceremony you were thinking about. Not much glitter and fanfare here. But truly…each and every one of these deservedly popular shade perennials are worthy of distinction.

I am all for those plants which add beauty to my immediate surroundings…lure birds, bees, and butterflies with their floral display. They create a wondrous space where I can always find a sense of peace in life.


Hosta montana Aureo-marginata and Rodgersia aesculifolia

Hosta montana Aureo-marginata and Rodgersia aesculifolia

(Note: You will find mention on my website of a few other excellent hostas in our garden collection. Enter “hosta” in the Search box in the upper right corner.)

Garden-tainment spot

Garden-tainment spot



It’s Not Too Late! Valentine’s Gifts For Your Fashion-Conscious Sweetie

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So don’t panic. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day and yes, if you’re reading this hoping for gift ideas, then you’ve probably screwed up and forgotten about the holiday. If my husband is reading this, it’s okay, honey. Maybe you’ll pick some ideas here, too. Regardless of whether or not you’ve planned for weeks or just started getting it together fifteen minutes ago, here are some great ideas for gifts that will make your fashion conscious sweetie smile. Though you may have missed ordering deadlines, may these ideas inspire you in the last-minute frenzy for a super gift!


Okay, you got me. That’s not a real word in the real world, but it is on this site! The cool thing about scarves is that they dress up almost any outfit–sweat pants excluded. Animal prints have been back in for a while now. I like this blue and white Overlapping Leopard Print from Express. If you aren’t into prints and worry that he or she is not either, check out some bold solids. I love this rich red scarf from House of Fraser.



Linea rayon scarf
$30 –


Key To Her Heart

Wanna win the key to her heart? How about giving her the key? Skeleton keys are the rage this year. Check out this snazzy locket necklace–a steal from Amazon. There’s also a trend in vintage that we’ve seen for the past couple of years. Check out these sweet knot earrings from Overstock. There’s also a groovy chain bracelet. And you gotta love this awesome framed wall art from Lamps Plus.

Key To Her Heart


Locket necklace

Framed wall art


It’s In the Bag

It’s always a little tricky buying someone a handbag, but if you buy the right one? You’ll be a total rockstar. Here are my tips for handbag purchasing success:

  1. Style–it shouldn’t be your grandma’s bag–though admittedly my gran totally rocks some Michael Kors.
  2. Look for lots of pockets, like this great tan saddlebag.
  3. There are times a small cross body works well, but for a lot of women on the go, well, forgive me–size matters. This awesome emerald bag had that in spades.

When in doubt? As for a gift receipt and throw in a Starbucks gift card.

It's In the Bag


So there you have it. Three sets of ideas–most under $50. Don’t forget to check out some of my favorites–TJ Maxx, Bath & Body WorksTopShop, and M&S, where you’ll find some great deals on presents to make your sweetie smile. Oh, and one last thing…Don’t forget the card!

Stylish Children … Avoid Impulse Buying & Encourage Independent Thinking!

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Following the launch of my new, joint fashion project, it inspired this article on how to develop excellent motivational skills in children via everyday tasks and household organisation.

Parents are awesome. We’re constantly working to develop enjoyable meals for our children. We fill in any gaps in our children’s knowledge where we can. We think about the problems our children may have decades before they do. We are motivated, organised and purposeful. We have to be. How many decent jobs will there be out there for ‘fresh from school’ teenagers in ten years’ time? How expensive will university be, and will there even be that many jobs available when our young adults finish their degree courses?

To be a parent nowadays is a troublesome endeavour. Some teens have parents who will buy them laptops, phones, cars, pay for university etc and some have parents who, due to the economic climate, can only just afford to feed their children, let alone pay for things that society has allowed teenagers to believe they need to have. A new generation of ‘have’ and ‘have-nots’ seems to have been created and, historically, those afforded advantages seem to have an easier life when they reach adulthood.

My initial thought was in considering how much money I would have set aside by the time my children reach the age of eighteen, to help with setting up businesses, paying some of their university fees, buying a reliable car, or having a gap-year of note. It opened up a whole world of little things I have been missing out on that added up to a heck of a lot. And the one thing that really surprised me, was the thought that I was trying to anticipate things for my children when I wasn’t really as organised as I thought…

Here’s an example. Give yourself a couple of hours to go through and pair your children’s clothes into complete outfits. When I did this, my daughter had eighteen sets of clothing. She wears school clothes five days a week, and changes into jeans and a tee-shirt, or jogging bottoms and a vest on each of those nights. So eighteen complete outfits means that she could wear something different every Saturday and Sunday for two and a half months without needing to iron a thing.

We’re all guilty of it. We’re manipulated into buying clothes we don’t need. Supermarkets put the kids’ clothes right at the front of the store because we’re more likely to skip past it if it was at the end of our shopping trip. ‘Might as well have a quick look. Oh, kids clothes half-price’ is the familiar refrain. We end up with a rack of tiny tee-shirts in the wardrobe which may have only cost a few pounds each, and no doubt all feature cute designs, but they don’t always get worn.

So, with my daughter, I decided that our project this year is to change our spending habit and be more organised in the ‘wardrobe’ department. If I can save £200 per child each year by spending more sensibly on clothes, that’s an extra £3,000 for each of them in their ‘fund’.

The first step was to pull out all of the clothes we already own and put them into coordinated outfits. The first task was finding the right hangers and these were purchased from Amazon. Having the trousers/jeans/skirt/leggings on one hanger together with the top/dress and accessories, meant that we could stand back and decide if each outfit we put together really worked well. With ten decent outfits laid out, there would be no more digging through the drawers on a Saturday morning trying to put together a cute outfit for Lily. Everything was organised and the local charity shop benefited from a large bundle of clothing.

The next step was the fun bit. We trawled through our favourite websites, visited the local M&S and H&M, and even the supermarkets, and took photos and screen-grabs of everything we liked. Lily talked animatedly about some of the dresses she’d seen and had a really good think about the style of shoes she liked the most. In addition to it providing some top-level father/daughter bonding, we managed to put together a selection of clothing that would make her look stylish and coordinated for the season.

Lily’s Winter Collection

Lily’s Spring Collection

Talking as a teacher now, we’re building transmutable skills by taking on this task. Lily is developing both her thinking skills and her organisational structures. These are two things that will really help to build her motivational skills and develop the methodical way in which she likes to work. Indeed, I’ve taken this further; rather than buying each of these curated collection in one go, I’ve asked Lily to choose the items she wants for gradual delivery. Before we went away to celebrate Lily’s birthday recently, I asked her which of the dresses from the spring collection she wanted to wear on her special day. She pored over the designs on her iPad, talked about how one dress would go with her favourite jacket, and how another had a really nice My Little Pony design on the front of it. Eventually she made an independent decision based on evaluating the pros and cons of each – not bad for a four-year-old! Rather than having clothes presented to her that have been selected for her because they were cute, or purchased on a whim, she is now developing her own style and building those critical thinking skills.

One of the major issues in education that I have repeatedly seen over the last decade, is that when a teacher asks a child of primary school aged to explain why they think something is good, they can rarely expand beyond ‘because I think it is’. Independent thinking is something of a rarity; an over-looked key skill that is partially negated by the targets set in education. Yes, we’re all focused on getting our children up to the national standard, but perhaps by doing a few little organisational things and having a real go at making our lives more logical, we can help our children to exceed the general expectations. Spoon-feeding and generalising is an easy option – heck, because I have a girl I’m totally guilty of doing the whole Disney Princess thing myself – but it’s important to remember that it isn’t the only option.

So this task has achieved several objectives. Lily’s clothes are now organised and ready to wear. We’ve also purchased all of the accessories – hair bands, jewellery, and scarves – which avoids the dreaded ‘impulse buying’. We’ve emptied her room of the clothes she doesn’t wear, which is also a space-saver.  It’s a win-win situation.

Being a fun dad, this whole experiment has to be connected to some enjoyable experiences. As we’ve put together these outfits we’ve had a  few fun photo-shoots, taking a couple of hours out and using a simple phone camera to snap some great shots. I’ll leave you with this one of my lovely daughter having fun in a dress she is proud to have selected herself.


Mark Hulkus has worked in a teaching environment for many years. He has been a primary school teacher in a Preparatory Department in a 150-year-old boarding school in Wales; he spent several years as a Head of IT. He currently provides a range of IT services in schools, helping them gear up for the changes in IT requirements. He has three children and is is obsessed with the 1980’s.

If you have a question for Mark, email us at

Coffee time … home by design!

LBH headerWhen you’re looking for a new home, sometimes it’s hard to get a sense of perspective if, when you view, it’s full of someone else’s furniture (and even clutter!) But sometimes an almost empty shell can also make it difficult to see how everything will fit in.

Every room will have plus and minus factors. This modern conservatory extension to a small cottage links the kitchen (and downstairs bathroom beyond the kitchen) to the main house.

However, what you don’t necessarily pick up on when it’s empty, is that the width here is going to be a problem because there is a ‘walkway’ from the entrance (the point from which the photo has been taken) to the door into the kitchen.

This conservatory is going to be the dining room and a lovely place to sit and relax looking out onto the far-reaching views across the valley.Convservatory

The other problem is that the kitchen is bijou. There is a separate utility room in the garden, but the kitchen will only just about accommodate a large larder fridge and all the storage required for the basics – food items, crockery, saucepans, etc.

As I always say, it’s all about proportions and thinking outside the box where there isn’t a standard, off-the-shelf solution. And here’s the finished result:

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By selecting a narrow table that will also allow the comfortable chairs to easily tuck under, it allows a good width for the walk-through area. But the biggest problem was the ‘coffee station’.

After considering a range of bathroom units designed for slimline spaces, not only was it a costly solution (up to £350 for a tall unit and a small cupboard), but the dimensions would still have taken the units across in front of the opened up window space. That is needed for light on the kitchen side, so it’s quite important it’s kept clear.

The solution was found at a car boot sale! A rustic wooden side table cost £5 and a wooden DVD rack cost £3. A little sanding, an undercoat and two top coats later – this neat solution is functional, neat, and good to look at!

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Side table

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DVD rack

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Functional & neat!














Of course, the coffee machine was expensive, but we’ll quickly gloss over that as all coffee-holics will understand the need!

This solution is great because (aside from saving money) when space is at a premium, having somewhere to display china that is also functional, is a bonus.

The little ‘mini’ wire shopping basket that sits on the floor and holds the packets of coffee beans, is a fun touch and cost a couple of pounds.


Home by design … and the solution isn’t always expensive!



Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Linn B Halton Author

Linn bookshelf final 2015

The Bookshelf – romance is in the air!

Janice New Banner LLm 2015The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!


Australian journalist, blog boss and chick lit connoisseur Bree Darcy


Bree Darcy is the pen name used by the founder of book review website Chicklit Club who released her debut novel Don’t Mention the Rock Star last month. She recently quit her job as a newspaper sub-editor to strike out on her own as a freelancer and become more involved in the publishing industry. She is now the publisher of several popular websites for readers and authors, including Chicklit Club, Connect, and We Heart Writing, and also runs the annual International Chick Lit Month event. She lives in Perth, Australia.

I asked Bree what inspired her to write this rock star-themed romance novel and she says: “I have always loved stories about couples who are torn apart due to circumstances, or friends who are obviously meant for one another but fate never quite works in their favour. I can’t remember what triggered me to start writing about this showbiz reporter called Kellie and her first love, Andy, who went on to become a rock star. They just kept niggling at me until I wrote their story!  My favourite part to work on was the sections from the past, where we discover why, despite being so right for one another, they didn’t end up together. Having the leading man as a rock star is a cliché, I’ll admit, but I’ve been pleased to hear that readers have responded favourably to him, finding him endearing and down to earth – despite his glamorous occupation. I purposely made him start out as this young skinny guy without many prospects while Kellie was certainly not some giggly, starstruck girl. I am a big music fan with a poster on my office noticeboard that says: “Every girl dreams of marrying a band member.” I definitely think rock star and romance go together perfectly.” rockstarphotocover

They fell in love in an instant … so why have they spent a lifetime apart? 

As a teenager, Kellie dated an American boy but circumstances meant they went their separate ways. Now he’s back and she’s so tempted to see him again. But two decades have passed and they are both married with children. And the last thing a celebrity reporter like her needs is the world finding out about her past relationship with a rock star. Especially as Kellie’s husband doesn’t even know she once dated AJ Dangerfield, lead singer of legendary band Danger Game. But what will happen if their two worlds collide? And is it possible that first love never fades?

Find out more about Bree Darcy

 WebpageFacebook: Twitter




Bonnie Trachtenberg is a multi-award-winning and bestselling author of romantic comedy. She also writes a regular relationship advice column here at LLm. Her debut novel, Wedlocked, became a Kindle bestseller and won the Gold Readers Favourite Award, the Beach Book Festival Award and the Indie Excellence Award. Her second novel, Neurotically Yours also won the Gold Readers Favourite Award, became a double winner of the Indie Excellence Award and was an award-winning finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Her latest work is a satirical self-help book entitled The Fine Art of Delusional Thinking. Bonnie lives on Long Island with her husband. They have four cats and a dog who wishes he were a cat.


Find out more about Bonnie on her Website and on her Bookshelf Page.

NEWS This Month!

We are celebrating on the Loveahappyending Lifestyle team this month!

Our wonderful Mandy Baggot has just scooped a new book deal!

Huge congratulations to Mandy who has signed a two book deal with publishers of brilliant digital fiction – Bookouture.


Mandy’s first book will be coming out in early summer with her second to follow in the autumn. She knows how to write fantastic fiction and also how to raise a glass or several! Well done Mandy!

 mandy champs

For more information on LLm Author Mandy Baggot visit her: Website and LLm’s Authors’ Cafe

 For more information on Bookouture Publishing visit their: Website


The @LLmAuthorsCafe Snapshot


Click here to follow The LLm Authors’ Cafe on Twitter

 Loveahappyending BOOK BLOGGER Reviews

Bringing you independent reviews from some of the Best Reviewers in the Book Blogging world!

A Valentine’s Day Special Selection of Romantic Fiction!


BBB smaller jpegagpipes and Bullshot

Author: Janice Horton. Publisher: Thornhill Print. Genre: Contemporary Romance

Bagpipes and Bullshot is a contemporary tale told with timeless Scottish romanticism and a knowing sense of humour, Bagpipes and Bullshot twists an everyday love story with a whole cast of village eccentrics into an entertaining play on rural life.

Reviewed by: Jackie at The Book Maven  – a Top 5 LLm Reviewer!

Jackie says: “I loved this book.  It’s both entertaining and addicting.  Innes and Oley’s love story is so sweet and natural.  What woman wouldn’t want a Scottish Laird to come sweep her off her feet?  It was fun to see the “opposites attract” work in their favour.  With Oley and her work, and Innes and his, they should want completely different people but in reality they are perfect for one another.  The story takes you from Texas to Scotland and that in itself is a fantastic aspect to the story.  I also love the element of intrigue that is within the story.  The factors fighting Innes and Oley being together add a wonderful roller coaster ride.  Overall, this was a fantastic read that I fell in love with.  Anyone who likes a good love story with a few hurdles will adore this story.

READ Jackie’s entire review at The Book Maven

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

Find out more about Janice Horton from her Website and at LLm’s Authors’ Cafe


WfL coverWarrant For Love

Author: Sheryl Browne: Publisher: Safkhet Publishing: Genre: Romantic Fiction

Life for Paul sounds like your typical country song. He comes from a broken home, his wife is divorcing him, he’s got no place to live, he’s losing custody of his son, and his sergeant, who’s sleeping with his wife, is a loud-mouthed braggart who won’t let up on him. Leanne has caught her (now) ex cheating on her again, but before she can give him the what-for, she’s wrongfully arrested for soliciting – by Paul and his partner. Blackmail, lies, adultery, entrapment. Will it all work out in the end or will Paul uphold the law? It sounds like he needs a Warrant for Love.

Reviewed by: Elizabeth at

Excerpt from the review: “Sheryl Browne is a master of bringing in the reader and making them connect with the characters. You can’t help but love the feisty female characters she has created, not to mention the dreamy PC Paul Davis! Sheryl knows and portrays the exasperating nature of real relationships perfectly and it is surely a sign of the strength of her writing that you want to know more and more about each of the characters. This really is a book to devour – it’s like a take-away dinner, you get it home and just have to nom it in one!”

READ the entire review at

 Purchase: Amazon UK |

 Find out more about Sheryl Browne from her Website and LLm Authors’ Cafe



PTK_final_lg-187x300Promises to Keep: Book Two – Love in Provence Series

Author: Patricia Sands. Publisher: HarperImpulse. Genre: Paranormal Romance

Falling in love with the south of France was no surprise to Katherine. Choosing to walk away from her past and start over was completely unexpected. A new country, a new lover, and the promise of a bright future beginning in mid-life … who knew? Now there were the exciting dreams of restoring the property on the Cap, of beginning a new career, of experiencing the traditions of Christmas in Provence, of falling even more deeply in love with the man who inspired these hopes. It was all so perfect, until it wasn’t. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, had become her mantra. Would it be enough? 

Reviewed by The French Village

“Katherine found happiness in Provence, where she spent time on home exchange holidays following the breakup of her marriage and the death of her mother. There are delicious descriptions of market produce and no shortage of stunning scenery brought to life; from days out in the hilltop towns and cycle rides along the coast with the new man in her life. I really felt that I was there alongside of her as she became a part of the local community. There are loved up picnics, lie-ins and preparations for her first traditional French Christmas, shared with a special person in her life once more; real romance that warmed my heart. If you love romance with a twist of drama and a taste of Provence, I’m sure you will enjoy this book. I am looking forward to the next book where I hope Katherine will learn more about her friend Simone, a new character that Patricia has dangled temptingly in front of us.”

READ the entire review at Reviewed by The French Village

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

Find out more about Patricia Sands from her Website and LLm’s Authors’ Cafe



In February Look Out For…

cafe bannerGrab a Coffee and have a read – free excerpts and latest author news!

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Photo Essay: Anyone for Arles?

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Bonjour! Today we’re taking a visit to Arles, one of my favourite towns in the south of France. Important tourist tip ~ NEVER pronounce the “s” at the end of “Arles”!

It’s an easy drive from the Côte d’Azur, where we are usually based.  The changing scenery through the dramatic red rock hills of le massif de l’Esterel, alongside vineyards and farmland in the Var, guarantees the time on the A8 autoroute passes quickly. It’s under three hours from Nice.


If you take the train, the station is a short walk along the Rhone to the gates (or there’s a free shuttle to the town centre). Enter at the north end of town, between the ancient watch towers in the remains of the Roman gates and city walls.

I’m betting you will immediately stop to take a photo of the eye-catching fountain and monument built in 1868 to honour  the French historian Amédée Pichot.


Situated in the area or département known as the Bouches-du-Rhône (great info and pics on this site), you will need a full day, at the very least, to take in the major attractions.  I recommend staying over for a night and enjoying a relaxing visit. Rich in history and character, Arles has much to offer.


Arles is a UNESCO World Heritage site dating back to the 7th century BC when it was a major Roman-Gallo city (Arelate). Built on the edge of the Rhone River where it branches into two parts to the sea, established its importance as a port. To say it is a treasure trove of well-preserved  Roman structures and antiquities would be an understatement. Read here about the Roman barge pulled from the Rhone near Arles, almost intact, in 2004. It still held its navigational equipment, cargo and kitchen … virtually fossilized. It’s one of the most exciting archaeological finds of the century and would require an entire post on its own to tell you about it.

Okay, back to the town.

The major Roman sites, the Arena, dating from the 1st century AD, and the Theater, are uniquely integrated with the houses and buildings of the town. They are still used today for concerts, plays, and even bullfights … gulp, yes still … .


There is a fascinating history linking Arles and the Camargue, a regional park and nature preserve to the south, between the town and the Mediterranean. There one finds more than 400 bird species, including the Greater Flamingo. Here also are the famous indigenous Camarguais, white horses,  considered possibly the oldest breed of horses in the world. They are ridden by the local guardians (cowboys) who herd the fighting bulls bred in the area for spectacles here and in Spain.


Charmingly medieval streets, narrow and winding, pass between ancient buildings. Who can resist them? Originally built to accommodate a chariot, these streets are best suited for strolling and not driving. Trust me on that!



Vincent Van Gogh’s stay in Arles was as colourful as his paintings, let me assure you! The history of his brief stay in the area is well documented and an important aspect of a visit to Arles. Pause for a break at Le Café La Nuit as Vincent himself did, and immortalized in paintings.


The Place de la République is the historic heart of Arles with a 4th-century Roman obelisk crowning the centre of the square. Around it, the breathtaking Basilica of St. Trophime and adjoining cloisters date from the 12 century. The uniquely constructed Hôtel de Ville replaced an earlier structure in 1673 and La Chapelle Sainte-Anne, next to it, was built around the same time. Be prepared to spend a significant amount of time here. Nearby meandering streets offer many appetizing choices for food and drink or tempting shopping in elegant boutiques.




If you plan a visit to Arles, do not miss visiting the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles.  For now, please click here ~ to see a wealth of information. It is the #1 Van Gogh site on the web and for good reason!  It’s surprising how much of this beautiful town and area has not changed from the scenes depicted in the paintings.

If you have three minutes, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy this small slideshow of Arles I’ve put together, accompanied by the incomparable Edith Piaf.

Have you visited Arles? What was the highlight there for you? Do you have any recommendations you would like to share?

Here’s Trip Advisor’s Hotel information for Arles. I can personally recommend Hotel Jules Cesar.

Comme d’habitude, there is the usual fine selection of patisseries to put together a quick picnic. For a light meal, we love Le Monde de Sophie and our romantic dinner at La Fee Gourmande was exceptional.

Bon voyage et bon appétit!

All photography on this post is the copyright property of Patricia Sands.

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