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“Writing is an incurable disease…” Caroline James talks to Prue Leith, CBE

  [caption id="attachment_18749" align="aligncenter" width="318"] Prue Leith - Photo Colin Thomas[/caption] Prue Leith CBE, has bee...

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


When sexual ‘adventures’ go too far…

Q.  My boyfriend and I are in our twenties and have been together for almost five years. We’ve always had an exciting and inventive sex ...

Lifestyle articles


Money Matters…from storage ideas to indulging yourself!

Welcome back to Money Matters, the place where you’ll find inventive suggestions for living well on a budget. In tough economic times it’s...

Money Matters…from storage ideas to indulging yourself!

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Welcome back to Money Matters, the place where you’ll find inventive suggestions for living well on a budget. In tough economic times it’s vital to learn how to downsize and stretch your money, as well as recycle or upcycle items you might normally discard into great home innovations. This edition offers you super cool storage methods and ways to beautify your home. It also brings you ideas on how to indulge yourself, since “me time” may be more important than you think. Remember, a little bit of ingenuity can go a long way to enhancing your life—even on a budget!



We all end up with lots of bathroom products of all shapes and sizes. One of the easiest ways to store items is to use small plastic waste-paper bins. Separate out hair products and equipment into one, cleaning products into another, etc. It’s easy to store the baskets in a cupboard and if you’re vertically challenged, they are easy to grab a hold of from a high shelf. These bins can be bought cheaply, and if you prefer to keep them out, they come in a variety of colors to complement your décor.


Storing jewelry can be a problem. If you are in a rush and trying to find just the right accessory, using re-sealable food bags allows you to store earrings, necklaces, and bracelets together in sets, so that making your selection is effortless. You can keep the bags in one easy-access container in a drawer, and when preparing for travel, you’ll be able to quickly pair up your jewelry with the outfits you’ll be packing. You can even make a small hole in each bag and slide it over the hook of the hanger. Larger plastic bags hold socks, tights, belts – any items to be worn with that outfit. Easy Peasy!


If you have china in your kitchen that isn’t in daily use, it can gather dust. Storing anything you only use for special occasions in clear plastic tubs with lids means that not only are they easier to move around when you are looking for something, but you can also see what’s inside at a glance. This smart idea will ensure your items remain dust-free.


Kids love cardboard rolls – and it’s one thing that every household has. Whether they’re from kitchen paper towel or toilet paper rolls, they can be used to store so many things. Some favorite uses are for pens, crayons and pencils. Decide how many rolls you need and then find a suitable box. Line it with the rolls so there is no spare space and then fill them up! You can get the kids to decorate the outsides first if you want to brighten them up and create a fun craft to keep them busy.


Another good use for cardboard rolls is for storing toy cars. You will need a large tray-like box and the cardboard rolls from kitchen towels work best, as you can cut them into three. Each section of roll is a home for one car. As long as you pack your rolls tightly, this works well and you can easily store the “trays” as a stack if you need to have differing heights to accommodate those vehicles.

Storage is almost always a problem for people, and most homeowners utilize every little bit of spare space. This stool can still slide under the worktop and accommodate a nice, neat little stack of boxes for paperwork. Always choose sturdy boxes, make the color appropriate to the room and where you don’t want them to stand out, choose muted colors.


If you are touching up the paintwork/walls in your home, rather than washing out the brushes/rollers every single time you use them, try using polythene bags. Simply pop your brush inside and wrap the bag around it tightly. It won’t dry out for a couple of days and you can even slide a tray of paint into a bag and it will remain liquid for a few days.



Necklaces make wonderful decorations when used to drape over lightshades and as tie-backs for curtains. However, a lightshade is also a useful place to “store” a necklace that is particularly fragile, or that you wear frequently. Each morning when you jump out of bed it’s there waiting!


Sometimes you want to create a little feature, something to catch the eye and soften a room. Using fabric is a great way of doing that. Here, a tea-towel has been used to line a wooden tea-tray and the remaining fabric has been used to make a placemat. It’s inexpensive and there’s minimal sewing (just hemming the cut edges and the tea-towel).


Simple window treatments can add so much to a room. Here, you’ll find a small swag of fabric to match the bedding and one, semi-sheer voile. As this window is not overlooked, the voile is never lowered so it’s simply a window dressing. However, in case it does need to be used, the voile has been arranged in folds and some metal dragonfly clips secure them. These are clip-on weights for holding-down tablecloths on picnic tables. They can be bought in sets quite cheaply and are a nice, fun little feature.






Maybe your budget doesn’t include a regular trip to a spa, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge yourself! Set aside two hours a week – mark it on the calendar and choose a time when you can just stop whatever you are doing and chillax, even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom to escape the family. For a few pounds/dollars you can treat yourself to a pore cleanser, facial scrub and face-pack. Use them in that order (according to the instructions), and then slip into a relaxing bath to let your face-pack cure. Wash it off and then apply a good quality moisturizing cream. Your skin will glow and you will rid yourself of all of those dead skin cells that often make our skin look dry and jaded – especially in winter. Two hours out of 168 that make up your week – you don’t just deserve it, you NEED it!


Want to help reverse the aging process? You don’t need to spend money on expensive collagen injections to do it. Restore collagen to your skin the natural way by modifying your diet to include foods rich in Vitamin C (lots of dark colored fruit, berries, and leafy green vegetables), lean protein, wheat germ, and garlic! Additionally, green and black teas contain anti-oxidants that can help to reduce wrinkles. When out in the sun, protect yourself from further collagen loss by always wearing 30 sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection.



Feeling anxious? Anxiety is one of the most prevalent conditions we suffer from as a society. It can take over your life, if you let it. The more anxious we become, often the less productive we are. There are, however, some easy things you can do (and not do!) to relax, de-stress, and wipe anxiety from your life.

Don’t over extend yourself. Taking on more than you feel comfortable with at work or at home is a very common cause of stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed do only the things you absolutely have to, and learn to say no to everything else.

Think positive. Focus on shunning the negativity in your mind and embracing joyful and positive thoughts, whether serene places, happy memories, or whatever brings a smile to your face.

Laugh! Watch comedies, read funny books, share jokes with a friend—anything that makes you chuckle. Laughter releases anxiety and it really is the best medicine.

Exercise. Twenty minutes on the treadmill or a brisk walk around your neighborhood works wonders in reducing stress.

Meditate. If you don’t know how, just do an Internet search and you’ll find a myriad of ways to do it. This is a very effective method of settling down your mind and lifting your spirit!

Look out for more of Bonnie’s top tips

coming soon!


Twitter: @Writebrainedny

FB: Bonnie Trachtenberg

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The Way We Were Watching Redford

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The Film Fatales remember the way they were while watching Robert Redford’s movies.

This time around, we’re focusing on our favorite work(s) by one actor. And, we’ve chosen the cream of the crop: Mr. Robert Redford. Redford’s career spans over 50 years, evolving from in front of the camera to behind–as producer and director. So much more than a pretty face, but oh, what a face it is. Take a walk down memory lane with us as we delve into some of Redford’s most memorable roles.

Elizabeth: Robert Redford is 78 years old. How the hell did that happen?  78! But I’ve got to say that he gives me hope that we can be vital and uber busy and enjoying life and creating art at 78. But truth be told, I want Mr. Redford (Hubbell Gardner) to look the way he did when he said, “You really think you’re easy. Compared to what? The Hundred Years War” to Katie Morosky who was played by Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were. BTW – so many people have said that Katie reminded them of me so I am happy to say that I slept with Robert Redford. Pass it on.

The Way We Were

The Way We Were is a 1973 American romantic drama film, starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, and directed by Sydney Pollack. The screenplay by Arthur Laurents was based on his college days at Cornell University and his experiences with the House Un-American Activities Committee. [IMDb]

This movie is one of my favorite movies for so many reasons. It was an intelligent movie that was well written. It told of a great love story while there much chaos was going on in the world. It told of two people trying to connect when they have nothing in common except for love. We want them to win, but how can they?

Redford played a bit of a cad in this movie, but who cares? He looks great in every scene even though he is tormented by his own demons. But dress him up and who cares – he is as close to perfection as you can get. And this is from someone who normally liked the drug addict poet, can I sleep on your couch kind of man. Redford made me consider another kind of man. Thank Mr. Redford for not signing that restraining order against me because I am back to my poet type. Nothing lasts forever.

Hubbell Gardner: “Are you really so sure of everything you’re so sure of?”
Me: “Yes. I am. This is my favorite Robert Redford movie of all time.”


Nicole: I will say this much about your favorite pick; it proves how good an actor Redford is–because he made me hate him. Playing against type as the conservative snob Hubbell Gardner, Redford walked all over Barbra’s progressive Katie and yet, it’s one of the most memorable love stories in modern cinema.

My favorite Redford roles, however, are the nail-biting political thrillers, namely All the President’s Men and Three Days of the Condor. 

All the President's Men

All the President’s Men. 1976. Co-starring Dustin Hoffman. Directed by Alan J. Pakula. Reporters Woodward and Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon’s resignation. [IMDb]

Who can forget that pivotal scene when Redford, portraying Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward, meets Deep Throat in that D.C. parking garage? All the President’s Men is an important film on many levels, but mainly because it had the audacity to reveal the inner workings of uncovering a political scandal that rocked the USA on its foundation and changed the country’s perception of its leadership.

Three Days of the Condor

Three Days of the Condor. 1975. Co-starring Faye Dunaway. Directed by Sydney Pollack. A bookish CIA researcher finds all his co-workers dead, and must outwit those responsible until he figures out whom he can really trust. [IMDb]

My love for the spy genre may have started with this movie. Redford’s Joseph Turner really carries this film on his shoulders as we wind and weave through the conspiracy he gradually uncovers. We follow him breathlessly through every chase, through every poorly made decision to avert his pursuers and his tension-filled, complicated and controversial coupling with Dunaway’s Kathy Hale. I don’t want to say too much plot wise, because if you haven’t seen this movie, the payoff is a real eye-opener. Put it on your must-see list if you enjoy political intrigue.

Hope we’ve inspired some misty, water-colored memories of your own…

Brought to you by: Film Fatales


Twitter: @Film_Fatales

FB: Film Fatales

Castaway in the Caribbean – sail away day!


March 26th is Sail Away Day for my new novel! 

Castaway in the Caribbean

More fun than you’ll find in any travel brochure!

Available NOW exclusively from Amazon for Kindle

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Castaway in the Caribbean

Vacationing on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua, Janey Sinclair is persuaded by her magazine editor boss to do a quick island hop in order to supervise an impromptu photo-shoot for the front cover. With no flights immediately available, Janey is directed to the harbour.

Captain Travis Mathews hates tourists, although he’s not above making a bit of money off a prissy and sharp tongued young British girl when she’s desperate to get to the neighbouring island of Tortola.

After striking a deal, they set off together in Travis’s weather-beaten old boat. When the vessel comes to a sudden full stop in the sea, the mismatched pair end up as castaways on an uninhabited island.

In this fast moving romantic adventure about a vacation that turns into a tropical nightmare there’s more fun than you’ll find in any travel brochure.



 A message from Janice:

I was incredibly fortunate to spend most of last summer in the Caribbean, writing and researching my latest novel Castaway in the Caribbean. I found it challenging only in the respect of being continually distracted from the manuscript by the tropical sunshine, the white sand beaches, the warm aquamarine sea, rum cocktails, and the fabulous social scene on offer. Many of these distractions are well documented on my website at and on my blog and Facebook page too, if you are interested in reading the details and seeing the photos!

For the purposes of proper research for Castaway in the Caribbean, I traveled to and explored many Caribbean islands and, despite my tendency for sea sickness, I also spent a lot of time in boats. I even got to sail around Tortola, the larger of the British Virgin Islands, in a restored schooner that had been used in the filming of the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

The Virgin Islands inspired me with the modern day setting for this romantic adventure novel because, of this chain of around ninety small islands, islets, cays and rocks in the Caribbean Sea, many are uninhabited.

I eventually settled down to write this romantic adventure story on the Caribbean island of Utila, the smaller of the Bay Islands, just off the coast of Honduras. Likened to the Key West of long ago, Utila is a quaint, unspoiled and laid-back little island. Sitting on the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, it is also a paradise for scuba diving, which is exactly what my husband was doing every day while I was busy writing this story.

Research is a valuable tool for a writer, so I do hope all the fun and adventure I had in the Caribbean has found its way into the pages of Castaway in the Caribbean.

The BVIs

The Virgin Islands inspired me with the modern day setting for this romantic adventure novel. I even got to sail around Tortola, the larger of the British Virgin Islands, in a restored schooner that had been used in the filming of the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Do you recognise the above rock formation from the opening scene in the movie?

Sailing BVIs

Researching Tortola – The British Virgin Islands

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Janice Horton writes contemporary romantic fiction with a dash of humour and a sense of adventure. Look out for Janice’s new release for 2015 Castaway in the Caribbean and her Amazon Kindle bestselling books Bagpipes and Bullshot and Reaching for the Stars and her fun Voodoo Romance series of novellas. Her nonfiction guide to online promotion How To Party Online is recommended reading by publishers. Janice is a senior editor at the award-winning Loveahappyending Lifestyle Magazine (LLm)

Browse and Buy Links:

Browse Castaway in the Caribbean on Amazon UK

Browse Castaway in the Caribbean on Amazon Dotcom

Other Amazon sites are available

No Kindle? No problem. Amazon provides a FREE to download Kindle App for all smartphones, tablets and computers. You can read this title for FREE with Kindle Unlimited

Landlord of a Special Village Pub

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Traditionally, a good pub can form the hub of any village. Tilford in Surrey, near Farnham, boasts an idyllic village green, a small part of the River Wey crossed by scenic bridges, interesting architecture, a balance between tranquillity and buzzing life, and what is described as ‘a quintessential English Country Pub’, The Barley Mow, built in 1705.


Charlie Barton had frequented The Barley Mow since 1969 as a customer and became its landlord in 2001. Living and working in Australia at the time, he was delighted to have the chance to take up the lease, and so moved back to England. All I can say is, what an office!IMG_2800small

So how does this pub help bring the village together and foster that elusive community feel? Where to begin! Obviously, people eat and drink there, but there is more to it than that. For example, the publican is active in helping to promote the village warden scheme, encouraging villagers and visitors to take pride in keeping the village litter free. He also supports local charities and clubs. Three cricket teams play on the village green, people coming from far and wide to play and spectate and, he says, for Tilford Cricket Club of which he is a vice president and sponsor, it is the club house. Local hospice, Phyllis Tuckwell; the children’s hospice, Chase; and the village school are also supported.

Used in many advertisements, TV programmes and films, the pub has an interesting history, the adjoining cottage going back to Elizabethan times, as you can read from the website. Do have a browse there! On the cricket theme, ‘In 1821 William Beldham, “Silver Billy”, took over as Landlord. Silver Billy was one of England’s most famous cricketers, this picture hangs in the public bar and the original hangs in the Long Room at Lords Cricket Pavilion. He is said to still haunt the pub.’

The other special feature of The Barley Mow is the attraction it holds for various motor clubs. With ample parking and scenic surroundings, it is a popular destination for classic and other cars. It was the watering hole of Mike Hawthorn, Formula 1 World Champion in 1958, who tragically died aged 29 in a nearby road accident, on the A3 by Onslow village. His ‘Appreciation Society’ meets there to this day in a back room dedicated to him and filled with memorabilia, fascinating for any fan of motor racing. Charlie told me that Porsche clubs also meet up at The Barley Mow and it has been used in adverts for Rover and Aston Martin cars. IMG_2809small

Naturally the pub employs local people, many from the village. For me this was a special place when creating my fictional village, Appley Green, and I always have a picture of Tilford in my mind’s eye when writing the novels and imagining my characters doing what they do. Staff is naturally seasonal, for on a lovely summer day the green is often covered in people soaking up the sun, with children pottering about near the river and the pub garden packed with folk enjoying lunch. By contrast in the winter, it can be quiet but how cosy the pub is then!

Tilford is a village full of activity! The Parish Council, I note, has replaced the village green seats that feature on the cover of Shades of Appley Green. You will see that on one of the old seats there is an arm missing, apparently pulled off when a Gypsy tied his horse to it! ‘Trotters’ come by now and then and once a bride in the village was given a ride round the village green in a Gypsy pony and trap.

So how middle-England is this community, you may ask? What of other ethnic groups? Surprisingly perhaps, there is a little known group of Muslims, called Ahmadiyyas, who live separately but do integrate with the general village population. Somewhat excluded by mainstream followers of Islam as they have differences in their beliefs, here in Tilford they hold a convention of perhaps 30,000. They claim to have around 200 million members worldwide and they are, says Charlie, a peaceful people – who, of course, do not drink alcohol.

The Horticultural Society meet up in both The Barley Mow and the Village Institute, a fine Lutyens building on the opposite side of the green. Then there is the Tilford Bach Society who put on concerts of both instrumental and choral works over a period of three days. What can be more typical of village life than a fete with a big marquee where you can show your prize-winning vegetables, and enjoy a band in the evening?

You can imagine how festive the village is over Christmas, with a tree on the green and the pub bedecked and glittering. Whilst visitors are welcome to come and enjoy the village, snowy conditions bring a more close-knit feel, where outsiders may struggle to get in and by the same token, local villagers may find it hard to get out! Where better to go on foot than ‘the local’ for a real party atmosphere where you know everyone!

Something for everyone in Tilford Green!


Photograph by Geoff Bond

Miriam’s Ramblings

Twitter @MiriamWakerly

Facebook:  Miriam Wakerly

   On the LoveaHappyEnding Bookshelf  

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Novels by Miriam Wakerly are all available as Paperback and Kindle, on Amazon  See the reviews there!

Who’s the Square?

Has this happened to you? You’re at an event selling your wares (whatever they may be) and a prospective customer says, “I’d love to but I’ve spent all my cash.” Lost sale? If you’re cash dependent at these shows then, yes. But if you have the Square credit card reader, you can come back with, “I am able to accept credit card payments.”


image courtesy of Marcel Brown Technology Services

This handy, easy-to-use device plugs into the earphone jack on your smart phone (or iPad) and works with iPhones, Samsung and most other Android phones, although there are some compatibility issues with a few so check their site here to see if yours is one of those models. At this time there is no support for Blackberry, Windows devices, and others.

If you have a non-supported device, there are plenty of inexpensive, unlocked phones you can buy and just swap the sim card out of your regular mobile phone and put it in the one you’ll be taking to the event to use for your credit card purchases. Don’t despair if your everyday smartphone has a smaller sim card. You can buy an adapter.

Since most of the venues where you could use your Square reader don’t have accessible wi-fi, a phone is the better option, unless your iPad has sim card capability.

But how much does this Square cost? FREE! That’s right. It costs nothing to get one. I know, it sounds almost too good to be true. How can the company give them away? They retain 2.75% of every swipe. So, if you make a $15.00 credit card sale using your Square, they keep $0.41. Your portion is deposited into your bank account within a few days. If the sale is made after 1:00 p. m. on a Friday, the money will be in your account usually by Tuesday at the latest.

Square has now introduced ‘offline mode’. This is riskier than the regular online mode in that you are responsible for expired cards or declined transactions. Plus, you have to connect to the internet within 72 hours or the purchases will expire. You can read more about ‘offline mode’ at this link.

Signing up is easy. Go to their site and click on get started.

You can download the square register app for android devices at:

And for the iPhone/iPad at:



 Why risk losing a potential sale when you don’t have to?

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Celtic Connexions Blog

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@RobertsoKing on Twitter

Available for purchase from 4RV Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bricks ‘n’ mortar locations.

When A Picture Isn’t Worth a Thousand Words

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(or: Facebook is a big fat liar, and I’m okay with that!)

If you look through my Facebook feed, you might mistakenly believe my two-year-old is full of happiness and light. But guess what? You’d be wrong. Oh, you’d be so, so wrong. Social media is funny that way: it provides a brief glimpse into someone’s life — a glimpse at what they want you to see. In my case, it’s often a highly edited film-reel of my son’s finer moments, which occur approximately 1.2 seconds every five days.

Take his newborn photos, for example. When he was ten days old, we had the bright idea of capturing him at that lovely, scrunchy, curled-up phase. And the pictures turned out beautifully: two joyous parents smiling beatifically at their sleeping bundle of joy. But while I treasure the snaps now, I can’t help recalling the reality of that process. My belly was floppy, my face swollen, and it still hurt to sit down. The photos required my son’s nappy off, and there were several poo waterfalls, one of which splattered all over my husband’s shoes. The session rounded off with a throbbing headache (me) and a plaintive wail for hours on end (my son).

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The serenity in this photo is oh-so-deceiving.

And so it goes from there. Facebook version:  A serene picnic with other mums, each holding their babes as we munch on cupcakes and scoff champagne. Reality: my baby shrieking as I frantically gulp my drink (oh, how I need it!), shoving the world’s most annoying mobile in his face and praying to God it lures him to sleep. Or, at the very least, into silence.

Or how about an outing to the soft play centre which, looking at Facebook, was something akin to heaven on earth? In real life, hell has nothing on a place packed full of screaming children ricocheting off stinky foam. I can feel the migraine coming on at the memory.

All the music classes, trips to the market, lunches in cafes . . . they look great on social media, sure, but they also contained tears, tantrums, and the odd (!) snarky comment exchanged between parents. And holidays — oh, don’t get me started. I’ve posted the wonderful moments in the sun, the reunion with relatives, and frolicking at the beach, but I’ll never forget struggling at 2 a.m. with a jetlagged toddler, and how a baby’s traveller’s tummy really doesn’t mix well with leaky nappies.

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An outtake from a family photo session that *didn’t* make it onto Facebook.

Recently, researchers found that looking at Facebook too much can lead to depression. I can totally see why — if you believe a few carefully chosen photos accurately reflect a life. Speaking from experience, I know differently. For me, scrolling down my feed lulls me to a happy place where kittens, dogs, toddlers, and wine all peacefully co-exist.

Maybe a picture on Facebook isn’t worth a thousand words. But right now, I’d prefer to believe there is a world where children behave rationally and parents always smile.

Please don’t burst my bubble!


Talli Roland writes bittersweet and witty contemporary women’s fiction. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine).

Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories–complete with happy endings. Talli’s novels have been short-listed as Best Romantic Reads at the UK’s Festival of Romance and chosen as top books of the year by industry review websites.

To learn more about Talli, go to or follow Talli on Twitter: @talliroland.


The Hating Game
Watching Willow Watts
Build A Man
Construct a Couple
Marriage to Measure
The Pollyanna Plan
The No-Kids Club

“Writing is an incurable disease…” Caroline James talks to Prue Leith, CBE


Prue Leith

Prue Leith – Photo Colin Thomas

Prue Leith CBE, has been the Grande Dame of British Cookery for several decades and is familiar to many as a judge in the hit TV series Great British Menu. Her illustrious career began with her first, award-winning restaurant in London and continued with a series of successful ventures – Leith’s School of Food & Wine, Leith’s Management and Leith’s Events & Parties. She has been a multiple board-director including British Rail, Safeway, Halifax, Whitbread, Woolworths and Orient Express and worked tirelessly to improve school meals. Prue wrote her first novel at 55, published her fifth at 70 and has also written a memoir. Today, at 75, she wants to persuade the world that she is no longer a cook and restaurateur but a full time novelist.

Caroline James talks to Prue Leith about her writing career.

Leith’s Cookery Bible

One of the first cookery books I owned was Leith’s Cookery Bible; it never left my side in the 80s and I was in awe of your all round talent in the industry. What made you sell your businesses and try your hand at writing novels?

I realised that I’d never get the novel banging away in my head out onto paper if I didn’t stop writing cookbooks and running a demanding business.

Have you always wanted to write novels?

I only started to want to write a novel at about 40. However, I had written a play when I was at university and short stories for children when my own children were little.



Many characters in your books reflect aspects of your own business life. Do you find it difficult to get away from your past career?

No, I loved my career and I am basically lazy, so I write about the stuff I already know about.

Relish My Life On A PlateYour personal life has been described as colourful and you detail this in your memoir, Relish, My Life on a Plate. It is very frank and shows a side of Prue Leith previously unknown to the public. One critic said it was ‘salacious’. Did you deliberately set out to shock?

I figured if you were writing an autobiography at all, it should be true. Otherwise write fiction. And frankly I think the press reaction was more about selling newspapers than genuine outrage. Who lived through the sixties without smoking a joint? How many women can put their hands on their hearts and say they have never had an affair?

Do you think writing a memoir/autobiography is a good thing to do?

Yes, partly as a record for your grandchildren, but also because it is interesting and informative to dig into your family history and your own character and motivation. But it’s not for everyone.

When did you start writing creatively and have you had many rejections?

I did have some rejections for children’s stories and film/TV ideas, but since I was busy with my catering business I didn’t dwell on them. I am pretty upbeat anyway. And I was lucky because I already had a great agent handling my cookbooks, the famous Pat Kavanagh, and she could hardly refuse to represent me as a novelist. My first novel did get some rejections but they went to Pat and not to me, so the blows were softened. But then Penguin liked it and since then, touch wood, no rejections.

You were married to a writer, Rayne Kruger. Did he influence your novel writing?

Rayne refused to read anything of my first novel for fear of wanting to influence or discourage me. He said he would read it in print, and if I failed to get it published then he’d read it in MSS and try to help me.

SistersYou had a thirteen-year affair with Rayne before he asked you to marry him. Is this story veiled in your novel Sisters and was it cathartic to write about the affair?

Yes, I suppose it was cathartic when writing Relish, but the connection did not occur to me when writing Sisters. The truth is I use a lot of my own experience in my novels, but I think all novelists do. How do you write about sadness, or fear, or elation, if you have never felt them?

Five years after Rayne’s death, you found late romance with Sir Ernest Hall. Did you ever expect to fall in love again?

Absolutely not. I would get really grumpy when people said things like, “You’ll find someone else, don’t worry.”

At the end of that relationship did you have any regrets?

No regrets. I had a very up and down time with Ernest on account of his manic depression, but I adored him and him me. We had a wonderful time together and I learnt a lot about music since he was a pianist and we went to a lot of concerts. We still talk on the telephone.

And now, is there love in the air again?

Yes, I do have a new partner but I don’t talk about him. Enough about my love life in the press I say!

Have you always wanted to write novels?

No, but I’ve always had to write something. Writing is a disease, at least for me. I don’t feel happy unless I do it regularly but it could be anything: cookery, fiction, journalism, even business reports or long emails.

Do you find the process of writing difficult or easy?

I write fast and easily, but then tinker forever. Lots of rewrites, edits, changes.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

No, I sometimes find excuses to do other stuff, fiddling about, reluctant for some reason to plunge in. But once I’m into it, I like it and don’t want to stop.

How do you react to reviews, good and bad?

Unsurprisingly, I’m thrilled by the good and upset by the bad. But what really annoys me is the patronising pat on the head: “Quite good for a cook,” sort of review or foodie references like, “Prue Leith has cooked up a delicious soufflé,” etc. And I think most women novelists suffer from the labels, “romantic fiction” or “women’s novels” or “beach read” or “Aga saga”… But if a man writes about family and love it is, “An insightful study of family relations” or, “An in-depth understanding of the channels of loss and love,” etc.

Are any of the characters in your novels based on yourself?

Often they have something of me in them. In Choral Society Joanna is an organising businesswoman. She can’t sing, and she’s frightened that all her friends are from work and they’ll vanish when she retires. Lucy is a food writer and grieving widow. Rebecca is nothing like me, but she’s what I’d quite like to be: irresponsible, fun loving, always up for anything.

Many of our visitors read romantic fiction – would you say you are a romantic at heart?

Aren’t we all?

What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done?

One winter weekend in St Petersburg with Rayne, he’d arranged a troika for a ride in the snow through the forest for my birthday. It was a sunny day and we swerved through the trees like Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago

You’ve been quoted as saying: “Writing is an incurable disease.” Why do you feel that?

Because I can’t stop – it’s an addiction. I don’t need to work anymore, so it’s not the money. I’m 75, high time to retire. And I love travel, my garden and my grandchildren. But I keep doing it.

You’ve been writing novels for fifteen years. Do you have a favourite and why?

Yes, The Gardener, which is about a woman gardener restoring an historic garden. It’s a sort of reverse Lady Chatterley with a twist in the tale. I’d LOVE to see it as a Merchant Ivory movie.

You started your first business from a bed-sit in Earl’s Court. Where do you write from today? Do you have a special place for novel writing?

No I write in the kitchen, at my desk, in bed, on trains and planes, anywhere. Have been known to sneak out of a boring party and pull out my laptop in the ladies loo.

What’s the best bit of writing advice you’ve been given?

Cut out the adjectives, the exclamation marks and the first paragraph.

Have you any advice for an aspiring writer of women’s fiction?

Do a four-day Arvon writing course and use The Literacy Consultancy (TLC) who will read your manuscript and tell you what’s wrong with it.

What’s your proudest moment?

When Penguin bought my first novel: Leaving Patrick.

If you could do it all again would you change anything?

No, I’ve had a great varied, interesting, lucky life.

At a talk you gave, I was transfixed by your wonderful red suede boots (and immediately purchased a pair). Is there a story behind them?

One day when Ernest was giving a concert and his ex-wife (much younger than me) and I were both there, I noticed that she was wearing those boots. I tried them on and they were amazingly comfortable and made me feel about twenty. So I bought a pair, and am still wearing them.

Do you still cook and do you have a favourite meal?

I could not stop cooking any more than I could stop writing. I like self-catering on holidays because you get to see the local markets. If I am worried or unhappy I cook, even if it’s just to make jam. My mother used to say, if I was grumpy, not “What you need is a sleep” or “What you need is a walk in the fresh air,” but “What you need is an hour in the kitchen.”

My favourite meal changes all the time. At the moment it is Haggis and Neeps with lumps of butternut squash added to the mash, and a fresh tomato and onion sauce with chilli.

Prue, it has been a joy to talk to you. Thank you so much.

by Prue Leith

This recipe is really Dione Gervis’s. She is my P.A.’s mother and lives in Colombia. When we were all on holiday and staying on their finca she gave us this local main course soup. It is heaven.

(Serves 8 for main course)
1 large chicken
4 pts chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb small new or salad potatoes peeled
3 medium Maris Piper, peeled and sliced
Small teacup of dried guasca leaves. (If you can’t get them, don’t worry, but it’s what makes the soup taste Colombian!)
6 fresh or frozen on the cob, cut into 2 – 3 chunks
Bunch of Spring onions, cleaned and cut into one inch pieces
2 teacups fresh coriander leaves

For serving
1/3 pint double cream
1/2 jar small capers, rinsed well and drained
3-4 ripe avocados


Put the chicken in a large pan with the stock and the garlic. Bring to a boil. Simmer 50 minutes or until the chicken thigh feels tender when pierced and the leg will wobble. Lift out the chicken and set aside. When cool enough to handle remove the skin and bones and cut the flesh into large chunks (use a sharp knife and cut the breast against the grain — don’t shred into stringy bits). Cover the chicken with an upturned bowl while you continue with the soup.

Into the stock put both types of potato and the guascas. Cook until the Maris Piper are breaking up, about 20 mins. Then add the corn chunks and cook for 10 mins. Add the Spring onions and coriander leaves. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper and ground sea salt to taste.
Return the chicken to the pan and reheat gently.

Serve each person, making sure they get liquid, chicken, corn and soup

Serve the Ajiaco hot with capers, heavy cream and avocado slices on the side.

NB: You can buy Guascas from Colombian Shops in London eg:


Caroline James

Facebook: Caroline James Author on Facebook
Twitter Account: @CarolineJames12
Author Blogs: carolinejamesblogspot

When sexual ‘adventures’ go too far…

Q.  My boyfriend and I are in our twenties and have been together for almost five years. We’ve always had an exciting and inventive sex life, but recently he’s been expressing a new fantasy that he seems eager to make a reality. The problem is I’m afraid it may be too adventurous for me because it involves a third person, and not for a ménage a trois. He wants to secretly watch me with another man of our choosing. The thought of this kind of freaks me out, especially when we discuss it OUT of bed when my brain is functioning properly. I don’t want to disappoint him since the idea really gets him going, but I’m concerned it will change things between us (though I’m not sure why). It’s not like I haven’t been with other men before him, but it’s been a long time since then, and something about this frightens me even if I can’t put my finger on it. What do you think?

A. Usually, my thoughts about sex between two consenting adults, is that if what they do in the privacy of their own bedroom doesn’t hurt anyone then it’s fine. In your case though, one of the adults is clearly reluctant to consent, and therein lies the problem. I realize that we now live in an age where sex is everywhere and, largely thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey, is more acceptably taken to extremes. It is only the people involved in the sex act though, that can say whether something is extremely hot and sexy, or if it is perversion. Each couple must decide for themselves. That said, the fact that you are so uncertain about this should not make you feel bad. I’m willing to bet most women in monogamous relationships would, at the very least, be hesitant, especially if the man the two of you pick is not aware he is being watched. When another person is involved in your sex life, you suddenly have an unknown quantity, and that can be dodgy. In fact, that element can become a danger to both you and your boyfriend should the man find out and become angry. Deceit is always wrong. As for your fear that it will change your relationship, I think that is valid. If you reluctantly agree to something you are uneasy with, there is a chance that you may later become resentful of your boyfriend for egging you into it. My advice is to share your concerns with him. Tell him you are uncomfortable with enacting this particular sexual adventure. Let him know there could be unforeseen consequences neither of you have considered. If your relationship is a loving and respectful one, he will abide by your feelings and stop pressuring you about it. Then you can keep this particular fantasy exactly that—a fantasy.

Read more advice from Bonnie HERE

If you would like Bonnie to offer some advice on your personal relationship issue, contact her at

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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:

  WebpageFacebook: Twitter




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


The @LLmAuthorsCafe Snapshot


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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

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