Which Books… Gina Hollands

Gina Hollands is next up with her summer romance and I am already loving the play on words in the title name. Yours Trudy…

Which book do you wish you’d written. 9859

Bridget Jones’ Diary. A book series and movie deal starring A-listers – which author wouldn’t want that? Sales success aside, this was the first ‘chicklit’ book I read. I was 15 and thought it was incredible!

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

I love the cover of Jessie Burton’s The Confession. I haven’t read it myself but bought it for a friend on the basis of the cover being beautiful. I’m fickle like that! They say not to judge a book by its cover but it’s human nature to do just that.



Which was the last book that broke your heart.

I’m not good with sad things so try my best to stay away from anything I know is going to be depressing. There’s enough sadness in the world without reading about it, which is why I’d never read a misery memoir. However, I recently read Alison Moore’s He Wants and although it’s not a sad book as such, there was a part in it that stayed with me.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

I like writing across genres. I started with a romance, went on to erotica then went over to sweet romance. My latest book, Yours, Trudy is a romcom, and my next book is going to be a crime. If I fancy writing a genre, I write it! One day I’d also like to write a non-fiction book.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

When you read fiction, you get a sense of what the world looks like through the author’s eyes. That I find interesting. The book that most made me think about ‘life’ was Matt Haig’s Midnight Library, which I couldn’t get enough of, but I think the largest lessons I’ve learned from books have come from non-fiction. Angela Duckworth’s book entitled Grit was an eye-opener. 

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021?

I really hope I do get to go on holiday in 2021! And if I do, I’ll be taking Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I’ve been meaning to read for ages; Blood on the Bulb Fields by Judith Cranswick, who I read about in Writing Magazine, and Finding Gina by Lizzie Chantree, which I ordered today because I love to find out what other Ginas are up to!


Yours Trudy by Gina Hollands 1501


How many positive words and exclamation marks can you fit into the space of one email?

A lot is the answer, if you’re Trudy Drinkwater. As ‘Head of People Happiness’, her cheery emails are carefully written to boost the morale of her ‘fellow finned friends’ at Pink Fish Web Design. Yay!

But, in reality, there is very little Trudy has to say ‘yay!’ about in her home life. Her marriage is all but over, she’s in a near constant battle to make her two chicken nugget loving teens eat anything vaguely nutritious, and the days when she and her husband were young lovers with big dreams seem very far away.
Can Trudy keep up the chirpy pretense of her day job, or does she really need a new start and a second chance at true happiness?





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Gina’s books can be found here.


I spoke to Gina when she released her first book “Little Village of Second Chances” as part of the meet the family series that can be found HERE


Which Books… Carol Thomas

We have hit the period in the year when the Choc-lit team start publishing all their summer books so to finish this month in style Carol Thomas’ A Summer of Second Changes. So I thought it was a great time to sit down with Carol and talk books!

Which book do you wish you’d written.

The Outlander series because I admire the depth of the research necessitated for the story. I also like the characterisation of the leads Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall and the chemistry they share. For those who know me, I’d like to point out that this answer has nothing to do with the author getting to spend time with Sam Heughan in a kilt!

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

Some people don’t realise published authors have little say in their book covers. I always prepare myself for the cover being different to how I imagined it, but when I got sent the cover for my latest novel, A Summer of Second Chances, I was amazed at how much I loved it straight away. It encapsulates so much of the story.

Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

Winnie the Pooh, he has an optimistic worldview and, despite calling himself a bear of little brain, often shares inspirational insight. I LOVE him!

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

For my own reading, I purposefully avoid sad (or scary) books. With four children, writing, and teaching, I read to relax or for pure escapism. Having said that, I read My Sister’s Keeper with my daughter, and we both sobbed. And David Walliams’ Gangster Granny unexpectedly made my son and I shed a tear.  

Which books would you make your child/ren read.

Children who read for pleasure are proven to make more significant progress across the curriculum than their peers who are reluctant readers. With that in mind, I like to encourage my children to select books they enjoy – sharing and enjoying books together is what matters.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

I think Jonny Duddle’s children’s book The Pirates Next Door could be rewritten to make a great romance novel. And I would like to rewrite Romeo and Juliet to be a romance instead of a tragedy – I hope for a happy ending every time I read or watch it. Though the fact it always makes me hope shows how well written it is, and that’s why it should be left alone.

If you could write any genre, which one would it be.

I love writing romance (pardon the pun), and I also enjoy writing for children. Writing horror would be an interesting challenge, but I am too much of a coward and fear I would scare myself.

If you could redesign any book cover, which one would you choose.

I am pretty content with my book covers and don’t tend to read books with covers I don’t like (I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but there you go), and so I can’t think of one I would change.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

Judy Blume’s Are You There God It’s Me Margaret? I’ve chosen this for two reasons. Firstly, there is a foray into bra shopping. This was something I hadn’t experienced when reading it at age eleven. Secondly, it was the first book (other than Five Little Kittens that my mum used to read to me) I really enjoyed. You could say it taught me about the enjoyment of reading.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

A holiday in 2021 sounds like a dream at the moment but let’s hope it is one that will come true. If it does, then there is the minor issue of my children, who are unlikely to allow me the time to read three books. So, I think I would take my kindle and hope to read at least one of the many books on my to be read list.



A heart-warming romance full of love, friendship and four legged friends!

Does first love deserve a second chance?

Ava Flynn sometimes feels like the clothes donated to her charity shop have seen more life than her, but ‘maximum dedication for a minimal wage’ is what it takes to keep her mother’s beloved wildlife charity, All Critters Great and Small, running especially in the village of Dapplebury, where business is certainly not booming.

But when Ava’s first love, Henry Bramlington, returns to the village, suddenly life becomes a little too eventful. Henry escaped Dapplebury many years before, but now he has the power to make or break the village he left behind All Critters Great and Small included. Can Ava trust the boy who ran away to give both her and her charity a second chance?



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Carol’s books can be found here.



Audio Superstar! Helen Keeley

I was so excited when I signed with Ruby Fiction and I learned that all my books would be also be in AUDIO! The characters that I had spent ages creating and day dreamed about would be brought to life! I almost cried happy tears when I heard James’ first line being read in Perfect Lie! Along with lots of the other PC Nikki Haywood, Adam Coulthards and Hannah immediately come to mind.

So when A Silent Child went through the process and I got a date from Ruby Fiction I contacted the audio team at Isis Audio asking for Helen Keeley again! Due to the amazing work she did with Perfect Lie!

To celebrate the release of A Silent Child audio I got the chance to send Helen some questions about her work, her favorite character and Eastenders!


I loved what you did with Perfect Lie, where do you start when you’ve got a new audio book to narrate?

Well thank you very much! It was really fun to narrate and when I was prepping, it kept me guessing all the way through. 

When I get a new book, I prep by simply reading, and as I go I highlight all the characters in different colours and keep a few notes if the author gives hints about their voice or demeanour, anything that will cause an impact or a distinction for the listener. It’s always important to look out for accent mentions as well, as you might have to polish up before you start recording.

Having just narrated A Silent Child how did you prepare to narrate the book having already narrated the first in the series.

It’s always great getting to do a series because you’re revisiting old friends. For A Silent Child, I got the studio to send me Perfect Lie and went through the recording rechecking and creating voice notes for each character so I could refer back to them if I needed whilst recording the new book.

Who has been your favourite character in the Lisa Carter Series to narrate, why?

You know what, I think DI Chris Jaokson is so great. He’s just a decent guy but fallible and seems to always get left in the dark a bit, as the reader we always know a bit more than the characters in this series, but he just keeps going until justice is served!

You have narrated books by some of my favourite authors Stolen Sisters and The family by Louise Jensen, Safe House by Jo Jackman and now A Silent Child. Out of all the books you have narrated which ones have been your favourite.

 I really love narrating audiobooks and each one brings new characters and new challenges. I’m going to have to be very diplomatic and say I can’t choose! My leisure reading is normally fantasy books so the fact that I get to narrate across all genres is a real treat.

Do you have a favourite genre to narrate.

A lovely segue, you must be a writer! Haha! I think it might be fantasy and science fiction because I get to do so many weird and wonderful voices and that’s what I enjoy reading outside of work. Although, saying that, those character choices can be quite hard on the voice so variety is key!

I noticed you have your own home audio studio, how have you found having to work from home for the past year.

I’ve been very lucky, that I had my home studio ready to go and that there has been work to put in it over the past year. When you record from home, you have to be narrator and audio engineer, even though it gets proofed and edited by the studio when you send it, you have to keep an ear out for bumps and clicks, neighbours mowing their lawns! It is very handy but I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be back in studios now, there are some very talented and efficient engineers out there and I am more than happy to concentrate on the narration. You can get a little stir-crazy in the booth for full days just listening to yourself for 8 hours!

How long does it take for you to narrate an average novel.

Different studios have different ways of recording but I would say it takes around 3 days to record an average novel.

You have an impressive stage and screen career where do you prefer to be on stage, on the television or narrating an audiobook.

 It’s a bit trite to say I love it all isn’t it? They feel quite different. I will always love being on a stage, who else gets to end their working day with people applauding them?! Screen always feels very cool, although you wait around for ages and you don’t get to see your final performance for ages. And with voice-work, you get to play characters you never would in vision, like DI Chris Jackson, he’s a man for a start, so not really my casting. I think stage might just edge it, but by the smallest of margins.


What was it like being on EastEnders.

It was really fun, I used to watch it when I was younger so going into the Queen Vic and meeting the cast was a real buzz. They work so quickly there, it’s a well oiled machine; they have four shows to get out a week so they have multiple scenes running on multiple lots and use multiple cameras on one scene so they can get all the angles they need. On other screen work, it’s slower and shots have to be set-up individually.



Do you ever get the time to read for enjoyment and if so what are you reading at the moment?

Not at the moment! The pandemic has meant that voice work has been in high demand so  if I’m not recording, I’m prepping the next book. But I’m a true book lover and have piles and piles to get through. I recently finished ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernadine Evaristo which I loved profoundly and has stayed with me. I’ve recently been recommended and bought ‘Girl A’ by Abigail Dean and ‘The Confession’ by Jessie Burton and I’m also reading the new ‘Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth’ by Philip Pullman. Phew…maybe I should take a break.

Thank you Helen, this has been a really interesting interview 🙂

Helen is repersented by McLean-Williams and VoiceCall

The books she has narrated all equally amazing (especially mine) can be found on Audible 

Helen can also be found on twittter @KeeleyHelen 


Available from Audible



Pictures acquired via McLean-William and Eastenders fandom

Which Books… Morton S Gray

The warmer weather looks to be nearing so tomorrow Choc-Lit have an extra summerary book being released by Morton. So of course I sat down with her for a chat about her favorite books

So here we go…

Which book do you wish you’d written

I guess it would be nice to have written one of the books that have remained popular over the years. Something like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, or North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It would be lovely to leave a lasting legacy with a book, one that’s made into films and television series and studied in schools.

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

I love book covers. Book cover designers put so much work into them. It would be almost impossible to choose just one. Some covers are also special if you know the story behind them, for example, I know that Sue McDonagh paints her covers for her art café series with Choc Lit. I tend to like covers that show you something of the story and make you curious. I’ll list a few that have appealed – Sycamore Gap, L J Ross, Echoes of the Runes, Christina Courtenay, The Daughter of River Valley, Victoria Cornwall.

Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

I always say that a book that makes me cry is a good book. The last book I finished with a tear in my eye was Jane Cable’s Endless Skies.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

Having been writing for quite a few years now, I’ve experimented with several genres. My books in whatever genre tend to include a mystery and romance. I’ve written romantic suspense so far for Choc Lit, but I also hanker to publish timeslip, futuristic and historical novels. I’ve already got novels in these genres planned and in some cases almost finished. So watch this space.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

Again, it’s so hard to choose just one. My choice would probably be Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, as I get something different from it each time I read it and I have read it about six times.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

I’ll tell you the next three books on my to be read pile:-

Currently reading an advance copy of Eva Glyn’s The Missing Pieces of Us. Next up is an advance copy of Janice Preston’s The Cinderella Heiress. And then I shall be reading Carol Thomas’ A Summer of Second Chances.



Could a beautiful old house and a handsome stranger hold the key to a life-changing secret?

Rosie Phillips could be forgiven for not being immediately won over by Tanner Bryant. After all, their first meeting involves him knocking a tray of prawn cocktail over her very expensive dress at a charity event in the grounds of Lucerne Lodge.

But little does Rosie know how pivotal that awkward first meeting will be, or how the Lodge will become the unexpected backdrop for a summer spent finding out who she really is, and who she could be …





You can keep up with all things Morton S Gray related

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Morton’s other books can be found here.


Check out my Meet The Family post with Morton’s HERE!


Meet The Family – Lucy Keeling

Lucy Keeling has been a ChocLit author long before I was, so I was shocked to find out we’d not had a chat.

Welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” Lucy, I am looking forward to getting to know you…Image

What inspired you to write “Just Friends in Vegas?”

Just Friends in Vegas, which is out tomorrow is the third in my Friends series. Each book can be read as a standalone – but we all know it’s probably best read as a series tee hee.

So the inspiration for Just Friends in Vegas, well… I have to be careful what I say here because throughout the series I’ve been leaving clues as to what Mya’s profession might be, and this is the book where ALL is revealed.

My inspiration was looking at powerful women and how women hold power in male based arenas. But I also wanted to write a romance that had sexy enemies who are obsessed with each other but are also in competition. Ok I’m going to have to leave it there before I give any spoilers away. All I will say is that my books do have steamy elements to them (open door) and Smithy has been described as the master of swoon so…

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

They had a Search for A Star competition. And I thought why not. The fabulous and amazingly talented Christine Penhall won but I was and I still am more than happy to be her second.

If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece advice would you give yourself?

I read something once that said some writers will only ever be dabblers. That they’ll never get past the first five chapters or something. And so of course every time I started to write I would get to that point and get stuck. And I believed for ages that, that was it for me. I was never going to become an author, I’d never be able to finish a book.

But, then I discovered that you could actually plan out a book. Like it didn’t just have to flow from my fingertips. But that I could map it out in advance, and that was a huge turning point for me. So I guess, if you’re struggling keep going and try different methods.

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

Not very well haha.

I’d like to tell you I’m better now but even a bad review can knock me for weeks, and whilst I understand and appreciate that reviews are for readers and not authors it still hurts. So I have a blanket ban on Goodreads, I don’t read any of my reviews over there and will only check Amazon reviews periodically.

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

Find your tribe and keep going.

The fabulous Evie Alexander has just done a blog post on her website about social media groups for writers that you can find here https://eviealexanderauthor.com/best-facebook-groups-for-a-romance-author/

There is no doubt in my mind that without the support of the fabulous people within these sorts of groups I wouldn’t have got published – I also wouldn’t have some of the amazing friends that I have now either. Writing is a lonely business and non-writers can’t always understand the struggle, or why you are celebrating a personalised rejection (rather than the stock rejection letter), so having people understand why you absolutely cannot write another synopsis and that you’d rather go ahead and write a whole other novel instead (not actually an option), can be really helpful.

If you weren’t writing what would you be doing?

I work full time as a trainer, and I have two young boys to chase around as well. But honestly, even if I could make a living from writing full time I don’t think I could. I need the inspiration that being around people and situations gives me.

Do you have any writing routines or rituals if so what are they?

I don’t have rituals per se but I do have to try and remember the following wherever possible:

  • It’s ok if you don’t get any words done today back-to-school-2707089_640
  • It’s ok if the house looks a mess
  • The hovering can wait until tomorrow it’s fine
  • New stationery DOES help – buy more
  • Watch your posture
  • You can’t and you won’t write perfectly first time, so don’t try, just get it down.

Which authors inspired you to write?

I’ve been reading romance since I was a teenager and there are just so many amazing authors from back then and each one of them inspired me. But I have many authors who are writing now that inspire me to write better. Leonie Mack, Emma Jackson, Lucy Mitchell, Rachael Stewart, Kiley Dunbar, Talia Hibbert, Sally Thorne, Kwana Jackson, KJ Charles, and so many more.

There are also some authors that I’m really excited about that have books coming this year too, such as Caroline Khoury, Lucy Mitchell, and although Helen Buckley’s new book is already out I haven’t chance to read it yet – but I can’t wait.

Who would you want to play the main characters in your book if your novel was optioned for tv / film?

FOX 2103 Programming Presentation Post-Party

Hmmm, I always knew that Mya would be someone like Hannah Simone (Cece in New Girl)Gabriel-Macht-640x427

but Smithy is a bit Gabriel Macht (Harvey in The Suits).


What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I wish I knew. I’m going to keep writing and see what happens next lol. I would like to finish off the Friends series with Paige’s story, so we’ll see.

More About Lucy

Lucy Keeling is an author writing fun, sexy, stories with all of the happily ever afters.

When she’s not typing at the kitchen table, she’s arranging and then re-arranging to see her friends for the occasional spot of day drinking.

Lucy is currently writing the third book in a Contemporary Romance series, the first of which was Runner-Up in ChocLit’s ‘Search for a Star’ competition. This story has become her romantic comedy debut ‘Make It Up To You’ now titled Just A Boyfriend. The second book in the series ‘Just Friends’ has been described as ‘unputdownable’ and ‘A fabulous will they won’t they love story with moments of hilarity sprinkled throughout’ and is available now.


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Is love always a losing game?

When Mya is with Smithy, it feels like her eyes are constantly rolling. His wheeling and dealing charisma charms everyone but her. Well, that’s not strictly true – Mya is only human after all, and there’s no doubt the man is hot with his suits and swagger. It’s just that Smithy knows Mya’s secret, and she’s not sure she can trust him to keep it from their group of friends.

As they immerse themselves in the glamorous and mysterious world of ‘The Suits’, growing closer as a result, Smithy has to question whether his time with Mya is destined to become a case of ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ …




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Which Books… Angela Britnell

Angela has a new book coming out TOMORROW! So I sat down with her for a chat about her favorite books

So here we go…

Which book do you wish you’d writtenIMG_20200226_070347_179

I suppose it’s a bit of a cliché to say Pride & Prejudice but it’s true – to me it’s close to perfect.

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

There are so many it’s hard to choose but I’ll go for Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – you’ve probably never heard of it but it’s a wonderful read and I think the cover fits the story so well. 

Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

At the beginning of my new book ‘Spring on Rendezvous Lane’ Chip, the young son of my heroine is quite vulnerable – he often doesn’t “get” how the world and other people work and where his place is in it all – making me and his family and friends want to protect him. As the story progresses he begins to blossom but you’ll have to read the book to find out his full story.

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this but for a romance writer I’m not an overly emotional person – occasionally something I read might give me a lump in my throat but to say it broke my heart would be exaggerating.

Which book would you make children read.

I don’t think you can or should make anybody read anything – I spent many happy hours reading to my three boys and encouraged them to read widely when they were able to do so but after that it was up to them.

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

I would rewrite Bluebell’s Christmas Magic as a historical gothic novel, give the ghostly grey friar a central part in the story and make Belthorn Manor a much creepier and scarier place!

If you could write any genre which one would it be.

I’m going to be cheeky and pass on this one because I honestly can’t think of one!

If you could redesign any book cover which one would you choose.

Definitely my first book ‘Truth and Consequence’ which looked as though it was designed by a five-year-old playing with Photoshop.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

That’s a challenging question but I’m going off on a tangent to say it must be the first book I ever read for myself – don’t ask me what it was because it’s lost in the mists of time but that set me on the path to being a voracious reader and later on a writer. To my mind literacy is the most crucial skill because if you can’t or don’t get the opportunity to master it so much else in life is out of reach.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

Holiday? Is that wishful thinking? The first trips we’ll take when it’s safe to travel probably won’t allow much time for reading but I’ll optimistically pick the new Harlan Coben – Win, Australian author Jane Harper – The Survivors and Phillipa Ashley – An Endless Cornish Summer.


SORL Cover


Can even the most seasoned traveller find a home on Rendezvous Lane?

‘Community spirit’ is not a phrase in travel junkie Taran Rossi’s vocabulary. As a former ‘third culture kid’ and now spicy street food connoisseur and social media influencer, he’s never really stayed in one place long enough to feel part of a community. And that’s just the way he likes it.

But a springtime stint house sitting for his grandmother on Rendezvous Lane in East Nashville could lead to a long overdue wake-up call. With the help of single mum Sandy Warner and her young son Chip, can Taran come to understand that sometimes it’s not about the place – it’s about the people?





You can keep up with all things Angela Britnell related

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Angela Golley Britnell




Angela’s other books can be found here.


Check out my Meet The Family post with Angela HERE!


Meet The Family – Helen Buckley

When Helen joined the Choc-lit Ruby-lit family I was keen to sit down with a new member of the family for a chat…

Signing contract photo further crop

Hey Helen, and welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” I am really looking forward to learning more about your book “Strictly On Ice ” especially after I had the pleasure of reading it myself and Wow!

What inspired you to write “Strictly on Ice?”

I’ve always been enthralled by the beauty, physical prowess, and artistry of Olympic figure skating, and I’m a big fan of Dancing on Ice too. It was so much fun to write a book about the sport, with lots of drama and romance thrown in too.

What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?

They seemed like a really good match for my books. They are award-winning publishers of romantic fiction, and they are incredibly supportive and encouraging. I’m thrilled to be working with them.

If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece advice would you give yourself?

Start sooner! For years I convinced myself that I couldn’t write a book. To me, it seemed an impossible feat, like running a marathon. Then once I started, I couldn’t stop. I wish I had started writing earlier.

How did you deal with rejections when you started out?

Oddly enough they didn’t worry me too much because I had already made up my mind that I would be rejected – I had low expectations! While I was submitting to agents and publishers I carried on writing, honing my work, perfecting my pitch, and developing my series, which I then successfully submitted to ChocLit.

What would you say to someone who wants to write?

I would say go for it, as you never know what may come of it. Perhaps you have a story to tell that people need to hear? Have a go, take a chance, and good luck!

If you weren’t writing what would you be doing?

UntitledMy career background is in the charity sector, but I gave up work to look after my children. I fit writing around looking after two very energetic boys!

Do you have any writing routines or rituals if so what are they?

With two children under two I have no time for rituals. I barely even have space to write. As long as I have my laptop I’ll make it work, even if it’s writing under the duvet in the dark of night so as not to wake the baby, or writing in the kitchen while I cook. I have become a genius at multi-tasking!

Which authors inspired you to write?

Catherine Cookson, Donna Tartt, Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Stephen King. An eclectic mix of authors I love and admire.

Who would you want to play the main characters in your book if your novel was optioned for tv / film?

Tom Hardy for Jamie – he’s got that rugged gorgeous look and could definitely portray a rugby player. Tom_Hardy_by_Gage_Skidmore



There’s an Australian actress called Jessica De Gouw and I think she would be a good match to play Katie.


What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’ve got more books coming out with ChocLit so keep your eyes peeled! Strictly on Ice is the first in a series of standalone books about romance and fame. The next book is due out later this year, and there’s a sneak preview of it in the back of Strictly on Ice.

More About Helen

Helen Buckley lives in Bedfordshire with her husband and two sons. After working in the charity sector in the UK and abroad, she turned her hand to writing and her first novel, Star in the Shadows, was published in 2019.

She writes any moment that she can, enthralled by stories of fame, romance, and happy ever afters. Apart from being addicted to writing and enjoying soft play with her sons, she’s an avid reader, action-movie fan, and chocolate addict.


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Strictly on Ice final cover image

When falling in love comes with the risk of falling flat on your face …

Former Olympic skating champion Katie Saunders is well known for her ‘ice queen’ persona in the press. On the face of it, perhaps Katie should have forgiven her former skating partner and ex-boyfriend, Alex Michaelson, for the accident that shattered both her ankle and their Olympic dreams – but she just can’t seem to let it go.

When Katie reluctantly agrees to take part in a new TV skating show, it’s only because she’s desperate for cash. What she didn’t count on is the drama – not only is she partnered up with infamous love rat rugby player Jamie Welsh, but one of the judges is none other than Alex Michaelson himself.

As the show progresses, will Katie be shown the hard way, once again, that romance on the ice should remain strictly off-limits?




Pre Order Here

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Which Books… Marie Laval

Marie has a new book coming out TOMORROW! So I sat down with her for a chat about her favorite books

So here we go…

Which book do you wish you’d written. MarieLaval (4)

Kate Mosse’s 2005 novel Labyrinth, without a doubt! I loved everything about that novel – the dual timeline, the history of the doomed 13th century Cathars who were persecuted and their castles destroyed, the heroine’s mysterious quest and the fact it was set in the beautiful French city of Carcassone….

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

I love the cover of Delphine de Vigan’s novel ‘Rien ne s’oppose à la nuit’ (Nothing Holds Back the Night) – and isn’t that a gorgeous title? The woman is beautiful, enigmatic, and so very stylish in her black polo neck. She looks like a character in a Nouvelle Vague film from the late Fifties, and you can’t help wondering who she is smiling to…This cover reminds me very much of family get-togethers in France when we used to spend hours at the dining table and everybody used to smoke and talk at the same time…rien-ne-s'oppose-a-la-nuit


Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

Quasimodo in Alexandre Dumas’ The Hunchback of Notre Dame. From the day he was born people feared him, used him and treated him like a monster and a ‘creation of the devil’. Nobody except Esmeralda was prepared to get to know him and see beyond his appearance…

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

I have recently re-read Delphine de Vigan’s novel ‘No et Moi’ (No and Me), in which quirky and super intelligent thirteen year old Lou endeavours to rescue a homeless young woman from life on the street. It’s a wonderful, emotional novel too told through the eyes of young Lou and one that made me want to reach out to No. Homelessness is a cause very close to my heart…

Which book would you make children read.

Every time I suggested books to my two sons as they were growing up, it was a flop and they rarely finished them so I gave up and let them choose whatever they wanted from the library. My daughter however was from a very young age an avid reader, and it was a joy picking books for her. When she was about eight I directed her towards Enid Blyton whose books I had loved as a child (especially ‘Le Club des Cinq’ which was the French translation of The Famous Five).

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

I would rewrite Bluebell’s Christmas Magic as a historical gothic novel, give the ghostly grey friar a central part in the story and make Belthorn Manor a much creepier and scarier place!

If you could write any genre which one would it be.

I would love to write poetry or song lyrics. A few words can paint a story, convey emotions, and transport you somewhere else, or simply puzzle you and make you think, and good verses or lyrics stick in your mind for years… I read a lot of poetry when I was younger, and verses still randomly pop up in my mind. French poets Verlaine, Hugo, Aragon and Eluard are my favourites, as well as Jacques Prévert who had many of his poems turned into songs.  

If you could redesign any book cover which one would you choose.

Another tough question, Claire! I really don’t know… Designing a book cover is a skilled and complicated job for which I am absolutely not qualified, but I would love to give a book of M.R. James ghost stories an atmospheric and disturbingly creepy cover if I had the talent to do so…

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

That’s a very tricky question, Claire! I spent quite a lot of time thinking about it, looking through my bookcase – real and virtual. So many books made a lasting impression on me, and for all kinds of reasons, and I couldn’t choose just one…

Then I stumbled upon a book my son’s girlfriend gave me a couple of years ago. It’s called ‘Extreme Ironing’, which his supposedly ‘the latest adrenaline sport combining the thrills of outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.’ You would be surprised to learn how many extreme ironists there are out there who record ironing exploits at the top of mountains, the bottom oceans, or whilst jogging or trampolining!

That silly book really made me smile, and reminded me of an important ‘lesson’: don’t be afraid to be yourself and follow your dreams even if others think you’re daft or crazy. You will always find people as crazy as you to understand you and be your friend!

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

Grown ups, the latest Marian Keyes. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and Wurthering Heights by Emily Brontë, which I have started several times but never managed to finish… This time, I want to try to read it to the end!




An ancient secret hidden within a mother’s song …

When young widow, Marie-Ange Norton is invited to Beauregard in France by the mysterious Monsieur Malleval to collect an inheritance, she has no choice but to accept.But when she embarks on the voyage with her fiery-tempered travelling companion Capitaine Hugo Saintclair, little does she know what waits for her across the sea in turbulent nineteenth-century France on the eve of Napoleon’s return from exile. When she arrives, she is taken aback by Malleval’s fascination with her family – seemingly inspired by his belief they are connected to a sacred relic he’s read about in coded manuscripts by the Knights Templar.

As it becomes clear that Malleval’s obsession has driven him to madness, Marie-Ange is horrified to realise she is more the man’s prisoner than his guest. Not only that, but Hugo is the only person who might be able to help her, and he could represent a different kind of danger …



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Book Review: The Source @SultoonSarah @OrendaBooks



1996. Essex. Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives in a disenfranchised town dominated by a military base, struggling to care for her baby sister while her mum sleeps off another binge. When her squaddie brother brings food and treats, and offers an exclusive invitation to army parties, things start to look a little less bleak…

2006. London. Junior TV newsroom journalist Marie has spent six months exposing a gang of sex traffickers, but everything is derailed when New Scotland Yard announces the re-opening of Operation Andromeda, the notorious investigation into allegations of sex abuse at an army base a decade earlier…

As the lives of these two characters intertwine around a single, defining event, a series of utterly chilling experiences is revealed, sparking a nail-biting race to find the truth … and justice.

My Thoughts

In my bedside table in the bottom draw buried at the bottom safe from the world is a book called “I Let You Go” by Claire Mackintosh, if I owned The Source  in paperback that exactly where this book would be going I usually read books and then take them to a charity shop or pass them onto friends but not for books like this, they need protecting…

This is an equally heart-breaking book, that explores some of the worlds most uncomfortable subjects Child abuse, grooming, trafficking and when those who are a position of authority abuse their status.

This book is set over two time periods and two characters called Marie and Carly, Carly a young girl who is struggling to look after her younger sister and alcoholic mum while her brother is away with the military and Marie who has worked her way into working in a newsroom. Where she is on the front line of breaking news stories and in the scrum to break the story before another newsroom gets there first. Sarah’s knowledge of how the newsroom and the media work shines through in Marie’s storyline.

There is so much more I want to say about this book, I just don’t know where to start or how to put my feelings into words except this has been one of those books I feel needs protecting from the world.

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Which Books… Kirsty Ferry

Kirsty has a new book coming out TOMORROW! So I sat down with her for a chat about her favorite books

So here we go…Kirsty

Which book do you wish you’d written

Nice and easy one to start with. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – it’s got some of the best phrases in ever, and to be able to write a book which has stood the test of time, like this one, would be incredible.

Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal. It caught my eye in Waterstones, and the whole hardback was beautiful, with gold edged pages as well as a little ribbon bookmark. It simply fell into my hand. Funny, that.

the doll

Which book character/s would you protect from the world.

Sounds a bit daft, but the boys from Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. I studied it for my degree and it suddenly struck me that those adventurous boys would be called up in WW2 to fight. It was a horrible feeling and made me feel quite sad – it must have been a good book to strike me in that way, though.

Which was the last book that broke your heart.

I’m very careful not to read books that break your heart! The world is horrid enough at the minute as it is. I know I have had tears streaming down my face at certain books in the past – but I’ve actually blanked them out. Again, it sounds crazy, but I was emotional writing a certain scene in my own book The Girl in the Painting!  Not that I suggest every author is emotionally attached to their characters…well, actually, yes we are. However, I suppose one that inadvertently broke my heart was Us by David Nicholls. I felt so sorry for the narrator. He was trying so hard to keep his relationship going, and his wife and son were just generally horrible to him. I did like the TV version, as it closed a loop that was sort of left hanging at the end of the book, so I was happy about that.

Which book would you make children read.

I have made him read Green Smoke by Rosemary Manning, my favourite childhood book. Also, the Just William books and the Secret Seven, Famous Five and The Magic Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton. And Stig of the Dump!

Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.

That’s a hard one. Can I again return to my own? I did rewrite A Secret Rose from it’s original Gothic Romance/Victoria Holt genre to a dual timeline/timeslip – it’s still got a hint of the Gothic in though. I started it in 1997! If I really enjoy a book, why mess with it?

If you could write any genre which one would it be.

I’m lucky in the fact I do write in my favourite genres – dual timeline, timeslip, ghostly goings-on with a bit of Gothic Romance thrown in if I can sneak it by. I’ve also done some romantic comedy contemporary books, and that’s  a genre I’d like to pick up again, as it makes you feel cheerful when you write it, as well as read it. Again, ideal for these weird old times. Who wants to read about reality??? Not me.

If you could redesign any book cover which one would you choose.

Oh dear. I don’t know. I know how much thought goes into book cover design and it’s a hugely specialised field. I think there was bone chinaone I railed at a while ago for the simple reason that the heroine’s hair was a different colour on the front to what it was in the story and that irked me. I do dislike the ripped bodice, half naked Highlander ones. And maybe, if I was being truly picky, I’d change Bone China by Laura Purcell – nowhere in the book is a little girl. There is an adult who is treated like a child – but no little girls. But that is, as I say, extremely picky, because the rest of the cover is lovely.

Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.

I have no idea. I’ve always read for pleasure, never for ‘bettering myself’ or for the sake of sounding literary or highbrow. In practical terms, I would say The Secret of Happy Children by Steve Biddulph was invaluable when my son was little.

The best advice I ever read was ‘let them win the battle, then you will win the war’, closely followed by when you’re telling your child off, let them know it is their behaviour you’re complaining about, not them; so you say, ‘I love you very much but I don’t like your behaviour here.’ They were miracle worker phrases, honestly. Lots of positive reinforcement was encouraged as well.

Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021.

I’d probably take my Kobo and my Kindle and then I could choose some old favourites I like to  reread. Beyond that, it’s whatever I’ve picked up at the bookshop beforehand – something light hearted and summery would do the trick. I don’t like having to work at my reading – it has to be easy to read and engage me so I can really chill out and enjoy it.




Coffee, cake and cats …

These are a few of Lexie Farrington’s favourite things, and when she walks into the Thistledean Café in Edinburgh, she’s delighted to find all three: coffee, cake, a big black cat on a purple lead being held by a very grumpy-looking pirate. Okay, maybe she wasn’t quite expecting that one …

Of course, Billy McCreadie isn’t really a pirate; he just knows a lot about them and is on his way to give a historical talk to school kids, hence the get-up. He’s also in desperate need of a cat sitter.

When Lexie steps in, little does she realise that Billy will be the key to a hidden Edinburgh she would have never discovered herself, and he might also be the man to help solve a certain piratical puzzle of her own …by little … one by one




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