Author interview: Claudia Carroll

13 Sep

Today I’m delighted to welcome number one bestselling author Claudia Carroll to One More Page to celebrate the ebook release of her new novel, Love Me Or Leave Me. Claudia was born in Dublin, where she still lives and where she has worked extensively both as a theatre and television actress. For fourteen years, she appeared in Fair City, (Ireland’s answer to Eastenders) playing a character she likes to describe as ‘the horrible old cow that everyone loves to hate.’ She is now a full time writer. Welcome Claudia!

claudiaYour new novel, Love Me or Leave Me is out now, please could you tell us a little about it?

Of course! Just to tell you a little bit about the inspiration for the story first though; I stumbled on an article about a hotelier in the Netherlands who happened to be going through a divorce. He was stunned at how long and dragged out the whole process was and thought, hang on, you could actually agree a divorce settlement in a weekend, that’s all it should take and no longer. So – and this is a true story, by the way – he opened up the world’s first divorce hotel and it took off from day one. The idea is you check in married and check out single… of course, when I read that, I was instantly hooked!

My imagination started to run away with me and I fell to thinking about all the disastrous weddings I’ve been to over the years – and you’d be surprised at how many of them there have been. Then I started imagining the different types of couples who would all stay at a hotel like this and what their marriages would actually be like.

So LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME is essentially a romantic comedy about life on the other side of the altar rails. What happens when three very different brides from three very different walks of life, finally take off the Vera Wang wedding dress, and realise that happy ever after isn’t all its cracked up to be?

Well of course, a divorce hotel seems like the answer to their collective prayers. Why not come to a calm place of tranquil reflection and work out all the nitty gritty finer details of your separation and divorce there, over a single weekend? And even better; all taken care of with room service, cocktails and maybe a little harmless lookout for husband no. 2 on the side? As Chloe Townsend, the hotel’s general manager can tell you, divorce can actually be painless and fast. And she of all people knows exactly what’s she’s talking about; after all, she’s living breathing proof that even after the most  devastating of breakups, there’s still hope, even after all that hopelessness.

First we’ve got Dawn and Kirk, both mid twenties and who look too young to even have got married in the first place, let alone be on the brink of divorce. Then there’s Jo and Dave, late thirties and barely able to be in the same room as each other, never mind discuss legal and real estate matters amicably. Biggest mystery of all though, has to be Jenny and Andrew, early fifties and still so obviously mad about each other. No one can understand what could possibly have driven such a devoted couple to the point of breaking up?

And so over the course of probably the most intense weekend of these couples’ lives and amid all the mayhem, mishaps and mis-matches, we discover exactly what lies beneath the surface of each once-happy romance. And more importantly, just how will each love story play out in the last and final reel.

If leading lady and hotel manager Chloe Townsend was on Twitter, what would her bio say?

Hmm. Interesting question. I think probably something like, ‘@ChloeTownsend. Fixer. Go-to person. Dependable rock of sanity, discretion 100% guaranteed.

The novel focuses on three very different couples and their stories; did you have a favourite couple to write?

Oh God, that’s like asking a mother to pick her favourite child. Impossible, but I will say this; I loved, loved, loved writing Chloe in LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME. She’s had her heart smashed and been publicly humiliated in the worst way imaginable, yet still manages to keep hope alive that ‘The One’ is out there for her.

The descriptions of the rooms at the Hope Street Hotel are lovely; where would your ideal hotel be and what treats wouldimage002 your room include?

My ideal hotel? Well, I’ll give you a laugh. Years ago a few pals were all going to Mexico on what the travel agent told us was an ‘all inclusive’ package. Now this was a new concept at the time, one that none of us had ever come across before. And we were genuinely stumped. All-inclusive? What did that mean? Food covered but not drinks? Or the other way around?

So off we tropped, all buffed and spay-tanned, to the Moon Palace hotel in Cancun. And Oh. My. Actual. God. Turned out all-inclusive mean just that…absolutely everything. You name it, everything. You want room service at 2 a.m. with a bottle of champagne on the side? Covered. Cocktails at the pool whenever you feel them one? Covered. Or you fancy breakfast and lunch and a full afternoon tea, followed by a four course dinner, where you don’t even have to bring you purse with you? Ditto.

Well, we were only stunned. Now that’s my kind of hotel and my dream is to get back there one day.

The novel isn’t all about endings; what do you think are the top three ingredients for a happy marriage?

It’s easy for me to say, as I’m not married myself, so I stand to be corrected on this, but I would say the top three ingredients would be the same as for any relationship really. Marry your best friend. Respect them and try to have a good laugh together every day.

And finally … what can we expect next from Claudia Carroll?

I’m currently editing my new book, to be published in 2015. Our working title is WOULD I LIE TO YOU? And it’s about catfish…the internet kind, not the kind that swim! If you’d like to see a little snippet from my next book, here it is, the very opening paragraph…but I’m not giving any more away!

Exactly 8pm on a Saturday night and here I am. Sitting all alone at a table for two in Fade St. Social, only one of the swishiest restaurants in town, primped and preened to within an inch of my life.

Peppering with nervous tension of course, but we’ll come back to that.

It’s a perfect table too; if I’d planned it, I couldn’t have chosen any better. I’m right in the middle of the restaurant at a gorgeous table facing the door, so that every time it opens, I get a clear view of exactly who’s just arrived. And more importantly, so that when my date gets here, he can’t miss me.

          Can he? I think, a tad anxiously.

No, course he can’t.

Now there is there’s the slight-ish concern that he hasn’t a clue what I look like in the flesh, or I him. But then we did exchange photos via the Two’s Company website and although mine is a slight bit of a cheat – taken ten years ago at twilight and with the light behind me so as to minimize the wrinkles, and come on, who of us hasn’t done it? Point is though, if his photo is even halfway accurate, then I’m seriously onto a winner here.

Thank you Claudia!

Love Me or Leave Me is out now in ebook formats from Avon and will be released in paperback on 23rd October.

Please do check out the other stops on Claudia’s Love Me Or Leave Me blog tour!


Book news: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

11 Sep

I do love a good fairy tale re-imagining and this one looks amazing! This beautifully illustrated hardback will be out next month from Bloomsbury. It’s already on my wish list! sleeper spindle   A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish. 

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.

Event News: Festival of Romantic Fiction 2014

11 Sep

festival romanceThe Festival of Romantic Fiction is taking place this weekend in Leighton Buzzard! There are lots of fabulous events happening, full details of which can be found on the Festival website.

I really wish I could go to the festival – not least because I’m nominated for the Romance Blogger of the Year Award (squeeee!!) but it’s  my son’s 6th birthday party on Saturday so I can’t miss that but I will be there in spirit and wish all of the wonderful nominees the very best of luck.

Highlights of the festival include:

Friday 12th September:

7.30pm until 9pm Girls Night In with romantic fiction authors Rowan Coleman, Jane Lovering, Mandy Baggot and Jill Steeples. Leighton Buzzard Library.  Tickets: £3.50 available from Leighton Buzzard Library or Theatre Box Office.

Saturday 13th September:

10am to 3pm Book Fair. Leighton Buzzard High Street
Unique one off book fair with chance to meet the authors and get signed books. 17 stalls

2.30pm to 3.30pm Afternoon Tea with Fiona Harper, Tracy Bloom, Liz Fenwick and Carmel Harrington. With special guest Katie Fforde. Leighton Buzzard Theatre. Tickets: £3.50 available from Theatre Box Office.

4pm to 5.30pm pm Traditional Afternoon Tea The Green House, Market Square, Leighton Buzzard
with special author guests Christina Courtenay, Jan Jones, Sue Moorcroft, Terri Nixon, Laura Purcell and Talli Roland.  Tickets: £9 to include tea/coffee and cake, available online.

8pm to 10.30pm Romance Reader Awards 2014 LIVE. Leighton Buzzard Theatre
Including presentation of the Reader Awards for best romantic books of the year. With special guests from The Leanne Hughes Theatre School. Tickets £15 include canape reception and are available from Theatre Box Office.

The full awards shortlist is:

Best Romantic Read (Sponsored by Headline Eternal)

Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey (Ebury)

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman (Ebury)

The Cornish Stranger by Liz Fenwick (Orion)

After The Honeymoon by Janey Fraser (Arrow)

The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell (Headline Review)

One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin (Carina)

The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft (Choc Lit)

The Proposal by Tasmina Perry (Headline Review)

One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson (Quercus)


Best Historical Read

The Downstairs Maid by Rosie Clarke (Ebury)

Monsoon Mists by Christina Courtenay (Choc Lit)

The Maid of Milan by Beverley Eikili (Choc Lit)

The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans (Quercus)

Crosscurrents by Jane Jackson (Accent Press)

Home For Christmas by Lizzie Lane (Ebury)

A Rose in Flanders Fields by Terri Nixon (Carina)

Queen of Bedlam by Laura Purcell (Myrmidon)


Best Short Romance

Don’t Tell Penny by Anna Bell (Quercus)

Taming Her Italian Boss by Fiona Harper (Mills and Boon Cherish)

A Western Heart by Liz Harris (Choc Lit Lite)

Just You by Jane Lark (Harper Impulse)

The Right Side of Mr Wrong by Jane Linfoot (Harper Impulse)

Grand Designs by Linda Mitchelmore (Choc Lit Lite)

The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin (Carina)


Best E-Book

The Second Time I Saw You by Pippa Croft (Penguin)

The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson (Choc Lit)

Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn-Marie Hulsmann (Harper Impulse)

Dear Lizzie by Annie Lyons (Carina)

The Guestbook by Holly Martin (Carina)

Room For Love by Sophie Pembroke (Carina)

The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas (Headline)

Doubting Abbey by Samantha Tonge (Carina)


Best Author Published

Mary Bennet by Kate Allan

Sweet Occasions by Linn B Halton

Drumbeats by Julia Ibbotson

Fairlights by Jan Jones

Christmas Yves by Nicola May

A Change of Heart by Adrienne Vaughan


New Talent Award Shortlist

An Infamous Seduction by Glenda Cooper

Country Strife by Debbie Fuller-White

Fancy Cakes and Skinny Lattes by Melanie Griffiths

For One Last Time by Louise Hall

The Gossamer Trail by Brenda Hawkey

Who Does He Think He Is? by Emily Kerr

Hats Off To Love by Susan Jones

Meeting Halfway by Mairibeth MacMillan

The Perfect Blend by Catherine Meadows

True Colours by Caroline Rayner

Maggie’s Child by Glynis Smy

Industry Awards Shortlists

The Festival of Romantic Fiction also recognises innovation from within the industry and presents an award to blogger of the year.

 Innovation in Romantic Fiction – Publisher

Accent Amour – new commercial imprint from independent publisher Accent Press investing in backlists as well as new authors

Carina UK – celebrating it’s first birthday in 2014, Carina digitally publishes over 75 authors from around the world and has been exceptionally successful in the ebook charts

Mills and Boon – launching a brand new reader-centred website including an interactive story world The Chatsfield that blends fiction and reality

Simon and Schuster – continuing development of their Books in the City website, a popular hub for readers to connect with authors

 Innovation in Romantic Fiction – Author

Jenny Barden – for championing the whole genre with innovation in events for the Historical Novels Society and Romantic Novelists Association

Rowan Coleman - after writing Dearest Rose, Rowan was inspired to raise money for women suffering from domestic abuse by writing Woman Walks into a Bar and donating the royalties to Refuge

Nadine Dorries – for shining light on the romantic saga by topping the bestseller charts with her debut novel The Four Streets

BelindaJones – for connecting with readers with an engaging theme across her website and social media including the Belinda Jones Travel Club on Facebook and website

Holly Martin - for her debut novel The Guestbook which uniquely tells the story through guest comments left in a leather-bound guestbook

Romance Blogger of the Year 




Giveaway winner! Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon

8 Sep

Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon

The winner is …


Congratulations! I have sent you an email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Look out for more giveaways very soon!

Book review: Roomies by Sara Zarr And Tara Altebrando

7 Sep

ROOMIESWhen Elizabeth receives her first-year roommate assignment at the beginning of summer, she shoots off an email to coordinate the basics: TV, microwave, mini-fridge. She can’t wait to escape her New Jersey beach town – and her mum – and start life afresh in California.

 That first note to Lauren in San Francisco comes as a surprise; she had requested a single. But if Lauren’s learned anything from being the oldest of six, it’s that you don’t always get what you want, especially when what you want is privacy.

 Soon the girls are emailing back and forth, sharing secrets even though they’ve never met. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives … and each other.

Roomies is a brilliant book, perfectly capturing that awkward time before going off to university/college and when you’re waiting for a major life change. I think this novel will appeal to a lot of readers as it’s not just about meeting your room mate for the first time but about growing up, gaining independence and leaving home for the first time; topics we can all relate to at different stages.

The story is told over a single summer as Lauren and Elizabeth (known as EB) get their college room mate allocations and make first contact. I found it fascinating and brilliantly realistic how the two girls reacted to each other over email and what it said about their characters. Elizabeth is an only child and lives with her Mum in New Jersey. Lauren is the complete opposite in terms of family set up and lives in San Franciso with her large family and very lovely mum and dad.

As the girls clearly illustrate, there are pros and cons to both set ups and I thought their attempts not to judge each other were brilliant. Interestingly, we are also privy to their own thoughts in sections written in first person narrative so can clearly see what has been filtered! I enjoyed the way this gave a rounded perspective on the dramas of both their lives, really showing their hopes and fears about the future and starting college.

I thought both girls were great characters but found myself slightly more drawn to Lauren, perhaps because her family set up was more similar to my own? Lauren’s parents are brilliant characters and now top my list of fab fictional mums and dads. There was one scene between Lauren and her Dad that actually made me well up and I loved that they were so realistically written.

There’s plenty to hold readers’ attention in Roomies with sub plots about parents, work and boyfriends and some great twists that kept me engaged. The book has a great romance element as each girl meets someone she cares for at seemingly the wrong time. I could easily have carried on reading about Lauren and EB and would I’d love a follow up to see what happened next!

One for fans of Keris Stainton, Rainbow Rowell and Jennifer E Smith, Roomies is funny, insightful and heartwarming making a clear point that whether you are moving across the country or just down the road, single or coupled up, from a close family or not; change is stressful and its ok to panic a bit! A lovely coming of age novel and I look forward to reading more from these authors.


Roomies is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel via Bookbridgr.

Find out more about Sara Zarr and her writing at:

Find out more about Tara Altebrando and her novels at:




Giveaway winners! With A Friend Like You by Fanny Blake

7 Sep

friend like you large


The winners are …

Carly, Kim Feasey and Lauren Pike

Congratulations! I have sent you all an email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Look out for more giveaways very soon!

Short Story Spotlight: A Piece of Cake by Trisha Ashley

1 Sep

Today I’m delighted to be the final stop on Trisha Ashley’s blog tour for her new ebook short story, A Piece of Cake. Trisha lives in beautiful North Wales, together with the neurotic Border Collie recently foisted onto her by her student son and an equally neurotic but also vain, bad-tempered and chancy Muse!

piece of cakeProfessional cake-maker Kate doesn’t have time for a man in her life, especially a boorish, sports-mad one like Wes. He’s definitely not her type.

But at her best friends wedding, when one crisis follows another, Kate begins to wonder whether she’s misjudged Wes.

Can love be the sweetest thing of all?

I’m a big fan of Trisha Ashley’s books and having loved her previous short story, Finding Mr RochesterI was very much looking forward to reading this one.

I wasn’t disappointed! A Piece of Cake is another warm, funny and sweet tale from Trisha and shows her skills as a romance writer perfectly. I loved the tension between handsome football player Wes and cake-maker Kate as they both try to play their roles in their best friends’ wedding!

Trisha takes a tongue in cheek look at footballers and their lifestyles and contrasts them nicely with hardworking Kate’s delicious sounding cake creations! As Kate promises to help her best friend Laura with her wedding preparations she is thrown together with footballer Wes and the sparks fly. I love how Trisha creates brilliant chemistry between her characters and this story is no exception.

Perfect for reading during a tea or lunch break (preferably accompanied with a large slice of cake!) and guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.


Find out more about Trisha and her books and sign up to her fab newsletter at:

A Piece of Cake is out now in ebook formats.

I’d like to thank Sabah at LightBrigade PR for sending me a review copy of this story.

Please do check out the other stops on the tour for extracts, reviews and recipes from Trisha.

POC Blog

Giveaway! Win a copy of Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbury

26 Aug

Earlier today I posted my review of Linda Newbery’s excellent debut novel for adults, Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon and as part of Linda’s blog tour to celebrate release, I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon

It was the day when everything stopped.

At quarter past two on a hot afternoon in August, Anna’s beautiful, headstrong elder sister Rose disappears.

Twenty years later, Anna still doesn’t know whether Rose is alive or dead. In her early thirties now, she sees her future unfolding – with sensible, serious Martin and a grown-up, steady job – and finds herself wondering if this is what she really wants.

Unable to take control of her life while the mystery of her sister’s disappearance remains unsolved, Anna begins to search for the truth: what did happen to Rose that summer’s day?

To enter this giveaway just leave a comment in the box below and I’ll draw a winner using after the closing date.

This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Sunday 31st August.

Good luck!

Book review: Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbery

26 Aug

Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday AfternoonIt was the day when everything stopped.

At quarter past two on a hot afternoon in August, Anna’s beautiful, headstrong elder sister Rose disappears.

Twenty years later, Anna still doesn’t know whether Rose is alive or dead. In her early thirties now, she sees her future unfolding – with sensible, serious Martin and a grown-up, steady job – and finds herself wondering if this is what she really wants.

Unable to take control of her life while the mystery of her sister’s disappearance remains unsolved, Anna begins to search for the truth: what did happen to Rose that summer’s day?

The cover for this novel caught my eye  - I love the image of the two girls on it and  I was intrigued by the title as soon as I read it. The title refers to the exact time that eighteen year old Rose leaves her house and disappears. Her younger sister Anna and her parents are left with the immediate impact of loss and fear followed by a longer term set of questions which, nearly twenty years later, Anna is determined to discover the answer to.

This is a complex and layered novel that builds up a picture of a seemingly ‘normal’ family trying their best to deal with the loss of a loved one, then reveals a web of past decisions and secrets that had me absolutely gripped and changed my view of the family members completely!

The narrative moves between the present; where Anna feels unable to put down roots and settle to a job or relationship and still feels heavily the weight of Rose’s presence in her life and her mother Cassandra is becoming increasingly fragile; to snapshots of the past as Rose and Anna grew up together and then delves further back into the family history with episodes from Cassandra’s life as she grew up, married and had children.

Loss, forgiveness and family are key themes, as is the way that past events and actions can reverberate into the future with unexpected repercussions and I was surprised more than once as I read at how my opinions of individuals changed as I read.

I found Anna particularly intriguing and although I started off as sympathetic to her, I didn’t find her particularly likeable for much of the book. But as I read on, I began to understand the motivations behind some of her seemingly strange decisions and as she began to delve further into Rose’s disappearance, I found myself wanting her to get the resolution she needed so much.

Similarly, I was very surprised at the strength of Cassandra’s story and the heartbreaking chain of events that led her to become the fragile person that we meet as the novel opens and was very much willing her to reveal all and find peace as the story progressed.

This is Linda’s first adult novel and I think it is a winner with a satisfying ending. The many layers and intriguing ‘what would you do if …?’ questions make it ideal for reading groups to dissect and discuss and I’m not surprised it was chosen to feature in the Radio 2 Book Club.

Linda is already an established author of children’s and young adult fiction and winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award. A Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon is set to be just as big a hit in adult fiction – add it to your reading lists now!


A Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank Naomi at Transworld for sending me a review copy of this novel.

Find out more about Linda and her writing at:

Book review: The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

25 Aug

Mill River RedemtionHaving unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River, to live with Josie’s aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up – until a shocking tragedy tears them apart.

Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother’s will, where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie’s safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them . . . 

The Mill River Redemption is Darcie Chan’s second novel; following on from the New York Times best seller, The Mill River Recluse. Both books are set in the fictional town of Mill River but if like me, you haven’t read Darcie’s first novel, don’t worry, this is a complete standalone story although there are some linkages that only made me want to go straight out and grab a copy of The Mill River Recluse as soon as I’d finished reading this book. Having loved The Mill River Recluse, I can’t wait to read more from Darcie!

Darcie Chan’s writing reminded me of some of my favourite authors and I think The Mill River Recluse with it’s quirky characters, close knit community and family tensions and mysteries will appeal to fans of Beth Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen. This is a tale of love, family and grief but despite heartbreaking moments, I found it an uplifting read filled with wise words.

The story focuses on Josie Di Santi and her two daughters, Rose and Emily and the main story line is split between their past, starting in 1983 as Josie and her young daughters flee to Mill River in the wake of tragedy and the present where Emily and Rose no longer speak and return to Mill River following the death of their mother.

Told in alternating chapters that eventually meet in the present, I enjoyed getting to know Josie, her family and the occupants of Mill River and seeing how the characters changed over time. Chan builds a picture of a warm and welcoming community at the heart of which is Josie’s Auny Ivy, who she seeks refuge with following the death of her husband.

Ivy was one of my favourite characters in the book and I wish I could visit her fabulous shop, The Bookstop. A love of reading and books is a key theme and I loved how Darcie wove books into the story. The novel features a list of Darcie’s own favourite books at the end, many of which get a mention in the story and all of which I’ve now added to my own reading list :-)

Rose’s book-loving son, Alex was another favourite character and his story really pulled on my heartstrings! I also enjoyed reading about Josie as she put her life back together and seeing how the family grew up. The contrast between the young Rose and Emily and the sisters in the present is stark and the mystery of their estrangement kept me guessing and turning the pages, as did the challenge that Josie sets them in her will.

Chan writes with warmth and sensitivity but also with a wonderful sense of humour and there are many moments that made me smile while I read The Mill River Redemption as Rose and Emily are forced to live side by side and work together to claim their inheritance. This is a gripping read filled with surprises and I didn’t want it to end. I’m excited to see that Darcie is working on a third Mill River book and can’t wait to visit the town again.

A perfect read to cosy up with this autumn!


The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan (Sphere) is published tomorrow (26th August) as an eBook.

Find out more about Darcie Chan and her writing at: