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Darcie Boleyn

Heartwarming Romance

Bringing Up Bravo – Adopting A Greyhound – by Jon Trew #greyhound #rescuedog

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Strangers often ask how do I tell my two black greyhounds apart.  Renee ( the girl) and Bravo (the boy) are both about the same size and have similar white patches, they are even distant cousins. However almost everything about Bravo’s personality is different to Renee’s. The first lesson we learnt when we adopted our boy was, what worked with Renee didn’t work at all with Bravo. The cuddles and the kisses that Renee loved and the attention from strangers she loved, sent Bravo into a terrified panic.  All our training tips went out the window. It was back to the drawing board.

IMG_2817I think the most important thing to understand about Bravo AKA Mr B and other nervous dogs like him, is the importance of taking your time.  If you force the pace it can have the opposite effect that you want.  Bravo though scared of his own shadow, can be a very stubborn dog, so forcing him can just entrench his fears and reinforce his behaviour. Let your fearful dog come to you. Just go about your normal life and let the animal get used to your routines. Dogs are pack animals, so there is a natural urge for her to bond with you and join your pack. Just let this happen. Be quiet and calm.

At first Bravo liked to stay in the dining room, while we sat in the lounge. He obviously wanted to be with us but found it difficult to let himself trust us.  He really wanted to but his hyper fearfulness kept stopping him. He would walk down the hall and look into the lounge, look at us, then go back to the front room. Encouraging him didn’t help.  We tried food, treats toys and kind words but none worked. Ignoring him was a better strategy.  One day he walked down the hall and popped his head into the lounge seventeen times, until on the eighteenth he struck up enough confidence to come in and lie on the floor with my wife and I. Allow your girl to have somewhere to go where she can hide and let her come to you.  Don’t force her into a corner, we did this by accident one day with Bravo, he wet himself with fear.  It was pitiful.

Treats didn’t work with Bravo. Though he loves his food and will steal anything edible left around, the stress and fear hormones that flood his body turn off his appetite and the ability to eat. So even if I have the most juicy snack, Bravo is physically unable to eat it.  Imagine trying to eat just before an exam, or going on stage.  Having permanent stage fright or exam nerves is what life had been like all the time for Bravo. Paula Evans from the rescue team who has worked with hundreds of rescued greys, described him as the most frightened dog she had ever come across. She told me the first time she saw him, Bravo even got up onto his hind legs in order to press himself more tightly into a corner of his  pen and try to climb up the wall to get away.

Bravo didn’t like loud noises or sudden movements, so we found that being quiet, calm and gentle was the key. Even plumping up the cushions on the sofa would scare him. However we decided that while we would avoid making loud bangs and crashes it was not a good idea to make a fuss over him when he was scared by normal sounds   We wanted him to see from our reactions that there was nothing to fear.  I don’t know if this is scientific but we felt it was best to ignore Bravo’s over reaction to normal noises and act as if there was nothing to be scared of.  Dogs are very sensitive to our body language and emotions and pick up on them easily.  I’ve worked with children with behavioural problems and one of the techniques I’ve used when they are upset or challenging, is to distract and divert.  So if I see a problem coming up such as a group of loud children, or a man with a walking stick (all triggers for panics reactions from Bravo) I will start to talk to him, or break into a jog, or take a different path, or do something where he has to look at me.

Bravo was very keen to go out for walks. He would stand by the front door when I picked up the leads and wag his tail. He willingly jumped into the back of the car but once we got to the park he was often too afraid to get out of the car.  I discovered that if I opened the boot and Renee jumped out Bravo would jump too, however if there was a delay Bravo would lose his nerve and I would have to lift him out. I noticed after a while that he much preferred places that were secluded, particularly woodland paths.  Big open spaces such as the sports fields made him on edge and unable to relax.  He was forever scanning the horizon for new threats.  Even dogs three football fields away could make him nervous.  Bravo’s favourite walk was the Mill Wood.  It was quiet wooded area and the paths through the trees and bushes made sure that strangers could only appear from one direction. This made him far more comfortable.  Unlike Renee who wanted to be off the lead as soon as possible sniffing bushes, Bravo liked to be on the lead. The lead gave him confidence that I was in charge and was protecting him. The Mill wood became our regular haunt and after a week or two Bravo started to jump out of the car when we arrived at the Wood keen for his walk.
dsc1737.jpgHaving super confident Renee has been a big help to Bravo. She is a brilliant role model and her confidence is infectious. Whatever happened, Bravo would immediately follow Renee.  If I opened the door so Renee could have a wee, Bravo would follow her out. Though I had to remember not to stand by the door, otherwise Bravo would not run past me. In the winter this became a bit of a problem as I had to open the door to the garden then walk away, leaving it open so Bravo could go outside and again when he ran back in again.  Sometimes I even had to go out into the garden and get behind Bravo so he would run away from me but back into the house.

Things slowly began to change.  Bravo responded to the stability, repetition and routine we were able to offer him.  Slowly he began to join us in the lounge, then one day he decided at bedtime to run up the stairs and sleep in our bedroom.  Renee has always had a basket in our room and now Bravo decided that it was less scary being with us than it was downstairs on his own. Just being in the same room as us seemed to help.  After a few months we noticed Bravo had decided to sit on the sofa. One day I sat on the other end of the sofa and amazingly Bravo stayed put, then a few weeks after that he even climbed onto the sofa while I was sitting on it. My daughter Isabel unlike the rest of the family is not an animal lover.  She doesn’t dislike them, she simply goes about the house and acts as if they don’t exist.  She doesn’t stroke them, feed them, or talk to them.  It seemed strange to me that she was the first person in our family that Bravo chose to sit next to.  However this has been an important lesson. Don’t push or force your affections on your traumatised dog. Affection should be on their terms, not ours. Bravo does like affection but on his terms. I’ve found that it is best to start stroking Bravo just above his back legs and then slowly move the strokes forward along his back until I’m stroking his head and ears.  This gives him time to relax into it. If I go straight for he head, he flinches and moves away.
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Bravo has always preferred women to men and my wife took the lead with him in the first few weeks.  Perhaps it is her calmer quieter voice, or perhaps it is some bad memories of cruel men from his past.  We will never know.  He is also scared of children, particularly when they yell and scream.  His biggest phobia is small boys with sticks.  However, despite his fear of men, after a few months he began to trust me.  Small steps at first, a wagging tale when I came into the house, a sniff here and there and then some eye contact.  A few weeks later he started to really bond with me and follow me around the house, even into the shower and toilet. Bravo is now firmly my dog and trusts me enough to let me pick him up and carry him across the stepping stones at Ogmore without a single wriggle or panic. He wakes me up in the morning with a nuzzle to my face and wags his tail so vigorously when I come home that once he even damaged it.

Bravo will never be the super confident dog that Renee is.  He will always be timid and cautious but now I can walk with him without a lead in the countryside knowing he loves to be by my side.  And that his life today is a million times better that it was before.

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5* #bookreview – Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera by @jenniewriter #amreading

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Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera by Jennifer Bohnet is a delightful read that transported me to a beautiful destination and involved me in the lives of the characters so deeply that I really cared about what happened to them.

This story has everything you want in a summer read: romance, conflict, family relationships, emotional revelations and uplifting moments. The descriptions of the food and wine are mouthwatering and I would love to visit Rosie’s cafe to enjoy one of the delicious meals on the beach and to sip champagne as the waves lap at the shore.
The story is about love and life, about how people can let you down or lift you up, and about how one summer can change your life.
This was a beautiful read and I highly recommend it!

 

AMAZON UK

 

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Celebrating great news!!! @canelo_co @LBAamanda @LBABooks #author #agent

Darcie Boleyn

A few years ago, I dreamt of being a published author and of one day securing a literary agent. The last year in my writing world has been amazing because it seems that dreams really can come true!

After signing with fabulous publisher Canelo, my Christmas novel A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas did very well in the winter of 2016, and my May 2017 release, Summer at Conwenna Cove has been riding high in the Amazon Kindle charts and it even spent several weeks in the top 100. On top of this, my summer release Love at the Italian Lake is on Amazon for preorder and it has an absolutely beautiful cover.

I am feeling extremely lucky.

Today, I have even more good news to share. I have signed with the wonderful literary agent Amanda Preston at LBA Books, which means that the future looks even brighter.

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Have a fabulous week! XXX

 

#bookreview – Court of Lions – by @JaneJohnsonBakr @HoZ_Books

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I am delighted today to be able to post my review of Jane Johnson’s fabulous novel Court of Lions. The moment I saw this book on the Head of Zeus Twitter feed, I knew I had to read it!

So here’s my review:

Court of Lions is the first book I’ve ready by Jane Johnson and it certainly won’t be the last! This novel was a sensual and emotional delight from beginning to end.

The reader is taken on two fascinating and gripping journeys, one in 15th century Spain, following Blessings, companion to Prince Abdullah Mohammed, and the other modern day, following Kate Fordham, an Englishwoman working in Granada.

The two stories are interwoven, which is a narrative technique that I really enjoyed. Both characters have secrets and fears and suffer mistreatment at the hands of others, but both have enduring hopes and dreams.

Ms Johnson creates captivating descriptions of the Alhambra, whisking the reader away to the Granada of Prince Abdullah Mohammed with her exquisite prose and meticulous historical research, and her own love of the location shines through.

One thing in particular that stood out for me is that this is a love story. Blessings’ love for Prince Abdullah Mohammed is beautiful, all consuming and painful, as unrequited love can be. There is a message here that love is love, whatever form it comes in, and the human capacity for love – and sometimes forgiveness – has not changed, whatever else mankind might be guilty of.

Court of Lions is a book about life, love, friendship, families and passion. It’s about greed and fanaticism and how damaging both can be, whether in the 1400s or 2017. It’s about light and darkness, and how sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. And it’s about hope. Because sometimes hope is all we have to cling to.

I thoroughly recommend this book, especially for readers who enjoy dual timelines, for readers who like romance novels and for those who appreciate well-researched historical tales.

FIVE FABULOUS STARS!!!

 

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*I would like to thank Jane Johnson and Head of Zeus publishing for the ARC of Court of Lions.*

WATCH JANE’S VIDEO ABOUT THE BOOK HERE.

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON UK

AMAZON.COM

 

JANE JOHNSON

#guestpost – Why I adopted a greyhound – by Lisa Vye-Parminter #mondayblogs #greyhounds

 

20170526_204132.jpgMy family suggested I find a four-legged ‘best friend’ as the house was very empty after our two sight hounds went to live with my ex. I thought this would be impossible, due to working 5 days a week, but my boss said an ‘office dog’ was just what I needed. I didn’t want a little dog and wanted a breed that would love to be out and about but also calm when in the office. Years ago, I’d always wanted a greyhound but I fostered and rehomed ferral cats for a local charity, so unfortunately it wasn’t an option.

I asked my boss if a big dog would be okay to bring to work and she said a greyhound would be fine!

I started looking at rescue sites and Greyhound Rescue Wales kept coming up. All those adorable faces flicking up on my PC screen, all wanting to be loved, with an emotional piece written about each dog made my decision. GRW cared that the correct family was found for the dog, not the other way around.

I was asked if I’d consider a black dog… apparently these are harder to rehome! So black was my choice!

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When I got a phone call from Sandra Wynne (Hillcrest’s sanctury manager) saying she had a dog in mind, who she thought would be perfect for me, I was over the moon. Maggie (then known as Marjorie) hadn’t settled well at Hillcrest, so had been living with a foster carer to help with her transition to a life that most dogs grow up with.

Maggie was nearly five when she finished her racing career with over 99 races – her last race was in Feb 2016 and I believe she went to GRW in spring 2016.

I’d been told she was shy (a bit standoffish until she knew you) and this was true and sad that this beautiful girl was like this due to her past.

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She has blossomed in the seven months I’ve had her. For example, she’s learnt how to climb stairs, but has to circle three times at the bottom before going up. Her best friend is my daughter’s one year old corgi, who has taught Maggie (or Maggie Moo or Moo Moo as I call her, lol) how to play, how to chase and how to be a dog, not a money earning machine.

It’s taking Maggie a long time to build trust and friendships with my friends, and she’s very wary of men, especially if they are ‘larger’. It is heartbreaking to see her hide behind me, but we’ll get there when Maggie is ready.

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Maggie is now good with horses when I take her to the yard where I keep them and she’s lucky that we are allowed to use the fields for secure off-lead running.

She still has lots of issues but everyday there’s a little breakthrough.  I have to admit, I cried the first time she awkwardly climbed on the sofa and put her head on my lap and went to sleep; it was such a huge step for my anxious girl.

Maggie has made such a difference to my life (as I suffer with depression and anxiety) and she’s made life fun again. My life is no longer empty and seeing the changes in her behaviour is brilliant. She makes me smile and laugh every day and is a dab paw at wooden treat puzzles.

Adopting Maggie has been one of the most rewarding two-way experience that I have had. Every single day brings new pleasures.

I love my shy loving dustbin with her deadly whippy tail.

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#guestpost – Adopting Sasha the three-legged lurcher #mondayblogs #dogs

ADOPTING SASHA

We are Val and John Ball and on 20th November 2016 we became the proud adopted parents of Sasha, the three-legged Lurcher, who we took to her Forever Home.

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With Sasha at Hillcrest, when we were told the date we could take her home

After losing our 19yr old Lurcher Beau in the April, we had decided we wouldn’t have another dog as his loss was so painful. After 6 months of no dog and our house feeling empty, we decided we would look around for our new friend. We had decided on a Greyhound as we had met some at a show and Val had had two before. We went on the Greyhound Rescue Wales website and looked at the various gorgeous hounds and read their write-ups. It was then we came across the picture and write-up of Sasha. We read her ‘Buddie’ Nicola’s piece about her and watched the videos. The lack of the fourth leg was not an issue as Val could associate with that, we just wondered why this beautiful girl had not been snatched up.

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Last morning at Hillcrest and all her friends

We filled in the forms, spoke to Paula and had the house check with Bev, who Val knew from when she had greyhounds before. Sandra rang from Hillcrest and we also spoke to Kerry about our interest in Sasha and they told us that she had a few issues, but that didn’t put us off. We went to see Sasha at Hillcrest and as soon as we saw her beautiful eyes our hearts melted. Yes she did have issues from her past to overcome, but then don’t we all? After five weeks of travelling from our home in Rhoose twice a week, to help enforce the work Sandra, Kerry, Nicola and the other volunteers at Hillcrest were teaching her, Sasha was ready to come home.

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Ready to go to her ‘Forever Home’

Sasha doesn’t travel well, but with time, that will be another issue for her to overcome with our help. Otherwise, she is settling in well. She is quick to learn new things, new noises and her new surroundings as well as finding out that dinnertime isn’t only at 4.30pm and that not everyone goes to bed at 7pm!

 

We had decided before she came home that it wouldn’t be a good idea for her to go upstairs as the pressure on her front leg when she came down might be too much. We were going to get a standard child gate, until at the assessment room at Hillcrest she showed us that jumping one was no problem, so we bought the extra tall one. Sasha has so far not attempted to jump it and has eyed up the stairs, but I think even she knows her limitations.

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When she goes out with her dad first thing, it is at quite a quick pace as she is rushing to check that no corner of the local field is missed or territory marked, she meets new dogs and people – some she likes and some she doesn’t, although the squeezy cheese is a good ice breaker with Sasha. When she walks with her mum in the afternoon, then due to both of their leg problems (Val has no feeling in her right leg and spinal damage, so uses a stick or walker) then it is a much slower pace and her whole demeanour changes. There is no continual sniffing and marking, the ears are up and she is in protection mode. When with dad, obviously he can look after the two of them. After her walk she is like any other sight hound, drink of water, mad five minutes and then sleep for a couple of hours.

Sasha braintrainOnce rested she is ready for her brain training and we do about 10 minutes of this a couple of times a day, and shows how really clever she is at the different tasks, You have to try and keep one step ahead so that she doesn’t get bored doing the same games. Her character and personality are now showing through, we saw bits of it at Hillcrest. We have enforced the ‘Touch’ before treats so that when she meets someone she is gentle in taking the treat. When it is someone new, although she is wary of them, the next time she sees them, it is like seeing a long lost friend. Losing her leg so young has meant that she has had to adapt and do things differently and if she faces a new challenge she will either stand looking at it, tilting her head from side to side working out how to do it, or walk away and come back to it again later, but she doesn’t give up. Jonathan, Kerry, Sandra, Debs and Nicola from GRW have all been to see her and couldn’t believe how relaxed she was. She remembered them all and had great fun showing off how good she was.

On Boxing Day, we took her out on a 50ft lead, which she thoroughly enjoyed as she was able to have more freedom. Her recall is good, and there is no jarring as she doesn’t like going off very far without you there. It is easier when there aren’t many out on the field as she worries about some of the other dogs.

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Relaxed Sasha

Sasha has made our house a home again; having dog hair on our clothes and having to hoover every day is great. She has brought so much into our lives and gives so much love, which we gladly return and can’t imagine it any other way. Yes she will snap at you if you tread on her paw or tail, but soon apologises afterwards, wanting to know that it is ok and that she is still your favourite girl. It really is cute

Anyone thinking of getting a sight hound and you see one with an injury or a limb missing, don’t ignore them, look past it and get to know the character and personality. Yes they need more of your time to learn things and you will learn from them, but apart from that, they are just the same and it is so rewarding when they learn something new and achieve it.

AN UPDATE ON SASHA

Since writing the above report, a lot has happened in the life of Sasha and us. Sasha has become so relaxed at home, and her anxieties on the lead have been overcome since going on the walks at Cosmeston Lakes that were organised by Emma and Jon. When being surrounded by 52 other greyhounds, lurchers and whippets, she realised it was great walking in a group of sighthounds, which we have enforced by going to every walk in our area. This boosted her confidence when meeting people outside of the home, which had been a problem. She has a lot of small dogs as friends that she sees every morning and a few her own size. Mostly liking male dogs to female, well why not!!

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Even though she is not very good in the car (ill wise), it now is not a regular occurrence, and all enjoyed a holiday in Somerset in April, with Sasha enjoying the fuss of lots of people, being given treats, being told how gorgeous she was and how well she had adapted. At English Heritage sights she was told she could wee anywhere she liked, whereas National Trust asked her not to wee on the grass, so we had gravel everywhere afterwards!!

Sasha has done quite a few visits back to Hillcrest and enjoyed seeing everyone, getting muddy after which Auntie Sandra gave her a shower and supervising her dad making the steps in the field.

Sasha has had a Cocker Spaniel around to her home, after a walk together and both being in the garden, Sasha initiated play, much to her annoyance the spaniel didn’t like to play!!Sasha 2

We will keep working on her interaction with dogs and giving her the home she deserves.

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Greyhound Rescue Wales – giving sighthounds the second chances they deserve.

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On Saturday, I attended the Greyhound Rescue Wales Last Hope Spring Fayre in St Athan, where I had a stall to promote the publication of my latest novel, Summer at Conwenna Cove.

The fayre was held to raise funds for Last Hope dogs. Last Hope was a greyhound found left for dead, badly injured and with both ears cut off, on a mountainside in the Rhymney Valley in South Wales. He was discovered lying on rubbish with a hole in his forehead, on 2 May 2004, and was later humanely destroyed. Greyhound Rescue Wales set up the ‘Last Hope Fund’ and holds an annual sponsored walk to raise money for it. This year, they held the spring fayre too. The money raised has been used to rescue, treat and rehome greyhounds or lurchers for whom the only other option would have been euthanasia. Therefore, this fund is extremely important.

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As a greyhound mum, I care a great deal about these beautiful, gentle creatures. I adopted my girl, Freya, from Greyhound Rescue Wales, and the rescue sanctuary in the novel is based on Hillcrest in Ammanford, where Freya came from. The employees and volunteers of GRW work tirelessly to care for the hounds and they deserve recognition for the wonderful work they do.

 

Gabe is the name of a real, and much loved, greyhound. He very sadly had to be put to sleep last year. I heard his story when I was writing the novel, and asked his owners if I could use his name. Therefore, Gabe’s name is significant for his owners and for all those who knew him. Summer at Conwenna Cove is dedicated to my girl, Freya, and to the real Gabe.

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Me at the spring fayre with some of the postcards featuring the gorgeous cover for Summer at Conwenna Cove.

 

To ensure that the greyhound details in the story were accurate, I contacted some of the very helpful people at Greyhound Rescue Wales, for their greyhound stories and advice. I wanted to portray Gabe and the other sighthounds in a realistic and compassionate way, and I hope that I have achieved that.

 

My publisher, Canelo, had a beautiful cover designed for the novel and it features Conwenna Cove and also a greyhound. The cover and the story have received some wonderful comments and I’m delighted that readers are enjoying the book.

If you’d like to read more about Greyhound Rescue Wales, then you can find them here. They’re always grateful for donations because it helps them to keep on saving sighthounds.

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Me with Freya wearing the beautiful fleece she won – from Emma Byrne at The Felted Badger – for reserve best in show.

 

If you enjoy Summer at Conwenna Cove, you can return there this autumn, because I’m currently working on Christmas at Conwenna Cove. I’m very excited about this story and hope you will be too.

 

Have a fabulous week!

Darcie Xx

 

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Love is in the air on Lovelace Lane – the fabulous bestselling series by @AliceRoss22 #bookreview

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This fabulous series from Alice Ross is available to purchase at Amazon now!

Here are my reviews of the three books in the Lovelace Lane series…

 

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This is a delightful story about the ups and downs of relationships, finding your dream home – but knowing it needs A LOT of work – and finding your way in life after a few false starts.

Alice Ross has a lovely warm author voice and a real talent for creating moments of comedy; I actually snorted out loud at some of the funny scenes in this novel.

If you want a sweet romance with moments that will make you giggle and some that will bring a tear to your eye, then The Little Cottage on Lovelace Lane is the book for you! I have already preordered the next in the series and can’t wait to read it!!

 

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I thoroughly enjoyed the second book in the Lovelace Lane series. This one is just as warm, funny and cleverly written as the first one.

The main character Ruth Dutton moves into the annexe of The Big House on Lovelace Lane, expecting to enjoy a peaceful existence. However, with a daughter and son-in-law, three grandchildren and a possible love interest on the horizon, Ruth’s life is soon far busier than she could ever have imagined.

I laughed my way through this heartwarming romcom, had something in my eye at the end, and am now eagerly awaiting book 3!

 

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What a perfect 5 star read!

The Wedding on Lovelace Lane is funny, warm and satisfying. It is delightfully romantic and left me smiling as well as a bit emotional.

Evie Lomax is a determined, resourceful character with a heart of gold. During the course of the story, her life becomes complicated in a variety of ways, and there are misunderstandings, revelations and reunions all round.

I hope Ms Ross decides to write another book set on Lovelace Lane because I have enjoyed reading this series immensely!

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Amazon.com

#bookreview – The Wedding on Lovelace Lane – by @AliceRoss22 #amreading

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What a perfect 5 star read!

The Wedding on Lovelace Lane is funny, warm and satisfying. It is delightfully romantic and left me smiling as well as a bit emotional.

Evie Lomax is a determined, resourceful character with a heart of gold. During the course of the story, her life becomes complicated in a variety of ways, and there are misunderstandings, revelations and reunions all round.

I hope Ms Ross decides to write another book set on Lovelace Lane because I have enjoyed reading this series immensely!

 

AMAZON UK

AMAZON.COM

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