In this third instalment of the series, Clare Greene and Sam Wilson are getting married and everyone in Little Bramble is excited for the event of the year. But Clare and Sam are busy people and have left organising their wedding to the last minute. (YIKES!)
Luckily, wedding planner Hazel Campbell has recently moved to the village. She had what she thought was a wonderful life in Edinburgh with a successful business, a loving fiancé and her own wedding coming up. But when she caught her groom-to-be in bed with her best friend she fled, leaving everyone and everything behind.
Little Bramble seems like the ideal place for Hazel to start over. As she throws herself into planning the perfect country village winter wedding, she starts to find herself again. And soon she realises that a second chance at happiness might just be on the cards . . .
This story was a lot of fun to write because I was able to return to the beautiful Surrey village of Little Bramble and to enjoy spending time with some of the characters from the first two books. That’s one of the great things about writing a series; you can develop the stories of characters you care about from previous books.
I was very lucky to celebrate a joint publication day with my close friend Sarah Bennett, whose gorgeous book Autumn Dreams at Mermaids Point was published yesterday too. Sarah writes beautiful, uplifting romance novels and if you haven’t read anything by her yet, I thoroughly recommend her books! We celebrated with a Facebook Live event hosted by her publisher Boldwood Books on their Facebook page.
After accidentally becoming the centre of a social media scandal, Ivy Hamilton flees her glamorous life in London and comes to Sunflower Street to hide away and lick her wounds. The idea of staying at her elderly aunt’s home doesn’t hold much appeal but she has nowhere else to lie low. IT specialist Zach Ritchie is reeling after being betrayed by a close friend. Following years of moving around with his military family, he’d love to find a place to call home and to feel that he can put his trust in others again. When Ivy and Zach meet, they’re surprised to find that they enjoy each other’s company and the calmer life that the pretty village of Wisteria Hollow has to offer. But they can only run from their lives for so long and soon, their pasts catch up with them. Will Ivy and Zach return to the lives they know or will they enjoy new beginnings on Sunflower Street?
Publication day is always exciting as a new book baby makes its way into the world and today I’ve been delighted to see that ‘New Beginnings on Sunflower Street’ has shot to #1 in two Amazon categories. Huge thanks to everyone who has bought the book or is reading it on Kindle Unlimited.
If you read Ivy and Zach’s story and enjoy it, I’d love to know what you think.
I am so excited to be able to share the cover of The Country Village Winter Wedding! 😍 This will be out in ebook 23rd September & paperback 28th October! ✨
Here the blurb:
A feel-good festive read to get cosy with this winter. For fans of Heidi Swain and Sarah Morgan. By the author of The Country Village Christmas Show and The Country Village Summer Fete.
‘Little Bramble is the perfect country village. Brimming with community spirit and warmth.’ Phillipa Ashley
Clare Greene and Sam Wilson are getting married and everyone in Little Bramble is excited for the event of the year. But Clare and Sam are busy people and have left organising their wedding to the last minute.
Luckily wedding planner Hazel Campbell has recently moved to the village. She had what she thought was a wonderful life in Edinburgh with a successful business and a wedding of her own to plan, but when she caught her fiancé with her best friend she fled, leaving her whole life behind.
Little Bramble seems like the ideal place for Hazel to start over. As she throws herself into planning the perfect country village winter wedding, she starts to find herself again and realises that a second chance at love might just be on the cards . . .
Escape to Little Bramble with the rest of The Country Village Series – The Country Village Christmas Show and The Country Village Summer Fete, available now, and The Country Village Allotment, coming in Spring 2022.
Praise for The Country Village series:
‘A fabulous slice of village life.’ Heidi Swain
‘A gorgeous festive treat of a story.’ Philippa Ashley
‘A gorgeous, uplifting festive read. I loved it.’ Holly Martin
‘A heartwarming and charming story about love, friendship and village life.’ Holly Martin
‘A great read full of festive magic. One to enjoy this Christmas.’ Bella Osborne
Life can be pretty full on at times, and reading is one of my favourite ways to relax. By opening a book or switching on my Kindle, I can completely escape from reality for a while. I enjoy reading all genres but when I want something to make me smile, something that I can rely on to lift my mood and whisk me away to another place, I turn to romance novels.
A romance novel takes readers on a familiar journey. That’s why I always smile when a story is described as being ‘predictable’, because yes, a lot of romance readers do want a happy ever after. Or at least, a happy for now.
And as much as I enjoy reading romance novels, I enjoy writing them. I love creating the complex main characters with their emotional baggage – such as their lost hopes and dreams – and bringing them gently, gradually and cautiously together. They might not always like each other at first, but by the end of the story, they will want to be together. However… the journey they go on mustn’t be easy; there must be plenty of conflict – both internal and external – and there will always be a black moment, when the conflict is at its highest and it seems as though there couldn’t possibly be a happy outcome.
I relish the dance that the two characters perform… the will-they, won’t-they build up as their relationship develops. I love to build the physical and emotional tension between them, to convey how they feel just by being close or thinking about each other. I enjoy describing the moment when it dawns on them that they are in love, even if at that point it still seems like they can’t possibly be together. Because when they do eventually admit their feelings, it will be all the sweeter.
Most films and TV series feature at least one love story. Take Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, Jim and Pam, Glen and Maggie, Carrie and Big, Harry and Sally, the list goes on. Many of us enjoy watching characters we like and care about getting together – however long that takes – and reading romances is no different. We become invested in the stories and in the characters’ lives and want them to be happy.
The point of a romance isn’t just that everyone has someone, but that everyone is fulfilled. When I write romances, I want the characters to evolve to a state where they don’t need someone else, but are finally ready to be with someone. They have to be strong enough, confident enough, and to have developed enough, to be in a fulfilling relationship.
My aim is that readers will feel satisfied when they finish reading one of my novels, that they will believe that the two main characters have overcome the obstacles I put in their way, and that they deserve to be together. And most importantly, I want readers to feel happy and hopeful, because life is tough enough. A happy ending in a romance novel can be something for them to hold close when real life is not quite so perfect, something to find comfort in when they open the book and enter the fictional world.
I loved English at school because we got to read and write stories and I often entered writing competitions. Part of my degree involved creative writing, fuelling my dream of becoming an author, but then I graduated and life became very busy when I had my children and I didn’t have much spare time or energy for writing. In 2007, I had a rejection from a large romance publisher and I thought that being a published author would only ever be a dream. However, in 2010, my husband encouraged me to start writing and submitting stories to publishers again. This was followed by a number of rejections and a lot of tears… But in 2015, my debut novel as Darcie Boleyn was published by Carina UK, a digital imprint of Harper Collins. Since then, I’ve been busy. As well as writing as Darcie Boleyn, I have self published as Rachel Griffiths, had a novel published with Orion as Megan Attley and I’m now signed with Zaffre as Cathy Lake.
I am a devoted dog mum and have two British bulldogs and one rescue greyhound. I usually include dogs, especially rescue dogs, in my books. As Darcie Boleyn, I wrote a series set in the fictional Cornish location of Conwenna Cove and every book featured a rescue greyhound and a greyhound sanctuary. Summer at Conwenna Cove and Christmas at Conwenna Cove did quite well in the Amazon charts following publication and have received some lovely reviews. Some of my books have been converted into audiobooks and some have gone to print. It’s been a very exciting time!
The Country Village Christmas Show, my first Cathy Lake book, was published in 2020. It’s about a woman in her forties who has reached a crossroads in her life. Her marriage ended recently, her son is away at university and the family home has been sold. Not knowing what to do and feeling a bit lost, she returns to the pretty village where she grew up to stay with her mother. They’ve never been close and she knows it will be a challenge, but she also hopes it will be a positive thing for them both. Her mother has a rescue Great Dane called Goliath and Clare finds herself becoming very fond of him, enjoying taking him on long walks in the beautiful countryside and snuggling on the sofa with him. As the weeks pass, she finds herself involved in village life in ways she’d never imagined. She has the opportunity to see a new future for herself filled with exciting opportunities and challenges, and with the support of her friends and loved ones, she learns that she’s strong enough to deal with whatever comes her way.
Many people will find themselves in a similar situation in that they come to a crossroads and wonder what’s next, whether it’s because of a relationship breakdown, children leaving home or losing loved ones. I wanted to show through this story that there’s hope to be found, that relationships can be healed and new ones formed. Life isn’t easy for anyone but having friends and family (whatever form that family takes) can help us to deal with the challenges we face. As a dog mum, I also believe that animals, especially dogs, have the ability to help us to make the most of life because they live for the moment. In our busy lives, we can lose perspective and rush from one task to the next. This isn’t good for our physical or mental health, but having a dog can make us slow down, focus on the here and now, and be more mindful. My husband and I walk our dogs every day and getting out like that is incredibly therapeutic. I often use our dogs as sounding boards for character profiles, plotlines and dialogue and they’re wonderful writing companions.
I wrote the first draft of The Country Village Christmas Show in eight weeks. The basis of the idea came from my own experience as a woman, wife and mum, who changed career in my forties and found the job fulfilment I’d always dreamt of. The second book in The Country Village series, The Country Village Summer Fete, was published in June 2021 and it’s about a woman on the cusp of her 50th birthday, who realises that her priorities are changing. When she returns to her childhood home to care for her ageing father, she has to face her past in the village of Little Bramble and finds it challenging, to say the least.
I believe that it’s never too late to change direction. I taught for 18 years and dreamt of being an author but after a series of rejections, I didn’t think it would happen. I believed that it happened for other people, but not for me. When I left teaching in 2016, it was scary, a big leap to take but my mental health was suffering for a variety of reasons and I knew I had to makes some changes. By that point, I had a few books published, but didn’t know if I could make writing work as a career. Reader, I gave it everything I had.
And… here I am in 2021, with quite a few books published and some exciting news coming soon! I’m incredibly grateful that my husband encouraged me to write again and that with hard work, persistence and dedication, my dream came true.
The inspiration for my stories comes from all sorts of things and some of my characters are inspired by people I know, including my lovely granny. She was a colourful character with a huge personality and a warm, compassionate heart.
Granny was tiny, not even five foot tall, and weighed less than seven stone, but what she lacked in stature she made up for in personality. She was a primary school teacher who specialised in music and maths, and during her career became a deputy head teacher. She worked hard, never dreaming of being anything else, and because she loved her job so much, she didn’t marry and have children until she was in her late thirties. She had drive and vision and wanted to inspire every child she taught.
I didn’t arrive until she was in her late sixties, and by that time she was retired and had plenty of time to spend with me. Granny read to me and told me stories all the time, inspiring my love of books. She developed my love of fictional worlds and recited the Greek myths and legends by heart. She summarised Shakepeare’s plays and created new stories about Oberon and Titania, Romeo and Juliet. Ours was a constant dialogue about fairies and goblins, love and hate, about why the sky was blue and why knowing the difference between homophones was so important.
She also taught me to crochet, to make toffee (messily) and how to ignore the housework. On Saturday afternoons, Granny made toasted jam sandwiches that I ate with my bedridden grandad while we watched the horseracing. The times I spent with my granny and grandad were magical, filled with learning and love, and I treasure the memories.
Granny was my first female inspiration and to this day, I can still hear her voice and smell her Yardley’s lavender perfume. She was intelligent, funny and talented with a wicked sense of humour. She was a loving mother and grandmother, she was strong and independent, brave and generous.
When the going got tough, Granny would remind me: Sometimes you have to pin your knickers to your vest and go out and face the world. (This started with an incidence where knicker elastic had actually failed her, but became an analogy.) And with life’s ups and downs, I have learnt that she was right.
Granny passed away when I was 15 and I miss her every day. I wish she was here to see that I’m a published author and to meet my husband and children, to stay in my home and come on dog walks with us around beautiful South Wales. Time is so precious and, sadly, ours together ran out.
One way I keep my memories of Granny alive is by making some of my characters a bit like her. For example, Aunt Mary in Summer at Conwenna Cove is like my granny in many ways.It’s my nod to the wonderful little woman who taught me so much. I feel lucky to have known my granny and to have had her in my life.