Monday, 30 June 2014

Love Letters to the Dead - Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the DeadLove Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. 

Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. 

Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.'

I have found this book really tricky to review. I really wanted to read and review this book and asked for it to be sent from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The cover of this book really drew me into it and I had heard so much about it. From reading the blurb it sounded really interesting, I loved the idea of reading a series of letters and enjoy that writing style. However I felt that for me Love Letters to the Dead, did not live up to my expectations.

The Story starts with Laurel being asked to write a letter to a dead person, this sparks her off on writing lots of letters to dead people. Laurel has been through a trauma with her sister May dying and uses the letters as self help.

Unfortunately for me I felt the letters were not written as well as they could have been and ended up being presented in more of a diary style of writing, rather than letters. At times I found it difficult to understand why she was writing to different dead people and took a while for me to make the connection. I feel that in a way it would have been better to have stuck to only one dead person to have written to, instead of many.

At times I was a little unsure of how old Laurel was meant to be, at times, things that were written seemed for a character a lot older such as 16, however there were other occasions when I felt her voice was of one of those from someone a lot younger, which would also link in with her age of 14.

I felt that Laurel to me was not a likable character and I had to force myself to actually take an interest in her, the book itself is relatively short, however at times I felt that it was being dragged out.

There are many emotions present in this book, all of which I feel are dealt with very well. I did find the book a rather depressing one, which I was a little disappointed with. What did make me want to continue the story was the 'secret' that Laurel was also bottling up, I wanted to get to the bottom of it.

There are some wonderful lines in the book and the description at times really draws you in. These are two of my favourite. I loved this description of when Laurel is with Sky.

'It was then I could feel that moths in him, with their wings so paper - thin, will never be near enough to the light. They will always want to be nearer - to be inside of it.'

And when Laurel is remembering times with May:

'I saw her fairly wings come out. I saw them trying to flutter to keep her up. To take her back. But I'd broken them. I saw the wings like tissue paper break off and float into the sky as she fell.'

Overall I did enjoy the story and think that there are some beautiful passages in it. However it didn't capture me in the way I had hoped. I did think it was depressing at times, not all the letters Laurel writes are sad but the emotions take you on a roller coaster of a ride. I can see why people are getting excited about this debut author as she can definitely write well. This is a thought provoking read, that may help you deal with grief, love and friendship.

I would recommend others to read this, and I thank the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Love Like The Movies - Victoria Van Tiem Blog Tour

Love Like The Movies 
Victoria Van Tiem
Published by: Pan Mac
Published on: 19th June

When it comes to finding her leading man, will it be Love, Actually or a Runaway Bride?

Kenzi Shaw has her life scripted out down to the last line - the career she's building as an up-and-coming marketing exec, the gorgeous fiancé (Bradley) she'll marry in a fairytale wedding, the children they'll raise in her dream home. But when heart-breaking ex Shane comes back into her life, life starts going off the script . . . Shane tries to win Kenzi over by re-enacting all the rom com movies they used to watch together - Sleepless in Seattle, Bridget Jones' Diary, Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing to name a few. He's just a guy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to trust him again. But has he really changed? Not only is her head in a spin over Shane, but now her job is on the line. And with her perfect sister in law showing up every tiny thing Kenzi does wrong, she feels like she's permanently in the corner. Should she risk her sensible life for the chance of a Happy Ever After? One thing's for sure, when Shane meets Kenzi (again), she's suddenly not so sure just who her leading man is . . . Victoria Van Tiem, like her protagonist, is an artist, a gallery owner and a former creative director, with a background in marketing and brand development. Love Like the Movies is her first novel.


'Just because I haven’t picked up a brush in a while doesn’t mean I’m not an artist. I still . . . well, okay, I haven’t been to the art museum recently either. It used to be my weekly ritual. I do miss that. And I miss working on the pottery wheel. I loved turning sludgy brown clay into something beautiful.

And I do still watch romantic comedies. I have no problem incorporating these into the concept; I just didn’t know there was a movie theme. I don’t need to live the moments with him in order to do that. Who does he think he is?

I lift my phone, click on the e-mail app, and glance again at the one Shane sent. He’s titled it the Love Like the Movies list.

1. Sleepless in Seattle

2. Pretty Woman

3. Bridget Jones’s Diary

4. 27 Dresses

5. Dirty Dancing

6. Sixteen Candles

40 Victoria Van Tiem

7. Love Actually

8. Say Anything

9. You’ve Got Mail

10. My Best Friend’s Wedding

He hasn’t specified any particular scenes. Is he going to just randomly choose one from each movie? I’m not even sure I understand what he’s proposing. I roll over, hugging my pillow to my side, while my mind scrambles recalling each movie.

Pretty Woman has a multitude of great scenes. There’s the shopping one. The polo match with the polka-dot dress. I love that dress. She looks so pretty, and the hat? The hat makes the whole look. Why don’t people wear hats like that anymore? Oh, the opera, and the fancy dinner with the “slippery little suckers.” Does Shane remember that I hate seafood?

Once when his grandparents came for a visit, they took us out for lobster. Shane tried not to laugh at my expression as I forced a few bites down. A tiny, secret excitement flitters around with the memory. Guilt quickly yanks it down with a heavy thud.

Shit. Everything’s getting all mixed up between movies and memories.

I flip on the TV to force everything from my mind, then my phone rings, startling me. Bradley. Finally. I thought he’d call hours ago.

“Hey,” I say, and immediately yawn. I can tell he’s in his car. I’m on speaker and can hear myself in an echo.

“Hi, hon. I wanted to make sure you got home okay. Sorry if I woke you.”

“No, I’m still up. Got home safe and sound.” I turn down the volume. “You just leaving Champps?”

“Um, yeah, Clive and that Rand Peterson kept knocking ’em back. I wanted to make sure Rand got a cab, and I just dropped off Clive.”

He always looks out for everyone, always has their back. He’s going to make a great dad. Mental images of Bradley coaching Little League pops to mind. All Shane knows is boxing.

“What about that Bennett guy?” I ask without thinking. “You mean your ex?” Oh. Shit.

“The one you didn’t bother to tell me about? Now I get why you seemed off in the meeting.” His voice is controlled, but sharp. “Here’s the thing . . .”

I’m sitting in my bed, both hands clutching the phone, eyes wide.

“You could have told me, and I have to wonder why you didn’t.”

“Okay.” I stand and flip on a light. “I didn’t know until he was there today. I was completely blindsided. It was a shock. And then tonight—”

“Tonight, I sat right next to you.” I’m pretty sure his hand is off the wheel and gesturing as he talks. He always does that when he’s irritated. “It was just us, and you didn’t say—”

“Bradley. He was in the bar. You guys were entertaining his team.” I’m pacing, my stomach knotted up tight. “You told me my job depends on this account. That we might have to delay our wedding! What the hell was I supposed to do? Tell you right

there . . . and then what? What if you got angry?” Silence.

I plop back on the bed, and fall back so my head bounces on the pillow. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to do, okay? But I was going to talk to you about it when you called.” I wasn’t even thinking about it, to be honest. There’s a twinge of guilt.

“Guy’s kind of a tool, if you ask me,” he says quietly.

“Yes! He is, right? I mean, your research was dead on. And the way he just took over the meeting? What was that?” My shoulders drop with relief. I think he can see my dilemma in not saying anything. I think everything’s okay.

“He’s an ass, but we need his account.” There’s a slight lull.

“Tonya seemed to like him.”

I sit straight up again. “What?”

“Yeah, she left right after he did. You know what that usually means.”

I know exactly what that means. The knot inside pulls tighter. Tonya doesn’t leave early. Ever. Not when she’s the only girl, the center of attention, and there are potential deals to be made.

She wouldn’t. There are rules about exes, clearly stated girl-world rules. “Um, I don’t think Tonya and him hooked up. We all went—”

“You all went to school together. He’s your ex from college. I know. It was fun hearing all about it from them. And I’m still pretty sure they hooked up tonight.”

His words jab. I don’t know what to say. “I’m sorry, okay?” And I am. “Why don’t you stay here tonight? I have on that silky boxer set you like,” I lie, but I could change quickly enough. I’m actually in terry-cloth Hello Kitty pajamas that Ellie bought me for my birthday last year.'

Follow Victoria -

Twitter: @vtiem

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Inspiring Blogger Award

Wow What can I say? I was chuffed to be nominated for this award, not once but twice by fellow book bloggers, so thank you it means a lot! Firstly I was nominated by Margaret over at bleachhouselibrary  and then again by Tracey over at crimereaderblog

My blog has been running just over a year now and during that time I have discovered many new and exciting authors, I perhaps would not know about if it hadn't been for me setting up my blog and becoming a book blogger. 

I have also met some wonderful people through Twitter and also in real life! One of the biggest events that have happened during this year is attending Sunlounger launch party; here I was able to meet some fabulous authors and other book bloggers that I had chatted to online for almost a year! 

Unfortunately although this was not the only launch party I had been invited to, due to my ill health this year it was the only one I have been able to attend. I am hoping that I continue to get invited and in the new future I will be able to attend a lot more. 

I have also participated in blog tours (before I started my blog I had no idea what these even were!) and have made many friends in the publishing world. I enjoy working with each and every one of you! Thanks for having me on board! 

The best thing about being a book blogger is to hear others have read your blog and it has helped them select their next read. The best moment I  had was when an author asked me what the name of my blog was, I told her and she told me she knew it! My little old blog!!!


The rules of the award state that I should share 7 things you may not know about me, and list 15 other blogs I find inspiring. To find 15 other bloggers that have not already been nominated maybe a little tricky as I think this has been around for a while now, so please just go with it! 

7 things about me you may not know 

1. I have visited 26% of the world (very proud of this fact!)

2. I play the flute (not done for about 12 years but I still know how to produce a note!)

3. I have worked as Cabin Crew 

4. I have my belly button pierced (I know so '90's)

5. I have a degree in Fine Art

6. I am a trained manicurist

7. I LOVE Cats!!!! (My current cat is just coming up to being 22!!!)

15 Inspiring Blogs
In no particular order:

So there you go, I have only nominated 10 bloggers, however I am hoping they haven't been nominated before. If you have I'm sorry guys!!!

Hope you have enjoyed this post and look forward to hearing what you think!

Weekly Wrap Up - Week 6

Welcome to another weekly wrap up! It's a day early (I know) but I am participating in a really exciting blog tour tomorrow so have moved this post to Saturday. Next week it will be back to a Sunday. I have had an interesting and good week. I have found out that I am able to go back to work part time beginning next week, so my reading habits may change due to this. After having 6 months off though I am excited to be able to finally be able to get back to some normality. So because of this I have decided to change the way I am wrapping up my week as I will have less free time to read now.

I am just going to break down the books I have managed to read and if I have received any/ bought any.

As you can see I have been very lucky this week and won many giveaways!!!

This week I have been sent:
Don't Tell the Boss by Anna Bell, which was a from a Goodreads giveaway. 
Beyond Grace's Rainbow, Carmel Harringron won from a blog giveaway
That Dark Remembered Day, Tom Vowler won from a blog giveaway
The Fever by Megan Abbott, sent from the publishers 
Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer, sent from the publishers
Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant, sent by the lovely Trish
Your Beautiful Lies by Louise Douglas, sent from the publishers 
A Place For Us by Harriet Evans, sent from the publishers
First Sight by Danielle Steel, sent from the publishers

This week I have bought: 
The Twins by Saskia Sarginson
The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson
Close my Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

Books I have read this week:

Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey (Finished from last week)
Just in Case by Chrissie Manby
We Were Liars by E.Lockhart
A gift to remember by Melissa Hill (currently reading)

Books read this month:
As this is going to be the last weekly wrap up of the month I thought I would document all the books I have read:

The Wrong Knickers
This Song will Save Your Life
The No Kids Club
I am the Secret WAG
Love Letters to The Dead
Two Weddings and a Baby
Just in Case
We Were Liars
A Gift to Remember

This month I have managed to read 8 books and one novella, I am quite proud of this as it works out as just over 3 days per book. 

All these books I have read I have reviewed, look out for the reviews on The Book Corner soon.
What have you received/bought this week?

How much reading have you managed to get done? Leave me a comment below to connect. 

I hope you all had a great reading week and thanks for stopping by today.

Friday, 27 June 2014

A Dark and Twisted Tide - Sharon Bolton

A Dark and Twisted Tide (Lacey Flint, #4)A Dark and Twisted Tide by S.J. Bolton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Former detective Lacey Flint quit the force for a safer, quieter life. Or that's what she thought.

Now living alone on her houseboat, she is trying to get over the man she loves, undercover detective Mark Joesbury. But Mark is missing in action and impossible to forget. And danger won't leave Lacey alone.

When she finds a body floating in the river near her home, wrapped in burial cloths, she can't resist asking questions. Who is this woman, and why was she hidden in the fast-flowing depths? And who has been delivering unwanted gifts to Lacey?

Someone is watching Lacey Flint closely.

Someone who knows exactly what makes her tick . . .'

I had not read any of Sharon Bolton’s previous books, however I enjoy crime/thriller books so thought this would be right up my street.

Lacy Flint has left a detective team and has moved to the river police team, she spends most of her time at the Thames in London; she finds a body in the river and suddenly finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Lacy who wanted a quiet life has realised that this may not be the case for a while.

The characters are well developed and snippets from previous novels are evident, this helps to create real and believable characters. I enjoyed that I did not know what was going to happen in the story or who the culprit was, this shifted throughout the story, which kept my interest alive. The story is full of suspense which is exactly what every good thriller needs.

I did enjoy the book, however I felt I lacked background info and the last few chapters seemed a bit weak, this could have been as I had not read any others from this series, however saying that after reading this and on the strength of Bolton’s writing style I would be keen to read more from this author and go back to catch up on this series. This can be read as a stand-alone book as the stories differ, but for continuity and for the characters relationships to become easily followed I would suggest the series is read in order.

Sharon Bolton is very quickly becoming one of my top thriller and crime writers, the only reason I have not given this 5* is down to the fact I have not read the previous stories in the series and I felt I would have enjoyed it more and had a richer reading experience if I had.

I would like to thank the publisher again for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

25 Hours, 50 Awesome Offers!!!

This is just a quick post about something I wish to share with you all. There are so many great books out lately, that you are probably thinking that you wish you could afford to buy them all. Well here comes a solution!

 Over at the Book Depository on the 1st July they are going to be holding an offer every 30 minutes!!! This offer will allow you to save up to 60%!!!!

So What is the 25 hour offer?

The Book Depository has limited stock of 50 great titles over 25 hours. Each half hour they will be offering one of these at a superb price with up to 60% off RRP and free delivery worldwide. Each title is for sale for 30 minutes only or until the stock runs out. The campaign will run from 1st July 9am BST to 2nd July 10am BST.

Make sure you check it out and please go through the banner on The Book Corner blog as this will enable me to run more international giveaways. 

Thanks so much for reading this post and remember to bookmark 1st July and come back to check out all the great offers! It is going to be an exciting day!!!

#sunathon Week Long Read-a-thon

From the 21st to the 27th July, book bloggers from all around the world will be taking part in #sunathon. 

What is #sunathon? Created by Emma Louise (EmmaIsWriting), for that particular week in the gorgeous sun (or rain in you’re in the UK), we’re going to read. It doesn’t matter how much you read, as long as you make time for reading. 

There are a lot of people around the world who are blind to the magical world books and it’s a shame. More of us should read. This is a week long read-a-thon: Monday-Sunday because a lot of book bloggers have full time jobs and they squeeze reading in between. 

Use #sunathon to follow book bloggers around the world talking about it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the UK, America, Malaysia or Germany – it’s about us all coming together to read.

Make sure you follow each other, cheer one another on. Who knows maybe next year, we’ll be back? You can tweet along your book journey and at the end of it all, blog about what you read and what you’re going to read next. 

So the only thing that is left to do is decide on a TBR for the week... This is going to be coming very soon! I would love to know if you are going to be participating in this read-a-thon so leave me a comment below if you are and what you intend to read. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

New Author Project

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If you love reading contemporary romantic fiction with a little twist, then meet
Linn name header
An author who will often make you wonder, 'what if?'
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Hit Lit Pro is proud to be supporting and promoting ten fabulous authors whose books are creating quite a stir! Throughout the next year we will be bringing you all the latest information and news about their books.

What does Linn write? Love, life and beyond ... but it's ALWAYS about the romance!

Linn and tiggs

Bristol born Linn lives in the UK, in the small village of Lydbrook. It sits on the edge of the spectacular Forest of Dean; she resides there with her adorable husband and cat with attitude – Mr Tiggs!

Linn loves to write romantic novels, but there is often a psychic ‘touch’ to her stories. Many of the paranormal events that feature in some of her books are real-life experiences.

Linn is also the creator and editor-in-chief of the Loveahappyending Lifestyle magazine (LLm) and was the winner of the 2013 Festival of Romance Industry Award for Innovation in Romantic Fiction (Author). She is also a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She is the author of four novels, one true story and three noveSappire_New_Smallllas. Signed by HarperImpulse and US publishers Sapphire Star, Linn began writing in 2009.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had an interesting and varied career. After twenty years working in finance I spent several years renovating properties for pleasure. During that period I worked part-time for a local Estate Agent. That’s where I encountered quite a few negative ‘presences’ that I found quite disturbing at times. I’ve had many psychic experiences over the years and my earliest memory as a child is one I cannot explain. Fortunately, most of the experiences have been uplifting and happy moments. I always knew I would write romance, but psychic romance was a surprise! I often receive emails from readers who connect with an incident in one of my novels. Sometimes I’m the first person they choose to share a little experience of their own with and that has been truly inspiring for me. But at the heart of each of my novels is that search for a soul mate, the pursuit of true love.

My aim is to give my readers that 'feel-good' feeling, but also to throw in one or two things to make them stop and think 'what if?'

I’ve been writing full-time since 2009, but before that I had three very enjoyable years as an interior designer … so I suppose I’m just a typical Gemini – grabbing life and enjoying every single moment!”
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Find out more about Linn,
who loves readers to get in touch :
And follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all
Linn's latest news:

  We'll be posting about:HitLitPro sml * How to become a no. 1 fan and we'll put YOU in the spotlight * Competitions to win free ecopies of some great books * How to join in and send us your reviews to air on our new FB page * 'Ask the author' will allow you to discover more about the stories you will read and love and MUCH more to come! If you can't wait and want to get involved in supporting our fabulous authors, then email Suzanne Carlisle at    

We'll be sending out Tweets and posts to keep you up to date and make sure you don't miss a thing!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

One Hundred Proposals - Holly Martin Exclusive Chapter 2!!

Thanks for all heading back today to continue reading the fantastic book by Holly Martin! Today I have been able to publish chapter 2 for you all to enjoy!!!

Chapter Two

I woke the next day with a start, being quite simply torn from a dream about Jack – a memory of playing with him on the beach as he tried to put wet seaweed down my back. As I became more conscious, the loss of losing him hit me all over again.

I knew immediately that someone was in the room with me. I was face down on my pillow and I leaned up and swept my curtain of tangled brown hair off my face. Harry was sitting next to me on the bed, sipping his coffee and reading my very dog-eared copy of The Hobbit.

I scowled at him. I wasn’t a morning person.

‘Do you not knock?’

Harry’s attention didn’t even waver from the page he was reading. ‘You gave me a key.’

‘I could have been naked.’

He put his book down and looked at me. ‘All the more reason for me not to knock.’

I blushed and climbed off the bed.

Most mornings I woke to this. I must admit, it was a lovely way to wake up. One night, after these early morning visits had become more regular, I went to bed in my sexiest lingerie in the hope that the following morning he would come in and be so turned on that he might immediately ravish me. But not only did he not even bat an eyelid when he saw me in my black, satin nightie, he was more excited about his McDonalds breakfast and the free hash brown he had been given by the girl flirting with him behind the counter than what I had to offer. To add insult to injury, as I tried to arrange myself subtly into a sexy pose on the bed next to him as he chomped through his Bacon and Egg McMuffin, I had simply slithered off the bed into a crumpled heap on the floor. Nowadays it seemed much easier and more comfortable to sleep in my regular pyjamas.

Harry handed me a coffee fresh from the café round the corner. I took a sip – it was made exactly how I liked it, with three sugars and a dash of hazelnut syrup. As I went to take another sip, I realised that a small heart had been drawn in the froth on the top. I smiled and hovered near his side, peering round him to the brown paper bag I could see tucked by his hip.

He was busy reading so I coughed loudly to gain his attention. When he glanced up, I looked deliberately at the bag.

‘How do you know this is for you?’

‘Because you always bring me nice things from the café. What is it this morning, an apricot Danish, ooh a walnut plait or…’

He whisked it out the bag and showed it to me, and the words dried in my throat. Iced into the top of my favourite cinnamon swirl were the words ‘Marry Me.’

I had almost forgotten about this silly hundred proposals thing. I’d hoped he’d forgotten as well. But now it looked like he really did mean to torture me. One hundred days. One hundred different ways to break my heart.

I looked at him and he was watching me hopefully.

‘It’s certainly unique.’ I took the bun from him, and picked a currant out of it, averting my gaze from his. I forced my voice to sound normal before I spoke again. ‘If I bite into this am I at risk of swallowing a diamond ring?’

He shook his head. ‘No ring. You said a ring was clichéd. Besides, why propose with diamonds when you can propose with cinnamon and coffee?’

‘You should take a picture of it before I eat it. Put it on the blog.’ I had a huge lump in my throat.

‘Good idea.’ He whipped out his phone, pressed a few buttons and pointed it in my direction. I held it out for him to get a good angle and realised my hands were shaking. Harry realised it too. To my shame, tears swam in my eyes.

Harry was off the bed in a second. ‘What’s wrong, what’s happened?’

‘Nothing, I’m fine. Just tired.’ I stepped away from him but he pulled me back, holding me tight and squashing the bun between us. I breathed him in, his wonderful earthy smell as he started to stroke my back.

‘Did something happen with Tiny Tim?’

I couldn’t keep up with the lie any longer and it had achieved nothing anyway.

‘We broke up,’ I said into his chest, hoping that would explain why I was soaking his shirt with my tears.
‘Oh honey, I’m sorry.’ His hand moved to my hair and my breath caught in my throat. ‘Had you been seeing him long?’

Oh what a tangled web we weave.

‘A few weeks. It wasn’t serious, but I really liked him. But obviously I liked him more than he liked me.’

‘Well then the man’s an idiot. Who wouldn’t love a girl in a cow print onesie?’

I giggled.

He tilted my face up to look at him.

‘Right, enough tears. Any man who makes you cry is not worth it.’

If only he knew.

‘Anyway, I have a day out planned for you today, so stop moping around and get yourself showered and dressed.’

He released me and we both looked at the squashed bun. Although it looked a bit worse for wear, the words ‘Marry Me’ were still very obvious on the top. Harry took a photo and I quickly ate it so I wouldn’t have to stare at the empty words any longer. It tasted good, despite the fact that with every mouthful my heart broke a little bit more.

‘So, as proposals go, is this what you imagined for yourself?’ Harry asked, when it was gone.

‘Undoubtedly. The perfect proposal. So you don’t have to bother with the other ninety-eight different ways now. Write on the blog that you bought me a cinnamon swirl and I caved. I’m a cheap date, easily pleased.’

Harry pulled a face. ‘It was a bit cheap and naff, wasn’t it? Ok, for my next one it will be something huge.’
‘Really, the cinnamon swirl was cute… and don’t underestimate the value of cute.’

But Harry was already walking away into the office, scrolling through his phone as he went.

‘Harry, are you listening? Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a personalised cinnamon swirl.’

‘Get in the shower, woman, I need to make some calls.’

I sighed. I had to sway him from this path. Ninety-eight heart-breaking days stretched ahead of me like an endless desert, with no respite from the sun.

I got in the shower and stuck my head under the stream.

No, I could do this. Proposals were my entire waking life. My dreams were plagued by them too. Something like this could only be good for business. I just had to become immune to the words. They were empty and meaningless. And now I knew that I was to expect it every day, I could prepare myself for it, pretend in my head the words meant something else.

I got dressed quickly and walked into the office.

‘Hey.’ Harry was busy typing. ‘Our blog has nineteen followers already.’

‘Our Proposer’s Blog? This hundred proposals malarkey?’

‘Malarkey? I’m offended.’ He smiled up at me briefly before returning his attention to the screen. ‘Yes, I guess they want to see what I come up with next.’

I leaned over him to see what he had written and caught a whiff of his wonderful clean earthy smell. There was the close-up picture of my squashed bun, and another picture I hadn’t realised he had taken – of me eating it, my hair a full bird’s nest, my face red and blotchy from the tears, dressed in my rather unflattering cow print onesie. Great!

Under the picture was Harry’s blog.

Proposer’s Blog

Day 2: The Cinnamon Swirl Proposal. Location: Suzie’s bedroom (I assure you, nothing saucy going on here).

Is the way to a woman’s heart through her stomach?

Our Suzie McKenzie has a very sweet tooth and so I thought to charm her with a sweet proposal of her own. Nadia’s Bakery, St Patrick’s Road makes the best Cinnamon Swirls in the world and it’s one of Suzie’s all-time favourite things to eat for breakfast. So when I explained the situation to the lovely Nadia this morning she was more than happy to provide me with a personalised one along with a heart-topped latte.

So what was Suzie’s reaction? She seemed a bit blasé about it actually. Wolfed it down and barely registered the words.

That wasn’t true of course, but it was better he wrote that than writing that I burst into tears.

I always thought those proposers that pop the question with a ring at the bottom of the champagne glass were silly – who wants to fish the diamond ring out of the toilet a few days later? Though now Suzie’s eaten my proposal, there’s nothing left of it apart from the icing on her lips.

I immediately checked my lips and I saw Harry smirk out of the corner of my eye.

Next time, I will do something grand. Something she can’t possibly miss. Plus, who would really say yes over a 59p Cinnamon Swirl?

‘That makes me sound shallow,’ I said, squeezing past him to log on to my own computer.

‘Not shallow, just greedy. And don’t bother logging on, we’re going out.’

‘I can’t, it’s our busiest time of the year, you know that. Three days before Valentine’s Day, all those last minute Larrys will be phoning us up for support.’

‘I’ve already diverted the calls to your mobile and you can still pick up your emails, besides today is completely work orientated – we’re sourcing new locations, so stop making excuses and get your boots on.’

When I hesitated, he grabbed my hand and pulled me out the office.

I laughed. ‘Where are we going?’

‘First stop, we’re going to buy you some decent pyjamas, so the next boyfriend won’t be scared off by seeing you in that onesie.’

I stopped dead and when he turned to look at me, his eyes were kind.

‘Jack bought it for me,’ I said, quietly.

‘I know.’

‘I’m not getting rid of it.’

‘I’m not saying throw it out. But I know Jack, he had a wicked sense of humour and you know as well as I do that he bought it for you as a joke because you used to take the piss out of onesies and people that wore them. You know that he never intended for you to wear it at all let alone every day since his death. If you want to keep it, keep it. All I’m talking about is options. Something else you could wear that would show off that fabulous figure of yours.’

I opened my mouth to protest as the last words he said slammed into my brain. Fabulous figure?

He moved his hands to my shoulders and when he spoke his voice was soft.

‘I know you’re trying to keep your brother alive, keep him close, but he would be cringing if he could see you wearing that thing and you know that. Keep him close with your memories of him, not by compromising who you are.’

I blinked. That was very profound for half nine on a Thursday morning.

‘I’m just saying, the Suzie McKenzie I know and love wouldn’t be caught dead in something like that.’

‘I think it’s funny.’ I knew I sounded like a petulant child.

‘Yes, for about five minutes after you opened your present – it’s not quite so funny eight months later.’

He had a point. I’d washed it so many times that the white patches were now grey and the udders were looking decidedly limp.

‘And while we’re on the subject. You can stop wearing black as well. We’re not in the Victorian times anymore.’

He pulled me into the bedroom and I followed, still in shock over his brutal honesty. He opened my wardrobe and pulled out my favourite scarlet jumper dress. ‘You can wear this today with those purple leggings.’

They would clash horribly. I smiled

‘And you can wear them with those Barbie pink boots you love so much and…’ He rooted around in one of my drawers, finally found what he had been looking for, pulled it out and thrust it into my face. ‘This. You’ll wear this.’

‘But –’

‘No buts. Get changed. You have five minutes.’

I stared after his retreating back and then down at the black shirt and black trousers I had put on out of habit. In the months after Jack’s death my taste in bright and garish clothes had seemed disrespectful somehow. Was one month too soon to return back to my colourful spots, stripes and swirls? Was two months? But now it had been eight months and I had seemingly been wearing black ever since. My bright clothes even seemed to have a thin layer of dust on them as they hung forgotten in my wardrobe. Harry had a point. Again.

I came downstairs a few minutes later, dressed in my purple leggings, scarlet jumper, pink boots and my red and gold spotted sequinned beret that I adored and Jack hated because he said I looked like a toadstool. I felt lighter already.

Harry grinned when he saw me. ‘You look beautiful.’ He offered me his arm. ‘Now let’s go.’

I leaned into him and walked out into the early morning sunshine.


‘No way. I’m not doing that,’ I said, staring at the scene before me in horror. ‘There’s nothing romantic about that.’

‘Who says proposals have to be romantic?’ Harry said as he bent down to forcefully remove my boots.

‘It’s the rules. Flowers, fireworks, chocolates. A stuffed teddy with the words emblazoned across a red heart. Not this. Never this.’

‘I disagree.’

‘You would,’ I said as Harry pushed me gently but forcibly forwards in the queue.

‘I think proposals can be weird, funny or in the case of this little adventure, adrenaline filled.’

I was next.

‘If I die –’

‘I’ll wear a cow print onesie to your funeral. Now get up there.’

My phone rang in my pocket.

‘Oh I have to get that, shame I’ll miss my turn.’

But to my annoyance, Harry had already wrestled my phone from my pocket and had answered it. He was more than capable of dealing with our customers and he knew I knew that.

‘Are you going or what, love?’ asked a big gruff man whose face looked like it had been punched several times. His nose was bent in two places and he had a huge scar across his forehead. Had he sustained these injuries doing this? I shrunk back but Harry pushed me forward.

‘Yes she is, and send her as high as you can.’

The man nodded, somewhat evilly I thought.

I climbed the steps to my doom and they attached thin rubber cables to my harness. I kept my eyes on Harry as the man bounced behind me for a few seconds, causing me to bounce as well. A moment later I was propelled some ten feet into the air, a scream tearing from my throat. I fell back to the earth but no sooner had I touched the ground than I was sent back into the air again, this time even higher than the last.

We had been walking along the Thames when the sounds of screams had attracted us. As we rounded the corner, we saw the bungee trampolines and watched with amusement as we saw people screaming, being bounced higher and higher in the air. My amusement had quickly turned to horror when I realised Harry had paid for me to have a go, and that we had come here deliberately for this reason.

I screamed again as I flailed in the air, kicking my legs helplessly in the hope that it would slow my descent. Each time I thought I was going to crash into the ground, I came to a slow stop, bounced gracefully off the trampoline and was propelled back into the air again. As I was thrust into the air for the fifth time, a bubble of laughter escaped my throat. It was a rush – a terrifying, brilliant rush. The man bounced with me, sending me higher, and I roared with joy.

All too soon the experience was over, and the man slowed me down and stopped me. He unhooked me and I quickly clambered down the steps and ran straight into Harry’s arms, still laughing uncontrollably.

Finally my laughter subsided.

‘Thank you.’

‘You’re very welcome,’ he said, into my forehead. ‘You see, at this point, while your heart is still pounding furiously and with the grin plastered on your face, I would propose.’

‘And I would say yes.’

I felt him smile into my hair.

‘So one we can definitely add to our repertoire?’

‘Yes, I take it all back. I love it.’

‘They’re not here all the time, but the guy is going to give me his card as they go all round the UK. We can phone them up if need be and find out where they are.’

‘Excellent, it’s great to get contacts like this.’

‘Are you ready for the next part of our day?’

I pulled back, intrigued. ‘There’s more?’

‘Yes.’ He chivalrously picked up the bag containing the pyjamas he had bought me earlier. Very simple, very elegant satin pyjamas. I’d liked the black but Harry put his foot down and we’d eventually agreed on a dusty rose.

‘Was the phone call anything good?’

‘I’ve emailed over to him our basic package.’

I sighed. ‘That’s the fourth today.’

‘Hey, the basic package is a good little money earner. You know – on average – half the customers that buy the twenty pound package from us, come back and spend ten times that on a big extravagant proposal.’

‘I know, but at this time of year I kind of expect to get more big proposals rather than so many basic packages.’

Harry was right, we earned quite a bit from our basic package. For twenty pounds, we sent our customers a brochure of our top fifty proposals. Ideas ranging from the romantic to the ridiculous, top class restaurants to tiny little tucked away cafés strewn with fairy lights. We included days out, fun experiences and romantic getaways. We also included vouchers for discounts and special offers at these hotels and restaurants and if our customers went there, we also got ten percent of their final bill from the companies for introducing our customers to them in the first place. It also gave brief details of more elaborate proposals, something only we could organise, with the promise of a refund of the twenty pounds if they were to book one of the grander proposals with us.

‘Romance isn’t always about big gestures though,’ Harry said. ‘Sometimes it’s the words the man finds or the effort that he has gone to. It doesn’t have to be something expensive.’

‘I know that, the smaller gestures are sometimes the best, a message written in the sand on a favourite beach or a personalised cinnamon swirl.’ I nudged him as we walked along the road and he smiled. ‘But from a business point of view I’m not sure people paying us twenty pounds to send them to propose elsewhere is the best idea. They could spend a hundred pounds or more at these posh places. That’s a hundred pounds they could have spent with us.’

Harry switched sides with me and I wondered why as he put himself between me and two men who were arguing, placing his hand on the small of my back as he nudged me round them. I felt embarrassed by the goose bumps that suddenly exploded over my body at his touch.

Harry continued on as if he hadn’t noticed my heart leap out of my chest. ‘Most people have in their mind what kind of proposal they want to do before they contact us. For most of them it would involve some kind of romantic meal, so they’re not likely to spend their money with us anyway. By providing them with a list of romantic places to eat, not only do we get the twenty pounds but also any kickbacks from the restaurants too. We’ve probably earned more money from the basic package than we have from the big proposals – so I wouldn’t knock the smaller gestures if I were you. Come on, through here.’

Harry ducked into a tiny alleyway that wound round the corner out of sight. He knew London like the back of his hand and very rarely went on the underground. There was always so much more to see when on foot. I followed him, his hulking frame almost filling the alley wall to wall. The walls were covered in graffiti and chewing gum, but some of the pictures sprayed on the bricks were very skilful. As we came to an old boarded-up window, he stopped and as I drew near he pulled me to his side, with his hand at my waist, sending delicious shivers down my spine.

‘There’s a place called Bubblegum Alley in California, and a Chewing Gum Wall in Seattle, where millions of pieces of gum have been stuck on the walls. It’s so bright and colourful that what started as something gross has now been declared an official tourist attraction. People travel from miles around to see it and to add their own gum to it. Some have even created little works of art amongst the thousands of globules.’

He stood back a bit and pointed to the wall. There in a heart made from pink chewing gum were the words ‘Annie, marry me,’ also made from chewing gum.

‘Love can be found in the most unlikely of places, you just have to look for it.’

He stared down at me and for a moment I wasn’t sure if he was talking about him, or about me and him.

‘It doesn’t need to be about romance, just little heartfelt gestures.’

I smiled. ‘I wonder if she said yes.’

Harry pointed to the green letters written in globules of chewing gum underneath the heart. In big proud letters, the word ‘Yes’, stood out.

‘I like it.’ I grabbed my phone from my pocket and took a few shots. I had to put this on the website.

‘I knew you would.’

‘You see, I don’t need big gestures, so whatever you have planned for our next proposal, it doesn’t need to be a big yacht or a trip to the moon.’

He walked away, heading towards the sunlight that was piercing our gloom.

‘I’ll cancel the space rocket then.’

‘Harry, I’m serious. Don’t waste your money on me.’

He ignored me as we stepped out into the sunlight. He was incredibly generous with his money and he had a lot of it. He didn’t get a very good salary from me but he didn’t really need it. Years before, whilst travelling around America, he’d had the foresight to invest in a tiny little up-and-coming online social media site called Connected. He’d given a thousand dollars at the time, money he had won at a casino, and years later, when Connected had been the biggest social media site in America and probably the world, he had sold his shares for a huge sum. He’d never told me how much he got from that little endeavour. But it was enough that he could afford the huge house on the other side of the green from me, bought when the property prices had plummeted. And he always seemed to have enough money for little gifts and meals out.

‘Spending money on you is never a waste. And we’re running late now so we’re going to have to run.’

He grabbed my hand and started jogging through the streets, winding his way expertly through the other people.

‘We could catch the tube,’ I whined, as I tried to keep up with his long-legged pace.

‘Running’s much more fun,’ Harry said, without breaking his stride.


The Glade at Sketch was like nothing I’d ever seen before. With its white bricked front, Sketch looked like a simple townhouse – and we’d actually walked past the place before we’d

realised it was there. But down the darkened staircase and to the left, a tranquil wooded glade had been transported from some fairy tale forest to this seemingly unassuming restaurant in central London. Trees covered every wall and surface, the leaves of which were painted in every shade of green and gold imaginable. A huge chandelier dominated the ceiling, casting delicate lights over every surface from its tangle of branches. Tiny gold fireflies danced around the walls and floor. Mirrored panels near the roof moved slowly, catching the light from the huge sun roof above us and sending its rays across the room as if the sun was moving through the trees. Wicker chairs, tables and sofas with huge green embroidered cushions were placed casually throughout the room as if they were garden furniture and we were all just simply sitting out in the garden somewhere, enjoying the sun.

‘Harry Forbes, we have a reservation for afternoon tea.’ Harry said to the beautiful waitress who looked like a woodland nymph with the plaits and twists in her hair, and her floaty dress.

The waitress showed us to our table and we quickly placed an order for tea. Breakfast tea for me, something that sounded like a rare tropical disease for Harry.

‘Harry, this place is beautiful.’ I couldn’t stop looking around, until my eyes met with his and I realised he’d been watching me. ‘Thank you for today.’

‘My pleasure. I just wanted you to have some fun. You’ve been so down lately.’ He paused, awkwardly, while he rearranged the cups on the table. ‘The food here is amazing.’

I reached across and squeezed his hand. ‘Thank you.’

The afternoon tea arrived just as Harry was poised to say something else. I reluctantly let him go so there was room for our cake stand on the table.

Harry was right, the food looked and tasted amazing. The sandwiches were all topped with extras like quail eggs and caviar, bringing a simple egg mayonnaise sandwich alive with an assault of different flavours.

There was an array of cakes, all tiny, mouth-watering bites of pure pleasure, some kind of trifle and of course delicious fresh fruit scones.

‘So tell me,’ Harry said around a mouthful of something chocolaty, ‘Tiny Tim, did you and he…?’

Oh God, Tiny Tim was going to come back and haunt me forever.

I picked up some kind of pink meringue that literally dissolved as soon as it touched my tongue. I licked my lips as I played for time.

‘Did we what?’ I smirked as Harry shifted uncomfortably, waving his hands around in what I presumed was some kind of representation of the act. The man had no problem discussing his sordid sex life but he was still awkward when discussing mine. I wanted to play him at his own game.

‘He liked to dress up,’ I said as I popped some kind of fruit tart in my mouth. The fruit was crystalized and was like an explosion on my tongue.

Harry’s eyes widened. ‘Like air hostess, police woman, cheerleader, that kind of thing?’

I shook my head. ‘Lots of different things really. One of my favourites was dressing up as a unicorn and he was a lion. He liked to take me from behind and he would roar when he came.’

Harry stared at me, his face unblinking. I picked up a tiny coffee éclair and caught the eye of a tiny little old lady sitting at the next table, her fruit tart poised halfway to her mouth. I blushed, realising she had heard every word.

Still, there was no going back now.

‘He liked to dress up as one of the flower pot men, Bill normally, I’m not sure why. I was always the flower, Weed. Then Bill would come at me with his big hose.’

The old lady leaned over to me. ‘Dear, do you have the name of the shop where you bought these costumes?’

‘I don’t I’m afraid, Tim always brought them with him. I will miss his big hose.’

Harry was still staring at me. ‘I didn’t realise you were into all that weird stuff.’

I licked the icing off the top of the éclair and popped it in my mouth, trying desperately to suppress my laughter but it was to no avail. I snorted so hard that a bubble of snot burst from my nose and I quickly had to wipe it away on my beautiful cotton serviette.

‘You’re joking?’ Harry looked almost relieved.

‘Of course I am.’

‘So you guys… didn’t…’

‘It’s none of your business. Just because you like to talk about all your sexploits, doesn’t mean the rest of us do.’

‘That’s a ‘no’ if ever I heard one.’ He smiled smugly. I wasn’t going to let him get away with that.

‘It’s a ‘yes’ actually, but it was just regular sex.’ I wanted to expand on that, regular sex sounded so boring. ‘Well as regular as three hour sex marathons can be. He had the stamina of a horse. We’d do it all over the flat. On the dining table, up against a wall, in the shower, in the kitchen, on top of the washing machine, backwards, forwards, sideways, doggy style.’

The old lady choked on her fruit scone.

‘Sideways?’ asked Harry.

‘Yes. You should try it, it’s great fun. Can you pass the sugar?’

I stared down at my tea. Sideways, how exactly would that work?

‘Tell me about your plans for the summer. You said you were thinking about going to New Zealand.’

Harry recovered himself well. ‘The land of the hobbits. I would love to. Maybe hire a camper van and drive from North to South. There’s so many things I want to do, but it’s more fun doing them with someone else.’

‘Sexy Samantha not keen?’

‘She’s definitely not the camper van sort. She’s more of the ‘five star hotel with daily spa treatments’ kind of girl. We should go.’

‘I would love that, I want to see the world, every tiny little pocket of it, but no girlfriend of yours is going to be happy about you taking another woman off on holiday. Sleeping together in the back of the camper van.’

 I blushed as Harry’s eyebrows shot up. ‘I meant actually sleeping – not having sex.’

The old lady leaned in closer again, ready to catch the next instalment in my sex life.

‘I should hope not,’ Harry said, his tongue licking seductively up the side of his éclair. ‘I don’t have a lion costume.’


I sat back and watched the gold fireflies chase each other up the walls. I was so uncomfortably full, but everything was so hard to resist, that I’d had to eat it all.

We’d had a lovely time, chatting all afternoon, but one of the main topics of conversation from the other guests was the toilets and how funny they were. I had to check them out myself.

I excused myself from the table and, following the directions of the woodland nymph waitress, I walked through another restaurant to a very white room on the other side.

The stairs leading up to the toilets were a brilliant opulent white – looking like they led to somewhere much grander than just some toilets. I walked upstairs to a brightly lit room, the ceiling decorated with beautiful rainbow tiles, but as I reached the top I stopped in my tracks. Several pods sat in a white chamber at the top of the stairs, looking like white cocoons from an alien spaceship. They were about seven foot tall and tapered off like eggs at the top.

I looked around for the toilets but there was nothing else up here. On the other side of the room were several more pods. These pods were clearly the toilets and were obviously the reason for such amusement from the other guests.

I opened the door on one of them, expecting to hear some kind of space age whoosh and was slightly disappointed when I didn’t.

Inside was the weirdest toilet I had ever seen. There was no seat at all. I walked in and closed the door behind me. It was obviously some foreign kind of toilet where you stand. A long ceramic oval hung from the wall jutting out at the bottom to catch the waste. I stared at it – how on earth was I supposed to pee in that? Backwards seemed the only safe option. With a bit of negotiating I pointed my bum in the right direction and leaned forward into a sort of half squat. I quickly finished and after redressing I left the pod, dying to tell Harry about the very weird toilets. He was standing right outside and looked shocked to see me coming out of one of the pods.

‘What?’ I said

‘These are the boys’ toilets.’

I laughed. ‘No they’re not, the waitress pointed me up these stairs.’

‘Yes, the girls’ pods are over there.’ He pointed to the other side of the stairs where several pods were bathed in pink lights in comparison to the pods where I was that were bathed in blue.

Harry peered over my shoulder and burst out laughing. ‘Did the urinals not give you a clue?’

I looked back and gasped in horror. I had just peed in a urinal. Now he had pointed it out to me it was obvious. It wasn’t some weird foreign type toilet at all, just a bog standard urinal. I felt my cheeks glow crimson.

‘I’m intrigued. How exactly did you manage to pee in there?’

I quickly hurried to the sinks and washed my hands. ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’

I heard Harry go into one of the pods, his laughter so loud I could hear him from the outside.

To see the rest of the story pre –order your copy of One Hundred Proposals now.

Once again I would like to thank Holly for letting me publish this chapter on The Book Corner.