Monday Merry Meet: Jennifer Page

Hello June! Warm weather has arrived and so have the tourists. Visiting witches, tea connoisseurs and those stumbling down Black Cat Alley because fate has intervened are making the small shop busy. Rosa is in her element socialising, Willow is hiding (creating) in the workshop and Amber is plotting hexes to make the annoying customers disappear.

One visitor she isn’t planning on turning into a toad is today’s author for Monday Merry Meet, Jennifer Page. She’s her to chat about her debut novel The Little Board Game Café, board games and of course, spells.

So grab a cuppa and enjoy!

Monday Merry Meet: Jennifer Page

Willow: Welcome to our shop, Jennifer. Ever since we knew you were coming, we’ve been chatting about our favourite board games and even played a few during our lunch hour after we discovered Amber had never played any. Ouija boards didn’t count.

Ouija board

It wasn’t as relaxing as expected as we are all quite competitive. And Vincent discovered a new delight in swiping pieces to the floor when we weren’t looking. Cats and chess don’t mix.

Rosa: Nor do teenage witches, as they have a tendency of setting fire to things in a temper when they lose.

Amber: Ignore them, Jennifer. It was only once. What can I get you to drink? We have many bespoke tea blends, including Yorkshire tea, coffee, a cosy hot chocolate or something chilled.

Jennifer: Tricky decision. Yorkshire tea is my usual choice but a hot chocolate is tempting. Would there be marshmallows and whipped cream with that? If so, I’ll go for the hot chocolate please.

Amber: Hot chocolate isn’t hot chocolate without those.

Mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows
Luxury hot chocolate

Rosa: Your book, The Little Board Game Café is in my favourite genre, romance and is set in the best location, Yorkshire. Why did you choose Yorkshire as your setting, and did you always plan to write a romantic novel?

Jennifer: Initially I planned to write a dating memoir, rather than a novel. I did internet dating for over 12 years after getting divorced when I was 35 – I just couldn’t meet the right person. I could have done with one of your spells! I met and married my husband, Hermi in 2017, and a literary agent advised me to write a novel, rather than a memoir. Romance was the obvious choice, as I’d just found the love of my life. Sorry if that sounds a bit cheesy!

And we live in Yorkshire, near the quirky town of Hebden Bridge. I’ve loved Hebden Bridge for years and always wanted to move here so it felt natural to base my novel here – although I’ve given the places fictitious names and changed them quite a lot. It’s inspired by this area, rather than actually set here. Also Hebden Bridge has a strong sense of community and I really wanted The Little Board Game Café to have that too.

Chess pieces on a board in front of an open ifre

Amber: Board games play a wonderful role in your story. Are you an avid fan of them? Are there any board games you’d recommend for us to try?

Jennifer: I’m a huge fan of board games. When I first met Hermi, he asked me for a second date but said he couldn’t meet me for a week because he was too busy. It turned out he was playing board games every evening and at the weekend, too. He has a huge collection of them. Fortunately I discovered that I loved playing them almost as much as he does and barely a day goes by when we don’t play a game or two.

And as for games that you might like, well, since the cats didn’t like chess, how about trying The Isle of Cats? It’s got lots of colourful cats in it and it’s such a fun game. There’s rats in it too – they’ll like that. Or Cat in the Box which is a really great card game, and there’s a new game out called Boop which features cats and kittens – I haven’t tried it yet but it’s really cute.

And how about two games about making potions? Quacks of Quedlinburg is a brilliant game and suitable for children too, and Potion Explosion – another fun one and it comes with its own marble dispenser.

 Willow: They sound fantastic, thanks. If we could conjure up your ideal accompanying players, who would they be? Since magic is involved, they could be people from the past, present or fictional.

Jennifer: I wish you could conjure up my dad. He died two weeks before Hermi and I got married. He really enjoyed board games like draughts, chess and Scrabble, and I’m sure he’d have loved the games we play.

Willow: This novel is your debut. Congratulations. We keep seeing rave reviews for it on social media. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Jennifer: My publication journey was a bit unusual. In March last year, I was thinking about submitting my book to agents – that was my book Love Letters on Hazel Lane which is not coming out till next year – and I saw a tweet about the Books for Ukraine auction where a professional editor was offering a feedback session on the first three chapters of an unpublished novel. I thought that was an ideal opportunity to get some feedback on my work before submitting it, so I bid in the auction and won. The editor asked what else I was writing and I told her about The Little Board Game Café and she asked to see the full manuscripts of both books and offered me a two-book deal a few weeks later.

The only thing I’d change is I wish I’d started writing fiction sooner. I was lonely in those years of being single, even though I had friends. Through writing the books and being published, I’ve discovered a wonderful online community of readers and other authors, and everyone has been so supportive. I really feel I have found my tribe and I wish I had found them sooner.

Rosa: We hear that a lot from visiting authors. Writing and book tribes seem to be a supportive bunch. We’re nosy and love to hear about writer’s routines. Are you a plotter and do you have specific rituals to get you into the zone to write?

Jennifer: I usually wake early – about 6 am. I make a huge mug of strong tea, and sit on the sofa in my dressing gown for a couple of hours before Hermi wakes up. Those early mornings are my most productive time. I am a mixture of plotter and pantser; I can’t plot without writing at least some of the novel because I need to get to know the characters. If that makes sense – they kind of reveal themselves through the writing.

Amber: Most people who regularly catch up with our Monday Merry Meets know I’m a secret writer. Do you have any advice for new writers?

Jennifer: My biggest piece of advice is to be persistent, with both the writing and the whole submission process. It’s really hard to keep going because there’s that little voice in your head – well, I have one in my head anyway – that tells you you’re not good enough and then you get rejected by agents or you read a bad review, and that voice gets even louder. So my second piece of advice is, don’t listen to the voice!

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range, which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Jennifer: Please, could I choose confidence? I’m not a very confident person – although I know I sometimes appear confident, but that isn’t the same thing at all. It would be nice to have a little more confidence and not worry so much that things might go wrong.

Rosa: When lit one candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day? Where would it take you?

Jennifer: That’s too hard. I feel very lucky as I try to come up with an answer to that question as I realise I’ve had a lot of lovely holidays and a lot of lovely days too. I think I might have to go with the day I met Hermi. It wasn’t a perfect first date by any means – he’s shy so initially it was a bit awkward. I got a migraine partway through and felt very nauseous at one point. But we looked round a fantastic exhibition at the V&A and then another one next door at the Natural History Museum, and then we had a coffee together and we talked and talked and talked.

Illustrated comic style ghosts with purple and blue background

Amber: Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium. Have had had any spooky experiences – has it ever influenced your writing?

Jennifer: I’ve never seen anything but I’ve certainly felt things, and, as a child, I never liked being alone in my grandparents’ house – or even going upstairs on my own – because I always thought it was haunted. And after my grandma’s funeral, the lights went on and off a few times, and even my mum was freaked out and she doesn’t believe in things like that. Has it influenced my writing? Not yet, but it’s about to! It’s top secret though, so I can’t say any more than that at this stage.

Rosa: That sounds intriguing. If the witches could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Jennifer: What I’d most like to be able to do is talk to my dad. To tell him how happy I am with Hermi – I know he’d have been relieved about that as he always worried about me after my first marriage ended – and to show him the novel. He’d have been really proud.

Willow: Our enchanted bookshelf is dedicated to books with magical, paranormal or fantastical elements to them, either fiction or non-fiction. What book would you add to it?

Jennifer: Perhaps you already have one, but I’d love there to be a book about angels. I used to work on the TV programme Songs of Praise and I made an episode about angels once; I heard some amazing stories. There was an angel story on the Uncanny podcast recently too. I’d love to think that there really are angels out there and would like to read about people’s real-life experiences of them.

Amber: A new podcast for me to follow thanks. On the Enchanted bookshelf we have some fictional angel related books including Angelology by Danielle Trussoni, The Indigo Chronicles by NJ Simmonds and Regan: Snatcher of Souls by Rebecca McDowall. If it has a reshuffle and finds more I’ll let you know. Many books are hidden from view.

Rosa: Your book is already in my box of romance. What other book would you add to it?

Jennifer: Is The Book Lover’s Retreat by Heidi Swain in there already? I read that last week and I really loved it. Becoming Ted by Matt Cain is another favourite, not least because it features a Polish man; Hermi is from a Polish family as, of course, is the character Ludek in The Little Board Game Café.

Rosa: The Book Lover’s Retreat is fab isn’t it? Heidi Swain popped in to chat to us previously so we had to pre-order. I’ve just downloaded Becoming Ted, thanks.

Willow: And finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Jennifer: I’ve just finished editing my second novel, Love Letters on Hazel Lane, which comes out on 4th January. It’s about a woman who is obsessed with Scrabble.

Willow: Thank you for popping in and good luck with your writing.

Bright book cover for The Little Board Game Cafe by Jennifer Page. Small cafe with people sitting outside playing games.
The Little Board Game Café by Jennifer Page

Book Title: The Little Board Game Cafe

Author: Jennifer Page

Publisher: Aria

Genre: Romance

Release date: 13th April 2023


‘An absolute delight from the very first page to the delicious end!’ Faith Hogan
An irresistible story of love, friendship and the power of games night, perfect for fans of Holly Martin and Christie Barlow.

When Emily loses her job, house and boyfriend all within a matter of days, she’s determined to turn a negative into a positive and follow her dream of running a small cafe in the gorgeous Yorkshire village of Essendale.

But she quickly finds she’s bitten off more than she can chew when the ‘popular’ cafe she takes over turns out to secretly be a failing business. Emily desperately needs a way to turn things around, and help comes from the unlikeliest of places when she meets local board game-obsessed GP Ludek. But when a major chain coffee shop opens on the high street, Emily is forced to question if she’ll ever be able to compete.

Has she risked everything on something destined to fail? Or can a playful twist, a homely welcome, and a sprinkle of love make Emily’s cafe the destination she’s always dreamed of?

‘A heart-warming romance perfect for curling up with. I absolutely loved it’ – Kitty Wilson

Author Biography

Photo of Jennifer Page
White woman, dark brown long hair. Green top.
Jennifer Page

I’m Jennifer Page, I live in the beautiful West Yorkshire countryside and I write cosy romance novels.

I was 8 when I wrote my first novel. It was called Natureland and was about ponies, because I was obsessed with ponies until I discovered boys. I wrote Natureland in a school exercise book, covered it with sticky back plastic in true Blue Peter style and gave it to my mum to send to Puffin Books. (She didn’t – she thought it was too special to part with!)

45 years later, and my first ‘proper’ novel, The Little Board Game Café, is finally being published.

During those 45 years, I learnt to speak Dutch, taught music in various primary schools, directed a few operas, produced several episodes of BBC Songs of Praise and lived on a narrowboat.

I live in an old Yorkshire farmhouse near Hebden Bridge with my husband Hermi and his very large collection of board games. When I’m not writing and playing board games, I love cooking and caravan holidays.

Social media links:


Facebook: author page –

Facebook group:

Twitter: @jenpagewrites

Instagram: @jenniferpagewrites

TikTok: @jenniferpagewrites

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Book Review: Summer Wedding by Sarah Morgan

Summer is here when you see a Sarah Morgan summer release. Rosa has been a huge fan ever since she fell in love with the Snow Crystal trilogy years ago and eagerly awaits the summer and winter releases.

The arrival of an advanced copy of Summer Wedding made her day. Scroll down to see if it hit all her high expectations.

Book Review: Summer Wedding by Sarah Morgan

Book cover for Sarah Morgan's Summer Wedding. A vibrant turquoise background, yellow brush stroked font with an illustration of Corfu with a bride in a boat sailing towards it.
Summer Wedding by Sarah Morgan

Title: Summer Wedding

Author: Sarah Morgan

Publisher: HQ

Genre: Romance

Release date: 25th May 2023


A family wedding
Catherine Swift is a bestselling romance author, but her personal story hasn’t been quite so successful; three failed marriages have left her relationship with her daughters strained. Engaged once again, Catherine is counting on this wedding, at her villa in Corfu, to finally bring the family together.

A summer of secrets
Adeline can’t believe her mother is getting married for a fourth time, or that she’s expected to attend. It brings back the pain of her mother’s infidelity and the baby who was the result. Not that she blames her half-sister Cassie, but then she’s never tried to know her, either. Cassie, on the other hand, is thrilled by her mother’s news – she’s always admired Catherine’s resilience, and is excited to meet the mystery groom. Cassie also has a secret of her own, and a summer in Corfu will give her the time she needs to process everything.

A chance to start over again
As the guests arrive on the island, and the big day approaches, Catherine begins to reveal secrets from her past, and suddenly both Cassie and Adeline realise that they don’t know their mother at all . . .

Thoughts from the Emporium

Summer Wedding is another summer hit from Sarah Morgan whose descriptions of Corfu with hidden coves, warm sea and blue skies transported Rosa to enjoy the Mediterranean heat while being immersed into the lives of Adeline, Cassie and Catherine.

Catherine, a romance writer knows all about love and attempts to bring her daughters back into the family and heal wounds. Written with depth and heart, Rosa loved all the women who each have their flaws and she whizzed through the book to see if they'd get the ending they all deserved.

The two sisters complex relationship means they have become estranged and the reasons why were revealed using three points of view. It was interesting to see how the three women’s perspectives melded together and consequences of decisions made in the past created different childhood experiences impacting their own adult lives.

It is always fun to read about writers in novels especially romance authors and feels like your are getting an insight into the authors mind and publishing industry.

This heart warming, emotional exploration sibling relations and love set in a delicious environment make it an ideal summer read and holiday escape. It’ll be a well loved story in Rosa’s Box of Romance.

Book Review: Summer at the Ice Cream Café by Jo Thomas

The first of two reviews today is Summer at the Ice Cream Café by Jo Thomas. When this book arrived in Rosa’s Box of Romances courtesy of Random Things Tours, Rosa couldn’t wait for the bank holiday weekend to relax and read. Last year, she discovered Jo Thomas’ Retreat to the Spanish Sun (review here) and fell in love with her style.

Scroll down to see if this year’s summer novel reaches her high expectation.

Book Review: Summer at the Ice Cream Café by Jo Thomas

Summer at the Ice Cream Café by Jo Thomas book cover. Very cheery it shows a seaside coastal town in the background, a seagull flying with an ice cream, and a pink and blue open beach hut selling ice cream. There is a woman in a pink dress on the seashore eating ice cream.
Summer at the Ice Cream Café by Jo Thomas

Title: Summer at the Ice Cream Café

Author: Jo Thomas

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: Romance

Release date: 27th April 2023


A dream home
Beca Valentino is ready to escape the city. When she sees the perfect house for sale in her hometown, it seems like fate. Is this her chance to build the foster family she dreams of, on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast?

A big mistake?
Returning home isn’t as easy as she thought, however. Her family’s beloved ice cream café is gone – turned into a soulless wine bar by her hateful ex-boyfriend. Reconnecting with her oldest friend, fisherman Griff, isn’t straightforward either. And when, instead of the children she expected to take in, two wary teenage boys appear on her doorstep, Beca fears she’s made a terrible mistake.

A recipe for change
But an old family recipe book is just the inspiration she needs. Soon, with a little help from friends old and new, Beca is selling mouth-watering homemade gelato from a pop-up café on the beach.

Then disaster strikes. Will the Valentino family legacy be lost forever? Or can Beca create a new recipe for happiness?

Thoughts from the Emporium

Jo Thomas has a knack of throwing the reader into the story from the first page and this was no different. Part of this talent is the relatable characters and observations but the other is the setting. Her vibrant descriptions bring the location alive and in this instance, it was Beca’s new home, Ty Mawr and the farm including the dairy and the cove. Within pages, Rosa could feel the sea breeze, the cold water lapping over the shore and experience the farm life. It was a setting to fall in love with and it was refreshing to be in Wales rather than the popular Cornish coast.

Rosa could feel Beca’s heartbreak when she realised how much had changed in the village since she left home, and empathised with her desire to capture some memories while leaving others behind. It subtlety highlighted the effects of second homes and holiday lets have on small communities popular with tourists.

While there was a romance bubbling along throughout, it was the relationship between Beca and the foster children that stood out. Joe was a child that will always be remembered and it was a joy to watch him and Blake flourish in the environment despite the emotional twists and turns. As with the location, there is always a strong connection with food in Jo Thomas’s novels and the mouth-watering descriptions of the Valentino’s gelato made Rosa reach for the ice cream in her freezer and smother it with toppings. As this was an advanced copy the included recipes were missing but she will buy her own copy to rectify this.

Summer at the Ice Cream Café is a beautifully written, emotional and evocative read that is an ideal summer escape about healing the past, discovering a new future and love in all its forms. Just stock up on ice cream before you start or be prepared to search for an ice cream van or parlour.

Not only does this romance deserve place in Rosa’s box of Romance but will also sit on her forever shelf for future rereads. Based on her recommendation Willow is eagerly waiting for an audio copy for Mrs Marley to listen too. With sea, ice cream and characters to love, it promises to be an equally beautiful listen.

Author Biography

Jo Thomas

Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first for BBC Radio 5, before moving on to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show. Jo’s debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller and won both the RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the Festival of Romance Best eBook Award. Her recent book Escape to the French Farmhouse was a #1 bestselling eBook and in every one of her novels Jo loves to explore new countries and discover the food produced there, both of which she thoroughly enjoys researching. Jo lives in Pembrokeshire with her husband and three children, where cooking and gathering around the kitchen table are a hugely important and fun part of their family life

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Monday Merry Meet: Isabella May

Beltane blessings to you all! Not only are we on a high because we now have a newsletter you can subscribe to if you want book and Emporium gossip arriving sporadically into you inbox by clicking here, it’s time for today’s Monday Merry Meet.

We are thrilled to have author, Isabella May visit us all the way from Spain. Isabella writes romance novels with more than a hint of cuisine about them. They are impossible to read without the taste buds tingling and craving the book’s chosen delicacy from chocolate, custard tarts to ice cream. Reading them requires a prepared banquet which adds to the experience.

So grab a cup of your favourite drink and enjoy the chat.

Monday Merry Meet: Isabella May

Rosa: Welcome Isabella. I’m so excited you’re here. As a huge fan of romance and food I adore your books. Come through to the back. Hopefully you’re ok with cats. Vincent is refusing to move from the sofa as a patch of sunlight is warming it.

Isabella: Hi Rosa, Willow and Amber! Thanks very much for the invite and lovely intro, and no worries… I ADORE cats. Vincent is a cutie 🙂

Amber: Hi Isabella. What can I get you to drink? We have a selection of blended teas, Yorkshire tea, coffee, hot chocolate but as soon as I knew you were coming, I mixed up some cocktails including one created for May Day, Beltane Berry Bliss.

Isabella: Well, how can I refuse a cocktail with that name? And my birth month is May too, so even more perfect!

Rosa: My mum has made a selection of bakes too including Portuguese pastel de nata and a pavlova so help yourself.

Isabella: You do realise I might now move in…

cake stand full of cakes

Willow: You’ve written ten books and about to release your newest one Spin the Bottle shortly. You describe them and foodie romance journeys. Did you always intend to write these or was it serendipity?

Isabella: Writing a series was never part of the plan! I only ever saw myself penning a single book when I started out. I had a burning desire to turn a personal situation from the past into a fictional story that hopefully highlighted the red flags of a toxic relationship to others who might be facing similar circumstances, or who might suspect a friend, or a family member was suffering in similar circumstances. It was always a bit of a risk because it was an unconventional romance novel with a dark side, but I am proud of the debate it unearthed, albeit on a small scale.

So, Oh! What a Pavlova was my first novel, and food only came into the equation because it kind of sums up the female protagonist’s private life – plus she has a very sweet tooth and uses baking as an escape. But it took me 7 years to put the book together! It felt like a giant sewing project, as if I was stitching together a patchwork quilt. However, once my debut was published, I soon got the writing bug and my then publisher asked me ‘what next?’ I had a good think and decided to use the ‘what if’ question that writers are often encouraged to pull out of their toolbox.

‘Pavlova’ was part set in Glastonbury, but it was written from the point of view of a woman who was trying to flee the place (and a bad relationship). Having spent 27 years of my life in the town, that felt one-sided and unfair. It’s an amazing place with such a unique energy! It’s also home to family and friends. So, I decided to flip book 1 on its head and write The Cocktail Bar (not strictly a foodie title but the series strapline ‘foodie and drinkie romance journeys’ is a bit of a mouthful!). The question that enabled all of that to happen was ‘what if a cocktail bar opened in Glastonbury High Street?’ Glastonbury has two very distinct sets of people: the hippies with their alternative pursuits and the locals with their cider and skittles. Aka. there is no place for fancy and expensive cocktails! Ex-rockstar turned mixologist, River Jackson was born, and the story wrote itself very quickly. In fact, it was this book that showed me I could write a romcom in 6 months, and this book which quickly inspired myriad mouth-watering titles to form a very long queue.

Looking back, I think you are right. It was serendipity. Often, we can’t see any more than the next step on the path before us, but we keep following our intuition and gradually a picture starts to take shape.

Silhouette of woman typing at a desk

Willow: We love hearing about author’s writing journeys. How has your been and would you change anything in hindsight?

Isabella: Like The Big Dipper rollercoaster at Blackpool. There are many elements I would change if I had the power to re-create my story but I have had to choose to believe that despite the heartache, everything has happened the way it should. Oh, my goodness, though. Where to start?

I have always been obsessed with books. As a toddler I would sit on the potty for hours with a massive pile of picture books at my side, earning me an equally massive red ring mark on my podgy bottom! I was a huge fan of the Richard Scarry books when I was little. I loved all their fascinating and funny sub-layers and could gaze at those illustrations for hours, inventing stories of my own for the anthropomorphic characters in his world. Some of that has definitely seeped into my storytelling. Then during my teens, sadly I went off books big time. Too many exams, too much fun to be had with friends… and, erm, boys.

My university course saw me spending half a year working in the dictionary department for a prestigious German publisher in Stuttgart. I didn’t know it at the time, but this window of work experience would open a massive door for me upon graduation when I applied for a job as European Sales Manager for a novelty and board book publisher… and, amazingly, got it! I stayed in the industry selling foreign rights for children’s books for over a decade – in every language from Icelandic to Korean and Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento. I attended many worldwide book fairs and travelled all over the place to visit my publishing clients. It was a dream career.

In my early twenties, I developed a passion for Mind Body Spirit books and travel books. With all those hours spent on planes and at airports, prior to the days of social media, I needed something to do besides duty free shopping! Occasionally, I would indulge in a little fiction and I loved all of Marian Keyes and Joanne Harris’s offerings. Then friends began to lend me books and bit by bit my hunger for great stories reappeared. Yay!

Next, I escaped a terrible relationship, met my wonderful husband, and had babies. Sadly, our second baby was stillborn 😦 It was, as you can imagine, a hideously dark time in our lives. The publisher I worked for at that time treated me abysmally. I took them to tribunal and won but things were never quite the same after that and it all seemed to coincide with the big publishers buying out the small publishers so the heyday of foreign rights was over and I didn’t want to go back. I dabbled with a small foreign rights agency of my own but my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to write my own stories. I’d sold other peoples’ for so long!

When we moved from Gloucestershire to Spain because my husband got a job offer in Gibraltar, I started to scribble down dialogue and ideas for my debut, in-between feeding my rainbow baby. And then, as if by magic, I heard about two writers’ groups that were taking place near my house. But I only plucked up the courage to go to them after a chance meeting with E.C Wilson, who just happened to be at an ex-pat mums and babies group I attended, where I just happened to quickly but quietly announce that I was in the process of writing a book… and lo and behold, Emma-Claire’s eyes were on stalks (but not in the usual you-utter-weirdo-we-should-be-talking-about-nappies-and-baby-puree way that I’d become accustomed to on the scant few occasions when I dared share this) because it turned out she was doing the very same thing! How we laughed. We couldn’t believe our luck to have found one another.

That was in February of 2015, I think. It took until September for us to walk through the door of the venue of our first writers’ meeting together! I am so glad we did because that’s where we met Lorraine Mace, the crime and thriller author whose brilliant creative writing course we both went on… where Natali Simmonds/N.J Simmonds was waiting for us! As the youngest members of Lorraine’s tutelage, we became instant friends, and, not long after the course wrapped up, Emma-Claire invited us to join her in setting up an online women’s magazine called The Glass House, where we wrote blogs as three very different avatars, whose personalities have definitely shaped our very distinctive books…

Fast forward another couple of years and ‘Pavlova’ was complete, getting me a deal with a small independent publisher. I wrote them another two books… and then said publisher decided to focus on crime and thrillers. I got my rights back and assumed since I had great reviews and a loyal and wonderful readership, that I was now a catch for the bigger traditional companies. I subbed book number 4, The Ice Cream Parlour, and ate many tubs of ice cream myself as the rejections piled up. It was so disheartening! The agents and editors were all so lovely. But they all said the same things ‘you write beautifully but we’re not sure how to market you/your storylines are just a bit too busy.’ My mental health took such a hit. I couldn’t contemplate changing my voice to that extent. It felt like selling my soul and I wasn’t prepared to do it, especially when readers enjoyed my stories. It made no sense. I wanted to shake the industry. It felt deeply unfair too. I had sold millions of books via trad in my former career… and this was how it repaid me? To say I had a chip on my shoulder at that time was a bit of an understatement!

But I picked myself up, dusted myself down and decided to self-publish, taking my destiny in my own hands. Many of my former book buddies from my time with the small publishing house had started to do well with indie publishing and they were super encouraging and full of advice, so I knew it was a viable path. Every second book that I wrote though, I would (gahhhhhhh!) find myself following the carrot dangle of traditional publishing… again. Let’s face it, when trad works out, it works out beautifully. Most of us write our debuts with that monumental dream in our hearts: 1 x top agent, 1 x big 5 publishing house, 1 x three book deal and advance, a shiny badge of honour emblazoned across our super sleek trade covers, and a heart-stoppingly exciting option for a film or TV deal, not to forget that little cherry on the cake: translation into a gazillion languages. Set for life.

The reality is, this rarely happens… and even when it does, the success can be short lived.

I wish I had fully embraced self-publishing sooner but I suppose I had to have the wobbles and second thoughts and one last attempts in order to do just that. Now I can stand tall(ish) – I am only 5ft 2 – and proud as an indie, because it turns out that the path of self-publishing can be just as, or even more, lucrative. This is an arm of publishing where six and seven figure authors abound; an arm of the industry where authors have enough money to live on, and their pay cheques mean they can leave their day jobs and make a decent living through their backlists. And all of this can happen on an author’s own terms, with no compromise on creativity. For me, it’s win-win and I have stopped looking back.

The group of people that has truly made all the difference to me is 20Books. This is an indie-publishing Facebook group run by the most generous, supportive and inclusive people, and full of the most generous, supportive and inclusive people. I have worked in the publishing industry for 24 years and I mean that wholeheartedly. There is no competition, we all root for one another. It’s like coming home. Family. My involvement in this group has been a complete gamechanger. 

Last year they brought a self-publishing conference to Madrid. That certainly felt like serendipity! This year it came even closer to me and was held in Seville. I was very blessed to attend both. The friendships made and leading-edge knowledge learned has been invaluable, reconfirming I am on the best path for me and that the potential for great things to happen with my books is limited only by my imagination. There is literally nothing that can’t be achieved. Indies have the world at their feet and I am so excited to call myself one.

Rosa: Your Cake Fairies has a fantastic premise.  Do you enjoy baking yourself or do you leave that to your characters? What is your favourite go to bake?

Isabella: I am never happier than when baking. For me it’s meditation in action and I love whipping up new treats, however, I have a very flavour-fussy family and I live in a country where its often difficult to source ingredients from one shop! But once I have got my head around those obstacles, I go through phases of cake creation. That said, yes, my favourite bake is a classic Victoria sponge. It’s just unbeatable and pairs beautifully with a cup of tea.

Black and gold teacup and sponge cake

Amber: I’m not allowed to ask the question I wanted to ask so I’ll ask this instead. Your new release is based on the game Spin the Bottle. If you played this with your characters, who would you want it to land on?

Isabella: Ha ha! That is a GREAT question. Love it. Well, I might once have said River Jackson from The Cocktail Bar… but I am currently halfway through writing my winter romcom, Christmas at the Keanu Kindness Café, and I have fallen head over heels for the luscious Joe, who we meet in chapter two when he is dressed as a Nutcracker at a bierkeller birthday party. Sadly, River is now history!

Rosa: You live in Spain which must have some wonderful places to sit and write. Do you have a favourite place to write and set routine?

Isabella: There are so many beautiful places to write here but I have had to be very disciplined and realistic with my craft as an indie author. If I can’t get the words down at my desk on a day-to-day basis, then I am going to be spending a lot of money on retreats! Occasionally I will reward myself with a cafe writing session though.

Willow: From curses, hexes and time travel your books have always have a mystical twist. So we need to ask you a question we always ask, have you had any paranormal experiences and have they influenced your writing?

Isabella: I grew up in Glastonbury so I am sure the leylines have had a huge influence on my stories. I did once experience a ghost at Dunster Castle in Minehead, Somerset – via my friend who has been seeing them all her life. Let’s just say I got my Scooby Doo legs on and I haven’t been back since!

Amber: I was a secret writer but since starting Monday Merry Meets, most people know. Do you have any advice for new writers?  

Isabella: That’s so exciting! I am brimming with advice for new writers (and always happy to be contacted). In terms of getting the story down, don’t beat yourself up on a slow day when the words won’t pour onto the page. We all have them and you can’t force the story out. Sometimes it needs time to marinate in your mind and it almost always turns out the better for that.

In terms of the publishing process once your book is ready, educate yourself big time on the merits of indie publishing and traditional publishing, then make your choice. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but the good news is, we have so many more options open to us now as writers and when one door closes, an even bigger one can open…

Willow:  The Enchanted Emporium sells a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range, which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Isabella: These sound fabulous and I bet they smell fabulous too. Could I have A Good Night’s Sleep, please?

Rosa:  When lit one candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day? Where would it take you?

Isabella: The gorgeous Tuscan countryside, feet dipped in a pool, gelato in hand!

Amber: If Willow or I could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Isabella: Ooh… how to choose? Although I have been a Pranic Healer since I turned 40, and it has been the privilege of my life to help others with physical and psychological conditions over the past 6 years, how wonderful it would be to have 24 hours to teleport myself to as many people in need as possible with a magic wand containing an immediate cure. I’d do this with my PH friends and we’d cover as much of the world as possible.

Willow: That would be amazing and what a fantastic thing to do. Our enchanted bookcase holds books with mystical or fantastical elements. Both non-fiction and fiction. What book would you add to it?

Isabella: The Nothing Girl by Jodi Taylor. It’s utterly enchanting.

illustrated row of books

Rosa: What book would you add to my Rosa’s box of Romance?

Isabella: I can highly recommend The Three Great Loves of Victoria Turnbull trilogy, written by my indie author friend, Isabella Wiles – A Flame Unburned, A Promise Unmade and A Star Unborn. Sorry, that’s more than one book, I know, but really it is one giant story and, oh, my goodness, it is book club-style romantic fiction at its very best! I have devoured every word in the past couple of months and when I was in Seville with Isabella at the 20Books self-publishing conference in April, she gifted me a signed copy of the prequel novella too, so I am currently immersed in that. PS. the female lead used to be a dancer so there are frequent refs to ballet and theatre. I have a hunch you would enjoy it!

Amber: Finally, now we’ve demolished all the food, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Isabella: So… I have mentioned the Christmas book, and I’ll do a cover reveal for that soon. I am also writing a spin-off trilogy featuring three of the female characters from Oh! What a Pavlova. I would love to get one of those out by the end of the year but I’m moving house in September. Still, all the covers are done and a third of book 1 is written, so hopefully I’ll pull it off. I have also pre-designed my covers for 2024’s summer and winter romcoms, and I have decided on the titles and storylines. I am trying to be much more organised, although I doubt I will ever convert myself to plotter as opposed to pantser once I am in front of the keyboard!

Willow: Good luck in your writing and have a lovely birthday, Isabella. It was lovely to meet you.

Book cover for Spin the Bottle. Green background with yellow font saying Spin the bottle. An illustrated pink heart with a yellow arrow through it. A glass bottle with lid to the right hand side
Spin the Bottle by Isabella May


CELESTE thought she had long forgotten the sweet, citrusy kiss she shared with TRAVIS during a game of spin the bottle. Splitting her time between her accounts office in super Instagrammable Notting Hill, and her tiny apartment in quirky Exmouth Market, modern-day life is simply too busy for men. Besides, whenever she tries to find The One, it always ends in disaster. From Tinder tragedies to trampolining tribulations, Celeste is starting to think that she’s cursed.

But then Travis begins to pop up wherever she goes, and Celeste knows with stomach-sinking clarity that fate has finally caught up with them. Inspired by the idea of fake dating, Celeste is convinced the only way out of this mess is to call the curse’s bluff. But will Travis agree to it? And how can she manage not to fall in love?

Pour yourself a lemonade and escape with this gorgeous will-they-won’t-they rom-com set between London and Gibraltar!

Author Biography

Photo of Isabella May. White woman brown eyes smiling. Long light brown hair wearing several chunky bracelets
Isabella May

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up in Somerset on Glastonbury’s ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her romcoms.

Isabella is also a Level 4 Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.

You can follow her Foodie Romance Journey series at the following hang-outs:

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

Facebook –

Monday Merry Meet: Amanda James

After covid struck all the staff at the emporium bar the ghosts, Monday Merry Meets were put on hold but now everyone has recovered and the ghosts have stopped giving unasked for advice on curing illness, they are back.

We’re excited to chat to Amanda James, a Cornish based author who writes the Nancy Cornish series which are investigation based novels with a paranormal twist.

Monday Merry Meet: Amanda James

Willow: Hi Amanda, welcome to the Enchanted Emporium. I hope you found us ok. We recently had a covid scare, and the shop has reacted by hiding Black Cat Alley so no one could visit. Despite our reassurances, all is well, it is becoming picky about who can enter. It’s causing chaos for our customers and post.

What would you like to drink? We have a collection of fresh teas, including Yorkshire tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger?

Amanda: A hot chocolate would be lovely, ta. I should have said Yorkshire tea, being a Yorkshire lass, but the hot chocolate took my fancy.

Hot chocolate with whipped cream in a pink mug with hearts on it

Amber: Some days are just made for hot chocolate with all the works, including marshmallows. Your new book, Back on the Case, is part of the Nancy Cornish series and blends criminal investigations with psychic ability of psychometry. Where did you get the idea, and do you have fun writing them?

Amanda: I’m not exactly sure where the idea for Nancy came from, but I have always been fascinated with the psychic phenomenon. My grandma told me stories when I was little about her good friend Annie, who was psychic, and it went from there. When I was older, I saw a few psychic/Mediums and some of what they told me just blew me away. There was no way they could have known what they told me beforehand. I’m fascinated as to why some people have the gift and others don’t. The first time I included this phenomenon in my writing was – Summer in Tintagel, now republished as The Secret Keeper. Funnily enough, the main character is called Rosa!

Rosa: Ooh, I’ll need to track that book down if it has my namesake in it. Your series is set in the beautiful Cornish coast. What made you use this location?

Amanda: I moved to Cornwall almost 10 years ago and adore the place. I feel it’s always been my home, even though I was born in Sheffield and spent many years in Bristol where I was a secondary school teacher. I’m inspired by the rugged beauty of the north coast near to where I live, and it just feels right to set all my books here.

Perranporth beach. Cornwall. Damp sandy beach with rugged cliff on the left hand side with a hole carved into it.
Cornish coast

Willow: It’s a stunning place. We love hearing about writer’s publication journeys. What has yours been like and if you did it again, would you change anything?

Amanda: Unless you’re very lucky, the publication journey is long and rocky. It’s extremely difficult to find any kind of publisher and a good one is rarer than hen’s teeth. I have had six! But I’m pleased to say my current one is a keeper. I self-publish the Nancy Cornish series because publishers tend to think the psychic element won’t sell. They are wrong. Would I do anything different? It’s easy to make a list with hindsight, but I think my determination and refusal to give up has got me this far. Yes, you have to have talent, and be willing to learn, but tenacity is the biggest thing, I think. Also, anyone thinking that you write a few books and make a mint will be sadly disappointed. Again, unless you are very lucky, you won’t make much money. I have been published since 2012 and I’m still dreaming of owning a house nearer the beach! I love writing – it’s part of me. I also love hearing from readers who have enjoyed my books. That’s what it’s all about in the end.

Rosa: Since there are many books based on psychic phenomena on our enchanted bookshelf and are always looking for more, we agree paranormal books sell. Do you have a particular writing routine or place to write?

Amanda: I normally write on the bed propped up by pillows. My back complains if I sit at a desk. And I have no routine. Sometimes I might binge write – so every day for a few weeks. Other times, I might have a few days or even weeks off. It depends on what else is happening in my life and how I feel.

Illustration of books, quill in an ink pot and scrolls of paper

Amber: As a not-so-secret writer, do you have any advice for those who want to be published authors?

Amanda: Yes. Be prepared to take criticism, learn your craft and never ever give up.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range, which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

The first three, I think 😊 which are financial security, luck and a good night’s sleep.

Willow: When lit, one candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day. Where would it take you?

Amanda: There have been so many. But I think Oceanside, California and Monument Valley, Utah.

Amber: Great places.

Rosa: If the witches could blend a bespoke potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Amanda: I have always wanted to fly, so I’m tempted by that. But I’d have to choose the ability to bring world peace and end poverty. I know it sounds corny, but that’s what I’d do.

Amber: It’d be lovely to be able to do that, but even with the ancient grimoires Willow locks away, I doubt it would be possible. We have a small lending library full of paranormal, fantasy and magic related books, fiction and non-fiction.  What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Amanda: All my Nancy Cornish books and all my Harper Collins books – The Secret Gift, The Forgotten Beach, The Secret Keeper, The Garden by the Sea, and my new one out on May 5th – Wish Upon a Cornish Moon.

Notebook with lined paper open with some pages rolled over into a heart shape. Pink background and a red and pink paper heart in the foreground

Rosa: I adore romantic fiction with a happy ever after. What would you add to my box of romance books?

Amanda: All the above.

Willow: Finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Amanda: It’s top secret. But it’s set here in Cornwall!

Willow: Sounds intriguing and good luck with it. We look forward to finding out more soon.

Book cover for Nancy Cornish PI Back on the case. Bright blue sky, with Cornish coastline at the bottom with tagline Where extraordinary things happen ... you'll find Nancy Cornish
Nancy Cornish PI Back on the Case by Amanda James

Title: Nancy Cornish PI Back on the Case

Author: Amanda James

Publisher: Indie

Genre: paranormal

Release date: 2nd April 2023


Nancy Cornish has been running her own PI business in Padstow, Cornwall for a few years now. Seemingly an ordinary member of her community, Nancy has an extraordinary gift. She is able to make psychic connections with those who have passed, and objects belonging to those still living. The PI denotes Psychic Investigator, not Private Investigator. Her husband Charlie is a DI in the Truro police, and a down to earth Cornishman. In the past, he’s dismissed Nancy’s gift as ‘mumbo jumbo’, but now he accepts that she’s a very good detective. He’s over the moon that she’s been able to help him solve some important crimes, and is keen for her to keep up this good work.

The couple have just returned from holiday, and Nancy is ready to resume work and get back on the case. As well as helping her husband solve serious crimes, Nancy’s main mission in life is to use her gift to help others. In the grand scheme of things, the cases she solves within her community might not seem very important. However, they mean the world to those who come to Nancy for help. Some of her successes to date has been to reunite long lost lovers, track down a war hero’s missing medals, rescue a beloved pet, and find the mystery ingredient in the local butcher’s prize-winning sausages!

In this third book in the Nancy Cornish series, we see people come to Nancy for all sorts of reasons. Some are new clients, some are old friends, and she often discovers that what they say they need help with, is only the beginning of their story. Nancy’s investigations and discoveries help them to see what’s most important to them in life, and how to achieve it. And as we all know, that thing is happiness.

Wish Upon a Star is also out on 5th May 2023.

Book cover of Wish Upon a Star by Amanda James
Pink sky with a seaside landscape. A message in a glass bottle is lying on the beach
Wish upon a Star by Amanda James

Author Biography

Photo of Amanda James standing in front of a library bookcase signing a book. White woman dressed in a denim jacket. White wavy shoulder length hair and thick dark glasses
Amanda James

Amanda James/A.K. James has written since she was a child, and as an eight-year-old, she asked her parents for a typewriter for Christmas. She never imagined her words would ever be published however. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true when she had her first short story published for a Born Free anthology. She left teaching in 2013 to pursue her dream full-time.

Originally from Sheffield, Amanda now lives in Cornwall and is inspired every day by the wild and beautiful coastline near her home. She loves writing uplifting books with a twist of magic, as she thinks the world needs more joy in it right now. Amanda can usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

Amanda writes more suspenseful novels also set in Cornwall, under the name A.K. James. 

Twitter: @amandajames61

Facebook: mandy.james.33

Amazon page:

Book Review: Bewitching by J E Nice

Amber is excited to share her review for Bewitching by J.E Nice as part of the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you for the advanced copy so an honest and unbiased review could be given.

Book Review: Bewitching by J E Nice

Book cover for Bewitching by J.E Nice
Woodland background with a dark claw grasping The Devil tarot card with bluebells in the foreground. It is through a blue filter

Title: Bewitching (Murray and Tidswell Paranormal investigations)

Author: J E Nice

Publisher: Indie

Genre: paranormal

Release date: 5th March 2023

Purchase Links

UK –

US –


A teenage girl tempted from this world over a carpet of bluebells…

A house full of shadows and a presence waiting to be let in…

Finally, everything is going well for Erica Murray, witch and paranormal investigator. That is, until the mother of a missing teenage girl recognises Erica’s fae lover, Alfie, for what he is and begs for his help. Erica must step into Alfie’s world to find the girl, but it means discovering secrets about her lover that might tear them apart.

Meanwhile, Jess Tidswell has other things on her mind. Her parents are meeting Jess’s new dog and, more importantly, her fiancé for the first time.

That’s not the worst of her problems. Her parents, keen for a new adventure, have bought a house and it comes with some unexpected residents. Shadows that move of their own accord, a curious spirit and something malevolent that lives on the periphery.

Unable to contact Erica, can Jess handle this terrifying ordeal on her own and protect her family?

Deep in another world, can Erica find the missing teenager and bring her out of harm’s way?

It’s going to be a long weekend.

Thoughts from the Emporium

Bewitching was an enjoyable and entertaining fantastical read that kept Amber company while she had covid. While it could be read as a standalone, it is book four in the series with intricate backstories surrounding Erica’s love of two men, time travelling police and Jess’s talents. For full enjoyment, she wished she’d read the other books first.

With two separate investigations, there was plenty to keep Amber’s attention but it was the darker problems of Jess’s parents house that kept her turning the pages. With witchy confessions, ghosts and other spooky goings on she was gripped.

The depiction of fae being an enchanting species with a high sex drive, was a far cry from other books she’d read previously which either had Enid Blyton’s mischievous innocence or much darker in nature. There were no graphic scenes but their unashamed expression of love was alluded to which threw up some interesting discussions on consent especially relating to bluebells.

Highly imaginative with lots of threads to discover, Bewitching is a welcome addition to the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and has tempted Amber to explore the series more.

Author Biography

Black and white photo of J.E Nice
Young white woman with long blonde hair
J.E Nice

J E Nice is a fantasy author who lives in a city filled with dragons, woodland where the fae hang out, on an airship home to a crew of sky pirates and, sometimes, on the outskirts of Bristol in England. Wherever she is, there is always cake.

Social Media Links – (@writeintothewoods)

4th April
5th April
Stratosphere Kawaii Girl
C L Tustin - Author
The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Everything is better with dragons
7th April
Celticlady's Reviews
Sharon beyond the books
8th April
Serenity You
9th April 
Joanna Vitoria
10th April
Avoiding reality with books
Other blogs on this tour

Book Review: The Little Venice Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin

Now the Easter holidays are looming, many people are thinking of planning trips away abroad. There is little chance of Rosa or the others going this year but luckily books can be the next best thing. They allow you visit

different places without leaving home. Today, it’s the Emporium’s turn on the blog tour The Little Venice Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin. Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for an advanced copy so they could give their honest review.

Book Review: The Little Venice Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin

Book cover for the Little Venice Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin Teal sky with a painted illustration of Venice. A orange painted bookshop 'libreria' a stone bridge and a man on a gondola
The Little Venice Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin

Title: The Little Venice Bookshop

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Publisher: HQ Harper Collins

Genre: Romance, women’s fiction

Purchase Links

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon Aust:


A bundle of mysterious letters. A trip to Venice. A journey she’ll never forget.

When Luna loses her beloved mother, she’s bereft: her mother was her only family, and without her Luna feels rootless. Then the chance discovery of a collection of letters in her mother’s belongings sends her on an unexpected journey.

Following a clue in the letters, Luna packs her bags and heads to Venice, to a gorgeous but faded bookshop overlooking the canals, hoping to uncover the truth about her mother’s mysterious past.

Will Luna find the answers she’s looking for – and finally find the place she belongs?

Thoughts from the Emporium

While The Little Venice Bookshop focuses on Luna’s journey of not only self but the truth behind mum’s secret letters, it was La Libreria sul Canale that stole everyone’s hearts. The vibrant descriptions of the over filled shelves, heaps of disorganised fiction and even a maze, immersed them into the story and they never wanted to leave. They fell in love with the place just as Luna did, making it a joy to discover the truth behind the letters. With more depth and soul than they expected, and it made their bibliophile hearts sing. 

Luna was an unforgettable character with an unexpected and refreshing backstory that added to the depth and intrigue. The themes of home, family and loss, it was an engaging read.

Beautifully written this evocative novel is an ideal summer escape for those who love to lose themselves in second hand bookshops with their distinctive smell, and enjoy a love story with unravelling secrets. It will fly from Rosa’s Box of Romance, but also a copy will be on her forever shelf for repeated rereads. 

Author Biography

Photo of Rebecca Raisin White woman, long blonde hair, smiling wearing black
Rebecca Raisin

Rebecca Raisin writes heart-warming romance from her home in sunny Perth, Australia. Her heroines tend to be on the quirky side and her books are usually set in exotic locations so her readers can armchair travel any day of the week. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous heroes who have brains as well as brawn, is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true, once in a lifetime love. Her bestselling novel Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop has been optioned for film with MRC studios and Frolic Media.

Social Media Links

Book Review Maybe This Time by Cesca Major

After three years, the covid virus has slipped through all the Emporium’s protective spells and hit the staff so books have become more important while they recover. Monday Merry Meets will resume shortly. In the meantime, they are thrilled to review Maybe This Time by Cesca Major. Thank you Random Things Tours for the advanced copy that arrived on the enchanted bookshelf so they could give their honest opinion.

Book Review Maybe This Time by Cesca Major

Book cover for Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major. Very simple- cream background with Maybe Next Time in black script with two bronze xx and a hand drawn love heart.
Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major

Title: Maybe Next Time

Author: Cesca Major

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Release date: 30th March 2023


Even the greatest love stories end. But what if this one didn’t have to?
Emma is having the worst day of her life. Frustrating. Chaotic. And the only person who could
make it better is gone by the end of the day.
Yet even worse than all of that: Emma keeps waking up to the same day, over and over
But what if this is a sign things could be different? Can Emma change the heart-breaking
end to this love story?

Thoughts from the Emporium

When both Amber and Rosa read this, they agreed the frantic tone of the first few chapters where Emma is battling with all her responsibilities of being a book agent, mum and wife set the tone well and made them want things to calm for her. They felt their own heart race gallop as they tried to keep up – a sign a writer has the power to affect emotions instantly with words. What followed next with the groundhog day premise kept them hooked. 

Underneath the repetitive day where Emma tries to change the outcome is the romance between her and Dan revealed through the letters they write each other on their anniversary. They range from fun to heartbreaking with a punch of relatability. They catalogue ups and down in the relationship and provide the reader a key to how maybe Emma can right wrongs and maybe heal to influence events and lives. Engaging, Rosa and Amber couldn’t put it down. 

With romance at its heart blended with the impossible time bending events, Maybe Next Time would be a welcome addition to either Rosa’s Box of Romance or on the Enchanted Emporium’s Bookshelf. It’s an engaging, thought-provoking story of gratitude, deep love in a world that expects so much commitment beyond family and living. 

It made Rosa consider her own phone addiction and work life balance while not so secret writer Amber has vowed to never be an over reactive debut author.

Author Biography

Cesca Major
Cesca Major

Cesca Major is a novelist and screenwriter. She runs writing retreats and coaching throughout the year, is a mentor for Black Girl Writers and has taught creative writing for Jericho Writers and Henley School of Art. She blogs and vlogs about the writing process on her social channels.
Cesca has written under pseudonyms in other genres and has been nominated for both the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Award and the CWA Gold Dagger Award.
She lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and twin girls.

Social media

Twitter @CescaMajor



Monday Merry Meet: Kate Baker

We are thrilled to have debut author, Kate Baker visit us to chat about her book, Maid of Steel, writing and ghostly goings on at boarding school. Her Instagram stories, Otis her dog photos, and chats always make us smile especially this week with her book launch. If you don’t follow her, you’re missing a treat.

Grab your favourite beverage and put your feet up for five to catch up with her news.

Monday Merry Meet: Kate Baker

A photo of Otis a black and tan dachshund sitting on a lap

Willow: Welcome Kate and Otis, I hope you found us okay. Pop through to the back and make yourself comfy. Feel free to let Otis on the sofa, Vincent has gone on his daily prowl of the harbour so there will be plenty of room.

Kate: Otis, stop sniffing that door. I’m sure the witches have told their cats to stay away out of sight while you’re here!

Willow: Yes, with Vincent gone Black Cat is doing whatever feline ghosts do when they’re not haunting properties so we’re safe. What can we get you to drink? We have Yorkshire tea, herbal tea, and other blends, coffee or some celebratory Prosecco. We’re so excited about your debut release and have been following the excitement on your social media.

Kate:  May I be greedy and have a glass of Prosecco and a Camomile tea please? I found the latter to be particularly helpful when I was on the radio once.

Pouring prosecco into a glass photo black and white

Amber: I’m so glad you’re finally here as we have cake and Willow refused to let us have any without you. I’ve made Otis some homemade dog biscuits too.

Kate: I think he’s can smell that too – that nose of his will get him into trouble one day. I’d adore some cake, and thank you, Willow, for keeping it safe until I arrived.

Rosa: I’ve just finished reading Maid of Steel and adored the Irish location, and you’ve captured the atmosphere of the time. Emma is strong willed and ready to fight for suffrage. What made you choose this part of history?

Kate:  I was fascinated by the Cobh Heritage Centre, a museum down in the harbour of Cobh, formerly known as Queenstown. Depictions of mass emigration brought home to me how terrible life must have been for people in Ireland after the Potato Famine hit. They left their homes in desperation, and hoping to find a new life overseas. Not everyone made it. That became the backstory to Emma’s tale. Emma is the granddaughter of Ellen, an immigrant to New York who did, in fact, make it. Emma travels back to Ireland to see where her grandmother came from. She finds lots out about her family, and lots out about herself too! It had to be set in 1911 and 1912 because of how the book ends!

Willow: Your book mentions so many historical details we knew nothing about, such as soldier’s homes where soldiers could experience a few hours of normality to help with their mental health. Were you aware of these things before you wrote the story or did they crop up in research?

Kate: No! My dear friend, Hannah, whom travels with me when hubby is too busy to leave the farm, spotted the carved out letters in concrete above a doorway in the harbour. I’d have missed it completely! We returned to our hotel and googled it, and that’s when I discovered Emile Sandes (sometimes she’s known as Elise) and all that she did for the soldiers of Ireland and then when it caught on, England too. Emma wishes something like that had been around in the states for her brother.

Rosa: In essence, Maid of Steel is a forbidden love story. Have you always been attracted to this genre?

Kate: Yes. I love fiction where we can explore the darker side of life.

Amber: This is your debut. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Kate: Great question, Amber. Do you know something? I wouldn’t. I needed it to take four years for the story to evolve. Over that time, my craft and understanding of character improved and had I released it earlier, I fear it would not be the quality I hope it is today. Having jumped off the Finding-an-Agent path and landing on the Indie Publishing route, I had to learn a whole new approach, but that’s where The Book Guild have come into their own.

A photo of a three-tiered cake stand with cakes, a cup and sandwiches
Afternoon tea

Willow: Emma isn’t the only strong woman in your book. If you could choose one of your female characters to have afternoon tea with, who would you choose and why?

Kate: This is hard to answer! I think Alice is an intriguing devil, but it’s Mrs Walsh who really captures my attention. To seemingly have such an equal relationship with her husband in 1911 seems astonishing, yet he evidently loves her to be in work, and for a good cause, and doesn’t even bat an eyelid when she refused to be counted on the night of the Census! I’d love to know her outlook on life.

Willow: You live on a farm and run your own business, how do you balance writing and your other commitments?

Kate: By being incredibly flexible and not worrying if plans have to change. I can have a rough idea of how I want a day to go, but if one of my commitments becomes more pressing, then it has to come to the forefront and no longer do I let that bother me. I get on with it, get the other side of it and pick up the other stuff after. Chill, chill … whenever possible; that’s my motto!

Notebook open, coffee cup, kindle and pencil

Amber: Many writers visit the Emporium. Do you have any advice for people wanting to write?

Kate: Explore your ideas through free-writing. It’s hugely liberating, especially with a pen and paper. The blank screen of a laptop can be very daunting. A stolen five minutes in a carpark, or at the end of the kitchen table while the peas are simmering, can provide a quick moment of escape and your pen can flow with words as you think them. Not whole sentences; but random thoughts. Get them down, let them out. Often they quickly turn into a scene! And sometimes those scenes can morph into something from your WIP.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Kate: (picks up A Good Night’s Sleep candle) THIS ONE! I’m an insomniac so a good night’s sleep is a rare and beautiful thing!

Willow: One candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit. Where would it take you?

Kate: Gosh, this is hard. Perhaps the rocky beaches near Padstow in North Cornwall, where we used to go regularly while the children were growing up. But equally can I be boring and say my south-facing patio and describe a ‘holiday’ from work and farm accounts? That’s my special place – and free to get to!

Illustration of a ghost reading a book of ghost stories

Amber: That sounds a perfect special place. Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium. Have had had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Kate: Oooh, I have! At boarding school, in Stamford, Lincolnshire. I was about twelve and killing a Saturday afternoon alone in the dormitory, idly playing my recorder. (I wasn’t very good at the recorder, by the way). At one point, a wardrobe door swung slowly open. I stopped playing and watched. The door opened fully. I began to play the same piece (don’t ask; I don’t recall) and one of the school navy tunics began to sway. I stopped playing and got up off the bed. It stopped swaying. I played again; it swayed. I stopped; it stopped. I was spooked by this and told my friends. They wanted me to re-enact it for them a couple of hours later and sadly, one of the girls got behind the wardrobe (unbeknown to me) and pushed it gently as I played. But I swear, that first time, no-one was in the room with me. I haven’t written anything spooky of any length, but have dabbled in a bit of horror writing, and science fiction, following a course last spring.

Willow: If we could blend you a bespoke potion to give you a superpower for 24 hours, what would it be?

Kate: For everything else around me to pause, and for me to be able to type with focus for hours!

Willow: Sounds a good plan. Our Enchanted Emporium bookshelf is a small lending library full of books with either fantastical, horror, witchy or paranormal theme. What would you add to it?

Kate: Have you got the Carlos Ruiz Zafon series? Set in ancient Barcelona? If not, your witches are missing out, as are your readers. They will thank me for this when you add the series!

Rosa: We’ll check. The bookshelf likes hiding books. I have a Box of Romance books I share with friends and customers. What would you add to it?

Kate: Pernille Hughes ‘Ten Years’ is a great one … Lucy Keeling’s series is fun, and I think the Time Travellers Wife is a classic.

Willow: And finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Kate: The Projectionist is an inter-generational friendship story about a 90-year-old man and an eleven-year boy who wants to run away from home before the end of a six-week summer holiday, before he has to go to High School. Frank becomes Toby’s mentor, an unlikely combination which the town frown upon at first, because people always judge books by their covers!

Willow: It sounds fantastic. Thank you and Otis for joining us.

Title: Maid of Steel

Author: Kate Baker

Publisher: The Book Guild

Genre: Historical fiction, romance

Release date: 28th Feb 2023

Purchase Links

Publisher’s link:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:



It’s 1911 and, against her mother’s wishes, quiet New Yorker Emma dreams of winning the right to vote. She is sent away by her parents in the hope distance will curb her desire to be involved with the growing suffrage movement and told to spend time learning about where her grandparents came from.

Across the Atlantic – Queenstown, southern Ireland – hotelier Thomas dreams of being loved, even noticed, by his actress wife, Alice. On their wedding day, Alice’s father had assured him that adoration comes with time. It’s been eight years. But Alice has plans of her own and they certainly don’t include the fight for equality or her dull husband.

Emma’s arrival in Ireland leads her to discover family secrets and become involved in the Irish Women’s Suffrage Society in Cork. However, Emma’s path to suffrage was never meant to lead to a forbidden love affair…

Author Biography

Kate Baker

Kate Baker wrote terrible holiday diaries as a child, which her husband regularly asks her to read out loud for their entertainment. She has since improved and has written with intent since 2018. Maid of Steel is her second novel; the first is lining drawers in the vegetable rack at their farmhouse.



Book Review: Together Again by Milly Johnson

Milly Johnson books are always popular in Rosa’s Box of Romance. As soon as one is returned another customer nabs it to read so you can imagine Rosa’s and the witches’ excitement of being invited to her blog tour for her newest novel, Together Again.

Scroll down to see whether it reached their high expectations

Book Review: Together Again by Milly Johnson

Together Again By Milly Johnson

Title: Together Again

Author: Milly Johnson

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Release date: 3rd March 2023


Together again after years apart, can they find a new beginning? The brilliant novel full of laughter, love, tears and hope from the Sunday Times bestselling author Milly Johnson.

‘This masterpiece honestly describes the strength and acceptance required to be a family. 5 STARS’ Adele Parks, Book of the Month, Platinum magazine

Sisters Jolene, Marsha and Annis have convened at their beautiful family home, Fox House, following the death of their mother, the tricky Eleanor Vamplew. Born seven years apart, the women are more strangers than sisters.

Jolene, the eldest, is a successful romantic novelist who writes about beautiful relationships even though her own marriage to the handsome and charming Warren is complicated.

Marsha, the neglected middle child, has put all of her energy into her work, hoping money will plug the gap in her life left by the man who broke her young heart.

Annis is the renegade, who left home aged sixteen and never returned, not even for the death of their beloved father Julian. Until now.

So when the sisters discover that their mother has left everything to Annis in her will, it undermines everything they thought they knew. Can saying their final goodbyes to Eleanor bring them together again?

Together, Again is the story of truths uncovered and lies exposed, of secrets told – and kept. It is a novel about sister helping sister to heal from childhood scars and finding in each other support, forgiveness, courage and love.

Thoughts From the Emporium

Wow! Everyone agreed this book took them on an emotional and unexpected rollercoaster. Many tissues were needed.

None in the Emporium have had easy childhoods but Eleanor Vamplew was something else with her narcissistic traits. As with all Milly Johnson’s characters, the sisters had depth, individuality and were relatable making their journeys more impactful. It was refreshing to see a dysfunctional family dealing with the death of a toxic parent rather than one that is loved and it gave a realistic depiction of the fallout and guilt the grief brings.

Told in the different sister’s point of view, it was easy to see how the sisters’ relationships broke and how they need each other to heal and reconcile. Each member of staff latched on to a different sister dependent on their own life experience, age and personality. Once married Rosa connected to Jolene for more reasons than her doing Rosa’s ideal job, workaholic Willow related to Marsha and Amber felt for the youngest sister. They all agreed they couldn’t put the book down. When Annis’ secret was finally revealed it sent them reeling and showed how siblings can have different childhoods despite the same parents and childhood home.

Milly’s warm humour, quirky observations and ability to offer hope to readers while taking them through some hard hitting storylines shone in this book making it one of their favourite reads.

This powerful, emotional but ultimately uplifting read will resonate with many providing them with feeling of being seen.

It has already triggered many conversations in store and provided a platform for the friends to share their of own childhood scars so they could get support to heal. While this novel has less romance and darker themed* than normal, it’ll still go into Rosa’s box and will be a hit in the small lending library.

*That said Milly Johnson’s never shy away from all types of life experiences women find themselves in so has touched on some hefty topics already in previous novels. Within her twenty books, there is at least one that hits the reader and says this one’s speaking to me.

Author Biography

Milly Johnson

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. She is the author of 20 novels, 4 short story ebooks, a book of poetry and a Quick Reads Novella (‘The Little Dreams of Lara Cliffe’) and was an erstwhile leading copywriter for the greetings card industry. She is also a poem and joke-writer, a newspaper columnist and a seasoned after dinner speaker.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016, the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015, the Romantic Novelist Association Outstanding Achievement award in 2020 and the Richard Whiteley Award for Inspiration to the County of Yorkshire in 2022.

She writes about love, life, friendships and the importance of community spirit. Her books champion women, their strength and resilience and celebrate her beloved Yorkshire.


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