Monday 29 May 2023

An Italian Island Summer, by Sue Moorcroft

Regular readers of the blog will know I've been friends with Sue Moorcroft since we first met at the Kettering Writers Group in 1999 (we genre writers were consigned to the back of the room, where we had a great laugh).  Since then she's gone from strength to strength, hitting number one in the Kindle Bestseller charts (with The Christmas Promiseon her way to becoming a Sunday Times Best Seller, while her novel A Summer To Remember won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award 2020.  As well as featuring her a lot on blog (to see more, click this link), I'm also pleased to be one of her beta-readers and thoroughly enjoyed her latest novel, An Italian Island Summer, which has just been published in paperback and e-book.

Will one summer in Sicily change her life for ever?

After her marriage falls apart, Ursula Quinn is offered the chance to spend the summer working at a hotel on a beautiful island off the coast of Sicily, Italy. Excited by a new adventure, she sets off at once.

At Residenza dei Tringali, Ursula receives a warm welcome from everyone except Alfio, son of the Tringali family. He gave up his life in Barcelona to help his mother Agata with the ailing business, and is frustrated with Ursula’s interference – and she in turn is less than impressed with his attitude. As they spend more time together, though, they begin to see each other in a different light.

But what with Ursula’s ex-husband on her tail, family secrets surfacing and an unexpected offer that makes Alfio question his whole life, there’s plenty to distract them from one another. Can she face her past and he his future, and together make the most of their Sicilian summer?

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A new book by Sue is always welcome and this time we see the return of a character, Ursula, who played a role in one of her earlier novels. As always, there are plenty of twists and turns as we follow the story of Alfio and Ursula and part of the fun is watching the blocks put into their path and how they might get around.

Told with Sue's usual sure-hand skill, the book moves at a good pace and is filled with characters who burst into life from the page. Family life, in all its forms, is well represented, there's a lovely and lovable cat and the antagonists are realistically horrible. With a well realised - and used - central location, a lovely atmosphere that is well maintained and some great writing, this is another winner!
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Buy the book from Amazon here

UK here
USA here

Sue Moorcroft is an international bestselling author and has reached the #1 spot on Kindle UK. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Published by HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by other publishers around the world.

Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared around the world.

Born into an army family in Germany, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire at the age of ten. An avid reader, she also loves Formula 1, travel, family and friends, dance exercise and yoga.

The Missing American, by Julie Highmore

I am pleased to be part of the blog tour for Julie Highmore, making her debut with The Book Folks with her novel The Missing American.

New to the private investigator game, Edie Fox is delighted when a handsome American client with disconcertingly dazzling teeth asks her to find his missing cousin, Isabella. Especially when he leaves her a bundle of cash to get started.

However, the case quickly gets complicated, and so does her life when a one-night stand from her Oxford university days gets in touch and asks if her 26-year-old daughter, Maeve, is also his child. Judging a chaotic home, a brimming wine glass, a daughter besotted with her new-found daddy, and a rekindled old flame, Edie must try to focus on the job.

But with unreliable witnesses, a less than trustworthy client, and an assistant with her mind on other things, Edie will be up against it and risks losing all.

THE MISSING AMERICAN is the first book in a series of hilarious cozy mysteries by bestselling author Julie Highmore. Look out for the next book in the series, THE RUNAWAY HUSBAND, coming soon!

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Edie Fox is new to the private investigating business and delighted when a handsome American client asks her to find his missing cousin, Isabella and hands over a bundle of cash. The case quickly gets complicated, however and so does her life when the father (a one-night-stand from her university days) of her twentysomething daughter Maeve, turns up out of the blue. With a chaotic home-life, a rekindled old flame and a job with unreliable witnesses and an untrustworthy client, Edie is up against it as she tries to find Isabella.

I'm not well read in the cosy crime field but the blurb for this was intriguing and, with news that a second book is on the way, I decided to give it a go and I’m really glad I did. Told with a clear, dry voice, this reminded me of the hardboiled novels of the forties with Edie’s ever complicated homelife impeding on the case (and vice versa) and her observations about events were often very humorous. The case twists and turns, almost everyone’s a suspect and there’s a lovely sense of location (it’s set in the less desirable areas of Oxford) that really grounds the whole piece. It’s also not afraid to show the seamier side of life, which was refreshing. 

Edie is a fantastic character, fully rounded and believable and even though she’s an amateur, she puts the clues together well. With a varied and often eccentric supporting cast, all of them fully living and breathing and with plenty of smart lines to amuse, there was a touch of “The Beiderbecke Affair” about this and that just made me love it all the more. Very highly recommended.

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The daughter of an RAF officer, Julie Highmore moved around a lot as a child but eventually settled in Oxford in her twenties. After having three children, she studied first at Westminster College, then Oxford Brookes University and gained a first class degree in English. As part of the course, she studied creative writing with Philip Pullman, who encouraged her to continue with her writing after graduation. This she did, and her published work includes nine rom-com novels, and more recently, a crime fiction series for The Book Folks.

When not writing, Julie enjoys music, binge-watching a good TV series, country strolls, doing the New York Times crossword and hanging out with her husband and ever-expanding family.

Click here for more info on the writer:

The Missing American features the somewhat flawed, Oxford-based private investigator, Edie Fox; a single mother and very young grandmother who inadvertently gets her precious family caught up in her first big case. The Oxford she knows is based in the more edgy and diverse east of the city, full of small Victorian houses, students, cafes, delis and retired lecturers.