Oh Happy Day with ‘areadersreviewblog’

One of those days

It’s one of those days when you’re driving home through a countryside washed fresh by melting frost, the sun just starting to pierce the mist. The narrow road dips into hollows shrouded in swathes of dense, rolling fog, then rises, emerging into uplands of sparkling brilliance under a sky so blue you make a grab for your sunglasses. Across the valley a curl of smoke floats above the chimney of a house perched on a hilltop. Inside the car, the classical music station has decided to go Nordic in celebration of the wintry morning and a blast of fjordian Grieg makes the windows vibrate. There’s a faint smell of chlorine, you’ve spent an hour jumping up and down in a swimming pool with a group of aquagym friends, somehow managing between puffs and pants to argue the relative merits of Guinea fowl versus capon for the traditional Reveillon meal on December 24th.

It’s one of those eureka moments when you suddenly realise you’re happy.

Happiness is a warm puppy, Lucy famously told us, while Charlie Brown went for jelly babies (no green ones) and going to the pictures to see films with cowboys and Indians and no kissing. Socrates (like many other Big Thinkers) said the secret to happiness was not seeking for more but developing the capacity to enjoy less. Buddha said it was the journey and not the destination. ‘There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path.’ Thoreau (or was it Nathaniel Hawthorne??) used the image of a butterfly: ‘The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.’

The main protagonist in ‘The Passage of Desire’, Alexandra, is an unhappy person. Emotionally distant from her six-year-old daughter and her devoted husband, she’s not an immediately sympathetic character. If asked to explain this lack of feeling, she’d probably struggle to put it into words (if she ever understood its nature and the possible reasons for it in the first place). But in the magical grace of a summer holiday with an old friend, the mist rolls away and for a brief interlude Alexandra is transported to the sparkling uplands of happiness and emotional connection. Those who have read the book know what happens next. Those who haven’t – wait for it – it’s FREE, yes FREE to download this week: 21st, 22nd and 23rd December (starting as always at midnight Pacific Standard time). Take that, Grinch!

Misty Hilltop in the Tarn

Yesterday I was the one behind the wheel of the car, getting my very own Son et Lumière fix to add to the aquagym endorphins, joining my dum de dums with the rhapsodic piano of Mr Rubinstein, recklessly braving the hasards of veering into roadside ditches in return for the inestimable rewards of staring at the dramatic spectacle outside the window, light and shadow flitting across the undulating hills of ‘little Tuscany’. Definitely a Buddha’s path moment in more ways than one, and though I couldn’t see the butterfly, I could definitely feel its wings caress my cheek.

Ours was the house on the hill, with the smoke curling from the chimney; when I finally got back, came down to earth and checked my emails it was to discover a cherry had landed on top of my happiness cake.  ‘Areadersreviewblog’, run by Tina Williams and Caroline Barker, is one of my favourite haunts when looking for new books to read. Their banner proclaims ‘To read is to escape, to write is to release!’ And yesterday the book they were reviewing was my very own novella, yes, dear readers, ‘The Passage of Desire’, which, as recounted in previous blogs, had given me such birthing pains it almost joined the smoke going up our chimney. It’s always a huge thrill to get a good review, but the thing that struck me about this one in particular was that the author, Tina Williams, seemed to know intuitively what I’d been struggling so hard to write about:

‘The author delves deeply into the emotions of two women and their families…It touches on all which makes us human; the different stages of life; family dynamics; intimate relationships and unexpected desire…The setting…the wild and untamed Yorkshire moors… is a metaphor for the tale itself.’

Ouf. Thank you so much, Tina. The things that make us human, and the ‘life-changing repercussions’  that ensue when those very human hearts of ours become a battlefield. In the words of William Faulkner:

‘…the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself…only that is worth writing about.’

Joyeuses fêtes to booklovers everywhere, and may that butterfly land on all your shoulders!

*REVIEW* ~ The Passage of Desire: French Summer Prequel, by Laurette Long

Compelling and Flawlessly written  ~5 stars 

Reviewed by Tina Williams

I have yet to read the series of contemporary romances that comprise the French Summer Novels, but having read the observations of Caroline, my co-blogger, I jumped at the chance to review this prequel. The Passage of Desire is the story of Alexandra, the mother of the sisters, Caroline and Annabel, of the later novels Biarritz Passion and Hot Basque.

In the book Juliet, Alexandra’s childhood friend invites her and her daughter Caroline to stay with her in her family home on the Yorkshire moors. Alexandra, whose husband is away on business, is going through a low point in her life but soon begins to bloom again and under the summer sun, with her friend’s easy going attitude and the healthy country air, she begins to heal herself.

Indeed, there is much to distract her with Juliet’s own offspring: Cath, who has a young child and a volatile partner and Oliver who is about to leave the family home and go away to study. Alexandra’s own daughter is also deeply absorbed by the tangled relationships she witnesses as their visit draws to a close – I loved how the author reflected what is going on through her young eyes.

Throughout the read the author delves deeply into the emotions of two women and their families. It touches on all which makes us human; the different stages of life; family dynamics; intimate relationships and unexpected desire. The book is flawlessly written, with insight and sensitivity as the events, which will have life-changing repercussions for some, unfold.

The setting for the story, the wild and untamed Yorkshire moors, where emotions become freed and passions can often come to a head, is a metaphor for the tale itself. The reference in the book to Alexandra’s recollections of a teenage visit to The Passage of Desire in Paris is also allegorical, and its  meaning reveals itself as the plot unravels. The descriptions of the various settings in the book, particularly the countryside, are vivid and beautifully written in a way that powerfully reflects the emotional journey of the characters.

I don’t want to reveal any of the plot as it would spoil the read, but suffice to say that I enjoyed the read immensely and thoroughly recommend it.




P.S. 29th December 2017: an update with three photos from the Peanuts book (1962 copy!) kindly sent by Elizabeth Stromberg. Many thanks 😉


Let’s hear it for the book bloggers!

Join the fans at areadersreviewblog

Today I’m re-blogging an article by Tina Williams, one of the two co-founders of “areadersreviewblog”, a mine of treasure for those who love books.  The other co-founder, Caroline Barker, gave me a wonderful leg-up with ‘Hot Basque’ (does that sound right??) in 2015. Anyway, today’s blog is under the heading ‘Author Spotlight’ and it spotlights…this author!  The very same, herself.

How did I feel when I read it? About seven and a half feet tall.

Thank you so much, Tina. Your reviews are always such a pleasure to read, and I’ve discovered many new authors thanks to your enthusiasm.

I remember (how could I forget, I’m still having flashbacks) the night I uploaded ‘Biarritz Passion’, my first novel, to Amazon. It was March 2014, I had no idea what I was doing, and only got through the ordeal with the help of the Maître De Maison and a bottle of sauvignon blanc. Since then three other books have followed, but getting them on to the pages of Amazon’s catalogue is only the first step. They may be out there, but how do you get people to read them?

This is where a bunch of incredibly generous people come in. They are called reviewers and bloggers, and if you pluck up the courage to ask them nicely, they might – at no charge – read your book, review it and even invite you on to their blog to talk about it!

Why do they do it? Because they love reading. And never mind the fact they have jobs, families, and cleaning out the gerbil cage to keep them occupied, they still manage to find time to share their enjoyment of a new book with their fans.

May they continue to boldly go, and may their paths be strewn with stars!

Here’s the first paragraph, click on the link below to read the rest, then click the little button that allows you to follow a readersreviewblog,  that way you won’t miss any goodies:


“We are THRILLED to be featuring Laurette Long’s latest release, The Passage of Desire. We have been a fan of Laurette’s work since Caroline, my co-blogger reviewed  the sweet romance Hot Basque, book 2 in the French Summer Novels (click on the title for review). We also love reading Laurette’s entertaining and inspiring blog where she not only shares excerpts from her writing but also snippets from her life in the beautiful South of France, a place which has inspired her muse on many an ocassion. The Passage of Desire, a prequel to the French Summer Novels, is a family drama which I am looking forward to reviewing very soon. Tina 🙂”

Step into The Passage of Desire…


















Merci! Beaucoup! Perfick!

Just back from a trip to the North, in particular Manchester, a city I have a soft spot for, as may have been mentioned before. True, it has the disadvantage of finding itself on the wrong side of the Pennines, but I suspect one of those tectonic shift things could be at the root of that obvious geographical error. We’ll probably know more in years to come when archaeologists stumble upon prehistoric skulls of Yorkshire hominids in ancient burial chambers at the back of the Manchester United locker room.


But enough of that. My visit provided a fascinating subject for my next blog piece. I shall not however reveal what that will be, except to ask (or sing): ‘where have all the letter- boxes gone?’ Watch this space.

Today’s blog is in fact a ‘Thank You’ card. Two, actually.

Thank You Card No 1: To The Dentist.

Yes I know, not usually top of your ‘thank you’ card list. But this is not just any dentist…

September 10th:

As I was waiting for my regular check-up, chatting to Helen, the ever-cheerful super-cool receptionist, I happened to notice lots of cards on display.

‘Aha!’ I said. ‘Someone’s birthday?’

‘Oh no, those are just thank you cards from patients. Some of them have been there for ages, they probably need a dust.’

O shame on me. How many years have I been a patient at Kissdental, Manchester, the Nirvana of Dentistry, the Eden of Enamel, the Shangri-La of All That Is Teeth? Answer: many. And how many cards have I sent to convey my undying gratitude to all who serve there? Answer: none. So, a huge thank you to Kailesh, Fabergé of Dentists, Transformer of Smiles; to Vicci, Queen of Hygiene and Goddess of Gums, to Helen, afore-mentioned, keeping it all in order, and to all those other members of the team who help to make a visit here as enjoyable as a Champney spa break.

And to anyone reading this who is suddenly turning pale and getting flashing images from ‘Marathon Man’ and ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’, I have the answer. Put yourself in the capable hands of all at Kissdental, lie back, relax and before you leave don’t forget to pop into the bathroom to admire your gleaming gnashers in the mirror.



Thank you Card Number 2: To The Magic Elves.

Having been severely Wi-Fi challenged on my recent travels I was unable to get a good look at the review of ‘Hot Basque’ that appeared on ‘Areadersreviewblog’ on September 3rd.


The articles and book reviews on this site are written by two Magic Elves called Caroline and Tina. I know they are Magic Elves because they both have partners and  children, and are able to juggle washing, ironing, cleaning, school runs, spaghetti-hoop management and candle-lit dinners whilst also devouring huge numbers of books and then writing about them. What I’d like to know is–what are they on? Ginseng? High-dose Vit C? Royal Jelly? Or my very own favourite, a double G and T? Back in Wi-Fi land I’ve been looking more closely at some of their amazing output and I’m not talking three-line-copy-and-paste stuff. Every post is engagingly written, bursting with enthusiasm, and just what readers are looking for when choosing a book.

So, booklovers, sign up, read their reviews and select your next purchase to take with you, for example, when you go for your spa-day at Kissdental. (NB This tip is not for Magic Elf Caroline, who in her 11 amazing facts about herself notes that she has never had a filling…not fair.)

Up to now I have never written a blog piece without some literary reference or other. There is one in here. Clue: look at the title! Think of a ‘darling’ (clue!) character in a wonderful series of books that were turned into a wonderful TV series and featured a ‘budding’ (clue!) new actress who went on to become a Hollywood star.

And, as a prize to anyone guessing the title and author, you can get a free copy of ‘Hot Basque!’ Yes! That’s right, free!

(Actually… it’s free to anybody who wants to download it, starting Friday September 18th until Sunday September 20th  .  😉 Just what you need to transport you to a sunny beach next weekend without the hassle of having to put your sun cream and toothpaste into those little plastic self-seal bags that won’t.)