Monday, 16 October 2017

My turn for the Blog Tour for Darcie Boleyn's lovely, warm Christmas book, Christmas at Conwenna Cove - and it's a cracker! 5**




Blurb:

A heartwarming, romantic and Christmassy novel set in the gorgeous Cornish village of Conwenna Cove.
When Grace Phillips travels to Conwenna Cove to help her parents move there 30 years after their honeymoon in the village, she sees why they fell in love with the place. The festive decorations, carols in the air and constant supply of delicious mince pies certainly make it hard to leave. Grace soon meets local vet Oli Davenport and initially finds him rude, but learning about his passion for animals and how much he cares for his two kids helps Grace to see a softer side to Oli.
It’s been three years since Oli lost his wife to cancer. Though he loves eleven-year-old Amy and five-year-old Tom more than anything it’s hard to be mum and dad. He has no interest in romance until he crosses paths with beautiful and kind-hearted Grace. The sparks fly but both Oli and Grace are holding onto fear about letting someone into their heart.
As the snow falls and Christmas wishes come true can Conwenna Cove work its magic and help Grace and Oli find the happiness they both deserve?





Review:

I've never disliked a book by Darcie so I was really looking forward to this one. It's the second in the Conwenna Cove series but can easily be read as a stand alone. (Although you're missing a treat if you don't read Summer at Conwenna Cove as well!) 

I loved this one - you never disappoint, Darcie!.

I'm not going to summarise the story - that's what the blurb is for. Suffice to say there's a lot more to it than the blurb indicates. The children are lovely - Oli, the recalcitrant vet is a wonderful character and Grace is very, very human! And there are animals, particularly a gorgeous greyhound!

Really hope there are more to come in this series - I so enjoy the warmth in these books!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.




Sunday, 8 October 2017

Final day of the Blog Tour for The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan and it's my turn!

Definitely a 5* read!!




Blurb:

Finding happiness one stitch at a time.


When Dee Blackthorn’s brother, JP, breaks both wrists not only is he in need of a helping hand – or two – but the knitting shop he owns can’t function. Sisterly duties take Dee away from her demanding job and she is unceremoniously fired amidst scandalous office rumours. Dee is certain that her hot-shot nemesis, Ben, is behind it all.
Back in the village of Fenwild where JP's shop resides, Dee bumps into Becky, an old friend who is new mum to a premature baby. Desperate to help Becky, Dee convinces JP to enlist his knitting pals to make tiny woolly hats to keep the little one warm. Seeing how grateful her friend is, Dee makes it her mission to help lots of other premature babies. When Ben turns up denying involvement in Dee’s sacking she is initially furious, but hears him out before roping him into helping the knitting cause.
But before long Dee’s good intentions backfire and she risks losing her friends, her family and Ben, who’s turned out to be not so bad after all…
A feel-good romantic comedy about life, love and knitting, The Woolly Hat Knitting Club is perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Tilly Tennant and Carole Matthews.
See inside for an exclusive baby hat knitting pattern from Poppy Dolan! 





Review:

I'm a procrastinating knitter was was delighted when asked to review this book. (I can knit, just hate sewing up!)

I've read a lot of books recently and many I have had to skim as they haven't held my interest. Not in this case!

And I certainly wasn't disappointed. Dee is a high-powered business woman forced to abandon her job when her brother breaks his wrists. There's more to it than that, but no spoilers. Her brother JP is a chilled guy into knitting and they come up with a brainwave to help premature babies.

But can Dee put her business head aside and do this for the love of the action, or will she have to spin it? Can she disregard her loathing of Ben long enough to see who he really is? And if he is the good man he swears to be, who was the troublemaker?

Lovely warm and affectionate read with laughs and tears - lovely read!

I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Amazon UK - £1.99

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

My turn for another exciting Blog Tour!!

Review of The Secrets You Keep by Kate White - 4**




Blurb:


You’ve lost your memory. A woman has been murdered. Your husband is keeping secrets. How do you know who to trust?

Months after a being involved in a terrible car crash, Bryn Harper is physically healed but her emotional scars remain raw. She has no memory of the accident and is plagued with bad dreams.
When Bryn and her husband, Guy, host a dinner party Bryn swears money has been stolen while Guy seems unfazed. Bryn confronts the caterer that night and is horrified to discover the woman’s brutally slain body the next day.
As the case is investigated, Bryn is dragged into a fresh nightmare and learns that Guy is keeping things from her. Another murder occurs and Bryn realises the danger is getting ever closer to home. How well does Bryn really know the man she loves?
For fans of psychological suspense and compulsive mysteries, don’t miss this tense and page-turning novel. Before I Go to Sleep meets The Husband’s Secret.





Review:

This book kept me guessing from beginning to end! You have no idea who the bad guys are - you have no real idea who the good guys are either!

It is an excellent psychological thriller. The characters are all very believable and I found myself saying, "Is it her? Is it him?" several times throughout the book! 

And, incredibly, Kate manages to make us doubt Bryn - the central character. Is she just making things up? Why does nobody believe her?

A very enjoyable (if that's the right word) read and I shall definitely look for more by Kate White.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



Monday, 18 September 2017

My review of Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: The Driftwood Inn (The Little Cornish Isles, Book 1) - 5**

(Points for longest title lol!)

Blurb:

Christmas has arrived on the Cornish Isles of Scilly, bringing mistletoe, surprises and more than a sprinkle of romance . . . Fans of Poldark and Carole Matthews will love this brand-new festive read from the author of the bestselling Cornish CafĂ© series.
For Maisie Samson, this Christmas is going to be different. After years working in a busy Cornish pub, she’s moved back to quiet Gull Island where she grew up, to help her parents run the family inn.
But even though she can’t wait for the festive season to arrive, Maisie cannot shake the memories of what happened to her last Christmas – the day she lost everything. She keeps herself busy, setting up the tree and hanging mistletoe ready for her first proper family Christmas in years.
Until a new arrival to the island walks into her bar and changes everything. Australian backpacker Patrick is looking for a job for the low season. When Maisie takes him on, she doesn’t expect him to last the week, but to her surprise Patrick is the perfect fit. Charming and handsome, could Maisie allow herself to hope that she and Patrick could be more than just colleagues?
As Christmas approaches, Maisie finds herself dreading the spring, when Patrick is due to leave. With the help of a little Christmas magic, can Maisie get the happily ever after she always dreamed of?
Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles is the first in a stunning new series from Phillipa Ashley. The perfect book to snuggle up with this Christmas.





Review:

You'd be "Scilly" not to read this!

Phillipa - if you ever decide to change genres - you'd make a great travel book writer! The descriptions of the Gull Island and the Scilly Islands in general, made me want to hop straight on a plane/boat! It is now definitely a bucket-list destination.

Maisie runs the pub and is hard-working, determined and susceptible. Aussie backpacker Patrick arrives and stays, working in the pub. The attraction is enormous but they both have baggage - Patrick a lot more than Maisie! There are a couple of twists to the story that I wasn't expecting, although hints had been given, had I noticed them!

This is the first of a series and I am really looking forward to the next ones. For personal reasons, I shall be following Patrick's story closely but look forward to seeing how the other characters' destinies are fulfilled.

Thank you to Avon and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.





Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Sound the Trumpets!!!

A Very Special Cover Reveal!


The Captain's Daughter (Choc Lit) (Cornish Tales Book 2) by Victoria Cornwall



Isn't it gorgeous?? Here's the blurb:



Beware the strength of a quiet woman

After a family tragedy, Janey Carhart was forced from her comfortable middle-class life as a captain’s daughter into domestic servitude. Determined to make something of herself, Janey eventually finds work as a lady’s maid at the imposing Bosvenna Manor on the edge of Bodmin Moor, but is soon caught between the two worlds of upstairs and downstairs, and accepted by neither, as she cares for her blind mistress.

Desperately lonely, Janey catches the attention of two men – James Brockenshaw and Daniel Kellow. James is heir to the Bosvenna estate, a man whose eloquent letters to his mother warm Janey’s heart and whose attentions to her when he returns home set her pulse racing. Daniel Kellow is a neighbouring farmer with a dark past and a brooding nature, yet with a magnetism that disturbs Janey. Two men. Who should she choose? Or will fate decide?

About the author:

Victoria Cornwall can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century. This background and heritage has given her an understanding and knowledge of Cornish rural life, which is the inspiration for her writing.
Following a fulfilling twenty-five year career as a nurse, a change in profession finally allowed her time to write in her favourite genre - historical romance.

She is married with two grown up children.The Captain’s Daughter is the second novel in her Cornish Tales series. 

My review for her previous novel, The Thief's Daughter

What a wonderful debut novel from Victoria Cornwall! I'm not usually an historic romance fan but I was swept up in the story and the beautiful scenery descriptions.
Jenna and Jack's relationship has highs, lows and strong arguments! I love a relationship that isn't black and white and this one is very colourful! I also enjoyed Jenna's attempt to escape her past and not be painted with the same brush as her family.
As my readers know, I am a great fan of Choc Lit and this is yet another book worthy of them. I look forward to Victoria's next book.

Here are the links to pre-order:





Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Review of Deadly Intent by Sheryl Browne - 5 huge **


Blurb:

Tormented to the edge of sanity …
 
Just when DI Matthew Adams thinks he’s left the past behind him, it comes back to haunt him once again; this time in the form of the Conner family.


Like Matthew, the Conners have lost a child in tragic circumstances – and they’ve also found themselves in the hands of one of the most depraved criminals to walk the streets: ‘Dead-eyed’ Charlie Roberts, a drug addicted low-life with a penchant for extreme violence.
Matthew’s greatest affinity lies with Daniel Conner, the brooding father who still blames himself for his youngest child’s death. 

But when Daniel’s wife and daughter are tortured and tormented by Roberts, can Matthew prevent him from completely ruining his own life for an act of revenge particularly when, once upon a time, that’s exactly what Matthew would have done too?





Review:

Have you any idea how hard it is to read a book when you're holding your breath the whole way through? I'm surprised I survived the experience!

Sheryl is the mistress of the thriller. Her D I Adams' series is absolutely terrifying and this has to be the scariest yet. Daniel Conner is a tormented soul but when the chips are down, he is one of the most amazing heroes. The tension builds, and builds, and builds....... Matthew Adams is on the trail but it seems to take him forever to trace the whereabouts of scum Charlie Roberts and the Conner family. The psychological abuse Charlie inflicts on the Conners is awful and how they rise above it is astonishing.

Now I'm breathing again, I can recommend this book with absolutely no hesitation. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



Tuesday, 22 August 2017

SO EXCITED!!!! It's Christmas in August :) 

Here is the cover reveal for Kirsty Ferry's new novella "A Little Bit of Christmas Magic" from Choc Lit. I think it's absolutely gorgeous!




And here is the blurb:

Any wish can be granted with a little bit of Christmas magic …

As a wedding planner at Carrick Park Hotel Ailsa McCormack has devoted herself to making sure couples get their perfect day, but just occasionally that comes at a price – in this case, organising a Christmas Day wedding at the expense of her own Christmas.

Not that Ailsa minds. There’s something very special about Carrick Park during the festive season and she’s always been fascinated by the past occupants of the place; particularly the beautiful and tragic Ella Carrick, whose striking portrait still hangs at the top of the stairs.

And then an encounter with a tall, handsome and strangely familiar man in the drawing room on Christmas Eve sets off a chain of events that transforms Ailsa’s lonely Christmas into a far more magical occasion than she could have ever imagined …


A Little Bit of Christmas Magic is a novella by Kirsty Ferry and will be released on 24th October 2017!



Sunday, 13 August 2017

My turn for the Blog Tour for Darcie Boleyn's new book - Love at the Italian Lake - 5**




Blurb:

On the shores of Lake Garda, a beautiful romance unfolds. But is it only for summer? Don’t miss this gorgeous, heart-warming novel from Darcie Boleyn, bestselling author of 2017 smash-hit Summer at Conwenna Cove.
Sophia Bertoni discovers her boyfriend in bed with another woman, and realizes her life is going nowhere. Leaving her high-pressure job, she travels to Italy to stay with her grandmother while she figures out her next move.
When Sophia – quite literally – bumps into devastatingly handsome Joe Lancaster her plans are turned upside down. As the two realize they’re both spending the summer in the same town, a love affair seems on the cards.
But Sophia and Joe are both burdened by family secrets. Despite their attraction, will the sun set on Sophia and Joe’s romance – or will they find love at the Italian lake?




Review:

I was really looking forward to reading Darcie's book - she is one of my favourite authors. And I certainly wasn't disappointed.

I wanted to pack my case and fly to Lake Garda - her descriptions were so vivid and it sounds like an incredibly beautiful place.

The story was lovely - a REAL love story - where the two people fall despite themselves and their pasts. And the tension that arrives when Darcie discovers a family secret is palpable. It means that several people have a lot to deal with, particularly Sophia and her mum.

Absolutely loved it and can't recommend it highly enough! I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.










Tuesday, 8 August 2017

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!COVER REVEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's my great pleasure to reveal the fabulous cover for Sheryl Browne's new DI Matthew Adams book - Deadly Intent.

It is published by Choc Lit and will be out on September 5th - I can't wait!




And here is the blurb:

Tormented to the edge of sanity …

Just when DI Matthew Adams thinks he’s left the past behind him, it comes back to haunt him once again; this time in the form of the Conner family.

Like Matthew, the Conners have lost a child in tragic circumstances – and they’ve also found themselves in the hands of one of the most depraved criminals to walk the streets: ‘Dead-eyed’ Charlie Roberts, a drug addicted low-life with a penchant for extreme violence.

Matthew’s greatest affinity lies with Daniel Conner, the brooding father who still blames himself for his youngest child’s death. But when Daniel’s wife and daughter are tortured and tormented by Roberts, can Matthew prevent him from completely ruining his own life for an act of revenge particularly when, once upon a time, that’s exactly what Matthew would have done too?

Deadly Intent is the third book in Sheryl Browne’s DI Matthew Adams Series but can be read as a standalone. It will be available to purchase as an eBook on September 5th 2017.

Book 1 – After She’s Gone
Book 2 – Sins of the Father



Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Review of Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman - 5** Out today!


Blurb:

Do nice guys stand a chance? 
Lizzie Donavue went from being the sister of his best friend to the girl Nick Templeton most wants to kiss. On her birthday, he finally summons up the courage to make his move. But it looks like Nick’s missed his chance when he discovers that Lizzie has been offered a modelling contract, which will take her away to the glamorous fashion scenes of New York and Los Angeles.

Nick is forced to watch from the sidelines as the gawky teenager he knew is transformed into Elizabeth Donavue: top model and ultimate English rose pin-up, forever caught in a whirlwind of celebrity parties with the next up-and-coming Hollywood bad boy by her side. 

But then Lizzie’s star-studded life comes crashing down around her, and a guy like Nick could be just what she needs. Will she take a chance on him? Or is he just too damn nice?







Review:

What a wonderful book! Do second chances happen? Is Lizzie beyond his reach? And, of course, is Nick "too damn nice"?

This is the fab tale of the damsel in distress being rescued by the knight on a white charger. But where that stops at happily ever after, this book goes into the intricacies and complications of  modern relationships and people.

They get close, they pull away, they get closer, one or other pulls away. Loved it!!

Choc Lit wins again!




Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A little treat from the previously reviewed 5** House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey from Choc Lit.

We have a guest post from the lovely Lynda today and she's here answering questions about the book!



And here she is answering some questions for our enjoyment!

On the 4th July my novel House of Secrets was turned into a paperback and I couldn’t have been prouder at the moment I got to take it back to where it all began, the beautiful Wrea Head Hall hotel in Scarborough.





It was at this time, I got to look back at how I created Bandit, the hero of House of Secrets.

I’ve often been asked where the name for my hero came from.

Well, I’ll try and explain. Christopher Lawless, the hero of House of Secrets is an ex-marine, and like all marines I wanted to give him a name that gave credit to his profession, and in actual fact the nickname Bandit, came first and his ‘real’ name came after. So, his surname is LAWLESS and a lawless man is a Bandit… hope that explains it.


Who is Bandit?

Bandit is obviously gorgeous but has just an edge of vulnerability that quickly shows in his personality. He suffers with post traumatic syndrome after his time working in Afghanistan where he saw both his girlfriend and his team blown up by a roadside bomb. He’s been discharged from the marines and has gone back to live in his childhood home, the gatehouse at Wrea Head Hall. Here, he has taken the job of game keeper, and does all the general maintenance around the hall. It’s a job he loves, purely because it means he gets to spend a lot of time alone, with nature.

When we first meet Bandit, he’s getting through each day the best he can. He’s a little unkempt. His hair is longer than it should be and he rarely shaves. But, we see a very gentle, caring side to him, that comes over as being a little more than overprotective, especially when he meets Maddie and her three-year-old daughter Poppy.



What makes a good hero?
And of course this is only my opinion.
A good hero is hard to find. I often read books where the hero isn’t that appealing (to me), they are often flat and without much of a personality, which is why I like to give my heroes a history. I feel that they need depth of character and a big personality. They don’t necessarily have to be gorgeous, but of course it helps. I feel that it’s more important for them to be kind, respectful, passionate and sensitive. I also feel that the hero needs to be interesting, a little flawed. He needs to feel emotion, even if sometimes that’s anger or hatred, especially towards someone who is trying to hurt the people he loves. All of this helps the reader identify with him, they take the journey with him as he overcomes those flaws, and what’s more they begin to root for him to achieve and succeed.


Who would be the perfect Bandit?




I think someone like Stuart Martin who played Silas in Jamestown. He’s a little vulnerable, a little rough around the edges, yet still gorgeous. Yes, Stuart Martin would definitely be my Bandit.




An extract of the novel from Bandit’s point of view …

‘Damn woman,’ Bandit cursed as he glanced up at the hotel and saw Madeleine watching him from the window. Raising the axe high above his head, he brought it down with a satisfying thud, making the log split in two and fall to the ground. He scooped up the logs that he’d previously cut and threw them into the wheelbarrow that stood by his side. It was still early autumn and without the glow of embers in the open fires, the house could easily turn cool at night. Besides, the reception rooms always looked much nicer with the logs alight, the guests preferred it and it was his job to ensure that there was enough dry wood to keep each of the three fires going right through the winter. But he knew he had to be ahead of his game, this wood would need to be stacked and dried out for at least six months before it would be ready to burn.
            He saw the back door open and watched as Morris Pocklington emerged.
‘Look, I’m really sorry about last night. I didn’t know that Madeleine was your daughter,’ Bandit said, pre-empting the conversation that he guessed was about to happen.
‘She’s pretty pissed at you,’ Morris replied with a laugh. ‘I’m not sure I’d want to get on the wrong side of her.’
‘Shouldn’t be going round pretending to be a burglar then, should she?’ Bandit fired back as he picked up another log and brought the axe down to split it. There was no way he could have known who she was. He hadn’t even known that the boss had a daughter, so he couldn’t be blamed for not knowing who she was when he’d seen her creeping around like a hunting tiger, looking for its next meal. But tigress she was not. He’d seen the way she’d looked up at him like a frightened doe in the darkness. Her eyes wide open with fear. She’d appeared vulnerable yet powerful, and timid yet fiery, all at once. She was so similar to the type of women he’d encountered in the marines. Women who could cut you down with words at ten paces, or shoot you from a distance and, to be honest, he wasn’t sure he wanted to encounter women like that again. Not after Karen.
 ‘You don’t like her?’ Morris asked as he stepped up on the log to perch on the fence and pushed his hands deep in his pockets.
Bandit bit his lip. ‘I barely know her.’
He thought of the deep musky perfume that she’d been wearing; its scent had annoyingly stayed with him through the night. She’d had a feisty personality, a spark about her that could have lit a campfire from a distance, yet he couldn’t work out what annoyed him the most; her high spirits, her feisty personality or the vulnerability that shone from within. None of them could possibly be a good thing.
‘Afghanistan, it changed you, Bandit.’
It was true. Afghanistan had changed him. Karen had changed him. ‘I know.’
‘Do you want to talk about it yet?’
‘No, I don’t.’ The words were sharp, harsh and meant to stop the conversation. The very last thing he ever wanted to talk about was Afghanistan. Just the thought made his palms begin to sweat and he rubbed them down his jeans as he felt his whole body begin to tremble. He wanted to close his eyes, but couldn’t. On some nights there was no sleep at all, some nights he’d sleep for an hour or two, but then the nightmares would begin. Every sudden noise reminded him of the explosion, every beach reminded him of the desert and every woman reminded him of Karen. Everything that had happened played on his mind. One minute he’d been part of an elite group, the next he was flying home: inadequate, alone and uncertain of his future.

About House of Secrets:
A woman on the run, a broken man and a house with a shocking secret...
Madeleine Frost has to get away. Her partner Liam has become increasingly controlling to the point that Maddie fears for her safety, and that of her young daughter Poppy...
Desperation leads Maddie to the hotel owned by her estranged father the extraordinarily beautiful Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. There, she meets Christopher 'Bandit' Lawless, an ex-marine and the gamekeeper of the hall, whose brusque manner conceals a painful past.
After discovering a diary belonging to a previous owner, Maddie and Bandit find themselves immersed in the history of the old house, uncovering its secrets, scandals, tragedies and, all the while, becoming closer.
But Liam still won't let go, he wants Maddie back, and when Liam wants something he gets it, no matter who he hurts...

House of Secrets is available as a paperback from all good stockists and also as an eBook on all platforms. For buying options, click here: www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/house-of-secrets/

About the author:
Lynda, is a wife, step-mother and grandmother, she grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire.
She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage. Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.
Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.
She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.


Friday, 21 July 2017

And now for something completely different!



To celebrate the release of T A Williams' new book To Provence With Love, I'm featuring a blog from Trevor himself. One of the stars of the book is Marlon, the labrador and here are the thoughts behind him.







It’s a dog’s life

   My new book, To Provence, with Love, is the story of a famous old film starlet who engages the services of disgruntled teacher, Faye, to write her memoirs. Through her, Faye soon learns that the pathway to stardom is not always easy. But then, the same can be said about Faye’s life and the life of the hunky, but reclusive, lavender farmer down the road. They have all had their problems and they all have their demons to face. But it isn’t all gloom and doom in To Provence, with Love; one of the characters in the book hasn’t a care in the world.
   Those of you familiar with my other books will know that I always (well, almost always) include a black Labrador in my books. We’ve had Dante, the Italian Lab in What Happens in Tuscany, Stirling, the heartbroken English Lab in What Happens at Christmas and way back in my very first book, Dirty Minds, there was Noah, the Lab whose master is heartbroken. Now, in To Provence, with Love, we have the happiest of the lot: Marlon.
   Named after the great man himself – after all if your owner’s a mega-famous film star, what else could you be called? – Marlon lives in a chateau. Some dogs, like Snoopy, live in a dog house, some live in little flats, some in big houses, but only the very, very lucky ones live a life of luxury in a chateau. However, unlike so many wealthy inhabitants of spectacular homes, Marlon isn’t spoilt, he isn’t overweight and he isn’t at all snooty. Of course, in common with all Labradors, he is constantly hungry, and has perfected the “they don’t feed me” expression we all know so well. But that’s about his only vice. Well, that and barking his head off every time the postman comes up the drive.
   He is the best dog in the world to take for a walk – he doesn’t pull on the lead and he never runs off after bunny rabbits. He is totally housetrained, faithful and obedient. He is excellent company and he is a really, really good listener. As a man, I must admit to my share of responsibility for, like so many of my gender, not being a terribly good listener. My wife tells me stuff and, well, I don’t always concentrate. I do try my best, but it’s something that’s built into our DNA. Now, I can probably recall almost all of the commentary on the last rugby match, but domestic stuff tends to go in one ear and out the other. But not so, our Marlon. He listens attentively, never butts in (unless it’s to put a sympathetic paw on your knee) and those big, doleful brown eyes are full of mute comprehension.
   You getting the picture? That’s right, Marlon is one of the main characters in the book. He is an epic example to all of us as to just what true, uncomplicated love is all about. If he likes you, he steals your bra and lies on it. If he’s feeling sorry for you, he gives you a nudge with his cold, wet nose and if he’s happy to see you, he stands up on his hind legs and does his best to lick your face. We all need a bit of that from time to time.