Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Zara Stoneley which was first posted in October 2018. It’s been brought up to date to reflect Zara’s latest publications.
Author Zara Stoneley writes feel-good women’s fiction and is best known for her contemporary romantic comedies, including the USA Today bestseller ‘The Wedding Date’, which has sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide.
Over to Zara:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Only 5? This is far too difficult! Okay then…
Puff the Magic Dragon – I still annoy my son by singing this now, but it was one of the first pieces I learned to play on my guitar and brings back happy memories. Me and Dad used to play together. (Chopsticks was, of course, the first tune I learned to play on the piano!)
Barcarolle from Tales from Hoffman (Offenbach) – this was the music used in a Baileys advert years ago. It took me ages to find out what it was (before the days of Google and YouTube!). It’s just a beautiful, haunting piece of music (and I still like Baileys), and I love that cat.
I Wanna be Free (The Monkees) – I loved the Monkees when I was younger, and this track suited my angst-filled teenage years. I’ve always been hugely independent and have needed to be with people who will give me the space I need to be ‘me’. I’ve softened at the edges (and the middle) now, but this track was like an anthem for a while!
Lady in Red (Chris de Burgh) – I’ve loved watching romcoms as long as I can remember, this was in ‘Working Girl’. I suppose as a romance writer it captures a lot of those feelings you’re trying to get down on the page. There are lots of other tracks from Working Girl, Pretty Woman and other romcoms that I love – but I’m only allowed a total of 5!
Krazy Krush (Ms Dynamite) – I love the beat, and haven’t we all had one or two in our lives?
This list is far too short, I’ve not had chance to cover my crazy student years, and more recent ‘dance in the kitchen’ tunes!
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
My dog Harry
Pens and notebook
Coffee – strong, black, essential.
Google – so that kind of implies I need a laptop or mobile, and internet – I think I might be cheating a bit here.
Fresh air – I need lots of what I like to call ‘blue sky space’.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Believe in yourself, trust your instincts and grab the opportunities you are offered. You will regret not doing things far more than you’ll regret trying and failing.
Life isn’t a one-way street, you’re allowed to U-turn, turn off, make a whole new road of your own. Just do ‘it’, you can always change direction later.
Sometimes you have to follow the crowd before you can follow your dreams – do a job that will give you income and independence, then you have the freedom to do whatever you want.
Don’t be afraid to ask. When I was younger, I hated admitted I didn’t know something, I suppose I saw it as a weakness.
Don’t try and please everybody all the time – it’s impossible. Aim to please the people you love, trust and believe in.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
David Essex was my first crush.
I have a computer science degree, started my working life as a computer programmer then worked my way up to consultant. I’m your girl if you want advice on IT testing and quality control (stop yawning).
I’m a company director.
I can do a mean poodle-cut (no, this is not a weird euphemism) I ran a dog-grooming business when my son was a baby.
I love water, but hate swimming, I’m one of those keep-your-head-above-water-breaststroke-ladies.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Horse-riding in the Canadian Rockies. This has been on my list since I fell in love with horses when I was still at primary school.
A luxury cruise.
Driving a supercar round a race track (a Jaguar F-type would be perfect, but I’m not fussy!). I’m a bit of a speed junkie, and I love fast cars.
Sky-diving. I think it’s important to carry on challenging yourself, and the biggest challenge of all is to give up control.
Buying a motorhome – I’d love to explore more of Europe, and be able to take Harry my dog along as well. This would be perfect.
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Romantic Comedy Collection
Same desk, different days.
A post-it note is just the beginning…
Alice loves her job and wants to keep it – whatever the price. But then she’s told the company is switching to flexible working and hot desking…Alice’s desk might look a mess, but she knows exactly where everything is. Or she did. Until she found out she’s going to share it with the most annoying guy in the office.
Jamie can work from anywhere. He’s quite happy to sweep his work life into a box at the end of the working day. But can sharing a desk with Alice be as much fun as teasing her in person?
With no option but to try it and see, will their relationship turn into open warfare or will it ever progress beyond a post-it note?
The Dog Sitter
One dog. Two strangers. An unfurgettable romance.
Wanted: someone nice, normal and trustworthy to housesit a beautiful cottage in the Lake District while the owner is away on a business trip. Must like dogs.
Wanting to escape from crap bosses and useless boyfriends, Becky jumps at the chance of the perfect escape – rest, relaxation and dog-sitting a very cute pooch called Bella!
But looking after Bella comes with a catch, namely gorgeous, brooding, Chris Hemsworth-worthy Ash James, who claims Bella is his dog and will stop at nothing to get her back!
Becky’s not about to hand over lovely Bella to any Tom, Dick or Ash. She’s determined to watch every move Ash James makes…even if it gets her very hot under the collar.
The First Date
Wrong guy …
‘The novel equivalent of binge watching a tv series…”just one more chapter, who cares if it’s 2am!” It’s exactly the sort of novel you need with so much chaos in the world’ Sarah, Reader review
After breaking up with her childhood sweetheart, clueless dater Rosie has found herself in a boyfriend-drought. So when she finally swipes right on a guy who seems interested, she can’t wait to meet up in person.
Until she’s left standing alone. In a bar. Stood up.
Enter Noah. Confident, funny … and a serial first dater. Offering to give Rosie a crash course in seduction, this could be just what she needs. Until her matchmaker turns out to be the best date she’s ever had – and Rosie wonders if she wants the fake dates to be the real ones after all …
Four Christmases and a Secret
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Except for Daisy, Christmas means another of Uncle T’s dreaded Christmas parties, complete with Christmas jumper and flashing antlers. And Oliver Cartwright. Gorgeous Oliver Cartwright. Who she hates.
Every year Daisy has to face insufferable Ollie and hear all about how BRILLIANT he is. Whereas Daisy has no job, no man and no idea how to fix things.
This Christmas, however, Daisy is determined things will be different. There will be no snogging Ollie under the mistletoe like when they were teenagers. No, this year she’ll show Ollie that she’s a Responsible Adult too.
But as the champagne corks pop, and the tinsel sparkles, Uncle T has news of his own to share… and it could change Daisy’s life forever…
Bridget Jones meets the Hallmark Channel in an irresistible romantic comedy you won’t want to miss this Christmas.
Meet Rachel, the beautiful bride with BIG plans for the perfect day! The venue is a castle and the dress is designer. It’s just a shame her husband is a rat.
Maddie and Sally have only one thing in common – they both love the same man!
Beth is a newly single mum with a mystery baby daddy. Surely the father isn’t someone the girls all know?
And then there’s Jane, the glue holding them all together, but being dumped doesn’t make her the happiest bridesmaid…especially with gorgeous flatmate Freddie complicating things.
Will the bride say, ‘I Do!’? Or will her bridesmaids save the day…and find love along the way?
No One Cancels Christmas
It’s the most magical time of the year, and for travel agent Sarah it’s also the busiest! But this year one man threatens to ruin Christmas for Sarah’s customers – Mr Grinch, Will Armstrong.
The Shooting Star Mountain resort is a magical place, and Sarah has fond memories of Christmas here as a little girl. But as the resorts new owner, Will refuses to play snowball or to deck the halls with anything remotely resembling holly!
With customers complaining their Christmas is ruined, Sarah decides it’s up to her to convince gorgeous but Scroogey Will just how magical Christmas can be…
The Wedding Date
One little white lie.
When Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, she couldn’t be happier. There are just three problems …
1) Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Liam, will be the best man.
2) His new girlfriend is pregnant.
3) Sam might have told people she has a new man when she doesn’t (see points 1 and 2 above)
So, Sam does the only sensible thing available to her… and hires a professional to do the job.
As the wedding draws closer, gorgeous actor Jake Porter plays his part to perfection and everyone believes he is madly in love with Sam. The problem is, Sam’s not sure if Jake is acting anymore…
The Holiday Swap
Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak!
Tucked away in the idyllic English countryside, Daisy Fischer’s cosy little cottage has always been her safe haven. But when her completely dependable boyfriend issues her an ultimatum, Daisy realises there’s a whole world out there she’s missing out on.
Florence Cortes’s life couldn’t be better – gorgeous apartment right on the beach, fabulous job and dreamy boyfriend, or so she thought. Suddenly, Flo’s life isn’t so perfect after all.
When the girls house swap for the holidays, it’s not long before Daisy is being distracted by sun, sea and sexy Javier while Flo finds herself snowbound for Christmas with only handsome neighbour Hugo and a house full of animals to keep her company.
Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas, but in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it…
The Tippermere series
Welcome to tranquil Tippermere, an idyllic village nestled deep in the Cheshire countryside. Home to lords and ladies, horsemen and farmers, and plenty of secrets and scandals…
Leaving a scumbag ex behind her, Lottie Brinkley has hotfooted it out of Spain and back home to the country in serious need of some flirtatious fun to soothe her aching heart.
Luckily for her she’s spoilt for choice with not one but three eligible bachelors offering a steamy romp in the hay! But faced with the attentions of roguish eventer Rory Steel, the smiling Irish eyes of hunky farrier Mick O’Neal, and mysterious newcomer Tom Strachan, how can she possibly choose?
When billionaire landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, his WAGish wife Amanda threatens to sell the heart of the village and sets her sights on Tom! It seems things are heating up for little Tippermere… both in and out of the saddle.
Welcome to Tippermere for the wedding of the year…
Scatty but loveable Lottie Brinkley is famous throughout the village for her disorganised personality, so when she steps up to plan the perfect wedding the only likely outcome is disaster.
When her globetrotting, love cheat of an ex, Todd, literally crashes the wedding on a not-so-noble steed, things definitely look set to take a turn for the scandalous. As rumours of why he’s back spread through the village quicker than the stable girl can drop her knickers, is Lottie’s future with sexy eventer Rory Steel about to fall at the next fence?
With a wave of unexpected pregnancies, steamy shenanigans in the hay and a farrier with more than shoeing horses on his mind, will Lottie ever be ready to take on the coveted title of Lady of the Manor and restore the Estate to its former glory?
As the heart of the village, Tipping House Estate, makes its move into the 21st Century, pulses start to race in a novel packed full of charm, hunky stallions (the guys that is), and a daring plan that just has to succeed…
A Very Country Christmas
A short Christmas story of three courses.
Love is in the air in Tippermere as Lottie dreams of a white Christmas with no trimmings – other than her hot and hunky eventer, Rory. But things are never quite that simple on the Tipping House Estate.
Festive fervour takes over and it isn’t all seasonal peace and goodwill as expectations rise and it soon escalates from cosy dinner for two, to all the trimmings for ten!
With missing turkeys, loose horses, troublesome terriers and randy huntsmen, Lottie is hard pushed to find time for a kiss under the mistletoe, let alone find the opportunity to woo Rory with her sexy Santa costume.
But there is only one thing Lottie really wants for Christmas, and only one man can deliver it…
Dashing eventer Rory is ready to button up his breeches and settle down. His gorgeous wife, Lottie, wants a bank balance in the black so she can protect the beautiful family estate for future generations.
But with the wedding business at Tipping House going up in flames, and rumours that it was arson not accident, Lottie begins to wonder who she can trust with her future.
Tranquil Tippermere is under siege as movies moguls and insurance investigators invade the countryside, and as events gather pace rescue plans start to look too good to be true, and intentions may not be as honourable as they seem.
As a moody, but definitely marvellous, polo player enters the fray and squares up to the eventing hero of Tippermere, does Lottie stand to lose her husband as well as her home?
The Little Village on the Green series
Summer with the Country Village Vet
When Lucy Jacobs is made redundant from her inner-city teaching job she fears her career is over. Teaching is all Lucy knows and she’s determined to get back in the classroom as fast as she can.
Except the only job on offer is at an idyllic village school in the middle of nowhere – Lucy’s idea of hell. Where are the disadvantaged kids who need saving, where is the challenge?
But as Lucy finds herself welcomed into the warm-hearted community of Langtry Meadows, she begins to realise new challenges await – like frogs in the classroom, a rather difficult donkey, and a very brooding local vet…
Local boy Charlie Davenport has his own issues about living in the close-knit village of Langtry Meadows. His private life is already fuel for the well-meaning gossips and the very last thing he needs is to get close to the new school teacher…no matter how lovely she is.
But as summer days drift away Langtry Meadows weaves its magic, Charlie and Lucy both get the chance to turn over a new leaf and start anew…maybe with each other?
Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage
Return to the charming little village of Langtry Meadows and cosy up by the fire with this gorgeous romance that will warm your heart…
As the lazy days of summer ebb away and the hedgerows fill with rich, plump blackberries, Lucy Jacobs couldn’t be happier. She’s feeling more and more at home in the small village of Langtry Meadows and has fallen in love with idyllic Jasmine cottage – not to mention gorgeous vet Charlie.
But just as Lucy is thinking about putting down roots like the blackberries that grow in her garden, Charlie’s ex returns and threatens to put a thorn in their perfect life…
Hot Romance series
Summer of Surrender
Sex is the only thing they have in common. Total surrender the name of the game.
James had it all. Good education. City job and a wife he would have been willing to die for. Their motto had been work hard, play hard, but she’d pushed the boundaries too far and he’d walked. Became the man he felt he needed to be. Detached. In control.
Free spirit Kezia lives each day at a time; sharing, loving and giving are unconditional. And sex is part of the sharing.
When fate leaves James and Kezia trapped together for the summer, her openness is an invitation he just can’t resist. The attraction is instant, the sex all-consuming. And as their fantasies become reality, James begins to realise that willing surrender is a far different pleasure to forced submission…
Love is a Four Letter Word
Georgina Hampton lost more than a mother when her parents split up, she lost the life she loved. But Georgie is grown up now, and she’s ready to fight to get it back.
But the cost of winning could be a high price to pay, when the man standing in her way is bad boy Jake Hardcourt.
Her knight in shining armour.
The one man who might be able to show her that love doesn’t have to be just another four letter word…