Today I’m delighted to feature author Samantha Tonge. Samantha currently writes uplifting women’s fiction with Boldwood Books, but her writing career began much earlier. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2020 her novel Knowing You won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award.
Samantha lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency.
Over to Samantha :
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
My first two books with Boldwood, Under One Roof and Lost Luggage, feature music from the ‘70s and ‘80s, and many of the songs from those decades mean something to me. But if I have to stick to just five…
Wake Me Up Before You Go Go by Wham! – I used to go to a nightclub called Tropicana Beach as a teenager, and we would dance around our handbags, singing to this one, without a care in the world. Happy memories.
Happy Talk by Captain Sensible – one of those very wacky ‘80s tracks that always leaves me feeling better. I’m a fan of anything that goes against the norm and says “we are all different and I don’t have to conform” and the ‘80s pop scene and songs like this one were champions of that.
The Theme tune to the TV series Dallas – this reminds me of family life when I was younger and simpler times when you only had three channels on the television and magazines didn’t contain spoilers! Oh the suspense whilst waiting to find out who shot JR!
It’s A Small World from the ride at the Disney theme parks – warning, once you hear this you can’t get it out of your head! It fills me with happiness and wonderful memories from when the children were smaller and my husband and I took them to Disneyland Paris.
Anything by Doja Cat – I like many modern tracks and listen to them repeatedly on my phone until I’m sick of them! Usually dance is my choice as it’s so uplifting, I have to be in the mood for a ballad. This artist represents the fact that my children are older now and sometimes, just sometimes, we share the same taste in music!
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Mitzie, our long-haired calico cat, who is very vocal and loving. I’d miss our conversations even though I’m not sure what we are saying to each other.
Unsurprisingly books – they provide such an escape when times are difficult and characters can become friends and make you feel you aren’t alone in a confusing world.
Author friends – when I first joined the writing world I felt as if I’d finally found my tribe. It’s a very supportive community of people who share the same dreams and challenges.
Nature walks to de-stress and remind myself of the important basics of life.
Coffee and cake. They’ve both lifted me at low times and joined me in many celebrations.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Accept what you can’t change – life will be a lot easier.
Take one day at a time – you can’t change yesterday and there’s no point worrying about what *might* happen tomorrow.
Be kind to yourself, never let that inner voice talk to you in a way you would not let other people.
Be kind to others – realise everyone has a story that explains their behaviour.
Take off the mask. Pretending to be someone you aren’t will cause burn-out in the end. Not everyone will like the true you in life, and that’s okay.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I was part of the Opening Crew at EuroDisney (as it was called back then) in 1992.
I’ve worked as an interpreter at a wrestling match.
I lived near Eric Morecambe as a child.
I had a lisp when I was young.
One of my top favourite snacks is Hula Hoop crisps, each stuffed with a cube of Red Leicester cheese (try it!).
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
A foreign rights deal in Japan and one of my book covers drawn Manga style.
Continued steps forward with battling my mental health issues, and acceptance of myself.
My own library room in the house. It would have a reading corner and coffee machine of course.
A return trip to Disneyland Paris with my husband and children.
Travel abroad after having had a few years of staycations. My parents took me everywhere as a child – Scandinavia, Europe, America – and with my own family I’ve been to Japan. Nothing broadens the mind more than experiencing different cultures and meeting their people.
Many thanks for joining me today Samantha, it was lovely to discover more about you, and to not unsurprisingly welcome you to the Book Club! I can understand how you feel about your author ‘tribe’ as it works the same way with book bloggers who are a lovely group of like minded and supportive people. Great advice to your younger self, ‘be kind’ goes a long way in most situations. I’ll definitely have to try your Hula Hoop and Red Leicester cheese combo, not least because the latter is one of my favourite cheeses. That said it means no longer being able to play with the Hula Hoops like finger rings! I hope you get to tick off the items on your dreams list. Having a house with a library room sounds fantastic, I’d love that too. I’m doing my best to re-purpose the dining room, but people insist on eating so I have to accommodate the table and chairs. I’ve managed 3 bookcases and a comfy chair though so it’s a work in progress!
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One lost suitcase. Two strangers. And a notebook that will change lives.
For almost fifty years, sisters Dolly and Greta have lived together – getting each other through the good times and the bad.
Except this year, Greta isn’t there and Dolly is feeling lost and alone. In memory of her sister, Dolly heads to the lost luggage auction where she and Greta go each Christmas. But her bid reveals a gift she never imagined.
Amongst the clothes is the notebook of a reclusive woman who has hardly been outside for an entire year, but who isn’t ready to give up on life. The notebook’s contents resonate with Dolly. With the support of her neighbours, retired Leroy and eleven year old Flo, Dolly decides to take on the year of firsts Phoebe had planned.
But, can you have a year of firsts when you’re seventy-two? And is Dolly ready to discover the notebook’s secrets, or are some secrets better left lost at the airport?
Under One Roof
One forgotten discovery will change three women’s lives for ever…
Robin hasn’t been home for decades. After running away to London, she never expected to see her cantankerous mother, Faye, again. But when Faye has a fall, the two women are thrown together once more.
The years apart have not made their hearts grow fonder and the ground between them is unsteady. Then Robin finds an unopened scroll – the last of the treasure hunts her much-missed father used to take them on every Sunday. A hunt he believed might change everything.
Yet, not even this gift from her beloved father can smooth the way until Robin’s daughter, Amber, arrives to meet her grandmother for the first time. Amber is determined that the decades-old mystery be solved.
Can a 30-year-old treasure hunt really ‘change everything’?
Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage
A new start can come from the most unexpected places…
It’s been years since Lizzie Lockhart spoke to her parents. But she was safe in the knowledge she knew everything about them. Once upon a time, they were as close as could be. Until they weren’t.
After receiving the earth-shattering news of their passing, Lizzie decides it’s time to unearth some family secrets and find out just who her parents really were… starting with Streamside Cottage. A cottage Lizzie never knew existed, in a place she’s never heard of: the beautiful English village of Leafton.
Leaving behind London, and the tattoo parlour she called home, Lizzie finds herself moving to the countryside. Faced with a tight-lipped community, who have secrets of their own, Lizzie is at a loss for what to do, until her rather handsome neighbour, Ben, steps in to help.
The Winter We Met
When charming, mysterious Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.
As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen!
But time is running out with the closure looming and Jess becomes increasingly drawn to enigmatic Nik who joins forces with her and best friend Oliver to realise those plans.
Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?
The Summer Island Swap
Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…
After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.
But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.
So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.
The Christmas Calendar Girls
This Christmas fall in love with the town of Chesterwood…
Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She’s going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.
Fern, and her best friends, call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the new man in town, offers his assistance Fern’s heart can’t help but skip a beat (or two).
As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit’s breaking down the barriers she built after the death of her husband. But his past is holding him back and Fern doesn’t know how to reach him. No matter how hard she tries.
In this town, Kit’s not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Cara is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina’s perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.
Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?
This is a story about kindness and letting go of the past. It’s about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day feel like Christmas.
Kind-hearted Violet has never fitted in, but despite being bullied at school is now content. She is dating ambitious Lenny, has her dream job in publishing and runs a book club at the local retirement home.
However, when her relationship with Lenny begins to falter, Violet, hurt and alone, seeks the advice of her new flatmate, Bella. She changes her image and with her head held high aims to show that she doesn’t need Lenny in her life to be happy and successful.
Her long-term friends Kath and Farah worry about Bella’s influence and slowly Violet starts to distance herself from them. When she was a child, her closest confidant and companion was a boy called Flint. Her mother didn’t approve of their closeness and he suffered a terrible end. She won’t let the same thing happen to Bella, no matter what anyone says…
Forgive Me Not
How far would you go to make amends?
When Emma fled her home at Foxglove Farm, she’d let down and hurt those who cared for her most. But now, two years later, she’s ready to face up to her past; she’s ready to go back.
But Emma’s unannounced return causes more problems than she could have foreseen. The people she knew and loved aren’t ready to forget, let alone forgive. And the one person she wants to reconnect with the most, her mother, can’t remember who she is.
Just as Emma starts to rebuild trust, an uncovered family secret and a shocking past crime threaten her newly forged future…
Sometimes simply saying sorry isn’t enough.
One Summer in Rome
To Rome…with love?
Mary Smith is turning her very ordinary life upside-down! She’s bought herself a one-way ticket to Rome and is ready for a summer she’ll never forget.
Men might be off the cards for waitress Mary, but within hours of arriving at the utterly charming family-run La Dolce Vita pizzeria, she’s already fallen in love with the bustling capital!
Only Dante Rossi, the mysterious (and drop-dead gorgeous) chef seems displeased with her arrival. And in the heat of the kitchen, it doesn’t take long for long-buried secrets to surface and sparks to fly…
The New Beginnings Coffee Club
Everyone deserves a second chance…don’t they?
Jenny Masters finds herself living the modern dream. Wife to a millionaire, living in a mansion and mother to Kardashian-obsessed ten-year-old April, there isn’t anything missing. Until, her whole world comes crashing down, forcing Jenny and April to leave behind their glittering life and start over with nothing.
With village gossip following her wherever she goes, she finds refuge and a job in the new coffee shop in town. As the days pass Jenny fears she doesn’t have what it takes to pick herself back up and give April the life she always wanted to. But with the help of enigmatic new boss Noah, and housemate Elle, Jenny realises it’s never too late to become the woman life really intended you to be!
Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun
Dreaming of the perfect man?
Kate Golightly needs to move forward and what better way to do that then with a trip to the Cornish coast with best friend and boss, Izzy.
The sea wind is just what Kate needs to finally relax and begin to let go of her past. Except she’s suddenly got one big reason to panic! She RSVP’d ‘yes’ to the Queen Bee of her high school’s wedding saying she’s bringing her boyfriend (she doesn’t have one) who looks just like Ross Poldark!
With only two weeks to find the Poldark look-alike of her dreams Kate is under a lot of pressure for the Cornish coast to deliver…
How to Get Hitched in 10 Days
How not to get the girl…
Meet Mikey, every girl’s best friend – he bakes the creamiest cheesecake, loves movie nights and is a great dance partner.
For Jasmine, Mikey is the perfect flatmate – he owns a 50s diner that turns out the best food around, gives the best bear hugs and amazing romance advice – after all they’re scoping out the same hot guys! So when her boyfriend proposes in the worst possible way, Jazz knows her best friend will be there to pick up the pieces with gourmet popcorn, Pinot sleepovers and a shoulder to lean on.
But Mikey isn’t about to let Jasmine give up on love, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to mend her broken heart – even if it means helping the one person who sees him as the enemy…
Because at the end of the day, all’s fair in the pursuit of true love… right?
My Big Fat Christmas Wedding
Things don’t always run smoothly in the game of love…
As winter comes to her sleepy Greek island, former hot shot city girl Pippa Pattinson loves her new life of rustic simplicity, running a quaint teashop with her hot fiancé, Niko. But it’s been a quick change to slow living – and you can’t blame a girl for wondering as Christmas approaches, ‘how did I get here?’
As her Christmas wedding approaches, a trip back to snowy England for her ex’s engagement party makes her wonder if those are wedding bells she’s hearing in her mind, or warning bells. She longs for the excitement of her old London life – the glamour, the regular pedicures. Can she really give that all up to be…a fishwife?
There’s nothing for it but to throw herself into bringing a little Christmas magic to the struggling village in the form of a Christmas fair. Somewhere in amidst the sparkly bauble cakes and stollen scones, she’s hoping she’ll come to the right decision about where she belongs…fingers crossed in time for the wedding…
Game of Scones
A story of icing and flour… and how love doesn’t always go to plan!
Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones – with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niklaus by her side…
Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niklaus and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project: The Tastiest Little Tea Shop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…
Kimmy Jones has three loves: cupcakes, gossip magazines and dreaming of getting fit just by owning celeb workouts.
When Kimmy’s Sensible Boyfriend told her he didn’t approve of her longing for the high life or her dream of starting a cupcake company Kimmy thought she could compromise – after all, she did return those five-inch Paris Hilton heels! But asking her to trade in cake-making for a job sorting potatoes is a step too far.
So, newly single – and newly homeless – Kimmy needs a dusting of Christmas luck. And, masquerading as a professional house sitter, her new temporary home is the stunning Mistletoe Mansion. Soon she’s best buds with glamorous next door golf WAG Melissa, and orders are pouring in for her fabulous Merry Berry cupcakes! The only thorn in her side is handsome handyman Luke, a distraction she definitely doesn’t need. And talking of distractions, something very odd is going on at night…
Kimmy is finally living the life she’s always wanted. But will her glimpse into the glittering lifestyle of the rich and famous be as glamorous as she’s always imagined…?
From Paris With Love
Every girl dreams of hearing those four magical words Will you marry me? But no-one tells you what’s supposed to happen next…
Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!
A month-long cookery course in Paris could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Love has plenty to keep her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Paris makes her want to say Je t’aime… Except Edward!
But whilst Paris might offer plenty of distractions from wedding planning – including her new friends, mysterious Joe and hot French rockstar Blade – there’s no reason she couldn’t just try one or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun…
Swapping downstairs for upstairs… How hard can it be!?
Look up the phrase ordinary girl and you’ll see a picture of me, Gemma Goodwin – I only look half-decent after applying the entire contents of my make-up bag, and my dating track-record includes a man who treated me to dinner…at a kebab shop. No joke!
The only extraordinary thing about me is that I look EXACTLY like my BFF, Abbey Croxley. Oh, and that for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve agreed to swap identities and pretend be her to star in the TV show about her aristocratic family’s country estate, Million Dollar Mansion.
So now it’s not just my tan I’m faking – it’s Kate Middleton style demure hemlines and lady-like manners too. And amongst the hundreds of fusty etiquette rules I’m trying to cram into my head, there are two I really must remember; 1) No-one can ever find out that I’m just Gemma, who’d be more at home in the servants quarters. And 2) There can be absolutely no flirting with Abbey’s dishy but buttoned-up cousin, Lord Edward.
Aaargh, this is going to be harder than I thought…
Thanks to magpies and horseshoes in ‘Luck O’the Irish’, a romance blossoms. ‘Coco and ‘Biscuits’ unites a fussy grandmother and an old rescue cat with a keen left hook. Will the return of an abandoned shoe lead to love, in ‘The Last Dance’? And having sworn off men, how will the heroine cope when she meets her ideal partner in ‘The Ultimate Hero?’ In ‘Sisters, Sisters’ a disco-dancing stick insect brings together two very different siblings.
So curl up on the sofa, sip your hot chocolate and settle down for an uplifting read.
To brighten up your rainy days, why not treat yourself to “Sweet Talk”?