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Review by Suze
Bonnie is trapped in an unhappy marriage. Stephen is possessive, lazy and uncaring. Bonnie is only there to do chores for him and they sleep in separate bedrooms. Stephen keeps telling her he knows what's best and Bonnie needs to follow his instructions. She's done with it though and no matter what the consequences will be, she's planning on choosing happiness this time. She's working in an antiques shop and when her boss tries to rob an old lady she prevents it and loses her position. Fortunately a new business has just opened and the owner, Lew, is looking for a capable assistant. Will working for him bring Bonnie some joy and color in her empty life?
Lew almost died and it made him realize he needed to make some changes in his life. He quit his job in London and opened an antiques shop instead. Lew is well-off, but his wife Charlotte spends the money a lot faster than he can earn it. Lew always assumed his marriage was happy and he was content with his life at home, but now that he's working together with Bonnie there are certain questions he starts asking himself. Is there a chance Lew and Bonnie find happiness together or are their problems so big they can't find their way out of them?
The Queen of Wishful Thinking is one of the most wonderful romantic stories I've read in a very long time. Bonnie is a sweetheart and despite being married to a cheap killjoy she has a lively spirit and brings cheerfulness wherever she goes. Lew is a kindhearted and gentle man. He's a good friend, he does everything he can to make the people he loves as happy as possible and he's attentive and caring. Bonnie and Lew have a lot in common and I liked how amazing their personalities are. Reading about them put a big smile on my face. They're the most loving main characters I've ever read about and I was instantly attracted to their generosity and beautiful personalities.
Lew owns an antiques shop and this setting is fantastic. Milly Johnson clearly knows what she's writing about and it makes the shop, the customers and the colleagues come to life in a terrific way. It's the little details, like the funny fitting nicknames the people in the antique business have for each other, that are making her setting so special. I loved the descriptions of the store itself, the antiques that are being sold and the warm and welcoming atmosphere of Lew's shop. It's the perfect setting for a story about two people who are lovely and good and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen to them. I was completely spellbound by the magic of the antiques business and the fascinating people who are part of it.
The Queen of Wishful Thinking is a beautiful story. Stephen and Charlotte are lousy spouses and their dark characters are a stark contrast to the lightness of Bonnie and Lew. They are each other's complete opposites and I loved that angle of the story. Every new chapter of Milly Johnson's novel managed to surprise me. She writes about the most diverse topics and they all have their natural place in her story. She's incredibly skilled at building up tension and making her readers part of the atmosphere she's created. I absolutely loved The Queen of Wishful Thinking and highly recommend this brilliant book.
If you love unusual romantic stories with plenty of surprising twists and turns you should definitely read The Queen of Wishful Thinking.
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Review by Suze
Eve's great-aunt Evelyn passed away and Eve is surprised she's left her something in her will. Eve doesn't expect much because her aunt didn't have many possessions. She's stunned when she hears that she's inherited half of a theme park. Evelyn was working hard to make her dream come true, a Christmas themed park. There are two small problems with this inheritance, Eve hates Christmas and she has to share it with a man she doesn't know. She's never met Jacques and Evelyn never talked about him either. Eve is wary and he keeps irritating her, but everyone seems to like him. Is she right about his intentions?
Organizing is in Eve's blood, so Winterworld is a challenge she gladly accepts. Even if it means working together with the mysterious Jacques. However, accepting the challenge is only the beginning of the difficult times Eve has ahead of her. Will aunt Evelyn's inheritance make Eve believe in the magic of Christmas and is there a chance she will finally defrost after many cold years filled with grief? Is aunt Evelyn's last gift a chance at happiness for Eve or will it bring her even more heartache?
Eve has been through a lot and even though she's strong she's put big walls around her heart. She's kind and loving, but also pretty stiff and she doesn't know how to have fun any longer. I felt sad when I read about her pain and kept hoping someone would make her feel alive and warm again instead of cold and frozen. Jacques is the ideal candidate, but his beautiful spirit, his goodness and his overall charm make Eve feel out of sorts and she treats him in a distant frosty manner. He's such a gentle soul and I kept hoping she would open her heart to him like everyone else, or even more. Their connection is interesting and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to them. I read A Winter Flame in one sitting because of it. When, after many unexpected twists and turns, Eve finally finds out the truth about Jacques I had tears in my eyes. Their story is truly mesmerizing.
A Winter Flame is a wonderful heartwarming story. The idea of a Christmas themed theme park is fantastic and I instantly fell in love with Winterworld. Milly Johnson's creative, colorful and loving descriptions make the park come to life incredibly well. I especially loved the cozy atmosphere, the obvious joy Christmas brings to people and the adorable animals. A Winter Flame is a book to fall in love with, the story is funny, sweet, captivating and enchanting. The magic of Christmas is spellbinding and the romance put a big smile on my face. I really enjoyed this delightful dreamy novel.
A Winter Flame is part of The Four Seasons series, but can easily be read as a standalone. It's a perfect story for readers who love original romantic winter books.
About Milly Johnson
Hello. My name is Milly Johnson and I’m a novelist, poet, after-dinner speaker, professional joke writer, columnist, cruise correspondent, short-story writer, winner of Come Dine With Me – and I pop up on the telly sometimes.
I come from Barnsley in South Yorkshire where I’ve lived all my life – apart from a few years at University in Exeter doing Drama and Haworth in West Yorkshire, where I went hoping to catch some Bronte writing magic. BUT I am a half-Scot. My mum and her clan are from Glasgow.
I used to teach, trained for a while as an accountant, worked in sales, offices, mills, and a suggestion scheme. I’ve sold cruises (although I was sacked for ‘having an accent better suited to the textile industry’) and was a professional greetings card copywriter for many years along with the best friends you’ll ever find. My first job was ghost-writing for Purple Ronnie when it first hit the scene in the 1980s.
I gave it my last and final big shot to break into books when I hit 40 and did it and haven’t looked back. I love what I do and I hope that comes through.
I live with my partner, my teenage sons and cats around the corner from my mam and dad in the centre of Barnsley.
I’m a regular on the MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER circuit and can tailor make a speech to your requirements. No audience too large… please contact me for details or via The Women’s Speakers agency.
Some (possibly) Interesting Links for you
The Books and the City page on my publishers website has some fab interviews, giveaways, amazing comps – join their mailing list so you don’t miss out! I also write a monthly column on their Features page. Don’t expect anything highbrow!
I’ve written some articles which you may like to read.
Why (and how) I write Romantic Comedy for the Writers and Artists Yearbook
My Top Five Romantic Heroines
My Top Ten Tips for Writing RomComs
Inspiration behind Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe
The Ten Commandments of Writing
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Yes, my name is Milly Johnson and I come from Yorkshire in the UK. I’m a mum of two teenage boys and a great animal lover. I’ve never really wanted to do anything but write books and kept trying to secure this as a job for many years before I finally made it. I couldn’t let my dream go unfulfilled so I gave it everything I had. I like cruising on big ships. craftwork, reading, films, red wine and good food. My books have happy endings but that doesn’t mean that they are ‘light’ reads. I write about real life which is often gritty, but I do always deliver a happy ending. Which also happens in real life. You can give your readers a satisfactory end without it feeling too manufactured.
2. What makes your heart beat faster?
In a bad way… roller coasters. I cannot think of anything worse than being in a queue for a very fast roller coaster and feeling that sense of dread. In a good way, seeing my man in a suit. My heart starts thumping big time.
3. If you could create the perfect romantic day what would it look like?
I would wake up on a yacht, open the curtains to brilliant sunshine and sit on the balcony drinking coffee with my other half as we sailed down the Grand Canal in Venice. We would disembark and find Venice quiet and not full of tourists, as it usually is. We would catch a vaporetto and island hop just walking around the streets and then lunch at a beautiful little restaurant we found a couple of years ago which overlooks the canal eating lasagne and drinking Prosecco. Then ice-cream - obviously. We would mosey around the shops buying anything we wanted and have a coffee in Florian, talking, being together, people watching. Then we would return to our yacht, dress for the evening, go to the opera and then have lobster pasta at the restaurant next door, al fresco. Then we would return to our yacht, have a night cap on deck and retire to bed. Bliss.
4. Who are your favorite romantic couple?
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. He was still eyeing up her bottom in his seventies.
5. Could you describe what romance means to you?
We all want to feel loved and desired and excited - and accepted. Romance, to me, is the thing that makes you wake up with a smile that carries you through the whole day and gives you enough energy to run a marathon. I wish I could bottle it and sell it.
6. Do you find it difficult to write about romance?
Not at all. I’ve been in love and suffered heartbreak many times and think I have a handle on what ticks the romantic boxes for women - and men.
7. Can you tell us about your most romantic experience?
In my early twenties, in my university vacations I worked in Wales as a barmaid, I once fancied a Welsh farmer who was delicious. One evening he came in - and no one else did - so I had him all to myself all evening and we talked and enjoyed each other’s company. When it was time for him to leave, it was raining, so I grabbed the huge umbrella from the kitchen and I walked outside with him, both of us underneath it, his arm around my waist. At his car he said ‘Right then, I’ll just kiss you goodnight,’ grabbed me and snogged the face off me. And, I swear, from inside the bar Barbara Streisand’s track was belting out ‘Kiss me in the rain.’ That was all I had of him, but I still smile whenever I hear that record.
8. What kind of music do you like to listen to when you're in a romantic mood?
I much prefer soft rock to anything lighter. ‘Is this Love’ by Whitesnake would be my record of choice. Something with a heavy drum beat and plenty of bass.
9. Which country personafies romance for you and why?
Italy - without a question. I love their men, I love their food and their wine and their cities - and their women are gorgeous.
10. What can we expect from you in the future?
More romantic books - I haven’t run out of ideas yet. But I’m also writing a crime thriller under a different name and unleashing my dark side onto the paper, which is great fun and something I have wanted to do for years.
Two very lucky readers of With Love For Books will receive a signed book by Milly Johnson, stationary and a bookmark.
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