Ellie’s Summer Songs: Week One

Hi all! Ellie here! As some of you may already know I’m a bit of a Taylor Swift fan in my spare time (who isn’t these days?!) and as I was sitting working I realised how much I love having a good playlist on the go to help me concentrate. Therefore in the aim of promoting a good work ethic in both myself and you lovely people, I thought I’d start the new Harper Impulse institution of Ellie’s Summer Songs! I’ll post some music videos I’ve been loving each week (don’t worry, I’ll try and limit myself on the Taylor Swift front but give me a shout if there’s any particular songs of hers you love and want featured!) Go ahead and comment if you have any extra recommendations for me or an artist you simply can’t get enough of! Enjoy Week One!!

Ed Sheeran – Afire Love

‘Put your open lips on mine/ And slowly let them shut/ For they’re designed to be together oh
With your body next to mine/ Our hearts will beat as one/ And we set alight/ We’re afire love’

Taylor Swift – Sparks Fly

‘Drop everything now/ Meet me in the pouring rain/ Kiss me on the sidewalk/ Take away the pain/
‘Cause I see sparks fly whenever you smile’

Gabrielle Aplin – Panic Cord

‘This meant more to you than it did to me/ I was full of doubt and you believed
The more that you keep coming over/ The more I know it’s over, dear
We’re just a box of souvenirs’

Neon Trees – Everybody Talks

‘Never thought I’d live to see the day/ When everybody’s words got in the way
Hey sugar show me all your love/ All you’re giving me is friction/ Hey sugar what you gotta say?
It started with a whisper/ And that was when I kissed her/ And then she made my lips hurt’

Jake Bugg – Simple as This

‘Travelled to each ocean’s end/ Saw all seven wonders, trying to make some sense/
Memorised the mantra Confucius said/ But it only let me down.’

Hozier – Someone New

‘There’s an art to life’s distractions,/ To somehow escape the burning weight, the art of scraping through,
Some like to imagine,/ The dark caress of someone else, I guess any thrill will do’

Meet the Blogger: Ali Williams

1)  Name: Ali Williams

2)  Place and date of birth: Carshalton, London, on 8th March 1988,  Inexplicably, born to Can I Play with Madness by Iron Maiden; my mum still hasn’t forgiven my dad for that.ali williams

3)  Tell us about yourself in 100 words or less:  I grew up in Croydon, and spent my teenage years in a convent girls’ school, and postscripted this by fleeing to university where I discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica.  After leaving uni, I joined teaching (massive mistake) and then made the best decision of my life when I quit and started blogging.  These days I live in the wilds of West Sussex, and spend whatever time I have outside of work writing, reading and forcing my ever-suffering fiancé to watch Grand Designs.

4)  Twitter address: @CLAficionado

5)  What was your first ever job? I was hired by my university, along with nine other students, to recatalogue the entirety of its collections.  We spent our time discovering long forgotten tomes and playing frisbee on the lawns:  Best.  Summer.  Ever.

6)  Have you always wanted to be in publishing? Strangely, despite a degree in English Literature and a Masters in Shakespeare, I’m not in a lit-based career – I’m a data analyst and team leader for exams and admissions in a school in North London.

7)  Aside from reading, what is your favourite thing to do? We’ve just bought a digital piano for our flat (complete with headphones, so I don’t annoy the neighbours), so I play an awful lot.  I’ve also recently become rather addicted to the scandal and soap-operainess of professional wrestling, so we tend to watch that a fair bit.  And of course writing.  I love to write.

8)  What are your top ten favourite books? Ten are almost impossible to choose, but here goes:

    1 – The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: self explanatory, the man was a genius

2 – Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery:  scandal, romance and a bad girl for a heroine?  What’s not to love?

3 – Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope genuinely one of the most laugh out loud books I’ve ever come across, which intertwines biting satire with gentle romance

4 – Persuasion by Jane Austen:  for the perfect quote – “All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one: you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone”

5 – American Gods by Neil Gaiman:  the best book I’ve read in the last ten years.

6 – Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch:  a love letter to London, and the perfect marriage of crime and fantasy.

7 – His Until Midnight by Nikki Logan:  because it does everything a category romance novel should – breaks your heart and mends it all in one

8 – You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane:  an absolute gem of a book, which (again) happens to break my heart and mend it!

9 – The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes:  she manages to talk about depression in a way that is both witty and refreshingly frank, and that is beyond admirable.

10 – Anything in the Tortall Universe by Tamora Pierce:  intersectional, romantic and fantastical, she’s my ultimate comfort read.

9)  What are your top three romantic books and why? I find these questions so difficult to answer, because I love so many!  I suppose it’s easier if I cover some of my authors instead: old school romance (post-Austen and the Brontes), I’d say Geogrette Heyer, Mary Stewart and L. M. Montgomery, that ilk.  But I also think that Carmel Harrington’s an incredible talent and I’m loving discovering more and more HarperImpulse authors!

10)  What are your top three romantic movie/TV kisses and why? I’ve actually written a piece on the best film kisses, but more recently I’d like to add Wade and Zoe’s kiss in the rain, from Hart of Dixie, and also any kiss that involves actor Ben McKenzie!


Ali Williams grew up in Croydon and spent her teenage years in a convent girls’ school. She then fled to university where she discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica.

These days she blogs about perceptions of romance, chick lit and women in society and spends the rest of her time promoting #StrongRomanceHeroines on Twitter, and cracking on with her first novel, Breakfast in Tunford.

Editor for the Pink Heart Societyguest blogger for Mills & Boon and occasional columnist for For Books’ Sake, she defies you to slam romance novels within her hearing!


Meet the Intern: Ellie Russell

We’re delighted to have the lovely Ellie here at HC over the summer, helping out on all things Impulse. Here she is to tell you a little bit more about herself…

ellie anchor

  1. Name: Eleanor Russell, but everyone calls me Ellie. My mum thought I would grow into being an Eleanor but it hasn’t quite happened yet…
  1. Place and date of birth: 10th July 1993 (I just turned 22! Queue the Taylor Swift song…) Born in Enfield, London
  1. Tell us about yourself in 100 words or less: Despite having been born in London, it wasn’t long before we moved out of the city and up to (sometimes) sunny Shropshire, which is pretty different to life in the Big Smoke… It turns out the countryside wasn’t really for me so as soon as I got the opportunity I applied to universities in London and was fortunate enough to get into King’s College London to study English Literature (what else?)! I graduated from there last summer and now I’m slowly trying to make my way into publishing and reading everything I can get my hands on :)
  1. Twitter address: @erdrussell
  1. What was your first ever job? My first ever job was probably working in Oxfam Bookshop which I did as part of D of E – I wasn’t allowed to work the till but I did a lot of moving books and ate a fair few amount of biscuits for someone who only worked an hour every Saturday…
  1. Have you always wanted to be in publishing? Well I always knew I loved books but I went through quite a few career aspirations growing up – including a strong desire to become a pathologist at one point. Though I think this was mainly based on watching too much Silent Witness, rather than any real love for dead bodies… reading romance novels seems a much better thing to have aimed for in hindsight
  1. Aside from reading, what is your favourite thing to do? All the normal things really! Chatting to friends, watching films, eating sweets… I also love to travel – if any of you haven’t been to Venice then stop what you are doing and go now! Unless of course you have deadlines and such…
  1. What are your top ten favourite books? Just 10? Fairly near the top of the list I’d have to have Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre – these are the books that made me love English Literature. Then I’d probably add Mrs Dalloway – although it took me a while to be able to truly appreciate it! Departing from the classics I would then have to add any book by Belinda Jones (contemporary romance with great locations) or Julia Quinn (witty historical fiction) – but to narrow it down my favourite by each respectively would be I Love Capri and The Viscount Who Loved Me. And my final few would be some of the things I only finished reading recently! Including the fantastic How to be Both by Ali Smith (which just won the Bailey Prize!), The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett and the incredible Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
  1. What are your top three romantic books and why? I think I might have already covered this in the previous answer but I guess I can explain why I love them! So first and foremost, as it is for so many people, is Pride & Prejudice – I remember when my auntie sat me down to watch the BBC version at a fairly young age and I’ve been obsessed ever since! It was only a little while after that that I read the book and immediately realised how fantastic Jane Austen is! Not only does she write fantastic love stories but they’re filled with so much insightful social commentary, not to mention the comedy! Introduce me to a good Jane Austen spin off/ adaptation/ re-write and I will love you forever. Next up is Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me, which is basically contemporarily written Jane Austen, regency love with a couple of sex scenes thrown in, and fantastic wit between the couples! Last but by no means least is Belinda Jones and I Love Capri – all of Belinda’s novels are set in fantastic places which completely come alive under her master touch. Start reading and before long you’ll be booking your own flights abroad and scanning the horizon for a romantic hero.
  1. What are your top three romantic movie/TV kisses and why? These questions are so hard! Limit myself to just 3?! I would definitely have to start with the kiss from North & South – not only is Richard Armitage completely gorgeous but by the end of 4 hours of drama and misunderstandings this kiss could not come sooner! Finally the pair understand each other and this kiss is filled with the promise of many more to come… Next up I’d have to say You’ve Got Mail – this is pretty much my all-time favourite film and any time I get ill it’s the first thing I put on. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan so obviously belong together and their kiss is perfect! Lastly, I’ve got the deeply melodramatic but endlessly tragic Titanic – when I first saw this I cried, not just for Jack and Rose but for the countless number of people who were dying way before their time. Titanic is the type of film which stays with you forever, and Jack and Rose’s intensely passionate love story is a romance to end all romances.

Escape to Cornwall for a Tea Break with Debbie Johnson & Cornish Fairings

Now the national heatwave has rather decidedly come to an end, it’s back to dreaming of summer in the sun, with most of the office off on staycations to Cornwall! What better way to transport you there than Debbie Johnson’s fantastic new book Pippa’s Cornish Dream and this fab recipe for some delicious Cornish biscuits (courtesy of BBC Good Food), for which editor Charlotte Ledger tried to channel Poldark’s Demelza…and failed.


Cornish Ginger Fairingsme baking

  • 100g butter, diced, plus extra for the baking sheet
  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup



Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets.

Put the flour, ¼ tsp salt, baking powder, bicarb and spices in a food processor. Add the diced butter and whizz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Tip into a bowl and stir in the sugar.

Gently warm the golden syrup in a pan, add to the mixture and stir to form a dough.

Roll the dough into 16 walnut-sized balls, then arrange, at least 2cm apart, on the baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 mins until golden. Cool on the trays before transferring to a wire rack. Now all you need to do is enjoy!



Cornish Fairings

Pippa’s Cornish Dream is available to download now:

The Top Ten Most Romantic Spots in Cornwall – Part Two

i love cornwall


As you know from our previous post Cornwall is one of the most beautiful (and romantic) spots in all of Britain – just read Debbie Johnson‘s fantastic novel Pippa’s Cornish Dream if you don’t believe us!

With that in mind, read on for our final 5 top romantic spots – many thanks to the incredible Visit Cornwall for letting us in on their beloved secrets…



We start with Lusty Glaze Beach… To be honest, you could pick any one of Cornwall’s beaches and declare them a romantic spot because quite frankly anywhere with glistening sand and crashing waves has the capacity to send couples starry-eyed, but with a name like Lusty Glaze this north coast beach, which is kissing distance from Newquay, has got to be a love highlight. As a unique venue for weddings, the beautiful horseshoe shaped private cove has seen its fair share of romance and for couples that prefer to show their love in less traditional ways, the beach is also renowned for its adventure activities – surely there’s no better way to say ‘I love you’ than on the Lusty 750ft zip wire!

lusty beach

This iconic island has provided the backdrop to countless special moments and has even been named one of the top places in the country to pop the question, so loved up couples looking for the ultimate in romance can’t go wrong by heading to St Michael’s Mount. Cross the causeway where a legendary giant once walked, follow the footsteps of pilgrims or boat hop to an island where modern life meets layers of history. Time it right and catch the evocative castle drenched in the glow of a stunning sunset… end your experience with a glass of Cornish bubbly in one of Marazion’s many fantastic restaurants that share a picture postcard view of the magical Mount.


A stone it may be but this isn’t just any stone, the Tristan Stone is an ancient monument marking the grave of noble Knight of the Round Table, Tristan, who inspired one of the greatest love stories of British history. When Tristan fell in love with the beautiful Irish princess Isolde who was the wife of his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, it could only be ill-fated and their tragic affair has inspired poets for centuries. So for those in need of a helping hand to get into the romantic spirit, this local landmark and its magical tale is a vital pit stop en-route to an intimate meal in Fowey – guaranteed to fill heads with some much needed passion!

tristan stone

Frenchman’s Creek on the Helford Estuary was the honeymoon location of choice for Daphne & her husband and it was here that Du Maurier was inspired to write her famous novel about love and pirates (and what greater combination could there be?). Discover the intimacy and serenity of the area yourself by stepping onto the footpath which runs beside Frenchman’s Creek. It is all too easy to imagine that the call of a waterbird is really the whistle of the French hero, summoning his English mistress to his pirate ship, and that the lapping of the waves is the sound of his first mate rowing in to fetch her.


Finally it’s time to pretend you’re in the movies by taking to the wheel and following the coastal roads from St Ives to Land’s End. With the wind in your hair, smooth tunes on the stereo and views even more beautiful at every twist and turn, it’s a drive guaranteed to set the mood for love. The road quite literally hugs the remote coastline and falls away across fields which rest on mighty cliffs making it the perfect journey to go slow and savour…

land end


Sadly, that’s the end of our top 10 most romantic spots in Cornwall – for more info (and if you can’t wait to start planning your holiday now!) visit Visit CornwallAnd if you want some more Cornish romance, indulge yourself by picking up a copy of Debbie Johnson‘s fantastic novel Pippa’s Cornish Dream!

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