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Jules Wake on the Inspiring Setting in From Rome With Love

With my new book, With Love From Rome, I’m hoping to spread a little sunshine in these cold months with a taste of the gorgeous heat and atmosphere that is uniquely the eternal city.

It’s one of my favourite cities and has always held a fascination since my first visit when I was only twelve. Sadly my first memory of the city was rather macabre, a body lying beside the road, draped in a tartan blanket and one sad, solitary, ugly black shoe in the middle of the road. My more recent visit was much more inspiring.

There are so many sights to see in Rome, it’s hard to know where to start, but on this trip I was lucky enough to see a rather unique part of the city.

This trip came about when a friend was posted to Rome. For obvious reasons when he invited us to come and stay, my husband and I jumped at the chance, despite his warning that the accommodation was basic and would be on a government compound. To be honest, how bad could that be, with all the city of Rome offered, we only needed a bed for the night.

So duly forewarned, we battled the hell that is Ryanair, our feet perched on top of piles of other people’s ‘hand luggage’, (the size of which would house my entire shoe collection, which is not inextensive) and emerged from the airport blinking into brilliant sunshine to be greeted by our lovely host.

Even driving into Rome, you immediately get a flavour of the uniqueness of this amazing city, where the ancient brushes shoulders with the modern in happy juxtaposition with busy roads intersected by aqueducts that are thousands of years old.

And yes, stereotypically, the traffic is bonkers, as you can see from the state of some of the cars and the haphazard parking on tiny narrow streets.

We pulled up outside the ‘government compound’ with its very ornate gate, to the right of which a discreet brass plaque which said British Embassy.

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Government compound my backside! Yes, here it is:

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The gates opened and we passed through security, rolling up along a drive through beautifully landscaped gardens.

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Our host casually pointed to the rather splendid palace to our right, the British Ambassador’s official residence, the Villa Wolkonsky.

We continued before pulling up outside a smaller, more modest residence but no less interesting because it’s built into the arch of an aqueduct built in the 1st Century AD by Emperor Claudius which cuts through the centre of the grounds (aka Government Compound!).

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It’s rather like a hermit crab that’s taken up residence in another shell.

Our room, complete with balcony overlooked the fabulous Villa.

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And here is the Villa Wolkonsky and I have to credit fellow author Clare Harvey who very kindly let me use her shot of the villa. In one of those amazing six degrees of separation, Clare and I share a mutual friend, our host at the compound, and she too stayed in this wonderful place and had much greater foresight than I in getting a decent picture of the Villa.

The Villa was originally owned by a Russian princess in the 1830’s who rather fittingly entertained numerous writers and artists there including Sir Walter Scott, Stendhal and Nikolai Gogol, who wrote much of his work, Dead Souls while staying here. In 1920 the Villa was bought by the German government and became the German embassy. According to my host, the gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, had to be deepened in readiness for a visit by Hitler. I was rather looking forward to saying I’d swum in the same pool as Hitler, unfortunately despite a visit to the Villa, he didn’t make use of the pool. Saying I’ve swum in the same pool as David Miliband, who holidayed here with his family in 2009, doesn’t quite have the same ring about it.

The British government temporarily took up residence in 1946 when the embassy at Porta Pia was blown up by terrorists and the government subsequently purchased it in 1951.

So, how could I resist – I had to use this unique and rather romantic setting in From Rome With Love. The house we stayed in became the apartment in which Lisa stays and there are a couple of scenes where she contemplates the gorgeous palazzo across the way from her balcony. It was rather lovely to revisit the house and the wonderful memories of the sights and sounds of Rome, when I wrote this book and I hope that readers will be able to feel a touch of sunshine between the pages.

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Thanks for sharing this gorgeous insight into Rome, Jules! From Rome With Love is out now, pick up your copy here today.

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Emma Heatherington on the Fragility of Time

To celebrate the publication of The Legacy of Lucy Harte by Emma Heatherington today we’ve been running a blog tour with the theme ‘New Year, New You’ this week. The final guest post is by none other than author Emma herself, in which she talks about the book, the fragility of time, and what the new year means to her!

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‘Sometimes time is all we have with the people we love the most. I ask you to slow down in life. To take your time, but don’t waste it….’ (Maggie O’Hara, The Legacy of Lucy Harte)

Time. Funny old thing really, isn’t it when you think about it? Whether we’re trying to beat the clock to gain a personal best, rushing around and cursing the clock for telling us we’re going to be late, it’s the one thing that we all need more of and we don’t know when it’s going to run out…or when our time will be up.

Life, as we all know, can change in a heartbeat – with a phone-call, an email, by good luck or by chance – everything can be different for better or worse but we don’t know when it will happen.

In my new novel, The Legacy of Lucy Harte, I decided to explore the fragility of time and how precious it really is through the story of Maggie O’Hara, a thirty-something verging on alcoholism and heading towards a downward spiral. When Maggie is at an all-time low, she receives the diary of Lucy Harte, the little girl who saved her life, which helps her to realise that her time on earth is perhaps more precious than most as she was given a second chance or ‘extra time’ through organ donation. So Maggie sets out to make the very best of her time by following Lucy’s bucket list of things the little girl wanted to do when she grew up, but never got to, and it takes her to many places where she learns to live in the moment and enjoy life to the full.

It is a bitter sweet, uplifting story and one which will certainly get you thinking of how you like to spend your time and who you spend it with, and more importantly, the need to live in and appreciate the present moment. It’s a reminder to look around you. To smell the flowers. To listen to birdsong. To touch nature. To hug more. Love more. Feel. Breathe…and most of all, to take nothing for granted.

A new year is always a time for reflection and for planning ahead – a chance to take stock of where we are and where we want to be. This year I won’t be making any promises to go on health kicks or change too much  – there is absolutely no point in me pledging to go to the gym for example because it’s never going to happen! I do have a few goals I’d like to aim for in my career so I’ve made a ‘to do list’ of sorts which I’m looking forward to trying to reach.

I have two more novels to finish, I have children to get through exams, there are places I want to go and see (top of the list is Nashville!) but mostly in 2017 I plan to continue to appreciate the little things that make my own clock tick – my family, my friends, my writing and my life as it is right here and now. I will do more of the things I love to do, I will do more of the things I love to do for others, I will try to cut out unnecessary negativity and step aside from those that bring it in my way.

We are all incredibly busy and our personal circumstances may make it hard to find time to do the things we want to do. I have five children who all have individual needs and demands and attention so I know it’s easier said than done but it’s so important to try and slow down and be grateful for the simplest of things.

We can’t stop the clocks unfortunately, and we can’t turn back time, but we can slow down even slightly and stop rushing, we can pause within ourselves so we can live in and love the moment. It’s so easy to live with regrets when it’s too late. Say what you have to say. Do what you have to do.

Maybe make more time for yourself this year? Make it more than a bubble bath once in a blue moon. Go for a walk. Listen to your favourite music. Watch a movie. Read a book. Do it for you, so that you can be the best version of yourself which will then reflect well on others.

Take more time for you, no matter if it’s a five minute cuppa, a brief step outside for fresh air or a good old night out on the tiles, if that’s your thing.

It’s a good place to start, because time is precious. Time flies. Don’t waste it.

Thanks so much for sharing this great advice, Emma!

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The Legacy of Lucy Harte is published today and you can get your copy here.

New Year, New Books

Now that the Christmas madness is over and the New Year fireworks have finally stopped, it’s time to look ahead to the books of 2017. Full of adventure, suspense and even some love along the way, we have three books that you need on your shelf this January.

The Legacy of Lucy Harte by Emma Heatherington

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A perfect novel for the new year, follow Maggie O’Hara as she tries to find her place in the world. Poignant and life-affirming. Tissues are a must.

Synopsis: Maggie O’Hara knows better than most that life can change in a heartbeat. Eighteen years ago she was given the most precious gift- a second-hand heart, and a second chance at life. Always thankful, Maggie has never forgotten Lucy Harte – the little girl who saved her life. But as Maggie’s own life begins to fall apart, and her heart is broken in love, she loses sight of everything she has to live for… Until an unexpected letter changes Maggie’s life. It seems Lucy’s final gift to Maggie is much more than the heart that beats inside her. It’s a legacy that Maggie must learn to live by, a promise to live, laugh, fall in love and heal her broken heart for good. Because as the keeper of a borrowed heart, Maggie’s time is more precious than most. She must make every cherished second count…

Available from January 6th, pre-order your copy now here.

Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin

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With the festive fun finally over it’s time to sink into something a little darker. This novel is full of suspense and family drama that is sure to have you hooked. The tension here is plentiful and we guarantee you’ll find it hard to put this book down.

Synopsis: Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar. Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous. Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life. Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family. One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac. Two sisters. One truth.

Available from January 6th, pre-order your copy now here.

From Rome with Love by Jules Wake

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A tale of love and family this book is perfect for those who are looking to indulge in a fantasy holiday. Escape to Rome with this wonderful story and join Lisa and Will on an unforgettable adventure.

Synopsis: Rome is the city of love and seduction, right? Not if you find yourself staying in a beautiful apartment with your childhood-friend-turned-arch-enemy, Will Ryan…no matter how hot he is! Romance is the last thing on Lisa’s mind. She’s got more important things to focus on, like hunting down her estranged father. Except when her search falls at the first hurdle, Will doesn’t just help her get back on track, he also shares the romantic sights – and exquisite tastes – of the Eternal City, and Lisa starts to wonder if it’s not just Rome seducing her. Only, as Lisa and Will dig into the past, neither of them is prepared for the long-buried secrets they reveal. Secrets that will turn both their world’s upside down …

Available from January 13th, pre-order your copy now here.

New Year’s Resolutions for Book Lovers

1. You promise not to buy any more books until you’ve finished your ‘to read’ list. You fail after a week when you spot a must-have in the January sales.

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2. You promise to stop bending the top corner of the page and vow to buy a bookmark you will use. When you start reading two books simultaneously you soon go back to folding.

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3.  You promise yourself that you will organise your shelves. You start with alphabetizing by the last name of the author. The colours are wrong and the genres are mixed up. You promptly re-jig and end up with a system only you can understand.

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4. You solemnly swear to not judge other people on their favourite book. You fail miserably when your colleague tells you about their Christmas reads.

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5. You promise yourself you’ll expand into other genres. You attempt to venture into science-fiction and promptly get distracted by the latest romance bestseller.

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6. You swear to not get grouchy when your reading time is interrupted. Good luck.

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7. You tell yourself you will find new and local bookstores. You can’t wait until you have time to hit the shops for that book you’re dying to read and you promptly whiz over to Amazon.

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9. You WILL donate the books you didn’t like/have multiple copies of and attempt to try to stop hoarding. You fail when you realise that this messes with your newly organised shelves.

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10. You promise to read books by authors you haven’t read before. This one, thankfully, you will probably succeed at.

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Video: Carmel Harrington’s Christmas Traditions

For today’s advent calendar treat we have a Christmas video message for you from Carmel Harrrington!

Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas traditions with us, Carmel!

Every Time a Bell Rings is a Kindle deal for all of December and you can get it for just 99p! Download your copy here today.

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