Sunshine and Secrets by Daisy James ** Blog Tour Author Post and Review**
Escape from the chilly weather we are having at the moment and take a trip to St. Lucia- if only we could! The next best thing is to read Daisy James' Sunshine and Secrets which was published by Canelo on March 19th. Daisy has written a great author post for us on the wonderful setting for her book, but first here's a little about it:
When newly heartbroken, michelin-starred chef Millie Harper is offered a job overseeing the setup of The Paradise Cookery School she jumps at the opportunity. Leaving London and her memories of heartbreak behind she hops on a plane to the hilltop cocoa plantation in St Lucia.
But this beautiful island break might be more work than she’d expected…. With only two weeks to have the kitchen installed, cocoa pods going missing from the plantation and the notoriously relaxed island workmen to contend with, she’s going to need some help. Gruff but charming estate manager Zach Baxter, is only too happy to offer his opinions. As the two clash heads can they remain focussed on the job in hand and get the cookery school finished in time?
Pack your bags and jump right into the sun and secrets of The Paradise Cookery School. Perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Jenny Oliver and Kat French.
Welcome to Books, Life and Everything, Daisy. Over to you!
A trip to St Lucia
When I decided to set Sunshine & Secrets in St Lucia I realised I needed to do a lot of research – but that was no hardship! I spent weeks scrolling through photographs of sun-kissed beach, brilliant blue skies and swaying palm trees craving a snooze in one of the hammocks stretched beneath the shade with a cocktail in one hand and a great romance novel in the other.
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I chose an old dilapidated cocoa plantation for the setting of The Paradise Cookery School, overlooking the town of Soufrière in the south of the island. The swimming pool and the veranda had a panoramic view of the spectacular Pitons too, which Millie, the
main character in the book, decided she had to climb before she left to return to the drab and drizzly streets of London in the winter.
However, St Lucia isn’t just about sun, sea, sand and sailing. The island has a wealth of attractions and activities on offer. Millie meets up with the cocoa plantation’s prickly estate manager, Zach, who suggests a trip to the open-air market in the island’s capital Castries - a veritable treasure trove for a professional chef - where she can sniff, squeeze and taste all the local produce available. Castries market doesn’t only sell fresh fruit and vegetable and that day’s catch, but also hand-made crafts and souvenirs like pottery, carved masks, woven hats and brightly coloured head scarves. However, the best thing to do at the market is sit with a drink, inhale the spice-infused aromas and soak up the atmosphere.
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There are plenty of activities to enjoy too, so it’s not all sitting around taste-testing the rum. Zach took Millie on a zip-wire ride through the tropical rainforest which, eventually, she loved.
So, if it’s cold, rainy and dull in your part of the world, why not take a virtual trip to the Caribbean and attend one of Millie Harper’s Paradise Cookery School courses? You won’t be disappointed!
Thanks, Daisy! You make it all sound so tempting- which of course it is!
The real star of the show in Sunshine and Secrets has to be the beautiful island of St Lucia. It oozes with personality and seems so vivid and colourful in the story. You can totally understand why Millie falls in love with the island. There's more to the story than the setting however, no matter how glorious it is. Millie is a lovely creation. Accident prone yet obviously a talented cook, you can believe how easily she settles into island life and makes friends. Several of the characters are nursing secrets of their own which you gradually begin to glimpse.
I particularly enjoyed Millie's friendship with Ella, who always told it like it is. The incorrigible builders and kitchen fitters add lots of humour to the story and test Millie's patience to the limit. Brimming with good humour, this is a rom com which can be savoured - a book to save for a dull March day when you need a little escapism and romance. You can't help but think that actually, you'd like to enrol at the Paradise Cookery School yourself and sample some of those gorgeous creations.
In short: Full of good humour and friendship as Millie takes a chance.
About the Author
Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
Thanks to Daisy James and Ellie Pilcher of Canelo for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.
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