#BlogTour #BookReview – Summer in the Orchard by Fay Keenan (@faykeenan) @Aria_fiction

Thanks so much for this lovely review, Bernadette, and for being part of the blog tour :). So glad you enjoyed the novel! xx

BRMaycock's Book Blog

Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Summer In The Orchard by Fay Keenan!


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What they say:

Sophie Henderson loves her job at Carter’s Cider in the picturesque Somerset village of

Little Somerby, but with summer dawning before yet another picking and pressing season, and her boss David showing no signs of wanting to hang up his cider jug, perhaps it is time to move on.

She’s all set to hand in her notice when Alex Fraser, an intern from Vancouver, comes to

Little Somerby to learn everything he can about the cider business. With Sophie as his

mentor, attraction between them starts to grow alongside the apples.

For Alex, however, being in Little Somerby is about more than cider, and as the summer

grows warmer, and his relationship with Sophie blossoms, can he find the courage to tell…

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How Alex Fraser got his name…

Naming a character can be tricky; like naming a baby, I’ve found, only MUCH harder! After all, I only had to find names for two children, whereas characters…eek! And there are only so many times you can slip in the names of people you know before they start noticing. I’ve put my daughters’ names in my books, and one of my cats provided the name of one of my most popular characters. Bertie, my Weimaraner, played a cameo as a hound in Springtime at the Cider Kitchen, but if you start naming characters after people you know, they ask questions! I even had to change the name of a non-speaking character in this current novel because I was worried someone would think it was them (which it most definitely wasn’t!).

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 17.30.35The hero of my third novel, Summer in the Orchard, which is released this week, is called Alex Fraser. And he was always going to be Alex. The first name was easy. I fell in love with Keanu Reeves in The Lake House, and his character was called Alex, so when it came to a name for my next hero, Alex it was. The deal was sealed when I remembered that Keanu is also Canadian by birth, as I wanted Alex Fraser to be from Vancouver (Keanu Reeves grew up in Toronto). Job done! Physically, my Alex is a composite of Keanu and the wonderful Adam Driver, with a bit of Paul Gross thrown in for good measure, so the name just seemed to fit him.

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Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 17.29.09Alex’s surname was a little trickier, though. Initially I’d thought of another name, but after discussion with my editor we decided to change it to something a little different. But what? How could I choose a name that embodied all of Alex’s traits and wasn’t already in use elsewhere?

Then it came to me. When I was a teenager, I was utterly bonkers for a Canadian/British primetime drama called Due South.  Set in Chicago (although actually filmed in Montreal), it was the story of a fish-out-of-water Mountie who is paired up with a streetwise Chicago cop, initially to solve his father’s murder but then as liaison for the Canadian Consulate. I, of course, adored it. It had everything; great characterisation, lovely storylines and a swoonsome Mountie as hero…who just happened to be called Benton Fraser.

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I cannot stress enough how smitten I was with this character; tall, dark, handsome, shy, heroic, mildly awkward, looked great on a horse…he ticked a lot of boxes for me. Paul Gross played him so brilliantly that, years after the series ended and I’d grown up, he still stayed in my memory. When I was visiting New York in 2006 I even picked up the DVD box sets of the series when I spotted them, (unavailable, then, in the UK), so that I could replace the well worn VHS tapes that had seen me through the 1990s! In fact, I even slipped in a little Due South reference to the novel, as a kind of tribute  – I wonder if you’ll spot it?


Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 14.30.47Many writers have tried to analyse what made Due South such a huge hit; in fact, I used it in my early days as a Media Studies teacher to illustrate narrative structure, and the pre-911 sense of whimsy in drama that I grew up with. But it’s so much more than that. Paul Haggis, the writer and creator, developed something alchemical when he conceived the show. There was perfect, complementary characterisation in the two leads; David Marciano was the impeccable ‘other half’ of the duo with his wonderful humour, pathos and stage presence. The show had laughter, thrills, action, adventure, romance, heart, a deaf wolf…they’re all in there. As a teenager, and now as an author, I will always adore the tragedy of Ben and Victoria’s doomed love affair (in the episodes Victoria’s Secret), and the more lighthearted They Eat Horses, Don’t They? when Ben totally fails to pick up that he’s being picked up. And through it all was that wonderful friendship with Rays Vecchio and Kowalski.

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Ben Fraser was definitely one of my first crushes, so when it came to an alternative surname for Alex, it could only be Fraser. I hope that someday the lovely Paul Gross will find out that his brilliant portrayal of Ben Fraser’s laughter, tears, heartaches and heroics inspired me to name a leading man after the character he brought to life so brilliantly, and I hope he’d be flattered! (I even put him in the acknowledgements of the novel!)

Incidentally, Alex Fraser is the first non British hero I’ve written, so I hope that I did him justice (drawing, as I have, on the representations of Canadian men from Keanu Reeves and Paul Gross!).  When I changed his last name, I fell in love with him a little bit more. I hope you fall as much in love with Alex when you read Summer in the Orchard.

And if you haven’t read the first two novels in the Little Somerby series, here are the links so you can catch up…

My Author Page on Amazon uk



#BlogTour! #Review – Summer in the Orchard by Fay Keenan (@faykeenan) @Aria_fiction

A fab first stop on the blog tour for ‘Summer in the Orchard’ – thanks so much, Kaisha! xxx

The Writing Garnet

I am so excited to be kicking off the blog tour today for ‘Summer in the Orchard’ by Fay Keenan – huge thanks to Aria for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

Sophie Hendersonloves her job at Carter’s Cider in the picturesque Somerset village of LittleSomerby, but with summer dawning before yet another picking and pressing season, and her boss David showing no signs of wanting to hang up his cider jug, perhaps it is time to move on.

She’s all set to hand in her notice whenAlex Fraser, an intern from Vancouver, comes to LittleSomerbyto learn everything he canabout the cider business. With Sophie as his mentor, attraction between them starts to grow alongside the apples.

For Alex, however, being in LittleSomerbyis about more than cider, and as the summer grows warmer, and his relationship with…

View original post 539 more words

2018 review…what I know now.

Well, that’s another year almost in the bag. And what a year it’s been! Starting with the release of my second novel, Springtime at the Cider Kitchen, and ending with the burning anticipation of the release of my third book, Summer in the Orchard on 3rd January 2019, it’s, in one sense, a year bookended by books.

It’s been a year of brilliant highs and some challenging lows; laughter, tears, grief, joy, happiness, frustration, truth, lies, questions and some answers. But one thing it has taught me, both at a writing level and a life level, is that it’s important to keep moving forward; to take the lessons from the past, but to anticipate the future with an open heart and an open mind; to live each day well, and not to fear the darkness; to make the changes that you can, but not concern yourself with the things that are out of your control. In some ways it’s been the most challenging year of my life; but I’ve learned from the challenges and I truly believe things are better for them.

One thing I’m taking with me into 2019 is the idea that I can be the change for some things; I can make a difference to my own life and hopefully the lives of those I love. I learned that I can actually run 5k this year, after years of telling myself I wasn’t that kind of person. I’ve learned that I can do this book writing job alongside the day job, the wife job, the mother job, the million and one other things that make up the mental load of a woman in the twenty first century, and, some of the time, I can do them all well. But I’ve also learned that when the darkness comes, sometimes it’s better to accept it, to acknowledge that there are some things that aren’t in your power to change. You can question, you can advise, but at the end of the day, you cannot change things that are ingrained, are absolute; the best you can do is accept and move forward, with love in your heart and a candle in your hand, ready to light it when the darkness is done. No-one knows what the future holds, but the best thing we can do is greet it with a smile and an open heart. I’ve always tried to do this, but for me 2019 will be even more about that idea. And something tells me that 2019 will be a great year. I can feel it!

So I wish you all a wonderful New Year. Thank you for being with me this year, and I look forward to seeing where life takes us all in 2019 – I just know it’s going to be a brilliant one!

If you want to pre-order a copy of my third novel, Summer in the Orchard, click the pic for the link:


Peter Rabbit, or, as I like to call it, ‘The Tale of Thomas and Bea’.

A friend lent me the DVD of the 2018 adaptation of Peter Rabbit this week, and, as has become the custom in these colder winter months, I sat down with the family to watch it on Sunday afternoon. Not knowing anything about the style of the film except that it is, obviously based on the cute, mischievous character created by Beatrix Potter, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. And boy, was I surprised by it!

As a piece of cinema, it feels like two different films shoved together to become one. On the one side, it’s a zany, slapstick, slightly vicious comedy about a family of rabbits who employ terror tactics to ensure they can keep eating fruit and veg from Mr McGregor’s garden. On the other, it’s a cute romance between uptight, repressed, affection starved Thomas McGregor and his sweet, compassionate, artistic neighbour Bea. If I was eight years old, I’d probably love the antics of the rabbits (even though pelting someone with blackberries when they’re allergic to them, and electrocuting them out of their own house could barely be described as antics, more a kind of furry terrorism), but as an adult I just had the urge to do a Glenn Close and cook them.

bea and thomasOn the positive side, Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne are utterly adorable as Thomas and Bea, and I found myself getting very invested in the outcome of their relationship. He’s a toy shop manager with abandonment issues and she’s an artist with, well, painting issues, and they discover each other so beautifully. As Thomas starts to unwind, to appreciate this new life that he has inherited, and Bea shows him that there is more to life than order, arrangement and control over his environment, they fall in love. Every scene they were in together, they stole, and the achingly romantic ‘apology’ demonstration in the conservatory had me all a-flutter. I would say, actually, that it’s a more loaded moment than their actual kiss, but then I am a lover of romance!

These two ideas – militant, delinquent rabbits  and awkwardly adorable humans  aren’t mutually compatible on a number of levels. What should be cute somehow turns vicious, and although I loved Peter’s ‘apology’ scenes to his siblings and then to Bea, I couldn’t quite forgive him for the nastiness of his actions. I understand the motivations – he’s lost both parents and has a vendetta against McGregor senior for putting his dad in a pie, and on some level he can be interpreted as a jealous child, trying to sabotage a parent’s new relationship (he arguably sees Bea as a maternal figure). But there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with a lot of the action scenes (barring the travel montage at the end, which was great fun). I was left thinking that, actually, I’d have watched a whole film about Bea and Thomas, without the rabbits, and I’d probably have liked it more. Of course, as I said, I’m not really the target audience!

Because of this, the elements of character development I really wanted to see were only alluded to, rather than explored fully. Take Thomas, for example. He’s coiled so tightly at the beginning of the film that anything that throws him out of his routine sends him into meltdown. We find out later on, when he’s talking to Bea on the riverbank, that he lost both parents, and was brought up in care. If this had been a different film, we’d have had more exploration, more tension here. There are hints that he’s been starved of affection scattered through the film – his voluptuously ecstatic, cat-like appreciation of Bea towelling his hair dry after they are caught in the rainstorm, when he throws himself down on the riverbank during a picnic with Bea, and, as I’ve mentioned before, the  ‘apology’ moment in the conservatory when Bea brings her forehead to his to demonstrate why rabbits do it better, complete with his awkward, but enthusiastic response, culminating in a half smile.

As some commentators have said, Gleeson walks a tightrope in this film between antagonist and romantic lead, and he does it very well, considering the lack of character development. If this had been a different film, Thomas McGregor would have had even more depth, but as it is, Gleeson executes what he is given perfectly, and beautifully.

bea tom kiss

Similarly, Byrne in her role as the gentle and saccharine Bea emits sweetness and light, tinged with the slightest of edges (although if a huge tree had crashed on my house, and my love interest had apparently been responsible for that, I’d have been a whole lot more angry! Again though, different film…). She tries to give Thomas the love and  emotional rehabilitation he so badly craves, even though she is, at the very least, unobservant. I mean, who’s not going to notice being stalked at every turn by a family of clothes wearing bunnies?! And as for the whole the-rabbits-can-talk issue…

So, all in all, there were lots of things to love about this film, although most of them were of the two footed rather than four legged variety. I’m hoping for a sequel, but only because I want to see Thomas and Bea having their happily ever after, and celebrating their wedding with not a cake, but a rabbit pie.

#CoverReveal – SUMMER IN THE ORCHARD by Fay Keenan

Thanks so much for being part of the cover reveal 🙂 xxx

Book Lover in Florida

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