The one where it’s publication day for Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow

Almost exactly two years since the first book in the series was published (Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow on 2nd July 2020), we return to the hedgehog rescue centre for the fifth instalment with Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow.

I am so touched by how much love there is for this series. The first four books combined have already sold more than 200,000 copies across all formats. Thank you so much to everyone who has made this possible.

Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow is out today in all formats. Publication days are exciting but also a little nerve-wracking, awaiting the verdict. The early reviews have been very encouraging so I hope it will continue that way.

Boldwood Books through Rachel’s Random Resources have organised a blog tour so thank you to the amazing bloggers/reviewers who are participating. The first two reviews in have been gorgeous 5-star ones which have helped allay some of the nerves.

My publication biscuits from Boldwood Books made by Enchanting Bakes have arrived and look delicious and my husband bought me the most gorgeous publication day plant. I love flowers and plants but I’m not very good with them. This one looks pretty hardy so fingers crossed it will last! My mum and dad also gave me the most adorable publication day card. It’s by a North Yorkshire-based artist called Bree Merryn who specialises in wildlife drawings. You can find her website here and she has some stunning hedgehog prints and cushions. Just search ‘hedgehog’ and you’ll feel very happy!

So how am I spending publication day? I’m in the Beverley chapter of the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) and we meet on the last Tuesday evening of the month so it’s our meeting tonight. As Beverley is an hour away from me, I like to make the most of the trip out so meet my bestie Sharon Booth for lunch and we are always amazed how six-and-a-half hours can whizz by before we need to head to our meeting. I only saw Sharon yesterday when we met up with another amazing author, Eliza J Scott, but we’ll still have loads to talk about.

Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow on eBook, audio, paperback or has ordered a signed paperback from me. I’ll be anxiously checking my chart position across the day. I was very excited to see it at #7 in the overall AppleBooks chart first thing and #1 in the Fiction and Literature category.

It’s Top 250 (not that that’s a thing!) in the Audible chart already and just outside the Top 500 on Kindle but will hopefully make it into the Top 100 before the end of the day based on pre-orders and first day sales. Keep scampering, little hedgehogs!

Tomorrow, Fiona and Sue over on Heidi Swain & Friends – A Facebook Book Club are kindly hosting a publication day party for me. This is a lovely book group so if you’re a fan of Heidi Swain’s wonderful stories and books like those, do consider joining the group. They’re also hosting a Facebook Live with me on Monday 4th July at 7pm. You can join that event here although it’s possible you may need to be a member of the group first. Not 100% sure on that one.

I’m off to eat my publication day biscuits now. Nom nom nom.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

Samantha has a secret. Returning home from her dream honeymoon to the normality of running her beloved Hedgehog Hollow rescue centre, she’s ready for the next chapter of her life with Josh. Or is she? Samantha is hiding something which could forever change the dreams they shared and bring their happy ever after crashing to the ground.

Lauren has given up on love. Twenty-six years ago the love of her life, Shaun, left her a note and was never seen again. Two painful divorces later she still can’t face opening up to anyone. But little does Lauren know that the closure she’s dreamt of for all these years may be closer than she thinks, and perhaps the only way to let new love in is to forgive and forget.

Samantha and Lauren will need the love and support from the Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever. After all, some dreams are worth chasing…

Top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland welcomes you back to glorious Hedgehog Hollow where love, family and friendship conquer all.

The one where I thank everyone for the amazing Spring Tides Blog Tour

Spring Tides at The Starfish Café – the second book in The Starfish Café series – was released on 5th April and has been on a blog tour. Officially the tour ended on Tuesday but there were a couple of bloggers unable to post on time so I wanted to watch out for those before I posted my thank you. And I was away on holiday and it’s so much easier being on my bigger screen at home.

I was a little apprehensive about how the blog tour of Spring Tides might go as the first book in the series – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – had been so well-received. Many of the positive comments were about how emotional the book was, really drawing readers in.

The second book isn’t anywhere near as emotional because readers already know Hollie’s and Jake’s sad stories and this is about them moving forward. Thankfully, the verdict was really positive.

I’ve included some quotes from across the tour. I loved reading every single review so if I you were a blogger on the tour and I haven’t included a quote from you, please be assured it wasn’t that I didn’t like what you had to say. These are all randomly selected from the ones I’ve been given (and I don’t have visuals from all the posts).

Thank you to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour on behalf of my fabulous publisher Boldwood Books and to all the amazing bloggers/reviewers who took part and shared their lovely comments about the story and my writing. It’s appreciated so much.

Thank you also to several fabulous bloggers/reviewers who kindly posted reviews during the first fortnight outside of the official blog tour and to all the readers who have posted reviews and ratings. At the time of writing this post, there are over 800 of these on Amazon which is so amazing.

I’ve been blown away by how well this book has done. Pre-orders in the first week put me into the Top 3 on the Bookstat E-Book chart shared by The Bookseller. This chart is made up of sales of eBooks, print books and audio titles online. Most charts record physical book sales only so it’s wonderful that this chart exists and an honour to be so high. The last two Hedgehog Hollow books made it into this chart but I think they were both #6 or #7. Having said that, the sales volumes were very similar – possibly higher – so where a title appears in this chart is very much around what else is out at the time.

Two and a half weeks since release, the eBook is still in the Kindle Top 100 and the Audible Top 100 which is such a thrill. These amazing reviews and recommendations will have helped it stay there.

Book three – Summer Nights at The Starfish Café – will be out on 3rd April 2023 and is available for pre-order on Kindle here now. It will be available in other formats nearer the time.

Thank you again for all the book love for Spring Tides at The Starfish Café. It’s made for a very happy month.

Big grateful hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I thank the reviewers on the blog tour for A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow

On the fortnight anniversary since the release of A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow, the blog tour has finished. Actually, it officially finished yesterday but one of the posts hadn’t appeared so I wanted to give until the end of today to see if it did. Sometimes a time difference can mean delays or a reviewer might be caught up with work or life and be a little late, although sometimes the review doesn’t appear at all.

I used to panic about ‘no-shows’ on a blog tour thinking it was a sign that the reviewer hated my book and couldn’t find the words to convey how much… but I gave myself a stern talking to, realising it very likely was nothing to do with the book at all.

The amazing bloggers/reviewers who are involved in the tours do this because they love books and want to share that love. They do this alongside day jobs/ family commitments/ caring responsibilities/ illness/ and a big pile of other responsibilities. And sometimes they just don’t get the opportunity to read the book. Or they read it but don’t get the opportunity to write a review. Stuff just gets in the way. And I completely understand that and would hate to think that anyone might ever feel stressed about missing their date. Reading should be a delight.

We had 41 stops scheduled across 14 days and, although there were 3 no-shows, there were 6 lovely posts from bloggers not on the tour so we’ll include them and call it 44 stops. There were also several reviews on Instagram outside of the tour too for which I’m very grateful.

I usually do some sleuthing to try to track down the star ratings for those who haven’t given one with their reviews but I’m really against it with a writing deadline so I haven’t done that this time. The stats are:

  • 26 x 5-star
  • 2 x 4.5-star
  • 1 x 4.25 star (it was an 8.5/10)
  • 4 x 4-star
  • 11 x no ratings given (so I’m going to call them all 5-star ha ha ha!)

My favourite star-rating (which I’ve counted in the 5-star stats) has to be 5 billion. Thank you to Ceri’s Book Blog for that!

There was a lot of love out there for A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow and for the series in general – as you can see from a random selection of the quotes I’ve included in this post – which warmed my heart so much across the cold January days!

There were some reviewers for whom this was the first visit to Hedgehog Hollow and others who’d read the whole series and had been eagerly awaiting the resolution of that massive cliffhanger from Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow and it was interesting to read the perspectives from both.

An enormous THANK YOU to all the bloggers/reviewers who participated. I always try to comment on all blog and Instagram posts but sometimes I’ll miss an Insta if it’s in addition to the blog post and I haven’t been tagged in so I do apologise if I have missed any. And a huge THANK YOU as always to the fabulous Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising it all on behalf of my amazing publisher, Boldwood Books.

I’m writing the 5th book in the series at the moment and it’s a relief to see there’s certainly appetite for more from the cast of human and spiky characters at Hedgehog Hollow. Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow will be out on 28th June and is available for pre-order on Kindle now (other formats will be up for pre-order later).

I’d also like to thank some of the amazing Facebook groups like The Friendly Book Community and Heidi Swain and Friends – A Facebook Book Club for their support on publication day and beyond, and to Book Swap Central for hosting me as author of the month to coincide with publication date.

And not forgetting the amazing members of my own reader’s group, Redland’s Readers who’ve shared such kind feedback about this latest instalment. You’re very welcome to join us on Facebook. It’s not a book review group as there are fabulous groups who already do this so well already. It’s simply a warm and friendly space to talk spoiler-free about my books and settings and share pictures of hedgehogs, the seaside, beach huts and bears – all lovely things relating to my books – and to get a few insights into the world of publishing.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where the hedgehogs go on their fourth blog tour

It’s publication day today for A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow. Woo hoo! I’m so excited (and also a teeny bit nervous) as those hedgehogs make their way out into the world for the fourth time.

The blog tour kicks off today so an enormous thank you to the fabulous Rachel Gilbey for organising this and to all the amazing bloggers/reviewers who have volunteered to take part and share their views.

Some participants have read some or all of the books and, for others, this will be their first trip to the rescue centre. Early reviews coming in suggest that the book can be read as a standalone which is true. I carefully craft all of my books so that a complete story is being told within that book.

However, nearly all of them say they wish they’d read the others first to get the full feel of all the family dynamics. I’m not geeky enough to number-crunch on it but my first impressions are that this fourth instalment has attracted a huge number of 5-star reviews but a large proportion of the 3 or 4-star ones are from readers who’ve not read the previous books and therefore haven’t had the richer reading experience of following the threads that travel through the series. It’ll be interesting to see if this trend is reflected in the bog tour reviews. Having said that, a 4-star is still amazing. The hedgehogs and I will take that!

You can get hold of A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow here:

Kindle UK

Kindle USA

It’s also available from today as a paperback, large print, hardback, physical audio, audio download and will soon be available for audio streaming.

Let the fortnight commence…

Big (crossed fingers) hugs
Jessica xx

Thank you to everyone involved in the blog tour for Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop

The blog tour for Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop drew to a close yesterday, With 48 stops scheduled over 16 days, it was another epic one.

An enormous THANK YOU to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to all the amazing reviewers/bloggers who took part, generously giving their time to read the story, compose their review, and share it on the socials.

I’m delighted to report that this was another really positive tour. Yay!

There were a couple of no-postings and I hope those reviewers are doing okay as I noticed they haven’t posted anything for a little while. Sending hugs if they’re poorly or having a difficult time just now. There was also a promotion post only post which meant 45 reviews were shared. 

Not everyone gives a rating on their posts, but I do manage to track some down when the review is also shared on Amazon around the same time. The 35 ratings shared (or sleuthed by me) were all positive with 22 x 5-star, 3 x 4.5-star, and 10 x 4-star. It’s such a thrill when every single rating is a positive one.

It was a delight to read reviews from those who’ve read several or even all of my books, noting how much they loved being back on Castle Street and among friends. For those who were new to my work, there were several comments about checking out past and/or future books which is fabulous.

There were a couple of reviewers who had read this book in its original incarnation of Charlee and the Chocolate Shop and I was delighted to read that they loved the revised (and expanded) version even more.

Some reviews were so lovely that they made me quite tearful. It’s such an honour to have such prolific readers say so many wonderful things about my writing and my abilities as an author. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I do firmly believe that recommendations are the best way for an author to succeed so I appreciate every single one of these kind reviews. You are all superstars.

Wishing you all the best.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is going on a blog tour

Although Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop (previously independently released as Charlee and the Chocolate Shop) was published by Boldwood Books on 3rd August, we decided that the height of summer probably wasn’t the ideal timing for a blog tour of a Christmas book so we held back.

With the arrival of the colder weather, the darker nights creeping in, and the shops stocking their Christmas goodies, the blog tour starts today (12th October 2021) and runs until 27th October.

Across sixteen days, there’ll be a whopping 48 stops (3 a day). Looking at the schedule, it’s lovely to see so many regulars – really flattering as it means they love my books enough to keep coming back for more – but also a delight to see some newbies. Hopefully they’ll love Charlee’s story and become converts!

A huge thank you to Boldwood Books for enabling the tour, to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for organising it, and the wonderful 48 bloggers/reviewers taking part.

And, on the subject of Rachel, congratulations to her for being a finalist in the Media Star of the Year category in the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) 2021 Industry Awards. You can read the RNA’s announcement here.

Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is book 1 in the Christmas at Castle Street series. Books 2 and 3 – Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café were released last year.

All three books are complete standalone stories but books 2 and 3 are closely connected as the two businesses are next-door to each other and the two business owners, Carly and Tara, are good friends. They follow on chronologically and there are therefore a couple of spoilers for Carly’s story if reading Starry Skies first although plenty of readers have read them the other way round and still loved them.

Although Christmas Wishes is the first book in the series, it can be read before or after the others. The heroine – Charlee Chambers – and her shop do appear in the other two but there aren’t any spoilers for her story.

Big chocolatey hugs
Jessica xx

Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop

Sometimes you just need a little Christmas magic to make your wishes come true…

When master chocolatier, Charlee, takes the leap to move to the picturesque seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, she is determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and set up a chocolate shop.

Luckily, she finds the perfect location for Charlee’s Chocolates on beautiful Castle Street… Now she just has to refurbish it in time for Christmas!

With a useless boyfriend and countless DIY disasters, Charlee doesn’t know if she’ll make it in time. With no ‘traditional’ family to support her, she feels lost in her new surroundings and the secrets of the past are weighing her down.

But the warmth and festive spirit of the Whitsborough Bay community will surprise her, and when plumber, Matt, comes to the rescue, it might be that all of Charlee’s dreams could come true this Christmas, and she could learn what family really means…

Escape to Castle Street for the perfect uplifting, festive read from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.

Thank you to everyone who joined the blog tour for Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café

It has been the biggest blog tour one of my books has ever been on, the biggest blog tour my amazing publishers Boldwood have hosted, and I believe it may be the biggest our fabulous tour organiser, Rachel Gilbey, has arranged.

It wasn’t that we set out to organise an epic-sized tour for the release of Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – simply that an unprecedented number of reviewers stepped forward wanting to take part. How flattering is that?

The stats:

  • 18 days
  • 54 scheduled stops
  • 52 posts (it’s possible that an Insta one from yesterday may come in late but I didn’t want to delay my thank you)
  • 50 reviews and 1 promotion post
  • 3 additional bloggers not on the tour sharing their reviews

When a tour schedule is released, it’s always exciting to spot reviewers with whom I’m familiar, ranging from those who’ve loved and championed my books from the start to those who’ve discovered my writing more recently and have clearly loved it enough to come back for more. And it’s always a little nerve-wracking seeing new names. Will they like my work or discover it’s not really for them? There were several new names on this tour.

I was also a little nervous about this book. I absolutely love this story but it’s by far the most emotional one I’ve written. I had to remortgage the house to pay for all the tissues I needed when writing it so I was fairly sure many reviewers would shed some tears. And they did. Some readers love books which make them cry but others don’t and I do understand that. I’m not going to say anything more about this for now as I feel a separate future blog post on the subject coming up.

So, back to the blog tour. Of the 41 reviewers who gave a star rating with their review (or who posted it on Amazon or NetGalley with one which some sleuthing revealed), 33 gave it 5 stars, 2 gave it 4.5 and 7 gave it 4-stars. Wow! This made me and my mum (who loves to read all my reviews) very, very happy.

Some of the reviews said such wonderful things not only about this book but about my ability as a writer that I was close to tears reading them. I’ve also found some new readers who loved the story so much, they want to check out my backlist, which is amazing.

Alongside this, I’ve received direct messages from readers and been tagged into posts on social media with such lovely comments about Hollie and Jake’s emotional story and am delighted it has touched so many readers.

THANK YOU to everyone who has taken part in the blog tour, reviewed the book outside the tour, sent me a message, posted about it on social media and/or recommended the story to friends and family. I am so appreciative of all the love and support.

THANK YOU to the amazing Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and sharing all the reviews on Twitter.

THANK YOU to Boldwood Books for making all of this possible, especially my editor Nia Beynon without whose editorial insights and encouragement, the story wouldn’t be what it is today and it wouldn’t have had such phenomenal comments.

I’ll be returning in October on a blog tour for Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop. Although it was published at the start of August, it’s very much a Christmas read (Starfish Café being more of a seasonal read than specifically Christmas) so we thought it made more sense to have the tour nearer to Christmas.

In the meantime, thank you once more. I’ve read, loved and appreciated every word.

Finally, if you haven’t read Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café yet but like the sound of this story, I’ve put Amazon links in this post and pasted the blurb below. Hope you take a trip to The Starfish Café… but make sure you have the tissues hand.! Probably best remove the mascara too!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The blurb:

Welcome to The Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.

Two broken hearts.

Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café…

An unexpected meeting.

Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down…

The chance to love again.

Can Hollie and Jake break down the barriers that have been holding them back from finding love and happiness, before Christmas comes around? After all, with courage, nothing is impossible…

Join top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a magical winter at the seaside, where love blossoms and lifelong friendships are made.

Hedge-hugs for the bloggers on the tour

Eleven days on from the publication day for Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow and the blog tour has drawn to an end.

An enormous thank you to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the amazing thirty-three bloggers/reviewers who took part.

I was a little apprehensive about this tour. I love this book but, as I wrote on a recent blog post (which you can read here), I knew it was a risk writing a book where one of two main characters was someone readers had (justifiably) disliked from the previous two books. It was fascinating reading the thoughts from those who’d done a massive about-turn on that particular character and now love her to those who now understand her but still don’t like her which, as I stated in my blog post, was what I expected. The great thing is they all seemed to love the story and I am so grateful for that feedback.

The cliffhanger at the end of the book was mentioned in nearly all reviews. Mostly it generated excitement (phew!), a lot of urging me to hurry up and release book 4 (sorry – not written yet!), although there were a couple of reviewers who hate cliffhangers which is something I’d never even considered until I’d finished writing this and read some of the early reviews on NetGalley. Every day is a school day, as they say!

HOT TIP! For anyone who is thinking of reading this book, don’t read the epilogue if you don’t like cliffhangers as it is purely there as a tease for the next book. The story being told in Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow does finish at the end of the book so it’s not a case of the book not properly ending so please don’t worry you’ll be left hanging with an incomplete story.

Anyway, back to the blog tour, not everyone gives ratings. Some sleuthing means I can track some down on NetGalley or Amazon but I’ve been a little less successful (or rather had a little less time to do it) so I have 11 ratings I’m unsure about but, of the remaining 22, there are 15 x 5-stars, 2 x 4.5, 4 x 4-star and 1 x 3-star, the latter being given because of the cliffhanger. The hedgehogs and I are very happy with that.

Some reviews made me laugh out loud for their humorous observations or verdicts on characters, and others were so lovely and touching, I was close to tears.

It’s especially wonderful reading about when readers have read the full series, are loving seeing the characters grow, and talk fondly about wishing they could be at Hedgehog Hollow right now. You and me both!

I also had a couple of reviews from bloggers not on the tour and really appreciate the 5 and 4.5 star ratings from them (Echoes in an Empty Room and Carla Loves to Read).

It’s so kind of all these bloggers to take the time to read the book and share their views with their followers on their blog/Insta/Twitter/all or any combination of these. Reviews and recommendations can make such a difference to the success of a book and the hedgehogs and I are fully appreciate of all the book love we’ve received over the past eleven days.

Watch out for a thank you video on Twitter really soon.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

Thank you to all the reviewers who showed the love for All You Need is Love

Yesterday saw the final stop on my 12-day 36-stop blog tour for my latest release All You Need Is Love and I’m delighted that it was another really successful tour.

Blog tours are such a great way to celebrate the launch of a book. They create a buzz as well as gathering valuable early reviews and, several tours down the line, I still get excited when a new review appears and I can read the verdict (with fingers crossed that it’s a positive one).

I’m delighted to say that the verdict for All You Need Is Love was overwhelmingly positive. Yay! Not all reviewers put a rating on their posts but as a rating is necessary for an Amazon or NetGalley review, I was able to do a little detective work and suss some out. There were only 2 out of the 36 I couldn’t track down. For the remaining 34, there were:

  • 26 x 5-star
  • 1 x 4.5 star
  • 6 x 4-star
  • 1 x 3-star

I think I’d definitely call that a success!

A huge thank you to my amazing publisher Boldwood Books for enabling the tours, particularly Nia and Ellie, and to the fabulous Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources who does such an incredible job of organising and managing the tours.

All You Need Is Love was previously available under the title Bear With Me and had been on a blog tour organised through Rachel when I was an indie author. Therefore, a few bloggers/reviewers who have always been hugely supportive of my writing didn’t participate as this was not a new book to them. It was great to see several familiar faces who’ve discovered my writing since joining Boldwood and a few who were new to my stories.

And thank you too to all of those who’ve spread the word on social media. It’s really appreciated.

This is a story about two people who have loved and lost in very different circumstances and it’s also about a life-changing illness diagnosis. It is emotional and the blurb doesn’t hide that. But, as with all of my stories, it is uplifting and full of hope. Only one reviewer found it too emotional but, thankfully, all the others loved it.

Here’s a handful of my favourite quotes. I could have easily included something from every review as there were so many lovely, kind comments. The bears and I were certainly feeling the love:

“I couldn’t get enough of this beautiful story.  Jessica Redland managed to create a story which accurately reflects the title.  After reading, I genuinely believe that love could be all you need” (Book Escapes With Babs W67)

“This is a powerfully emotive story that tackles some series deep issues, and as much as i love a light hearted seaside read this is so much more because of the nature of it… This was a wonderful read that really packs a punch” (AfternoonBookery)

“What Jessica Redland has achieved with this book is extremely clever, she has taken some really heavy and devastating themes but treated them with such care and respect that this is still a feel good novel that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling. I don’t think that contemporary women’s romance writers (aka “Chick Lit”) get anywhere near enough credit for being able to pull off books like this” (Louise’s Reading Corner)

“Oh my! What a beautiful emotional love story. I love Jessica Redland stories but this one totally blew me away” (Wendy Reads Books)

“All You Need is Love is a heartbreaking tale of loss and love, of letting go and starting again, and I was totally here for every minute of this enchanting story, even if it did make me cry buckets” (Cara’s Book Boudoir)

“There are plenty of twists and turns… Some moments and experiences will make you tear up, but bear with the book as there is a happy ending… Hope you pick up this book and get a wonderful escape from reality into this gripping story, full of love and hope” (Reading Tonic)

“My Kindle wasn’t glued to my hand but it might as well have been because it went everywhere with me.  I couldn’t bear to miss a single second of this adorable story…. ‘All You Need Is Love’ is superbly written but then to be fair all of Jessica’s books are superbly written… I love the way in which Jessica grabs your attention and draws you into the story. She makes the characters seem so realistic that they seem just as real as you and I and I begin to think of them as friends. Jessica tackles some difficult subjects but she does it in a knid and compassionate way. I kept wanting to leap inside the pages of the book to give various characters a hug. In fact I felt as though I was part of the story and that’s thanks to Jessica’s very vivid and realistic storytelling” (Ginger Book Geek)

“This was such a beautiful, moving story that really captivated me to the very end. The storyline was wonderfully unique, and certainly took us on an emotional rollercoaster as we learn more about the characters and the struggles they have had to face… I have always found Jessica Redland’s writing style completely immersive, and she certainly never fails to make me feel as though I am living the events alongside the characters. A truly engrossing read that I couldn’t recommend highly enough!” (Victoria Wilks Writes)

“I have read and reviewed several books by Jessica Redland but this is my favourite one yet. Not only does it have Jessica Redland’s classic warmth and depth, it has bears… It is one for my forever shelf, and when I get a physical copy, it will be well thumbed with rereads. This emotional romance deals with grief and heartbreak surrounded by bears and is a joy to read. It provided a wonderful relief from lockdown’s loneliness, is highly visual with plenty going on to keep you turning the page. It would make a great film. So, grab your favourite bear to cuddle, a cup of tea and escape to the coast. Just keep your tissues handy” (From Under The Duvet)

“Every feeling the characters go through, was so gripping, honest and real… so many emotional, beautiful moments, that made me forget the hardest bits and I found myself smiling with tears rolling down my face… And the bears added an extra layer of adorability!… I found it an inspirational book about how to dare to look at the future again” (Tizzy’s Book Review)

And I had a couple of gorgeous reviews from reviewers not on the tour so thank you to you too:

“As much as I have really enjoyed reading Jessica’s previous novels, this has to be my favourite by far… I loved how the story develops, there are lots of turns that I never saw coming, I just didn’t want the story to end. I couldn’t and wouldn’t put this book down… This is a story that is relatable and will stay with me for a long time. It is sad and I did cry quite a bit, it made me feel really emotional finishing it which I have never had with a book before. It makes me want to hug my loved ones tighter as you never know what is around the corner” (Echoes in an Empty Room)

“There is something contagiously cosy, welcoming and heartwarming about Redland’s writing. It’s the sort that makes you want to slip into fluffy socks and sip creamy hot chocolate. The sort to entice you into wrapping yourself up in a thick blanket and holding it tight around yourself, feeling comforted in the same way the words comfort the reader. It’s exactly the sort of storytelling I admire and am so very fond of. It washes away the stresses of the day and allows the reader to escape to an entirely different place, a place where the characters feel like friends and the places feel like home” (Becca’s Books)

I’m so delighted with the response and touched by the reaction. This is one of my favourite stories of all the ones I’ve written so it feels extra special knowing it has found a way into readers’ hearts too.

All You Need Is Love entered the Top 500 on the UK Kindle Chart a couple of days ago which was a thrill too. Because a lot of readers had already bought and read this as Bear With Me, I wasn’t sure it would make it inside the Top 1,000 so to get to #417 was quite unexpected. It will be interesting to see if those bears can climb a bit higher!

Thank you again to everyone who has shown the love for All You Need Is Love. I’m so very grateful.

If you’d like to discover this story for yourself, it is available as an eBook for Apple, Kindle and Kobo, paperback, hard back, large print, audio download, physical audio, audio via uLibrary if your library subscribes to that service, and should appear on streaming services soon.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

All You Need Is Love

When you’ve loved and lost, how do you find the strength to let love in again?

Jemma thinks she’s found the love of her life. Scott is everything she ever dreamed of and she can’t wait to begin the next stage of their life together. But just as she is heading for her happy ever after, a shock revelation shatters Jemma’s life as she knows it. Left to pick up the pieces, Jemma’s friends and family rally round to help her find the courage to move on.

Sam think he has his future all worked out. A thriving career, lovely home and an amazing fiancée. But when tragedy strikes, he finds himself alone, far from everyone he cares about. Did he do the right thing by running away and trying to rebuild the tatters of his life alone?

This is the story of Jemma and Sam. Two lost souls, desperately trying to find closure and happiness. When a chance meeting brings them together a friendship is formed, but the guards are up. 

Will it finally be their turn for a happy ever after? Or will the secrets from their pasts prevent them from moving on?

Escape to Whitsborough Bay for an emotional, uplifting story of love and friendship from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland. 

This book was previously published as Bear With Me.

Welcome to the wonderful world of bears

It’s six days since All You Need Is Love was released and we’re halfway through the blog tour. I’ve had some absolutely gorgeous reviews and one of the things that makes me very happy is when reviewers mention the bears and how much they learned about them/how much they enjoyed that part of the story.

So today I thought I’d talk about being an arctophile and the wonderful world of teddy bears.

An arctophile is a lover/collector of teddy bears. It is derived from the Greek terms ‘árktos’ meaning bear and ‘philos’ meaning lover/friend. I am an arctophile.

I’ve loved teddy bears for most of my life but I would say I became especially fond of them at around the age of 14. Forever Friends were extremely popular back then and I remember gazing adoringly at them in card shops and wishing they could all be mine. I gradually built up a collection of what is known as ‘plush’ bears. These are typically mass-produced teddies, massively ranging in size and price, and made from synthetic materials. They are soft and designed for lots of hugs.

The photos below show a very small section of my plush collection. Top left are a trio of bears I used to sell in my bear shop and I couldn’t resist taking a set home. They are from the plush range made by German collectible teddy bear manufacturer Hermann Teddy Original and I christened them Caramel, Toffee and Fudge (L-R).

Across the bottom is my very well loved bear Sainsbury (unimaginatively named that because he was from Sainsbury’s), bought for me by my sister in law when I spent most of December 2006 in hospital with hypertension and mild pre-eclampsia before my daughter was born. You’ll likely recognise a Forever Friends bear in the middle. He was also from my shop. There was a range of them in four different colours – this light blue, a deeper sky blue, pink, peach – and I’d have loved to keep one of each but couldn’t justify it!

Bottom right is a Gund bear. I used to stock Gund in the shop and they really do make gorgeous plush bears. This particular one was given to me by my writing collective, The Write Romantics, when my debut book (called Searching for Steven at the time but now repackaged as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms) secured a publishing deal. He’s wearing a badge that says ‘Steven Bear’ and his hoodie states ‘A 5* read the search is over’. Isn’t he gorgeous?

And finally in the plush range we have famous bears like Rupert, Paddington and Winnie the Pooh. I do have a gorgeous traditional Pooh Bear (also from my shop) but he’s on the top of the wardrobe at the back and I’d have to remove all the bears to take a picture of him and am far too lazy (and short) to do that! This Paddington was a Christmas gift before I had the shop but Aunt Lucy came from my shop and I used to sell Paddingtons of various sizes. A larger one than him made it into my collection too but I had to draw the line at the 4ft one I used to stock!

Bears featured on my wedding day. The wedding itself had a seaside theme but a Forever Friends bride and groom (from my shop, of course) sat on the top table. We had a Cherished Teddy wedding display for the top of the cake and my cousin bought us a Boyds bride and groom as a gift.

I was in my late twenties when I discovered the world of collectible teddy bears. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my boyfriend at the time took me to a specialist teddy bear shop in his hometown of Lincoln and it was a life-changing moment as I’d never have thought of running my own teddy bear shop if I hadn’t been introduced to them and I’d never have met my husband if I hadn’t opened the bear shop. And without the hubby, I don’t know if I’d have become an author.

Collectible teddy bears will give hugs but they’re not designed to be played with/cuddled in bed and the price tag confirms that! Even if you know nothing about teddy bears, you’ve probably heard of Steiff; the German manufacturer with the distinctive button in the ear identity tag. Vintage Steiff can sell for eyewatering amounts of money at auction but if there are any burglars reading this, I don’t own any of them so nothing to see here!

There are many other long-established manufacturers. Britain’s oldest are Dean’s and Merrythought and my very first bear was a limited edition Dean’s one called Scruff, purchased from that shop in Lincoln. Here he is posing with my books:

Isn’t he completely adorable? He’s made from mohair and is jointed. Most collectible bears are jointed – it’s where they stand out from plush ones – and most are made from mohair which varies massively in colour, texture and price.

When I first set up my shop – Bear’s Pad in Richmond, North Yorkshire – I stocked collectible bears from Dean’s, Merrythought, Hermann Teddy Original, Robin Rive (based in New Zealand) and Cambrian Bears but Steiff wouldn’t touch me. I was too small and they supplied to another bear shop in a nearby town. I was gutted because I lost sales constantly from people who knew nothing about bears but had heard of Steiff so wanted a Steiff for a newborn or for a christening and nothing else would do. In the main, they wouldn’t look at the other bears even though I personally (and perhaps controversially) have always thought that Steiff bears, although lovely, aren’t necessarily the bears with the most personality and appeal.

About a year into trading, Steiff reconsidered when the local shop closed and they allowed me to make a smaller order than they usually demanded (which was still a phenomenal outlay). It was worth it as Steiff were my biggest sellers.

Here’s a small selection of my collectible bears. The large photo is a bear called Daffy from the Isabelle Collection at Charlie Bears. Charlie Bears didn’t exist when I had Bear’s Pad but they later entered the market with a new take on bears – the look of collectible bears by making them jointed but affordability by creating them in different materials. The Isabelle Collection was an expansion into limited edition collectible bears.

Top right are two collectible bears and one artist one called Noah purchased in Belgium (I’ll explain what artist bears are in a moment). The one standing at the back is a Steiff which I called Growler because he growls when you tip him forwards and back. Steiff bears don’t usually have names, being identified instead by size and style. He was my second ever collectible bear I bought. The smaller one sitting down is a Robin Rive limited edition called Faith.

The bottom row starts with a very traditional-looking Hermann Teddy Original bear called Yesterday. The one in the middle with the hat is Robin Rive’s Nautical Neville. These two (and Faith mentioned earlier) were all from my shop. I used to love them all so much and would tell myself that if a particular favourite was still on the shelves after three months, they’d come home with me. I’d then panic when a customer seemed interested!

The Paddington at the bottom was my wedding gift from the hubby and is a Steiff one. I said earlier I don’t love Steiff as much as some of the other manufacturers but I absolutely adore this Paddington. He is divine. Look at his suitcase and marmalade sandwich!

So what are artist bears? These are collectible bears but they are made on a much smaller scale by a bear artist who typically creates an OOAK (one of a kind) or a very small number like three. It’s more likely to be an OOAK although the artist may take that pattern again but use different mohair or clothes to create a different look.

During publication week, somebody asked me how many bears I have so I did a very quick count. It’s about 140 consisting of plush, collectible and artist bears. I used to have a couple of hundred plush ones but there just isn’t the space. When I had my bear shop, I cleared about about 10 binbags of bears to charity (all were immaculate condition as they’d all been sat on shelves and not played with) and I’ve done several more clear-outs over the years which break my heart but needs must.

When I did my count, I was surprised to discover that I had nearly as many artist bears as big-name collectible ones. Initially I only bought collectible ones but I tend to only buy artist ones now. I love the uniqueness of them. I will only buy a bear that ‘speaks’ to me and, as I have a lot of traditional-looking ones in my collection now, I am more inclined to go for something a little bit quirky.

All the bears below are artist bears. The one in the dress is from Loeëtte Bears (from the Netherlands although I bought the bear from Mary Shortle in York) and the purple one is Tammy from J&P Mohair Bears which I bought in Stonegate Bears in York. Franklin (bottom middle) is also a J&P from Stonegate Bears.

The top right one is a Ju-Sea Bear called Mark Elvet. I made him! I learned how to make teddy bears when I had my shop and I sold my second and third in the shop but kept the first one for me as he was my first and therefore very special and I’d named him after my husband and the street where I learned to make bears. You may think Ju-Sea Bears sounds familiar. That’s because I used it for Julie’s bears in All You Need Is Love in the same way that I named her house Bear’s Pad after my shop. Little connections in my stories like that make me happy.

The small purple bear bottom left is from Diane Hanley who used to supply to my shop and bottom right is the most adorable bear dressed for a festival. I can’t tell you her name or make, though, as there was no tag on her. I contacted Mary Shortle in Leeds afterwards and they kindly supplied me with the information which I wrote down and put somewhere safe… You know what that means. Yep, no idea where I put it!

Although I say that Scruff was my first collectible bear, I did have one before that. I absolutely love the Lake District and we had many family holidays in the area when I was younger. My favourite shop in Bowness-on-Windermere was Lakeland Bears. I’d seen the postcards of hiking bears set in the countryside and this was the shop that stocked the actual bears.

I always dreamed of owning a Lakeland Bear and, one year, my parents surprised me by giving me one as a Christmas gift. I had no idea I was getting one so you can imagine my delight. He has his walking stick, his hiking boots and his backpack with a map of the Lakes in it! Isn’t he just fabulous? They even created a booklet of photos of him ‘exploring’ their house and garden which I still have… you’ve guessed it… somewhere safe!

Sadly the Lakeland Bears shop closed down many years ago but you can look at the gorgeous bears and the postcards on their website here. I’ve just had a lovely fifteen minutes procrastinating looking at the pictures and remembering which postcards I used to have.

We’ve looked at plush bears, collectible bears and, within that, artist bears. A devoted arctophile will probably have a lot of other bear-related items in their home too. I have stack of bear-themed stationery, books, pictures and jewellery. Here’s a few items from my collection.

The picture is our bear family and hangs in our downstairs toilet behind the loo itself which hubby doesn’t appreciate when he nips in for a pee as they’re watching him – hee hee! The salt and pepper set came from Canada on our honeymoon (so many amazing bear-themed treats over there), the teddy ornament is from a gift shop in Whitby and the large bear came from Hawes. The teddy bear cushion was a gift but I sold blankets in the same design in Bear’s Pad so I have a pair of cushions and a matching blanket.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little explore into the world of bears and that you’ve enjoyed the pictures. Teddy bears have an amazing ability to make us smile and feel uplifted. It’s rare for me to be in a bad mood and not much gets me down and I think that, in part, it’s because I’m surrounded by teddies all day. Who can feel down when looking at their adorable little faces?

When I had my shop, there were some nasty customers. And I mean nasty. One liked to come in and lecture me about how my business would fail because all businesses before me on that site had failed. She made me cry on several occasions. Another customer asked if I had a toilet her daughter could use. I did have a toilet but it was out the back past my safe and all my spare stock and I wasn’t insured to let the public back there so I had to direct customers to the public toilets which were a one-minute walk away so no hardship. It turned out the daughter was desperate and she wet herself all over my carpet tiles. The woman then told me it was my fault, flung down the items she’d planned to purchase and left me to clear it all up. She never returned so I never even made a sale out of that traumatic episode and, to this day, still feel really sorry for the little girl … but not the mum.

One busy Saturday, a really friendly man asked me to get down a large plush polar bear from the top of the shelving units and save it for him while he went to the cashpoint. When I returned to the till and finished serving a few customers, I realised my mobile phone had been stolen. The police told me two men were working together with a tactic of one distracting the owner by being interested and friendly while the other stole the money out of the till. Fortunately I’d locked my till and had the key on me so they didn’t get away with any money although the phone was bad enough.

There was a tanning salon opposite and customers used to send their fairly young children to “go and play in the bear shop” while they had a tan. Who does that? And the mornings where I’d arrive from work to find someone had vomited in my recessed entrance doorway were the worst ever.

I could write a book about all this. Hmm… there’s a thought!

But, even on those darkest days – and there were many more than I’ve listed above – I always felt so comforted being surrounded by such an enormous hug of bears (a ‘hug’ being the collective noun applied to a group of teddies). I’d have loved to keep my bear shop. Shame I needed customers to make it work!

So grab a bear today, give it a hug, and feel uplifted.

Big bear hugs
Jessica xx