Page Links

Home      About      Reviews      Contact     

8 March 2014

Review & Interview: 'If You Only Knew' by Zanna Mackenzie (2014)

Faith owns The Coffee Pot in the outdoor adventure sports mecca of Derbyshire's Peak District. She hasn't had a man in her life for a while, as she has been too busy serving cakes to weary rock climbers and mountain bikers to find time for the complications of a relationship with the male of the species. Then Zane and Matt arrive on the scene as the new owners of the Carrdale Adventure Sports Centre. Dating Zane, she soon discovers he's not the Mr Perfect she thought he was; and why is he so reluctant to talk about his past? As for Matt - well, to Faith he isn't Matt at all because he was a completely different person when he broke her heart all those years ago. With her new boyfriend and her first love running Carrdale as business partners - Matt out to cause trouble and Zane keeping secrets - Faith struggles to keep the peace between them whilst trying to figure out how she feels about the two men in her life...

In the modern times that we live in I see more and more people around me switching from actual books to carrying an e-reader around with them. It’s easy to take with you, you can store numerous books on them, and it’s a handy device. I know e-readers have lots of advantages, but I have to admit I’m quite old-fashioned and definitely prefer to have a real paper version of a book in my hands; I don’t see that changing any time soon! However, I do have an I-Pad with the Kindle app on it, so I can occasionally make exceptions and review an e-book every now and again (I guess I have to go with the times in a way, right?). The lovely Zanna Mackenzie e-mailed me about possibly reviewing her novel ‘If You Only Knew’ a few weeks ago, and I simply couldn’t resist the pretty pink cover and the fascinating-sounding blurb!

Faith is the happy owner of her own cafe, The Coffee Pot, in the beautiful and rural Peak District. The past couple of years she has been completely focused on her business, which means there hasn’t been time for a man to take in a special place in her life. However, things are about to change when business partners Zane and Matt, the two handsome new owners of the Carrdale Adventure Sports Centre, arrive in town. Faith quickly falls for the attractive but slightly reserved Zane, but it doesn’t take long before she discovers Matt is actually her ex-boyfriend Aaron, who broke her heart several years earlier. Matt seems to be out to cause trouble and it’s the question whether the relationship between Faith and Zane is strong enough to overcome all the oncoming obstacles...

I loved the setting of this novel. The Peak District is a beautiful part of the UK and I somehow really enjoyed the outdoor sports vibe, while I am definitely not the sporty type myself. I could easily imagine all the scenes, the sports centre that Zane and Matt have decided to build up together, Faith’s lovely and warm coffee shop... I haven’t read anything quite like this before, when talking about setting, and that is something I personally really enjoyed. Yet, the novel is much more than that. There is a good mix of realistic and easily likeable characters, specifically the three people that form the love triangle that is at the core of this novel: Faith, Zane, and Matt. They are three different but intriguing characters and I thoroughly enjoyed discovering more about them and their backgrounds.

Unexpectedly, this story really had me guessing and that didn’t stop until the last few pages of the book. There were definitely some parts of the story I did not see coming which made the story only stronger. ‘If You Only Knew’ is a great, gentle-paced, comfortable read that is perfect for a lazy rainy afternoon, and I personally look forward to discovering more of Zanna Mackenzie’s work in the future!


For more information about this book: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

Author Interview with Zanna Mackenzie

I'm delighted to welcome Zanna Mackenzie to the blog today to tell us more about her novel 'If You Only Knew' and her future plans as an author!

Can you tell us something about your new novel, ‘If You Only Knew’?
It revolves around three main characters and the many secrets, fears and emotions they’re keeping from each other. More information can be found in the blurb!

Where did you find the inspiration for ‘If You Only Knew’? Is it in any way based on your own personal experiences?
Does it sound weird if I say I don’t know about where the inspiration, plot and characters come from? It probably does. Before I started writing fiction I used to read interviews with authors and they would say they had characters and plot ideas pop into their heads out of nowhere. I thought it was a bit strange back then but now that’s what happens to me! The initial idea for 'If You Only Knew' could have been sparked by watching something on TV about Derbyshire’s Peak District, or rock climbing, or trendy coffee shops – or all three! After that I knew I wanted the men in the book to be outdoor extreme sports instructors and the woman to be running her own business, in this case the coffee shop. As I worked on creating the biogs for the characters their stories started to unfold and their personalities, issues and fears developed from there.

Which character in the novel did you most enjoy writing about and why? 
I would say it was probably the character of Matt, which surprises me a bit! I’ve never created a character like Matt before, he was a challenge, and I was amazed to find myself thinking how much I was enjoying writing his scenes. He’s a bit of a bad boy and the kind of character I would really dislike if I was reading him in somebody else’s book. I remember a book reviewer saying she hated Matt with a passion when she started the book but she was shocked to find that, as his story unfolded, by the end of the novel she had completely changed her opinion of him.

Why did you decide to use this particular setting for the novel?
I enjoy setting my books in some of my favourite locations in the UK and have written novels set in the Scottish Highlands, North Yorkshire and now, in 'If You Only Knew', the Peak District of Derbyshire. I live only one hour’s drive away from Derbyshire and have visited the area a lot of times over the years. I’m quite an outdoorsy person myself so I loved the idea of all the hiking, mountain biking, climbing and paragliding which goes on in the Peak District and wanted to incorporate that into the novel. I confess though, whilst I’m a keen hiker, I wasn’t tempted to try climbing or paragliding in the name of research!

The fictitious village in 'If You Only Knew' was inspired by the real village of Castleton in the Peaks. I was fascinated by the area around Castleton with all the caves and hills, it’s a real outdoor and extreme sports mecca. I recently discovered the joys of Pinterest and had fun setting up a mood board for 'If You Only Knew' which contains pictures of the village, the scenery, how Faith’s coffee shop might look and photos of the famous people who visually inspired the characters of Zane, Faith and Matt. The 'If You Only Knew' Pinterest board can be viewed by clicking here.  

Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans as an author? Are you already working on a next novel?
I have 4 ‘work in progress’ novels but I really need to pick one and just focus on that otherwise I’ll never get my next book written! I think the book I’ll aim to complete next is the one about the down side of dating a famous actor. 

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Do not give up. I gave up on writing several times when I got disillusioned and it is only because my husband nagged me to start sending the books I’d written out to publishers back in 2012 that my books have got to see the light of day. I sent one book to a publisher in America and another to a UK publisher and told myself to forget about them whilst mentally preparing myself for the rejection emails. Within one month the American publisher came back and said they loved the book and offered me a contract. I couldn’t believe it, I was stunned. I cried. I danced around the room. One week later an email arrived from the UK publisher about the other book and they offered me a contract too. Cue more crying and dancing around the room! If my husband hadn’t coaxed me into sending my writing to publishers then I’d never have got to feel so thrilled and privileged at having my books published.

What is the last book you read that you’d like to recommend to others?
Martina Reilly’s 'Even Better Than The Real Thing'. I loved this book and would put it in my top three books I’ve ever read. It’s wonderfully written and has an unusual plot involving forged art which is immensely intriguing. As well as the twists and turns on the art forgery mystery side of things in the book there’s a page turner of a will-they-won’t-they between the two main characters. It’s a touching, surprising, and at times humorous romantic mystery suspense and a gripping read.

And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘If You Only Knew’ in just three words, which words would you pick?
I would say the book is about three things – love, confusion, trust.

Thanks so much, Zanna!

Find out more about Zanna at:




1 comment: