Review, Interview & Giveaway: 'Love on the Lido Deck' by Barbara Oliverio (2014)
Sharp-witted, always-organized Keira Graham has traded in her high tech career as a systems analyst for the whirlwind world of event planning. As she builds up her fledging business, she learns that her widowed mother has news of her own – she has a serious gentleman caller! Is Keira ready for mom’s new romance?
When she gets a game-changing opportunity to organize a major event on a luxury Caribbean cruise, Keira turns to best pal chef Alexandria D'Agostino to help recruit famous chefs who will offer classes for foodies looking for fun in the sun as they gain cooking know-how. The cruise becomes a rollicking adventure for Keira, her sassy assistant Juliet, the entire D'Agostino clan, Keira's mother and other surprise guests. And has Keira meet her match in charismatic Cruise Director Brennan McCallister, who could have something more than keeping everything shipshape on his mind?
In 2013 I got the chance to read and review author Barbara Oliverio's debut novel 'Love on the Back Burner', a fun read which I ended up really enjoying (click here to read my review). Last year, I was contacted by Barbara again, this time regarding her second novel, 'Love on the Lido Deck.' I straight away liked the sound of this romantic comedy set on a cruise ship and I was lucky enough to receive a review copy (thanks, Barbara!). I looked forward to once again sitting down with one of Barbara's works, in the hope I would enjoy it as much as her debut novel!
Keira Graham used to work as a system analyst but then decided to follow her heart and her passion, resulting in her own event planning business. She is offered the chance to take on her biggest job yet, namely organising a cooking workshop programme on a big Caribbean Cruise. Next to the fact that Keira can take her best friend and well-known chef Alexandria D'Agostino with her, she's also invited to bring her own family and the D'Agostino's to enjoy the cruise. As soon as the group sets foot on the cruise ship, the adventures begin; from Keira trying to find peace with her mother's new boyfriend while trying to deal with all the chefs and their workshops, to her continuously bumping into the slightly annoying but handsome cruise director Brennan McCallister...
Luckily I was not disappointed by Barbara Oliverio's second book, as 'Love on the Lido Deck' is just as fun and entertaining as her debut novel! I loved the setting of the book; I hadn't read any novels set on a cruise ship before and it was the perfect location for this particular cast of characters and their adventures. In the author's debut novel we were introduced to heroine Alexandria D'Agostino, and in this book the focus lies on her best friend Keira. It was great to get to know some new characters, but it was also wonderful to read more about the D'Agostino family whom it is difficult to not warm to. While this novel can definitely be read as a stand-alone, I do think it adds something if you already know some of the characters and their background stories.
Next to plenty of main and secondary characters, there are also various storylines to keep the reader interested at all times. I love it when many different storylines are explored and brought together in a novel, and this was definitely the case for this book. Lots of topics are touched upon in a light-hearted way, such as family, friendship and of course a touch of romance as well. A nice little extra is the collection of delicious recipes at the back of the book which I look forward to trying out sometime. Overall, Barbara Oliverio has again delivered a fun, easy-going and thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy; I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!
Thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Author interview with Barbara Oliverio!
I'm really excited to welcome Barbara Oliverio to the blog today to answer some questions about her lovely new novel 'Love on the Lido Deck', her future plans and her own favourite reads!
Can you tell us something about your new novel, ‘Love on the Lido Deck’?
Keira Graham is looking for a career break in her first big project as an event planner on a foodie-themed cruise. As a complication, she learns that her widowed mother has a questionable new beau. This sets the stage for mom and the new beau, along with Keira’s best friend and family, to join the cruise where sapphire eyed cruise director Brennan McAllister is on deck for shipboard romance and revelry.
Where did you get the inspiration for your novel? Is it in any way based on your own personal experiences?
'Love on the Lido Deck' is the follow-up to my debut novel 'Love on the Back Burner' and follows the best friend of the protagonist of that novel on her own adventures. The idea came to me after going on several cruises and learning about the idea of specialty cruises. I thought it would be fun to have a character involved in a cruise dedicated to foodies.
Can you tell us a bit more about the main protagonist, Keira?
She is somewhat of a perfectionist and is accustomed to being in control of any situation. She was matched with melodramatic Alexandria (star of the first novel) as roommates in college, and through the years they have been two halves of the same coin through many adventures.
There’s a great cast of supporting characters in the novel as well. Which character did you most enjoy writing?
I found Keira’s mother, who has developed a relationship with a (slightly) younger man, joyful to write. I wanted to show that this type of relationship can be based on love and respect and not something less wholesome.
Did you do any particular research for this book?
My husband and I took a fantastic cruise on the largest cruise ship in the world, where I was able to interview some of the crew, and in addition, I tested and retested all the recipes in the book.
Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans? Are you perhaps already working on a next novel?
I am in the middle of a new story that I am loving! The protaganist is having a travel adventure, and the supporting characters in this one are so much fun to write.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
My number one tip is always this: READ, READ, READ. The more you read, the better your own writing will be. The other thing I always say is WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. Contrary to what you see in the movies – the muse generally doesn’t miraculously strike in the middle of the night. You need to exercise that writing muscle!
What is the last book you read that you’d like to recommend to others?
I just finished 'All the Light We Cannot See', by Anthony Doerr, on the plane home from vacation. Loved it!!
Which book could you not live without?
Well, I have to cheat here a bit. The Bible is very important to me for a lot of reasons as I think it should be to everyone. So I think that one is a “gimme”, and also say I would give away almost every book on my shelves except my Jane Austen anthology. I’ll read something out of that at least once a year.
And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘Love on the Lido Deck’ in just three words, which words would you pick?
Uplifting. Romantic. Laugh-out-Loud.
Thanks to the amazing Barbara, I can give away 2 e-book copies of her lovely novels to one lucky winner! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY (end date is the 24th of January 2015), so be sure to follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter giveaway below! Good luck to everyone! :)