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10 June 2015

Blog Tour: 'Searching for Steven' by Jessica Redland!

When Sarah Peterson accepts her Auntie Kay’s unexpected offer to take over her florist’s shop, she’s prepared for a change of job, home and lifestyle. What she isn’t prepared for is the discovery of a scarily accurate clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All her predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven.

Suddenly Stevens are everywhere. Could it be the window cleaner, the rep, the manager of the coffee shop, or any of the men she’s met online?

On top of that, she finds herself quite attracted to a handsome web designer, but his name isn't even Steven...

During this unusual search, will Sarah find her destiny?

On the 3rd of June, Jessica Redland's novel 'Searching for Steven' was released by So Vain Books and I am really excited to be part of the blog tour for this new release today! When I was contacted by So Vain Books about 'Searching for Steven', I straight away looked forward to reading the book because based on the lovely colourful cover and the book description I already had a good feeling I would end up enjoying it. I am always up for checking out a fun romantic comedy read and I hoped 'Searching for Steven' would end up to be just that. Next to a review of the book I also have a guest post by Jessica herself to share with all of you today, so be sure to scroll down to read it!

Sarah Peterson has just turned thirty and when her hopes of a proposal from her boyfriend Jason are smashed, she decides their relationship hasn't been going anywhere and it's time for them to go their separate ways. When her aunt Kay contacts her with the news she is going to travel the world and wants to give her flower shop to Sarah to run by herself, the timing couldn't possibly be more perfect. Sarah packs her bags and moves back home, closer to her family and friends, ready to start afresh. When she suddenly finds a tape of a clairvoyant's reading from when she was 18 (and too drunk to remember what she was told), she listens to it again and discovers the clairvoyant predicted almost everything that would happen to her in the upcoming years. So when she hears the love of her life is called Steven, Sarah decides to trust the clairvoyant's message and start the search for her very own Steven...

'Searching for Steven' turned out to be a really enjoyable and light chick lit read; another great release by So Vain Books. I straight away really liked the storyline; Sarah turning her life upside down, starting her own flower shop, and searching for her Mr. Right who has to be named Steven. Sarah is a lovely heroine who I instantly warmed to and started rooting for. I loved reading about the flower shop and how Sarah starts up her own business, and of course her search for Steven based on the clairvoyant's reading she finds on an old cassette tape, and all the people who help her along the way. From her friends Elise and Clare (who can't stand each other), Sarah's aunt Kay, and the handsome Nick who helps Sarah settle in as a business owner. 

Jessica Redland's writing fits the romantic comedy genre really well. It's light, easy to get through, and well-paced. I got the feeling the story became a bit too slow towards the ending of the book and perhaps this could have been written more compactly with a bit of extra editing. However, this didn't ruin the novel or reading experience and I already am excited to see what else Jessica Redland will bring us in the future. Overall, 'Searching for Steven' is a light-hearted, warm, fun romantic comedy that will leave you with a smile on your face; a worthwhile read for chick lit fans!
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Guest post by Jessica Redland!

I'm really excited to have a special guest post from Jessica Redland herself to share with all of you today!

I’m thrilled that my debut novel, Searching for Steven, is now available in paperback and eBook formats. I also have an eBook novella, Raving About Rhys, which came out last month. Rhys is set a few years before Steven but is a standalone prequel featuring a different heroine. Steven is the first in a trilogy of novels featuring the same cast of characters in the same seaside town setting, but it didn’t start life as a series. I only ever planned to write it as a stand-alone novel yet I’ve developed a trilogy and a novella. So how did that happen?

The heroine, Sarah Peterson, has two best friends. Elise has been her best friend since her first day at primary school and Clare has been her best friend since her first day at university. Unfortunately for Sarah, they don’t get on, so she often finds herself stuck in the middle of their squabbles.

It took me a long time to write Steven as I had many life changes during this time (marriage, baby, moving house twice, opening and closing a business, changing job several times) and therefore had huge gaps without writing. When I wasn’t writing, though, I was thinking about my characters and my plot and Elise and Clare quickly developed back stories that made their part in my story so much more significant than ‘just the best friends’. Giving them a sub-plot in Sarah’s story didn’t seem right as I didn’t want to detract from her story and I didn’t want to cover their stories in too little detail. A trilogy was born with a different friend being the main focus of each.

As soon as I made this decision, it felt like the characters of Elise and Clare really grew. It was almost as if they knew they were going to have the opportunity to take centre-stage and couldn’t wait to give me more to work with. The challenge at that point was to hint at their back stories in Steven but not give away too many spoilers. Not an easy task!

The second book in the series, Getting Over Gary, is Elise’s story. It picks up from the same point in time that Steven ends although everything is nicely wrapped up at the end of Steven; no cliffhangers to frustrate the reader! We get to follow Sarah into her happily ever after whilst Elise’s marriage falls apart. There’s a teaser chapter at the end of Steven if you want to know more.

The final book in the series is Clare’s story. This has a working title of Discovering David but this is likely to change as it doesn’t quite fit with the three-word titles of the other books. Clare’s a fascinating character with a mysterious past and we find out all about it in book three. Of course, we still follow what’s happening with Sarah and Elise as Clare’s story unfolds.

All three books include a romance as that’s the genre I write, but I attended a workshop on theme run by Julie Cohen at a Romantic Novelists’ Association conference a couple of years ago. It was an excellent session in which Julie shared that she tends to have identity as a theme in her novels, albeit in many different guises. I realised that my theme is friendship. It was very important for me that, as well as exploring the romances, I explored the relationships between the three women. I’ve always been fascinated by friendships and how some friends can come and go yet others are around forever. The strength of friendships can change depending on what’s going on in each person’s life at the time. Having a trilogy allowed me to explore this theme of friendship in a lot more depth than I’d have been able to in a stand-alone novel.

Last September, I received offers of two publishing deals. This was a very happy dilemma to be in, but I had to ‘do a Sarah’ (you’ll know what I mean if you read Steven) and get my post-it notes out to help me make my decision. I’d had quite a lot of email conversations with the publisher who gave me the first offer and I was a bit concerned at the suggestion that they wanted the books to be purely about the romance and perhaps lose the theme of friendship. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t want to do this as that took me away from what I was trying to achieve with my writing. So Vain Books loved the stories as they were with both themes so that was one of a number of reasons why I chose to accept their offer instead.

So Vain were keen for me to write a couple of short stories to help promote the launch of Steven, ideally based around characters in the book. I chose a character called Callie who is the sister of one of the main characters. She gets married at the start of Steven and I decided to tell the story of how she met her husband. Exactly as it had done with Elise and Clare, Callie’s character grew and grew and soon I had a novella instead of a short story! Raving About Rhys is available now, but in eBook format only with it being a novella. Thankfully, it only took me a month or so to write; nothing like my decade for Steven!

I’ve really enjoyed writing a series. It gives such a great opportunity to develop characters and their stories. I have ideas for a fourth full-length novel set in the same seaside town but with a new cast of characters. It will probably be a stand-alone novel, but I’m sure I’ll return to writing another series.

Thank you so much for having me as your guest. Happy reading everyone!

Twitter: @JessicaRedland

Thanks so much, Jessica!

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