A warm welcome to author Susan Willis who is interviewing Sarah, a character from her latest romance novel, The Christmas Tasters. Let’s take a look at the cover and find out a bit more about the book.
Sarah runs taste panels at the local supermarket where six complete strangers meet every Thursday to taste Christmas puddings and cakes. Week by week we are involved with the lives of these different characters. From, two elderly ladies at loggerheads with each other, to a young househusband struggling with twin babies, and a beautiful Indian girl with an arranged marriage. Sally, a divorcee and high-powered lawyer, sets her sights on Mark, who is a local photographer and widower.
However, it is Sarah that Mark asks out on a date and falls for her in a big way. Although Sarah is attracted to him, she wants to drift into their new relationship slowly. With explosive happenings in the taste sessions each week, Sarah is in a complete spin. Will she take a chance with Mark?
Christmas Tasters will be free to download on the 5th and 6th of November
Now let’s move onto Susan’s interview with Sarah
How long have you been doing your sensory technologist’s role with the retailer, Sarah?
Around seven years now. I worked at head office in London where I lived with my boyfriend in a lovely flat. I’d thought we would be getting married soon but last year he ran off with another woman to Milan. I was devastated. So, when this position to set up a new sensory department became available, I decided to come home and start afresh. The job seemed to have my name written all over it!
Are you from the Northeast?
Yes, born and bred here in North Shields. And. as the saying goes, you can take the lass out of the northeast, but you’ll never take the northeast out of the lass. My family all still live here in town. Although they live in the older part, I’m buying a trendy flat overlooking the Quayside, it’s more me. I love modern new properties rather than old houses and cottages of which there are many in the old part of town. It tends to be a hub of gossip where everyone knows every body’s business which I don’t like.
What type of people usually come along to your taste panels?
We get people from all walks of life and age groups which makes it very interesting. I know they’re enticed by the free supermarket voucher but mainly, it’s housewives that come. Although, I’m not sure saying housewives is PC now, is it? However, on this year’s Christmas panel, for the first time, I have a househusband called Darren. He has twin baby girls who he obviously adores. His wife, Stacey, works in the travel agency while he stays home to look after them. At first, I figured there was something that didn’t quite match up with him. And by the end of the story, I’ve been proven right – but no, spoilers!
Are there professional people in the group this year?
Yes, we have a local photographer with a shop on the high street, called, Mark. He’s a widower whose wife died of breast cancer and he’s learning to cook for one again. He’s a bit of a dish, excuse the pun! And, from the moment we met I was attracted to his steady, quiet personality. He’s a world away from my good-looking ex-boyfriend but as the weeks progressed, I began to trust Mark and looked forward to seeing him.
Hey, that’s great, and did he ask you out?
Well, not at first because there was as a little competition from the other professional woman in the group, Sally. She’s a high-flying lawyer, very elegant and it was obvious from week one that she’d set her sights on Mark. So, I hung back in the wings not wanting to get hurt again. But as it turned out, Mark had only been supporting Sally because her mum was dying in a hospice. Nice guy, eh?
Yeah, and who are the other panellists?
We have two elderly ladies in the group. One lady called, Margaret, who was at first, timid and shy when speaking and joining in the group discussions. But by the third week she certainly came out of her shell. And by the end of the story, she becomes the main stay of the group who everyone turns to for a few words of comfort.
And the other elderly lady?
Ah, Olga Treadwell. Well, compared to Margaret, they’re like chalk and cheese. Olga is snobby, affluent, condescending, and at first tried to disrupt my panel sessions. But I’ve been doing this long enough now to know how to handle awkward customers. Once I got her interested in the different food products and consumer research, she soon settled down to enjoy the sessions. Olga does, however, have a secret that only Margaret knows about which is revealed at the last explosive panel session on Christmas Eve.
Are all the panellists English?
Oh, no, we have the most beautiful looking Indian girl called, Ayesha. She is a receptionist at the local medical centre. All the women are in raptures each week with the fabulous sari’s she wears, especially as she makes them herself. Unfortunately, her father announces that he has arranged her marriage to a distant cousin who is fifteen years older than her, and she is terrified.
So, what happens with you and Mark?
Unbelievably, my ex turns up on email proclaiming to have made the biggest mistake of his life and begs to be given a second chance. This sends me into a tizzy because I’ve grown accustomed to seeing Mark and I do like him. However, while I prepare Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, and mince pies for our taste panel on Christmas Eve, I feel swayed with the thought of returning to London, our old flat and trendy group of friends.
Oh, really? So, do you go back to him and leave Mark?
Ah, now that would be telling, wouldn’t it? You’ll have to read the novella to find out for yourself!
And remember Christmas Tasters will be free to download on the 5th and 6th of November
There is so much to enjoy in this book. A fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of how supermarkets perfect their product ranges. Warm, engaging, believable characters who talk like real people. And a compelling storyline. A great Christmas read!
What made the story for me was the love triangle with Sarah, Mark and Sally. I don’t want to give anything away, but at the start of the novel I really disliked Sally and was frustrated for Sarah not being able to have the gorgeous Mark, but the author’s characters are more than just two-dimensional stereotypes and she really explores each of the characters complexities going into their back stories- some of which are really heart-warming. This was a great, traditional fluffy romance, but the author goes the extra mile to create some really excellent characters. Also, who knew that supermarket panels actually existed- where do I sign up?
I am a published author of five novels and six novellas and live in Co-Durham. I’ve just finished updating my food-lover romance novels with new titles and covers:
NO, CHEF, I Won’t!
Dark Room Secrets
Northern Bake Off
You’ve Got Cake
A Business Affair
The Man Who Loved Women
The Guest For Christmas Lunch
Last Christmas I wrote a novella, Christmas Shamble in York, and readers loved my couple so much that I’ve written a sequel for this year. I’m hoping to call this, ‘Super Sleuth in York.’
All my work is available on amazon here: https://amzn.to/2S5UBc8
Thanks so much for dropping by to tell us about your amazing books. Susan. 😊
Karen King – Writing about the light and dark of relationships.
Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/y2q5audb