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LBoM_cover_medThe person on the front cover of Sheryl Browne’ latest book, A Little Bit of Madness, may look familiar to some of you. Yes, it is me. No. I am not drunk. Let me explain.

Last November, I was at the Festival of Romance with fellow loveahappyending authors. Safkhet Publishing, who have published this book, were running a “cover model” contest and taking photographs of willing contestants. All the photos were to be put up on Facebook and the photo that received the greatest number of votes or “likes” would win. There were quite a few takers, men, women and young girls who all wanted to be a cover star. Safkhet was busy photographing wannabe cover models all day, until about four o’clock, when it fell quiet.

Fuelled by the fact I hadn’t eaten all day, and exuberant because I had made a few book sales, I volunteered to be photographed too, just for fun. As you can see, I wasn’t exactly taking it too seriously. “what’s the book called?” I asked. “A Little Bit of Madness,” came the reply. “I can do mad!” I replied. And, I did.

As you will have gathered, my photograph won. I was, in truth, horrified that it had won and felt sorry for poor Sheryl who had spent months writing a fabulous novel, only to have the front cover ruined by a madwoman.

Last week, I read the book. I don’t normally write reviews but suffice to say that this is a book that is romantic, funny, sensitive and poignant. Set in an old person’s home and filled with adorable, yet hilarious characters, I was swept along by Sheryl’s fluid and entertaining style. If I ever have to put my fun loving, alcohol fuelled, party loving mother into a home, I pray it will be one like The Harbour. The elderly characters in particular, wormed their way into my heart, especially May. The elderly independents are feisty, funny and outrageous at times. I adored them.

The plot, outlined below, may seem simple enough, yet there are twists and surprises to keep you on your toes.

No rest for the wicked
Saving Charlton Hall will burrow into your heart.

Celia Summers, intrepid mother of two, is too cuddly for sweatpants, she suspects. But then, her class at The Harbour Rest Home are similarly clad. Celia loves her work as an art therapist. She’s proud that she gives her elderly independents something to look forward to, even if her partner, Martin, disapproves of her efforts. He also has other things on his mind – telling complicated lies to Celia so he can sell Charlton Hall, his mum’s house, to pay off his debts.

Meanwhile, Celia fights to secure gallery space for her geriatric charges’ artwork, and to keep The Harbour from being closed. She’s even ready to abseil from a church steeple to bring attention to the plight of her old people, no matter that she might fall and end up splattered all over the flagstones. When she does fall, however, it’s much more painful – in love with PC Alex Burrows. Will he be her white knight in blue and ride to her rescue?

Did I enjoy it? You bet I did. Sheryl has succeeded in writing, not just a jolly fine romance, but has brought in sub plots with messages that touches you. I read Sheryl’s note after I had read the book and it sums up what I am trying to say here.

“Romance at its heart, my story includes a cast of elderly independents, people who have a life left to live, and something still to give. It was inspired by my mum, who tragically had early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She made me laugh, she made me cry. She made me laugh until I cried. Laughter, she firmly believed, truly was the best medicine. I hope I’ve brought some of her wonderful sense of humour to the story. I think I have. I’ll leave my readers to judge – thank you!”

Sheryl, you have succeeded. Having now read the book, I no longer feel that I have embarrassed Sheryl with my photo. In some ways the photo is perfect, and I am very proud to be sitting there pulling faces.

SherylOn a final note, Sheryl Browne is an extraordinary woman. How many of us would take our research to the same lengths as her? She actually had a go at abseiling to  experience what cela goes through when she abseils down the Church tower. Now if that isn’t A Little Bit of Madness, I don’t know what is!

You can purchase Sheryl’s book from various outlets, details at www.safkhetpublishing.com or on Amazon by clicking the links below:

Amazon UK

Amazon US