RARE19 LONDON – Once Upon A Time

This year’s RARE London was aptly named “Once Upon A Time” and I certainly felt like I was in a fairy-tale. With so many of my favourite authors in one place how could this not be a magical experience. Make A Wish

My day started very similar to last year’s RARE.  Up early ready to catch the train.  I think I may have caught an earlier train this year, or I was just more aware of what I was doing and where I was going, as I definitely arrived at the venue earlier than last year.  The weather was also a major improvement!

Waiting in queues is not everyone’s idea of fun but I like to take this time to talk to the people around me.  Everyone is there for the same reason but not always the same authors, so it’s nice to hear who they enjoy and why.

This year the registration occurred at the queuing stage which made entry into the building much quicker and more efficient. Great work done by the RARE Team and Volunteers (this will not be the last time I congratulate them on their hard work).

Upon entry into the room an overwhelming sense of awe takes hold.  Moving away from the lift I had to pause for a moment to take in the room and the atmosphere.  Ladies, let me just say that although 5 hours does not seem long to get round all your authors it really is worthwhile to just stand still and take it all in for a few minutes, the atmosphere is amazing.  When you are ready consider you attack plan, have your table map to hand and then delve right in. A really good idea that one lady had, actually I think her husband did it for her, was to laminate her table plan. Mine was a screwed up mess when I finished but this would make a really good keepsake.

I knew exactly where I wanted to go as soon as I’d taken it all in…Tiffany Snow, one of my favourite authors for this RARE. Sometimes things do not always go to plan and I found this as approached the table where Tiffany should be…it was empty! No sign of her anywhere.  Don’t Panic! I knew she was there because she had posted on Facebook just that morning but now the fun began tracking her down.  This was actually really good as it gave me a chance to have a look around and see where all the other authors where situated.

My day progressed in a procession of autographs, photos and fun.  I visited all the authors I wanted to and I met some new authors I haven’t read yet.  Please don’t avoid an author just because you haven’t read their work yet, it is a fantastic opportunity to discuss their work with them and find new reads. Also don’t forget the Swag.  I will admit that last year I was a  bit hesitant when taking swag, I only took something when the author offered it but I was much better this year.  They lay it on their tables with the intention of you taking it, so take it!


I did make an epic error in judgement this year.  I decided to take some books for tsbooks.jpgsigning…7 in total plus my autograph book.  I carried everything with me in a rucksack as I was travelling by train and thought this would be easiest.  It may have been easier but that bag was heavy! It also meant that I was unable to buy any books while I was there as I had no room to carry them.  Do yourself a favour and get either a crate or suitcase with wheels, you will be grateful for this little piece of advice.

Onto my authors.  I had several circled that I wanted to visit and my absolute favourites I managed to have photos with.  Authors are more than happy to have a photo taken and generally with have someone on hand to take it for you, this is normally a volunteer assistant.  So here are mine and I thank each and everyone of them for making RARE19 a fantastic experience.

Tiffany Snow



Jane Harvey-Berrick and the very lovely Gergo Jonas


Laurelin Paige


Julia Quinn


Melinda Leigh, Catherine Bybee and Kendra Elliot


An amazing experience and fun time meeting wonderful authors and readers alike.

Thank you to Amy Jennings and all the Team at RAREvents, and a massive shout-out to all the volunteers who helped with author tables, line management and registration.


Gym or Chocolate? by Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick


My instant thought to this title was “Duh! No contest!” Chocolate is the obvious answer but what if we could have both?  Well, oddly enough we can, who knew?!

Gym or Chocolate is an emotionally, hilarious story of two opposites attracting and meeting somewhere in the middle…of a donut. Cady Callahan is a happy, contented radio host who has battled with her weight for years, finally learning to accept that she is who she is and other people can either like it or not.  Rick Roberts is the sullen, stubborn,   gym-owning fitness freak who has the pleasure (or not!) of gifting Cady with a year’s free membership and personal training at his gym.

When Cady finds herself being ridiculed on national television she accepts not only the gift but also agreeing to run the next New York marathon.

Rick and Cady definitely get off to a rocky start but as their friendship grows they both realise that there is more to the other than mere physical appearances.   But can their relationship outlast the marathon or are their differences just to great.

I loved Cady and her enjoyment of all forms of food.  I was seriously empathising with her throughout this story. As a woman of larger build who has had weight issues since a child, I could relate to Cady and her desire to just be who she is.  Her take no nonsense attitude had me laughing and cheering especially when it was directed at the despicable Molly McKinney (never liked her in Undefeated and Model Boyfriend).

Rick Roberts took some warming to.  I’ll be honest and say that if he treated me the way he did Cady at the beginning I’m not sure I’d have continued to go but he did soften eventually.  Much prefer the cake and cream eating version 🙂

My favourite though, has got to be Vin, Rick’s best friend.  His shame knows no bounds, he has no filter and although he appears chilled and relaxed, he would be the first person to stand by your side when you needed him.  Really hoping he gets his own book.

Another fun, exciting and thoroughly enjoyable book by the awesome writing duo of Stu Reardon and Jane Harvey-Berrick.

ARC supplied by Jane Harvey-Berrick

Rating 5/5 


Career girl and radio host hotshot Cady Callahan has never met a chocolate she didn’t love. She has curves and doesn’t care.

She’s shocked when a raffle ticket bought to support a veterans charity means she’s won a year’s membership to Body Tech, an exclusive Manhattan gym, where all the top athletes train and all the A-list actors go to get in shape for their action roles. She’s also won a personal trainer in the shape of far too tantalizing Rick Roberts.

Rick is less impressed when Cady’s arrival leads to a media circus. The retired British rugby ace runs a serious training facility, and he definitely doesn’t have time for anyone who doesn’t want to work hard.

When curvy Cady challenges him to train her to run a marathon by the end of the year, it seems a solution to both their problems. If … when she drops out of training, his gym will go back to normal.

But Cady isn’t planning on losing the bet—she just wasn’t counting on any complications. And surly Rick is very complicated. And as tempting as the tastiest treat…