Book and a Brew with Ritu – Just Friends For Now by @Lucy_K_Author @ChocLituk #NewRelease #BookReview #BookAndABrew

Yes, we are back with another Book & A Brew with Ritu post!.

Today, I am thrilled to welcome fabulous Rom-Com author, and friend of mine, Lucy Keeling to my blog for a cuppa and a bit of a chat about all things writerly, especially her newest release, Just Friends for Now. It’s out TODAY!

Hello, and welcome to But I Smile Anyway, Lucy! Let’s get you set with a drink first. Now would you prefer a coffee of some sort? I have a Tassimo machine. I can stretch to that! Or maybe a cup of tea, a chai latte, or would you like to be brave and have a traditional homemade Indian masala tea? (Maybe we should do a Mimosa brunch like the one served in Lulu’s!)

Well, I would love to try an Indian masala tea, especially after reading your books, it sounds delicious. Although maybe after our catch up, we should go and do a bottomless brunch somewhere and just have all the giggles.

Oh, my goodness, that would be such fun! We have to, most definitely, one day! But for now, if we’re going masala tea, I can bust out the samosas and pakoras (fried potato and vegetable fritters), but I have biscuits, specifically shortbread, too!

I adore samosas and pakoras so absolutely count me in! But and this will come as absolutely no surprise I also love biscuits so I’ll have whatever you’re having, don’t go to any trouble just for me.

Right, well I’ll just lay a whole spread out, then!

Now that first, inevitable question… Why writing? Was it always a dream? How did you end up getting published?

I’ve always written, or at least attempted to. In fact, I’m now wondering if I wrote because I have always been obsessed with stationery (and therefore would ask for stationery every birthday) or if I’m obsessed with stationery because I’ve always been a writer. (Fellow stationery addict, here. I 100% understand your obsession!)

As for how I ended up being published, well…

My publisher was running a competition. I entered, and although I only came in second place, I was offered a three-book contract as a result. Woohoo! It makes it sound like it’s so easy, so what I will add, if that’s ok, is that for many years I honestly didn’t know you could plan a novel. I really thought that an author would sit at a desk, be inspired, and the words would just flow. So every single attempt at writing, I’d run out of steam around Chapter 5. When I discovered that you could plan it out, it completely changed everything. There are so many misconceptions out there about writing a novel, I know! I think I was the same at first, but now, in book three, I have realised I can’t be a Pantser all the time. I am now a Plan-tser!

I love your Just Friends Series! Can you tell me where your passion for writing Rom-Coms stems from?

Firstly thank you so much. I still can’t get over the fact that people actually read my stories.

But why romcoms? Well, I adore reading them. It’s that simple. I’ve loved reading them and watching them. In fact, I remember being like 10, maybe, and my favourite movie was Overboard – Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn. In fact, it probably is still one of my faves, to be honest. Do you like watching Romcoms, and if yes, do you have a fave?

I do indeed love them! I love both Western ones and Bollywood ones, too! But my all-time fave has to be Pretty Woman! I could watch it over and over!

Do you have a favourite from the books you have written so far?

Ohhhh, I don’t know if I can pick a favourite. Can you pick one of yours? What I will say is that there’s something in each book that I’ve really loved exploring. In the first one, I wanted to look at how the female love interest can be the one that makes the big gesture. The second one was exploring how relationships, friends or romantic, can help people grow. Mya’s story in the third was looking at strong women and how they don’t have to change when they fall in love. Book 4 this one is looking at barriers that we might put in our way. A friend of mine once told me to get out of my own way, and I’ve sort of explored that. However, as well as themes, I also go trope heavy. So we have book 1 – best friend’s brother. Book 2- fake dating. Book 3 – Enemies to lovers, competitors even! Book 4 – bang to get it out of their systems, with a grumpy sunshine combo. And I have LOVED every single trope! Do you have a favourite trope or one that you’d love to write about?

Oh, I know, Lucy, it is a hard question and perhaps very cheeky of me to ask! I think Marriage Unarranged will always have a special place in my heart because it took me so long to write and launched my dream. I feel book 3 will be very dear to me because the subject matter is close to my heart… I am not big on writing to trope, as such, but I do love Enemies to Lovers and Second Chance Romances.

Where do you like to write?  Do you have a special room at home, or are you one who is spread across the dining room table, like I was when I wrote my first book?

I have a little desk in my bedroom, but like you, my first two books were written on the kitchen table. It was only when I was sent home, in the pandemic that I added a desk to the bedroom, and there you have it. I’m a lot closer to the post-its but further away from the tea and biscuits. So….

Certain distractions we have to try and fight… But I make it worse by having a stash of snacks in my writing room! (And I wonder why my clothes are getting ever tighter…)

We have known each other for a while now. I think I ‘met’ you on Twitter first during Lockdown, then it extended to Facebook and, The Gram, and TikTok, too. How do you cope with the pressures of keeping on top of all the different social media channels you are active on? (I’m constantly juggling life with keeping up to date on my blog, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with a few visits to TikTok, and trying to use the time wisely to write, too!)

Firstly, you are a joy to know virtually, and one day, I hope to meet in real life!

Aw, Lucy! You are such a sweetheart! And,yes! We need to do that bottomless brunch! I would love to meet you properly!

But, oh, my days there, is so much to do, Ritu! I know you’re the same as me, working as well as writing, and then the social media stuff as well, it’s a lot. I wish I knew the secret, I really do, but I don’t. But I can tell you that because of the lack of time, when I do post, I’m usually really honest. Too honest. Much too honest. I’m a complete oversharer. I know that some people can curate an online image, but no, sorry, what you see is very much what you get. And it’s almost always too much, lol. Should anyone want an unfiltered Lucy Keeling in their lives, their best heading to my Instagram, lol.

I LOVE the unfiltered Lucy Keeling!!!

Coming back to the Just Friends series, how did it feel to finally be writing about the fab four again?

Well, as my contract was for three books and you’ll know from book 1 my intention was to make sure each of the main female leads were going to have their HEA. But pandemic times and all that meant that there was a slight delay in book 4 coming out (sorry again to those that were waiting).  While I’m so excited for everyone to read about Paige, I am really sad that the series is over, but I’m hoping I’ve given them all a lovely HEA send-off. (You have done the series proud!)

And this is your first stab at writing FF romance, with a few sizzling scenes, too! Dare I ask, what kind of research was needed for that? Did you launch into reading more sapphic books, or talk to women, to get a realistic feel?

Hahaha. Lots of reading, lots of research, and lots of chats with people that didn’t mind me being a little bit nosey. For me, it’s really important that as an author, I reflect the world around me. The world around me includes the LGBTQ+ community. But I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous.  

I know that feeling, what with my MM romance in Book 2! It is nerve-wracking, but, I hope, what with my great sensitivity readers, and my other advance readers (Thank you, Lucy!), that I have done the relationship, and story justice!

Paige has a psychic ability in this series. Do you know anyone who has this gift? If you did, how would you use it? (Aside from knowing exactly where your next release would sit in the best seller’s chart – which it will!)

I don’t or I don’t think I do. I spent too long thinking about this and realised I was massively overthinking it and actually, if I had like any sort of psychic ability, I’d use it to get a lottery win. Sorry, I know that’s boring, lol. What about you?

I think the Lottery win would be up at the top, somewhere, too, as well as seeing what life has in store for my kids, so I can help guide them…

I was lucky enough to read an arc of Just Friends For Now and truly enjoyed it (Review follows after the Q&A). I feel sad that it is the end of the series. I loved getting to know Paige, Sophie, Polly and Mya. I’d love to see a spin-off about the adventures of Connie! But, if that isn’t available, can you share anything with our readers about what is in the pipeline for you and any future releases?

Did it work for you as an end-of-series book? It did! I was really trying to finish it in a way that it was rounded off for all of them.

How brilliant is Connie! One of my all-time favourite characters to write. She is fabulous!

I’m currently trying to figure out what to write next. I have two ideas, and I just don’t know which one to focus on. Does this ever happen to you? How do you know what to work on?  

I have a little notebook with ideas I have jotted down, and right now, the focus is on the release of book two, Straight As A Jalebi, and writing the first draft of Book three. After that, I am not sure what I will concentrate on. I have a couple of ideas for novels or novellas spinning off from the Ristay Series, but I also have a fairytale retelling which I started, using the Indian part of me as inspiration for the story… That is something I would love to finish.

Oh! Looks like the cups are empty, and the plates, too!

Lucy, it has been a pleasure having you over for a Book & A Brew chinwag!

And I also want to add a huge thank you for your support over this whole series, I’m so grateful Ritu, thank you so much x

It has always been, and always will be, a pleasure, my dear friend. 😊

Peeps, honestly, you need to go and start the Just Friends series if you haven’t already. It is such fun!

Now, as I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to read an ARC of Just Friends for Now, so let me share the blurb and my review.

The Blurb

Just friends for now … but how about later?

Bar owner Paige can’t deny that there’s just something about Melanie and her prim and proper librarian look that messes with her mojo. But Melanie is no librarian; she owns Lulu, the new super Instagrammable brunch spot in town, boasting bottomless mimosas and prime selfie opportunities. If anything, Melanie and Paige should be rivals, probably not friends – and definitely not anything else.

But when they both team up to work on a community project, and then Melanie finds Lulu the subject of a malicious online review campaign, they might find that staying just friends is going to be a little trickier than either of them could have imagined …

Book 4 in the Friends series, but it can be read as a standalone novel. This is Paige and Melanie’s story.

My Review

Just Friends for Now by Lucy Keeling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was thrilled when I heard there was a fourth in the Just Friends series by fabulous author Lucy Keeling, and I sped through it!
Each book in the series centres on a different friend in a tight circle of four, and Just Friends for Now is about Paige (or Book as her gran, Connie, calls her – I LOVE that!) and her love life.
Paige owns Barbarella’s, a bar, and has a kind of psychic gift that has been playing up recently. She is feeling broken. She hasn’t been in a relationship for a while, but the entrance of a new business owner, setting up another establishment nearby gets her hackles up.
Or at least she thinks that’s what is happening.
Then we have Melanie, the competition. She’s stressed. Her business, Lulu’s, seems to be going well, but she is on the go constantly, what with helping her sister raise her son, as well. Then there is the friction she feels emanating from that other local bar owner, Paige…
I won’t tell you what happens. Otherwise, why would you go and grab your own copy? Needless to say, I loved this FF romance, with plenty of sizzle and drama and a fantastic conclusion!
It was great to catch up with the rest of the gang, Sophie, Mya and Polly, and seeing how the friends all get together to help the latest one of them in a pickle.
Several other characters we get to know, including Connie, Paige’s Gran, and Cleo, Melanie’s bar manager, are just fantastic. Real feisty women!
I have to admit to being rather sad about the fact that it is the end of a much-loved series, but the epilogue made me all warm and fuzzy, and I guess we can only hope that maybe, just maybe, Lucy Keeling might want to resurrect some of these characters in the future…

Buy a copy of Just Friends For Now, HERE!

Author Bio

Lucy Keeling is an author writing fun, sexy, stories with all of the happily ever afters.

When she’s not typing at the kitchen table, she’s arranging and then re-arranging to see her friends for the occasional spot of day drinking.

Lucy is currently writing the third book in a Contemporary Romance series, the first of which was Runner-Up in ChocLit’s ‘Search for a Star’ competition. This story has become her romantic comedy debut ‘Make It Up To You’. The second book in the series ‘Just Friends’ has been described as ‘unputdownable’ and ‘A fabulous will they won’t they love story with moments of hilarity sprinkled throughout’ and is available now.

Follow Lucy on her Social Media Channels – She’s lots of fun, especially on TikTok and Instagram!



Amazon: Author Page

Instagram: @lucy_k_author


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