Book Clubs in Cocktail Bars by guest author Isabella May

I am delighted to be joined by my friend and fellow author, Isabella May. She is going to talk about cocktail bar trends, book clubs and her new book, The Cocktail Bar.

Can Literary Musings and Mojitos really mix?

Thank you so much, Val for inviting me to appear on your blog today. It’s lovely to be here and I’m going to talk a little about a trend that I predict will take book clubs across the land (and across the globe) by storm: the bi-monthly meet-up in a cocktail bar!

At least this is one of the ‘novel’ ideas that mixologist, River Jackson (the fictional character from my own brand new novel, The Cocktail Bar) comes up with in a bid to increase footfall into his new business. It kind of goes hand in hand with his golden rule that only two cocktails per customer shall be served up of an evening… and surprisingly it works a treat… even despite the raised eyebrows of the locals poking their heads into the Glastonbury-based bar.

You see River has been more than a little naïve, flouncing back to his working-class/unconventional hometown in Somerset, UK, after a decade on the road with his band, Avalonia. Glastonbury is tribal like that. Nobody gets to sever ties, make their millions on stages spanning from LA to Tokyo… and then waltz back into the high street as if nothing ever happened.

Then again, River Jackson isn’t just anybody. He has a magical Mexican bottle of elixir tucked under his arm and nobody is going to deter him. Not even his school buddy turned nemesis, Blake. Not even the local media. Not even his band manager, Lennie.
So what if he went AWOL mid-contract to open his dream bar?isabella may book

On the other hand, you can’t be too fussy when you’re desperate for custom. Not every bookworm is a bartender’s dream. Here’s a little snippet to hopefully whet your appetite:

Well, I think it’s a truly fantabulous idea. Just what this town needs,” a willowy multiple-layered Jane Austen Bourdaloue-skirted bespectacled women of senior years fluttered her spidery, cartoon, violet eyelashes at River as she attempted in vain to perch herself on a bar stool.

It took me no time at all to round up my four ladies and I can assure you, darling, we’ll be a regular fixture every fortnight, come rain, shine or even snow; such a marvellous venue in which to discuss our bi-monthly literary pickings – with a tipple of the exotic or two and a view of one thoroughly dashing gentleman, of course.”

River didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, especially as Georgina had clocked on early for her shift, no doubt hoping to point score and prove his optimism wrong. He chewed on his smile as he imagined what he was going to do to her later – not that she’d revealed her choice of costume yet. She was too good to be true; no strings, adventurous sex on tap, a friend to have a laugh with. Just the tonic he needed to ease him back into local life, to almost take his mind off the impending mission, and the kitchen window ‘thing’, as well as the constant urge to look over his shoulder for hedge-hiding photographers. Miraculously, it appeared Blake was also completely unfazed by her new employment – none the wiser as to what she was getting up to in somebody else’s bed besides.

He let his smile have his way with him in a bid to select some appropriate preamble. “This is exactly the positive reaction I hoped my idea would have. I’m a passionate bibliophile myself. Just wish I had more time to indulge in the written word. A bar full of highly educated – and equally classy women,” he stopped to swallow his deceitful words away, “it not only sends my heart a flutter, but eases my own lack of reading time guilt.”

Darling, you’re too kind,” Jane Austen extended her hand and River’s stomach catapulted, wondering whether this was an invite to brush it with his lips – he did anyway, cursing himself for being so two-faced, careful to avoid her Twiglet fingers, should they snap in half.

Now then, what can I get you all to drink? These are paid for by the way.”

Oh, sweetheart, you really shouldn’t but we’ll gratefully oblige.”

She swivelled and put two fingers – whose apparent fragility belied their strength – to her over-painted coral lips producing an enviable whistle to attract the attention of the rest of her group.

Open your menus, girls. Mr Jackson is granting us our first drinks on the house.”

A hubble bubble of cheer brewed at the corner table as the realisation illuminated faces, thankfully not all as heavily made-up.

Jane Austen’s elongated fingers reached for one of the menus lying on the bar and she began to flick through its pages in reverse. River, who had taken to polishing glasses in a bid to divert her adoration, almost dropped the tumbler he was buffing.

For crying out loud, no; it’s not meant to be you, anybody but you. Start at the front, lady!

He gulped as she immediately ceased fingering the twenty-something blank pages and flipped the menu to its front cover. Heather was right. He did have a knack for telepathy. And thank god. He knew, as he flashed back again to Mercedes in her agave-studded field where she stood waving him off with the bottle, that none of this was up to him; he was simply The Messenger. Whoever chose the elixir chose it. But it didn’t stop River being judgmental. Surely there were better candidates to have their life, as they knew it, changed for ever?

So what is your favourite book, my good man, when you do get time to read?”

Back off lady, less of the my.

See that’s a question that always has me torn,” he smiled becomingly. “With so many worthy authors in the world, how can we possibly choo – ”

For me it’s quite simple, anything about cats, starring cats, cats walking past in the background, a hint of a feline title; an author with cat in their name, matters not a jot,” she said.

Okay… I see you’re fond of… err… cats then?”

Fond of them, she’s stark raving bonkers about them, twenty-six of the things in her house and the surrounding fields, at last count any rate,” said her friend, looping her arm in Jane Austen’s and pulling her back to the table. “Come along now, dear, we’re waiting for you to get proceedings started. Everybody’s champing at the bit to share their reviews on A Street Cat Named Bob.”

You do attract them,” said Georgina, propping herself most foxily across the bar, almost making him jump.

Yeah, well, let’s just hope this group grows significantly to dilute the madness,” said River, distracting himself from her provocative pose with the realisation that he’d not checked in on Alice for twenty-four hours.
Extract from The Cocktail Bar, by Isabella May

To find out who will be the lucky recipient of River’s magical mystical Mexican elixir… and more about the adventures of the book club, here’s the universal buying link for The Cocktail Bar:  – universal Amazon buying link.


Rock star, River Jackson, is back in his hometown of Glastonbury to open a cocktail bar… and the locals aren’t impressed.

Seductive Georgina is proving too hot to handle; band mate, Angelic Alice, is messing with his heart and his head; his mum is a hippie-dippy liability; his school friends have resorted to violence – oh, and his band manager, Lennie, AND the media are on his trail.

But River is armed with a magical Mexican elixir which will change the lives of the Three Chosen Ones. Once the Mexican wave of joy takes a hold of the town, he’s glad he didn’t lose his proverbial bottle.

Pity he hasn’t taken better care of the real one…

isabella may


Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).

She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’!

The Cocktail Bar is her second novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensation, Oh! What a Pavlova, published in 2017. Her third novel, Costa del Churros will be published in September 2018.

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook –

Instagram – @isabella_may_author


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