Nov 22

Weak at the Knees by Jo Kessel

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Weak-at-the-Knees-banner Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Weak at the Knees by Jo Kessel!  In this post you’ll find a sneak peek at the first chapter as well as an amazing giveaway.  Read on to learn more.  You can also view other tour stops if you want to see what other bloggers thought of this book.


“We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams.”

Danni Lewis has been playing it safe for twenty-six years, but her sheltered existence is making her feel old ahead of time. When a sudden death plunges her into a spiral of grief, she throws caution to the wind and runs away to France in search of a new beginning.

The moment ski instructor Olivier du Pape enters her shattered world she falls hard, in more ways than one.

Their mutual desire is as powerful and seductive as the mountains around them. His dark gypsy looks and piercing blue eyes are irresistible.

Only she must resist, because he has a wife – and she’d made a pact to never get involved with a married man.

But how do you choose between keeping your word and being true to your soul?

Weak at the Knees is Jo’s debut novel in the new adult, contemporary romance genre – a story of love and loss set between London and the heart of the French Alps.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.

First Chapter:

I don’t like being English. I never have. It’s always felt like such an un-sexy nationality. Let’s face it, if any foreigner were asked to conjure up a vision of the typical male Brit, most likely they’d be thinking of someone slightly overweight, over-boozed and over sunburned. Most other Europeans fare better. The Italians are all considered hot-blooded Romeos whilst the Scandinavians are a blonde bunch of Adonis’s. As for the French, granted they have a reputation for being curt and unfaithful, but deep down the rest of the world respects their infidelity, crediting the lot with being expert lovers even though most of them probably aren’t. The most flattering of British descriptions is that of an English Rose, but that wouldn’t fit someone like me. Far from being a sinewy blonde with a porcelain complexion, I’m more a pint-sized pre-Raphaelite – short, with waist-length brown curly hair and far too many curves. Not that being an English rose is a particularly flattering description anyway. Yes, it might be a beauteous flower, but it’s also got prickly stems which snare. No, in my opinion, whichever way you look at it, on a global, sexual scale, being English isn’t often an asset.

Hugo’s English. He’s as stiff upper lip Hooray Henry as they come. He’s tall and good-looking in that pretty, public schoolboy, foppish kind of way and he’s a charmer to boot. Think Hugh Grant and you’re not far off the mark – although if it was a toss up between Hugh (particularly the Four Weddings Hugh) and Hugo, there’d be no competition. It would be Grant all the way. I’ve always had a bit of a crush on him. Ironically, many women from all over the world would probably jump at the chance to jump on my Hugo because he’s English. Not because he’s the typical Brit though, but because he’s got the Hugh Grant factor and foreign females fall for that kind of thing. It’s the look, the manners and the self-deprecation. For me, however, nothing beats your language being spoken by somebody who’s not from your country. It’s undeniably sexy. It’s why I like foreigners.

Hugo is what you’d call a catch. My mother definitely thinks so. I’m sure she’s secretly hoping we’ll end up together. Son-in-law material doesn’t come any better. She could show him off and brag away till the cows came home. “My Danni’s Hugo” she’d boast to all her friends, with an air of smug superiority, “He’s a Barrister. He’s ever so clever.”

Indeed he is. Apparently you need to be fluent in Ancient Greek and Latin to get a first in Classics at Oxford like Hugo. Now, that might seem a useless skill to the less educated of us – after all there are no more ancient Greeks or Romans with whom to converse – but you’ve still got to be bloody brilliant to master it. You try making head or tail of a page of Homer’s Iliad! You’d soon understand why they coined the phrase ‘It’s all Greek to me’.

We met when I was fifteen. He was a couple of years older. “Danni Lewis” he’d remarked, at the end of our first proper conversation at some run-of-the mill teen party we’d gone to. “I think you’re great. You’re so original. You’re so enigmatic.”

“Well, thanks very much,” I’d replied. “You’re pretty nice too.” What I’d really wanted to ask was ‘what the hell does ‘enigmatic’ mean?’ I didn’t dare though because I didn’t want to come across as intellectually inferior. He’d clearly assumed that I was as clever as he was, which meant knowing a word like enigmatic even at the age of fifteen. These days I work hard at not making assumptions, although most of the time I fail dismally. I suspect we all do.

Anyway, as soon as I got back home I’d fired up my computer and checked the meaning of the word ‘enigmatic’ on an on-line dictionary. ‘Deliberately mysterious’ or ‘puzzling’ were the definitions I got. I’d liked that. It conjured up a vision of someone beautiful but unobtainable, a woman over whom you could obsess but not possess; a woman about whom one could never assume.

It took us ages to get together. We indulged in hours of what we called phone sex. In truth there was nothing remotely sexual about it. A typical late night, tucked up in bed conversation would go as follows:

HUGO: “Watch you doin?”

ME: “Mmmmmm, I’m just lying here, thinking about you lying there. Where are you, watch YOU doin?”

HUGO: “I’m just lying here on my bed, thinking about you lying there.”

ME: “U ON your bed or IN your bed?”

HUGO: “I’m on it.”

ME: “Well, why don’t you get in it?”

HUGO: “Why?”

And so the scintillating dialogue would continue – although you’d have thought that a bloke who was destined to get a first from Oxford might be able to make slightly more dynamic conversation. I think the reason it took me six months to secure a date was because I kept being too enigmatic. The deliberately mysterious and puzzling me was quite clearly sending out the wrong signals. Hugo assumed I wasn’t interested.

Eventually one day, we were both sitting on my box room bed at my parents’ house in Hendon, north London, playing this stupid truth yes or no game when he came clean and I came clean and it was all very sweet and a date was put in the diary.


I was ten years old and having lunch with my grandmother. I think I’d just dared to ask (even though she was eighty-two) if she was still having sex with my grandfather. She never answered the question, but decided it was time to offer some useful advice. She must have got this from a Mills and Boon novel, because she sure as hell didn’t get it from her marriage. She was a Polish immigrant and married the first man she’d met on British soil. She spent the rest of her life trying to make the best of it. The conversation was remarkably one-sided and as usual, she kept getting her V’s and W’s mixed up. It’s a common Eastern-European linguistic affliction apparently. Anyway, the mentor-like chat went a bit like this.

“Danni darling.”

“Yes grandma?”

“Now I vant to tell you something and I vant you to try to remember it ven you get older.”

“Ok Grandma”.

“If a man ewwer makes you wery dizzy ven you kiss him, make sure you newwer let him go. You vant to make sure you marry him.”

“Why? Does Grandpa make you wery dizzy?”

“Eat your lunch Danni”.

I was on the brink of repeating my original ‘are you and grandpa still having sex’ question, but thought against it, gagging myself with a forkful of lamb and mushy peas. With hindsight, I wish I hadn’t held back. I mean, do most octogenarians still have sex? If so, what are the chances of cardiac arrest mid-orgasm?


Anyway, Hugo didn’t make me wery dizzy when he kissed me, but it was still very nice and he did make me happy. Phone sex progressed to pillow talk and we had a really good, solid relationship. He knew me inside out and always had an uncanny knack of knowing exactly what I was thinking, which often got me in a lot of trouble.

I loved his company. He made me laugh and he stimulated me intellectually. I mean, how many other seventeen-year olds do you know who are nicknamed Ariadne?  That’s what he’s always called me. It took a while for me to pluck up the courage to ask who Ariadne actually was.  It turned out she was this Princess from Greek mythology who fell in love with a bloke called Theseus who was due to be offered as a sacrificial victim to the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster. But in order to save her loved one from his horrible fate she’d stuffed a ball of thread into his pocket as he was led into this prison of a labyrinth, meant to be impossible to escape from. But thanks to her (and the thread) he did escape and was never sacrificed and they lived happily ever after.

Hugo said he hoped an imaginary trail of string would always lead him to me, which is why he’d called me Ariadne. I think he was secretly hoping that I’d embrace this story with a bit more enthusiasm by calling him Theseus. But I couldn’t. It all felt a bit too un-cool. I preferred calling him Achilles, which really pissed him off because it didn’t demonstrate the same level of love and commitment. He hated the thought that he might be my Achilles heel. “Lighten up”, I’d said. “Don’t take everything so bloody literally.”

I’ve got to hand it to him though. He’s the only person who’s ever got me into a bath under the auspices of scientific experimentation. One day he’d told me to bring my bikini with when I went round. I’d hoped that meant we were going to his parents’ posh health club, and was frankly a bit miffed when I got there and he said we were staying put. “Why did I bring my bikini then?” I’d protested. “My fault” he apologised. “You probably don’t need it. But we are doing something with water.”

He led me into his parents’ bathroom. The tub had been filled to the brim. Curiously there were a whole load of plastic measuring jugs strewn across the floor. He explained that he’d been learning all about this Greek mathematician, Archimedes, the first person to work out that the volume of an object placed in a fluid was equal to the volume of the amount of fluid displaced by that object when submerged.

For some bizarre reason, Hugo wanted to work out my body mass Archimedes style. He’d drilled a small hole just above the water line. The plan was that when I got in the bath, my body mass would trickle out the hole and Hugo would be waiting to collect it in the measuring jugs.

“I don’t give a toss what my body mass is Hugo. I don’t even understand what you’re going on about.”

“Don’t be such a killjoy Danni. It’ll take five minutes.”

So off I went to put on my swimsuit and came back to stand hovering by the bath.

“Are you sure this is going to work?” I was no scientist, but felt pretty certain all would not go according to plan.

“Of course it will” snapped Hugo.

I stepped gingerly into the tub. A little bit of water trickled into a jug Hugo was holding up to the hole. “OK, you can sit down now Danni. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it so slowly, it’s all under control.” So I plonked myself down and Hugo looked on in horror as the volume of my body mass cascaded over the edge of the bath onto his parents’ cream shag pile, bypassing his too small hole entirely.

“Achilles, I think you should stick to the Arts,” I laughed.

“Oh shut up Ariadne. You never wanted it to work in the first place!”

See, told you he always knew exactly what I was thinking. Anyway, never one to miss out on a golden opportunity, and seeing as I was already in the bath, he told me to shove up and let some of the water out. He took off his clothes and sloshed himself beside me.  Secretly I think the whole thing had been about getting me half-naked in the bath with him. Christ knows why he hadn’t just suggested that in the first place.


Even by the age of eighteen Hugo and I had spoken loads of times about marriage. “Do you think we’ll end up together” he’d ask.

I’d pondered and then joked about a possible scenario.  “I don’t know. If you ever asked me I’m sure I should say yes, but probably wouldn’t. I reckon I’ll be more intent on screwing up my life. Maybe I’ll come crying to you when I’m mid-thirties and divorced, by which time you’ll probably be blissfully married to somebody else and I’ll have to live with the fact that I had the chance of happiness but turned it down.

I don’t know what it is about Hugo. Many people would dream of having what we have. It’s just sometimes I find myself in the kitchen of our Highgate flat (technically his flat, but we both live in it) sticking lemon sole under the grill when I should be out being wild and reckless.

About the author:


Jo Kessel is a journalist in the UK, working for the BBC and reporting and presenting for ITV on holiday, consumer and current affairs programs. She writes for several national newspapers including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Express and was the anonymous author of the Independent’s hit column: Diary of a Primary School Mum.

When Jo was ten years old she wrote a short story about losing a loved one. Her mother and big sister were so moved by the tale that it made them cry. Having reduced them to tears she vowed that the next time she wrote a story it would make them smile instead. Happily she succeeded and with this success grew an addiction for wanting to reach out and touch people with words.

P.S Jo’s pretty certain one of her daughters has inherited this gene.

Other books by Jo Kessel include Lover in Law.

Her latest book is the new adult novel, Weak at the Knees.

Visit her website at www.jokessel.com.



Pump Up Your Book and Jo Kessel are giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card & a French Gift Basket of French gift basket that includes a whole lot of goodies associated with the book, including a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a famous wine from the Rhône wine region of southeastern France!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $100 Amazon Gift Card and one winner will be chosen to win the gift basket.
  • This giveaway begins October 7 and ends January 18.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, January 20, 2014.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


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  1. 124
    Jenn Oldaker

    I like it 🙂

  2. 123
    Tara C

    I’ve long been a fan of both YA and “grown-up” books, so New Adult books fit on my shelves just fine. I’m more interested in the story than what genre the book is in anyway.

  3. 122

    yes i can use it

  4. 121
    Richard Hicks

    I think adult contemporary romance is a great genre and I read the books!

  5. 120
    Beverly Metcalf

    I like the new genre, but I’m a book lover and love reading just about anything!

  6. 119
    Ericka Shervington

    Looks interesting, but I would need a little more time to see more before I know if I could really get into the new format. Seems like its catching a lot of attention.

  7. 118

    ummm….I don’t dislike it but it is not my favorite.

  8. 117
    Carl White

    Jo’s book is a new adult contemporary romance. What do you think of the new adult genre? Like it or not?

    LOL, literary porn for women. I think the genre proves women like porn as much as men. Men are more visual, women have better imaginations. Like it, sure.

  9. 116
    Annemarie Z.

    It sounds great!

  10. 115
    jessica schueler

    Like it

  11. 114

    I do like it, and this is something I really would love to read!

  12. 113

    never heard of this.

  13. 112

    I don’t really care for it

  14. 111

    I like it.

  15. 110
    Buddy Garrett

    I like the new genre.

  16. 109
    Michelle Tucker

    I like it for the most part. I’ve never been a huge reader of contemporary romance, but I’m starting to like it more.

  17. 108

    I like it as long as the writing isnt too simple.

  18. 107
    joseph Cobb

    never heard of this

  19. 106
    Rickie Hinrichs

    Don’t know just yet I’ll give it a chance.

  20. 105
    kathy pease

    I like it .It sounds pretty interesting id love to check it out 🙂

  21. 104
    Barbara Stenby

    I haven’t read this genre yet but i would give it a shot!

  22. 103
    Sherry Conrad

    I like it- less formulaic than some- I prefer a surprise or two along the way.

  23. 102
    Paula Willbanks

    I’m quite fond of the new adult genre.

  24. 101
    Jennifer P - Vicki Furrin on Rafflecopter

    Haven’t read one yet, but am sure I’ll like it.

  25. 100
    Susan G

    Yes,, I really like it.

  26. 99
    Alexa B.

    to be honest, i have not read anything from that genre yet, but i am definitely interested.

  27. 98
    Kerry Clark

    I’m not very familiar with it, but I’d give it a chance!

  28. 97
    Heather Walker

    Im willing to give it a chance!

  29. 96

    Don’t really care for it

  30. 95
    Bonnie Caselman

    I like it.

  31. 94
    Colleen Boudreau

    I like it.

  32. 93
    s riches

    From what I have read the genre is a good one.

  33. 92
    Karen Drake

    I like the new genre although I do love historical romances too.

  34. 91
    Rebecca Peters

    I like it! right up my alley 🙂

  35. 90
    Faith I

    I don’t know much about the genre, but the outline of this book looks very interesting.

  36. 89

    I like the new genre a lot!

  37. 88
    paula peterson

    I love it! I cant wait to get my hands on this book!!

  38. 87
    Todd H Miller

    Not a huge fan.

  39. 86
    Pat B

    I actually enjoyed the except – I thought the conversation was very quick-witted, which is fun in a book

  40. 85

    It’s ok, I’m not that excited about it.

  41. 84
    Samantha V.

    I”m new to it but since I like adult romances I’m sure I’d like contemporary adult romances.

  42. 83
    Melissa w.

    I do like the new genre 🙂 Its fun to read and I love all the new books that are coming out.

  43. 82

    yes thats the thing to have

  44. 81
    Lesley M

    I think I would love it!! Cannot wait to read this book!

  45. 80
    ron frampton

    yes I like this type of writing

  46. 79
    kristin sims

    i do like the new genre…thanks, and the book looks great!

  47. 78
    Kathleen Whisenhunt

    I like the new.

  48. 77
    Cameron Anderson

    I like the steamyness of the new adult novels

  49. 76
    Daniel M

    i like the new

  50. 75

    I usually read mysteries, but we can all use a little spice in our lives.

  51. 74
    Teresa W.

    Ive only read a few but they seemed good. Not completely decided yet.

  52. 73

    I do like it, but I seem to be reading “cozy mysteries” lately.

  53. 72
    Kimberley Thomas

    I like the new !

  54. 71
    Wes Hovorka

    I like it! It is very steamy!!!

  55. 70
    kimberly Snyder

    I like it….we all need a little spice in our lives now and then

  56. 69

    I’m new to it, but it sounds like I’d enjoy it.

  57. 68
    Susan Smith

    Yes, I like it

  58. 67
    kelly oinonen

    I love the new adult genre.. definitely a fan 🙂

  59. 66
    Erinn Lishman

    This is a great new genre! Will keep reading for sure!

  60. 65
    Nancy Brandteth

    Would love to win this

  61. 64
    ionut leonard taranu

    I like it.

  62. 63
    Birdie Skolfield

    I like it …. spicy

  63. 62
    Shauntea Crutcher

    I like the new genre.

  64. 61
    Pauline Milner

    I like the new contemporary romance much more than the traditional romance novels. I have never been a fan of romance novels, but I am enjoying the new genre. Thank you for the super giveaway opportunity. Keep up the terrific blogging.

  65. 60
    Michelle Elizondo

    I like it.

  66. 59
    Holly J Edwards


  67. 58
    Debra Kay Neiman

    I haven’t yet read any of that genre, but will certainly give it a try! Happy New Year from Oklahoma, USA. crystalbluern at onlineok dot com

  68. 57
    mike countryman

    Don’t know yet, need to read more

  69. 56
    patrick voo

    i’ve yet to check out this new variety of adult fiction – so i guess that i’ve got some homework to do!

  70. 55
    Georgia Beckman

    yes, I am finding that I do like the genre. My sister kept bugging me to read a book & I really am not into contemporary reads, but I finally did & I LOVED it!

  71. 54
    Cynthia P

    I feel it cheapens intimate relationships and it’s content should remain in private conversations between married adults, not be spelled out in writing on pages for all to fantasize about.

  72. 53
    Amy C

    I like it

  73. 52
    Kimberly B

    I’m a fan!

  74. 51
    Sarah L

    Yes, I think I’d like it.
    Thanks for the contest.

  75. 50
    Misha Estrada

    I don’t really understand what the New Adult genre is. I like lots of different kinds of books, so I think it would depend on the book.

  76. 49
    Julie Lynn Bickham

    I like it, it’s what I mostly read.

  77. 48
    Laura Smith

    I think it is great, her book looks awesome!

  78. 47
    Wendy Lindsey

    I usually prefer nonfiction over fiction, but would love to find a great book series to get into. I don’t know a lot about the new adult genre to be quite honest! Thanks for introducing your new book and for the great giveaway!

  79. 46

    I’ve haven’t read much, but I’ve recently been on the lookout for a new genre.
    I’m sure that I will like adult contemporary romance.

  80. 45
    Jasmine P

    I haven’t made my mind up about it yet!

  81. 44
    Judy Thomas

    I love the new genre.

  82. 43
    Carol N

    I like it!

  83. 42

    I haven’t yet read any of that genre, but will certainly give it a try! Looks interesting!

  84. 41
    kim burnett

    Love it!

  85. 40

    I love it! Variety is the spice of life!

  86. 39
    Paula Gardner

    I like the new genre

  87. 38
    Danalee Davis

    I would have to read it first and then let you know. But if it has sexuality I don’t like that.

  88. 37
    David G

    I think I’d need to read a full book fro m this genre to give an honest opinion.

  89. 36

    Love the genre!

  90. 35
    Louisa D

    Yes I really enjoy this genre of book

  91. 34

    I don’t gravitate towards the new adult genre – I prefer my main characters older – but I wouldn’t turn down reading a book from this genre if recommended to me. However, romance? I’m more of a gritty thriller/mystery girl.

  92. 33
    Gabe A.

    Like it. A different twist.

  93. 32

    I really enjoy New Adult – I don’t think I’ll ever age out of it.

  94. 31
    Cindy Merrill

    I like the genre ok, but my favorite escape read dwells in the alternate history area; what if Hitler had been accepted into an Art school in Paris France when he was in his early 20’s? How would the course of History been changed?

  95. 30

    When the term ‘adult’ is just an euphemism for ‘erotic’ I do not like it. Otherwise, depends on how good the story is.

  96. 29
    rickel bart

    i like it so far

  97. 28

    I like the genre but just like any other genre it all depends on the storyline of the book.

  98. 27
    Kim Townsend

    Weak At The Knees sounds like my type of Adult Romance!

  99. 26

    Not usually my genre of choice but from time to time when I need some very light reading for a road trip or long flight I may read something from adult contemporary romance.

  100. 25
    Laurana H

    I don’t know what New Adult is.

  101. 24
    Sandy Cain

    Not a big fan of romance in general (in fact or in fiction!), but I’ll try anything once!

  102. 23
    Kimberly Mayberry

    I love the New Adult Contemporary genre!

  103. 22

    I’m still a kid at heart.

  104. 21

    I don’t really read this genre.

  105. 20
    robyn donnelly

    I like the new genre. Everyone has their own opinions and tastes.

  106. 19

    I like it – combination of romance with a twist.

  107. 18
    Pat T.

    Not a big fan of the genre

  108. 17
    molli vandehey

    i think the new genre has potential, but its really easy ffor an author to get caught up and trashy, so it needs to be handled with class and talent and skirting a really thin line.

  109. 16
    Cathy Truman

    I like the new genre.

  110. 15
    Colin Glendon

    I’m not sure, I don’t think Ive read any yet.

  111. 14


  112. 13
    Patricia Edwards

    My favorite book style is a mystery not romance.

  113. 12
    Paige Chandler

    Yes, I like the genre a lot!

  114. 11
    Amy Bostic

    I’m not real sure what the new adult genre is about so I will be doing some research to see if I will like it. I like some romance but more of a suspense, murder mystery kinda girl.

    1. 11.1
      Jo Kessel

      Hello Amy – do you like romantic suspense? And if so, might I suggest the book Lover in Law? Jo

  115. 10
    Judith R.

    I love to read all types of books.

  116. 9

    Well from the reads of it it sounds like it is going to be a good book to read,one I would like .
    thanks for the review

  117. 8

    I am still confused by this genre and feel I need to research more about it

  118. 7

    Not my kind of genre.

  119. 6
    Kate F.

    I haven’t read any new adult genre books yet, so I’m not sure if I’d like it.

  120. 5

    I like the new genre because I love romance and it is interesting twist to it!

  121. 4
    David Hollingsworth

    I’m not exactly a fan, but it is nice to read something original for a change.

  122. 3
    Starr Greenwell

    I like it; however I am the strongest fan of mysteries and suspense. I just love to read.

  123. 2
    Erica Barnes

    I do like the new genre.

  124. 1
    Jo Kessel

    Thank you so much for featuring my new release Weak at the Knees on your blog today and wishing all your readers a very happy weekend! Jo

    1. 1.1

      Thank you for stopping by! 🙂

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