Posted in Book Review

Her Frozen Heart – Lulu Taylor – 4* Review

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“Caitlyn, there’s something I have to tell you. About Sara.”

Caitlyn thinks her marriage to Patrick is a success. For one thing, he is one of the few people not to fall head over heels for her beautiful friend, Sara. Life is lived on his terms, but they are happy. Aren’t they? When a devastating accident turns her existence upside down, Caitlyn is forced to reassess everything she thought about her marriage, what she truly knows about Patrick, and his real feelings for her best friend.In the refuge of an old manor house, she begins to discover the truth.

In 1947, the worst winter in decades hits England, cutting off entirely the inhabitants of Kings Harcourt Manor. For Tommy Carter, widowed at the start of war, it is particularly hard: the burden of the family falls on her. She has the solace of her children, and the interesting presence of her brother’s friend, Fred. But there is also Barbara, a mysterious figure from her past who appears to want a piece of Tommy’s future as well. 

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My Thoughts…

An interesting story set in two time periods.There are parallels between the two main female characters Tommy and Caitlyn, and the past meets the present in the middle of the book. The characters are strong and believable; both women have emotionally difficult lives despite superficial wealth.

The plots are easy to follow, but there are enough twists to hold your interest. The setting is particularly vivid in the historical chapters. The description of the snow and cold was rich in detail and realistic imagery.

The female antagonists in the story hide their deceit and obsessive behaviour behind a cloak of friendliness and vulnerability. The psychological thrills are subtle but make the plot darker than you would first imagine.

The writing showed insight into human emotions and coupled with the vivid imagery it turns an ordinary plot into something worth reading.

I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

The Birthday Girl – Sue Fortin -Blog Tour -Extract 5* Review

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Dear Carys, Zoe and Andrea
Come and join me for my fortieth birthday adventure weekend, full of mysteries and surprises the like of which you can’t imagine.

When Joanne’s friends reluctantly accept an invitation to her birthday party, it quickly becomes clear that there is more to this weekend than they are expecting.
One of them is hiding a secret.
And Joanne is planning to reveal it…

A weekend away in a cottage in the woods sounds like fun – until no one can hear your cries for help.

Four friends.
A party to die for.
Who will survive?
 

Amazon UK

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Extract

‘Chapter 1

Friendships are made up of all the little things that matter, the common ground of lives, shared interests, loves, dislikes, the highs and the lows. They matter and they are matter. Like stars in the night sky, friends can light up the darkness. Sometimes we might forget they are there and yet know they will always be there. Others can come in a burst, dazzling us with the excitement of newness, seducing us with promises of adventure. Some will deliver on this promise, others will fizzle away while some will shoot across the night sky in one last hurrah before they disappear from our lives.

I think of my best friends, I can count them on one hand with digits to spare. Joanne, Andrea and Zoe are the stars in my night sky. Together, we make a good constellation. We stick by each other. We look out for each other. We forgive each other.

I remind myself of the last fact as I hold the invitation in my hand, knowing that I should accept, with grace and maturity, the olive branch it represents.

Dear Carys, Zoe and Andrea

My Fortieth Birthday Celebrations

Come and join me for an adventure weekend, full of

mysteries and surprises, the like of which you can’t imagine.

With the grand reveal on Sunday evening.

Friday 8 September – Monday 11 September

Meet at Chichester Cathedral 09.00 Friday morning

Love Joanne

P.S. As it’s also Carys’s birthday on the Monday,

I thought we could celebrate that as well.

Two months ago, Joanne had told us to save the date, or rather the weekend, and said she’d let us know nearer the time what was happening. I could have quite happily ignored my thirty-ninth birthday, but Joanne had been insistent the weekend was to be a double celebration. She also insisted that, despite it being her birthday, the whole weekend was to be a surprise for me too. I had hoped we’d find out the details sooner and, I have to admit, leaving it until the night before is cutting it fine but she has steadfastly refused to give us any more details until now.

I flip the card over and see there is a handwritten message, the tall spiky writing unmistakably Joanne’s.

PPS. I know things have been difficult lately but amends need to be made. Do come, it’s important you’re there.

I sit down at the kitchen table and read the invitation again. I’m not sure what it is about the PPS on the reverse, but it  sounds . . . odd. I think that’s the best way I can describe it. I mull over the significance but before I can settle on anything meaningful, my mobile rings.

Andrea Jarvis’s name flashes across the screen.

‘Hiya,’ I say, kicking off my running shoes. Flakes of dried mud from my afternoon cross-country run scatter across the tiled floor like dirty snowflakes. I sigh inwardly at the mess. Sometimes I’m no better than my teenage son. Stepping over the debris, I go to the fridge, hook out a bottle of wine and pour myself a glass, something I would normally reserve for a Friday night, but seeing as we’re off on our jolly tomorrow, I feel a drop of alcohol is justified. ‘Don’t tell me, you’ve seen the invitation.’

‘Too bloody right,’ says Andrea. ‘Did you get the PPS on yours?’

‘Where it says about making amends?’

‘What is that all about?’

I shrug even though Andrea can’t see this action. ‘No idea. Maybe, she just really wants us to go. Maybe she thought we’d change our minds now that it looks like it’s going to be an outdoor adventure type of weekend.’

‘I’m not bothered about that,’ says Andrea. ‘It’s not like we haven’t done this sort of thing before. Last year we all did that charity walk up Snowdon. Before that, the mountain bike trail. You’ll be in your element anyway.’

It’s true, I am an adventure junkie and working at the local outward-bound centre tends to satisfy my addiction for kayaking, rock climbing and the like these days. I also help with the outdoor activities for the Duke of Edinburgh Award, so I’m not particularly fazed by the prospect of what Joanne has in store for us. ‘It’s going to be like a busman’s holiday for me,’ I say. ‘And you’ll be OK yourself.’

‘Yeah, that’s as maybe, but I’m stuck behind the desk most days since I took over the gym. I headed up a high-impact aerobics class the other day and thought my legs were going to seize up afterwards.’

‘You’ll be fine. Have you spoken to Zoe about the invite?’ I ask, taking my seat at the table again. I glance at the official-looking letter which was also waiting on the doormat when I got in this evening and push it to one side to read later.

‘She hasn’t a clue what it means either. But she’s gone into full-on cute Labrador puppy mode. All excited – can’t wait for the weekend and thinks Joanne is utterly wonderful.’

I give a small laugh into my glass as Andrea does a perfect imitation of Zoe, whose voice gets squeakier the more excited and enthusiastic she gets about anything. ‘It’s too late to change your mind,’ I say.

‘It would be awful if I was struck down with a stomach bug, though,’ says Andrea.

‘Don’t even think about it. We made a deal, remember?’

‘I might have been under the influence of alcohol when I did that one-for-all-and-all-for-one shit.’

‘You promised and you can’t break a promise. Not to one of your best friends. Besides, it’s my birthday too.’

‘I think that’s called blackmail.’

I laugh as I imagine the scowling look on Andrea’s face. ‘No, seriously, Andrea. You can’t back out now. Joanne will kill you.’

 ‘Hmm. When she said it was a surprise, I was hoping it would be more of a spa weekend. You know, fluffy white dressing gowns, manicures. Lots of pampering and relaxation.’

‘Look, like I said before, I think this is her way of making up for being so distant lately.’ In saying this, I silently acknowledge that I’m referring more to the way my own relationship with Joanne has been in recent times. We had once been so close, but things happened and the balance of our friendship shifted, leaving a hiatus in our alliance.

There’s a small silence while we both contemplate the sentiment of the weekend. Andrea speaks first. ‘I suppose I owe it to her. You know, give her a chance to make up for the way she’s been since I took on the gym.’

‘Is all that still going on between you two? I thought the dust had settled.’

‘Sort of. I’ve certainly drawn a line under it all, but not Joanne. I have this sense that she’s still angry at me. I can’t put my finger on it or explain it, but when I speak to her, it’s like an undercurrent of tension. Do you know what I mean?’

‘Mmm . . . I do.’ Andrea could be describing my own rela¬tionship with Joanne.

‘Anyway, as I say, I’ll give her a chance to make amends, but if she starts again, about having to work for me now instead of being a partner, I’m sorry, I won’t be keeping my mouth shut. Fortieth birthday or not.’

‘And when do you ever keep your mouth shut, my darling?’ I say.

‘I think I did once, in 1986 – I might be wrong though,’ says Andrea with a laugh. ‘Anyway, so now you’re not letting me skive off, we’d better sort out what’s happening tomorrow. Is Alfie still coming to mine for the weekend?’

‘He’s not in from college yet – five-a-side football, I think he said. But yes, he’s all good to come to you. He’s going to go home with Bradley. Are you sure Colin is up to this?’

‘Oh, he’ll be in his element. Takeaways and gaming. It’s totally a boy’s weekend.’

‘That’s kind of him. I appreciate it.’

‘Anytime. You know that. Although, I’m surprised Alfie’s not staying at Joanne’s, with Ruby and Oliver.’

I ignore the little drop my stomach gives at the mention of Joanne’s daughter. It’s the sort of weightless feeling you experience when the rollercoaster tips over the edge of the first big dip and it takes a few seconds for your internal organs to catch up with the fall. I’m used to that sensation. As sure as night follows day, I get that every time Ruby comes up in conversation. As always, I make a faultless recovery. ‘Fortunately, Tris is away this weekend too, so Ruby is going to stay with Joanne’s mother.’ I try to keep my tone neutral as my thoughts are thrown off course and on to a different trajectory. If my friends are the constellation by which I navigate life, then Ruby is the black hole whose gravitational pull is so great that nothing, not even light, can escape from being drawn in and swallowed up. I know. I’ve witnessed stars in my night sky pass the point of no return, the absolute horizon of the black hole, and disappear forever, while other stars are teetering around the edges, unwittingly being drawn closer and closer until it will be impossible to turn back.’

My Thoughts…

Four friends head to a country cottage to celebrate a fortieth birthday, what could be more ordinary? Well, the invitation is intriguing, the journey unusual and the invitees hide secrets, even from each other. A suspenseful few days follow, full of sinister happenings, simmering anger and settings so atmospheric you feel like the fifth guest.

Written in the first person, Carys reveals the story, except for the insights into the mind of the antagonist. There are many suspects, but the final revelation of the truth is more horrific than you first believe.

Adrenaline, angst and adversity characterise this fast-paced story, making it an addictive read. The cleverly written roles of the key players, lead to a heart-stopping twist at the end, which makes you shudder.

A classy psychological thriller with realistic characters and an insightful exploration of what happens to human emotions when pushed to their limits.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read

Christmas Read: Christmas at Bay Tree Cottage – Linn B. Halton – 5 * Review

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The countdown to Christmas is usually a magical time, but Elana James is fed up with living on a building site! The renovations on her beautiful cottage – like her heart – have been frozen in limbo ever since she was unexpectedly widowed.

Elana calls in a professional, Luke Stevenson, to help finish the cottage so her little girl can send letters to Santa up the newly-repaired chimney. Luke’s kind, capable and sexy – but he’s also ten years younger than Elana. So why has her heart decided it’s finally time for a thaw?

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

Christmas at a cottage in the countryside sounds idyllic, but Elana has lost her soulmate and is left to be both mum and dad to the little girl who is her reason for breathing. Having a happy Christmas and living life to the full is so much harder for her this year, the second since Niall was taken from her. Luke has lost his family too but this time because his wife wanted more than he could give. He blames himself, and it seems fate agrees as circumstances conspire against him, ensuring he only sees his little son once a week.
Elana’s cottage still needs a great deal of renovation, when her parents give her a helping hand builder, Luke is the man for the job, but suddenly his presence threatens her self-imposed celibacy and makes her wish for things she thought she never would again.
The story is charming full of humour and poignant moments as Elana and Luke discover kindred spirits and try to make their children’s Christmas magical and memorable. Maya and Joe, the children in the story, are insightful portrayals.
The plot is surprising, and not everyone or their lives is as it first seems. It captures the essence of Christmas believably and contains just enough magic to have you believing in Santa.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

Inspector Hobbes and the Bones – Wilkie Martin 4* Review

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‘I was grateful for having been born human’

There’s going to be trouble. Andy Caplet’s wife goes away, someone is out to get him, and he loses nearly everything in a storm. Amazing both himself and his unhuman friend Inspector Hobbes, he heroically rescues flood victims and uncovers something shocking.

Is Andy being set up for blackmail by the apparently charming young woman who attempts to seduce him, or is something even more sinister afoot? Hobbes certainly believes so, and he’s getting worried.

This is the fourth in Wilkie Martin’s unhuman series of standalone cozy comedy crime fantasies.

Suitable for teenage and upwards. Set in the English Cotswolds and featuring the unhuman British detective Inspector Hobbes as told by the chaotic reporter Andy Caplet. It is not necessary to have read the previous books in the series

Amazon UK

Amazon

Click on the book cover below for an excerpt from the book.

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My Thoughts…

A lovely mix of cozy mystery and fantasy set in a quirky Cotswold town. This was my first Inspector Hobbes novel and it’s been on my reading list for almost a year now. After reading it, I’m anxious to read the other mysteries.

Designed to be read as a standalone, you get all the backstory you need to enjoy both the characters and the mystery. Inspector Hobbes is an enigmatic, witty character but I’m still not sure what he is? It certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story, just made visualising him difficult.

Andy, our narrator attracts misfortune and this makes him both a vulnerable and comic character. He did exasperate me at times but he is a good person and makes a perfect ‘sidekick’ for the inspector.

The setting is vividly described and the plot easy to follow, allowing the reader to concentrate on the enthralling characters. There is a noticeable preoccupation with food, so make sure you have some snacks handy when reading this.

An addictive, humorous read.

I received a copy of this book from The Witcherley Book Company via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read

Christmas Read: Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown – Katey Lovell – 4 * Review

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As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.
Clara O’Connell loves Christmas. For her, it is the most magical time of the year. And she’s determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he’s hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.
But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara’s Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe’s, broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe’s love for Christmas and forever…?

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

Perfect, if you like your festive reads with a touch of realism. Christmastime is supposed to be fun but what if life gets in the way and makes it a time to endure rather than enjoy?
Joe lost someone he loved at Christmas time and now he just goes through the motions until the festive season is over. Clara is unlucky in love but having Christmas to look forward to helps her keep going. When she and Joe are thrown together helping Manchester’s youth and trying to keep their youth centre viable Clara can’t resist trying to restore the magic of Christmas for Joe by giving him a personalised advent calendar of special events. Joe sets out to make Clara see not all men are deceitful and a lovely, gentle Christmas story unfolds, which demonstrates the real meaning of Christmas.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles – 4*Review

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My Review -1

I’ve had this book on my to-read pile for over a year. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read it but I wanted to savour it and until now, I never had the time. 

This story is full of historical detail and the pacing is quite slow, very much in the style of Russian literature. It is a very engaging tale full of beautiful imagery and vivid characters who come to life as you read. 

The history of Russia after the 1917 revolution is well documented. In this story, the main events are highlighted but it’s more about how the political and cultural change affected particular individuals who would probably have never known each other so well in imperialist Russia.

It is an enjoyable read, well written but you definitely need time to appreciate it.

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK, Cornerstone via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Missing Presumed – D.S. Manon #1 – Susie Steiner – 4 *Review

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Mystery Thriller Blurb

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Mystery Thriller Buy Links

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Mystery Thriller My Review

A good crime mystery is defined by its detective. Manon Bradshaw is a complex, compelling creature who ensures you keep turning the pages even when the plot is a little pedestrian in parts.

I liked the carefully layered plot, which gradually gives the reader more pieces in the jigsaw, only to add tragic events and new characters which complicate rather than inform. It would have been so easy to write a sensationalised ending but ‘Missing, Presumed’, stays true to its credible roots and is believable. The story’s women’s fiction element is strong and makes it worth reading.The suspense is well written but this is more about familial relationships and friendships than criminals.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read

Christmas Read: Millie Vanilla’s CupCake Cafe – Christmas Weddings – Georgia Hill 4* Review

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Winter wedding bells are ringing at the Cupcake Café!

It’s winter in Berecombe and Millie’s café is up for sale. Her final task as its owner is to host her friends’ Christmas wedding on the beach, only she’s feeling anything but festive! Putting her ex, Jed, firmly out of her mind is proving impossible now he’s back working for her biggest rival.

What on earth is Jed up to? Telling her he still loves her is all very well, but if her café goes out of business, no-one will buy it. Christmas might be the season of goodwill towards men – but can Millie trust this particular man with her heart again?

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

I ‘ve enjoyed reading the first two books in this series, so I’m pleased the final book has a festive flavour. Like all of these Cupcake Cafe books, they can be read as standalone but I recommend reading the whole series, which is a lovely quick read, to appreciate the character development and the overall plot.

Millie returns from her travels abroad, hoping to complete the sale of her cafe.  part of her wants to see Jed but she sent him away so there is no chance of that?

Another romance dominates this story apart from the loved-up couple who Millie is arranging the wedding for at the cafe. Ri and Alex are an unlikely couple but their’s proves to be an engaging story, with a mystical slant that I always enjoy.

This is a  gentle, romantic story, which incorporates the festive element beautifully. The ending is charming and full of vivid imagery, which makes it easy to imagine being one of the wedding guests. Thankfully everyone has a happy ending. What more could you ask for in a festive read?

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

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Read my reviews of the first two books in the series

Spring Beginnings

Summer Loves

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read

Christmas Read: Blog Tour – Extract The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop – Caroline Roberts – 5* Review

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Emma is the proud owner of The Chocolate Shop by the Sea, nestled in the heart of the cosy seaside village that’s become her home. With Christmas right around the corner, she and her assistant Holly are busy cooking up the locals’ festive favourites.

From cinnamon hot chocolates to reindeer lollipops, Christmas wouldn’t taste the same without a little cocoa magic. And for Emma, it’s the perfect distraction from her romantic pains of the past. So when the shop’s miserly landlord threatens to hike up the rent, Emma’s Christmas and New Year suddenly look a lot less cheerful.

With the whole village rallying behind her – and loyal spaniel Alfie by her side – Emma’s determined to hold onto her chocolate-box dream.

The chocolate calendar countdown is on. Can Emma rescue her business and her broken heart? 

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Blog tour banner - Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop

 

Extract from Chapter 1 – The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop – Caroline Roberts

Silver baubles, dangly stars, fairy lights and chocolates, hundreds of chocolates, filled the shop.

‘Hi, how can I help?’

‘I’ve been put in charge of the sweets for the children’s Christmas stockings – any ideas?’ The thirty­something gentleman smiled hopefully.

‘Of course. We have reindeers, Santas, and angels in chocolate lollipops – great stocking fillers. There are figures of Father Christmas, too. Also, we have snowy stars in a pretty bag – little girls love those, I can vouch for my nieces – and packs of chocolate­ dipped fudge.’

‘Well, there’s three kids to cater for, two boys and a girl, so can I have a selection? Oh, and I’d better get a nice box of chocolates for the wife.’

Emma pointed to the three sizes of gold boxes, positioned on the top of the truffle and ganache refrigerated display. ‘Large, medium or small?’

With a queue listening in behind him, and thoughts of fulfilling Christmas wishes on his mind, he went for the large.

‘Any particular favourites for your wife?’

‘Umm, she likes champagne truffles and caramels, I think, but a variety would be good.’

‘Great, I’ll pop a couple of champagne truffles in, and some caramels, with a lovely selection alongside that. Just give me a few moments and I’ll get them all ready for you.’ Emma set to work with boxes, bows and silver and gold ribbon, turning the gifts into works of art.

‘Wow, that all looks great. Thank you. So, how much do I owe you?’

Emma tallied it up on the till. ‘A total of fifteen pounds thirty, please.’ She popped one of her Chocolate Shop by the Sea business cards into the package.

‘Thanks.’

‘You’re welcome, and have a really lovely Christmas,’ Emma smiled.

Four o’clock, Christmas Eve afternoon, the till was pinging, the shop door chiming, and still the queue of last­minute shoppers continued to grow. Emma, proud owner of this gorgeous little chocolate shop in the harbour village of Warkton­by­the­Sea, Northumberland, and her assistant, Holly, were buzzing about like Christmas elves. In fact, they looked very like elves, dressed as they were in their festive jumpers, Holly with a Christmas pudding across her chest and Emma a red­nosed reindeer. Emma was also sporting dangly red­bauble earrings. She wished she had put some lighter clothing on now, though, something like a T­shirt: it was bloody warm dashing around, the two of them cramped in the serving space behind the counter, dressed in winter woollens.

Holly was serving an elderly chap from the village. ‘Hello, Stan. How’s Hilda?’ Emma asked him.

‘Not too bad thanks, Emma. Getting over the cough she had last week. But I thought it best she stayed home today. I’ve just been getting a few last­minute groceries in – we were low on milk and teabags – and then I thought it might be nice to cheer her up with some of those lovely coffee creams you do.’

‘Sounds a good idea. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.’

Holly passed him over a prettily tied cellophane bag with his chocolates in. ‘There you go, Stan. I popped an extra one in for luck.’

Emma gave her assistant a mock­shocked look and then smiled.

‘Well, take care then, lassies, have a good Christmas.’ ‘You too, Stan – and give my best wishes to Hilda.

Happy Christmas!’

Emma had a chance for a breather for a few seconds as Holly began to serve the last customer waiting. Her feet were throbbing, despite being in her comfiest trainers, and her fingers were aching from all the delicate tying of ribbons and making up of boxes and gift bags

– as well as having been up from 6.00 a.m. making more batches of truffles and chocolate lollipops to see them through. She gazed past the window display of baubles and dangling snowflakes that reflected the twinkle of the fairy lights in the shop, and out to the street. It was dark already out there, these short December days, but from the glow of the street lights she could tell it was still dry and a touch of frost was glinting on the pavements. She might get a chance to take Alfie, her springer spaniel and best friend, out for a quick walk down to the harbour once they’d closed. He’d been cooped up upstairs all afternoon with them being so busy.

A figure dashed past the window and came in, clanging the door. It was Danny who worked as the bar supervisor in The Fisherman’s Arms, the pub down the road.

‘Afternoon, ladies. I need a box of chocolates for my girlfriend. Something fancy­looking.’

‘Hi, Danny,’ Emma greeted him.

‘Which one’s this, then?’ Holly chipped in cheekily. To be fair, he’d had about six different girlfriends in the past six months.

‘The lovely Helen – and less of your cheek, young lady,’ he quipped back.

‘Large box then, Danny? I’ll giftwrap it for you, shall I?’ Em didn’t bother asking which flavours she liked as he probably didn’t know her that well yet.

‘Perfect. How’s tricks, Holly?’

‘Been busy, hasn’t it, Em? Just a little lull for now.’ With that, a family came in, seemingly a dad and his two kids, who started to browse the shelves. ‘Oh, and there we go again,’ Holly added.

‘Yeah, I think we’ll be having a busy night down at the Fisherman’s too. Christmas Eve usually gets cracking. You coming down, girls?’

‘No, quiet night in for me,’ said Emma. She couldn’t imagine being in a big noisy crowd, not tonight.

‘What about you, Hols?’

‘Nah, my mum and dad want me home tonight. Family day tomorrow and all that.’

‘Ah well, see you around then. Maybe over New Year.’ He paid, taking a box beautifully wrapped in star­ patterned paper with a big pink ribbon around it from Holly.

‘Maybe.’ Em left her answer deliberately vague. ‘Cheers, Danny. Oh, and there’s a gift tag for you to fill in on that box,’ she added as he turned to leave.

‘I’ll try and remember,’ he grinned. ‘Merry Christmas!’ the girls chanted. ‘And to you too!’’

Find out what happens next tomorrow on www.chicklitclub.com.

My Thoughts…

Christmas is a time that polarises peoples’feelings you either love it or hate it. I love it, though when my father died very close to the festive season it was the most painful of times, watching people around me enjoying the celebrations when I was so sad. So  I completely understand how Emma feels at Christmas time at the beginning of this story.

The instant connection I felt with the heroine made me empathic to her circumstances and had me on ‘Team Emma’ from the start. The setting is picture postcard, a small harbour town in Northumberland, It was beautifully described and the vivid imagery enhanced the story for me.

Emma has an unexpected encounter on Boxing day, which makes her revisit her pain and wonder whether there is more to life than her chocolate shop and lovable Spaniel.

This is a slow-paced, realistic life story, which highlights the importance of friendship and community. This is especially apparent when Emma’s home and livelihood are threatened by an unscrupulous entrepreneur.

The romance is slow in coming and Emma is full of trepidation that she will give her heart and be hurt again but by the time Christmas revisits the little harbour village fate takes a hand and makes her realise she has to take a risk and live for the moment. The ending is hopeful and paves the way for another story set in this charming little village.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read

Covent Garden in the Snow – Jules Wake – 4 * Review

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Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!

But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it’s not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…

Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it’s a match made in hell.

And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancé isn’t at all what he seems, it’s Marcus who’s there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on … He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.

Amazon UK

Amazon

 

My Thoughts…

A lovely, festive romantic comedy.

Tilly is a make-up artist whose creativity is often at odds with life’s practicalities. The story starts with email disaster that is full of humour and necessitates a cute meet with Marcus the new super, efficient director of IT. The theatre setting is unusual and adds additional interest to a smooth plot. The outcome is not surprising but in this genre, working out what is going to happen before it does is part of the enjoyment.

Tilly is a likeable, quirky romantic heroine, very ‘Bridget Jones’ and Marcus rivals ‘ Mark Darcy’ for his stuffy attitude, which masks his loyalty and love of Tilly. Tilly matures in this story and realises her parents and her sister really do want her to be happy.

There’s sizzling romance, misunderstanding, deceit and a lovely, warm festive ending.
It’s definitely a Christmasy story worth reading.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.