Imogen Tolliman never knew her mother. And when an accident robs Immi of her father too, she goes to live with her grandfather, Tollie, in his picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage by the Aysbury marina.
Tollie is the star of the Santa Ahoy Special each Christmas – a festive boat ride along the canal that enthralls both children and adults alike. And as Immi grows up, she starts to appreciate the magical community she is lucky enough to live in.
When Immi meets Gray Adams, she instantly realises he’s someone special. And as their relationship gets serious, they start to plan for the Christmas to beat all Christmases.
But as the day approaches, and the romantic snow showers turn into blizzards, their dream of a Christmas to remember, looks set to be one they’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons. Can they salvage the festivities, or will old secrets that are finally uncovered turn Immi’s life upside down forever?
Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to a dreamy Cotswolds Christmas full of snowflakes and secrets, log fires, mistletoe, friends and much-loved traditions.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely festive slice of community spirit, friendship and love. Immi has faced a lot of grief in her young life, but she’s showered with love by her grandfather and the community where they live, she feels blessed. Her love life is peachy with Gray except they don’t see each other as much as they like, so she writes a letter to Santa.
The two protagonists are quirky characters, but they are good people and as the story progresses you like them more. This story emphasises the meaning of Christmas, family and coping with what life throws your way, and the result is a heartwarming and ultimately satisfying festive read.
Extract from the book…
I read an article the other day, giving tips on how to manifest the life you want. You begin by writing a letter and… burning it. Whether you want to free yourself of worry, realise a dream, or simply declutter your mind, a well-respected life coach believes that the universe is listening. I’m not sure how I feel about that statement, but I can see how it might be cathartic for some people – assuming they have the guts to do it properly.
What I’m discovering, though, is that being honest with oneself isn’t easy. After almost an hour, most of it spent with a pen in my hand hovering over the piece of paper in front of me, it remains blank. Even though I love the idea of releasing negative energy into the ether, or drawing positive energy towards me, I can’t do it. I’m not ready to bare my soul to anyone. Least of all, myself.
Maybe I’ll write a letter to Santa, instead, and burn that. Start small and work your way up, Immi, I tell myself. As one of my three jobs involves wearing an elf costume every weekend in December, I figure that if I’m not ready to reach out to the universe, Santa is the next best option.
This year I’m hoping Christmas is going to be a truly joyful occasion to make up for the disappointments of last year. When the man you love – your soul mate – is supporting a parent through the big C, life can feel as if it’s on hold. I won’t lie, it’s been tough. My mind and my body ache when he isn’t here with me because I’m simply going through the motions rather than living my life.
Anyway, what harm can it do to honour an age-old tradition? After all, I’m one of Santa’s biggest fans. They say the act of believing makes things happen and I’ve seen that with my own eyes. So here goes:
When I was six years old, I wrote you a very special letter. I handed Dad the sealed envelope and we stood together, hand in hand, as he threw it onto the fire. I watched in fervent anticipation as the wisps of pale grey smoke, tinged with little curls of white, disappeared up the chimney.
Everyone thought I was asking you for a doll’s house, but actually, I asked you to bring my mum back home to us. Dad didn’t understand why I burst into tears on Christmas morning, after I’d unwrapped the wonderful presents beneath the glittering tree. And, at the time, I didn’t understand that I had asked for the impossible.
Every year until I was twelve, when I wrote my last letter, I just asked for toys, books and clothes, as the other kids did. But in my heart there was only one thing I longed to have, because I honestly believed that it would make my life complete.
But I appreciate now how lucky I was, and that the true magic of Christmas was there all along. I was surrounded by love. The love of my dad, my grandparents and our friends. No child could ask for more than that.
This year there is only one thing on my list and it’s to be able to celebrate Christmas with the man I love, Gray, by my side. I need it to reassure me there really can be an us and that life isn’t going to cheat me, yet again.
Just keep everything crossed for me, will you? That’s all I ask. And keep up the good work. A lot of people believe in you, regardless of their age. In today’s world that’s both magical and inspiring, because what is life without hope?
With much love, Immi
Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.