Runaway debutante Henrietta Harvey will never live down the mortification of accidentally slipping into Lord Hauxton’s bed. So, imagine her horror upon discovering they’re snowed in together the next morning! Yet Henrietta comes to find this gruff, cold man has an intriguingly warmer side. Still, hiding a secret that would shock the ton, she’s resigned to becoming a spinster. Unless she can trust him with the truth, before the snow melts…
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Snow in a romantic novel creates the perfect proximity for would-be lovers. Lord Hauxton seeks the quiet solace of his friends’ country house to try and move forward with his life after a recent and unexpected loss. Artist Henrietta runs to her cousin’s house, after a bitter fight with her mother, about her future. Both after escaping the snowy night, end up in the same room, which is the catalysis to make them question their futures.
Whilst delivering deepening emotion and passion between Milton and Henrietta a few more flashbacks to their pasts would better illuminate their current, internal conflicts. However, with drama, romance and a festive twist, this is an enjoyable winter read.
But it seems life will do whatever it takes to make them fall apart.
When Jess and Sam lock eyes at a party, a spark ignites. The spark. But love at first sight isn’t like the movies, especially when Sam’s ex, Victoria, is determined to make their honeymoon period a living hell.
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter and the Author in return for an honest review.
This is a romantic comedy but with a twist. It is both emotional and realistic. Jess and Sam have an initial breathtaking spark when they meet, but then the reality of their lives infiltrates their romantic haze. Sam, is in a relationship and Jess has no intention of destroying another woman’s life. What follows is a family drama, a relationship imploding and overriding it all romance.
Jess and Sam are easy to like. You want them to be happy together. Sam’s ex is out for revenge and to restore her relationship. She behaves badly, but you have to recognise her pain. There is an edge to this story, it’s realistic, and despite this, the love between Jess, and Sam grows.
This is an angsty story, but the family dynamics and of course the romance makes the emotional rollercoaster worthwhile. Rather than a romantic comedy, this explores the spectrum of love, families and what it feels like to be the one left behind.
Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her writing and creative skills penning copy on a vast range of subjects from pig farming and watches, sunglasses and skincare through to beer and stationery.
She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and under her pen name Julie Caplin, she writes the Romantic Escapes series.
Between them, the two Js have written sixteen novels, The Spark being the latest.
Luke, Viscount Enstone’s, resolve to avoid a love match is tested to its limit when he accepts responsibility for the Davenport family.
Luke has found it hard to sort out his late father’s affairs. A dishonest secretary and ailing land agent have left the family estates in disorder. With new people in place, he sets off to one of his smaller properties to discover the extent of an obligation that seems out of keeping with the cold-hearted father he remembers. Who is the young woman living at Shepley Hall and what was her connection to his father?
Miss Kitty Davenport has waited for a long time to find out if the new Viscount Enstone will continue the support his father gave to her family and her patience is wearing thin. Will he carry on paying for her young brother’s education and even assist him in finding a career? For herself, all she needs is help to find a suitable position as a companion and to escape from the unwanted attentions of a persistent suitor.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The second book in the ‘Reluctant Brides’ series is a complete story, so it’s fine to start the series at this point. This is Kitty and Luke’s story. Kitty, like so many women, of this historical period, finds her life determined by men who have financial control over her. After a series of family drama’s, she is now dependant on Luke for a home for her and her younger brother’s future stability. Kitty is a personable and strong character who dislikes being financially dependant on man.
This is a marriage of convenience story with a satisfying slow-burn romance and two characters emotionally damaged by their pasts. Realistically flawed and easy to empathise characters draw you into their world. The authentically produced Georgian setting both in the country and in town immerses the reader in the historical time and place.
This is an engaging and enjoyable historical romance.
Josie lives in the English midlands, surrounded by towns full of history such as Evesham, Stratford-Upon- Avon, Warwick and Worcester. Which is perhaps why her favourite reads are historical. Out of all the periods to choose from the Regency Era stirs her imagination the most. The true Regency lasted from 1811 until 1820 but dates as wide as 1789 to 1837 have been included in the extended Regency period. For Josie the true flavour of this period emerges after the iniquitous hair powder tax of 1795, unsurprisingly, scuppered the fashion for hair powder almost overnight.
Josie has always dabbled in stories but it took the combined efforts of her sister and eldest niece to set her on the path to writing novels. Her Regency romances, with a dash of adventure and intrigue, are the result.
A bond so strong that the gate to Rainbow Bridge can’t hold it back.
As veterinarian Michelle Catalano helps other people’s ailing animals earn their angel wings, she tries not to think about the empty cat perch in her own home. Or the empty side of her bed, grown cold since her boyfriend left town.
Then a pet psychic’s uncannily accurate reading leaves Michelle with more questions than the answers she thought were set in stone. And warnings so dark, she wishes she still had her cat at her side to cuddle the fear away.
When a brutal murder devastates Michelle and her family, the detective working the case is her only anchor. And soon, she’s turning to Bruce for the comfort that could heal her broken heart.
But there are too many unanswered questions about the killer, causing Michelle to secretly investigate on her own. Will Michelle’s search for answers spell her doom, or deliver help from the animal afterlife above?
A note from the author
I want to let you know that animals die in this book. Some people have problems with that, so I just wanted to mention it upfront. The main character is a hospice veterinarian, and although readers go with her to work on and off, it’s not the main focus of the novel. I was inspired to write a book about a hospice veterinarian after my husband and I had a veterinarian come to our home to put our elderly cat with cancer to sleep. (He is the cat on the book cover). After the veterinarian left, we grieved, and I kept thinking about her, wondering how she could be strong enough to do what she does for a living. I felt that she was the kind of hero I hadn’t read about, and a story started to form in my mind, and I wrote When the Time Is Right.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is an unusual story for those who like stories where animal characters feature and enjoy a murder mystery. There are elements of the paranormal in this story, and it’s an emotional read.
Michelle has a job that takes its toll emotionally and demands an empathetic nature towards animals and their humans. Grieving the loss of her cat companion, and her human boyfriend, she approaches a medium for a psychic reading. The results are disturbing, and when a tragic event occurs, she needs the support of her cat, if only in spirit.
This is a well-thought murder mystery with a psychic twist. It explores the emotions surrounding the sudden loss of a loved one, and that love can transcend death. The plot flows well, the characters are relatable, and the paranormal elements give depth to the plot.
Kim Cano is the author of five women’s fiction novels: A Widow Redefined, On the Inside, Eighty and Out, His Secret Life, and When the Time Is Right. Readers say her books are about strong women who struggle but survive, hard-won second chances, family life, and friendship.
Kim has also written a short story collection called For Animal Lovers. 10% of the sale price of that book is donated to the ASPCA® to help homeless pets.
A woman who never wanted children finds herself reluctantly bringing up her sister’s daughter. The aunt is in an abusive relationship. The niece is a strange child who wishes to disappear. The narrative threaded through these eighty short poems confuses and obfuscates, whilst at the same time completely drawing the reader into the extent that by the end, one is left with the feeling of having watched a deeply immersive film or read an engrossing novella.
Beth O’Brien weaves magic with her lyrical and evocative language, and with the tangibility of her characters’ unreliable voices, she reveals herself as a master storyteller.
Still reeling from leading a disastrous raid, SO15 anti-terror officer Lisa Reid is grateful for an easy assignment this time out; identify and bring in a target thought to have information on a fugitive cell leader
There is no such thing as a routine job for Lisa though, and a devastating chain of events quickly plunges her, and her partner Will, into a dangerous game of cat and mouse with thousands of lives hanging in the balance
As the scale of the threat is revealed, and the body count starts to rise, the pair have to make choices that could cost their partnership, if not their lives. But one of them has a deadly agenda all of their own, and as the man that’s been pulling all the strings steps out of the shadows to choreograph his masterpiece, that could end up costing a lot more…..
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is essentially a good thriller with a contemporary edge and believable characters.
The plot appears to rely on actual events rather more than is comfortable to read, which may be upsetting for some. Lisa, the main protagonist, is an interesting character, a little stereotypical, but there is lots of potential for character development, as the series progresses.
The author achieves a good balance of characterisation whilst moving the story forward effectively. I would like to see Lisa’s character develop in a believable way and more originality in the plot.
I am a proud Dad to 4 strong and bright boys of whom I’m immensely proud. I live in Northamptonshire with my beautiful wife Lisa, the inspiration for the lead character in my first book Incognito.
In my day job I work in financial services, a ‘Fixer’ of sorts I deal with everything from phone routing through to in-depth data analysis and customer engagement strategy. Exciting I know!
It was on one of the more tedious commutes into central London that the kernel of an idea came to me. With some nurturing, this idea grew to become my first book, INCOGNITO.
I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing. I always felt that I could do it and I’m not one to back away from anything so, once I had the idea formed, I took a week off work, locked myself out of the way of the kids and got to it. That was the base done, then it was just months of edits and re-edits, countless knock-backs from agents and publishers (rite of passage, I’m telling myself) and eventually I was happy to publish what you can see here.
I’ve learned more from self-publishing than I could’ve ever hoped, and the next books in this series, and the ones to follow that are already niggling at me, will be all the better for it.
I don’t expect my life to change as a result of writing my first book, but I love the idea of someone other than me enjoying something that I’ve created, and so far the reviews and feedback have been great.
Tomboy Scarlett thought Devon would be her best friend forever. He was the only person in Springhollow who supported her ambitious artist dreams. But then one winter, Devon and his parents disappear without warning to start a new life in NYC and a devastated Scarlett is left alone to face her high-school bullies and overbearing mother.
Fast-forward ten years: Scarlett is playing it safe in her childhood village with a dull PA job and a wardrobe that passes her mother’s old-fashioned standards. Meanwhile, Devon is a Hollywood heartthrob, starring in the latest superhero blockbuster. And he’s finally coming home for Christmas…
Scarlett can’t help blaming her former best friend for the way her life has turned out, but Devon’s cheeky charm and gorgeous smile prove difficult to resist. Devon always did make her feel on top of the world, but Scarlett knows her heart isn’t racing just because she has her friend back – is it mistletoe madness, or is she seeing Devon in a completely new light?
Scarlett hasn’t taken a risk in years… but this Christmas of second chances could finally be her time to shine.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a charming story of two childhood friends reunited as adults. Both are different people but can they recapture their friendship? The characters are flawed and relatable. Scarlett is likeable and easy to empathise. Her originality shines through, and she grows as a character throughout the story in a satisfying way.
This festive story is an enjoyable read, with realistic characters relationships and gentle romance. The small-town setting is perfect for the festive time of year.
The Inspiration behind my story. Lucy Knott
There was a chill in the air, a cool wind that nipped at my cheeks as I walked the busy sidewalks of Times Square. I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck being careful not to bump into the fast walking pedestrians doing their late night shopping or possibly heading out to see a show, or just simply going about their day to day lives in New York City a day after Christmas. Myself, I was on a mission. The festive spirit lingered in the night, twinkling lights and Christmas décor sparkled from every shop window and I had to find Broadway.
Ticket in hand, a smile permanently etched on my face, I find my destination. After taking in the bold, bright, and beautiful posters and the lettering that read ‘First Date,’ I ducked inside and took my seat. Two hours of pure joy, laughter and entertainment followed as I experienced my first Broadway show in New York. The show was fantastic, the music was fabulous and the fact that I was getting to watch one of my favourite actors, Zachary Levi, perform in front of my very eyes was a dream come true.
Shuffling out of the building and back into the frosty night among other Zac fans, I remember the message I got earlier from my sister, Kelly, who was all the way in England. The message had told me that Zac said he would come out after the show to say hi to people. So, I zip up my coat to ward off the cold and stick around with the crowd.
It doesn’t take long before Zac emerges, and I stand back in awe. I calmly wait my turn to meet him and watch as he puts everyone at ease and makes time for them. When it’s my turn to say hello, he beams and asks me questions, asks where Kelly is and about my being a wrestler and I in turn tell him of his awesomeness. We say our goodbyes and I proceed to skip around New York City delighting in my own little Fairy Tale of New York as I stand in front of the Rockefeller tree unable to wipe the smile off my face.
And just like that a story idea was born.
That was back in 2013. It would take seven years before my initial story idea and hastily written out three chapters became a fully-fledged world in my head and before that spark of inspiration became ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow.’ I met a hero of mine that night and it was the catalyst for my book that looks at embracing who you are and never losing that childhood joy within. I feel that often when we grow up there is a lot of pressure to act and be a certain way. Society and social media seem to dictate what is cool, sophisticated, and empowering. It likes to tell you where you should be and what you should have achieved by a certain age. But what happens when you feel like you don’t fit in? What do you do when it always feels like you’re an outsider looking in? What happens when your dreams aren’t approved by others? What do you do when you don’t look how other people think you should look or act how people think you should act?
When I was thirteen, I loved the pop punk band Good Charlotte. I think it surprised people at school considering the first ever concert I attended was Gareth Gates and therefore liking Good Charlotte didn’t quite fit. To the school’s resident rockers, I wasn’t a proper punk. At that very same age I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was going to be a Professional Wrestler. However, two shy girls (my twin sister Kelly and I) with no social skills, a penchant for awkwardness and a love of baggy kaki pants and oversized wrestling tees, did not a wrestler make. The women on TV were models, how on earth were two small girls from Stockport going to be wrestlers? The answer to that question according to the other kids at school and most of the adults around me was quite simple, they were definitely not going to be wrestlers, and it was a rather humorous and entertaining anecdote. The laughs were a plenty. Needless to say, I felt like I spent the majority of my teen years trying to justify what I liked and what I wanted to do.
All these year later, I’m thirty-two years old, had a successful wrestling career, still love Good Charlotte and have realised that I don’t have to fit into a box. However, that still doesn’t stop those niggling insecurities. Nowadays, someone doesn’t even have to make a comment about me acting my age or looking my age for me to feel anxious, those nerves are always at the back of my mind. I can’t seem to shake them. Those underlying fears are where Scarlett’s character in ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ came from. I wanted to write a character who felt a little hopeless and didn’t fit in and I wanted to see her come out at the other end feeling strong, confident and inspired by all the things that make her, her.
Furthermore, I wanted to write a story that saw two people carry the things they loved as children with them into adulthood and not feel ashamed of doing so. I wanted Scarlett and Devon to be unapologetic about their love of Superheroes because life is way too short to not enjoy or shout from the rooftops about the things, the people and the adventures that make us happy.
Seven years after meeting Zachary Levi on that magical New York night I got to meet him again at my first ever Comic Con while he was promoting Shazam. I loved that when he talked about being a Superhero his eyes lit up and he wasn’t afraid of being excited about it. I loved that while doing press for the movie that you could clearly see how enthusiastic he was about becoming a real-life Superhero. When I met Zac again, he was just as kind, wonderful and inspirational. To me, he’s always embodied joy, fun and love and ultimately, I wanted ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ to be a combination of all those things.
‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ to me is about overcoming those childhood scars, figuring out who you are and loving that person the whole way. It’s about fighting for the people that make us feel seen and realising that you are worthy of your own fairy tale. (of New York.)
So, next time the people at your local Cinema save you a life size cardboard cut-out of Shazam, (see, there will be people that get you) and you have to walk past all the hip, cool and quaint restaurants where people are enjoying a sophisticated cocktail and chilled beer on the patios outside and they offer you odd and curious looks as you hold said giant cardboard cut-out, hold your head high, don’t feel embarrassed and rock it because you in all your nerdy, goofy, beautiful glory are SHAMAZING!
All my love
Lucy Knott is a former professional wrestler with a passion for storytelling. Now, instead of telling her stories in the ring, she’s putting pen to paper, fulfilling another lifelong dream in becoming an Author.
Inspired by her Italian Grandparents, when she is not writing you will most likely find her cooking, baking and devouring Italian food, in addition to learning Italian and daydreaming of trips to Italy.
Along with her twin sister, Kelly, Lucy runs TheBlossomTwins.com, where she enthusiastically shares her love for books, baking and Italy, with daily posts, reviews and recipes.
The world is waiting…but just outside of your comfort zone.
Jo Campbell is perfectly content in a perfectly structured life. Nothing ever changes in Jo’s life, and she likes it that way. Or at least, she tells herself she does. Most of the time, she manages to push down the tiny voice that tells her to chase her dream and maybe, just maybe, open her battered and bruised heart up to love. But to chase her dreams she needs to take chances that are way out of her comfort zone and learn to not put other people’s happiness above her own. Most of all she has to learn to trust her heart, which may just be the biggest challenge of all.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely feel-good story about having the confidence to follow your dreams. Jo is a writer, but she’s wary of sharing her work, in case it’s not good enough. Her family and friends are supportive, but she has to win an internal battle with herself to be truly happy. The story is set in Derry in Northern Ireland and has an intrinsic authenticity because if the author’s knowledge of the people and place.
The family and friends dynamics are believable, and the world created relatably. The romance is conflicted and gentle full of internal and external conflict. The plot is interesting and has an expected twist.
This is the second book in the series, but it’s a complete story and an enjoyable, easy read.
Extract from In Pursuit of Happiness – Freya Kennedy
The pop of the champagne bottle made Jo Campbell jump, even though she’d watched her foster brother, Noah, as he started to twist the cork slowly, and had anticipated the noise that would follow.
Her nerves were on edge, and fizzed just like the bubbly liquid that was being poured into delicate long-stemmed champagne flutes. The hum and chatter of the guests assembled in the next room made her feel giddy. So giddy, in fact, that she downed the better part of her glass of bubbles in one go, prompting her mother to warn her to slow down.
‘But, Mum,’ she said, ‘I’m really, really nervous. What if everyone hates it? What if it bombs and the only reviews that come are one-star assassinations? What if not a single person buys it?’ She didn’t so much as have butterflies in her stomach as giant killer moths – if such a thing existed.
Her mother put down her own almost empty glass. ‘Josephine Campbell. Calm yourself, my wee love. Everyone will love it. Why wouldn’t they? It’s brilliant, and you’re brilliant.’
‘But you are duty-bound to say that. You’re my mammy. Even if it was the worst book in the world, you’d still tell me it was brilliant,’ Jo said.
Her mother, a woman who had raised three children of her own, adopted another and fostered countless more over the years, gave Jo a snippy look. ‘I would not! I’ve always been honest with you and I’m not going to change now. Besides, it’s published. It wouldn’t be if it was rubbish!’
‘She’s right you know,’ Libby Quinn, one of Jo’s dearest friends and the proprietor of Once Upon A Book in Ivy Lane, told her. ‘You’re good. Actually you’re great. This is your moment, so enjoy it. The shop is full and everyone is on your side.’
Libby smiled her usual warm, inviting smile and Jo watched as Noah put his arm around his new fiancée’s shoulder and kissed her on the cheek. They made a lovely couple – Libby and Noah. But then she’d always known that from the moment Libby Quinn had arrived in The Ivy Inn soaked to the skin and covered in grime just over a year earlier. She’d known almost instantly they would be a great pair, and once they had finally admitted their feelings towards each other they had become almost inseparable. Just thinking about Noah’s hearts and flowers proposal brought tears to Jo’s eyes, and it wasn’t that she was jealous. Although if she was honest with herself, she would admit she was.
‘Damn it,’ Jo said, downing the rest of her glass while ignoring her mother’s disapproving looks. ‘I’m not going to cry, I’ll never live it down!’
‘Everyone knows you’re soft as butter, Jo. I wouldn’t worry about it,’ Noah said. He was right, of course, she was as soft as butter on a warm day, but she had more reason than normal to be emotional.
Posters of Jo’s debut novel, The Lies WeTell, lined the walls, replete with official author pictures, in which she looked sultry and serious and not her usual gregarious self.
In that moment, Jo felt a swell of pride and achievement. This was her moment. She’d finally done it. Written a book and had it published. And now she was going to enjoy this launch in her beloved home town of Derry in the north of Ireland.
Her little sister, Clara, a self-declared princess, danced in circles around Jo’s feet, enjoying the tulle monstrosity of a dress she had insisted on wearing for the occasion. It was over the top, Jo conceded, but Clara had her big sister tightly wrapped around her little finger.
And all her friends were there. Harry from the corner shop. The regulars of The Ivy Inn, which she was part owner of along with Noah. Her godmother, Auntie Mags, and even Erin, her most trusted confidante. They all grinned at her as if she was a graceful bride about to glide down the aisle.
So far the launch had been everything she had hoped for: copies of her books on the shelves, friends and family sharing the moment and champagne galore. There was just one final ingredient – the icing on the cake: the celebrity guest. Libby had made it her mission to find someone famous to do the launching honours – someone instantly recognisable, but she had refused to tell Jo who it would be.
‘It’s good,’ Libby had said. ‘It’s someone really good.’
Jo hoped it was someone who would suit the gravitas of the launch – and the seriousness of the book she had written. She’d poured years of writing and learning and rewriting and relearning into making this debut, and she had great dreams that one of her writing heroes, maybe Liz Nugent or Liane Moriarty, or local bestseller Brian McGilloway, would do the honours.
When the crowd parted, Jo swore loudly as she saw a life-sized Peppa Pig holding a copy of her book, while Clara squealed with delighted at the superstar guest.
Freya Kennedy lives in Derry, Northern Ireland, with her husband, two children, two cats and a mad dog called Izzy. She worked as a journalist for eighteen years before deciding to write full time. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her nieces and nephews, cleaning up after her children (a lot) and telling her dog that she loves her.
She has met Michael Buble and even kissed him. It was one of her best ever moments.
She believes in happy ever afters.
Freya Kennedy is a pen name for Claire Allan, who also writes psychological thrillers.
When downtrodden checkout assistant Bonnie Green receives a letter from a mysterious uncle, she can hardly believe her eyes.
Gifted a hundred-year lease on a famous cafe situated in the middle of a mythical theme park, Bonnie sets off with her best friend Debbie on an adventure to a hidden valley in the Lake District where they will find new friendship, love, and happiness, all set against the magic of Christmas … and more marshmallows than they can possibly eat….
A Christmas Land Welcome – Excerpt from Christmas at the Marshmallow Cafe C.P Ward
After a harrowing journey north, Bonnie and Debbie finally arrive at Christmas Land. Will it live up to their expectations?
Bonnie and Debbie climbed off as the train’s doors opened. They found themselves standing on a platform lacking even a ticket office. As the train pulled away, chugging across the marsh and then vanishing back into the forest, they looked at each other, both shrugging.
‘Well, we’re here,’ Bonnie said.
‘What an awesome place. Like, how long do we have to wait for the next train back?’
‘There’s a road over there, through the trees. And a sign. Look.’
Carrying their suitcases, they climbed down a set of steps and made their way across the clearing to where a forest trail led into the trees. A faded wooden sign with an arrow said CHRISTMAS LAND THIS WAY.
They headed down the trail, the trees closing in to block out the sky overhead. Debbie clutched Bonnie’s arm, squeezing so tightly that Bonnie had to repeatedly prise her fingers free in order to allow the blood to resume flowing.
The trail kept up a winding meander which didn’t allow them to see too far ahead, as though holding back its secrets until the last moment. Bonnie was fully expecting to turn a corner and find a sign telling them they’d been duped, when Debbie jerked to a stop, pulling Bonnie with her.
‘Can’t you hear it?’
Bonnie listened. Debbie was right. A faint tinkle of music came through the trees. It was too indistinct to make out any kind of a tune, but she felt sure it was familiar.
They started walking again. As they closed on the source of the music, Bonnie was able to pick up the tune. Jingle Bells, played on a loop.
‘It’s so weird,’ Bonnie said. ‘Standing in a pine forest in November, hearing the most famous Christmas Song of all played over a speaker.’
‘Look,’ Debbie said. ‘Here it is.’
They stepped out from behind a large pine leaning across the path and found Christmas Land standing in front of them.
Huge ornate gates held a sign.
WELCOME TO CHRISTMAS LAND
WHERE THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS NEVER ENDS
On either side, gatehouse towers rose, all fake stonework and plastic snow. Electric candles flickered in windows, illuminating the silhouettes of reindeer and elves.
One gate stood open. As they approached, Bonnie saw how it was now open forever, the upper hinge broken off, leaving the front corner buried in the ground. Bushes had grown up to claim it, the roots of saplings rooting it into the earth.
Inside the gates were lines of pretty chalets and a visitor centre. The roofs were loaded with pine needles and she could see even from this distance that several windows had plywood boards where glass should have been. A Ferris wheel standing in the centre of a main square had a sycamore growing eight feet high through the window of the closest car to the ground, clearly indicating that it hadn’t turned in some years.
‘It’s derelict,’ Debbie said. ‘Abandoned. Wow, this is way more awesome than I was expecting. Man, if only I had a metal band, this would be amazing for some press photos. An abandoned Christmas theme park in the middle of the forest—’
‘We prefer to simply say neglected,’ came a voice from inside one of the gatehouse towers, and a lower window opened to reveal a ruddy-cheeked man wearing a top hat and a green suit. Large sideburns made Bonnie immediately think of the bankers in Mary Poppins.
‘While it might look in a little disrepair, I can assure you that there is still plenty of fun to be had in Christmas Land, three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. Do you have a reservation? If not, don’t worry. We have plenty of chalets available.’ Then, breaking kayfabe for the first time, he looked down at the red gloves covering his hands and grimaced. ‘Most of them, actually.’
How far would you go to help the ones you love? How far would you go to prevent them from feeling pain? Now, how far would you go to save yourself?
Life was supposed to be straightforward for Cass Wilkes. After finishing college she’d secured a job that most dreamt of, but never came close to. Her career as a surgeon would be her identity, her armour. Her rank would speak for itself so she wouldn’t have to. But what happens when a crack forms in the life you’ve built? When something completely out of your control, something you could never have planned for threatens to upend everything you’ve worked so hard for? What happens when you can’t touch the threat?
When the call for help comes from her best friend, Cass makes the easy decision to leave London behind for a while, holding out hope that things will be back to normal when she returns.
Expecting to find solace in a new project that’s worlds apart from the stress and responsibility of her normal job, what she doesn’t expect is to be presented with the prospect of a completely new start. She takes refuge in a big city thousands of miles from home, that unbeknownst to her, will show her real love, true loss, and fill her with utter hope. During her time in San Francisco, Cass will be tasked to overcome the things she never knew were chasing her.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This story is a contemporary medical romance with well-developed characters and a relatable medical theme. It’s an easy read, relatively concise and fast-paced. The friendship to romance trope progresses quickly, but this is understandable given the time the couple have together.
This book is the perfect read to escape to another world with believable characters and a popular medico-romance theme.
Jesse Bhaird was born and raised in Ireland although currently resides in Canada. She is a Trinity College Dublin graduate – where she studied nothing related to writing! As a full-time health care professional, her newfound joy is writing. When not found working, adulting or reading, she can be found outside herding small children and a large dog (all hers) and loves to escape to the mountains when she can for snowboarding in the winter.