Posted in Blog Blitz, Christmas Read, Excerpt, Extract, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance

Christmas at the Marshmallow Cafe C.P Ward #Extract #CPWard #BookBlitz #Festive #Christmas #Excerpt #Romance #Friendship #ChristmasattheMarshmallowCafe #LakeDistrict

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….

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A Christmas Land WelcomeExcerpt 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.

‘What happened?’

‘Can’t you hear it?’

‘What?’

‘Music.’

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.

‘I don’t believe it,’ Debbie said. ‘Jingle Bells. Don’t they know it’s November?’

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.’

C.P Ward

CP Ward is an author from Cornwall in the UK.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Medical Romance, Romance

You’ll See Jesse Bhaird 3* #Review @LoveBooksGroup #lovebookstours #BookTour #BookReview #JesseBhaird #Contemporary#Romance #medicalromance #MondayBlogs

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.

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

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.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance

The Runes of Destiny Christina Courtenay 5* #Review @PiaCCourtenay @headlinepg @rararesources #HistoricalRomance #Vikings #timeslip #ContemporaryRomance #BlogTour #BookReview #Runes #Archaeology #TheRunesofDestiny

Separated by time. Brought together by fate.

Linnea felt a shiver travel the length of her spine.

It hadn’t been a joke – the runes really had shown her destiny.

Indulging her fascination for the Viking language and losing herself in an archaeological dig is just what Linnea Berger needs after her recent trauma. Uncovering an exquisite brooch, she blacks out reading the runic inscription, only to come to, surrounded by men in Viking costume, who seem to take re-enactment very seriously.

Lost and confused, Linnea finds herself in the power of Hrafn, a Viking warrior who claims her as his thrall and takes her on a treacherous journey across the seas to sell her for profit. Setting sail, she confronts the unthinkable: she has travelled back to the ninth century.

Linnea is determined to find a way back to her own time, but there’s a connection forming with Hrafn. Can she resist the call of the runes and accept her destiny lies here …

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I received a copy of this book from Headline Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Like the first book in this series, The Runes of Destiny is an atmospheric timeslip novel full of adventure, danger and romance. This story reads well as a standalone with intricate historical detail and vibrant characters. The sense of time place and culture is wonderfully described. The attention to detail and use of sensory imagery makes this an immersive experience for the reader.

Linnea is recovering from a devastating road accident her physical injuries minor, but the mental scars deep, especially the survivor guilt, as her friends’ parents died and she was badly injured. An academic she studies ancient Nordic languages and uses the archaeological dig as a way of escaping.

The timeslip element is well executed and Linnea’s confusion and need to make sense of the world she finds herself in believable. The characters are relatable and the adventures she experiences exciting and scary. The romance is gentle and believable.

The plot has clever twists and a satisfying ending.

Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014).  The Runes of Destiny (time travel published by Headline 10th December 2020) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

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A signed copy of The Runes of Destiny and Plushy Raven (Open INT)

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Read my review of Echoes of the Runes