Blog – First Steps

Christmas Read: Christmas at the Little Clock House on the Green- Whispers Wood#2 – Eve Devon 5* Review

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Welcome back to the village of Whispers Wood where Christmas magic is in the air…

After giving his heart last year only to have it given away the very next day, Jake Knightley is opting out of Christmas—permanently! But then a beautiful new village arrival sets mayhem in motion, upsetting all his carefully laid plans.

Emma Danes has said goodbye to Hollywood and will do anything to help make the clock house a success, even working closely with the tempting Mr. Knightley.

Now, as snow starts to fall and romance starts to bloom, Emma and Jake may just find themselves repeating Whispers Wood history beneath the mistletoe…

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My Thoughts…

Having just read The Little Clock House on the Green I was excited to find out what Christmas was going to be like in Whispers Wood and I wasn’t disappointed. 

Emma is an actress waiting for her big break and it’s almost within her reach. Jake is not a fan of Christmas after last year turned out disastrously.   So neither expected to be involved in the Clock House nor Whispers Wood’s festive activities but fate has other ideas.

Whispers Wood’s village spirit deepens as the festive season approaches and there is a particularly charming scene when Gertrude who we met in the first book of the series, brings  Emma and Jake together.  Laughter and tears are evident in this lovely story from the beginning and it is a great read for those of us who love Christmas and village life.

Emma and Jake are interesting characters and their strong personalities and fear of being hurt have you on the edge of your chair yelling at them to be brave and honest about their feelings.  Are they? Or is Christmas at the Clock House on the Green just a festive romance? I’m not going to spoil it, you’ll just have to buy the book.

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

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Check out my review of Book 1 in the series Little Clock House on the Green

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Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe – Spring Beginnings – Georgia Hill 4* Review

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Is this the start of something wonderful?

Millie’s working all hours to make her seaside café a success, so when a rival multi-national café chain opens its latest branch just around the corner, stealing away her customers, it means WAR!

Millie’s remaining loyal customers step up – and a new arrival in town, the gorgeous, enigmatic Jed Henville, is also keen on helping Millie solve her business crisis. But it’s only after Jed sweeps her off her feet that Millie suddenly realises how little she knows about him…

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My Thoughts …

Cafe stories are really popular at the moment but this one is a little different. It has an old-fashioned quality, which fits in perfectly with the setting in an old-style English seaside town. The characters are varied and accurately reflect the clientele in most seaside cafes. There is a lovely community feel to this story which contrasts vividly with the underhand behaviour Millie is forced to confront when her business is threatened, by  a corporate rival cafe.

Romance has been in short supply for Millie who has worked through her grief by fulfilling her parents’ dream. Jed is not her usual type of customer but the attraction is instant and powerful and makes for some sizzling scenes, that push the boundaries of this sweet romance.

The plot is simple but effective and this is a pleasant read. It ends on an emotional cliffhanger that ensures you will pick up Summer Loves the second book in this series.

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

Christmas Read: Aimee Duffy – The Office Christmas Party 4* Review

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Natalie Taylor and Dean Fletcher are serial Christmas party crashers. But when they start crashing the same parties, the mittens are off!

As much as she loves Christmas, after her mother’s death, events planner Nat can’t face the jolly season anymore. So to get her festive hit she crashes everyone else’s party. It’s a sweet gig until she meets her competition, tech empire millionaire, Dean, under the mistletoe…!

When it comes to relationships, Dean doesn’t do serious—being left at the altar will do that to a guy. So when he meets feisty Nat, the first woman in ten years to pique his interest, he’s tempted to break his one-night rule…just for the holidays!

Nat and Dean might get more than they bargained for in their stockings this Christmas!

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My Thoughts…

If you like your Christmas romance to be sensual and spicy then you will definitely enjoy this festive offering. The office Christmas party gets a 21st-century makeover. Both Natalie and Dean crash other people’s office parties as someone else. It’s a way of escaping the problems in their past that seem so much worse at Christmas.

The storyline is simple and the characters are glamorous but there are poignant sentiments under all the glitz and beautifully written cameo characters, the horrible Mick a is a particularly nasty boss and Dean’s mum is certainly lacking in maternal instinct.

The festive season polarises happiness and sadness more so than any other time of the year and this story explores why this is for Natalie. The dialogue is natural and contemporary and the romance sizzlingly. Definitely, something for the Christmas stocking to warm you up.

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

It’s unclear when this book is due for release especially in digital format but hopefully, it will be soon.

The Little Clock House on the Green- Whispers Wood#1 – Eve Devon – 5* Review

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Welcome to the little village of Whispers Wood and one glorious summer when friendships are forged, secrets are revealed and romance delightfully bursts into bloom.

Kate Somersby has finally returned home after years of running away. She’s heard that Old Man Isaac is selling the clock house on the green and she’s determined to make him an offer – the very bricks that make up the little clock household precious memories for her.

Only gorgeous entrepreneur Daniel Westlake is standing in her way. Their rivalry is the talk of the village and soon rumours are spreading thicker than jam on a scone…

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My Thoughts…

Grief is such a personal thing and yet we are often expected to behave in a certain way when we lose someone close to us. Kate ran away from those who loved her, to preserve her sanity but also to spare them from the constant reminder of what they had lost. Now something is calling her home and the clock is ticking, Can she succeed where she has failed previously and fight the ghosts that have kept her away so long?

The clock house is a poignant building for the village of Whispers Wood, it embodies their community but will they accept it has to change to keep the village’s spirit alive?

Daniel is looking for a new start, he hopes to be the phoenix that rises from the ashes of his former life, but he is keeping secrets and these may threaten not only his new start but his chance of happiness.

This isn’t just another story about a beautiful English village with a set of quintessential, quirky characters, although it is both of these. It also shows that there is always hope in adversity and sometimes you have to confront what you fear most to move on with your life.

Kate is a strong woman, with a delightful sense of humour and this colours her story as she returns to Whispers Wood to live a dream that she once shared with the one person who understood her best. Daniel stands in her way but the current owner of the clock house devises a plan to find the best owner for his beloved house, which leads to fun and mayhem for the villagers of Whispers Wood.

The characters are amazing and the story easy to read, Romance, tears and lots of giggles make this a beautiful beginning to what promises to be a fabulous series.

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

The Betrayal – The Guernsey Novels #6 – Anne Allen- 5* Review

 

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?

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My Thoughts…

 I love this series, it has all the best qualities of a cosy mystery in a breathtaking setting, with just a hint of the supernatural and historical flashbacks that illuminate the present mystery.

Believable, interesting characters are easy to empathise with and draw you into present-day Guernsey and it’s WW2 legacy, most notably the German occupation of the island. The gentle romance and supernatural elements enhance the storyline. The writing is clever as present-day events are determined by their historical roots. 

Whilst they are standalone read; characters and situations from previous novels inform this story. If you haven’t read the other books in the series check out my reviews and read them for yourself.

 This story is a pleasing, page-turning read, that makes me want to reacquaint myself with the mystical island of Guernsey.

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

 

Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage – Zara Stoneley – 5* Review

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As the lazy days of summer ebb away and the hedgerows fill with rich, plump blackberries, Lucy Jacobs couldn’t be happier. She’s feeling more and more at home in the small village of Langtry Meadows and has fallen in love with idyllic Jasmine cottage – not to mention gorgeous vet Charlie.
But just as Lucy is thinking about putting down roots like the blackberries that grow in her garden, Charlie’s ex returns and threatens to put a thorn in their perfect life…

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My Thoughts…

Whilst this story doesn’t have the comic genius of the Tippermere series, its characters ensure that you keep turning the pages, eager to know what happens next. I missed out on the first book of The Little Village on the Green stories, but this one was easy to get into and has proved an enjoyable read.

The villagers are interesting characters and the romance between Charlie the village Vet and Lucy the village schoolteacher has a realistic edge to it. Custody battles and possible school closures, threaten the idyllic village setting and there are plenty of animal characters, full of antics to keep the villagers on their toes.

Elsie’s story has a particular poignancy and Lucy’s own parallels with Charlie’s daughter Maise makes it easy to empathise with her. Despite all the conflict, the ending gives the reader hope that our village lovers have a future. I can’t wait to return to Langtry Meadows and see what happens next.

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

 

 

 

 

Christmas Read: Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson – 5* Review

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Welcome to the cosy Comfort Food Café, where there’s kindness in every cup of hot chocolate and the menu is sprinkled with love and happiness…

When Zoe’s best friend Kate dies of breast cancer, her whole world is turned upside down. Within hours, she goes from being the wacky neighbour who can barely keep a houseplant alive to a whole new world of responsibility when she realises she’s guardian to Kate’s 16-year-old daughter, Martha.

 Moving to the little village of Budbury in the West Country, Zoe hopes the fresh Dorset sea breeze and the gentle pace of life will help them heal.

 Luckily for them both, the friendly community at the Comfort Food Cafe provide listening ears, sage advice, shoulders to cry on, and some truly excellent carrot cake. And when Martha’s enigmatic, absent father suddenly turns up, confusing not only Martha but Zoe too, the love and support of their new-found friends is the best present they could ask for…

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My Thoughts…

This is such a heartfelt story, It’s hard to read Kate’s letter to her best friend without putting yourself in the same situation and once that happens you are hooked and can’t put this book down. Zoe’s past has left its mark on her but Kate clearly saw something worth saving and this story proves her right. Martha is a rebel but with good cause. Even though this type of character is well used in women’s fiction, she is no stereotype and you want to reach into the book and hug her.

Cal is the romantic interest but it’s complicated and he has hidden depths that make him more than he first appears. The characters in the Comfort Food Cafe are delightfully familiar and still retain their magic.

The story follows the path you would expect but its an absorbing read with lots of humour and sadness bringing the characters to life. 

Christmas only has a small part to play in this story but it’s enough to make it an enjoyable festive read.

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

 

The Cosy Canal Boat Dream – Christie Barlow – 5* Review

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For the last two years, Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…

Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…

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My  Thoughts…

It’s easy to warm to the Little Rock Marina community, they are friendly and supportive and very believable. Nell and her husband were living the dream until fate intervened and left Nell broken and lonely on the Nollie that once embodied all her dreams. The cafe run by Bea is full of interesting characters and provides a backdrop for much of the action.
A second chance beckons in the form of Guy, a gentle Irishman but he has dangerous secrets which threaten Nell’s new found happiness. He’s is not the only one and as Nell finds a way of giving her partner the legacy he deserves, the secrets start to unravel with upsetting consequences.
This is a romantic tale, which spans the generations and makes you want to know what happens next at the Little Rock Marina.
Nell and Guy are great characters and it’s easy to empathise with them.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

The Secrets of Villa Rosso – Linn B, Halton – 5* Review

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Some places stay with you forever…

When Ellie Maddison is sent on a business trip to Southern Italy, she’s reminded why she loves her job – set amongst rolling vineyards and rich olive groves, the beautiful Villa Rosso is the perfect escape from her life back home. But what Ellie isn’t prepared for is the instant connection she feels to the estate’s director Max Johnson or the secrets they share that are as intertwined as the rambling vines that cover Villa Rosso. It’s not long before Ellie finds herself entangled in the history of the place, trying to understand the undeniable effect Max is having on her. As their relationship grows, what will Ellie discover about this idyllic villa and those who have walked through its doors? What started as a simple work trip will change Ellie’s life forever.

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My Thoughts…

We’ve all experienced that feeling of deja vu about a place, a person or an event but what if the feeling didn’t go away but intensified and impinged on your real life, threatening the happiness of those you love most? This is what happens to Ellie when she meets Max at the Villa Rosso on a serendipitous business trip.
The story is full of mysteries and broken relationships that hide beneath the beautiful facade of Villa Rosso. Max’s story is so sad and it is this inherent sadness that draws the reader to him, even though his presence is putting Ellie and Josh’s idyllic relationship in danger.
There are plenty of twists and supernatural shadows as the story unfurls but the strength of Ellie’s relationship with Josh gives us hope that love will prevail, even when the romance of Italy draws Ellie closer to Max.
The ending is both expected yet surprising and perfect for such a thought-provoking read.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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