I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a festive, cosy mystery set in Cornwall. There are familiar characters and a classical locked room murder mystery. Jodie Parker is an ex-detective, who always finds, herself faced with solving murders. Ably assisted by her friend Debbie, young daughter Daisy, she tries to solve the gory murder that takes place, in a country house, just before Christmas.
This is a slow build mystery with intricate character building. It didn’t draw me in as quickly as the previous books. The murder mystery is well-plotted, and the characters are relatable, and there are pertinent touches of humour and poignancy.
This story is just the book to curl up with on a cosy winter’s afternoon.
Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. After living in London and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters. Her debut novel and first in the Bella Tyson series, ‘Dead in Venice’, was published by Audible as one of their Crime Grant finalists. Fiona is represented by Lina Langlee at The North Literary Agency.
Christmas is a time for love, laughter, families and friends, and in Mermaids Point, everyone is getting ready for the festive season.
For Nerissa and Tom, this will be their first Christmas as a couple, but making sure they have time for each other, whilst blending their families, will take some careful planning. What festive traditions will they make their own?
Laurie and Jake are flat out running Laurie’s seafront café, packaging up orders of mince pies, sausage rolls and other delectable Christmas goodies, as well as finding time for Jake’s journalism. But when Jake’s mum offers them an unexpected gift, their plans are turned upside down.
Alex can’t help but be charmed by beautiful and talented Ivy, but he’s still recovering from his ex-wife’s betrayal and has a secret life he’s not ready to share with anyone yet. But as the Christmas spirit starts weaving its magic, Alex may find himself ready for love sooner than he imagines.
For Andrew, nothing is more important than family. As friends and family gather beneath his roof it’s a time for reflection about what the future might hold.
As far as Nick is concerned, pop sensation Aurora Storm is the one that got away. After they shared a brief holiday fling, he has been thinking about her ever since. Is Christmas the perfect time to finally reach out to her, or is love at first sight just in fairy tales?
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
As well as Christmas surprises, this story connects the two excellent stories that I’ve already read. Whilst giving the reader a taste of the angst and romance to come in this series. There are updates on the two couples featured in the two previous novels and the introduction of new but connected characters. The community spirit and uplifting ethos that define this series are evident, with a lovely festive twist.
Sarah Bennett is the bestselling author of several romantic fiction trilogies including those set in Butterfly Cove and Lavender Bay. Born and raised in a military family she is happily married to her own Officer and when not reading or writing enjoys sailing the high seas.
The chance to spend a night ghost-hunting alone with Hudson Holmes at Brambleberry Manor seems like a dream come true for Ruby Watkiss. Maybe, she thinks, this is their chance to get closer? But when mysterious goings-on start happening which have nothing to do with the spirit world, the pair are catapulted off on another sleuthing adventure. And as the snow starts to fall and emotions are rising at the Little Duck Pond Cafe, Ruby is faced with a double challenge. Can she be braver than she’s ever been, in order to rescue something very close to her heart? And can she convince Hudson that Christmas really can be the most wonderful time of the year?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The third cosy mystery featuring Ruby and Hudson starts at Halloween and leads to the intrepid pair of amateur sleuths spending the night in a supposed haunted room. Ruby is hoping for romance, but Hudson seems intent on avoiding the passion simmering between them. A mystery van leads to a real-life investigation that puts Ruby in danger and has the reader on tenterhooks.
There are appearances from other familiar characters in the Little Duck Pond Cafe to please regular readers as Ruby and Hudson’s potential romance experiences conflict and misunderstandings. The reader is absorbed in both cosy mystery and romantic comedy elements with a delightful festive ending.
Another perfect slice of life at the Little Duck Pond Cafe.
Rosie’s series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘The Wedding Cake Wish’, is out now.Look out for more Little Duck Pond Café tales in 2022, including ‘Chocolate Cake for Breakfast’ and ‘Christmas in June’.
From disco balls to Christmas baubles … Ex-dancer Emily Williams turned her back on the sparkle of popular dancing show Strictly Dancing with Celebs to help those in need. Now the only dancing she does is teaching lonely pensioners to waltz, and the closest she gets to disco balls is making baubles with the homeless people in her Christmas crafts class. She’s certainly not star-struck when Hollywood heart-throb Blake Harris is sent to her at short notice for community service, and has no desire to babysit the arrogant actor with his bad boy antics and selfish ways. Christmas might be a time for miracles, but Blake seems to be a lost cause. But Emily’s reasons for abandoning her dancing passion means she understands the Hollywood wild child more than she’d like to admit. Could their time together, coupled with a dash of Christmas spirit, lead to a miracle change of heart for them both? Book 3 in Helen’s Spotlight series but they can all be read as standalone stories.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
If you enjoy your festive reading with gentle romance and examples of the true meaning of this time of year, this heartwarming story is for you. The reader meets Emily in the spotlight, where things are not going to plan. Then Blake is introduced as he hits a low point in his life. The setting for the story isn’t glamorous, but it’s a place of hope.
The story has seasonal predictability but does explore contemporary issues in a meaningful way. The romance between Emily and Blake is inevitable, but there are many conflicts and misunderstandings.
The cast of characters add authenticity and the romance grows believably. It’s an easy and uplifting read that makes you think.
Ever since I was little I wanted to be a writer, to turn daydreams into books. I’m fascinated by fame, in love with Happy Ever Afters, and enthralled by slow-burn romances. I squeeze in time to write around looking after my two sons.
A snowy Victorian Christmas – Two festive short stories!
In The Christmas Runaway by Jenni Fletcher: wilful, independent heiress, Fiona MacKay, impulsively runs away to a remote Scottish tower where she’s trapped in the snow with equally headstrong, deliciously dishevelled Angus Drummond.
In Their Snowbound Reunion by Elisabeth Hobbes: fifteen years ago, Amy Munroe and Anthony Matthews were cruelly parted, and each blames the other. When Amy becomes Anthony’s new housekeeper, their passion is reawakened!
I received a copy of this book from the authors in return for an honest review.
‘Snow-Kissed Proposals’ is set in Scotland and Derbyshire, two festive novellas with independent heroines and wintry settings.
‘The Christmas Runaway’ is set in northeast Scotland, where Fiona’s ill-considered winter trip leads to conflict, friendship and romance. The bleak and forbidding setting is the perfect place for Fiona and Angus to meet. Their relationship develops from enemies to friends and is full of witty banter and conflict right to the end.
‘Their Snowbound Reunion’ is set in Derbyshire and is a story of second chances and forgiveness. Amy and Anthony enjoyed a brief but ill-fated romance. When they meet again, there is still something between them. This is a lovely second chance romance with characters that are easy to empathise with and a happy ending.
Both these Victorian romances are engaging and the perfect book to read in front of a cosy fire.
Jenni Fletcheris the award-winning author of 15 historical romances. She has been nominated for 4 RoNA Awards and won the Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award in 2020. She lives in Yorkshire with her family and can be contacted via Twitter @JenniAuthor.Facebook
ElisabethHobbes’ writing career began when she finished in third place in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013. She was offered a two-book contract and consequently had to admit secret writing was why the house was such a tip. She is the author of numerous historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon covering the Medieval period to Victorian England, and a Second World War romantic historical with One More Chapter. She lives in Cheshire because the car broke down there in 1999 and she never left.TwitterFacebook
A Snowstorm. A stranger. A Spark. It should be the perfect start to the perfect love story.
But real life is far messier and more complicated than in the pages of the books in Megan Taylor’s family bookshop – the last few years have left this young widow in no doubt of that. Moving back home to York should have been a fresh start, but all it did was allow her to retreat from the world.
When prize-winning author Xander Stone rams his supermarket trolley into her ankles and then trashes her taste in books, Megan is abruptly awoken from her self-imposed hibernation. It’s time to start living again, and she’s going to start by putting this arrogant, superior – admittedly sexy – stranger in his place.
Just as she is beginning to enjoy life again, the worst happens and Megan begins to wonder if she should have stayed hidden away. Because it turns out that falling in love again is about more than just meeting under the mistletoe…
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in retirn for an honest review.
There is a trend for bookshop romances, and this one has a seasonal twist. Set in York, it’s Megan and Xander’s story, which has a rocky start. Megan is still grieving her husband when she returns home to run the family bookshop. The bookshop is an atmospheric setting, and Megan is a likeable character. Meeting Xander is memorable, but his attitude doesn’t endear him to Megan even though he does have his attractions.
The plot is well-written with quirky supporting characters, vivid imagery and witty dialogue. There is conflict and seasonal events and a well-deserved happy ending.
Rachel Burton has been making up stories for as long as she can remember and always dreamed of being a writer until life somehow got in the way. After reading for a degree in Classics and another in English Literature she accidentally fell into a career in law, but eventually managed to write her first book on her lunch breaks. Now she writes from a small bedroom looking out over hydrangeas, lavender bushes and rambling roses, in a little house in Yorkshire that she shares with her husband and their three cats. She loves words, Shakespeare, tea, The Beatles, dresses with pockets and very tall romantic heroes (not necessarily in that order).
Find her on Instagram as @RachelBWriter or follow her blog at rachelburtonwrites.com.
Everybody left the bookshop that night hooting with laughter at the fact Trixie had yet another new boyfriend.
“I wonder how long this one will last,” Bella said.
“I wonder how young he is,” Missy replied.
“Come on, you two,” Dot said, ushering the women out of the door. “Leave Trixie alone.” And with a flurry of goodbyes they were gone.
“You go up, Mum,” I said as I locked the door behind them. “I’ll finish off down here.”
“Are you sure?” she asked, and I noticed the flash of worry across her brow.
I smiled. “I’m fine, Mum, really.” I was fine, wasn’t I?
At least a lot closer to fine than I’d been in a long time. I wanted my mother to stop worrying about me; I wanted to stop hearing the note of concern in my father’s voice every time he called. I knew why they worried. I knew what a mess I’d been after Joe died, and Mum and I had always been close, so she was bound to be concerned. But recently their concern had started to make me feel claustrophobic and I’d taken that as a good sign, another step forward, as though I was managing to finally get away from the cotton wool haze of grief I’d been living in for so long.
I listened to my mother’s footsteps on the stairs as she made her way up to the flat above the shop and I sat down for a minute under the lights of the Christmas tree and thought about how much my life had changed in the last three years. I still missed Joe so much and there were times when feelings of guilt and emptiness still completely overtook me, but the times when I didn’t think about him, when I didn’t feel empty and alone, were starting to be more frequent.
When Mum suggested I come back to York for a while I’d been concerned that the memories here would be as bad as the ones in London, but they were different, more distant somehow, less immediate – and I found myself able to remember the time I’d spent with Joe in York in a more gentle way, a way that didn’t feel like a punch in the stomach every time I woke up.
Besides, Taylor’s Bookshop had needed me, or at the very least it had needed me to give it some TLC.
“I don’t know what happened,” Mum had said when I’d been back a few weeks and had started examining the state of the bookshop, and – more importantly – the bookshop’s accounts, in more detail. “I knew something needed doing but time just got away from me somehow.”
But I’d known it wasn’t time that was the problem. When Dad had left for his ‘bigger life’ in London, not only had he abandoned his wife and daughter but the bookshop he’d inherited from his parents as well. Mum had never had very much to do with the bookshop when I was growing up – she’d spent her days in her writing room, so when Dad left she didn’t have any idea what to do to keep the business running and a roof over our heads.
I’d been working part-time in the shop since I was a teenager so I was able to help Mum out, and between me and Fred Bishop – Dad’s friend who’d worked in the bookshop for years – we were able to keep things ticking over. When it had come to choosing a university, I’d chosen York so that I could be nearby and continue to help out at the weekends. But when Joe and I had moved to London, even though Mum and I had spoken on the phone several times a week, I’d stopped thinking about the bookshop every day for the first time in my life and I hadn’t really realised how much it had been spiralling downhill.
With a string of luxury hotels to his name, brooding baron Xander needs help to freshen his public image. Reluctantly agreeing to adopt a rescue dog for Christmas, he isn’t expecting free-spirited dog nanny Elfie too. But there’s far more to Elfie than he bargained for, and soon he can’t imagine life without her—or the dog…
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has believable characters, a festive-inspired plot and forbidden romance. Full of humour and poignancy, it’s lovely. Elfie is a dog nanny, just the person hotelier, Xander, needs to manage his rescue dog, but proximity leads to romance making it, a memorable Christmas. There are plenty of conflicts, lots of vivid festive descriptions and heartwarming romantic moments. Elfie and Xander find they have more in common than they thought. You want them to find happiness, and thankfully after an emotional journey, they get their happy ending.
I received a copy of this book from Mills & Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Prince Vincenzo is determined to rescue his country from his father’s excesses and vows to end the monarchy by refusing to marry and father an heir. Avenging his mother, he enlists the help of Eloise, the daughter of his father’s mistress. Eloise is a positive, strong character who has moved on from her destructive past. She has always loved Vincenzo despite his reputation and agrees to help him.
There is an intense passion between Eloise and Vincenzo despite her innocence. The emotional connection between the couple deepens as they realise they have misjudged each other. The story has many festive touches and ends happily after much angst. Believable characters and an appealing fairytale quality make this a lovely holiday read.
A new start, a chance encounter, a Christmas to remember. Will Iris’s new year be happy ever after?
When Iris Greene’s boyfriend surprises her with a romantic dinner at their favourite restaurant, she’s expecting a proposal, not a move to another country.
But Amsterdam proves to be the change she never knew she needed, and a surprise encounter with a local actor leads Iris to new friends and the rediscovery of a long lost passion. While Iris thrives in a city filled with festivity, her boyfriend struggles, and her heart is torn in two.
As snow falls and secrets are revealed, Iris must decide her future. Will she be brave enough to start over and take a chance on love?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Iris finds her life upturned when her partner of several years accepts his dream job in Amsterdam. The lack of discussion before he accepts this role makes him seem selfish, unlike Iris, who wants to make him happy, even though she has doubts.
Amsterdam proves to be a journey of self-discovery for Iris, as she rediscovers her creativity and finds friends who appreciate her. The story is full of vivid descriptions from Iris’perspective that makes the story entertaining and informative for the reader.
Iris has to choose whether to follow her dreams. Invested in her happiness, you want her to decide wisely. The characters are believably flawed and relatable, the setting immerses you in Iris’ adventure, and the story is heartwarming and uplifting to read.
Kate Frost is the author of best-selling romantic escape novels (The Baobab Beach Retreat, A Starlit Summer, The Greek Heart, The Love Island Bookshop and The Amsterdam Affair), character-driven women’s fiction (The Butterfly Storm series and Beneath the Apple Blossom), and Time Shifters, a time travel adventure trilogy for children. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she also taught lifewriting to creative writing undergraduates.
Kate lives in Bristol with her husband, young son, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Frodo. As well as writing novels, she’s also the Director of Storytale Festival, a new city-wide children’s book festival that she co-founded in Bristol in 2019 with the ethos of making books accessible to all and encouraging children and teens to read, write and be creative. Kate feels incredibly lucky to spend her days writing and being immersed in books. Her first book with Boldwood will be published in March 2022.
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Can James stop the killer before they strike again?
The first fall of snow can be fatal…
A year has passed since DI James Walker cracked his biggest case yet, and he’s hoping for peace and quiet this festive season.
But across the fells, a local farmer returns home on Christmas Eve to find footsteps in the fresh snow that lead down to his unused basement – and no footsteps leading away. Days later, his body is found, alongside those of his wife and daughter.
Without a neighbour for miles, there are no witnesses and little evidence. And the crime scene has strange echoes of another terrible murder committed at the farmhouse, twenty years earlier…
James knows that to catch this killer, he needs to solve a case that has long since gone cold…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Set in a remote Cumbrian village, DI James Walker’s quiet Christmas is interrupted by the tragedy at a remote farm. This atmospheric police procedural explores three deaths, possibly linked to a cold case at the same location years before. The detailed investigation allows the reader an omnipotent view of the evidence and suspects. Relatable characters and twisty plot keep the reader absorbed. The final suspenseful chapters build to an impactful conclusion.
This is a complete story, but if you enjoy chilling crime novels, the first one has a festive theme too.