Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance, Short stories

The Summer of Madness Alex Raphael 4* #Review @elraphael @rararesources #Romance #literaryfiction #shortstory #Summer #BlogBlitz #BookReview #TheSummerofMadness

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt Vannes decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.

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

My Thoughts…

This is an unusual short story about a last-ditch romantic gesture. The scene is set perfectly and the characters believable, although most only make cameo appearances. On reflection, the reader knows more about the cast of onlookers than the two main protagonists, but this doesn’t matter its engaging and you want to know what happens next.

An diverse range of writing styles are used. Narrative, dialogue and a newspaper report, which adds to the authenticity. The plot is simple but its ramifications more complex. The connections with the classic novel the man reads are clear, but this is not a happy story so maybe the outcome is inevitable?

The contemporary setting and reactions give different interpretations of a seemingly simple action, everyone has an opinion. The ending is hopeful but not perhaps in the way he expected.

If you are looking for a quick, contemporary read that raises more questions than it answers try this its good.

Alex Raphael

Half-Welsh, half-Mexican and growing up in London, Alex Raphael was surrounded by different influences and interests. But it was always books that spoke to him most and had the greatest impact.

He started writing when at college, where his love of reading evolved into a desire to write, in particular focusing on poetry and short stories. Studying English and American Literature at university meant he took a break from writing, as well as giving him the chance to see more of Mexico on his travels. He concentrated on his journalistic career while working on different writing projects, but his favourite genre of literature has always been short stories as they are what first inspired him to write.

That’s why his first book was The Summer of Madness, a romantic short story that tells of a guy who goes out to try to win his ex-girlfriend back. Will you be rooting for Kurt and his big public gesture or is it more complicated than that and you don’t want her to date him again? Either way you’ll get to know a memorable set of characters along for the ride.

His second book Illusions, Delusions reflects Raphael’s love of alternative short stories from the writers of his childhood and challenges the idea of the narrative. Will your favourite be the story in the form of a questionnaire, a poem or a set of jokes, among the seven very different styles?

Alex Raphael is currently working on his third collection of short stories, which will provide a wide blend of genres and an assortment of very original premises and distinctive character, with his trademark imagination, humour and memorable dialogue.

Website Blog

Posted in Audiobook Review, Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Novella, Romance

Jesse’s Girl Tara September 4*#Review @TaraSeptember #Narrator @verla_bond #Audiobook #Review #Romance #Friendship @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #JessesGirl

🎶 “I wish that I had Jesse’s Girl”*

Successful Texas lawyer, Reade Walker, curses that damn song every time it plays, all too aware of the irony of its lyrics. After all, he has been secretly and painfully enamored with Jesse’s girl, Gwen, for nearly a decade. It was love at first sight for him, but sadly she’s not his girl. She belongs to the one man who betrayed him and knows Reade’s hidden family secret. Yet Reade can’t seem to love anyone except the one woman he can’t have. Or can he make her mine? When Gwen Clark’s senator husband runs off with his intern and all their money, the ensuing scandal turns her life upside down. Deserted, penniless and desperate to provide for her six-year-old daughter, Gwen has no one to turn to but Reade Walker. The one man her heart desperately wants, but her pride dreads having to ask for help. Despite welcoming them into his home, it seems like Reade can barely stand being in the same room with her anymore, let alone under the same roof—in the same bedroom. But Gwen is determined to get her life back on track. It is past time to rediscover her own dreams…if only she can keep her aching heart from breaking all over again.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this audiobook in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a friend to lover romantic novella with relatable characters and sensual romance. I listened to this story in audiobook form, and it was enjoyable. The narration is professional, and her interpretation of the characters and the plot immerses the reader in the story making it an authentic experience.

The plot is easy to follow with great sensual tension between Gwen and Reade. There is also a charming family element to this story, which makes the happy ever after more rewarding. This easy to listen to audiobook is perfect for lovers of sensual romance and happy endings.

Tara September

Blogger and former PR executive for The Walt Disney Company, Tara holds a Master’s degree in journalism & communications from New York University. She also spent a semester abroad during her undergrad at Queen Mary University in London. For over a decade before publishing, Tara has penned a popular lifestyle, travel and parenting blog at TaraMetBlog.com

Always an avid romance reader, she has been daydreaming about being an author since school. Dozens of bad dates, four cities and adventures later, she still finds it impossible that she met her husband on a New York City subway. They now live in sunny Florida with identical twin boys and four cats underfoot/on her laptop/everywhere. Fueled by an IV of green tea and sometimes Champagne, she’s finally writing the happily ever after tales she’s been dreaming about.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense

The Smuggler’s Daughter Kerry Barrett 4*#Review @kerrybean73 @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #Timeslip #HistoricalFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Mystery #WeekendReads

Only she knows the truth. Only she can save them.

1799
Emily Moon lives with her mother in an inn on a clifftop in the darkest reaches of Cornwall. After her father mysteriously disappears, her mother finds solace at the bottom of a bottle, and the only way to keep afloat is to turn a blind eye to the smugglers who send signals from the clifftops. But Emily knows that the smugglers killed her father to ensure his silence, and she will not let his murder go unpunished…

Present day
After a case ends in tragedy, police officer Phoebe Bellingham flees to Cornwall for a summer of respite. But rather than the sunny Cornwall of her dreams, she finds herself on storm-beaten cliffs, surrounded by stories of ghosts and smugglers – and the mysterious Emily Moon, who vanished without a trace over two centuries ago. As rain lashes down around her, Phoebe determines to find the truth behind the rumours – but what she uncovers will put herself in danger too…

A haunting and moving timeslip novel

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The Smuggler’s Daughter is a mysterious timeslip story, connected by place and two women. This is an atmospheric story in both 1799 and 2019, with the danger of smugglers and an underlying menace.

In Cornwall in 1799, Emily witnesses a terrible crime which she vows to avenge. Viewed as strange by her community, she has few friends. Phoebe is reeling from a mistake that left someone dead. She escapes to Cornwall and finds a mystery to occupy her mind.

Both stories are engaging with strong female characters who draw you into their lives and gain your empathy. The well-paced plot provides a medley of mystery, paranormal and romance amidst Cornwall at its most haunting and rugged.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Motivational, Romance

Life After You Sian O’Gorman 5* #Review @msogorman @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #boldwoodbloggers #BlogTour #BookReview #Love #Loss #Bereavement #Family #Romance #Friendship #Motivational #Heartwarming #SundayThoughts #LifeAfterYou

Meaningful and moving, a beautiful story with life-affirming qualities.

Milly Bryne’s world came crashing down when she lost her beloved Dad and boyfriend in a matter of weeks.
Losing her Dad has broken her family. Losing her soul mate made has made her give up on life and love.
After swerving from stability to chaos to despair, Milly finally believes she has her life back on track when the unexpected return of a familiar face to Ireland throws her life once more into a spin. Milly is forced to decide if her new life is the one for her, or if there is another path that will bring even greater riches of joy, excitement and fun into her world. Life just isn’t worth living if your heart isn’t in it?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I always love reading a book written by a true storyteller and this one of those. Milly is not coping, no one would know, but she’s still crippled with grief after losing her father five years ago, has a ruthless career that demands all her time and offends her moral code and was abandoned by her soulmate at the lowest point in her life. When her old lover returns, it forces her to look at her life and decide what she truly wants it to be.

Milly is a likeable and relatable protagonist. You want her to overcome her anxiety, learn to live with her grief and be happy. A diverse cast of characters both hinder and support Milly in this quest. Everyone is authentic and adds something to this enjoyable story.

The story explores how Milly and her family members experience, both anxiety and grief believably.

The story is heartbreaking and humorous in equal measure but ultimately heartwarming.

Extract from Life After You Sian o’Gorman

Chapter One

A low hum of chatter, the odd bray from the over-inebriated, the tinkling of Cole Porter from the grand piano in the corner, the soft lighting, the waft of the kind of perfume that hadn’t been bought as an after-thought in Duty Free, the pop of the champagne bottles. Siobhán held up her glass of fizz. ‘I could get used to this,’ she said, putting on a posh voice. ‘I may insist on always socialising in the Shelbourne.’

It was early April and there was a touch of spring in the air and we were both a little over-excited. It was a Tuesday which was enough to celebrate on its own, but we were at the launch of a new development for my boyfriend’s property company and although Ryan and I had been going out for three months, he and Siobhán were yet to meet.

She’d already peered across the room at him as he shook hands with and chatted to some of the other guests. ‘He’s handsome,’ she said, approvingly. ‘The kind of cheekbones that make him look like he’s sucking on a lemon or an eighties popstar.’

Siobhán and I had been best friends since our third year of high school when we both realised we shared a hatred of hockey and a love of talking to each other. We’d lived with each other many times over the years, her moving in with me when my then boyfriend, Darragh, left me five years earlier. Her partner, George, was often to be found on our sofa – normally asleep, wrecked from his early starts in a bakery.

Siobhán’s arm darted out to nab a handful of canapés as a tray bobbed past our heads. She handed one to me. ‘Being a corporate lawyer, you probably eat like this all the time,’ she said, mouth full, ‘expense-account lunches…’

‘I’m lucky if I get ten minutes to buy a sandwich. Normally, it’s just me and Catriona working through.’ Catriona was my boss, one of the partners at my law firm McCoyMcAvoy. I’d worked there since getting onto the graduate scheme, and had slowly made my way up to being junior to the firm’s only female partner. As corporate lawyers, we bent the rules to nearly breaking point, discovering legal loopholes and building cases so rock-solid that we always ensured our clients got their way.

‘Lunch is the most important meal of the day,’ Siobhán reminded me.

‘I thought it was breakfast.’

She held up a canapé. ‘No, I forgot. Nibbles and snacks are the best meal of the day.’ She grinned at me. ‘Can’t live without snacks.’

‘I’d die.’

‘We’d die together for the want of a good snack… talking of which, these are very nice, very nice indeed!’

Siobhán was small, with long, waterfall-wavy red hair, and always wore bright red lipstick. I was tall, with shoulder length light brown hair which I tied back for work, with minimal make-up. She wore long skirts and chunky cardigans and dangly earrings, whereas I couldn’t remember the last time I wore anything that wasn’t sensible. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done something that wasn’t sensible. But, then again, I was the one who’d signed up to be a lawyer and being sensible was part of the deal. Except, I wouldn’t mind some fun. It was exactly why I insisted on Siobhan coming tonight. It was at least something.

Sian O’Gorman

Sian O’Gorman was born in Galway on the West Coast of Ireland, grew up in the lovely city of Cardiff, and has found her way back to Ireland and now lives on the east of the country, in the village of Dalkey, just along the coast from Dublin. She works as a radio producer for RTE.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Mystery, Romance

A Summer to Remember in Herring Bay Angela Britnell 4*#Review @AngelaBritnell @ChocLituk @rararesources #Mystery #Family #Romance #Friendship #Comminity #Coastal #Cornwall #BlogTour #BookReview

Essy Havers is good at finding things. Her company specialises in helping clients track down anything, from missing china pieces to rare vintage clothing. But now Essy has something more important to find: herself.
Essy has always been curious about her mother’s secret past and her Cornish roots. So, when the opportunity arises, she hops on a plane in Tennessee and ends up in Herring Bay in Cornwall; the village where her mother grew up.
But once there, she’s mystified by the reactions of the villagers when they realise who she is. Was Essy’s decision to visit Cornwall a mistake, or will it lead to a summer she’ll never forget?

AmazonUK

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

My Thoughts…

Essy visits her family in Cornwall when a work opportunity arises she’s keen to know why her mother won’t talk about her past. Her aunt is pleased and surprised to see her, but the welcome isn’t universal. Essy meets Ruan, and they find they have a lot in common. Ruan’s family seems tied up with her mother’s past, and so they investigate but is this wise?

This is a family mystery story full of angst and secrets. The characters are relatable, and each plays a part in the story. The setting is coastal and well-described and complements a plot with some original touches.

Gentle romance, family mystery and a community that needs mending all make this an enjoyable summer read.

Angela Britnell

Angela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties!

A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels. Thanks to over three decades of marriage to her wonderful American husband she’s a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers. Her first novel ‘Truth and Consequence’ was published in 2006 and she’s now had over 30 novels published internationally and several short stories in women’s magazines.

If you’d like to find out more of what Angela gets up to (Advance warning: this may include references to wine, dark chocolate, Poldark and the hunky Aidan Turner) follow her social media.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Political Thriller, Romance

Settlement Anne Stormont 5*#Review Rachel&Jack: The Skye Series @writeanne @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #motivational #Settlement #Love #BookReview #BookTour #Skye

Can love truly heal old wounds? Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest?

Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty. She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?

When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.

But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.

Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.

Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence? Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?

Will they get the chance to put things right between them?

Settlement is the sequel to literary romance novel, Displacement, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An excellent sequel to Displacement, although the story is complete and so can be read as a standalone. However, Jack and Rachel’s story is compelling, emotional and realistic, so read the first book too.

The story begins at a devastating time for Jack, his life hangs in the balance, and he regrets how he left it with Rachel. Rachel learns about Jack, and she relives her former loss of her son.

The story then reverts to the recent past from Rachel and Jack’s point of view, so the reader understands how they got to this dramatic point in their relationship. The story explores what happens after you fall in love, especially if you have emotional baggage. Jack’s track record with long-term relationships impacts on his and Rachel’s. Rachel is constantly moving forward, and is a positive person despite the loss she’s known.

There’s politics and crime as Rachel and Jack pursue their lives independently, and they add to the story’s depth and realism.

This is an addictive read, maybe because the characters are older and have lived.

I look forward to the final instalment in their love story.

Anne Stormont was born in Scotland and although she has travelled all over the world – including a teaching exchange to South Africa, four trips to Australia and several visits to the Middle East – it’s where she still lives.

She began making up stories as a child in order to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult, being busy with motherhood and working as a teacher, it took a long time and a mortality wake-up call for her to get that first book written.

She’s a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and enthusiastic gardener. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and being with her grandchildren.

Change of Life was her first novel and she has since published three more. Her books are all set in Scotland and are contemporary romances where the main characters may be slightly older but are not necessarily wiser.

You can find out more about Anne and her books at her Website 

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy

Accidentally in Love Belinda Missen 4*#Review @belinda_missen @HQStories @rararesources #RomCom #BlogTour #BookReview

In the space of a week, Katharine Patterson has quit her job, decided to move back home, and broken up with the guy she thought was the one.

No big deal.

Because Katharine has a plan. She’s going to open her own art gallery, just like she’s always wanted. What she’s not going to do is worry about boyfriends.

Then she meets Kit, a handsome and talented local artist. He might be the most stubborn person Katharine has ever met. He might also make her feel like no one ever has before.

And Katharine might be about to fall accidentally in love…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A good rom-com can brighten your day, and this story does that. Katharine has decided that life is for living so newly single and jobless she follows her dream to own a gallery. Romance is not on the to-do list, but meeting opinionated, talented Kit, may change her mind.

This is an enemy to lover trope, the best kind for a rom-com and these characters work this angle so well. There is lots of conflict and humour, as the two strong characters try to get what they want. Katharine is undeniably attracted to the man, but she wants things her way.

This story has some original touches and great realistic characters. There’s plenty of amusement and although the chemistry sizzles the romance is sweet. The author’s use of sensory imagery makes the events easy to visualise increasing the reader enjoyment.

Everything you want in a rom-com, fun, friction and a fabulous ending.

Belinda Missen

Author and sometimes foodie, Belinda is a ridiculous romantic who met her husband after being set up by a friend two states away.

Residing in country Victoria, surrounded by books, cat-fur, and half-eaten cake, Belinda divides her days between writing rom-coms, baking, and indulging her love of comic books.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

Hopeful Hearts at Glendale Hall Victoria Walters 5* #Review @Vicky_Walters @herabooks @rararesources #Love #Life #Highlands #Farming #community #Friends #Romance #choices #BookReview #BlogTour #Fridayreads

What happens when love takes you to unexpected places?

Heather Douglas appears to have it all. But living on a farm in the Scottish Highlands with her partner, Rory Fraser, all while bringing up their adorable toddler, Harry, isn’t easy. As a former librarian, Heather is worried that she’ll never fully fit into life on Fraser Farm. And after the death of her beloved mum five years ago, Heather feels lost, as well as guilty for holding back accepting Rory’s marriage proposal because she can’t imagine her wedding without her mother.

So when ex-boyfriend, Stewart, appears in the village of Glendale, it’s a shock to the system. The man who broke her heart years ago now has big plans for the neighbouring farm and wants Heather to be part of the development. Knowing that she’s living a very different life to the one they had planned at university leaves Heather wondering if she has made the right choices since she and Stewart broke up. Especially when things start to go very wrong on the farm …

This Christmas, Heather will need to face her fears and let go of the past or risk losing everything. She will need love, faith, and a whole lot of hope! Return to the beautiful Highlands village of Glendale with the latest book in the bestselling Glendale series – the perfect cosy, uplifting, romantic read.

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

My Thoughts…

This is my first book in the Glendale Hall series, and I loved it. There’s a vibrant highland community with authentic characters who enrich the story and draw you into their world. A wonderfully wintry setting is the backdrop for this story of family, friends and choices. Heather and Rory have a highland farm. Anxiety and grief dominant Heather’s life and make her question her life choices. Rory is supportive but struggles to understand Heather’s worries.

There are characters from previous books featured in this, but it’s a standalone story. Heather and Rory’s future is jeopardised, by someone from Heather’s past, and as this conflict is real, you fear for their happy ever after.

The plot is simple but effective, you empathise with Heather’s dilemma but mostly with Rory whose love never wavers. All this angst is amid threats to the way of life, snow and the festive celebrations. Emotional and relatable this is a perfect festive read.

Victoria Walters

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of three novels, THE SECOND LOVE OF MY LIFE, SUMMER AT THE KINDNESS CAFÉ, and COMING HOME TO GLENDALE HALL. She has been chosen for W.H. Smith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for an RNA award. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

The Adventures of Ellie and Bo Millie Kerr 4* Review @millieckerr @BookGuild @rararesources #conservation #youngadult #nature #blogtour #bookreview #TheAdventuresofEllieandBoo

A nature-loving cat and her conservationist mum team up to save endangered species!
Boo the tabby cat is born on a Lincolnshire farm and seems destined for a simple life. Everything changes when she’s put up for adoption and is taken in by Ellie Caldwell, an adventurous Cambridge graduate student who loves animals and is studying to become a wildlife conservationist.
Between lectures, Ellie heads to the countryside for camping trips, her Instagram-anointed ‘adventure cat’ in tow. On rocky trails, Boo discovers that, like Ellie, she has a passion for the natural world, and because she’s able to communicate with all animals, she can relate their challenges back to Ellie. But there’s a serious problem: whenever Boo tries to tell Ellie something, all Ellie hears is “Meow.”
Can they work out a communication system, and in doing so, save endangered animals from harm while encouraging public support of nature and wildlife? 

Waterstones Amazon UK Amazon

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

My Thoughts…

This is a conservationist book aimed at older children and young adults. The main protagonists in this tale are a young women studying for a post-grad and her cat Boo.

Superficially this is a lovely adventure fantasy story about a cat talking to other animals and then learning to communicate with her human. As an adult you may have to suspend belief to accept this concept, but for children who are more receptive to the extraordinary, this concept should work.

The underlying messages are valid, and the motivations of Ellie, Boo and their friends positive. It’s an engaging story with relatable characters and teaches whilst it entertains.

Millie Kerr

Millie Kerr is an author, journalist and photographer focused on wildlife conservation. A former lawyer, Millie uses storytelling to help people see splendour and fragility of the natural world. Her creative essays and reported articles—which predominantly involve travel and wildlife—have appeared in dozens of top-tier American and British publications, among them The Economist, National Geographic Traveller, Popular Science, and The Wall Street Journal. Millie has also worked for numerous global conservation NGOs, both as an in-house writer and an external consultant; and her legal career saw her working in private practice and government. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Masters of Philosophy in Conservation Leadership and has lived between the UK and USA for fifteen years. Her adopted cat, Baboon, has been her constant companion, although unlike their fictitious counterparts, they only enjoy indoor adventures.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Contemporary Fiction, Extract, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance

Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage Lucy Coleman 5*#Review @LucyColemanauth @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #Festive #ChristmasatLockKeepersCottage #extract #boldwoodbloggers #BookReview #BookTour

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.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts

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:

Dear Santa

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

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.

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