Christmas Read: Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown – Katey Lovell – 4 * Review

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As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.
Clara O’Connell loves Christmas. For her, it is the most magical time of the year. And she’s determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he’s hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.
But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara’s Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe’s, broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe’s love for Christmas and forever…?

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My Thoughts…

Perfect, if you like your festive reads with a touch of realism. Christmastime is supposed to be fun but what if life gets in the way and makes it a time to endure rather than enjoy?
Joe lost someone he loved at Christmas time and now he just goes through the motions until the festive season is over. Clara is unlucky in love but having Christmas to look forward to helps her keep going. When she and Joe are thrown together helping Manchester’s youth and trying to keep their youth centre viable Clara can’t resist trying to restore the magic of Christmas for Joe by giving him a personalised advent calendar of special events. Joe sets out to make Clara see not all men are deceitful and a lovely, gentle Christmas story unfolds, which demonstrates the real meaning of Christmas.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Christmas Read: Millie Vanilla’s CupCake Cafe – Christmas Weddings – Georgia Hill 4* Review

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Winter wedding bells are ringing at the Cupcake Café!

It’s winter in Berecombe and Millie’s café is up for sale. Her final task as its owner is to host her friends’ Christmas wedding on the beach, only she’s feeling anything but festive! Putting her ex, Jed, firmly out of her mind is proving impossible now he’s back working for her biggest rival.

What on earth is Jed up to? Telling her he still loves her is all very well, but if her café goes out of business, no-one will buy it. Christmas might be the season of goodwill towards men – but can Millie trust this particular man with her heart again?

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

I ‘ve enjoyed reading the first two books in this series, so I’m pleased the final book has a festive flavour. Like all of these Cupcake Cafe books, they can be read as standalone but I recommend reading the whole series, which is a lovely quick read, to appreciate the character development and the overall plot.

Millie returns from her travels abroad, hoping to complete the sale of her cafe.  part of her wants to see Jed but she sent him away so there is no chance of that?

Another romance dominates this story apart from the loved-up couple who Millie is arranging the wedding for at the cafe. Ri and Alex are an unlikely couple but their’s proves to be an engaging story, with a mystical slant that I always enjoy.

This is a  gentle, romantic story, which incorporates the festive element beautifully. The ending is charming and full of vivid imagery, which makes it easy to imagine being one of the wedding guests. Thankfully everyone has a happy ending. What more could you ask for in a festive read?

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

 

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Read my reviews of the first two books in the series

Spring Beginnings

Summer Loves

 

 

Christmas Read: Blog Tour – Extract The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop – Caroline Roberts – 5* Review

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Emma is the proud owner of The Chocolate Shop by the Sea, nestled in the heart of the cosy seaside village that’s become her home. With Christmas right around the corner, she and her assistant Holly are busy cooking up the locals’ festive favourites.

From cinnamon hot chocolates to reindeer lollipops, Christmas wouldn’t taste the same without a little cocoa magic. And for Emma, it’s the perfect distraction from her romantic pains of the past. So when the shop’s miserly landlord threatens to hike up the rent, Emma’s Christmas and New Year suddenly look a lot less cheerful.

With the whole village rallying behind her – and loyal spaniel Alfie by her side – Emma’s determined to hold onto her chocolate-box dream.

The chocolate calendar countdown is on. Can Emma rescue her business and her broken heart? 

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Blog tour banner - Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop

 

Extract from Chapter 1 – The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop – Caroline Roberts

Silver baubles, dangly stars, fairy lights and chocolates, hundreds of chocolates, filled the shop.

‘Hi, how can I help?’

‘I’ve been put in charge of the sweets for the children’s Christmas stockings – any ideas?’ The thirty­something gentleman smiled hopefully.

‘Of course. We have reindeers, Santas, and angels in chocolate lollipops – great stocking fillers. There are figures of Father Christmas, too. Also, we have snowy stars in a pretty bag – little girls love those, I can vouch for my nieces – and packs of chocolate­ dipped fudge.’

‘Well, there’s three kids to cater for, two boys and a girl, so can I have a selection? Oh, and I’d better get a nice box of chocolates for the wife.’

Emma pointed to the three sizes of gold boxes, positioned on the top of the truffle and ganache refrigerated display. ‘Large, medium or small?’

With a queue listening in behind him, and thoughts of fulfilling Christmas wishes on his mind, he went for the large.

‘Any particular favourites for your wife?’

‘Umm, she likes champagne truffles and caramels, I think, but a variety would be good.’

‘Great, I’ll pop a couple of champagne truffles in, and some caramels, with a lovely selection alongside that. Just give me a few moments and I’ll get them all ready for you.’ Emma set to work with boxes, bows and silver and gold ribbon, turning the gifts into works of art.

‘Wow, that all looks great. Thank you. So, how much do I owe you?’

Emma tallied it up on the till. ‘A total of fifteen pounds thirty, please.’ She popped one of her Chocolate Shop by the Sea business cards into the package.

‘Thanks.’

‘You’re welcome, and have a really lovely Christmas,’ Emma smiled.

Four o’clock, Christmas Eve afternoon, the till was pinging, the shop door chiming, and still the queue of last­minute shoppers continued to grow. Emma, proud owner of this gorgeous little chocolate shop in the harbour village of Warkton­by­the­Sea, Northumberland, and her assistant, Holly, were buzzing about like Christmas elves. In fact, they looked very like elves, dressed as they were in their festive jumpers, Holly with a Christmas pudding across her chest and Emma a red­nosed reindeer. Emma was also sporting dangly red­bauble earrings. She wished she had put some lighter clothing on now, though, something like a T­shirt: it was bloody warm dashing around, the two of them cramped in the serving space behind the counter, dressed in winter woollens.

Holly was serving an elderly chap from the village. ‘Hello, Stan. How’s Hilda?’ Emma asked him.

‘Not too bad thanks, Emma. Getting over the cough she had last week. But I thought it best she stayed home today. I’ve just been getting a few last­minute groceries in – we were low on milk and teabags – and then I thought it might be nice to cheer her up with some of those lovely coffee creams you do.’

‘Sounds a good idea. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.’

Holly passed him over a prettily tied cellophane bag with his chocolates in. ‘There you go, Stan. I popped an extra one in for luck.’

Emma gave her assistant a mock­shocked look and then smiled.

‘Well, take care then, lassies, have a good Christmas.’ ‘You too, Stan – and give my best wishes to Hilda.

Happy Christmas!’

Emma had a chance for a breather for a few seconds as Holly began to serve the last customer waiting. Her feet were throbbing, despite being in her comfiest trainers, and her fingers were aching from all the delicate tying of ribbons and making up of boxes and gift bags

– as well as having been up from 6.00 a.m. making more batches of truffles and chocolate lollipops to see them through. She gazed past the window display of baubles and dangling snowflakes that reflected the twinkle of the fairy lights in the shop, and out to the street. It was dark already out there, these short December days, but from the glow of the street lights she could tell it was still dry and a touch of frost was glinting on the pavements. She might get a chance to take Alfie, her springer spaniel and best friend, out for a quick walk down to the harbour once they’d closed. He’d been cooped up upstairs all afternoon with them being so busy.

A figure dashed past the window and came in, clanging the door. It was Danny who worked as the bar supervisor in The Fisherman’s Arms, the pub down the road.

‘Afternoon, ladies. I need a box of chocolates for my girlfriend. Something fancy­looking.’

‘Hi, Danny,’ Emma greeted him.

‘Which one’s this, then?’ Holly chipped in cheekily. To be fair, he’d had about six different girlfriends in the past six months.

‘The lovely Helen – and less of your cheek, young lady,’ he quipped back.

‘Large box then, Danny? I’ll giftwrap it for you, shall I?’ Em didn’t bother asking which flavours she liked as he probably didn’t know her that well yet.

‘Perfect. How’s tricks, Holly?’

‘Been busy, hasn’t it, Em? Just a little lull for now.’ With that, a family came in, seemingly a dad and his two kids, who started to browse the shelves. ‘Oh, and there we go again,’ Holly added.

‘Yeah, I think we’ll be having a busy night down at the Fisherman’s too. Christmas Eve usually gets cracking. You coming down, girls?’

‘No, quiet night in for me,’ said Emma. She couldn’t imagine being in a big noisy crowd, not tonight.

‘What about you, Hols?’

‘Nah, my mum and dad want me home tonight. Family day tomorrow and all that.’

‘Ah well, see you around then. Maybe over New Year.’ He paid, taking a box beautifully wrapped in star­ patterned paper with a big pink ribbon around it from Holly.

‘Maybe.’ Em left her answer deliberately vague. ‘Cheers, Danny. Oh, and there’s a gift tag for you to fill in on that box,’ she added as he turned to leave.

‘I’ll try and remember,’ he grinned. ‘Merry Christmas!’ the girls chanted. ‘And to you too!’’

Find out what happens next tomorrow on www.chicklitclub.com.

My Thoughts…

Christmas is a time that polarises peoples’feelings you either love it or hate it. I love it, though when my father died very close to the festive season it was the most painful of times, watching people around me enjoying the celebrations when I was so sad. So  I completely understand how Emma feels at Christmas time at the beginning of this story.

The instant connection I felt with the heroine made me empathic to her circumstances and had me on ‘Team Emma’ from the start. The setting is picture postcard, a small harbour town in Northumberland, It was beautifully described and the vivid imagery enhanced the story for me.

Emma has an unexpected encounter on Boxing day, which makes her revisit her pain and wonder whether there is more to life than her chocolate shop and lovable Spaniel.

This is a slow-paced, realistic life story, which highlights the importance of friendship and community. This is especially apparent when Emma’s home and livelihood are threatened by an unscrupulous entrepreneur.

The romance is slow in coming and Emma is full of trepidation that she will give her heart and be hurt again but by the time Christmas revisits the little harbour village fate takes a hand and makes her realise she has to take a risk and live for the moment. The ending is hopeful and paves the way for another story set in this charming little village.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Covent Garden in the Snow – Jules Wake – 4 * Review

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Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!

But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it’s not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…

Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it’s a match made in hell.

And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancé isn’t at all what he seems, it’s Marcus who’s there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on … He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

A lovely, festive romantic comedy.

Tilly is a make-up artist whose creativity is often at odds with life’s practicalities. The story starts with email disaster that is full of humour and necessitates a cute meet with Marcus the new super, efficient director of IT. The theatre setting is unusual and adds additional interest to a smooth plot. The outcome is not surprising but in this genre, working out what is going to happen before it does is part of the enjoyment.

Tilly is a likeable, quirky romantic heroine, very ‘Bridget Jones’ and Marcus rivals ‘ Mark Darcy’ for his stuffy attitude, which masks his loyalty and love of Tilly. Tilly matures in this story and realises her parents and her sister really do want her to be happy.

There’s sizzling romance, misunderstanding, deceit and a lovely, warm festive ending.
It’s definitely a Christmasy story worth reading.

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

 

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

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.

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.

 

Christmas Reads: Phillipa Ashley – Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles – The Driftwood Inn. 5* Review

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For Maisie Samson, this Christmas is going to be different. After years working in a busy Cornish pub, she’s moved back to quiet Gull Island where she grew up, to help her parents run the family inn.

But even though she can’t wait for the festive season to arrive, Maisie cannot shake the memories of what happened to her last Christmas – the day she lost everything. She keeps herself busy, setting up the tree and hanging mistletoe ready for her first proper family Christmas in years.

Until a new arrival to the island walks into her bar and changes everything. Australian backpacker Patrick is looking for a job for the low season. When Maisie takes him on, she doesn’t expect him to last the week, but to her surprise, Patrick is the perfect fit. Charming and handsome, could Maisie allow herself to hope that she and Patrick could be more than just colleagues?

As Christmas approaches, Maisie finds herself dreading the spring, when Patrick is due to leave. With the help of a little Christmas magic, can Maisie get the happily ever after she always dreamed of?

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 My Thoughts…

There is something inherently captivating about island life, so for me, this story is a must-read. The Cornish Isles inaccessibility and the reliance on those you live so closely with makes for some fantastic characters and relationships, which the author captures beautifully in this simple tale.

Maisie’s fierce determination to rebuild her life among the people she grew up with, is the story’s focus. She is a strong woman, but Patrick’s unexpected arrival reveals her vulnerability and adds plenty of Christmas romance to this story.

 Written chronologically, in a style that reinforces the story’s credibility. The vibrant coastal setting and vividly described, cast of supporting characters leave an impression on the reader

I can’t wait to see what happens in Spring on the ‘Little Cornish Isles’.

A charming story with a twist of Christmas perfect for reading any time of the year.

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

The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop – Caroline Roberts – 5* Review

 

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Amazon UK

 Amazon

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Festive angst and cheer at the castle tea shop. Easy to read with believable characters and events, definitely my favourite book in this series. Romance, friendship and sparkling humour. Lovely down to earth characters, a perfect slice of cafe life at the castle for Christmas. I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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