Tressa Buckland likes her quiet life in Port Lowdy, with its cobbled streets and colourful terraced houses overlooking the sea. Her job at the local paper allows her to pursue her art in her free time, with no one but her tabby cat Ginger Pickles to mind her in Mermaid Terrace. But then the owner of the paper is called away on an emergency, and it’s up to Tressa to run the paper for six months. Her first task: find a new part-time journalist.
Dan Byrne is the angriest man in Ireland – or so the readers of his very successful column, ‘Dan takes on the world’, think. But after a story goes south and he loses his job in Dublin, Dan has no choice but to start afresh. When an opportunity comes up in sleepy Cornwall, Dan and his Golden Retriever Ritchie set off for a new adventure.
For Tressa, Dan’s arrival to Port Lowdy changes everything. Tressa tries not to look too deeply at her own life, but Dan sees a story to uncover in absolutely everyone – even her. The two of them couldn’t be more different… yet, if they can find a way to work together, they may just breathe new life and joy into this sleepy seaside village.
Finding Love at Mermaid Terrace is a heartwarming new village romance about the power of love and kindness, from the bestselling author of Starting Over at Acorn Cottage.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Tressa loves Port Lowdy’s old fashioned community spirit. An illness in her surrogate family upturns her quiet and undemanding life. Responsible for the village newspaper she needs a journalist. Investigative journalist, Dan’s quest for justice forces him out of his job and home, so he’s looking for somewhere to regroup.
Tressa and Dan have to learn to work together and respect the other. This leads to conflict and humorous situations, but they learn to trust and forge a friendship that leads to romance. Within the wider community, relatable characters hide surprising stories, and the antics of the animal characters provide many humorous moments.
Well-paced, heartwarming and uplifting this is the perfect book to escape with.
Kate Forster lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, two children and dogs and can be found nursing a laptop, surrounded by magazines and talking on the phone, usually all at once. She is an avid follower of fashion, fame and all things pop culture and is also an excellent dinner party guest who always brings gossip and champagne.
A woman who never wanted children finds herself reluctantly bringing up her sister’s daughter. The aunt is in an abusive relationship. The niece is a strange child who wishes to disappear. The narrative threaded through these eighty short poems confuses and obfuscates, whilst at the same time completely drawing the reader into the extent that by the end, one is left with the feeling of having watched a deeply immersive film or read an engrossing novella.
Beth O’Brien weaves magic with her lyrical and evocative language, and with the tangibility of her characters’ unreliable voices, she reveals herself as a master storyteller.
I received a copy of this book from Wildpressed Books in return for an honest review.
Poetry, because of its imagery and lyrical qualities, evokes an emotional response in its reader. This may be confusion, happiness, humour, sadness, or a combination of these. This collection of poems left me feeling confused and sad as it tells the story of a family torn apart by abuse, disinterest and poor mental health.
The imagery is powerful and pushes the story forward towards its conclusion. It has a uniqueness that is refreshing and doesn’t reveal everything about its subject. This needs more than one reading to appreciate the content. The lyrical quality and structure are enjoyable from the first pages.
Contemporary and thought-provoking this collection of poems resonates with the reader.
Brand new from the top 10 bestselling author of New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow.
With new arrivals comes new responsibilities… The sun is shining, wild flowers are blooming and Hedgehog Hollow is officially open for business.
For Samantha, the proud owner of this beautiful rescue centre, life has never been busier. But with an influx of new hogs and hoglets to take care of, not to mention a full-time job and ongoing family issues, can she accept the possibility that she has taken on more than she can handle?
Fortunately, she has the love of her life, Josh, by her side for support and encouragement. But Josh has his own family troubles to deal with. And soon he must decide if he’s ready to do the one thing he swore he’d never do – forgive his father.
For both Samantha and Josh it’s a season of change and for figuring out whether the past can ever truly be forgotten.
Escape back to wonderful Hedgehog Hollow with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for the perfect uplifting read full of love, hope and forgiveness.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This sequel to Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is full of family drama, forgiveness and fabulous hedgehogs. The research of the setting of this story is obvious and gives this story authenticity and depth of interest.
The author provides a list of recurrent characters, and a catch up of the story so far. There is plenty of background in the actual story to make this readable as a standalone, but it’s so good don’t miss out on the first book in the series.
The story is told from the two main protagonists’ points of view, giving valuable insights into Sammie and Josh’s personalities and thoughts. Their developing relationship faces conflict, from family dramas and threats to the hedgehog rescue centre. This is a character-driven story, some are not likeable, but this makes the story realistic. It also effectively highlights the protagonists’ positive character traits.
Love and forgiveness prevail, making this both heartwarming and uplifting to read.
Jessica Redland is the author of ten novels, including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.
Charlotte Egerton and family are off to Switzerland, after husband Dom bags a big-time job promotion.
But Charlotte isn’t exactly yodelling with delight at the prospect. Not since a chance discovery cast a shadow over her ten-year marriage. And navigating twisty Swiss roads and getting to grips with French only adds to her woes…
Following a bumpy encounter with an arrogant German, Charlotte is far from convinced the expat life is for her.
With doubts about Dom — and concerns for her best friend, Ruth — plaguing her mind, will Charlotte embrace the Swiss way of life, or are some mountains just too hard to conquer?
Embark on a journey filled with laughter, tears and lessons in love. Sometimes you just have to seize the day…
Praise for Audrey Davis
‘Warm, witty and highly entertaining.’
‘The author never fails to provide humour and pathos in equal measure.’
‘The story-telling is rich, intelligent and rewarding.’
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Charlotte and her two boys are uprooted from the UK to follow her husband Dom, to Switzerland. Charlotte faces making a new start when she has doubts about her relationship. This story explores the humorous and often, poignant consequences.
The reader is drawn into Charlotte’s life, using sensory imagery. Charlotte is an easy to empathise character she values her family but views them realistically. Her ability to see their flaws leads to the story’s many humorous instances.
The female characters are relatable and the relationship dynamics believable. Family-drama, humour and romance all feature in Charlotte’s new life in Switzerland. It’s more than a geographical change she develops as a person and realises her worth.
Audrey Davis is a Scottish-born former journalist, now resident in Switzerland. Her newspaper career saw her cover events in Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands, as well as working for a London-based movie magazine writing reviews and carrying out interviews.
She self-published her debut romantic comedy novel A Clean Sweep in June 2017, following an online Open University course in Writing Fiction.
Audrey followed up with a short, darker prequel A Clean Break before beginning work on a rom-com novella trilogy with a ghostly twist – The Haunting of Hattie Hastings. Again, reviews across the board were excellent, and it was combined into a standalone novel in November 2018.
A Wish For Jinnie her third standalone novel, was published in June.
Apart from writing, Audrey enjoys travel and spends a lot of time in Edinburgh. At least she did until recently… She is an avid cook, watcher of scary movies and reluctant gym-goer.
When Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after. When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely festive book, but it’s more than that. It can be read at any time if you are looking for family drama, heartwarming stories and romance. Set in Sweden and Middledip a familiar setting to regular readers. The characters are believable and easy to empathise. You are quickly immersed in their stories and want them to find happiness. Hannah is a quirky but entirely lovable character. Nico is focused entirely on his family, and the vulnerable, which makes him so appealing.
Hannah and Nico’s reunion is realistic, and the gentle pacing believably reflects their deepening relationship. A vivid cast of characters, adds to the story’s authenticity. They provide a believable balance of humour, poignancy, and romance.
Relatable characters and realistic stories filled with heart make this an enjoyable read.
When Lee first came to Amsterdam, it was with a newborn baby and a secret.
Five years later, her life is approaching normal: her career as a celebrity photographer is flourishing, her son Jasper is growing up, and they are enjoying the run-up to Christmas with their tight circle of close friends.
But all this changes one morning when Lee finds a book in the basket of her bicycle – and scrawled inside it, a desperate message. Who left it for her, and why?
Lee feels compelled to help and tracks down the book’s author, Sam. With an instant, undeniable connection it seems they might have a shot at a real future together.
Until her past comes calling.
As the snow falls and ice thickens on the city’s canals, the secret Lee has never told resurfaces. Suddenly everything she holds dear hangs in the balance.
Christmas is a time for being together – but what if the truth means she ends up alone?
I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story is an engaging mix of family, friends, romance, and secrets, with topical themes, and a festive twist. The first chapters highlight an important relationship and hint at dramatic events revealed as the story unfolds. The relationships are complex, and Lee, the main protagonist, conflicted about many things. Damaged by the past, she focuses on her son and the good in her life, but as her past surfaces, she needs to confront it to heal.
Believable characters, a vibrant setting and festive events keep the reader entertained. This is an immersive and at times claustrophobic story but the festive customs and strong friendships counteract the angst, and the ending is a satisfying conclusion.
The world is waiting…but just outside of your comfort zone.
Jo Campbell is perfectly content in a perfectly structured life. Nothing ever changes in Jo’s life, and she likes it that way. Or at least, she tells herself she does. Most of the time, she manages to push down the tiny voice that tells her to chase her dream and maybe, just maybe, open her battered and bruised heart up to love. But to chase her dreams she needs to take chances that are way out of her comfort zone and learn to not put other people’s happiness above her own. Most of all she has to learn to trust her heart, which may just be the biggest challenge of all.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely feel-good story about having the confidence to follow your dreams. Jo is a writer, but she’s wary of sharing her work, in case it’s not good enough. Her family and friends are supportive, but she has to win an internal battle with herself to be truly happy. The story is set in Derry in Northern Ireland and has an intrinsic authenticity because if the author’s knowledge of the people and place.
The family and friends dynamics are believable, and the world created relatably. The romance is conflicted and gentle full of internal and external conflict. The plot is interesting and has an expected twist.
This is the second book in the series, but it’s a complete story and an enjoyable, easy read.
Extract from In Pursuit of Happiness – Freya Kennedy
The pop of the champagne bottle made Jo Campbell jump, even though she’d watched her foster brother, Noah, as he started to twist the cork slowly, and had anticipated the noise that would follow.
Her nerves were on edge, and fizzed just like the bubbly liquid that was being poured into delicate long-stemmed champagne flutes. The hum and chatter of the guests assembled in the next room made her feel giddy. So giddy, in fact, that she downed the better part of her glass of bubbles in one go, prompting her mother to warn her to slow down.
‘But, Mum,’ she said, ‘I’m really, really nervous. What if everyone hates it? What if it bombs and the only reviews that come are one-star assassinations? What if not a single person buys it?’ She didn’t so much as have butterflies in her stomach as giant killer moths – if such a thing existed.
Her mother put down her own almost empty glass. ‘Josephine Campbell. Calm yourself, my wee love. Everyone will love it. Why wouldn’t they? It’s brilliant, and you’re brilliant.’
‘But you are duty-bound to say that. You’re my mammy. Even if it was the worst book in the world, you’d still tell me it was brilliant,’ Jo said.
Her mother, a woman who had raised three children of her own, adopted another and fostered countless more over the years, gave Jo a snippy look. ‘I would not! I’ve always been honest with you and I’m not going to change now. Besides, it’s published. It wouldn’t be if it was rubbish!’
‘She’s right you know,’ Libby Quinn, one of Jo’s dearest friends and the proprietor of Once Upon A Book in Ivy Lane, told her. ‘You’re good. Actually you’re great. This is your moment, so enjoy it. The shop is full and everyone is on your side.’
Libby smiled her usual warm, inviting smile and Jo watched as Noah put his arm around his new fiancée’s shoulder and kissed her on the cheek. They made a lovely couple – Libby and Noah. But then she’d always known that from the moment Libby Quinn had arrived in The Ivy Inn soaked to the skin and covered in grime just over a year earlier. She’d known almost instantly they would be a great pair, and once they had finally admitted their feelings towards each other they had become almost inseparable. Just thinking about Noah’s hearts and flowers proposal brought tears to Jo’s eyes, and it wasn’t that she was jealous. Although if she was honest with herself, she would admit she was.
‘Damn it,’ Jo said, downing the rest of her glass while ignoring her mother’s disapproving looks. ‘I’m not going to cry, I’ll never live it down!’
‘Everyone knows you’re soft as butter, Jo. I wouldn’t worry about it,’ Noah said. He was right, of course, she was as soft as butter on a warm day, but she had more reason than normal to be emotional.
Posters of Jo’s debut novel, The Lies WeTell, lined the walls, replete with official author pictures, in which she looked sultry and serious and not her usual gregarious self.
In that moment, Jo felt a swell of pride and achievement. This was her moment. She’d finally done it. Written a book and had it published. And now she was going to enjoy this launch in her beloved home town of Derry in the north of Ireland.
Her little sister, Clara, a self-declared princess, danced in circles around Jo’s feet, enjoying the tulle monstrosity of a dress she had insisted on wearing for the occasion. It was over the top, Jo conceded, but Clara had her big sister tightly wrapped around her little finger.
And all her friends were there. Harry from the corner shop. The regulars of The Ivy Inn, which she was part owner of along with Noah. Her godmother, Auntie Mags, and even Erin, her most trusted confidante. They all grinned at her as if she was a graceful bride about to glide down the aisle.
So far the launch had been everything she had hoped for: copies of her books on the shelves, friends and family sharing the moment and champagne galore. There was just one final ingredient – the icing on the cake: the celebrity guest. Libby had made it her mission to find someone famous to do the launching honours – someone instantly recognisable, but she had refused to tell Jo who it would be.
‘It’s good,’ Libby had said. ‘It’s someone really good.’
Jo hoped it was someone who would suit the gravitas of the launch – and the seriousness of the book she had written. She’d poured years of writing and learning and rewriting and relearning into making this debut, and she had great dreams that one of her writing heroes, maybe Liz Nugent or Liane Moriarty, or local bestseller Brian McGilloway, would do the honours.
When the crowd parted, Jo swore loudly as she saw a life-sized Peppa Pig holding a copy of her book, while Clara squealed with delighted at the superstar guest.
Freya Kennedy lives in Derry, Northern Ireland, with her husband, two children, two cats and a mad dog called Izzy. She worked as a journalist for eighteen years before deciding to write full time. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her nieces and nephews, cleaning up after her children (a lot) and telling her dog that she loves her.
She has met Michael Buble and even kissed him. It was one of her best ever moments.
She believes in happy ever afters.
Freya Kennedy is a pen name for Claire Allan, who also writes psychological thrillers.
This time last year, if anyone had told Livvie Weatherill she’d have fallen in love and would be making plans for her Christmas wedding to Zander Gillespie, she would have laughed in their face. If they’d gone on to say they’d be planning to have their wedding at the imposing Danskelfe Castle, she’d have laughed even louder!
But it would seem fate had plans for her…
Since moving to the pretty moorland village of Lytell Stangdale Livvie is happier than she’s ever been. She’s living with Zander and she’s working at her dream job as a wedding dress designer at Romantique with her friends, Kitty and Violet. It’s fair to say, she’s enjoying immersing herself in village life, from romantic walks in the countryside, to meeting friends at the quaint Sunne Inne. And she can’t think of anything better than rounding off the day cosying up with Zander.
Life is sweet.
Her blossoming friendship with Freda Easton, the endearing but reclusive elderly lady who lives down the lane, has taken everyone by surprise. But Freda has a secret and, in a turn of events no one could predict, she finds herself grateful for Livvie’s fierce loyalty, cementing their friendship further.
Just when things seem to be running smoothly, a face from the past arrives on the doorstep casting a shadow over Livvie’s wedding plans. Adding to the drama, an icy blast of Arctic air brings heavy snowfall to the village, covering the moors in a thick blanket of snow.
Is their love strong enough to withstand the challenges thrown at them? Will they get their magical Christmas wedding?
Join Livvie and Zander – and all the usual characters – for a sparkling Christmas full of love and laughter in Lytell Stangdale.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is my first encounter with the villagers of Lytell Stangdale, and they certainly made me welcome. Great friendships, community-spirited and gossipy villagers, and an invitation to a romantic wedding at a castle.
The romance, and wedding planning and festive touches make this an easy and enjoyable read, but reality kicks in with a mystery to solve and conflict between the engaged couple. There’s a wonderfully portrayed labrador, adding to the story’s heartwarming quality.
If you haven’t read the others in the series do because I felt that I was missing out.
Eliza is proud to be a member of the RNA. She lives in a village in the North Yorkshire Moors with her husband, their two daughters and two mischievous black Labradors. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book/glued to her Kindle or working in her garden, fighting a losing battle against the weeds.
When she’s not reading or gardening, Eliza also enjoys bracing walks in the countryside, rounded off by a visit to a teashop where she can indulge in another two of her favourite things: tea and cake.
Her biggest weakness is ginger biscuits dunked in tea.
Eliza is inspired by her beautiful surroundings and loves to write heartwarming romance stories with relatable female characters. She enjoys exploring the dynamics of female friendship, with a key feature of her books being how women pull together and support one another when things get tough.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an engaging story about friendship, families and following your dreams set in a Dorset coastal vista. Sam is a great best friend as Abby finds when she turns up on her doorstep heartbroken and pregnant. Sam’s day job as an audio typist is a means to an end. It’s her hobby job as a dog walker and animal sitter that gives her the life she aspires to. Finding the ideal man doesn’t even make her wishlist after her latest heartbreak, but this story shows that following your dreams can lead to some surprising benefits.
Friendship is the predominant theme in this story, but gentle romance makes a lasting impact as Sam’s story progresses. The romantic male lead is not at all stereotypical, which adds authenticity to this heartwarming story. There are lots of lovely characters all believably flawed and one or two eccentrics that given the story its vivacity. The protagonists are older, which reflects contemporary society well.
This is a story about ordinary folks in everyday situations, but their friendship and love are extraordinary. This quality shines through, in insightful, and sensitive writing, making this an escapist, and uplifting book to read.
Extract from Moonlight Over Studland Bay – Della Galton
Sam Jones was beginning to feel a great deal more stressed than she had when she had left Beach Cottage, her home overlooking Studland Bay in one of the most beautiful spots in Dorset, fifteen minutes earlier. Her hands felt slippery on the steering wheel. It was hot for June, plus annoyingly a section of her long dark hair had escaped from its butterfly clip and was flicking round her face as she drove. This was because all of the car windows were down. Abby, who was half sitting, half lying on the back seat, had said she needed the air.
‘Can’t you drive any bloody faster, Sam? I’m in agony here.’
She glanced in the rear view mirror and saw that her best friend and housemate – they’d met in year seven and had been inseparable ever since – was thrashing about. Her head was thrown back, her white blonde hair fanned out against the headrest and her flushed face was screwed up in a very good impression of someone in agony. But, as Abby was prone to exaggeration, if not a full-on drama queen, Sam was nowhere near as worried as she might otherwise have been.
Sometimes she thought the only thing she and Abby now had in common was the fact they were both thirty-six. They had been born exactly a month apart – Sam on 10 May and Abby on 10 June. A month had a lot to answer for in astrology terms. Not that Sam put as much faith in astrology as Abby did. This morning, Abby’s Three-Word Fun Horoscope, which she read every day on her app, had said, ‘Don’t go yet’. Abby, as ever, had put her faith in that until she couldn’t hold off any longer, which is why they were racing along in the car now.
‘Honey, half an hour ago you didn’t want to come,’ Sam pointed out gently. ‘You were dead set on having a home birth. And I can’t drive any faster, it won’t do us any good if I crash.’ Also, she was worried about the two mousetraps, both of which contained live mice, which she’d just remembered were on the back seat of the car in a brown paper bag. The traps were shut, but if they tipped off the seat they might open and release their cargo and Abby was terrified of mice. If there was one thing worse than having a pain-ridden Abby in labour in her car, it was having a pain-ridden and panic-stricken Abby in labour in her car.
Sam knew she should have moved the humane mousetraps before they’d set out, but in all the panic of racing around the house gathering up all the stuff that Abby hadn’t bothered packing because ‘no way am I having an unnatural hospital birth,’ it had slipped her mind that they were there. Fortunately they hadn’t been in situ very long; she had planned to release the occupants in the woods on her way back to get Abby, before she’d realised quite how urgent things had become.
Della Galton is the author of 15 books, including Ice and a Slice. She writes short stories, teaches writing groups and is Agony Aunt for Writers Forum Magazine. She lives in Dorset. Della’s new fiction series launched with Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff in May 2020.
It’s been a year since Lottie’s fiancé walked out, leaving her heartbroken. But things start to look up when she lands her dream job at a beautiful Lake District estate, with a handsome groundskeeper for a neighbour.
So when Lottie is asked to organise a last minute Christmas wedding at Firholme, she can’t wait to get started. Until she meets the couple, and discovers that Connor, the man who broke her heart, is the groom-to-be.
As snow falls on the hills, can Lottie put aside her past to organise the perfect winter wedding? And will there be any festive magic left to bring Lottie the perfect Christmas she deserves?
Curl up with this gorgeous story about love and second chances.
I received a copy of this book and audiobook from Avon Books UK and Harper Collins Audio UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I’ve read lots of this author’s books, but this is the first I’ve listened to as an audiobook. Rather than Cornwall, the setting for this story is Cumbria one of my favourite places, so I couldn’t wait to start listening. This is a story of betrayal, forgiveness and second chances with a surprising festive wedding. Not wanting to give away the plot suffice it to say not all surprises are welcome.
Lottie is working as an event planner at a Cumbrian country house. Planning her first wedding causes conflict in her personal and professional lives, ultimately it makes her realise, some truths about herself and her previous relationship. Jay appears unsocial, but he has trust issues when it comes to relationships, something that stands between his and Lottie’s happiness.
The story has some lovely festive touches, and the romance is conflicted, but rewarding. There is also a poignantly relevant sub-plot about Lottie’s sister, which shows the importance of their sisterly bond and is a particularly heartwarming part of the story.
The characters are vibrant and wonderfully flawed, and they are brought to life, convincingly, by the excellent narrator. Not all the characters are easy to like, particularly Connor and his fiancee Keegan. The story has a good plot for an audiobook with lots of characters and dialects. The narrator is professional and copes well with the different accents and characters.
If you are looking for a festive read with family and forgiveness at its heart with ripples of romance, and humour this is a perfect read.