Family means everything to Lily and Zinnia Cortez and, growing up in their non-conventional family unit, they and their two mums couldn’t have been closer.
So it’s a bolt out of the blue when Lily finds her father wasn’t the anonymous one-night stand she’s always believed. She is, in fact, the result of her mum’s reckless affair with a married man.
Confused, but determined to discover her true roots, Lily sets out to find the family she’s never known – an adventure that takes her from the frosted, thatched cottages of Middledip to the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, via a Christmas market or two along the way…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I’m starting to get in the festive vibe now, well it is the last day of September, and this story is a festive gem. The conflicted romance between two likeable protagonists, Lily and Issac, is at the heart of this story. Rather like a festive ‘pass the parcel’, it has so many layers, with a surprise every time you peel one-off.
There is a family drama, as Lily’s search for the other half of her family, raises hidden secrets in the other half. There tumultuous consequences. for Lily, Zinnia and their mothers. This story is wonderfully contemporary, internet dating and same-sex relationships are interwoven into the complex plot, which adds to the story’s authenticity.
A significant part of the story takes place in Switzerland, where Lily and some of the villagers, take their choir to deliver some quintessentially British Christmas cheer. This is where the title really comes into its own, The ambience, food and scenery are beautifully vivid.
The darker themes explored in this story are a good contrast to the festive frivolity and fun, It reads perfectly as a standalone, even though it features characters from the Middledip series.
The perfect book to get you in the festive mood. With family, friends and sparkling romance wrapped beautifully in a snow covered world.
Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. She’s won a Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award and been nominated for others, including a ‘RoNA’ (Romantic Novel Award). Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice-chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and editor of its two anthologies.
She also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.
The daughter of two soldiers, Sue was born in Germany and went on to spend much of her childhood in Malta and Cyprus. She likes reading, Zumba, FitStep, yoga, and watching Formula 1.
Except for Daisy Christmas means another of Uncle
T’s dreaded Christmas parties, complete with Christmas jumper and flashing
antlers. And Oliver Cartwright. Gorgeous Oliver Cartwright. Who she
Every year Daisy has to face insufferable Ollie and
hear all about how BRILLIANT he is. Whereas Daisy has no job, no man and
no idea how to fix things.
This Christmas however Daisy is determined things will be different. There will be no snogging Ollie under the mistletoe like when they were teenagers. No, this year she’ll show Ollie that she’s a Responsible Adult too.
But as the champagne corks pop, and the tinsel sparkles, Uncle T has news of his own to share…and it could change Daisy’s life forever…
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter in return for an honest review.
A lovely emotional life journey with amusing and heartwarming family interaction, romance, laugh out loud moments and some life-altering poignant events and secrets. Christmas is the time when families and friends come together, not always successfully. Everything is intensified during the festive period,
Daisy’s story, as the title suggests, is told over four Christmases, focusing on an annual Christmas Eve party, at her honorary uncle’s bookshop and her interactions with Ollie. her friend since childhood.
The plot is well-paced. and the secrets are successfully interwoven into the story for dramatic impact, but it’s the characters who make this special.
Daisy is lovely, self-effacing. and easy to like. She is comparable to the ‘Bridget Jones’ character, as she draws you into her life, and lets you experience the lows, high and outrageousness of it. The cast of characters are also believable and vital, they are so well -written, it is easy to visual them.
The beauty of this book is its vivid imagery, as I read, I can see the scene playing out and the characters within it, and this makes it addictive, easy reading. Whilst, Christmas is an important element in the book, it is not just a festive read.
This is a journey of self-realisation for Daisy, significant events turn her into someone who lets things happen because she doesn’t feel worthy enough to stop them. As the story progresses. through the four Christmases, so does her self-development and character maturity. It’s this that makes this a heartwarming, satisfying read, with the bonus of romance, friendship, laughter and tears.
Zara Stoneley is the USA Today bestselling author of ‘The Wedding Date’.
She lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.
Born in a small village in the UK, Zara wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. After many (many) years and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true. She now writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.
Zara’s bestselling novels include ‘Bridesmaids’, ‘No One Cancels Christmas’, ‘The Wedding Date’, ‘The Holiday Swap’, ‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’, ‘Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage’ and the popular Tippermere series – ‘Stable Mates’, ‘Country Affairs’ and ‘Country Rivals’.
It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is
rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on
her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss,
Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country
So together, they draft an unexpected
Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s
families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking
Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of
the mince pies have been eaten…?
Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols, something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!
I received a copy of this book from Aria in return for an honest review.
Mistletoe historically conjures up images of the festive season, and romance for me, and this story beginning and ending with Christmas has plenty of magical mistletoe and romantic kisses.
Leesa and Cary are returning to the UK from a business trip in Australia. Both are career-driven, but whilst Cary reels off his criticisms in the comfort of first-class, Leesa is struggling to survive amidst a boisterous toddler and a lady determined to sort out her cavernous handbag. Battered and a little bruised both mentally and physically she plots her revenge. Then he takes the wind out of her sails, by offering her much needed sustenance, and a surprisingly pleasant insight, into his closely guarded personality. Stranded by uncharacteristically festive weather, Leesa accepts an invitation that leads to something unexpected.
I always find Lucy’s books heartwarming, insightful and romantic, and this one is all of these, with a festive twist. There are lots of characters, and sub-plots, which add depth to the story, and provide clever insight into the emotional baggage Leesa and Cary carry around. There is a good use of the fake date trope and slow-burning passion building between the couple, who are so successful in their professional lives to the exclusion of their personal happiness.
Fate and festive magic play their part in this complex romance, which begins and ends at a magical time of year.
Guest Post – Inspiration for my stories – Lucy coleman
It’s so lovely to be back again, Jane – thank you so much
for the invite! As an author yourself, I’m sure this topic is one you
experience all the time, too!
One of the first questions people ask when they are
introduced to an author is ‘where do you find the inspiration for your
Mine usually come as a one-liner thought and I always carry
a notebook and pen as things will spring into my head when I’m in the car,
queuing in the supermarket and especially when out walking.
I have a folder full of jottings because that one-liner is just the initial spark. What usually happens, is that by the time I’m ready to pick it up and develop it, there will be a pile of little notes clipped together.
One such spark was triggered by a
photograph I saw of Lisbon. This time it was the setting that was going to
inspire the story and as my husband and I headed off for a four-day research
trip, the two main characters were already introducing themselves to me.
Now I’m not a plotter, so the story reveals itself to me as I
get to know the characters. It’s a fun way to write. But sitting on the plane
that day, I didn’t really know what this story was going to be about.
We dumped our suitcases with barely a glance at our gorgeous
hotel room and off we went to explore. We chose a hotel that was only a
ten-minute walk from Cristo Rei – the majestic statue of Christ, similar to the
ones in Brazil and Bolivia. Even though it was on the opposite side of the
river to the town and in a quieter setting, it was top of my must-see list.
That afternoon as we did the uphill climb, I was buzzing and
as I stood looking up at the statue the story was there, in my head. As my
husband went exploring, I sat in the little café making copious notes. We went
there every day after other sight-seeing trips, and it was the last place we
visited before it was time to leave for the airport.
For the first time ever, I have pages of conversation between the characters. On each visit, I saw my characters walking around as if they were really there and I took hundreds of photos so I will be able to spirit myself back to that time and place.
When I returned home, I simply wanted to sit down and write
the story, but other work in the pipeline had to be completed and two other
books edited, first. I’m currently writing my 2020 Christmas book, then one
more little project and Lisbon here I come.
I usually write about locations I know well from previous travels and it’s rare for a location to grab me as Lisbon did, simply from a shot, I saw on TV. Having said that… maybe there’s a pattern developing. In October I’m off to a monastery in Spain after a random idea popped into my head.
That’s the trouble with listening to your imagination – it
knows no bounds!
Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been shortlisted in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.
When Jenny inherits her estranged grandmother’s cottage in Sherwood Forest, she has nothing to lose – no money, no job, no friends, no family to speak of, and zero self-respect. Things can only get better…
Her grumpy, but decidedly handsome new neighbour, Mack, has a habit of bestowing unsolicited good deeds on her. And when Jenny is welcomed into a rather unusual book club, life seems to finally be getting more interesting.
Instead of reading, the members pledge to complete individual challenges before Christmas: from finding new love, learning to bake, to completing a daredevil bucket list. Jenny can’t resist joining in, and soon a year of friendship and laughter, tears and regrets unfold in the most unexpected ways.
Warm, wise, funny and utterly uplifting, what one thing would you change in your life before Christmas comes around?
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review
Jenny sees the rundown cottage, she’s inherited from a Grandmother, she hardly knew, as a lifeline from her imploding life. Romance, family and career disintegrate just before Christmas and she needs somewhere to heal and start again.
The cottage has issues and on first acquaintance seems to reflect her shattered life, but with help from the village community, she starts to repair both. There are lots of great characters in this story, the villagers and the members of the unusual Christmas book club are believable and in most cases lovely.
Romance realistically isn’t the focus of this story, but where it occurs, it is gentle and born out of friendship. The festive atmosphere is evident and given a quirky twist by the Christmas book club.
Humorous, poignant, with a romantic sparkle, this is a good festive read, that leaves you with a warm Christmassy feeling.
Author Interview – Beth Moran – Christmas Every Day
Do you enjoy writing festive stories? If so why?
Christmas Every Day is the first festive story I’ve written, but as my other books are spread over several months, I always make sure I include some lovely Christmassy scenes. It’s one of my favourite times of the year, so I have great fun creating the warm, joyful atmosphere, and of course, it’s always a time when something magical might happen!
Festive stories are often written out of season, to fit in with publishing schedules, how do you get in the festive mood in the Summertime?
I wrote a lot of the festive scenes for Christmas Every Day in a summer heatwave. To get in the mood I listened to Christmas music in my car, guaranteeing I ended up with a festive tune stuck in my head! I drink a lot of tea while writing, so I swapped to spicy chai tea with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg in my favourite Christmassy mug. It was also a great excuse to spend ages admiring a lot of beautiful decorations, trees and all things festive on Pinterest!
What inspired you to write this story?
wanted to write about someone who had grown up in a cold, unfeeling family and
ended up becoming part of one that was the complete opposite – warm, noisy,
chaotic and bursting with love. I also walk a lot in Sherwood Forest, and had
this picture in my head of a run-down, ramshackle cottage in the middle of the
trees, and wondered how a woman would cope if she suddenly found herself living
someone who loves books, I could easily spend way too much time reading about
other people’s stories, rather than getting out there to live some stories of
my own, so that was how the Christmas Book Club Challenge came about. But all
that is just for starters – like any writer I’m nosy, and always picking up new
ideas or overhearing snippets of conversation that get me thinking. I used to
carry a pen and paper to jot down interesting ideas as they came to me, but now
I just add them to the dozens of notes on my phone.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
My books are mainly set in and around Sherwood Forest where I live – I think for me to write with authenticity I need to stick to places I know, and my life doesn’t currently allow for many research trips elsewhere! So usually it starts with a plot idea – how would someone react to this happening to them, or what if someone did this. Then I start asking a lot of questions about who this person is, and who they might meet, and what would happen next, and it goes on from there. I got the inspiration for my first novel, Making Marion, while I was camping in France. I had a random thought about how a campsite would be a great place for a wounded woman to hide away and heal for a while. I then start wondering about this person – who is she, and what is she running from? – and took it from there.
What are the best things about Christmas for you? Is there anything about the festive season you don’t like? Why is this?
so much about Christmas! These days, one of the best things is that my two
eldest children come home from university, so the house becomes full of noise
and laughter again. I’m a huge foodie, so really enjoy planning meals, shopping
for ingredients and then cooking and baking it all. On Christmas Eve my mum and
sister-in-law come over with my nieces, and we chop vegetables, make stuffing
and do all the other prep for Christmas dinner for 10 people, while the cousins
hang out together. So – I suppose food and family, and all our quirky
traditions that have built up around them are the best things. I think the only
thing I don’t like is all the mess afterwards!
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
As a writer, I try to read a variety of different genres. I grew up reading my dad’s crime and thriller books and was a real Tolkien geek. Since then I’ve broadened into women’s fiction – I love how Cathy Lamb and Kristan Higgins write books that make you laugh one page and cry the next. I also became a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books several years ago – I love the detailed history, and how she’s written a powerful love story that takes places over several decades. Of course, I love a good festive read, and every December treat myself to Karen Swan’s new Christmas book. Generally speaking, I will give most things a go as long as they don’t leave me feeling too depressed afterwards!
What are the best and worst things about being a writer? Why?
best thing is when other people let me know how much they’ve enjoyed one of my
books. One of my greatest treats in life is discovering a new author who keeps
me reading far too late into the night because I can’t put a book down, those
books that make our hearts swell and our spirits soar. Knowing that what
started out as a hopeful jumble of ideas in my head has become one of those
books for someone else is priceless, and such a huge joy. I consider myself
very blessed to get to do this for a living.
The worst thing is probably the inevitable moments of doubt. I take months to write the first draft, and in all that time no-one else reads the book apart from me, so when I hit a plot snag, or a character won’t behave themselves, it can be easy to get discouraged. That’s when the messages from people telling me they love my books become so helpful in motivating me to stop faffing about on the internet and get back on it!
What are you currently writing?
currently writing a book about someone who as a teenager was a sporting
celebrity, and then gave it all up for a man who promptly dumped her. She’s
spent thirteen years raising her son alone while battling agoraphobia and
crippling shame, but thanks to a scary invitation, a fabulous running club and
a very lovely personal trainer, things are about to change…
Beth Moran is the author of three previous books, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest.
For once, Kate Peters would like a happy, family Christmas; the kind of Christmas seen in the movies. She wants harmony and happiness, smiling, glowing faces, tables groaning with food, carol singing around the tree. She wants love, kindness, and goodwill to all men, especially in her own house.
What she doesn’t want is drama. Absolutely no drama, whatsoever.
But what she gets is three stroppy children, two equally stroppy grandmothers, a husband who can’t manage to change a lightbulb, and Pepe the poodle.
It’s no wonder she feels unappreciated, overworked, and ignored. At the end of her tinsel-coated tether, and with the only Christmas spirit being in the form of a bottle of raspberry gin, Kate decides to leave them to it, and see how they manage without her.
A quiet little hotel somewhere near the sea, where she can pretend Christmas doesn’t exist, is just the thing she needs. Isn’t it?
Liz Davies writes feel-good, light-hearted stories with a hefty dose of romance, a smattering of humour, and a great deal of love.
She’s married to her best friend, has one grown-up daughter, and when she isn’t scribbling away in the notepad she carries with her everywhere (just in case inspiration strikes), you’ll find her searching for that perfect pair of shoes. She loves to cook but isn’t very good at it, and loves to eat – she’s much better at that! Liz also enjoys walking (preferably on the flat), cycling (also on the flat), and lots of sitting around in the garden on warm, sunny days.
She currently lives with her family in Wales, but would ideally love to buy a camper van and travel the world in it. TwitterFacebook
What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?
Unlucky in love Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling Notting Hill house‐share with four strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but as far as Jess is concerned, the connection is instant. She lets herself imagine how their relationship will grow over the following year.
But when Jess returns from a Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else – beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams… and the woman of his.
Jess is determined to move on and survive the next twelve months… but love has a way of hampering even the best-laid plans…
Set over the course of one life‐changing year, this is the most uplifting and moving love story of 2019.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
So, my first festive book this year is ‘We Met In December’, to be strictly accurate, although Christmas features in this story at the beginning and at the end, it follows Jess and Alex’s emotional journey, month by month, after their initial meeting in December. Both are emotionally scarred from failed relationships, and childhoods, that were less than ideal, and so a serious romantic relationship is not what either is looking for.
When they meet in December, as new housemates in a household where a firm house rule is no couples, they ignore their initial attraction, both believing it is one-sided. Jess focuses on her new career and her two best friends. Alex focuses on his new vocation as a nurse, but he can’t resist a non-relationship with another housemate Emma.
The friendship that develops between Alex and Jess is gentle and lovely, they explore London together and find out what makes each other tick, but romance is denied by both of them. The travelogue through London is vividly portrayed and adds extra depth to the story.
Told from two points of view, there is a sense of dramatic irony. The reader knows what each character is feeling, but they are both in ignorance of the other’s regard. Most of the conflict to the romance is internal, from their past emotional baggage, but other well-meaning people provide external conflict, and you do wonder if they will be able to see, and more importantly act on what is right in front of them.
This is a lighthearted relationship story with a festive ambience. The ending is so romantic and leaves you with a heartwarming feeling.
Laurie is pretty sure love, at first sight, doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus.
Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?
As a believer in serendipity, this book blurb appeals, and even though it’s more about life choices rather than fate, this magical story makes a lovely festive read.
Laurie, in her early twenties, is still looking for the perfect job, working as a hotel receptionist pays the bills but doesn’t fulfil her journalist potential. Travelling across London at Christmas time she makes eye contact with a similarly aged man sitting at the bus stop, they share a moment and so the story begins.
The reader shares Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s day, her birthday and other memorable events for the next decade. Jack and Laurie are in and out of each other’s lives after their first fateful meeting but are they destined for a happy ever after and who will lose out if they are?
This story flows from year to year, reflecting the seasons and the emotional changes in Laurie, Jack and their friends and family. Romance, humour and poignant moments resonate as their lives’ move on, with believable quirks of fate that inexplicably draw them back together.
The tenth year is iconic for everyone. Jack and Laurie finally face their destiny but will they make it happen or watch it drift away. The final chapters laced with festive spirit and heartwarmingly romantic, give this charmingly addictive story the ending it deserves.
A festive tale with a difference, and an enjoyable read whatever the season.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.