For Ava Bliss, it’s going to be a Christmas to remember …
On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.
Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.
So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…
This isn’t your usual festive tale, although Christmas cheer, or the lack of it is integral to the story. The concept is original. Ava is struggling to make her hat-making business pay, fending off unwanted attention from her ex and trying to rise above her ingrained dislike of Christmas. Enough conflict for a festive tale? Perhaps, but there’s even more in this complex story. Ava ‘s trust is abused, pushing her emotional limits to breaking point. The story focuses on important, relevant issues, which are the downside of our digital age.
Well developed, realistic characters define this story. Ava is easy to empathise with and the perfect women’s fiction heroine. Sam is attractive both in terms of his physical attributes and personality. He is the ‘good guy’ but not without his flaws, which threaten any chance he may have with Ava.
There are enticing twists in the plot that make this a page turner. The pacing is right for a women’s fiction book, steady rather than fast paced. There is a phenomenal amount of detail, ranging from how to make a couture hat, to how to run a viral social media campaign. Although this sometimes slows the pace, it is vital for the story’s authenticity.
Poignant moments are plentiful and there is a lovely romantic thread contrasting cleverly with the sometimes, sordid backlash of an intimate relationship. Despite the rollercoaster emotions and the seriousness of some of the plot themes, this story is an absorbing, easy read, set at lovely festive time of the year.
There is also an intriguing glimpse of the author’s next book, which I look forward to reading, next year.
I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Lucy, hi. It’s Tom. How are you? It’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to get in touch but it’s hard to know how to after so much time. I hear you’re doing really well up there. I knew you would be.
You should come here, you know, back to Hideaway bay. Come and see everyone, see how little it’s all changed. Feel the sand between your toes, the Cornish sea breeze on your face. When the sun hits the surf in that way it does, it’s as magical as ever.
That’s why I’m writing to you, actually. I want to get the gang back together again, one last time before…well…just one last time. You should come too. The four of us, a summer on the beach, like old times. We all want you here for it. I want you here for it. It’s been so long since I saw you.
I still think about you.
This story gets better with every page you read. The first few chapters, authentically set in London’s celebrity and media culture, highlight Lucy’s superficial character. Lucy‘s self destruction imminent, as she seeks the ultimate career high.
There are references to drug taking, which I disliked but this are important indicators of Lucy’s deterioration and the culture she is part of. Similarly, smoking is a legacy of her teenage.
Flashback chapters in Hideaway Bay feature teenage Lucy and introduce the other three friends, who are linchpins of this story. Lucy wants to escape the seaside town, even though most people would love to live there. The phrase ‘you don’t know what you’ve have until it’s gone’, comes to mind.
This story has plenty of surprises that inform Lucy’s current emotional state. The cast of characters both in Hideaway Bay and London are vivid and believable. For me, it is the last quarter of the story that tugs at the heartstrings. The twist is unexpected and poignant. You really care because the characters are like old friends by this time.
Well written women’s fiction, a lovely balance of humour, romance, sadness and secrets in a charming seaside setting.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
THE GIRL WITH DIAMONDS by Savannah Blevins
Midtown Brotherhood Series #2
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Purple wig, red lips, and a flirty smile—those are the only things Austin Blakely remembers when he wakes up tied to his bed…
It’s Austin’s job as the enforcer for the New York Rangers hockey team to strike fear in the hearts of grown men. But if Manhattan’s notorious gossip magazine, The Whisperer, catches wind of his dating fail—or worse, took a picture of him in his compromised state—his reputation and career could be ruined.
Magnolia Cross is still running from rumors that robbed her of the interview of a lifetime…
Intern reporter for the Madison Square Garden news affiliate isn’t Magnolia’s idea of a dream job. She doesn’t even like hockey. But it’s experience on-air, and that’s what counts. After a prank-gone-wrong leaves her stripped of her Valedictorian title, she loses her initial chance at making it big. But now she’s stronger and smarter, and won’t let trust issues screw her out of her chance for success—again.
One bad interview and two million YouTube hits later, Magnolia is a media sensation—for all the wrong reasons…
Stupid Austin Blakely with his cocky smile and hockey lingo gibberish. After he embarrasses her on national television in the name of harmless flirting, Magnolia vows never to interview him again. Except avoiding Austin is easier said than done.
It isn’t long before Magnolia discovers the real source of Austin’s fears. It’s all about the seductress in the purple wig—unless it’s about the pictures she stole that could change all their lives forever…
‘The Girl with Diamonds’ is a lovely young, fresh romance with a sport setting.
Ambitious, intern reporter Magnolia and popular Ice Hockey player Austin get off to a rocky start but Magnolia leaves a lasting impression and Austin is compelled to gain her forgiveness so he can get to know her better. Austin and Magnolia both have secrets that could ruin their careers and their potential relationship; only by trusting each other can they succeed.
There are a few surprises, lots of humour and plenty of romance in this fast paced story, which is the second in the series but reads well as a standalone. Magnolia and Austin’s characters are well developed. The Midtown players, Magnolia’s press colleagues and family enhance the story’s vivacity and realism.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Savannah was born in Hyden, Kentucky. She received her M.S in Speech Language Pathology from The University of Mississippi in 2009. She’s been writing since the early age of nine when she begged her parents for a type writer for Christmas.
She now lives in Corbin, Ky with her husband of eight years, John, and their two wonderful daughters, Delilah and Gracie.
When she isn’t working, or running after her kids, she spends her free time traveling the country with her husband. There is nothing better than a day of football in the grove, a late night of basketball at Rupp Arena or slapping the glass to celebrate another Washington Capitals goal.
She is a strong believer that with enough hard work and determination you can accomplish anything.