Merrily Ever After – Cathy Bramley

It wouldn’t be Christmas unless I read Christmas books from certain authors – and a Cathy Bramley one is always near the top of the pile. I do not even read the synopsis, I just plunged right in. And as I did I was back in familiar territory as it is a book that follows on from The Merry Christmas Project. You can read as a standalone with enough back story to get you through, but why would you want to when you can completely indulge in all things Christmassy and read them both.

Here Merry, is happily settled with Cole and a surprise proposal and a very quickly planned wedding for Christmas Eve, sees Merry in a complete spin. How can she find the time to organise everything and have the wedding she wants whilst also bonding with Cole’s two children when it is clear they have other ideas about their young lives. On top of all that, Merry’s candle business is taking off and the orders are outstripping the manpower, she is relying too much on one person who should be taking it easy. Help is there but will Merry accept it?

Not one to shy away from the realities of life, we are introduced to Emily, struggling to cope with her previous work due to her fathers decline into dementia she takes a less stressful job, but even that now is beginning to become too much. With no one to discuss the decision about what to do with her father with her, her boyfriend has upped and left, her best friend is far away and her mother is no longer married to him, she make the decision that for his own safety he must go in a home.

When moving her father, she discovers a photograph of him at Christmas, it gladdens her heart. But the photograph is bringing stress to him and when Emily shows her mother, she seems to harden her heart to what she sees? Is there something Emily doesn’t know?

Although having never met, Merry and Emily cross paths over a few weeks at some interesting points within both their storylines. Of course there is a reason for this, and whilst it adds to the romance of the novel, the realities of finding out about your past and dealing with a relative who is ill is all consuming. Cathy Bramley handles it with such care that my heart was bursting with joy as much as my eyes were filling with tears because of the situations.

It was great to be back with these characters and I hope we go back again as the community feel, the settings and the plot devices are so wonderful that this book was just like a big Christmas hug!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Merrily Ever After is out now.


Keeping a Christmas Promise – Jo Thomas

Iceland is on my bucket list and seeing the Northern Lights even more so, but until that day I can make do with the wonderful new book from Jo Thomas.

Laura, Freya, Meg, Joanne all created their own bucket list when they were much younger and now they are here in Iceland eventually to tick one off. Expect, they are all much older and Laura is no longer with them, her dying wish was for them to still carry on without her. And whilst they have, life it seems has got in the way. Getting them to Iceland was the first challenge.

And it seems there is more to face.

Poor food, weather warnings, no lights and then an avalanche mean this short sojourn is about to be a lot longer. Trapped in an Icelandic village, the three women have to embrace the weather, village life and their own shortcomings.

However this unexpected turn of events leaves them reflecting on what they have lost and what they have to look forward to. It seems the magic of the village, the community and the wonder and beauty of nature have healing properties for them all.

Starting to know Thomas writing, there is a wealth of descriptive food to make your mouth water, that I could have rushed out and ate copious amounts of smoked salmon! The landscape and the environment is very much a feature and the effect that progress can have on such a thing is also brought into sharp relief when the village nearly loses one of it’s own.

Whilst a festive read, this book tackles issues of grief, blending families, moving on and living your best life for yourself and no one else. As always so much packed into the pages, that the book is a wonderful escape and a great example of strong women’s fiction that is almost always overlooked.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Keeping a Christmas Promise is out now.


The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop – Cressida McLaughlin

In the previous book in this series, we were introduced to the new bookshop that was going to open in Port Karadow, A New Chapter. This book is certainly a new chapter for Ollie who after suffering an injury leading to her having a long time off work in a bookshop in London, throws everything into starting a new life in Cornwall.

The job at A New Chapter is the perfect fit and she can use all her skills to help this new venture flourish. Ollie hops some of her ideas will not just get the customers in the shop spending money but add to the community spirit which seems strong. Ollie never experienced any of that in London.

Ollie certainly makes her mark in the area pretty quickly whether it be organising a ghostly Halloween walk or a cooking class in the bookshop with some interesting outcomes! Of course she is also helping her friend’s grandfather type up his memoirs, and here she discovers all the local myths and legends that seem to exist around Cornwall and especially Port Karadow. Some old out of print mystery novels spark Ollie’s interest and she seems keen to find out their true origin.

Ollie is like a whirlwind and amongst all of what she is doing she catches the eye of café owner Max. Watching their relationship stumble and blossom is a fairy tale all in itself and is the perfect antidote to the manic Christmas that Ollie is planning for the shop.

A perfect bit of escapism for fans of bookshops, Christmas and cosy nights in and can be read independently of any of the other books in the series. A great big hug in a book.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop is out now.


Celebrations at the Chateau – Jo Thomas

Three sisters arrive in France, to look at a Chateau they have just inherited from their grandfather. Not once during his life has he mentioned this asset and they only learn of it upon his death.

Expecting to just look and then put the place up for sale, the three sisters discover there is a few added complications to what should be a simple act of selling the property and dividing the money three ways. Of the three sisters, Fliss is the one who was closest to her grandfather and the one whose life will not be disrupted if she stays in France.

Unable to sell immediately and with a large bill looming, Fliss decides that she could perhaps spruce up some of the more habitable rooms and make it a B & B. It is going to take a lot of hard work and opposition from some of the locals, including her immediate neighbour who also happens to be the local mayor.

There is something special about the place that makes Fliss see what a life she has been living and when her nephew is sent to stay with her to escape some troubles at school, she has some added help to make her dreams come true. Perhaps staying and discovering just what it was that her grandfther was up to all those years ago that he bought a Chatuea might be the answer to her and her sisters problems.

As Christmas and the New Year looms, it seems that perhaps the future will look a lot better for them all but there is still some hurdles to overcome.

As I am fast learning reading new and old Jo Thomas books, whilst the settings are as important as the characters there is also the mention of a foodstuff. This time it was apples, cider, crepes and wonderful local customs of apple harvesting and gathering the community together. That coupled with renovating the chateau and a big dollop of romance with a moody Frenchman you have the perfect book to escape into.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book via netgalley.

Celebrations at the Chateau is out now and was Jo Thomas’ 2021 Festive release.


The Christmas Tree Cottage – Holly Martin

When Evergreen Winter rides into the Wishing Wood Resort to fulfil her temporary role as Mrs Christmas, it seems that all the Christmas lights have aligned and she has come home. Even her name conjures up a magical woman who has secrets hidden under her magnificent cloak. And a cloak she does wear, and she has secretes which see her live her life peripatetically in an old fashioned caravan and a lovely Clydesdale horse called Thunder.

However, Evergreen was expecting to play Mrs Christmas next to someone who would not need much work to be Father Christmas. But it seems that being paired with the gorgeous Heath Brookfield, one third of the brothers who own Wishing Wood is going to prove more than a challenge.

Playing this fictional couple to the delight of the children, even Heath’s own wonderful daughter starts to cause some sparks between the couple. And it seems that perhaps the lines are going to blur this Christmas.

Will it mean that Heath finally finds the one woman he has been looking for all his life?

Will it mean Evergreen finally stops running away from her past and confronts it?

Will the perfect Christmas exist providing both Heath and Evergreen open their hearts to trust and rely on someone else to help them find their true happiness.

This is a wonderful conclusion to this series of books. The strong male characters have been in the forefront of all the stories which has been a change, rather than them being much in the background. The wonderful innocence of the children that are in Wishing Wood, whether that be Heath’s daughter, niece, a new nephew or even a visiting families they bring the whole magic of Christmas to life.

Whatever the magic ingredient that Holly Martin has, she manages to combine it all to make a great festive read and a great read for anyone wanting to get stuck into a series of books full of warmth and love.

Thank you to the author for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

The Christmas Tree Cottage is out now.


The Christmas Holiday – Phillipa Ashley

Krystle, dreamed of a proper Christmas, with log fires, hot chocolate, real trees, beautiful decorations and the love of family and friends. Reality was far from all of this but slowly she built Christmas into her life.

Something was still missing and when the opportunity to rent a beautiful house in the Lake district for a festive getaway with all the elements of her dream it will be the perfect Christmas present. However things don’t go to plan.

A broken down car, flooded river, a moody rescuer, damaged clothes, precious decorations and hearts. It looks like this Christmas is going to be the same as any other.

That moody rescuer is Max, escaping from something that has haunted him for years. Living a hermit life in this Lake District village and certainly not embracing the possibility of what Christmas could bring. Krystle thinks she may be able to change that, because she is known as Mrs Christmas after all. However Krystle gets embroiled in village life and it seems that it will be difficult to tear herself away from this holiday respite when the time comes. But then if she has something to keep her there, it will mean her dreams have come true.

This is another classic Phillipa Ashley novel and is full of warmth, humour and bundles of spirit to get the most Grinch like person in the festive mood. If you cannot getaway for Christmas, then let this book take you instead.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Christmas Holiday is out now.


The Christmas Castle in Scotland – Julie Caplin

I am going to start this review, by quoting myself “If you want romance, food and travel then any of this series of books will tick all those boxes. I can’t wait to go travelling again.” And so I have travelled not very far this time, to Scotland. Ironically a place I have never been. One day that will be rectified, but in the meantime.

I go vicariously to a Castle and get to spend Christmas there. Izzy has inherited a castle from her Uncle and has ideas of transforming it into a place for people to come for the best boutique bed and breakfast experience with some glorious food thrown in for good measure. In the run up to Christmas it seems to be a lot to take on.

Especially when you get there and find that Xanthe has already rented a room out to Ross, a moody history professor moonlighting as a thriller writer. As well as start to decorate the rooms in her own eccentric bohemian style. Oh and booked the castle out for Christmas to bring in some much needed funds. There is not much Izzy can do and smile sweetly at Xanthe, as she is her mother after all.

As time marches on and a storm whips up some problems for the castle roof. Izzy collects some waifs and strays camping in the forest who prove valuable in the odd jobs they can do whilst being provided with bed and board. As Christmas gets nearer, Izzy keeps cooking to make sure everyone is fed. As the castle seems to be collecting more people, when Ross parents turn up, Izzy’s friends all before the paying guests arrive. But then it snows…….

Will all their hard work pay off? Will the guests arrive? Will their be enough food if they are snowed in? Will it be a Christmas for them all to remember?

This book is full of laugh out loud moments and delicious sounding food to make your mouth water. A few dollops of romance makes it a warm and cosy read and perfect for Christmas escapism.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Christmas Castle in Scotland is out now.


Mistletoe and Mulled Wine at the Christmas Campervan – Caroline Roberts

Lucy is back in her horsebox Pizza Van, cooking those delicious sounding pizzas and she is invariably near or alongside, Jack with his red Cocktail Campervan, shaking up his latest concoction to delight the customers. They are still in the early days of their relationship.

But it is not without it’s troubles. Lucy has fallen out with her best friend Becky, who knows Jack’s reputation of old. Becky just doesn’t want Lucy to get hurt. When Jack stats behaving strangely, Lucy begins to worry and worry even more when her ex-fiancé turns up wanting to get back together.

In the run to Christmas, where the events that Lucy and Jack are attending are of the festive variety, this really takes you away to all those wonderful magical moments. I can smell the mulled wine, I can taste the festive pizzas, I can feel the cold as I wend my way amongst all the twinkling lights and cheery carols.

Amongst all this festive cheer though, Jack and Lucy are perhaps not being honest with each other, when events mean they are forced to confront their doubts and declare their feelings, something else momentous happens which could ruin it forever.

This is the perfect escape into Christmas and I loved the fact that the author has pulled the main characters from her other wonderful novels and given them a guest appearance which adds to the community feel of the book. I felt festive, full of delicious food and drink and wanted to embrace every Christmas Market I possibly could find! The book is magical and I hope we get to go back for a cocktail or two with Jack and Lucy at some point again.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Mistletoe and Mulled Wine at the Christmas Campervan is out now.


A Christmas Celebration – Heidi Swain

For this Christmas, I am back at Wynthorpe Hall. Famed for it’s Winter Wonderland and all things Christmas, I am invited back into the Hall by Catherine and Angus.

Noted for all the waifs and strays they pick up along the way, this book is no exception. This time it is Paige, Catherine and Angus’ goddaughter who seeks solace for a few weeks, after returning from humanitarian work abroad. She remembers the place from her childhood and it seems like the perfect place to stay to recover and heal from what she has seen. Paige needs to find a new work passion but needs time to regroup first.

However Paige finds herself drawn into the comings and goings of the hall as well as the village. Helping people is what Paige is good at. Getting lost one night and needing directions back to the hall, she stumbles across what looks like a derelict cottage. but it is occupied.

Albert is the elderly resident and he is less than welcoming to Paige when they first meet. However, Paige is not to be put off by someone so curmudgeonly and clearly in need of some magic in his life.

The trouble is Paige also keeps coming across another curmudgeonly character, Brodie. Their paths keep crossing and when Brodie appears to be assisting her godfather in something secret, Paige is keen to find out the truth to make sure nothing is going to ruin this Christmas.

If Paige can help all these people she keeps coming across, will it eventually heal her from the wounds that she has brought back with her? Is a full on Christmas the best way to go about it? As the family start to drift back to Wynthorpe Hall and the Winter Wonderland kicks in for the locals, has Paige found her new role a lot closer home than she thought?

As always, fans of Heidi Swain like myself will be thrilled to return to a place you are familiar with. Plenty of characters from previous novels make cameo appearances rightly and give you a hint of their stories if you have never read them. If you have it is great to see everyone living their lives long after you have read those books. That is what keeps me coming back to this author time and time again.

If you want a full on Christmas without all the stress and hassle then reading a Heidi Swain Christmas novel is the best way to go about it. Pure festive fun.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

A Christmas Celebration is out now.


Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea – Cressida McLaughlin

Meredith is not a fan of Christmas, and does her utmost to avoid for the last ten years. However her new job in a Cornish gift shop means that she has no choice but to embrace the festive season.

When her boss wants to give hampers to the great and good of Porthglow, Meredith finds herself suddenly thrust into the festive season. Coupled with helping her best friend Anisha to create a last minute Christmas spectacular for Porthglow, Meredith cannot help become swept away.

Then enters Finn, as Meredith emerges from her cold water swimming, she meets Finn. And he seems to keep popping up everywhere around the little village and volunteers to help deliver the hampers. Finn embraces the true Christmas spirit and is determined for Meredith to see what Christmas can really be like, but he is not telling all and seems to be keeping something hidden.

This booked is packed full of Christmas, Cornish coastlines, Cold Water swimming, Carols, Charm and plenty of Curiosity to keep the reader guessing about whether; the festive hampers will be a success; the blossoming relationship between Finn and Meredith and who really owns the house on the cliff, that Meredith has dreamed about for a long time.

This is not a follow on from the previous Cornish Cream Tea novels, but some familiar faces do appear, but no matter if this is your first encounter with this authors work. It is an excellent Christmas read to get you in the spirit full of light, life and love. Perfect!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea is out now.