Christmas at Lilac Cottage (White Cliff Bay #1) by Holly Martin – My Review


What’s it all about:

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore…

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?


Book provided by Bookouture via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Anyone that keeps up with my reviews will know that I am a massive fan of Holly, something about the way she writes takes you to a magical place where you forget about the monotony of day to day life and find yourself wrapped up in the warm blanket that is the latest Holly Martin book. I am yet to read a book by Holly that I don’t like and Christmas at Lilac Cottage was no different.

Firstly, can we just take a moment to really appreciate the cover of this deliciously festive book! As soon as I saw it I fell in love, and the excitement was just too much.

Christmas at Lilac Cottage follows the lovely but lonely Penny Meadows who lives by herself with her dog at Lilac Cottage overlooking White Cliff Bay. She has decided to rent her annexe out to Henry and Daisy Travis, who she believes to be a married couple, and is excited about the prospect of having some new friends close by. However, even her homemade mince pies and mulled wine aren’t enough to encourage Henry – who turns up without his ‘wife’ – to stick around for any pleasantries when he arrives. Cue some initial misunderstandings and awkwardness about who exactly Daisy is and his tactile behavior later that evening when he tries to apologise for his behaviour.

When Daisy does arrive, it’s clear that she and Penny will hit it off and as Daisy, Henry and Penny begin to spend more time together, bonding over home cooked meals and trips out together, their unit begins to grow tight and more like a family than ever. Henry likes Penny, Penny likes Henry, and although the pair eventually manage to get over their apprehension and admit how they really feel, there are still a few obstacles in their way, and these obstacles aren’t exactly small.

One of the many things I loved about Christmas at Lilac Cottage was that we’re told the story from both Penny and Henry’s point of view, which as a reader I really enjoy. It gives you a better idea of the feelings that are involved and the issues each character are trying to overcome.

The characters appeared so real that it was as though they had become friends, they felt a part of my life. It was hard to reach the end of the book because it genuinely felt like I was leaving old friends behind and I struggled for a few days when searching for my next read. Nothing felt unrealistic at all with these characters, they were so genuine, they had flaws, and weren’t overly dramatic to the point they had you rolling your eyes and skimming.

There were some points in this book where I really struggled to hold back my fits of giggles – I’m talking actual tears. I won’t give away any spoilers but I will say that imagine having to talk your way out of a 16 year old hearing you have sex……utter brilliance and I’m still smiling now as I remember that scene.

If you are looking for a read that you can snuggle up with this Christmas, that will warm your heart through and give you hope at the most magical time of year, then I urge you all to buy Christmas at Lilac Cottage. I was completely lost in Holly’s world and truthfully didn’t really want to come out of it. I wanted to go and buy my Christmas tree (and will be using Daisy’s tips this year!), I wanted to nestle into a comfy chair with a mug of hot chocolate to watch the twinkle of fairy lights and most of all, I wanted to learn to carve ice! Crazy. I give this addictive, festive read a well deserved:


Christmas at Lilac Cottage is released on 25 September 2015

Pre-order here:

Amazon UK / USA

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Holly’s website


Spinster Wedding: A Novella by Nikki Mahood – My Review


What’s it all about:

The Wedding is on it’s way, thanks to the meddling mothers in ‘Spinster Christmas’ and ‘Spinster Valentine’. Can Cara and Ronan plan their special day to suit the whole wedding party, or more specifically ‘the mothers?


This is the third book (so far, I hope for more) in the Spinster series following Spinster Valentine and Spinster Christmas. I’ve read both of Nikki’s previous novellas and I absolutely love the story of Cara and Ronan. Childhood friends (after a fair few years apart and then reconnecting years later) the pair are in crazy, stupid love.

Spinster Wedding follows Cara and Ronan as they attempt to plan their own dream wedding while trying to contend with their Irish, meddling, but ultimately quite loveable, mammies. They find themselves making plans just to appease their mothers and we have an insight into Cara’s mind as she begins to have doubts about the wedding – not the marriage – but the wedding that is no longer becoming what she envisioned on her own Pinterest boards; instead of elegant and classy with rustic touches it’s becoming something to rival Katie Price’s first wedding. Think bling and lots of it. Poor Cara. I really did feel for her a couple of times knowing how hard it is to plan the wedding you want but still having to make everyone else happy.

Cara and Ronan are very clearly in love, and the support that Ronan does offer Cara is so heart-warming and still realistic that I found myself awwwwing out loud a couple of times.

Nikki really has written a wonderful novella that feels perfectly paced and doesn’t leave me with questions like some novellas can. The ultimate outcome for their wedding was so romantic that it had me wanting to plan my own wedding again and again!

If you’re looking for a quick light-hearted read with meddling mammies that will make you smile and frown at the same time, a romance that is realistic and yet still makes you want a Ronan of your own, then I definitely recommend grabbing Spinster Wedding. In fact, they’re all such bargains at 99p each that you may as well just buy them all while you’re at it 😉


Buy the books

Spinster Christmas: Amazon UK / US

Spinster Valentine: Amazon UK / US

Spinster Wedding: Amazon UK / US

Follow Nikki’s blog

Follow Nikki on Twitter