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

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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?

Review

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:

5 STARS

Christmas at Lilac Cottage is released on 25 September 2015

Pre-order here:

Amazon UK / USA

Follow Holly on Twitter

Holly’s website

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The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert – My Review

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What it’s all about:

YOU’VE GOT MAIL meets HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.

Review

Book provided by Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

When I first spotted this book on Netgalley, I was so drawn to the cover that I just HAD to read it. The pull was too great to pass up and I hoped and prayed that I would have the privilege of being sent this….and thankfully, I was.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is about the delightful Elizabeth – known as Lou to everyone she meets – who owns a French restaurant named Luella, after her grandmother. We meet her at a point where she is still with her extremely unpleasant fiance just before his birthday and he continues to play a role throughout the book. I won’t lie, I was thrilled that his true colours were revealed resulting in poor Lou breaking up with him after she finds him with another woman on his birthday. She had even made him cake too! What a giant douche. He does, in fact, play quite a key role in the book too, but I refuse to give any spoilers.

On alternate chapters, we get to know Al. Al Waters is an undercover food critic who has moved to Milwaukee to do his bit, review a few restaurants and get the hell out of there. He makes no secret of the fact he is not a fan and clearly wants to be anywhere but Milwaukee. However, when his path crosses with Lou’s in a bar just after she has one of the worst weeks of her life, he wonders whether the city has a bit more to offer than he originally thought.

I really enjoyed watching the two become close, Lou’s vibrant personality shone through and her warm, positive attitude made her a delight to read about and you really do want to see her succeed. She was so full of life and such a kind hearted, good natured person that I was quite sad she wasn’t real; she is someone I would love as a friend! I sound quite gushy now but I can’t say enough great things about her.

As Lou and Al grew closer though, I inwardly cringed and winced every time a passing comment was made about their jobs, but as both were adamant that they wouldn’t discuss work when they were together, the timebomb kept on ticking. The day Al found out who Lou was, my heart literally ached for him. Over the course of the year, as he has grown to know and enjoy Lou’s company, he has become a better person. He no longer writes so scathingly about the restaurants he visits, his appreciation for Milwaukee has grown as Lou rose to the challenge of showing him the best of her fair town, and you just know that the moment she finds out he was the reason that she had to give up on the dream she has fought so hard for, the dream that has been destroyed by him and him alone, that her world will unravel at a great speed. It doesn’t matter how hard he tries to protect her from the truth, even resorting to having his newspaper print a story about the death of his alias, he cannot escape what he has done.

Although the story focuses on these wonderful and very realistic characters, it also has a brilliant collection of secondary characters that can’t help but smile at when they come onto the page. The way each person is written made The Coincidence of Coconut Cake such a great read that I read it in 2 sittings; on the way to a concert, and then on the return journey. Once I started the book, I didn’t want to put it down. Something about it just made you feel like you were wrapped in a giant blanket, snuggled up in a chair with a hot beverage getting completely lost in their world. It also made me want to visit Milwaukee!

If you’re a fan of a good old-fashioned romance that has you holding your breath in parts, makes you melt in others, has you salivating at the delicious food and even contains a bonus recipe for the coconut cake in question (which I actually made and it was DIVINE!) then The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is definitely for you.

5 STARS

Buy it now from Amazon UK / US

Follow Amy on Twitter

Visit Amy’s website

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Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot

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What’s it all about:

Sun, sea and a sexy stranger – a whole lot of fun just got a lot more complicated.

Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…

Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy.

With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist.

But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Review

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

Picture this, cornflower blue skies, taupe coloured sand, the glittering ocean……sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? And heaven is exactly what you experience with this scorching summer read by the wonderful Mandy Baggot.

The story follows Ellen (great name, right?!) and her younger sister, Lacey as they travel to Corfu to plan Lacey’s impending nuptials. Staying at the 5* Blue Vue Hotel, Ellen tries to help her sister focus on wedding prep but Lacey seems a little lost, instead focusing on one of the guys that works at the hotel, Sergei, rather than planning the biggest day of her life. Ellen on the other hand, comes across as focused, driven, a workaholic to some degree and constantly distracted looking at her phone, but there’s a warmth about her that comes across when she’s with Lacey who I couldn’t help but love, especially towards the end.

We also meet Yan. Oh Yan. Cute, loveable, delectable Yan. There is some mystery with Yan at first, we know that he is from Bulgaria and is wanting a clean slate from something, but the question is, what?

There is definite chemistry between Ellen and Yan which I adored, and some of their scenes together are both heart warming and hilarious. I found myself grinning from ear to ear at certain points, especially with the language barriers!

The longer the 2 women are at the hotel, the more you see them grow. Lacey makes a life changing decision and Ellen decides that there really is more to life than work. She learns to take chances and live a little, with Yan by her side, encouraging her every step of the way. But Ellen is harbouring her own secret, much like Yan and trust isn’t something that comes easily to either of them. They must take a leap of faith on each other, on love, but is love enough?

What I loved about Truly, Madly, Greekly was that it not only gave me ALL the feels where Yan and Ellen were concerned, their relationship blossoming before our very eyes in a beautiful setting, but the fact that the story explores so much more than romance. There are trust issues, family issues, a past that haunts each of them, and all are addressed in such a wonderful way that I felt like a part of their story myself. I immersed myself completely and almost forgot that these perfectly written characters weren’t real.

If you’re looking for a book that will pull you in, have you dreaming of your next holiday and melt your heart all in one go, then Truly, Madly, Greekly is the one for you.

5 STARS

Buy the book on Amazon UK / Amazon US

Add Truly, Madly, Greekly on Goodreads

Follow Mandy on Twitter

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About Mandy

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Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads. She is represented by Kate Nash of The Kate Nash Literary Agency.

In 2012 she won the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance and has since scooped Top Ten Reads/Book of the Year places from a number of UK book bloggers.

Traditionally published by US publisher Sapphire Star, Harper Collins’ digital first romance imprint, Harper Impulse, and most recently, digital fiction specialists, Bookouture, a great story is never far from her fingertips!

A contributor to writing blogs and short story anthologies, Mandy is also a regular speaker at literary festivals, events and women’s networking groups.

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, World’s Strongest Man, travel and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

I’ll Be There For You by Kerry Barrett

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When good witchcraft goes bad…

Harry (short for Harmony) McLeod never thought motherhood would be for her. But now that she and wife Louise have adopted twins Finlay and Fiona, she can’t imagine life without her gorgeous little family. But just as the toddlers start to discover their own witching abilities – quite handy when they want to summon toys with just a wiggle of their fingers! – Harry’s own powers seem to have vanished.

With her abilities gone and Louise working all hours, Harry’s perfect world is starting to unravel. She knows she needs to rediscover her happiness to get her powers back, but with local charmer (and witch) Richard trying to steal her spa business from under her feet, how can she fight back?

Review
Book provided by the wonderful Carina UK via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

When first saw the cover for I’ll Be There For You, I knew I had to request it! One of the wonderful things about Carina is there ability to draw you in with their covers and I do love them for that.

This is the first book I’ve read in the Could It Be Magic series, and indeed the first (but definitely not that last) by Kerry Barrett. I’ll Be There For You is book 4 but I didn’t feel like I’d missed out by not having read the other 3 first, there are no gaps, no questions, it all just flows perfectly well and you feel as though you’ve known the characters years.

The story follows Harry (Harmony) as she tries to come to terms with the fact that since she and her wife adopted their gorgeous twins, her magic seems to have gone poof! Not that she’s admitted is to anyone yet, not in the real world anyway.

As her wife takes on a new undercover job at work, Harry finds herself struggling to cope and tries to find the answers to all of her problems online – enter, Mildred Hubble. Mildred finally convinces Harry to confide in her family and slowly but surely, with the support of her mother, cousin and wife, she starts to come to terms with being temporarily without magic. And as if having magical babies when your powers don’t work isn’t enough, there’s a fellow witchy businessman sniffing around her business, wanting to either buy her out or destroy her and THEN take over, depending in how Harry deals with his proposal.

I absolutely loved this book and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone who loves getting lost in a tale of close knit family and magical fun. I’ve always been a fan of stories about witches and magic, so I felt right at home with I’ll Be There For You. Kerry has managed to create characters that seemed so real that I felt a bit lost once I got to the end. Through Harry’s ups and downs, you really root for her and want her to beat the bad guy in the end, but nothing is ever that straight forward.

A 100% fun read!

4 STARS

Find Kerry on Twitter: @kerrybean73

Buy the book on Amazon UK

Website: kerrybarrettwriter.wordpress.com