Dear Darling – A Valentine Special

CHAPTER TWO

I chew on my nail as I browse through houses to rent online, hoping that ‘the one’ will jump out at me soon. Tensions are running pretty high right now and there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m actually glad to get Adam away for a few days, maybe he’ll be able to relax a bit. I feel him tossing and turning in bed every night, our deadline to get out of this house is 25 February. That’s approximately 2 weeks to find somewhere we’re happy to rent for at least 6 months because the conveyancing department at work have told us we’d have to be bloody lucky or buying a repossession to be in a new house within that timescale.

I put my head on my desk and groan. Being a grown up can kiss my arse.

“Ellie, that Lease, is it ready?” Adam bursts into my room in a whirlwind. A delicious smelling whirlwind but a whirlwind nonetheless.

“Yeah, here.” I hand him the draft Lease and smile back at his bemused face. “What?” I feel at my face and something drops from my forehead. Pringle crumbs. Nice.

“I need you to book me some accommodation for a meeting next week in Manchester. Our new branch has fucked up with a major client so all the Partners are heading up to try and sort something out.”

“Sure, when for?” I mentally plan a night with Hannah now Gina has to be a proper grown up to a little person.

“Just Thursday overnight. I’ll be back Friday in time for dinner with my parents.” He’s scanning through the Lease as he talks, glancing up at me occasionally.

“A free meal always sounds good to me. I really need to get the recipe from your mum for her carrot cake, too. That counts as one of your five a day, right?” I flash him my newly whitened teeth and he laughs.

“Yes, of course it does.” He gives me a wry smile. “Right, I’m off. I’ll probably be late home tonight so grab something without me. I can’t come home to a hangry Ellie, it’s terrifying.” Kissing the top of my head, he rushes out of my office as quickly as he came.

Work was manic before Christmas. I’m talking 12 hour days, ratty clients, staff shortages, but somehow, January and February have seemed worse! It’s like those that didn’t complete their transactions before Christmas are hell bent on making my life miserable by insisting it happens right now. Not next week, not next month, now. And it doesn’t matter that their tenants can’t move in until spring, they want shizz sorted right this second. Feckers.

Ripping open the lid on my carrot and hummus snack pot, I pull up Google and look at images of New York. Because when you have work coming out of every orifice what else is there to do other than kick back and toss it off?

I hope it snows when we’re there. Not enough to affect our flights but wouldn’t that be the ultimate? New York on Valentines Day wandering around hand in hand while the snow falls.

“Ellie?” I jump as Hannah appears at my door.

“Jesus Hannah, at least give a girl some warning before making her jump like that.” I put my heart to my chest and feel my heart thudding against it.

“Guilty conscience much.” She arches an eyebrow so I give her my middle finger in return. “What’s up?” I close down the New York tab on my computer and give her my full attention because let’s face it, I’m so easily distracted that she could be telling me she was about to give birth to a sea lion and I’d simply smile and nod.

“Have you told Adam about your interview yet?”

Good mood – splat.

“No,” I shift in my seat, not meeting her gaze.

“Ellie! The interview tomorrow, how have you not told him? How have you got out of working in the morning?”

I bite my lip and smile as I remember Adam’s face. “I told him I was going for a smear.”

“ELLIE!!” Despite her anger, Hannah laughs. “You can’t lie to him, you know that don’t you?”

“I know, I know. But it’s just so hard, you know. I’m breaking up our work relationship. I just thought maybe I could go for the interview-“

“In secret?” Hannah gave me her judgey face. She gets so judgey these days when she thinks I’ve had a foolish idea or I’ve ordered 3 starters, 2 mains, a side and 2 naans from the Indian down the road then go back for a dunk of her curry sauce.

“I’ll tell him tonight.” I roll my eyes and pull up an image of New York, wondering how I’ll tell him that I don’t want to be his PA anymore without hurting his feelings. Maybe I’ll cushion the blow with new underwear.

“Good. Now let’s start planning how to take Tiffany’s by storm!” Giggling, Hannah comes around my desk and perches on the window ledge. “Oh I hope it snows. Christen has been to New York before but I want to make this special for us, you know? He took such a massive leap of faith moving to London to be with me, this will be our first proper break together.”

“Ah Han, it’ll be amazing. Oh, before I forget, Adam’s away in Manchester next Thursday, do you fancy a night at mine? We could grab food, a few cocktails, stick a girly film on? Like old times, what do you say?”

“Oh yeah, just like old times,” Hannah laughs. “What time will Arianna’s clients be knocking on the door? Thank God you’re out of that place.”

Groaning I close my eyes. The image of a stumpy, sweaty older man propositioning me in my doorway will be forever etched on my brain.

“Right, it’s a date. Better get on with some work, haven’t you heard my boss is an absolute dick?” I laughed as Hannah rolled her eyes and left me to catch up on a dozen emails, as well as downloading the holiday countdown app on my phone. Obviously.

*

Interview day rolls around all too quickly.

I’d broken the news to Adam over a bottle of champagne and a box of his favourite truffles. He’s such a woman.

To be fair, he didn’t take the news badly at all. He was however slightly pissed off that I had lied about the whole smear test thing.

“You really felt that you had to lie to me?” He asked, muting the television so that I had nowhere to look other than at his beautiful face. I squirmed under his scrutiny with nowhere to run or hide.

“No, it’s not that, I just didn’t know how to tell you and thought that after the interview, it might be easier to somehow tell you. Because after the interview I’d know whether I was good enough to work anywhere else. I’m still not sure I got the job with you because I was good enough for it.”

“Ellie.”

“No, Adam. I love you but there’s not a week goes by that I don’t wonder whether I got the job because you thought I had a nice arse.”

“Well, you do have a nice arse, that is true,” a slow smile spread across his face. “But listen to me, Ellie Darling, you are bloody good at your job. You do the job of about 4 people, all while keeping me in line and you have never once complained.  You are kind, generous, and far too helpful for your own good and even when the shit hits the fan you front it out. If you feel like you want to spread your wings and see other employers,” he smiled as he took my hand, “then so be it.”

“You old romantic, you.” Leaning in for a kiss, I was once again floored by Adam Donley. As our lips touched, I pulled at his shirt collar and climbed onto his lap. “You never cease to amaze me. From surprise weekends away to coming home on a Friday night with my favourite ice cream when you know I’ve had an awful day.” I peppered kisses across his face as I undid his shirt and slipped it down his tanned arms.

“Ellie, not here.”

“Oh yes Adam, right here. If we’re going to lose the house anyway I want to rechristen every single room, starting right here, right now. I want you Adam, in every single way, and I can feel that you’re in agreement.” I laughed, wiggling my bum as he groaned and pulled me into a long deep kiss, sitting up and pinning me underneath him.

“God I love this dress,” he whispered as he slowly unzipped the front of my dress, his fingers delicately following the trail until it fell apart. “And I love you.”

My memories are quickly poofed through like a cloud of smoke as a 6ft glamazon smiles at me from above, legs to rival Taylor Swift as I stumble to my feet, my own Bambi like legs shaking with nerves.

“Ellie Darling? Hi my name’s Lydia, it’s so lovely to meet you. Won’t you follow me?”

Elite Event Management in the world according to Gina, is the dog’s bollocks at what they do. They have organised some of the most high profile celebrity events that London has ever seen and are about to branch out to New York. I only know this because the marketing firm Gina works for swear by Elite and if Gina gives a place the thumbs up you know it’s good. One of her contacts had recently told her that a vacancy had become available and wondered whether she would be interested. She told them she’d rather eat her own liver than work those kinds of hours anymore but she knew I’d thrive on this kind of challenge so here I am. About to go for an interview for a company that, according to the rumour mill, have arranged parties for Kim Kardashian and Kanye. I figure if they’re good enough for Kimye then why the hell not go for it.

Lydia’s office was the complete opposite of what I expected. Whenever I think of someone with a reputation as good as Lydia’s, I imagine them to have an office to rival Miranda’s from The Devil Wears Prada. The office I’m faced with is muted greys and nudes, an elegant suede sofa in the corner with cream scatter cushions, a sleek Macbook sat atop a dark oak table and the most intimidating view I have ever seen. I’m talking Trump Towers view. Even Adam’s view couldn’t rival this.

“Please, take a seat. Would you like a drink?” Lydia sits opposite me, her back to the magnificent view.

“Oh no, I’m fine, thank you.” I try to swallow the nerves and pull back my shoulders. I can do this. I totally have this. All I have to do is be myself.

“Wonderful. I’ll just bring my assistant in, you’ll be working side by side so I’d like to have her around. She’s been with me almost a year and I don’t know how I managed without her now.” Lydia laughs as I smile, prepared to meet the woman who, by the sounds of it, will get the final say on whether she thinks I’m up to the task.

A secluded door opens to the left of Lydia and my face freezes on what can only be described as a manic smile.

Sophie.

Of all the mother fudging people to walk through the door it had to be her. Still blonde. Still a size 6. Undoubtedly, still a bitch.

“Ellie! Oh when I saw your name appear in my diary I hoped it would be you. How are you these days?”

I gulp, my whole body numb. Sod it, I may as well relax, it’s not like I’m going to get the job now.

“Fine, thank you. You?” I want to vomit.

“Oh I am wonderful.” A sinister smile cross her face and my defences are officially on red alert.

“You two know each other?” Lydia looks confused which makes me wonder how creative Sophie has been with her CV.

“We do indeed. I worked with Ellie briefly at a law firm some time ago. She’s remarkable at her job Lydia, slept her way to the top like a true professional.” Sophie sits back in her chair and crosses her tiny ankles that are swallowed by the chunky black boots she has on. Her fashion sense always did leave a lot to be desired.

“Oh….” Lydia turns her nose up at me. “Is this why you’re wanting to leave? Has it gone a bit sour?” I can tell she’s trying for sympathetic but her tone is enough to curdle milk.

“Not at all, and that’s not really what happened. Sophie stalked my former fiancé via Twitter, took him for herself for a slice of fame pie, tried to get me sacked which resulted in my promotion and then blamed me for her relationship turning sour. Roman is gay now, you see.” I pick up my handbag, not in the mood for a bun fight. “I’m truly sorry for wasting your time, Lydia. If I had known Sophie worked here I would never have applied for the job. Thank you for taking the time to see me. I’ll see myself out.”

I hear Sophie whispering something as I leave the room, my face burning. I want to burst into tears. I had such high hopes for this job, to spread my wings and try something a little different. I’ve worked in law for 13 years and I’m ready for a change.

As the cool February air hits me, I take a deep breath and call Adam.

“Hey gorgeous, how was it? I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon.” I want to burst into tears down the line, to slide down the wall of the building and sit on the cold pavement crying that Sophie has once again managed to stick the knife in unexpectedly. But I don’t.

“You free for lunch?” My voice is timid. I’m tired, hungry and just want to see the face of my best friend. Gina aside, obviously.

“Yeah, of course. Are you okay?” I smile to myself picturing exactly how he’ll look right about now. He will have sat forward in his chair, frowning, biting his lips as he tries to work out what’s happened and how he can fix it. He is always so good at fixing things.

I sigh, staring up at the clouds as the move lazily across the powder blue sky. “Gingers in half an hour?”

“Oh Ellie. I’ll see you soon. I’m clearing my diary for the day as we speak, don’t worry about whatever has happened. We’ll fix it.”

Adam Donley. My very own Superman.

signature

 

Dear Darling – A Valentine Special

Gooood evening everyone! There was a slight fudge up with posting so I’m so sorry that you’ve been without for the last 2 days. I guess this means you’ll be treat to a double whammy soon 😉

Enjoy xx

CHAPTER ONE

Christmas is well and truly over, the ‘January blues’ are still hanging around, and I have about a stones worth of salted caramel profiteroles sticking to my arse courtesy of Marks and Spencer.

Running my hand down the list of chart DVDs at the supermarket, I wonder which new miracle workout DVD to buy, if any. Will it be the reality tv star who sacrificed her weekly kebabs and pints of beer for the tiny bikini body she’s now sporting, the presenter who I just can’t seem to trust because she smiles too much for someone who isn’t high, or a bootcamp master that could potentially kill me off with the warmup alone. Decisions, decisions.

“You could try the old fashioned route. You know, join a gym?” Gina raises a perfectly groomed eyebrow at me as she bounces Mathilda on her hip, wiping the drool from her chin.

“You know what I’m like, I’d pay the joining fee, turn up to my first session with the personal trainer, see the other women barely out of their teens bouncing about on the treadmill with their boobs still where they belong and flee like the coward I am. No, I think at home sessions are the best way forward.”

“But half of these DVDs are made by celebrities that purposely gained the weight just so they could lose it for a profit. Surely Adam would help you work it off?” She winks as I shake my head and cover Mathilda’s tiny ears.

“Firstly, Adam refuses to condone any extreme measures where my weight is concerned because he thinks I look perfect and likes the extra boobage. Secondly, 3 times a day 7 days a week wouldn’t help with the amount I’ve eaten over Christmas. I also blame you and your cravings. And Dale. Why is it that I was the one who always had to go on the cream cake shop for you, not to be crude but it wasn’t me that fertilised you and turned you into a walking garbage disposal.”

“Dale got the 2am trips for salad cream and red onion for my sandwiches. Anyway fat arse, don’t blame me for your lack of self-control. I gave birth well before Christmas and your festive cream cake obsession kicked in. You do realise that just because something is a limited edition it doesn’t mean you’ve got to eat enough of it to make up for the 11 months it’s not on sale, don’t you?” Kissing Mathilda’s head, Gina nudges me away from the DVDs and guides me towards the salad aisle. “Just stock up on salad and green tea so if all else fails, you’ll pee your weight off.”

“Nice. Thanks.” Adjusting my bra that’s steadily impaling me, I load my basket up with salad and tea bags and head to the checkout. Hannah insists that my new waistline is contentment and that I could just not buy the treats in the weekly shop. We’re no longer friends.

I joke, of course, but I mean there’s really no need to take such extreme measures is there? She may as well have sworn at me.

What I didn’t admit was that she was probably right. I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time now that I’m with Adam. We cook together too every weekend which means that the days of a bottle of wine and Pot Noodle for my Saturday evening meal are long gone. My parents are thrilled with my new ‘healthier’ physique but I need exercise and until I start to tone up my jiggly bits, I refuse to shop for anything new. Apart from bras. This one really is digging in.

“How is Adam anyway? You guys found a house yet?” Mathilda gurgles and chews on her chubby little hand as Gina straps her into her baby seat and fights with the pram.

“He’s fine, stressing about finding somewhere as nice as where we are now.” The day the owner of his rented house decided he didn’t want to sell to us was a dark day indeed. I clung onto the bathtub like a child with their favourite blanket as he argued it out with the grumpy old git of a landlord. My apartment was long gone since Arianna moved back to the UK and decided that London was where her soul felt most at ease. I called bullshit on that and my guess is she ran out of money and wanted to get back some of her old clients from her call girl days, so all in all we haven’t had the best of luck where property is concerned.

“Well, you know my old apartment is empty at the moment, you can always stay there if you get stuck.”

“Thanks, G. Right, I’d better get back to work, sleeping with the boss won’t save me from the dead eye from the others if I’m late back.”

“Okay, give Hannah my love. And on a serious note babe, you look gorgeous, you don’t need to lose any weight.”

“Yeah, yeah.” I bat her away and blow kisses at Mathilda. “You just don’t want me raiding your wardrobe since the whole coffee down the cashmere incident.”

Glaring at me, Gina gets into the car and gives me the finger. Such a smashing role model.

 

*

 

“So I’ve been thinking,” Adam starts as he spoons out the salad onto my plate. We move in perfect synchronicity as I grab the steak from the griddle pan, doing my best to avoid the hiss and spits as I plate up.

“Go on,” I pour the wine and wait.

“These last couple of months have been incredibly stressful for us both, between work and having to move out of this place, and I think we deserve a break. We didn’t even celebrate our anniversary properly in November it was so hectic.”

My mind flashes back to our anniversary night and I feel myself blush. We may not have made it out but we certainly celebrated most of the night.

“Sure,” I cough. “Where were you thinking?” I silently pray it’s not somewhere that I’d need to get bikini ready for in a matter of weeks.

“How about a long weekend in New York? How would you feel about that?” He sits back in his chair and watches me as my fork hovers in limbo.

“Seriously?! That would be amazing! New York is right at the top of my bucket list! When?”

I watch relief flood his face, his dark eyes dancing as he bites his lip and takes my hand. I swallow hard and try to smile. I might be having a bad day because my work trousers are so tight that the top button has been undone all day, but nobody has ever made me feel as special and sexy and important as Adam does every single day.

“I’m so glad you said that because it’s already booked.” He laughs and his eyes crinkle in that way I love. “We fly out on Friday. Happy Valentines!”

Leaping from my seat, I throw myself into his lap and kiss his face like a dog who hasn’t seen his owner all day – which is pretty much how I feel at work anyway not being able to kiss him as and when I want.

“Have I told you lately how much I love you?” I ask.

“Hmmm, now that you mention it, not for a while. You can always show me tonight though.” His hand travels up my back and under my silk shirt and I smile against his mouth.

“Deal, Mr Donley. When did all this happen?!”

“Well Gina and Hannah have both said that they’re worried about you and so am I. We thought a break would do you the world of good and I know how much you love America. The only thing is….” He trails off and sucks air through his teeth, “they’re coming with us. Well, Gina and Dale, Hannah and Christen. We don’t have to see them but we all thought that a night out together letting our hair down might be nice. No work worries, no stresses at home.”

“It sounds perfect. I’m a very lucky lady to have so many people in my life that love me,” I laugh. “Although I’m not sure why you’re worried?” I spear a potato and chew slowly.

“Ellie, Gina rang me today to tell me about the exercise DVDs. You’re a beautiful, sexy, vivacious woman that lights up whatever room she walks into. You do not need to lose weight, okay?” His voice is firm, commanding, and I may have just peed my pants a little. “You want to get fit, fine. But you need to get the losing weight mission out of your head because you’re perfect, just the way you are. Also, you’re a bloody nightmare when you’re hangry.”

“You’re an idiot,” I laugh. “But I love you.”

Catch up on Chapter two soon………

signature

I have news!!!

Good morning/ good afternoon/ good evening, wherever in the world you are when you read this.

The last few months have been eerily quiet on my part, I have been up to my eyeballs in bookish stuff and general life shizzery that I won’t bore you with 😉 HOWEVER, this means that I have been able to work ridiculously hard to bring you lovely lot a new summer read! I can FINALLY confirm that Perfume and Promises will be released on Saturday 21st May. Hurrahhhhhh! And because I love you all, here’s a sneaky peek at my blurb…….

Chloe Richards is a small town girl with a big heart. At least, that’s what the local folk of Rosehip Village think. But when her parents turn up on her doorstep asking for help, her secret past is about to be revealed.

Being the daughter of Hollywood royalty was never going to be easy, but at 19, Chloe Richards managed to leave that life behind along with the scandals that almost destroyed her. A fresh start was all she needed, and a fresh start was what she got in Rosehip. Girlfriend of a local bookshop owner, best friends with fiercely loyal café owner and owner of a perfume business herself, Chloe has a happy life. But her parents are about to turn her perfect life on its head. Again.

What do you do when you’re torn between loyalty and protecting yourself? Should you trust your heart when your head is telling you not to?

So there you have bookish news number 1. I did say yesterday on Facebook however that there would be 2 bits of news, so it gives me all the feels to be able to tell you that although I can’t promise an actual follow up this year for Dear Darling, Mr Donley will be gracing my blog on Valentines Week. With a chapter a day to keep you all abreast of what’s been going on in their lives, I hope this makes up for my absence and gives all you Adam fans the fix you need haha. He has been one of my favourite characters to write so far so rest assured, you haven’t seen the last of him yet.

If you want to find out what all the fuss is about over the delicious Mr Donley, you can grab your copy of Dear Darling here from Amazon:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

I’ll keep you all updated on Perfume and Promises but want to thank you all for your patience these last few months! :-*

signature

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake – My Review

xmas

What’s it all about:

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you’ve found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance’s phone…
Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve’s boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.
But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve’s best friend Daisy know that she isn’t telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve’s boat?

Review

As soon as I saw Rosie’s new cover appear on Twitter way back when, I knew I had to have it and I’m so pleased to tell you lovely bookish folk that it was a highly anticipated read that didn’t disappoint one bit.

How to Stuff Up Christmas follows Eve, a recently single woman after discovering her arse of a fiancé was cheating on her with someone who is quite partial to sending picture messages of their ladygarden…..can you imagine?! So Eve would like to avoid the festive period if she can. This doesn’t mean she’s a humbug, because she isn’t, she’s simply a woman who would rather lock herself away with a bucket of ice cream than spend the day with her family and the reminder of how perfect the Christmas before was when her fiancé proposed. Who can blame her, right? So this year she decides to escape and enrols in a pottery class in the quaint little village of Pangbourne and rents a houseboat. From this point on the world around me disappeared! Emails were avoided, meals were burned and husbands were ignored (it’s fine though, we have a snack cupboard he raided!) Seriously though, Pangbourne was a truly delightful setting and I could just imagine myself walking through the village, watching the world go by on the river…..and attending pottery classes.

In Pangbourne, Eve meets local vet Greg under comical circumstances and it becomes clear that the two of them will hit it off, but Greg has something mysterious going on in his life which means he can be frustratingly elusive and it doesn’t help that he doesn’t seem to want to open up to Eve. To be fair, she is a stranger but I still found myself pleading with him to go visit Eve more, to not misinterpret her distance with disinterest. Their story is heart-warming and I loved watching them get to know each other better.

The supporting characters were also wonderful and realistic and I found myself laughing along at the antics of Eve’s sister and brother in law, best friend Daisy, Eve’s dog, Marmite and a special shout out goes to the geese; they made me snort with laughter. So attractive.

If you’re looking for a festive read that is jam packed with Christmassy romance, festive recipes (what a bonus!) and humour that will have you spitting out your mulled wine, then How to Stuff Up Christmas is a must read for you. I would also like to add that I fell so deeply in love with this book that it inspired me to attend a pottery class myself in a local village not too far from me. It was one of the best experiences and I have the lovely Rosie Blake to thank for that.

5 STARS

Buy the book: Amazon UK / US

Follow Rosie on Twitter

Visit Rosie’s website

signature

Picnics in Hyde Park by Nikki Moore – My Review

Picnics in Hyde Park

What’s it all about:

Hot summer romance…or cold revenge?

Super nanny, Zoe Harper is mad! It was bad enough discovering her ex-fiancé Greg cheating on her just weeks before their wedding. But now she’s returned home to London to find her younger sister Melody has been left jobless, homeless, broke and dumped.

Zoe is determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak. So when an unexpected opportunity gives Zoe a way in to uncaring—and dizzyingly gorgeous!—successful music producer Matt Reilly’s world, she jumps at the chance to make him pay.

But living with Matt as nanny to his two adorable, but complicated children, Zoe soon begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems… Matt insists on pushing everyone away including his children, but why? And if his delicious summer kisses are anything to go by, he can’t be that bad surely?

Can Zoe convince Matt to open up a little and help fix this family before she leaves…or worse, before Matt learns who she really is?

Review

Book provided by Harper Impulse via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

This is the first book I’ve read in the Love London series and wouldn’t hesitate to read the others, or any other by Nikki Moore in fact. This book was the perfect holiday read, I devoured it in one day sat by the pool!

Picnics in Hyde Park follows Zoe on her return from 5 years in New York to find a heart broken sister who has just been brutally sacked from her job as a live-in nanny for a London record producer, Matt. Seething, Zoe arrives on Matt’s doorstep ready to give him a piece of her mind and get some answers for her sister, Melody, who is at a loss as to why she was kicked out without so much as an explanation. However, things don’t go according to plan and soon Zoe finds herself agreeing to replace Melody as Matt’s new nanny on her own undercover revenge mission.

Zoe has a plan, a plan to bring Matt down and out him to the world for the arse that she thinks he is, but the longer she lives with him and his children, the more she learns about him and his ex wife, and the more she softens. It also helps that Matt is easy on the eye!

I absolutely fell in love with Matt and his children, they were both so adorable and in desperate need of Matt’s attention, something he hasn’t truly given them since his wife died. There is a mystery surrounding this story which is eventually revealed and I found my heart wrenching for both Matt and the children. Zoe soon realises that her revenge mission is something she can’t follow through with, she’s in too deep with Matt, but will it be too late when he finds out exactly why she took the job in the first place?

Picnics in Hyde Park took me on a wonderful journey through London and is a story that seriously sizzles in parts. Zoe takes her role as big sister very seriously and was a great character for me to be introduced to the London Series with. If you’re looking for a romance that will take you back to summer and pull at your heartstrings, then I urge you to buy this asap!

5 STARS

Buy the book: Amazon UK / US

Follow Nikki on Twitter

signature

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

81pH9-D4ACL._SL1500_

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

signature

Spinster Wedding: A Novella by Nikki Mahood – My Review

Nikki

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?

Review

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 😉

5 STARS

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

signature