My Bookish Month – December 2022

Well December proved to be an interesting month not least because nothing turned out to plan on many fronts. A planned trip to visit my mum, that had to be are-arranged because of the rail strikes and an unexpected visit from the Covid fairy. That latter was complicated by the fact that my OH tested positive whilst I was on said trip. I thankfully tested negative for several days after we found out, but I clearly had the bug as I finally tested positive on the day I came home. Sadly, I appear to have passed it on to my mum, my brother and possibly my cousin – great! It also meant I had to miss my only Christmas meal out with my Walking Group. That said, in the scheme of things there are far worse things happening in the world. Thankfully, my family recovered without problems, and my OH managed to get hold of his anti-virals, so while he was still coughing and testing positive way after he shouldn’t, he still only had the symptoms of a bad cold.

On the bookish front, things went off the scale on the book buying (this month was bad, very bad) and my intended Christmas reading also morphed into a Christmas listen as I fell down an Audible Christmas rabbit hole. So, it turned into a Christmas binge all round. So buckle up, it might take a while to get through the rest of this post!

In view of the off the scale buying, which was pretty bad last month as well, I’ve done away with the pretence of tracking books purchased against books read and weeded from the shelves or Kindle. It’s a lost battle, so going forward I’m not even going to pretend to track any progress, as it’s clear I’m not making any! I think I’m also likely to record my purchases and reads on a weekly basis to avoid you having to endure these interminable monthly posts.

Books I Bought this Month

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay

A missing woman. A husband suspected.
The truth will … Take Your Breath Away

It’s always the husband, isn’t it?

When his wife Brie vanishes from their home one night, never to be seen again, people assume Andy got away with murder. The police can’t build a case against him, but still his friends and neighbours abandon him.

Six years later, Andy’s life is back on track, and he’s settled with a new girlfriend. And when he hears his old house has been bulldozed and rebuilt, he’s not bothered. Things are good.

But then one day, a woman who looks like Brie shows up at their old address, screaming ‘Where’s my house? What happened to my house?’ before vanishing as quickly as she appeared.

And as dark suspicions resurface, Andy’s future depends on discovering what the hell is going on. The trick is staying alive long enough to find out…

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life, dreaming of greater things. But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and as she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves.

It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different, he is clearly no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.

Shuggie Bain lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. For readers of A Little Life and Angela’s Ashes, it is a heartbreaking novel by a brilliant writer with a powerful and important story to tell.

Afraid of Her Shadow by Carol Maloney Scott

Forty something, self-proclaimed cougar, Rebecca is committed only to her cats and her career. Her veteran single girl lifestyle has been peaceful and happy – that is until she started dating age-appropriate Steve, an entomology professor with a sweet smile and demeanor to match. Who knew an insect scientist could be so appealing? The problem? Steve is a widower with baggage to spare. Memories of his late wife fill his home. Smiling photos and jars of bugs serve as constant reminders of Steve’s continued attachment to his dearly departed wife, Noreen, who shared his passion for creepy crawlies! Now that Rebecca is facing her commitment phobia by moving in with Steve, she is becoming more unhinged. Behaving more like her zany friends than her level-headed self, she burns her butt at the tanning salon, crashes on energy drinks, and even loses a hamster. Throw into the mix a few delusional relatives, a sarcastic teenager, and a fluffy dog who sheds a new dog every day, and Rebecca doesn’t recognize her old self. And if that isn’t enough to push her over the edge, her smokin’ hot ex returns, reminding her of a simpler time with a man who carries no more baggage than a wallet.

Five Winters by Kitty Johnson

A bighearted novel about motherhood, friendship, moving on, and love of all kinds.

Ever since Beth Bailey was a girl, she’s been in love with her best friend’s older brother, Mark. She’s continued to hold out hope that maybe, someday, he’ll love her back. But now Beth is thirty-five years old, and on the day of Mark’s wedding to another woman, she finally accepts the wake-up call she needs to move on.

Beth’s dream of marrying her first love may be over, but her other biggest desire is still within reach: becoming a mother. Having lost her own parents very young, there’s nothing Beth wants more in life, and nothing she’ll stop at to make her wish come true.

Over the course of five years, and with unexpected twists along the way, Beth will come to startling realisations about family, friendship, the meaning of love, and most importantly, herself on the winding path to happiness and, she hopes, to motherhood.

One Night in Edinburgh by Nina Kaye

One night. But how many second chances?

Heartbroken on Hogmanay, Steph wanders through the Edinburgh street party until she bumps into Jamie. He’s funny, attractive and clearly interested. In a word, he’s perfect – but she didn’t get his number. All she remembers is his lime and mango beer.

Determined to be reunited, Steph tracks him by a milk carton style campaign, sticking a message to his favourite beer across local pubs. Although eventually reunited, Jamie is frequently uncontactable and evasive, and Steph worries she’s on the path to heartbreak once more.

There’s a fine line between being patient and being gullible, and Steph’s reaching her limit. When a chance encounter with Jamie reveals his secret, she faces an even tougher decision. Should Steph give love another chance, or was one night in Edinburgh all she and Jamie were meant to have?

Christmas Surprises at Mermaids Point

Christmas is a time for love, laughter, families and friends, and in Mermaids Point, everyone is getting ready for the festive season.

For Nerissa and Tom, this will be their first Christmas as a couple, but making sure they have time for each other, whilst blending their families, will take some careful planning. What festive traditions will they make their own?

Laurie and Jake are flat out running Laurie’s seafront café, packaging up orders of mince pies, sausage rolls and other delectable Christmas goodies, as well as finding time for Jake’s journalism.  But when Jake’s mum offers them an unexpected gift, their plans are turned upside down.

Alex can’t help but be charmed by beautiful and talented Ivy, but he’s still recovering from his ex-wife’s betrayal and has a secret life he’s not ready to share with anyone yet. But as the Christmas spirit starts weaving its magic, Alex may find himself ready for love sooner than he imagines.
For Andrew, nothing is more important than family. As friends and family gather beneath his roof it’s a time for reflection about what the future might hold.

As far as Nick is concerned, pop sensation Aurora Storm is the ‘one that got away’. After they shared a brief holiday fling, he has been thinking about her ever since. Is Christmas the perfect time to finally reach out to her, or is love at first sight just in fairy-tales?

No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride

‘We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.’

It’s been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer to catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast.

Now isn’t the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn’t have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one’s ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he’s back on the streets again – battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy ‘They’ are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.

It sounds like paranoia, but what if he’s right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy’s ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn’t the only monster out there? And what’s going to happen when Lucy goes after them?

The Dinner Club by Helen Aitchison

Five people.

Five secrets.

Each needing healing, support and acceptance.

Derek’s life has changed suddenly. His wife of the past few decades has left him, unable to live with his secret anymore. Inspired by a TV show, he decides to start a dinner club to make new friends, the kind that might accept him if he can be brave enough to tell them the truth.

Eddie is grieving, a widower, struggling as a single parent. The void in his life slowly destroying him and his relationship with his young daughter.

Florence, supported by her carer Jessie, craves one more adventure to round off the last 80 odd years.

Violet needs a focus, a new identity, until she has the confidence to escape her grim reality with abusive husband, Ben.

Cara is lost, with nowhere to call home and no one to go home to, now she’s aged out of the care system.

Will this mishmash group fill each other’s souls as well as their plates?

Christmas at the Little Cottage on the Hill by Emma Davies

One twinkling winter’s night, Ruby wakes her sleeping children and escapes for a new life in the countryside. It’s a choice that will change her life beyond all recognition…

Arriving at the cosy little rental cottage as the first snow begins to fall, Ruby doesn’t regret leaving her bully of a husband for a moment, but she does feel guilty about uprooting her kids so close to Christmas. She can only wish that one day soon her son will forgive her.

It’s not long before the family are settled in and drinking hot chocolate by the fire, the flames kept roaring by a neighbouring woodsman called Angus. As big as a tree, but as gentle as a dormouse, all Ruby’s instincts tell her to be wary of letting this gorgeous stranger get too close. Is that the first tingle of festive magic Ruby can feel? Or might it even be hope?

As Christmas day approaches and a blizzard sparks a power cut across the entire village, Ruby must force herself to believe in Christmas miracles again. Was she right to put her trust in Angus? With only flickering candles to guide her through the darkness, will she ever find her way back to the light?

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

First impressions aren’t always what they seem . . .

Ruthie Midona is twenty-four (going on ninety-four) and fully committed to her job at a luxury retirement village. Keeping herself busy caring for the eccentric residents means that Ruthie can safely ignore her own life – what little there is of it.

Teddy Prescott is practically allergic to a hard day’s work. When he rocks up as the retirement village’s newest employee, Ruthie is less than impressed. The last thing she needs is a distraction as irritating (and handsome) as this selfish rich kid. Lucky for Ruthie, her favourite pair of mischievous residents need a new assistant to torture… so she hands over Teddy, ready for them to send him running.

Except Teddy may be about to surprise her – not just by surviving the old women’s antics, but by charming Ruthie so much, she starts to remember that there’s more to life than work.

And just maybe, her second first impression will lead to the love of a lifetime . . .

A Real Man for Christmas by Brenda Lowder

She’ll need a spark of Christmas magic to survive this holiday wedding…

When Margot Adler visits NYC to be the maid of honor in her younger sister’s wedding, she finds herself desperately wishing she had a date. While wandering the city to hide from a never-ending task list, she’s captivated by a male model in a department store Christmas window display. She catches his eye, he winks, and there’s a spark she can’t deny.

To her annoyance, her friends and family insist that he resembles her former love, Josh, and for some strange reason people keep warning her that what they have can’t be real.

Just as her new relationship is heating up, groomsman Josh tries to win back her heart. As the week leading up to the Christmas wedding runs out, Margot is torn between a model boyfriend and a second chance at love with the man she’s never truly forgotten. But with a tiny spark of Christmas magic, Margot just might find her happily ever after.

The Second Chance Holiday Club by Kate Galley

Evelyn Pringle isn’t the sort to make rash decisions. Or any decisions, really – she’s always left that sort of thing up to her husband. But he’s been found dead, wearing his best suit, with a diamond ring in his pocket that doesn’t fit her. When Evelyn finds a letter addressed to a woman on the Isle of Wight, she decides to deliver it. By hand.

So begins a very unusual holiday, and an adventure no one could have predicted – least of all Evelyn herself. With the help of some unexpected new friends, and a little effort on her part, Evelyn discovers that it’s never too late to have a second chance at life and forge friendships that are well-worth living for.

The Cornish Confetti Agency by Daisy James

Welcome to The Cornish Confetti Agency!

When the grand finale of Lexie Harrington’s catwalk show ends with a disastrous twist on the ‘ice bucket challenge’, she knew her highly-strung boss would fire her on the spot. What she wasn’t expecting was to bump into her fiancé cosied up with an attractive blonde in the restaurant opposite their apartment!

Desperate to escape her heartbreak, Lexie flees to her childhood home of St Ives to hold the fort at The Cornish Confetti Agency for her best friend Freya, leader of the yummy mummy network and firm believer in ‘happily ever afters’. Little did she know that delivering a Caribbean-themed wedding in sunny Cornwall would rival the fashion industry for drama, tantrums and mysterious goings on.

Who is responsible for dousing the bridesmaid’s dress with tomato ketchup? Or hiding the bride’s beloved Jimmy Choos? Or attaching googly eyes to everything in sight?

The perfect Cornish wedding? Is there such a thing for The Cornish Confetti Agency?

Simply Starstruck by Aspen Hadley

It’s been two years since Kate Evans unexpectedly lost her husband and one year since her aunt Cassandra stepped in and moved Kate and her son back to Colorado to start a new life.
Just when Kate is starting to get comfortable in her new reality, three very different men enter her life. Alec is young, easygoing, and up for anything. Nate is a divorced dad who is steady, reliable, and everything Kate should want. Jess is quite literally the boy next door, not to mention a real-life movie star straight from every girl’s dreams.
Is she really ready to jump into the dating scene again? Or does she stay in the same safe place free from heartache? In between braving water slides to cheating at croquet, Kate is forced to confront things she’d rather leave buried, along with the possibility of a new love that is exactly what she needs.

The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop by Cressida McLaughlin

Ollie Spencer has started a new life in the idyllic Cornish seaside town of Port Karadow. Throwing herself into her job at the town’s bookshop, A New Chapter, is one way to make friends. The shop is glitzing up for first Christmas and Ollie hopes her inspired ideas will give the shop the edge it needs to dazzle the town.

But far from being the Sugar Plum fairy the place needs, Ollie is fast becoming its Christmas pudding. With the bookshop’s success at stake, Ollie turns to twinkly-eyed café owner Max for help. Can he help Ollie to turn the page, and put the sparkle back into her Cornish dream?

A Christmas Celebration by Heidi Swain

When Paige turns up unannounced at Wynthorpe Hall, she discovers the place she knew when she was growing up has changed beyond all recognition. She’s only planning to stay for a short time, but is quickly pulled into local life.
 
One night while driving home after delivering library books and shopping to residents she stumbles across an isolated cottage and meets Albert, its elderly and rather grumpy owner. She quickly realises there’s more to Albert than meets the eye and the same can be said for the other man she can’t seem to help running into, handsome but brooding Brodie.
 
All three of them have a secret and a desire to hide away from the world, but with Christmas on the horizon, is that really the best way to celebrate the season?

The Perfect Hero by Emma Bennet

Romance writer Bronte Huntington lives in the beautiful village of Nettle Wood. She spends her days crafting perfect happy endings for the heroines in her books. But really, she’s waiting for her own Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet.

Her new neighbour, Ryan, seems lovely. He’s down to earth, he makes her laugh and he has a gorgeous Irish accent . . . But it seems they’re fated to just be friends.

Then Bronte meets aristocratic Sebastian Fairfax. As charming and handsome as the heroes in her novels, he’s everything she’s ever dreamed of.

But if he’s the one, why is he so hard to talk to? And could she ever get along with his rude, posh parents?

Bronte must choose her own destiny to find her perfect hero. But as she’s about to find out, the path to true love is never simple.

We’ll Have a Wonderful Cornish Christmas by CP Ward

Unlucky-in-love and long-term loner Lucy Drake can find no excuse not to join her parents on a Christmas trip to the Cornish coastal town of Tintagel, not when her father’s company is sponsoring the inaugural Christmas Extravaganza. Hoping to hide an embarrassing secret and generally keep out of sight, Lucy finds herself attracted to local surfing dentist, Dan. But when his ex-girlfriend and social media starlet Elizabeth Trevellian shows up to expose all of Lucy’s insecurities, Lucy will need all of the magic of Christmas to help her untangle the ensuing mess. Against a backdrop of fudge, Christmas beach parties, Brussels sprouts obsessions, reindeer rides and terrible Christmas karaoke, We’ll have a Wonderful Cornish Christmas is certain to delight fans of CP Ward’s Christmas debut, I’m glad I found you this Christmas, and even features a cameo from a familiar face.

A Change of Heart by Hannah Ellis

She was never meant to fall for her best friend’s brother…

Seren has had a soft spot for her best friend’s brother for as long as she can remember. But when she starts to see Kit as more than just a friend, she knows she’s on dangerous ground.

Avoiding him is probably her best course of action, but that’s easier said than done when you live on a tiny island.

When Kit declares he’s in love with her, she’s forced to deny her feelings. There’s too much to lose for her to do anything else.

If only her heart would get the message that she and Kit aren’t meant to be.

As the tension between them builds it becomes more and more difficult for Seren to keep her feelings hidden.

Can she find the courage to risk everything for love? And will Kit still be waiting for her when she does?

A Love to Last a Lifetime by Clare Swatman (pre-order)

The one that she wants…

Adam Bowers; handsome, funny and with the charm of a rock star, from the moment she laid eyes on him, teenage Erin was smitten. But first loves don’t always last, and after a whirlwind romance, Erin and Adam go their separate ways. Yet, Erin never lets go of the feeling that Adam may have been her soul mate…

The one that she needs…

Greg fell in love with Erin in their first week at university. Solid, trustworthy and hopelessly devoted to Erin, he knows he’s better for her than the feckless Adam, who is forever leaving Erin broken-hearted, before winning her back with his charm. As far as Greg is concerned, it’s easy to promise the world, but it’s harder to love someone for a lifetime.

The one that got away…

Years later Greg and Erin are married, and although life hasn’t always been easy, Greg’s love for Erin has never dimmed. But when Adam comes back, in desperate need of Erin’s help, everything changes.  Erin starts to wonder whether fate is trying to tell her something…

Will Erin risk it all for the man she had thought was ‘The One’?

From the author of the bestselling Before We Grow Old, Clare Swatman. A Love to Last a Lifetime is for anyone who had a first love, a lost love or a love that lasted forever. Perfect for all fans of Sophie Cousens, David Nicholls and Josie Silver.

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

Paws Off the Boss by Casey Griffin

She’s in the doghouse. He’s in the penthouse. When their worlds collide, can their lonely hearts become one?

Aspiring veterinarian Piper Summers has worked herself to the bone to graduate. But after she loses two of her three jobs, Piper worries she and her dachshund will be tossed out on the street. So when a hunky, cash-rich CEO offers her a lucrative gig as his dog walker, she swallows her pride and takes the position.

Billionaire Aiden Caldwell buried his fun behind a firm handshake and a sharp suit. But when the fetching woman of his dreams accidentally mauls him, he’s determined to break his leash and retrieve her heart. And after hiring her to walk his rescue hound, he’s willing to jump through every hoop to win her affection.

Though Piper is falling head over tail with Aiden, when her precious rescue center is vandalized and the wealthy man offers help, she fears he only sees her as a charity case. And as Aiden tries to prove his intentions are true, he struggles when business and pleasure start to blur into a serious case of puppy love.

Can they shed all their doubts and let passion bark up the perfect tree?

What Lies Beneath by Adam Croft

A peaceful Sunday morning in Rutland is shattered when a dead body is discovered on the rocks at Normanton Church.

The victim has been laid out in a crucifixion pose, facing the altar. DI Caroline Hills is certain there’s a religious connection — one which threatens the tranquility of life in the area.

The killer has gone to extraordinary lengths to make the symbolism clear. And the deaths will continue until Caroline and DS Dexter Antoine uncover the truth behind the dark secret — and what lies beneath.

The Next Girl by Carla Kovach

You thought he’d come to save you. You were wrong.

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her for the short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again…

Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results.

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive…

How to Survive a Holiday Fling by Isabel Jolie

Ten Reasons to Have a Holiday Fling…

That’s either the title of a holiday listicle I’ll be submitting in the hopes of strumming up extra cash…or it’s the mental game I’m playing during après ski.

Take a guess. (Hint: You can’t get it wrong.)

My first impression of the snowboarder balking at the top of the ski run wasn’t the greatest. But a couple of drinks in, with his ruffled hair, whiskey eyes and southern twang, Oliver transforms from just another vacationer to sizzling dreamy Texan.

This is the year I’m supposed to turn my life around. This is the year I’m supposed to live my life for me. What better way to kickstart my new life than with a holiday fling?

Plus, it’s my first Christmas without my family. And Oliver’s alone at Christmas too. No one should be alone at Christmas, right?

That’s my logic.

Those hot jingly nights keep us warm and toasty through my most unforgettable holiday ever.

And then it’s goodbye.

A sane, healthy, mature parting of ways and the kick off to the Year of Me.

But when an impulsive text rekindles the holiday spirit, it’s clear the fireworks didn’t end at New Year’s…

Christmas magic abounds in this love story that begins as a carefree holiday fling and transforms in the New Year, through all the seasons, and winds up right up back on Christmas Tree Lane.

Homecoming King by Penny Reid

Rex “TW” McMurtry’s perpetual single-hood wouldn’t bother him so much if all his ex-girlfriends didn’t keep marrying the very next person they dated, especially when so many of those grooms are his closest friends. He may be a pro-football defensive end for the Chicago Squalls, but the press only wants to talk about how he’s always a groomsman and never a groom. Rex is sick of being the guy before the husband, and he’s most definitely sick of being the best man at all their weddings.

Bartender Abigail McNerny is the gal-pal, the wing-woman, the she-BFF. She’s dated. Once. And once was more than enough. Privy to all the sad stories of her customers, ‘contentment over commitment’ is her motto, and Abby is convinced no one on earth could ever entice her into a romantic relationship . . . except that one guy she’s loved since preschool.

The guy who just walked into her bar.

The guy who doesn’t recognize her.

The guy who is drunk and needs a ride home.

The guy who has a proposition she should definitely refuse.

1989 by Val McDermid

1989. The world is on the brink of revolution and journalist Allie Burns is a woman on a mission. When she discovers a lead about the exploitation of society’s most vulnerable, Allie is determined to investigate and give voice to the silenced.

Elsewhere, a ticking clock begins the countdown to a murder. As Allie begins to connect the dots and edges closer to exposing the truth, it is more shocking than she ever imagined. There’s nothing like a killer story, and to tell it, Allie must risk her freedom and her life . . .

The Christmas Wish by Lindsey Kelk

Newly single lawyer Gwen Baker is hoping that a family Christmas – countryside, a mountain of food and festive films –
will salve the sting of her career hanging by a thread and her heart being trampled on. Because everyone else has their life sorted: even Dev, her boy-next-door crush, is now a tall, dark and handsome stranger with a fiancée. She can’t help wishing her future was clearer.

Then Gwen wakes up to discover it’s Christmas day all over again. Like Groundhog Day but with turkey. And family arguments. On repeat.

As she figures out how to escape her own particular Christmas hell, Dev is the one bright spot. He might be all grown-up but underneath he’s just as kind and funny as she remembers.

Maybe, just maybe, her heart can be mended after all.

But how do you fall in love with someone who can’t remember you from one day to the next?

The Coastguard’s House Darling Island by Polly Babbington

Lucie Peachtree is living her (nearly) best life as she prepares to pack up her house to move to the country with her ever-so-handsome, teenage heartthrob boyfriend turned partner, Rob.

Rob, unfortunately, forgets to mention that while Lucie was selling their house, trying to get pregnant and was doing all the things, had secured himself another life, thank-you-very-much. A life complete with a twenty-four-year-old very much pregnant work colleague and not including Lucie in any shape or form.

Dropped into a world Lucie has never known, one night she sets out to a calling from the universe. With a glass of wine, a tub full of bubbly water and rather too many onion bhajis, she sees something on the internet that takes her fancy. Before she has time to think about it too much, she has bought a rather large, rather rundown house on a little island just off the coast.

And so begins Lucie Peachtree’s initiation into all things Darling Island, a place she arrives in with more than a pang of regret.

As she feels her way into Darling’s quaint ways, a very surprising love interest walks slap bang into her life and suddenly living on Darling looks oh-so-much more on the rosier side.

With its gorgeous old blue and white buildings, cosy small-town feel, floating bridges, trundling vintage trams and a plethora of wonderful characters, we are whisked along for the ride as we watch Lucie navigate her way to a new life on the coast in the old Coastguard’s House.

Darling is a quiet seaside town on Darling Island known for its fine architecture and olde-worlde charm. Nestled on the beautiful hazy waters of Darling Estuary, Darling’s sandy beaches and bustling community is a well-kept secret just off the coast.

You know you’ve arrived on Darling when you step off the Pride of Darling floating bridge and take a trip up the main street on the tram.

With its beautiful sea mists, abundant flora and fauna and the sound of the old fog horn in the distance Darling will hold you in her grasp and never let you go.

Darling Island ~ just off the mainland, so very far from care.

The Boat House Pretty Beach by Polly Babbington

A sweeping, sparkly blue beach town surrounded by water, crisscrossed with sweet old laneways, filled with wonderful characters and overlooked by a quaint old blue and white lighthouse.

We meet the lovely Sallie Broadchurch and follow her bringing back to life an unloved old boathouse – pretty, forty and very much looking for a new life by the sea.

Holly and Xian are the gorgeous owners of the Pretty Beach Bakery, along with Holly’s son Rory, a doctor in the city and Sallie’s best friend Nina. Then there’s beautiful Jessica and her amazing bride Camilla of Pretty Beach Fish and Chips, Nel the local bus driver and the delectable David Windsor, businessman extraordinaire.

Top it all off with Ben Chalmers, dashing owner of Ben Chalmers Seaplanes, a lot of history behind him and wondering quite what’s happening when a new neighbour arrives in his little town by the sea.

Summer at Sea by Beth Labonte

Four jackets of varying weights, enough socks for the entire Confederate Army, three umbrellas, most of the antacid aisle from the local pharmacy, and six pairs of old people sneakers that all look exactly the same. Have you ever helped your parents pack for a weeklong cruise? No? I didn’t think so. So shut it.

So begins vacation for Summer Hartwell – twenty-six years old, living with her anxiety-ridden parents, and unwillingly booked by her brother on a weeklong cruise to Bermuda. Despite the nightmare of being trapped aboard a cruise ship with Mom and Dad, Summer sees a rare opportunity to fulfill The Prophecy – her mother’s declaration that she will live at home until she gets married. With two thousand passengers onboard, at least one of them must be husband material, right?

The only problem is Graham Blenderman – her brother’s best friend who is joining them for the week, in all of his tall, blonde, extroverted glory. Graham doesn’t believe Summer needs a husband in order to break free from her parents. He thinks she just needs a little bit of nerve. And to Summer’s introverted horror, he’s willing to spend the entire week proving that he’s right.

The Yellow Kitchen by Margaux Vialleron

Expectation meets Julie and Julia, The Yellow Kitchen is a brilliant exploration of food, belonging and friendship.

London E17, 2019. A yellow kitchen stands as a metaphor for the lifelong friendship between three women: Claude, the baker, goal-orientated Sophie and political Giulia. They have the best kind of friendship, chasing life and careers; dating, dreaming and consuming but always returning to be reunited in the yellow kitchen.

That is, until a trip to Lisbon unravels unexplored desires between Claude and Sophie. Having sex is one thing, waking up the day after is the beginning of something new.

Exploring the complexities of female friendship, The Yellow Kitchen is a hymn to the last year of London as we knew it and a celebration of the culture, the food and the rhythms we live by.

The Twelve Wishes by Ruby Basu

She’s here for the perfect Christmas escape…

When Sharmila discovers her late friend, Thomas, has gifted her the holiday of her dreams, she can’t pack her bags fast enough. Arriving in Pineford, it’s everything she’d ever hoped for and more.

But she’s in for another surprise, because Thomas has left her with one last request: if she completes his Christmas wish list of festive activities, her chosen charity will receive a big donation. Or so Sharmila thinks.

…He’s there to reclaim his family’s legacy

Little does she know, she’s set to inherit Thomas’s estate too, much to his nephew Zach’s disbelief. Determined not to see his family’s legacy left to a stranger, he’s come to Pineford to do whatever it takes to stop Sharmila from fulfilling that list.

When Sharmila and Zach meet, neither are prepared for sparks to fly. For Sharmila’s sworn off love, and Zach doesn’t trust her. But with every passing wish they find themselves growing closer. And amongst the twinkling town lights and fallen snow, Sharmila can feel her heart opening up to Zach. But when she learns he’s been keeping a secret from her, can Sharmila forgive him and get the happy-ever-after she’s always wished for this Christmas?

The Midnight House by Amanda Geard

People disappear. Secrets remain . . .

1940: In south-west Ireland, the young and beautiful Lady Charlotte Rathmore is pronounced dead after she mysteriously disappears by the lake of Blackwater Hall.

In London, on the brink of the Blitz, Nancy Rathmore is grieving Charlotte’s death when a letter arrives containing a secret that she is sworn to keep – one that will change her life for ever.

2019: Disgraced young journalist Ellie Fitzgerald flees Dublin for the safety of rural Kerry. When she discovers a faded letter, tucked inside the pages of an old book from Blackwater Hall, she finds herself drawn in by the mystery of Lady Charlotte’s disappearance, and uncovers a long-buried secret…

Tempting Taste by Sara Whitney

She’s chaos. I hate chaos. So why am I obsessed with claiming that smart mouth of hers?

I’m out of a job, and it’s Josie’s fault.
She’s loud. Pushy. Distractingly gorgeous.
Now she’s offering to help me start my own wedding cake bakery.
It’s something I’ve dreamed about, and she’s offering it up like it’s nothing.
She thinks we’d make the perfect partners.
I wish I wasn’t so tempted.
But she has no idea what kind of partnership I really want.
Because someday I’m going to slip and bury my fingers in her fiery red hair.
Someday I’m going to pin her to the wall and use my lips to stop the constant chatter I’ve grown to love.

The Orphan’s Letters by Glynis Peters

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but does nothing to heal the pain of spending every minute waiting to hear the worst…

As the Second World War rages on, nurse Kitty Pattison’s life takes a nomadic turn as her work with the Red Cross sees her traversing the country, moving from post to post.

With her best friends Jo and Trixie also scattered across the UK, and her soldier sweetheart Michael off on the continent undertaking medical missions he can’t discuss, the war takes its toll and long days are followed by sleepless nights interrupted only by nightmares of what she’s seen on the wards.

Now, Kitty’s hopes rise and fall with the arrival of the post – the only thing that keeps her connected to her aunt and uncle, her dear friends, and her Michael – and every moment spent with those she loves is held dear, because each one could be the last…

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The moment she laid eyes on Heather Wisher, Tully knew this woman was going to destroy their lives.

Tully and Rachel Aston are murderous when they discover their father has a new girlfriend. The fact that Heather is half his age isn’t even the most shocking part. Stephen is still married to their mother, who is in a care facility with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Announcing his plan to divorce and then remarry, the news of Stephen and Heather’s engagement sets a chain a family implosion. With their mother unable to speak for herself, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets and what this new woman really wants.

Heather knows she has an uphill battle to win over Tully and Rachel, all the while carrying the burden of the secrets of her past. But, as it turns out, they are all hiding something.

A garage full of stolen goods. An old hot-water bottle stuffed with cash. A blood-soaked wedding. And that’s only the beginning . . .

The Christmas Holiday by Phillipa Ashley

She’s planned the perfect Christmas. But fate might have other ideas…

Krystle didn’t have a normal childhood and longed for warm family Christmases with presents under the tree. Now she makes sure everyone else has the perfect Christmas she never had, bringing beautiful decorations to cheer as many people as possible.

With her festive business booming, she decides to celebrate by renting a secluded house in the Lakes, with a plan to make this the ultimate yuletide getaway.

But fate immediately throws a spanner in the works in the form of a broken-down car, a flooded river and Max; a man who despises Christmas.

Krystle becomes determined to show Max the joys of the holiday. She won’t take no for an answer.

Can she melt Max’s Grinch-like heart? And can he show her that life doesn’t need to go to plan to take you somewhere magical…

Bad Apples by Will Dean

It only takes one…

A murder

A resident of small-town Visberg is found decapitated

A festival

A grim celebration in a cultish hilltop community after the apple harvest

A race against time

As Visberg closes ranks to keep its deadly secrets, there could not be a worse time for Tuva Moodyson to arrive as deputy editor of the local newspaper. Powerful forces are at play and no one dares speak out. But Tuva senses the story of her career, unaware that perhaps she is the story…

Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

She’s snowed in with the family. The only problem? They’re not her family.

A family gathering
This Christmas the Miller siblings have one goal – to avoid their family’s well-meaning questions. Ross, Alice and Clemmie have secrets that they don’t intend to share, and they are relying on each other to deflect attention.

An uninvited guest
Lucy Clarke is facing a Christmas alone, and the prospect of losing her job – unless she can win a major piece of business from Ross Miller. She’ll deliver her proposal to his family home in the Scottish Highlands and then leave. After all, she wouldn’t want to intrude on the Miller’s perfect family Christmas.

A Christmas to remember
When Lucy appears on the Miller’s snow-covered doorstep, she is mistaken for Ross’s girlfriend. But by the time the confusion is cleared up, a storm has hit and Lucy is stuck. As everyone settles in for a snowed-in Christmas, tensions bubble to the surface and suddenly Lucy finds herself facing a big family fallout with a family that isn’t hers…

The Secrets of Rochester Place by Iris Costello

A LOST CHILD. A LONG-KEPT SECRET. THE HOUSE THAT HOLDS THE KEY

Spring 1937: Teresa is evacuated to London in the wake of the Guernica bombing. She thinks she’s found safety in the soothing arms of Mary Davidson and the lofty halls of Rochester Place, but trouble pursues her wherever she goes.

Autumn 2020: Corrine, an emergency dispatcher, receives a call from a distressed woman named Mary. But when the ambulance arrives at the address, Mary is nowhere to be found. Intrigued, Corinne investigates and, in doing so, disturbs secrets that have long-dwelt in Rochester Place’s crumbling walls. Secrets that, once revealed, will change her life for ever . . .

Who is Mary Davidson? And what happened at Rochester Place all those years ago?

Set between the dusty halls of Rochester Place and the bustling streets of modern-day Tooting, this emotive, intricately layered mystery tells the spellbinding story of two people, separated by time, yet mysteriously connected through an enchanting Georgian house and the secrets within its walls. For fans of Sally Page’s The Keeper of Stories.

Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

Can these opposites turn up the heat . . . without burning down the house?

House-flipping sensation and YouTube star Maggie Nichols can’t wait to dig into her next challenge. Arriving in a tiny American town with only a coffeemaker, Maggie is prepared to restore a crumbling Victorian mansion in four months or less. She has her to-do lists, her blueprints and her team. What she doesn’t have is time for sexy, laid-back landscaper Silas Wright.

The man takes flirtation to a whole new level. And he does it shirtless . . . He and his dog are impressively persistent. But she’s not interested in putting down roots. Not when fans tune in to watch her travel the country turning dilapidated houses into dream homes. A short-term fling on the other hand could fit nicely into her calendar. After all, Maggie remembers what fun is like. Vaguely.

As their summer gets downright steamy, Silas manages to demolish the emotional walls she’s spent years building, sending Maggie into a panic. He’s the wrench in her carefully constructed plans. With the end of the project looming, she has a decision to make. But how can she stay when her entire career is built on moving on?

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Dannie Kohan has held true to her meticulously crafted five-year plan since she understood the concept. On the day that she nails the most important interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.

But that night Dannie falls asleep and dreams of a night five years in the future where she’s engaged to another man. It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real…

Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind. That is, until five years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…

In Five Years is a love story, brimming with joy and heartbreak. But it is definitely not the love story you’re expecting.

Nothing Left Unsaid by Jane Godley

GLASGOW, 2019. Sharon has rushed home at the news her mother has been admitted to hospital. It’s clear Senga‘s life is coming to an end. As Sharon gathers family and friends together to say goodbye, Senga, as always, does things in her own mysterious way. She instructs Sharon to find the red diary she kept in the 1970s and to read it. There’s something Senga needs to talk about while she still has time. The journey into her mother’s past is both shocking and surprising, forcing Sharon to re-evaluate her own childhood, her marriage and what she wants her own future to hold.

GLASGOW, 1976. Life in the tenements of Shettleston is a daily struggle. You need your wits about you to survive, and your friends. Senga has both in spades: she is part of the Shettleston ‘menage’ alongside her friends Bunty, Sandra, Philomena and Isa, and whatever life hands to them – cheating husbands, poverty, illness, threats and abuse – they throw something back just as hard. These women are strong because they need to be. And they never, ever walk away in times of crisis – as Sharon is about to find out.

The Women of Rothschild by Natalie Livingstone

The story of the family who rose from the Frankfurt ghetto to become synonymous with wealth and power has been much mythologized. Yet half the Rothschilds, the women, remain virtually unknown.

From the East End of London to the Eastern seaboard of the United States, from Spitalfields to Scottish castles, from Bletchley Park to Buchenwald, and from the Vatican to Palestine, Natalie Livingstone follows the extraordinary lives of the English branch of the Rothschild women from the dawn of the nineteenth century to the early years of the twenty first.

As Jews in a Christian society and women in a deeply patriarchal family, they were outsiders. Determined to challenge and subvert expectations, they supported each other, building on the legacies of their mothers and aunts. They became influential hostesses and talented diplomats, choreographing electoral campaigns, advising prime ministers, advocating for social reform and trading on the stock exchange. Misfits and conformists, conservatives and idealists, performers and introverts, they mixed with Rossini and Mendelssohn, Disraeli, Gladstone and Chaim Weizmann, amphetamine-dealers, temperance campaigners, Queen Victoria, and Albert Einstein. They broke code, played a pioneering role in the environmental movement, scandalised the world of women’s tennis by introducing the overarm serve and drag-raced with Miles Davies in Manhattan.

The Lighthouse Bookshop by Sharon Gosling

At the heart of a tiny community in a remote village just inland from the Aberdeenshire coast stands an unexpected lighthouse. Built two centuries ago by an eccentric landowner, it has become home to the only bookshop for miles around.
 
Rachel is an incomer to the village. She arrived five years ago and found a place she could call home. So when the owner of the Lighthouse Bookshop dies suddenly, she steps in to take care of the place, trying to help it survive the next stage of its life.
 
But when she discovers a secret in the lighthouse, long kept hidden, she realises there is more to the history of the place than she could ever imagine. Can she uncover the truth about the lighthouse’s first owner? And can she protect the secret history of the place?

The Roughest Draft by Austin Siegemund-Broka

Their romance was a bestseller. Too bad it was all fiction . . .

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten book topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Forced to reunite they hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

Secret Evenings in Pretty Beach by Polly Babbington

Get ready to get lost in the gorgeous world of Pretty Beach all over again. 

 Settle down with a cup of tea ready for the next instalment from the sparkly little town by the sea as we meet Strawberry Hill resident Lottie Cloudberry. 

The sun is shining, Lottie’s beautiful garden is beginning to come to life and she stumbles upon an idea for a new business which means she might possibly be able to stay in Pretty Beach and keep her old house by the sea. 

As life gets busy for Lottie, her new business starts to boom and as her beautiful garden is flourishing Lottie thinks there’s no room left in her life for anything else. 

But just when she’s least expecting it along comes dashing Connor Bally, businessman extraordinaire, and Lottie Cloudberry is swept off her feet in more ways than one. 

Is it too late for Lottie Cloudberry to fall head over heels in love again or will Connor Bally change all her thoughts of life on her own?

We Blend by Willa Drew

Stage name. Secret plans. Real love.

Escaping the shadow of my famous rockstar step-father… and the paparazzi, is how I find myself microphone-in-hand at a bar off campus wearing a disguise and my heart on my sleeve.

I just want to sing. I need melodies like I need air to breathe. Music isn’t just some hobby: it’s my everything. And from the moment Wil steps on that stage next to me, I know my life won’t ever be the same.

Our connection is instant. We want each other almost as much as we want the money. He’s in the States on scholarship, and I’m trying to make my way in the industry. We forge an alliance, not knowing the secrets we both keep.

Even tangled in a duet of lies, we make sense . . . we blend. Together, we could have it all. Or lose our hearts.

* Originally on Amazon’s Kindle Vella as Falling For The Rockstar’s Daughter. Reworked with new content and available in print for the first time as WE Blend.

Subscription Books

A Long Shadow by David Beckler (Capital Crime sub)

In this dystopian vision of London, public safety is in private hands—and nobody is beyond the reach of the ‘law’.

The constant threat of terrorism has left London under round-the-clock surveillance and in the tightening grip of privatised security firms. Journalist Antonia Conti suspects one such organisation—GRM—not only of being behind several women’s disappearances, but of financing the widespread violence it claims to fight.

When a gang of hitmen use rampant state surveillance to track Antonia down, she narrowly escapes with her life. But then one of them turns up dead—covered in her DNA—and Antonia finds herself the prime suspect in his murder.

DS Russell Chapman needs to bring her in. But evidence that Antonia has been framed quickly stacks up and when a personal grudge between her and GRM’s shadowy head of security is revealed, he begins an uncomfortable partnership with her.

Together, the pair delve beneath the surface of the corporate machine and soon find themselves embroiled in a dark and violent underworld even they had barely dared imagine. Will they find the evidence to bring GRM down? And can they keep Antonia’s name off the list of missing women?

Are You Awake? by Claire McGowan (Capital Crime sub)

With two young children, Mary hasn’t slept in what feels like years. For his part, Tim never feels safe enough to sleep. And so one hot, exhausting night, the two strangers meet while seeking solace in a nearby park. There, they witness something horrific: a violent attack in the window of a neighbouring house.

Bonded by what they’ve seen, Tim and Mary are desperate to find answers. And when they see news reports of a missing woman who was last seen walking alone not far from them, the pair are convinced it’s her they saw being attacked—no matter what the police say.

But with her marriage under strain and the police on their tail, Mary begins to doubt her own mind…and Tim’s. And as the pair are drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, the culprit appears to be even closer to home than they thought. Have they got it all wrong, or is something even more sinister going on?

The Dark Room by Lisa Gray (Capital Crime sub)

Ex–crime reporter Leonard Blaylock spends his days on an unusual hobby, developing strangers’ forgotten and discarded rolls of film. He loves the small mysteries the photographs reveal to him. Then Leonard finds something no one would ever expect, or want, to see captured on film—the murder of a young woman.

But that’s impossible, because the woman is already dead. Leonard was there when it happened five years earlier.

He has never been able to shake his guilt from that terrible night. It cost Leonard everything: his career, his fiancée, his future. But if the woman didn’t really die, then what actually happened?

Animal Life by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (NB mag sub)

In the days leading up to Christmas, Dómhildur delivers her 1,922nd baby. Beginnings and endings are her family trade; she comes from a long line of midwives on her mother’s side and a long line of undertakers on her father’s. She even lives in the apartment that she inherited from her grandaunt, a midwife with a unique reputation for her unconventional methods. As a terrible storm races towards Reykjavik, Dómhildur discovers decades worth of letters and manuscripts hidden amongst her grandaunt’s clutter. Fielding calls from her anxious meteorologist sister and visits from her curious new neighbour, Dómhildur escapes into her grandaunt’s archive and discovers strange and beautiful reflections on birth, death and human nature. For even in the depths of an Icelandic winter, new life will find a way.

This Month’s Recommended Reads

Christmas by the Coast by Mandy Baggot

It has taken Harriet years to get over the love of her life, but finally she has a dependable boyfriend, a secure job and a decent flat. As long as her thoughts never stray to Mack – the one who got away – she knows that life is good.

But when her beloved grandmother dies just before Christmas, Harriet drops everything to fly back to her childhood home: a white clapboard house nestled among the snow-covered beaches of the Hamptons, Long Island, USA.

Even in her grief, Harriet is determined to give her Grandpa and his neighbours a Christmas to remember. But her world is turned upside down when she sees Mack for the first time, and he begs her to give him a second chance…

Can Harriet forgive Mack and let him mend her broken heart? Or should she return to the safe life she came from?

A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

When Bee Hobbes takes the lead in a squeaky-clean romantic Christmas movie, there are only three rules:

1. Don’t get involved with anyone on set.
2. Don’t tell anyone what you do for a living.
3. Definitely don’t get involved with anyone on set.
3b. Seriously.

Now, she’s filming in Christmas Notch, a small town with Christmas trees and festive tunes all year round.

But Bee’s got a secret identity to hide, and it’s not family-friendly. And her co-star, Nolan Shaw, an ex-boyband member infamous for his own x-rated antics, not only knows it, but is secretly her biggest fan.

When things start to heat up on set, Bee and Nolan must keep this steamy affair under wraps, or risk ruining everything . . .

Snowfall Over Halesmere House by Suzanne Snow

Welcome to Halesmere House, where romance might be just around the corner…

After years of living in the past, Ella is ready to start building a future. The perfect opportunity presents itself when she is offered a short-term role at Halesmere House in the Lake District, and tasked with kick-starting its artists’ residence. She can’t wait to start and explore a new career in an inspiring location.

But when Ella arrives at Halesmere, she wonders if she’s made a huge mistake after she clashes with Max, the new owner. Max has his own reasons to be unsettled by her presence, but despite his misgivings it seems everyone else loves having Ella around. As a single dad, it’s his children’s attachment to her that bothers him most. Who will pick up the pieces when Ella leaves?

What Max doesn’t know is that Ella is falling for more than just the Lake District and the community around her. Can her temporary job lead to a permanent happy ending?

Driving Home for Christmas by Joanna Bolouri

THREE CHRISTMASES. TWO BROKEN HEARTS. ONE HELL OF A JOURNEY.

Driving home marks the start of the holidays for Kate and Ed, who have made this journey every Christmas of their ten-year long relationship. Normally the seasonal hits blare from the car stereo, and they are guaranteed to be wearing ridiculous jumpers in anticipation, but this year a frosty silence fills the car…

A massive argument leads to the immediate collapse of their relationship. But the show must go on, so they decide to brave their families together one last time.

With three Christmases to celebrate, an old flame waiting under the mistletoe and a shed load of expectation around their future together, this most wonderful time of year is anything but. There will be turkey, tiffs and tantrums galore, but it’s sure to be a Christmas they’ll never forget.

All I Want for Christmas by Joanna Bolouri

What if the love of your life was your best friend’s girl?


When Nick loses his job and is dumped by his glamorous but demanding girlfriend, he is forced to grudgingly accept work as a Santa at a local Christmas grotto. As his friends are getting married or promoted, Nick spends his days being terrorised by unfriendly elves and cried on by snotty, spoiled children.

Then he meets 4-year-old Alfie. All Alfie wants for Christmas is for his mum, Sarah, to be happy again. Moved by the boy’s selfless wish, Nick arranges a date between Sarah and his best friend, Matt. But as Sarah and Alfie become part of all their lives, Nick realises that happiness for Sarah and Matt might mean heartbreak for himself.

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss

A winter wedding of school friends should be the highlight of Nory Noel’s festive calendar. But that group has long since drifted apart, and Nory is dreading the lavish, week-long affair. Still, she supposes, being the only single person means she gets a king-size bed in the idyllic castle venue all to herself.

As the champagne flows, the years roll back and soon the air is alive with old sparks and old tensions. Desperate for a moment of peace, Nory escapes and crashes into Isaac, the castle’s gardener – and her former school rival.

Nory and Isaac have more in common these days than they could ever have imagined. But as she steals more time away to spend with him, Isaac reveals an astonishing secret about his past. Nory is in a unique position to help right this wrong – but uncovering the truth might mean pushing Isaac away once more . . .

Baby It’s Cold Outside by Emily Bell

FATE PULLED THEM APART BUT NOT BEFORE THEY MADE A PROMISE.

TEN CHRISTMASES LATER, WILL THEIR WISH COME TRUE? . . .

As Norah battles through the bustling December crowds, she hears the notes of a song that transports her back to the most romantic week of her life.

After meeting on a blissful holiday, but knowing they had to part, a boy named Andrew made her a promise:

If they are both single on Christmas Eve in ten years’ time, they will meet under the clock on Grafton Street, Dublin.

Norah has no idea if he will remember, but she has nothing to lose.

So, hoping for a Christmas miracle, she heads to Dublin. To that clock. And, maybe, to Andrew.

But it wouldn’t be Christmas without a few surprises . . .

A Very London Christmas by Sara Madderson

SAOIRSE
I’ve scored the ultimate Christmas nannying gig, and my plans include:
(1) Hanging with adorable, four-year-old Bea
(2) Ice-skating
(4) Visiting Santa at Harrods.

They do not include:
(1) Falling for Miles, Bea’s grumpy, loaded and unreasonably gorgeous dad
(2) Miles peeling my top off (and his own) when Bea vomits all over us
(3) Accidentally telling him to ‘make better use of me’ over champagne

Christmas is not going to plan.

MILES
Don’t be ridiculous. Saoirse’s warm heart and stunning looks may be playing havoc with my heart (and my trousers), but I could never be serious about a woman who buys a Mrs Claus seat cover for my toilet. End of.

A Very London Christmas is a grumpy sunshine, single dad, nanny-boss romance containing enough festivity to warm the Scroogiest hearts and a healthy sprinkling of Christmas spice!

Holiday Romance by Catherine Walsh

She’s meant to be catching flights, not catching feelings…

Molly and Andrew are just trying to get home to Ireland for the holidays, when a freak snowstorm grounds their flight.

Nothing romantic has ever happened between them: they’re friends and that’s all. But once a year, for the last ten years, Molly has spent seven hours and fifteen minutes sitting next to Andrew on the last flight before Christmas from Chicago to Dublin, drinking terrible airplane wine and catching up on each other’s lives. In spite of all the ways the two friends are different, it’s the holiday tradition neither of them has ever wanted to give up.

Molly isn’t that bothered by Christmas, but—in yet another way they’re total opposites—Andrew is a full-on fanatic for the festive season and she knows how much getting back to Ireland means to him. So, instead of doing the sane thing and just celebrating the holidays together in America, she does the stupid thing. The irrational thing. She vows to get him home. And in time for his mam’s famous Christmas dinner.

The clock is ticking. But Molly always has a plan. And—as long as the highly-specific combination of taxis, planes, boats, and trains all run on time—it can’t possibly go wrong.

What she doesn’t know is that, as the snow falls over the city and over the heads of two friends who are sure they’re not meant to be together, the universe might just have a plan of its own…

Keeping a Christmas Promise by Jo Thomas

One Icelandic Christmas holiday. One snowstorm. An adventure they’ll never forget!

Twenty-five years ago, Freya and her three best friends created a bucket list. The future seemed bright and full of hope . . . But now they are travelling to Iceland in memory of the friend they’ve lost, determined to fulfil her dream of seeing the Northern Lights at Christmas.

They didn’t count on an avalanche leaving them stranded! Handsome local, Pétur, comes to the rescue, showing them how the community survives the hard winter. With Christmas approaching, Freya and her friends throw themselves into the festivities, decorating and cooking for the villagers using delicious local ingredients.

But will they manage to see the Northern Lights? And can Freya’s own dreams come true, this Christmas?

This Month’s Audiobook Christmas Listens

That’s me from (finally) so all that’s left to say is Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

 

15 comments

  1. I’m glad to hear that your family, you and your OH are all doing better. You picked up so many good books, Jill. A lot of authors that I really enjoy. I figure that we could have worse vices than buying books and reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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