I started the year still on a Christmas reading binge and decided to extend the themed reading to Epiphany. Largely because, you know, all those Christmas books I’ve bought compared to the number of Christmas books read. If you’ll excuse the pun, that is no epiphany! I’m also still binging on audiobooks, but at least I’ve reverted back to general listening on that front. I now take one to work with me so that brightens up my day, especially if I happen to have Sebastian York talking to me (IYKYK)
My Kindle Unlimited offer ended on 4th Jan, so I’d planned on finally getting to read my own books again, instead of feasting on freebies. That was short lived, as Amazon offered me a half price deal for 6 months. Well, you know I can’t resist a bargain, so I signed up again – I know, there’s no hope!
With so many books to read the problem is always choosing what I’m going to read. Last year I tried the alphabet approach, which sort of worked but felt a bit too prescriptive. This month I’ve started with a Six Degrees of Separation approach. The theory is, that all people on average are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. This has given rise to a book meme that many bloggers adopt to the connection between 6 books (by author, title words, concept, format, etc). I’ll be dropping the notion of restricting it to six, but essentially I’ll be choosing my next read based on something (however tenuous) that links it my last read. That should be interesting!
I had thought that this year I might try and dip my toe back into reviewing, or at least, passing comment on what I’ve read, largely because I never feel I give books and more importantly authors the shout out they deserve. Although, by default, I only feature books I’ve enjoyed so hopefully that still acts as a recommendation. Needless to say, time ran away with me so my intention is to play catch up and post some thoughts in a later post.
Books I Read This Month
(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)
Winter Wishes at the White Hart Inn by Sharon Booth
Welcome to the Yorkshire Dales market town of Tuppenny Bridge, and a heartwarming series featuring romance and friendship in a tight-knit community.
What happened to Sally Fletcher and Rafferty Kingston after they discovered how the other half lives?
Sally is making a life for herself in Tuppenny Bridge. She’s found new friends and is working hard in her job as bar manager at The White Hart Inn, owned by her daughter’s father-in-law, Rafferty.
She’s determined to make the pub a success to repay Rafferty for his kindness, after he offered her the chance of a fresh start when her marriage broke down.
Sally and Rafferty are good friends, but when Sally’s forced to revisit the life she left behind, she wonders if their friendship will survive Christmas, as unexpected guests arrive at The White Hart Inn.
Rafferty’s fully aware that Sally sees him only as a friend, but that doesn’t stop him wishing they could be more. When a ghost from Sally’s past arrives in Tuppenny Bridge, he’s very much afraid that the wishes he’s made will never come true.
As the snow falls and the residents of Tuppenny Bridge prepare to celebrate Christmas, both Sally and Rafferty must gather their courage and face their demons before it’s too late.
When this festive season is over, will they move forward into the future together, or will it be a bleak midwinter at The White Hart Inn?
One Last Gift by Emily Stone
THIS YEAR, WILL YOU BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO FOLLOW YOUR HEART?
Curl up and follow a trail from sparkling London to beautiful Cornwall.
For as long as Cassie can remember, it had been the three of them: Cassie, her big brother Tom, and Tom’s cocky, gorgeous best friend Sam.
Now, Tom is sorted, Sam is flying high, and Cassie thinks she’s figured it all out. Then life takes an unexpected turn.
For Cassie starting again seems unimaginable. Until she finds an envelope with her name on it, with a letter asking her to follow a trail to one last gift.
And, suddenly, what seemed like an ending promises to lead Cassie to a love that is surprising and new… if she is brave enough to follow her heart…
A Gift Called Hope by Eva Jordan
A heartfelt novel of a Christmas shadowed by loss and regret—and brightened by hope for renewal.
Six-year-old Jack is counting the days to Christmas. But his grandmother is just counting the days until it’s over. For Jill, the holiday comes with painful memories, and she wants only to escape the recent past and its tragedies.
She’s moved and started a new life running a food truck in Widmore Bay, a quaint seaside town, in order to flee her agonising history.
It’s only for little Jack’s sake that Jill tolerates the tree and decorations. She just wants to spend Christmas with the curtains drawn, reading a book and drinking coffee.
But this season, she may stumble onto a miracle that restores joy—and hope—in her heart . . .
The Worst Christmas Ever? by Rebecca Paulinyi
Can the magic of the Christmas season be rediscovered in a small Devon town?
When Shirley ‘Lee’ Jones returns home from an awful day at the office, the last thing she expects to find is her husband in bed with another woman. Six weeks until Christmas, and Lee finds the life she had so carefully planned has been utterly decimated.
Hurt, angry and confused, Lee makes a whirlwind decision to drive her problems away and ends up in Totnes, an eccentric town in the heart of Devon. As Christmas approaches, Lee tries to figure out what path her life will follow now, as she looks at it from the perspective of a soon-to-be 31-year-old divorcée.
Can she ever return to her normal life? Or is a new reality – and a new man – on the horizon?
Finding herself and flirting with the handsome local police officer might just make this the best Christmas ever.
Lawyers and Lattes by Rebecca Paulinyi
A new home, a new man, and a new career are all great – but do they always lead to happily-ever-after?
Shirley ‘Lee’ Jones has made some spontaneous and sometimes questionable decisions since the breakup of her marriage, but deciding to remain in the quirky town of Totnes has got to be the biggest decision so far. Now Lee has a new business, gorgeous man, and friends keeping life interesting. But when questions of law crop up in her life again, she finds herself yearning for the career and the life plan she gave up when she left everything behind.
And when unexpected news tests her relationship, her resolve, and everything tying her to her life, Lee must decide between the person she is and the person she wants to become.
Sometimes decisions about life, law, and love all reside in grey areas. Will Lee’s newfound happiness in Devon be short-lived? Or could her new life give her the chance to have everything she’s ever wanted?
The Man I Never Met by Elle Cook
Two lives are about to be changed by one phone call. . .
When Davey misdials Hannah’s number, at first they think nothing of it.
After all, Davey lives in Texas and Hannah lives in London.
But when Davey gets a job in London, their paths are sure to cross. As messaging turns to video calling, this feels like the start of something.
Weeks later, Hannah is waiting for Davey at the airport, but he never walks into Arrivals.
When Hannah finds out why, her world is turned on its head. And with their future so uncertain, each must pick up the pieces of their lives.
Will fate intervene once more to bring them together? Or will Davey always be the man that Hannah never met?
When in Rome by Sarah Adams
Rome is where the heart is.
Amelia Rose is burned-out from years of maintaining her public image as pop princess Rae Rose. Inspired by her favourite Audrey Hepburn film, Roman Holiday, she drives off in the middle of the night for a break in Rome . . . Rome, Kentucky, that is.
Running the pie shop his grandmother left him, Noah Walker is busy enough as it is. But after finding Amelia on his front lawn in her broken-down car, he decides to let her stay in his guest room – on a very temporary basis, of course.
As the two of them grow closer, Noah starts to see a new side to Amelia – kind-hearted and goofy, yet lonely from years in the public eye. Amelia may have to go back to her other life someday, but for now she’s perfectly happy falling in love with the cozy small town she’s found herself in . . . and her grumpy tour guide isn’t half-bad either.
Two Metres From You by Heidi Stephens
LOVE MIGHT BE CLOSER THAN YOU THINK . . .
Gemma isn’t sure what upsets her more. The fact she just caught her boyfriend cheating, or that he did it on her brand-new Heal’s cushions.
All she knows is she needs to put as many miles between her and Fraser as humanly possible. So, when her best friend suggests a restorative few days in the West Country, it seems like the perfect solution.
That is, until the country enters a national lockdown that leaves her stranded. All she has for company is her dog, Mabel. And the mysterious (and handsome!) stranger living at the bottom of her garden . . .
Love, Locked Down by Beth Reekles
Five couples. One week. A love story like no other . . .
When an apartment block is put on lockdown, its residents are in for a whirlwind week. In Flat 14, wild and reckless Imogen is stuck living with a one-night-stand whose name she can’t remember.
Upstairs, Isla and Danny are still in the honeymoon period, but a warts-and-all week together so early in the relationship could make or break their romance. Meanwhile, Zach and Serena’s steady relationship is on tenterhooks, and pineapple on pizza might actually be the last straw.
In Flat 22, Olivia’s Maid of Honour duties are pushing her to the edge as a wedding-planning weekend has turned into an entire (nightmarish) week… And speaking of weddings, this whole thing has made Ethan realise he wants to spend the rest of his life with Charlotte, if only he can surprise her with the perfect proposal – and find a way to sneak her into the building . . .
You Drive Me Crazy by Carole Matthews
The last place Anna Terry expects to fall in love is in the waiting room of her divorce lawyer’s office, but that’s where she meets Nick Diamond . . .
Anna’s first marriage ended before her pregnancy was over, and her second husband has disappeared, leaving her penniless and with two children. Nick’s luck hasn’t been any better: his wife has run off with another man and his business is in chaos.
When Anna gets a job as Nick’s secretary, what starts as a mild flirtation soon accelerates into overdrive – and then their ex-partners show up . . .
A newly single girl. A tall dark handsome stranger. What could go wrong?
It’s 7 a.m. on a Monday and Abby Reynolds isn’t where she wants to be. She wants to be in her beautiful loft apartment in Manhattan, drinking a coffee with her fiancé.
Instead, she’s heading back to the childhood home in rural Ireland she swore she’d never return to, with some big old secrets. Namely that she’s suddenly found herself unemployed, homeless, and absolutely 100% single.
She’s feeling all out of luck. Until the first person she meets after she touches down is an absurdly hot guy called Luke, who offers her a lift home. Gazing deep into his sparkling emerald-green eyes, Abby knows instantly that he’s exactly what she needs to take her mind off everything. The perfect rebound.
It’s a flawless plan. Until the next day, when Abby realizes who he actually is. Not just a stranger. He is, in fact, Luke Bailey, aka the boy next door. Luke Bailey who—so help her God—she’s pretty sure she once shared baths with, back when they were kids. Not that she can allow herself to imagine him in a bath now, not without blushing from head to foot.
And judging by the smirk on his face, the same Luke Bailey who’s known exactly who she was the whole time… And who, like everyone in the village, still thinks she’s a high-flying New Yorker… who’s getting married next year.
Abby is certain getting under Luke will help her get over her ex. But the truth is stopping her. Can she admit to everyone back home that she’s single and has lost everything? Because, if she wants the boy next door, she may just have to…
Make Yourself at Home by Ciara Geraghty
Marianne left home when she was fifteen following a family tragedy, one that changed all their lives. She never planned to return.
But when her carefully controlled life falls apart, she has no choice but to return to Ancaire, the ramshackle house overlooking the Irish Sea, where her mother, Rita, a flamboyant artist and recovering alcoholic still lives.
As her mother invites her to pull up a chair and make herself at home, alongside the friends, family and neighbours who wander its rooms. Marianne discovers that sometimes home isn’t a house, it’s a place in your heart.
Set on the wild Irish coast, with an unforgettable cast of characters, this deeply emotional novel is full of Ciara Geraghty’s trademark heart and poignancy.
Winter People by Gráinne Murphy
The wild Atlantic coast of Ireland.
One question: who are we without the people who love us?
Sis Cotter has lived her whole life in a small house by her beloved beach. Here, she grew up, reared her family, and buried her husband. Now her children are far away and, in three days, her house will be taken from her.
Next door, Lydia has withdrawn from her husband, her friends, her life. She watches the sea as her own private penance for a wrong she can never put right.
Peter’s best friend is dying, and his long-time foster mother is slowly forgetting who he is. Adrift without his two anchors, and struggling with the ethics of displacing people for a living, he looks for something to remind him of who he is and who he wants to be.
Winter People is a story of forgiveness, resilience, and the power of the sea to unlock what we are most afraid to say.
Books I Listened to This Month
I’m still unashamedly listening to romances, not least because there are some pretty persuasive male narrators out there, stand up Sebastian York and Zachary Webb (among others). Those two could read me the telephone directory and I’d happily listen. That said, I’d still prefer them to read me a persuasive romance.
My listening was a mixed bunch, largely chosen because they were part of a series I’d started and wanted to finish. They largely followed the broad theme of ‘players‘ being brought to their knees by the women they never thought they’d need/want/find – I know, I’m getting soft in my old age. The last one was recommended on one of my FB groups as being a fun listen – it is.
Trouble by Adriana Locke
With his shameless grin and let’s-play swagger, carpenter Penn Etling leaves women wanting in Dogwood Lane. What do they get? Avery Perry knows: a one-night stand. She’s been there. She remembers every hot pulse as if it were yesterday. But Penn? He doesn’t remember a thing. Now he’s making new moves, and Avery’s not falling for trouble…again. Is she?
How could the beautiful stranger resist him? Avery is going to be a challenge for the bad boy. She’s the kind of woman who digs deep—deep enough to see there’s more to Penn than meets the eye. But first she has to give him a chance. She has to say yes. Could she also be the woman to make him change his playboy ways?
When these two come together, it’s hard to pull them apart. But with love and trust on the line, can Avery and Penn get what they both want? This time for keeps?
Kickin’ It by Rachel Van Dyken
Successful, high-profile sports agent Matt Kingston thinks he can handle anything. Then soccer player Parker Speedman shows up at his door. She is young and gorgeous, has natural talent, and is looking for a team. She’s also a hothead with a punchy past who floored her last coach on live TV. Despite his misgivings, Matt agrees to be both her agent and her coach. Professional common sense says she’s off-limits. But what can he say about the raw attraction between them?
Parker plays soccer with her heart and soul. But after the events of the last year, she’s shaken. She’s already seen what a powerful man can do to a female athlete’s career. And her beloved dream is in the hands of a sexy, gorgeous man with the uncanny ability to slip past her defenses…and into her heart.
Now Matt and Parker are about to learn that when it comes to love, the only way to win is by breaking every rule they know. And by playing nice. Real nice.
Getting Played by Emma Chase
Dean Walker is all about keeping life simple. He’s effortlessly talented and intelligent—spending his summers playing drums in the local band and the rest of the year teaching high school in the same Jersey town where he grew up. He likes his love life simple too, enjoying the commitment-free hook-ups his good looks and sexy charm have always made oh so easy.
Then he meets Lainey Burrows. And his simple, easy life gets turned upside down.
One wild one-night stand was all it was ever supposed to be, so Lainey is shocked when she discovers that her sizzling summer fling is also her son’s new math teacher. But that’s nothing compared to the most unexpected twist of all—their hot hook-up left Lainey knocked up, and now they’re about to become parents. Together.
Pretend You’re Mine by Lucy Score
I only wanted to protect you…
Luke Garrison is a hometown hero, a member of the National Guard ready to deploy again. He’s strong, sexy, broody. The last thing he’s looking for is a woman to ruin his solitude. When the wildly beautiful Harper stumbles into his life, though, he realizes that she’s the perfect decoy. A fake girlfriend to keep his family off his back until he’s deployed.
So what if kissing her sends his mind to wicked places? He can control himself. Can’t he?
Harper was on her way to starting a new life… again. But something about Luke makes her want to settle down in this small town and make his house a home. When she’s in his arms, she finally knows what it’s like to feel safe. Protected.
One night of sharing a bed turns into something much, much more… and soon Luke can’t keep his mind off Harper’s wide gray eyes or his hands off her luscious curves. He never thought he’d feel this way about a woman again. But he knows that he can’t tell her the truth about his dark past. And she can’t reveal what she’s running from.
At least this isn’t a real relationship. It’s only for a month. It’s only pretend. Until it isn’t…
Call Me Maybe by Cara Bastone
Paint your toes. Pick up the wrong coffee and bagel order. Drive from Brooklyn to Jersey in traffic so slow you want to tear your hair out. It’s amazing all the useless things I can accomplish while on hold for three hours with customer service. Three hours when I should be getting the Date-in-a-Box website ready to launch at the big business expo in a few days. Except my shiny new website is glitching, and my inner rage-monster is ready to scorch some earth . . . when he finally picks up. Not the robot voice I expected but a real live human named Cal. He’s surprisingly helpful and really knows his stuff, even if he’s a little awkward . . . in an adorable way.
And suddenly I’m flirting with him? And I think he’s flirting back.
And suddenly it’s been hours, and we’re still on the phone talking and ordering each other takeout while he troubleshoots my website.
And suddenly we’re exchanging numbers and sending texts and DMs every day, leaving voice mails (who even does that anymore?!).
And suddenly I’m wondering if it’s possible for two people to fall in love at first talk.
Because I’m falling . . . hard.
That’s me for this month so all that’s left to say is : Happy Reading!
I totally agree about Zachary Webber’s voice I loved his narration for Part of Your World and Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez. x
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Two more for my list then! 😊 Thank you! x
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