Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky - Holly Martin

Under a Cranberry Sky
by Holly Martin
About the book...
Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home? 

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas. 

About the author...
I studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of my colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years service was the moment when I knew I had to escape. I quit my job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, I emerged wide eyed and terrified that I now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. I taught for four years before History Off The Page came to my school to do a Tudor day. I now drive round the country in my little white van, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. 

I love to write. The characters do exactly what I want them to do, most of the time. Sometimes they do seem to go off and do their own thing without my permission. It is complete escapism into a world where I have full control.I've been writing for four years now, every spare second I have, I'm scribbling ideas in a notebook or typing a scene on my laptop. I have written three romantic fiction books. Changing Casanova and The Chainsaw Masquerade were recently shortlisted for the Festival of Romance New Talent Award. My short story, One Hundred Proposals, won the Belinda Jones Travel Club short story competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology

My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of this book by Bookouture, Holly's publisher in exchange for an honest review, something I'm more than happy to do.

From the very first page I knew I was going to love this book.  Piper, the main female character in Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky is a hotel Inspector - traveling the world, writing reviews about the hotels she visits; both good and bad.  She'd already decided after her assignment to the Stardust Lake Hotel on Juniper Island that she would be taking a sabbatical - having some time out to re-think her life and re-charge her batteries. 

Imagine her surprise when she arrives and finds that the hotel and resort is owned by her first love Gabe Whittaker.  A relationship that ended because of misunderstandings and things both said and unsaid.  Pip is there as an undercover reporter to review this new hotel and business.  She has some hard decisions to make as she feels her position as undercover reviewer will compromise the tentative new friendship/relationship she and Gabe easily fall into - it's like the years in-between have never happened.  He of course doesn't know she is an under cover reporter. 

I really don't know how Holly has done but I feel she has crawled into my mind and stolen my dreams.  If I could have any job in the world I'd be a hotel inspector and my dream holiday destination would be a log cabin, in the woods, surrounded by snow, drinking hot chocolate or mulled wine in front of a roaring log fire.  Add christmas - my favourite time of the year, twinkly lights, a christmas village and beautiful glass igloos and I was totally sold!

Holly's descriptions are so vivid I was sucked straight into the setting and love story (both old and new) of Gabe and Pip.  From the journey to Juniper Island, the location and the preparations for the resort opening, the time of year, the characters.  I loved it all. This truly is a perfect slice of deliciousness - a dream like book that totally melted my heart. I oohed and ahed with every chapter. I've told everybody who will listen, this book is not just a nice christmas book - it's special, perfect in every way possible christmas book and to top it all there is a second follow on book available later this month.

I'm hoping that Holly will tell me this place is real and not just fictional - I'm totally sold and would book a visit in a heart beat.  

Thank you Holly - I can't wait for Christmas Under a Starlit Sky where some of the secondary characters in this book come to the fore to tell their story, still set in this dream location.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery - Tilly Tennant

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery
by Tilly Tennant


It’s time to get toasty by the fire with a glass of mulled wine and a slice of chocolate yule log sprinkled with a little romance. Welcome to Christmas at the Little Village Bakery.

Snow is falling in Honeybourne and Spencer is bringing home his American fiancĂ©e Tori for a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings. But when his hippie mum and dad meet her high-maintenance parents, sparks of the wrong sort start to fly. Then Spencer bumps into his first love Jasmine and unexpected feelings come flooding back.

Millie is run off her feet with Christmas orders at the Little Village Bakery and new baby Oscar. Thank goodness her cousin Darcie is here to help her. Although she does seem to be rather flirty with Millie’s boyfriend Dylan.

Will Darcie ever find true love of her own? And is marrying Tori a terrible mistake for Spencer if his heart is with someone else?

A heartwarming Christmassy romantic comedy, perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Milly Johnson.

THE LITTLE VILLAGE BAKERY by Tilly Tennant was published in June 2016.

About the author...

From a young age, Tilly Tennant was convinced that she was destined for the stage.  Once she realised she wasn’t actually very good at anything that would put her on the stage, she started to write stories instead. There were lots of terrible ones, likeThe Pet Rescue Gang (aged eight), which definitely should not see the light of day ever again. Thankfully, her debut novel,Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was not one of those, and since it hit the Amazon best seller lists she hasn’t looked back. Born in Dorset, she currently lives in Staffordshire with her husband, two daughters, three guitars, four ukuleles, two violins and a kazoo.

An extract....
Chapter One

It felt like the world had been muffled. Their breath rose in plumes into the air against a landscape that was white as far as the eye could see. Gentle feathers of snow fell silently, frosting their coats and hair.
Tori gripped Spencer’s hand tighter and he looked down at her with a broad grin as they trudged along the path that led to the Old Bakery, his unruly black hair peeking out from beneath a woolly hat and his startling blue eyes alive with humour. Her tiny frame was bundled up in a huge padded coat, and he could barely see her flamered hair beneath the hat and scarf wrapped around it, but the perfect nose that turned up a little at the end, and the blue eyes set in a face that looked a good deal younger than her twenty-eight years, peeked out at him from the layers, and he couldn’t think of a time when she had looked lovelier.
As he drew in a lungful of frosty air, he was filled with joy to see the paths and fields of Honeybourne that meant they were home – at least, his home; though, in time, he hoped that it might become hers too. He had enjoyed his time in Colorado teaching on the exchange programme at a school in Boulder – aside from being the place where he had found Tori it was a beautiful part of the world – but he had been away for over a year, apart from the one brief visit in the spring for the opening of the Old Bakery, and a year was a long time to be parted from the place he felt rooted to.
‘I bet you didn’t expect to go from snow in Boulder to more snow here,’ he said.
‘You get snow in England too.’
‘Yeah, but usually at Easter, not Christmas,’ Spencer laughed. ‘One of the supreme ironies of all those songs about white Christmases is that in real life you don’t get a flake of the stuff until at least March.’
‘I can deal with snow. It’ll shake the jet lag off a bit.’
‘Maybe we should have had another snooze at home before venturing out to meet everyone,’ Spencer said thoughtfully. ‘I’m sure they would have understood if we’d put off the reunions until we were feeling right.’
‘Best way to deal with jet lag is to battle through it,’ Tori announced stoically. ‘When you’re exhausted, your body won’t care whether it thinks it’s bedtime or not.’
‘If you say so. And is the jet lag being shook off?’
‘Not really,’ Tori grinned. ‘I never said it was a foolproof plan.’
‘Maybe it’s the wrong sort of snow… How’s our English snow holding up against your American stuff?’
‘It’s a bit wet.’
‘Don’t you dare add anything to that about it being like the English people…’
‘I would never say that,’ Tori smiled. ‘I love the English people. One in particular I love more than anyone in the world…’
Spencer’s grin widened, and he gave her hand a squeeze. He’d waited so long to hear those words. ‘I love you too,’ he said.
She turned to him with an impish gleam in her eye. ‘Oh, did you think I meant you? I was talking about your friend, Millie, obviously. After all, anyone who can make chocolate cake like she does has to be worthy of my love.’
Spencer bent to kiss her lightly on the lips. They were cold, but yielded and warmed beneath his own. ‘That’s exactly why I love you, chocolate cake or no. And you’re really getting the hang of the British sarcasm thing.’
‘I’m not sure that’s a compliment.’
‘Of course it is.’
Tori raised her eyebrows. The action was just about visible below the rim of her red and blue reindeer-motif bobble-hat. ‘Is that the British sarcasm thing?’
‘I’m afraid so.’
‘Then you’d better watch it, buster. We may not have sarcasm in Boulder but we do have fists.’
Spencer threw back his head and laughed. The sound echoed down the frozen lane. Then he scooped Tori into his arms and planted another kiss on her lips, this one more passionate than the last. ‘I really do love you, Tori Annabelle Dempsey.’
‘Hey…’ She smiled as she pulled away, catching her breath. ‘If you do that again we might not make it to the bakery.’
‘I’m sure they won’t mind if we’re late.’
‘That’s rude. Didn’t your parents teach you anything?’
‘You can ask them in a couple of days when they arrive back from Spain.’
Tori’s smile faded. ‘You think they’ll like me?’
‘Of course they’ll like you. Quite frankly, I don’t care anyway. I love you, and that’s the only thing that matters.’
‘You didn’t say that when you were stressing about meeting my parents.’
‘That’s different.’
‘It just is. Your parents are… Well, let’s just say they take a lot more impressing than mine will. And fathers are always more protective of daughters, aren’t they?’
‘Are they?’
Spencer nodded as he set her on the path again.
‘I don’t buy it,’ Tori said. ‘Your parents will be just as tough to crack as mine were.’
‘Ah, so you do admit that your parents are tough!’
‘Maybe a little.’
Spencer grinned. But then it disappeared. It was bad enough that his parents were going to meet Tori and her parents for the first time, but his anxieties weren’t helped by the fact that Tori’s parents had met Spencer once before and made it quite clear they hated him. But he tried not to dwell on that. Tori had told him not to worry, and briefly explained that it was all to do with some guy named Hunter that they had earmarked as a potential husband for her. It wasn’t Spencer’s fault that he wasn’t Hunter, she’d told him, but in time they would get over that. Maybe he could salvage things over Christmas, when people were feeling a little more charitable and disposed to love their fellow men?
‘Maybe we should have done all this before we set a date for the wedding,’ he said. ‘What if our parents don’t like each other?’
‘Well, at least they won’t have to see much of each other as yours live in Spain and mine live in Colorado.’
‘That will certainly put paid to a life of weekend bridge tournaments.’
‘Never mind that, what if they hate each other and it ruins Christmas for everyone?’ Tori asked, anxiety creeping into her tone for the first time. ‘We can always “forget” to ask them to the wedding, but they’re already on their way for Christmas so there’s no saving that.’
‘My mum would never speak to me again if we didn’t ask them to the wedding and Dad always takes her side over everything.’
‘Neither would my mom but I’m still prepared to risk it if you are.’
Spencer tried to smile but he couldn’t. He wanted to believe it was just because his face was so cold. ‘I’m sure it will be fine.’
‘No, you’re not. You’re chewing your lip.’

He clamped his mouth shut and pulled her close. ‘This is our first Christmas together – at least officially – and I won’t let anyone spoil that, parents or otherwise.’

Head to Amazon and order your copy now!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

All fall Down - Tom Bale

All Fall Down
by Tom Bale

About the book...
You tried to save a life. Now you’re fighting to save your own.

It’s the perfect Sunday. Summer sunshine, a barbecue with the kids.
But a knock on the garden gate and two words, ‘HELP ME’, changes everything.

When loving parents Rob and Wendy Turner let a dying man into their home, and do their best to help him, they think pure chance led him to their house. But soon their lives are threatened in ways they could never have imagined … and then the first anonymous letter arrives, forcing them to question all they know.

Someone is watching.
Someone is waiting.
They will stop at nothing.

Rob and Wendy will do anything to keep their family safe, but their children Georgia, Josh and Evan are teenagers now, with their own hidden lives.

Everyone has secrets, but how can you save your family, if you don’t really know them? 

Buy Links:

About the author...
Tom Bale decided that he wanted to be an author from the age of seven but, after another career got in the way, it wasn’t until much later that his dream was fulfilled.  After several books with Random House, Tom signed with Bookouture for two stunning ‘everyman’ thrillers.
Read more about the author:

My thoughts...
I am hugely, honoured to be part of the blog tour for this book, All Fall Down by Tom Bale.  I received an ecopy from Bookouture Tom's publisher in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.

All Fall Down is the second novel I have read by Tom Bale and most definitely won't be the last.  I don't know how he does it - he's a family man and he has managed to manifest every parents worst nightmares onto paper, almost like if they are out there and shared they could never happen - could they?  His graphic attention to detail is stomach churning and heart attack inducing.  Once again he has feared me half to death, made me sick with suspense and still I kept turning the pages - although I have to admit I started this book whilst eating my salad one lunchtime at work and had to switch to a christmas story I felt so ill and all within the first few pages.

Sunday is the archetypical day, a day for families, a summer bbq in the garden.  But, for the Turners it's the day when their lives as they know them implodes. A knocking on the garden gate and a whispered plea for help reveals a brutally attacked man - why is he at their gate and who attacked him?  Surely nothing to do with their family and his arrival just a random circumstance of chance.  Think again!

This was an incredible book that I found myself compulsively reading. I read faster and slower as the pace of the story ebbed and flowed.  As Tom peels back the layers of the story, me as well as the Turner family get more than a little jumpy with the thought, then knowledge that somebody is watching them, someone has lit the touch paper and is sitting back waiting for the explosion.  Tom builds the tension as the family question first themselves, then each other it becomes apparent that there is more to each of the characters than was originally portrayed.  Rob and Wendy are keeping secrets from each other and their children and their three teenage children Georgia, Josh and Evan are no different. 

I'm not quite sure how he does it but reading a book by Tom Bale makes me sick to the stomach, the adrenalin pumping around my veins and still I go back for more. He knows how to pack a punch and doesn't hold back - All Fall Down was every bit as good as See How They Run.  Another book that left me physically drained, feeling like I'd run the race of my live.  I can only thank God it was 'just a book' and not my life really!