12 Reads of Christmas: Book 9 – Comfort & Joy by Cathy Bramley

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 9 – Comfort & Joy by Cathy Bramley

Author: Cathy Bramley
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Release Date: 13 October 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance Short Story


The Blurb: 

**Contains Christmas recipes!**

Curl up with this fabulously festive short story from bestseller Cathy Bramley, full of Christmas cheer and sparkle.

It’s been a busy year for Verity Bloom at the Plumberry School of Comfort Food, but Christmas Eve is finally here. With delicious treats all wrapped up and the ingredients packed away, Verity is looking forward to a relaxing few days with her new boyfriend.

Good food, family and friends – it’s a simple recipe for true comfort and joy, and all Verity’s friends in the village are full of excitement about the holidays too.

But the weather has other plans in store… Relentless rain leads to a power cut that spells disaster for many of Plumberry’s residents. It’s starting to look like this year’s celebrations could be a total washout.

With dreams of a perfect Christmas dashed, will the last of the festive cheer be swept away in the downpour? Or can the cookery school create a Christmas miracle for everyone Verity holds dear?

The Review:

Sometimes your not quite ready to say goodbye to a character. For me this was definitely the case with The Plumberry School of Comfort Food.

When we left them Verity and Tom had finally gotten over themselves and become a couple to be reckoned with. Tom left the cooking school to open his own restaurant Dinner at Tom’s. Verity’s business seems to be going from strength to strength as students are tucked in here, there and everywhere learning everything they need to know for their Christmas dinners.

Rushed off their feet and surrounded by Turkeys and Chocolate Truffles Tom and Verity are looking forward to having a quiet Christmas just the two of them, and their steak dinner!

We also get to be reacquainted with some of Plumberry’s local business owners. Jack the town’s butcher and his lovely other half wine merchant Annabel – who appears to have something up her sleeve for the festive season, as Jack prepares for his children’s arrival.

Then there is cheesemonger Harriet who is taking Kevin, who appears to be the world’s largest turkey further north to Newcastle. That is before the news breaks that York is under considerable amounts of water as the Ouse has broken its banks and that the motorways are closed so there can’t be any non-essential trips for the foreseeable future.

On Christmas morning the rain is still siling down and it doesn’t look like it will be stopping anytime soon. It’s not long before a heartbroken Harriet is knocking at Verity’s door. What is everyone going to do? Are all the homes and businesses safe?

Readers in the UK will see a link to last Christmas in the north of England. The devastating floods that happened in the city of York. Those floods were that vast that some businesses still aren’t open. One thing did happen, the community spirit that rose from the boggy streets and houses was spectacular. The people who left all their plans behind to help those that were afflicted during this time was moving.

Cathy has tapped into this. I could see direct parallels between  what the people at Archbishop Holgate School and the surrounding emergency shelters were doing, and how on Christmas morning surrounded by power outages on hearing about everyone else’s misfortune Verity opens up the cookery school and with the aid of her trusty generator powers up the ovens. Flanked by Tom, Harriet, Pixie and Mags the doors are open to house everyone in need of help and an oven so they could have a warm meal and keep safe together.

This is another Cathy Bramley tale that I will hold close to my heart, and not just because I grew up just a few miles away from York. Verity is the person I hope most people would aspire to be. Fun, loving and generous.

This story also comes with three recipes at the back, the Christmas Chutney recipe is already on my list of things to make this year!

The Little Village Bakery

The Little Village Bakery


Author: Tilly Tennant
Publisher: Bookouture
Published: 15 June 2016

The Blurb:
Help yourself to a generous slice of Victoria sponge, a perfect cup of tea and a big dollop of romance. Welcome to the Little Village Bakery.

Meet Millie. Heartbreak has forced her to make a new start and when she arrives at the old bakery in the little village of Honeybourne she is determined that this will be her home sweet home. Her imagination has been captured by the tumbledown bakery but with no running water and dust everywhere, her cosy idea of making cakes in a rural idyll quickly crumbles.

Luckily the locals are a friendly bunch and step in to help Millie. One in particular, Dylan, a laid-back lothario, soon captures her attention.

But just as Millie is beginning to settle in, an unexpected visitor from her past suddenly turns up determined to ruin everything for her. It’s time for Millie to face the skeletons in her closet if she’s going to live the dream of running her little village bakery, and her blossoming romance with Dylan.

The Review: I came across this book while on a late-night trawl of Amazon. On a whole I love stories that have cake and baking as a theme, and the cover screams village fair and afternoon tea with pastries.

From the very beginning I was taken with Millie, and wondered what the dark secret in her past actually was. The whole village was so welcoming towards the new resident, it must have been quite difficult and overwhelming for her as people turned up one-by-one before she even stepped through the door of the old bakery.

Bought on a whim, as she attempted to run away from the past, Millie isn’t sure what is in store for her as she stood in the kitchen. One thing was for certain, the bakery was in need of a lot of work. A lot more than she first realised.

Soon she becomes friends with Jasmine, a jewellery maker who takes her under her wing. Jasmine is a hub of creativity, ideas flow out of every pore and down to the ends of each of her candy floss pink ringlets. Jasmine soon finds a way to help Millie make ends meet and complete her aim to open the bakery.

Alongside the renovations, Millie’s interest is peaked by local lover-boy Dylan (who just happens to also be Jasmine’s little brother). Sworn off men, for reasons unknown to us, Millie puts up her defenses against the onslaught of charisma and encouragement proffered her way.

It isn’t long before Millie’s past threatens to ruin everything she has worked towards in the village. As the residents turn against her can she fight her corner, or should she just give up and run?

Tilly Tennant has crafted a lovely novel. It feels like a warm hug, and the twist had me reading through the night until I finished the book. However, for a book I was drawn to by the cozy baked goods-filled cover I was slightly disappointed by the lack of kitchen action. Rather than cakes and pastries Millie was a doyen of apothecary goods, making soaps and herbal draughts for the locals and their ailments. Dispite this one downside I really loved this book, and have already pre-ordered its festive sequel.