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

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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!

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White Lies & Wishes by Cathy Bramley

White Lies & Wishes by Cathy Bramley

Author: Cathy Bramley
Publisher: Corgi/Transworld (kindle edition)
Release Date: 26 January 2017
Genre: Romance Comedy

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The Blurb: What happens when what you wish for is only half the story…?

Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business.

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm.

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September.

Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

The Review: 

Cathy Bramley has done it again. The author of Ivy Lane and The Plumberry School of Comfort Food has returned with a light and frothy, yet inspirational tale.

It takes no time at all to get attached to the three lead characters Jo, Sarah and Carrie. The trio are thrown together by fate when they meet at a funeral.

As they chat to each other it becomes apparent that they all want to get more out of life and they decide to set themselves goals to reach in just 9 months time. Business woman Jo wants to save her family business, accountant and new mum Sarah wants to be partner at her firm and bored housewife Carrie wants the bikini body of her dreams.

From the outset it is obvious that there is more to these women than what they are telling each other. Jo is a workaholic, who’s father told her that there is no space for love and business, just as Sarah cut short her maternity leave to return to work and leave husband Dave at home with baby Zac hates that she is missing out on a daily basis. Then there is Carrie, the character I related to straight away. On the surface she wants to lose weight, but underneath there is a hotbed of bottled up emotions of being hurt that she keeps locked away and finds herself pushing her husband Alex and anyone who even tries to be nice to her away.

Sarah is sure that everything will be better when she makes partner, is that what she really wants though? Aware of just how much she is missing out at home she begins to question her whole work ethic. A shadow of her real self she has a lot of questions to ask of herself before she can move forwards in her career and her marriage.

Jo blossoming from being a sharp and sarcastic singleton into a softer, humbler version of herself and opening her heart to the idea of love, and not just a ‘good’ time, she realises that life is too short to just work the whole time. Much of her growth comes from meeting Sarah and Carrie.

Watching Carrie grow from being a timid, unsure of herself housewife – using food for solace into a person willing to shed her dress and stand on top of the Empire State Building has been an honour and I truly wish that she was a real person I knew.

However, everything is not hunky dory. Along the way Jo almost loses her business, and her closest colleague. Sarah’s baby Zac is hospitalised when she’s at a meeting and while out shopping Carrie sees her husband with another woman, jumping to the conclusion that he’s having an affair.

At each event I could feel my heartbreak for these ladies. And as Carrie opened up about Alex my stomach flipped as I could feel her anguish.

This is where Cathy excels. Her talent in crafting characters that you feel could be your next door neighbour and giving them struggles and the opportunity to grow on the page. The way that the three every different women join together and help each other through thick and thin is a joyous thing to read.

The first of Cathy’s next series of novellas Lemon Tree Cafe lands in March. I can’t wait.

 

 

Book Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 6 – Midnight and Mistletoe at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Book Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 6 – Midnight and Mistletoe at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Author: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina
Release Date: 22 December 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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The Blurb:

Join Rebecca Raisin for the final festive part of the Cedarwood Lodge serial and see who might be kissing under the mistletoe…

Planning a New Years Eve Party might be the kind of event Clio Winters used to dream about organising, but when everything is feeling a bit up in the air, she has to hope that this New Years her wish really will come true.

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is the final part in this feel-good romance serial.

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The Review:

I have to say I have loved being part of this series of book tours so a big thank you to Rebecca Raisin and Love Reading Romance for inviting me to be able to introduce these novellas to you all.

In book 3 we reunite with Clio and Amory at Cedarwood Lodge. Amory is head-over-heels with Cruz. All her misgivings all but forgotten she is planning her future in Evergreen with her beau, who is still enjoying his role as chef at the lodge.

After the success of the wedding fayre Aunt Bessie is the talk of social media, her bespoke doughnuts are a hit on Instagram and she has been invited to be on America Today.

Clio’s mother Annabelle is slowly coming around to her daughter owning the Lodge. Annabelle is working hard to put her issues behind her so she can be there for Clio.

Monty and Isla are still going strong. Isla is hard at work in the grounds getting ready for spring, uncovering a complicated maze with a sad history.

As for Clio, her matchmaking powers are at full kilter, just not in her own best interest. Kai, the Aussie builder, is still on the scene. Midnight yoga is very much on both their minds.

It has been lovely to be there as Clio bloomed from being the unsure party planner that arrived back home from New York under a cloud to the proud business owner she is in book 3. She has grown and developed. Clio is that person that everyone wishes they knew. Kind and generous to a fault, it’s just a shame that she never truly wants to put herself out there. Her life seems to be about everybody else.

Amory arrives as the flighty friend, in Brides and Bouquets she proves that she has a grounding effect on Clio. Lifting her up when she needs it most, and in Midnight and Mistletoe she is the voice of reason. In essence Amory is Clio’s Jiminy Cricket, and the voice of the reader. Coaxing Clio out of her comfort zone.

I have very much taken Clio and Amory into my heart and I don’t think I will ever be ready to say goodbye to them fully.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

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12 Reads of Christmas: Book 5 – Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 5 – Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow

 

Author: Christie Barlow 
Publisher:
Bookouture
Release Date: 21 October 2016
Genre: Festive romance

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The Blurb:

A gorgeous country house hotel, a liberal dusting of snow, a cosy weekend away…what more could Lizzie ask for at Christmas?

Every Christmas Lizzie promises herself that things will change and she will leap into the new year a new woman. And yet here she is again, at the beginning of December and nothing is different. Her girls have grown up and left home, her husband Henry is slumped in front of the TV and she is alone in the kitchen, seeking refuge in the cooking sherry and talking to her Gary Barlow calendar. She’s also been very diverted by handsome new neighbour Marcus and she knows she shouldn’t be …

So when best friend Ann suggests a weekend away in the country, Lizzie jumps at the chance. Will this Christmas escape give Lizzie some much needed perspective and allow her to mend her marriage? Or will Marcus prove to be too much of a distraction?

A funny feel good festive read about rediscovering the magic of Christmas – just the thing to curl up with on a cold winter’s night.

The Review:

From the beginning Lizzie’s Christmas Escape felt like something familiar. I grew up fully aware of the Shirley Valentine film. A woman of a certain age who feels stuck in a rut, spending her time in the kitchen talking to a poster on her kitchen wall. Replace the poster with a Gary Barlow calendar and Shirley with seamstress Lizzie and we have Christie Barlow’s latest novel.

Lizzie is stuck in a rut, bored of her lot in life. Her life up until recently was all about looking after her home, husband and children. Then her daughters Abbie and Freya leave home. Empty nest syndrome has moved in. Lizzie Stevens doesn’t feel like herself, her marriage which was once happy and loving, has settled into something much less content. Henry isn’t the same man he used to be. Lizzie misses the little things, the kiss he used to give her on the way to work, cuddling in bed at night. Everything seems stale.

Then new neighbour Marcus moves in. Lizzie has a new spring in her step, and extra beat in her heart. The idea that she is still wanted and needed makes her bloom.

With trusty best friend Ann by her side Lizzie works her way through her emotions and decides that it is time for change. As the Christmas festivities get underway Lizzie has a difficult decision to make. Should she follow her heart or her head?

I truly loved reading this book. I really identified with Lizzie. There is something about reaching a certain age that makes you re-evaluate your life. Making changes that will rock you out of the rut you are often stuck in becomes and almost annual ritual. I could fully understand how her head was turned and she was tempted to follow a different path, albeit in her case it was for a shorter time than others.

Maybe I need my own Gary Barlow in my cupboard under the stairs!

You can get Lizzie’s Christmas Escape at Amazon for £1.99 on Kindle.

Blog Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 1 — Brides and Bouquets by Rebecca Raisin

Blog Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 1 — Brides and Bouquets by Rebecca Raisin

brides-and-bouquets-tour-bannerAuthor: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina
Release Date: 24 November 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

Christmas has come to Cedarwood Lodge in the second part of the feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!

Dreaming of a happily ever after at Cedarwood Lodge is Clio Winters’ current focus, especially with a winter wonderland wedding expo planned. But with brides coming from far and wide the heat is on for Clio to fulfil everyone’s dream of a Christmas wedding!

It seems like Clio’s new business might be off to a rocky start and surrounded by love struck brides she can’t help but hope for a little Christmas romance of her own…

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part Two.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

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The Review:

Last month I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the LLR Book Tour. If you get the chance go and check out Love Reading Romance for more heart-warming reads.

Today, on release day, I get to share with you my first read of Christmas and second in the Cedarwood Lodge series by Rebecca Raisin.

We pick up with Clio a few weeks after the epic anniversary party. Things are still not resolved between her and Kai, the Aussie builder. Amory’s boyfriend Cruz has hightailed it to Evergreen from New York.

Clio and co are focusing all their energy on preparing the lodge for their first Wedding Expo. This means that all of Cedarwood needs to be up to code. The venue needs to be sparkling, and as it’s Christmas Clio sets about creating a twinkling wonderland. But will it be enough? Can the doubts niggling in her mind, not helped by her mom’s indifference to her whole venture, be put to rest?

Again Rebecca pulls you into Clio’s whirlwind world. Within minutes my heart was in my mouth praying that everything was going to make it right. As the local authorities started to make them wonder if thing would work out.

A few obstacles are thrown her way, can she navigate them and come out the other side unscathed? And will she find out what the secret her mom is hiding?

Grab a festive mug filled with your seasonal drink of choice, a hot water bottle and a blanket. Snuggle down and enjoy the Christmas spirit.

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Celebrations & Confetti at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Celebrations & Confetti at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

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Author: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina
Release Date: October 24, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

Part one in a feel-good romantic serial from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin!

Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.

Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.

Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part One.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

The Review:

In October I took part in a book tour for Celebrations and Confetti. The first in Rebecca Raisin’s latest novella trilogy, and this month I will be sharing part two with you too.

Clio grew up in Evergreen, a small town in New Hampshire. Cedarwood Lodge had been her playground. Closed for as long has she could remember, the grounds were overgrown but were perfect for her to run free. At 10 years of age Clio was she was certain that if the chance ever came up she would buy the lodge.

Fastforward twenty years, and Clio is stood in front of Cedarwood Lodge. After a successful wedding planner career in New York she has made her dream come true… and bought the lodge. Granted her return to Evergreen is under a bit of a cloud, however she is determined to make it work. School friend Micah is on board to help with the immediate renovations.

Can Clio regain her magic touch and breath new life into the Lodge in time to host a wedding anniversary party? Or will events from New York spill over and threaten her new life? Only time will tell.

Rebecca has created a coming-of-age tale mixed with a redemption story. I just wanted to reach into the page and give Clio a big hug, and a bit of a slap.

Like Jane Austen’s Emma Clio has a touch of the matchmaker about her, unlike Emma she isn’t as spoilt. If anything she is misunderstood and is rocked by the lack of support her mother seems to be giving her. Instead of being overjoyed that her daughter has come back home, her Mom is if anything standoffish and put out that her daughter decided to buy the Lodge. Not that Clio knows why.

I’m not ashamed to say how much I love novellas. They fit into working life really well. The stories are short and succinct but have lots to give in a lunch break, or while you are commuting. I’m already excited to read Clio’s next chapter.

Blog Tour: Celebrations & Confetti by Rebecca Raisin

Blog Tour: Celebrations & Confetti by Rebecca Raisin

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Author: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina
Release Date: October 24, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

Part one in a feel-good romantic serial from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin!

Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.

Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.

Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part One.

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Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

I’ve been looking forward to the release of this first book on the Cedarwood trilogy. II’m equally excited to be sharing a guest post here today from the author herself. Stay tuned for a review in coming days.

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So here I hand over to Rebecca Raisin:

Welcome to the Cedarwood Lodge, situated in the town of Evergreen. All you have to do here is relax, and let Clio and her staff cater to your every whim!

Here are a list of our winter recreation activities that are available for our guests, just ring the bell and we’ll arrange it for you.

  • Hiking, choose a trail and let Georges pack you a gourmet picnic
  • Cooking classes: choose from sweet or savoury, simple or gourmet, if you can dream of it, Georges can do it!
  • Dance lessons: salsa, tango, ballroom, Latin, our dance instructor is a phone call away
  • Art room: capture the view in water color, sketch, or oils, or if craft is your thing, head to the studio and check out the supplies
  • Games room: Billiards, board games, table tennis, to name but a few things we have on offer. You’ll find the games room opposite the ballroom
  • Ice skate on the lake, join in on snowman building competitions, snowball fights, or sledding.
  • Spa room: call ahead and Clio can arrange any number of beauty treatments from massage to facials, and mud wraps
  • Join us by the campfire to sing songs and toast marshmallows
  • Want to keep the kids busy? Sign them up to the end of season show, there’s a part for everyone!
  • For our bibliophiles, check out the library upstairs, peruse the huge display of books catering for every genre
  • Movie room: flick through our extensive movie library and pull up a beanbag and watch it on the big screen
  • Go for a run around the jogging track
  • Take a virtual yoga/Pilates class

We hope you enjoy your stay!

rebecca-raisin-author-photoAuthor Info:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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