A Post-Christmas Gift of a Kiss

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas! I had a hectic one and, quite frankly, I could happily sleep all day. I’m quite worn out, what with all those tears I shed for Doctor Who, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, and the perennial 8660533478_0b6f83f4ed_bfavourite, It’s a Wonderful Life.

So, before I nod off with a glass of snowball in one hand and a festive chocolate in the other, I’ll just let you know about A Kiss from a Rose, book two in the Kearton Bay series, which is FREE for five whole days, starting today (Boxing Day).

Catch up on the goings-on in this quaint old former smuggling village Featured Image -- 2087on the North Yorkshire coast, and find out what the straight talking Rose McLean has been up to, discover the secrets that her daughter Fuchsia is keeping, meet her appalling mother, and fall for the divine Finn Pennington-Rhys, who may just be harbouring a secret of his own…

You can get your free copy of A Kiss from a Rose here, and don’t forget, book one in the series, There Must Be An Angel, is just 99p!

Have a great final week of 2015!  xxx

Making a Baubles of it all…

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Picture: Sarah Ackerman: The Grinch’s Holiday Workshop https://www.flickr.com/photos/sackerman519/8139519263

Merry Christmas! Well, merry Christmas week, anyway. It’s the nineteenth of December, and this will be my last blog post before the big day, so I’m taking the opportunity to wish you all a very happy and jolly day, with lots of presents and enough food to sink a luxury liner, and enough drink to float a luxury liner, and loads of love and laughter and all the usual Christmassy things that people wish each other – even people they don’t particularly like, or people who have really, really annoyed them this year, like say, just for example, Grinch-like bosses who’ve scrapped the Christmas bonus and not so much as chipped in for a bottle of something festive, or a box of chocolates or even a poxy card for their hard-working employees. Just for instance. *Cough*.

Anyway, enough of that. I’m quite sure that I can leave them to their fate and that, one night, they will be visited by three spirits who will show them the error of their ways.  In the meantime, I am getting on with my Christmas. As usual, it’s organised chaos, and I’m left staring at a pile of Christmas cards that I bought weeks ago, remembered to write on weeks ago, even bought stamps for weeks ago, but somehow completely forgot to post/hand to relatives/give to DH to deliver. It happens every year! And the weird thing is, I never find them afterwards, so I can’t even reuse them the following Christmas. How does that happen?

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Even the Christmas tree looks dizzy!

I made an epic Christmas baubles of it all yesterday – even by my standards. I don’t know what’s going on in my peanut brain lately. I seem to be so distracted and forgetful and everything just slips away from me. I mean, I’ve known Christmas was coming for long enough. It’s not like it can sneak up on you unexpectedly, is it? Not when the tins of Quality Street are stacked up to the ceiling in the supermarket from the first of October, and you’re bombarded with Shakin’ Stevens wishing you a merry Christmas from the minute you step inside the store and have to endure him EVERY SINGLE TIME you shop for a whole twelve weeks. Anyway, I hate supermarket shopping so much that I’ve taken to ordering my stuff online. That’s not without its problems, but that’s for another post.

So, I decided that the Christmas shop would be no different. I’d book my delivery slot and the nice things would be delivered to my doorstep on Christmas Eve and all would be well with the world. Sainsbury’s even emailed me to tip me off that the delivery slots for Christmas week were being released, so as soon as I got the email, I went online and tried to book one. That’s when I discovered that deliveries weren’t made on Christmas Eve. Not only that, but some of the slots were already full, and the first one I could get was the twenty-second of December. Since that doesn’t coincide with pay day or my usual shopping day, I got thoroughly confused. Honestly! You know, years ago I would have taken all this in my stride. In fact, I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing my shopping online. (There was no such thing as online shopping. In fact, there was no such thing as online!) I would have taken all five of my children out with me and tackled the Christmas shop with a determined attitude and a list a mile long, and I would have got everything I needed with no problems. Now I just curl up in a ball and sob. It’s all too difficult! I can’t think straight!

Being unable to make sense of anything any more, I ended up booking a slot for the eighteenth, and then another for the twenty-seventh. I figured I could order my usual week’s shopping plus a few extras for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and then have another week’s shopping delivered just after the big day to take me into New Year.  So why did it all go so wrong? What was I thinking???

I don’t know why, but for some reason I ordered lots of fresh food, like salad and fruit and pork pies and trifle, which all turned up yesterday on my doorstep. Sadly, I hadn’t taken into account the little matter of use by dates. It turned out that everything fresh I’d ordered would be out of date even before Christmas Eve. So that was useless. I’d also ordered a lot of frozen stuff, not thinking that I only have a fridge freezer these days, not my old chest freezer. So after the delivery man had left, I set to work putting everything away, only to sink onto the kitchen floor in a trembling heap twenty minutes later, after realising that I had a bag full of frozen food that I didn’t have any room for. I shoved the bag outside in the garden, hoping it would stay cold, while I tried to think what to do.

Luckily for me, while my brain cells seem to be diminishing rapidly, DH seems to finally have developed some. He came downstairs, saw the sorry state of affairs, and within ten minutes had completely rearranged the freezer and managed to put everything away. I could only look on and try to remember that once upon a time, I’d been the intelligent one.

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Four doors opened this morning!

I’m now sitting here writing this, when really, I should be wrapping up presents. I hate wrapping up presents, but since DH wrapped a third of them and DD1 wrapped another third, it seems only fair that I wrap some. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy enough wrapping paper either, so I probably won’t get to finish the job today. I haven’t even started wrapping DH’s presents, and every time he goes upstairs I scream at him, “Don’t go in the spare bedroom,” because that’s where they are. Since he doesn’t go in the spare bedroom I don’t know why I say it anyway. I’ve even taken to whispering about the dog’s presents so she doesn’t know what she’s got. And, after making a huge fuss about buying an advent calendar without chocolate, just like the ones I had as a child, I finally got one just in time for December, and have forgotten to open the doors every single time. The result is that, every few days, I look at it in horror and open about five or six doors, barely registering the picture behind them. Hardly the image I had in my mind.

Honestly, I’d love to say it’s the stress of Christmas that’s making me act so weirdly, but the truth is I’ve been declining for a few years now. I used to be so organised and so in control. Now, with all the kids grown up and left home, I’m completely losing track. Well, they do insist on breeding and this family is expanding more than the Von Trapps. I have so many people to buy for now I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing, and since DH is working all over Christmas again and I’m working up until Christmas Eve afternoon and back again on the Tuesday, there doesn’t seem to be much time to plan, prepare or enjoy the festivities.

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Ah, all will be well…

Still, the main thing is, I managed to get a bottle of advocaat, so the Christmas Snowball will be happening! There’s always a bright spot, and this is mine. A few glasses of that and I’ll be wearing a paper hat and singing Abba songs into a hairbrush and all will be well again. I’m easily pleased. Right, that’s my lot. I’m off to eat some pork pie and trifle. Hopefully, I’ll remember to put them on separate plates.

Have a great Christmas xxx

Author Spotlight – Sharon Booth

Thanks to Julie Stock for having me on her lovely blog today. I’m the last writer to feature in her author spotlight for 2015, so I feel very honoured!

Julie Stock - My Writing Life

My final author spotlight of 2015 falls on contemporary romance author, Sharon Booth. Sharon’s latest book is A Kiss from a Rose.

Rose final coverA Kiss from a Rose – Sharon Booth

Flynn Pennington-Rhys is the quiet man of Kearton Bay, so when he finds himself entangled in the chaotic life of Rose MacLean, his whole world turns upside down.

Rose is at a low ebb. With one daughter clearly harbouring a secret, another who has morphed overnight from Shirley Temple into Miley Cyrus, and a mother hell-bent on reliving her misspent youth with her childhood sweetheart, Alec, AKA Red Rum, it’s no wonder her self-esteem is at rock bottom. But when, on top of all this, her best friend goes on ovulation alert, and her slimming club leader has a meltdown, Rose needs someone she can rely on.

It seems, though, that Flynn has his own secret, and as events take an unexpected…

View original post 1,857 more words

Christmas at the Crescent by Veronica Henry

This is such a lovely book. I’ve never read a Veronica Henry story that I didn’t enjoy, and this “noella” was no exception.
I really liked the heroine of the story, Josie, and was rooting for her right through the book, hoping that she’d get her happy ending.

Initially, it seemed quite obvious who was going to be the hero of the story, but I quickly realised that things weren’t going to be as straightforward as I’d supposed. I was quite torn for a while. The great thing about this book was that the two men in Josie’s life weren’t black and white. There were good and bad things about both of them. Both were kind and loving at times, and both behaved selfishly and thoughtlessly at others. Overall, though, it became clear eventually who deserved Josie, and who she would be happy with.

I adored Titus, who was so gorgeous that I got quite broody! And I loved the resolution, which felt just right, and was a lovely, romantic ending. This book is so Christmassy and the setting is gorgeous. Having visited Bath I could really picture the Crescent, and the whole thing left me feeling very festive and contented.

One word of warning! Don’t read if you’re on a diet. The descriptions of the food in this book are truly mouth-watering, plus there are some delicious sounding recipes at the back. Other than that, this is a winner. I loved it. 5/5

Buy Christmas at the Crescent here.51JAcZJ5j+L._AA160_

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

You know that feeling you get when you close the book, or switch off the Kindle, and you lean back with a satisfied sigh, and a hint of a tear in your eye, and a smile on your face, because everything just suddenly feels completely right with the world? Yeah, that feeling. That’s what I just experienced after finishing this fantastic book, One Wish in Manhattan.

I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t love about this book. My friend, Helen, has just come back from New York, and although I was pleased for her that she went because I knew how much it meant to her, I can’t say it filled me with envy. I’ve never really been that interested in New York and never had any hankering to visit the place for myself. Well, now I can see why she wanted to go, and why she loves it so much. Mandy Baggot’s descriptions of the city are amazing. The sights and sounds and smells of New York are right there in the pages, and I was transported there in my mind – crunching through snow, feeling the icy wind against my skin, laughing at the ice skaters, catching the scent of Italian food, tasting pizza and ice cream, gazing out from a penthouse balcony at the lights and the traffic and the people, travelling in an elevator with a…No, won’t even go there!

The heroine of the story, Hayley, is lovely. She would be my best friend. She can eat her body weight in pizza and she once ate a full bag of custard doughnuts, so she’s all right by me. I sympathised with her over her fraught relationship with her mother, the loss of her father, and the fact that she’d shelved her own dreams yet was desperate to make her daughter’s dream come true. I enjoyed her relationship with her brother, who was everything a caring big brother should be and more. Most of all, I adored her relationship with her daughter, Angel, who was a fantastic character. I loved reading the banter between them and felt the mother/daughter bond was beautifully depicted.

As for the hero. *Sigh*. Oliver Drummond, billionaire businessman with a bad reputation and a terrible secret. Who could love such a man? Well, Hayley, quite obviously. And me, as it goes. Oliver is one heck of a hunky hero, and there was something so vulnerable about him I just wanted to get into that elevator with him and – reassure him that all would be well. *Cough*.

Seriously, this is a fabulous book. All the main characters are likeable, some are definitely lovable, the plot is absorbing and well-developed, the setting is fantastic, and there’s lots of snow. And lots of food. And lots of…romance. An absolutely brilliant novel, perfect festive reading. Loved it! 5/5

You can buy One Wish in Manhattan here.

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot