Callie’s Christmas Wish by Jessica Redland

Christmas is approaching and love is in the air at Bay View Care Home. Supervising carer, Callie Derbyshire, is blissfully happy with new boyfriend, Rhys. The tree’s up, the lights are twinkling, and, with the Christmas Eve wedding of one of the residents, Iris, to look forward to, everything is perfect.

Well, almost. 

Rhys’s ex has him at her beck and call, yet refuses to let Callie meet their baby daughter. Callie’s ex is intent on stirring up trouble. And Callie’s favourite resident, Rhys’s nanna, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self since Iris announced her engagement.

Convinced that Ruby’s lonely, especially after discovering the truth about her lost love, Callie’s determined to give Ruby’s romantic story the happy ending it deserves. Ruby might be adamant that the past should be left in the past. But, when it comes to true love, surely a little well-meaning meddling and a Christmas wish or two can’t do any harm. After all, it’s never to late to let love in again. Or is it?

A heartwarming Christmas story of finding new love, and the courage to revisit a love that was lost long ago.

 

Callie’s Christmas Wish follows on from the Whitsborough Bay novella, Raving about Rhys, and follows the fortunes of Callie Derbyshire, a care assistant at the Bay View Care Home, and her boyfriend, the lovely Rhys.
In the novella, the couple finally got together and were all set for a happy ending. But of course, things don’t always go so smoothly, and this story shows the fallout when both partners come with emotional baggage.
Callie is still being plagued by her horrendous ex, Tony, and poor Rhys is at the beck and call of the mother of his daughter, who rings him at all hours to tell him she needs him NOW, causing Rhys to drop everything and rush off to help. Callie wouldn’t mind if the calls were genuine, but Rhys’s ex-girlfriend is the woman who cried wolf, and she seems determined to ensure that Callie and Rhys don’t get a moment together.
At Bay View, meanwhile, Callie is kept busy helping with wedding preparations for resident Iris and her fiance, who are tying the knot on Christmas Eve. Iris’s best friend, Ruby, seems surprisingly subdued about the wedding plans, and Callie discovers a secret that Ruby has nursed for a great many years – a secret that also affects Rhys, since Ruby is his grandmother.
Callie, being the kind-hearted and romantic soul that she is, sets out to heal Ruby’s heart, despite facing opposition from Rhys, his father, and from Ruby herself.
Can she give Ruby the happy ending she deserves? And will Callie’s own Christmas wish finally come true?
Read this book and find out! It’s such a delightful, heartwarming story that you won’t be able to stop reading it once you start. Callie is a lovely character, so full of good intentions that she sometimes blunders in, but far too nice for anyone to stay cross with her. And Rhys, of course, is just as gorgeous as he was in the first book. The perfect match for Callie.
Ruby’s story is a wonderful thread, and I desperately wanted to know what her secret was and, once I discovered it, I wanted – almost as much as Callie does – for her to get her happy-ever-after.
With plot twists and subplots and a whole array of fascinating secondary characters – some nice, some not-so-nice – this is another fabulous story by the talented Jessica Redland. You know, when you pick up one of her novels, that you’re in for a treat and this one is no exception. It’s festive, but can easily be read at any time of year, so whenever you’re reading this, don’t hesitate. Sit back and enjoy another outing to wonderful Whitsborough Bay.

The Art of Christmas by Jane Lovering

I think The Art of Christmas is, quite possibly, the perfect Christmas story. For a start, unlike a lot of “Christmas” books, it is actually set at Christmas. The story starts just ten days before the big day, and continues until the twenty-fifth of December. There is snow. There is a Christmas tree. There are mince pies (sort of!) and even a mention of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – not to mention a rather leaky dog, wearing antlers. I’m not making this up, honestly. This book shouts Christmas and really gets you into the spirit of the occasion.
As if all that wasn’t enough, there is romance, a bit of a mystery, and several mentions of Doctor Who. No wonder I think it’s perfect! Seriously, the minute I started reading this, I was pulled into the life of the heroine, Harriet – a young widow, whose husband, Jonno, died unexpectedly around eighteen months previously. Harriet has decided that, this year, she will acknowledge Christmas, so we find her, at the start of the story, venturing into the loft to rescue the Christmas tree. Luckily for Harriet, she finds more than a Christmas tree up there. Stumbling across a pile of comic books she didn’t know her husband possessed, she takes them downstairs and, despite her lack of interest in the books that Jonno was so passionate about, she finds herself flicking through the pages.
Having sold most of her husband’s collection to a dealer the previous year, she calls him again, asking if he can price up this latest discovery. Kell remembers the fragile young widow and offers to come round to her house to take a look at them. Having struggled through a loss of his own, the two of them have an instant connection, and an easy rapport. But Kell also remembers Jonno, and a chance remark throws doubt on everything Harriet thought she knew. If she’s to have any kind of future, she has to find out the truth about her past, so, like Corinthia, the comic book heroine who bears a remarkable resemblance to her, Harriet gathers her courage, strides out into an uncertain world, and confronts the unknown.
The Art of Christmas is just gorgeous. Harriet’s grief is so beautifully described that I had a lump in my throat as I read. Kell is a fantastic hero – laid back and casual, decent and honest. I loved his relationship with his crazy dog, Frodo, his passion for and knowledge of comic books and their artists, his easy manner, his rather unexpected socks. Most of all, I loved the understanding and patience he shows Harriet.
This is just the book to read to get you in the mood for Christmas. If you’re feeling a bit “bah, humbug”, pick up this little gem of a book, and I guarantee you’ll be craving mince pies and egg nog before you reach the end. And looking forward to the Doctor Who special even more, of course! Merry Christmas!

You can buy The Art of Christmas here

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Among a Thousand Stars by Jo Bartlett

Having loved Jo Bartlett’s novella, The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come, I was pretty sure I would love this book. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations. The plot kept my interest throughout, and the characters were so well-drawn that I wanted to know more about them. The combination of romance, humour and poignancy ensured that I kept turning the pages, desperate to know what happened next.

Ashleigh is a freelance photographer, who is assigned by Glitz Magazine to take photographs of PR supremo, Tom Rushworth, and his dreadful, pregnant fiancee Susie-Ann. It’s hardly the usual first meeting for a romantic couple, and it’s certainly not ideal, but from that first moment, sparks fly between Tom and Ashleigh. Of course, things are not going to run smoothly. Even without Susie-Ann in the equation, there is another huge obstacle in their way. Tom does not believe that love exists. Having seen the catastrophe that was his parents’ marriage, he is certain that love is an illusion, and Ashleigh, wounded by a previous relationship, is happy to go along with his suggestion of a no-strings relationship, at first. But when her feelings start to change, how can she possibly find happiness with a man who is adamant that they will never be anything more than friends with benefits?

I loved Ashleigh, who felt like a friend from the start. I also grew to love Tom. At first, I was a bit uncertain about him, as he appeared to be one of those alpha male heroes who is totally in charge of his life and everyone else’s life come to that. But as the story progressed and I saw the off-duty version of Tom, I really warmed to him.

Both Ashleigh’s and Tom’s mothers feature quite heavily in the book and I really liked both of them. They couldn’t be more different, but both played an important part in defining their children’s characters and in deciding their destiny. Two characters who deserve a special mention are Stevie and Zac. Neither grabbed me at first, but boy, did they grow on me! They added a wonderful dimension to the story and played a pivotal role in the events that unfolded. Not forgetting Bertie – the gorgeous, loyal and very sensible dog who understood far more than anyone else and made his feelings on the matter very clear.

From the glamorous celebrity photo shoots and the nightclubs populated by the rich and famous, to the windswept beaches of Kent at Christmas, and on to the crazy whirlwind that is Las Vegas, the novel leads you behind the scenes of Ashleigh’s life as a celebrity photographer, demonstrating the contrast between her professional and personal lives. In the author’s capable hands, you find yourself laughing out loud one minute and in tears the next. She writes humour magnificently, but she can also pack a powerful emotional punch.

With beautifully described settings, fabulous characterization, and a storyline full of twists, turns, laughter, warmth, and real depth, Among a Thousand Stars is a gem of a novel. I look forward to reading the next offering from this talented author. 5/5

You can buy Among a Thousand Stars here.

You can buy The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come here and read my review here

 

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Four Sides to Every Story by Valerie-Anne Baglietto

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl called Lily Rose. Lily Rose was so beautiful that some people thought her touched by magic, but, as is the way with the world, other people thought she was far too pretty and perfect, and didn’t look behind the facade to the real beauty within.

Lily Rose lived with her grandmother, until one day her grandmother died, and then Lily Rose was heartbroken. But she knew that she couldn’t spend the rest of her life grieving, that she had a job to do, and it was time to get back to it. So Lily Rose went out into the world to perform her next task, and found herself in the Cheshire village of Fools Castle.

Now, in most fairytales, the castle that gave the village its name would be beautiful, and inside there would live a handsome prince. But this is not your average fairytale and, sadly, the castle was ugly and out of place, and the man who lived there – Sawyer Ellis – was distracted, unkempt and withdrawn. A hermit-like writer, he was trying his best to care for his late wife’s children, but feared he was failing spectacularly, even with the help of his mother-in-law, Veronique.

Fortunately, Lily Rose could see past the thick, fair hair that needed a good trim, the stubble that needed shaving, and the tatty old shorts and t-shirts. She saw the heart that needed mending. She could also see past the brittle, vain, thoroughly independent veneer that another new arrival in the village – Sophie – showed to the world, and recognised that, like the man in the castle, there was a vulnerability behind the hard exterior. Lily Rose knew that Sophie and Sawyer would make the perfect couple, if only they had a little help. Luckily for Sophie and Sawyer, Lily Rose just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and she knew exactly what to do to give them both a happy ending. So Lily Rose worked her magic and they all lived happily ever after. Except…

What happens when a fairytale refuses to unfold the way it should? What happens when a fairy godmother goes rogue? What happens when two people destined for each other refuse to behave in the way they’re supposed to? As Alexa – Sawyer’s young stepdaughter – watches with increasing wonder, this fairytale starts to meander away from its smooth path to the castle, and twists and turns through increasingly unfamiliar territory, to take the characters on a journey to a destination they could never have imagined in their wildest dreams. In this new land, is a happy ending even possible?

I have loved every one of Valerie-Anne Baglietto’s previous modern-day fairytales but, I have to admit, this has become my new favourite. It’s very difficult to review this properly without giving anything away, and it’s very important that nothing is revealed! Suffice it to say that, by the end of this novel, I was literally in tears, and realised I had invested so much in the outcome of the story that I had been holding my breath, desperate to believe that there could be a happy ending when all seemed lost.

Lily is a fabulous character and I loved her immediately. Sophie intrigued me from the start. Despite her prickly exterior I wanted to know more about her. Sawyer was a hero I fell in love with quite quickly. Despite his failings, he deserved something good to happen to him, and I was rooting for him throughout the book. The children are just delightful. Antony is a typical teenager, and Alexa is an absolute darling. I could see what they’d suffered, and I so wanted them to have a happy ending. I wanted everyone in the book to have a happy ending!

Valerie-Anne writes so beautifully, and I absolutely adore her books. I’m in awe of her talent, and I honestly think that the only criticism I have of this book is that I’ve finished it now and will have a long wait for the next one!

If you haven’t read The Little Book of Lost Hearts, I suggest you also try that. It’s a stand alone prequel to Four Sides to Every Story, and it’s a delightful novella. You can read my review here and buy it here.

As you will come to realise when reading this enchanting tale, anything is possible, and magic really does exist. That being so, I give Four Sides to Every Story 6/5!  🙂

Buy Four Sides to Every Story here.51j4FxTrR-L._AA160_

Something Wicked by Louise Marley

I thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic novella by Louise Marley. Having previously read Breathless by the same author, I was looking forward to this and it didn’t disappoint. It was a really gripping read, and, although fairly short, it really drew me in and kept me guessing right till the end.

Kat has been through a terrible ordeal, having nearly drowned, washed up on a beach and almost given up for dead by the people who found her. Eight years on, she has no memory of what happened that night, or how she ended up on the sands, barely alive.

She is married to Jake Davenport, a writer who barely seems to notice her. When her aunt dies she inherits Raven’s Cottage in the village of Buckley, although Kat can’t imagine why it was left to her. There’s something special about Raven’s Cottage. Not only is it also a bookshop and cafe, but it was once the home of the legendary Magik Meg, a witch who apparently drowned, and whose ghost is reportedly haunting the area.

Taking the opportunity that has now presented itself, Kat takes her husband’s beloved cat, Mister Snuffles, and leaves Jake, heading to Buckley in the hope of starting a new life…or at least, hoping Jake will notice she’s gone and maybe do something about it. Upon her arrival at the cottage, she meets Chris Buckley, a police officer, whose family once owned the local manor house. He tells her there have been reports of lights in the cottage, and tells her to be careful. Kat, already feeling vulnerable and unwanted by Jake, is flattered by his attentions and not a little drawn to him.

Before long, she is running the cafe and bookshop and settling into the village, determined to put her marriage behind her, and it seems Chris is all too willing to help her do that. But strange things start to happen, and Kat begins to wonder if the legends about Magik Meg could possibly be true. Is the cottage haunted by her spirit? And what is it that Kat needs to remember?

When Jake turns up to sort out their marriage, Kat’s confusion grows. And when she makes a discovery about her husband, her bewilderment turns to fear. Who can she trust? As her memories start to flood back, she realises her life is in real danger, all over again…

This book is so easy to read, and really gripped me from the start. I couldn’t possibly give it anything less than five stars. I look forward to my next Louise Marley story.

5/5

Buy Something Wicked here

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Raving About Rhys by Jessica Redland

I really enjoyed this novella, which is short enough to read in under two hours but packs plenty in! I loved the character of Callie, and she really made me laugh out loud in places. Tony was … well, I won’t give anything away. Suffice it to say that I’m a huge fan of Rhys! 🙂 I loved Ruby and I enjoyed the care home scenes, which were really well done and handled very sensitively. The She-Devil’s story was told really well, too. All in all, this is a really enjoyable story that I would recommend to anyone. Funny, romantic and altogether lovely. Jessica Redland writes so beautifully. I’m really looking forward to reading her forthcoming novel, Searching for Steven. 5/5

Buy Raving about Rhys here:

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