Finding Family At Seabreeze Farm – Jo Bartlett

Freya Halliwell is looking forward to marrying the man of her dreams and starting their new life together. After the death of both of her parents, Ollie, along with Freya’s aunt, are the only family she has, but all the family she needs.

Until Freya discovers a shocking secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her once happy family and especially the man she used to call dad. Devastated and feeling more alone than ever before, Freya needs time and space to come to terms with the news. But until
then the wedding is off!

Seabreeze Farm is the perfect place for Freya to recover. But could this beautiful farm perched high on the cliffs, also hold the answer to Freya’s past and reunite her with the family she never even knew she’d been wishing for?

I found myself rather excited to be reading a new book (the first of a new series?) by Jo Bartlett, having so enjoyed her Cornish Midwife series.

I immediately like both Freya and Ollie. I empathised with Freya, having suffered 2 bereavements (her parents) and I am a total sucker for someone with ‘kind eyes’, like Ollie. The couple were introduced in such a way, that I really felt immersed in their excitement at getting married, starting new jobs, and moving home, to live in London. Everything seemed just about perfect for the young pair. Life was good.

As for Karen and Ellie at Seabreeze farm – I truly admired their desire and drive to reinvent the farm – transforming it from a money pit into a money making concern. I must however confess to a bit of a ‘LOL’ moment, at the description of Ellie’s homemade Victoria Sandwich, the crunch being the ‘crunch factor’, courtesy of the added eggshells!

I totally warmed to the characters in this book – they just seemed so giving – for example the way that the Seebreeze Farm folk welcomed Freya into their family life. Freya for her part gave back, even helping with an inadvertent home birth (a sneaky bit of midwifery creeping in!)

I so wanted Freya to find her Father, and to perhaps revisit the episode with Ollie – was all exactly how it seemed?

You will of course need to read this great book for yourself, to find out what happens, but you will NOT be disappointed.

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Dax Hartley has made flowers his entire life, just like his late father did.

When his dad’s old florist’s shop is up for sale, he has to have it. Only problem is, he’d need to sell a
kidney to afford it.

The reality show Battle of the Blossoms is the perfect opportunity to win the money he needs, but when his childhood crush blows back into his life, distractions risk taking his eyes off the prize. He needs his head and heart to start working together to ensure he doesn’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

Hollyn Matthews has made some colossal mistakes in life.

When she’s dumped just as she’s expecting an engagement ring, she knows she’s put her heart into the wrong man. Hoping for a second chance at being a grown-up, she moves home to stay with her brother and his best friend Dax, a boy whose memory faded as she ran away from her past. Facing the hurt she left behind means facing some home truths about herself, but there’s one boy who has always loved her, if only she’d take the time to notice him.

I was very much looking forward to trying this book from a new (to me) author, and I must confess to welling up at the dedication to the author’s Father at the beginning of the book. I am sure he is looking down very proudly.

For me, this book started with an ‘explosive’ LOL’ moment at the wedding involving flowers and Dax, resulting in my instant warming to his character. I had an almost immediate juxtaposition of emotions however, upon meeting Hollyn. Needless to say, she needn’t have practiced her ‘surprised’ face. Battle of the Blossoms did however sound as though it could go some way towards solving Dax’s financial problems with regards to his Late Father’s flower shop. I looked forward to how this storyline was going to pan out, aided by Hollyn.

I did love the relationship that Hollyn had with her Brother River; he sounded like the perfect support in a time of crisis. It seemed right that Hollyn would turn to River at this time of need. I wasn’t sure what to expect of Hollyn staying over at River’s place, with his fiat mate, Dax, who has had a latent crush on Hollyn since childhood. I liked both characters, so would be open to them getting together, although it seemed as though Hollyn had a lot of pain to deal with in the first instance. It certainly seems however, that Dax has improved with age, like a fine wine! Tristan, on the other hand, was a complete waste of space, and downright unpleasant to boot!

I found Hollyn’s relationship with her parents, in particular her Mother, most distressing. It broke my heart when her Mother acknowledged and ‘allowed’ Hollyn to apologise for being such an awful Daughter! Methinks the apology should be reversed! Very very sad, although her Dad did redeem himself when he stood up for her when Tristan turned up!

So, will Dax be able to continue denying that he has any long held feelings for Hollyn?
Will het get to buy his late Father’s shop?

You will find these answers and more, when you read this great book for yourself.

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Christmas on the Riviera – Jennifer Bohnet

I loved reading about the eclectic characters in this book, all of whom I warmed to pretty much immediately, but particularly Elodie and Gabriella. I also enjoyed discovering/rediscovering Juan-Les-Pins with them.

Gabriella does seem to have a number of secrets that she is keeping from Elodie though. You will have to read this great book for yourself to find out about those secrets, but if you enjoy this book half as much as I did, then you’ll be ok!

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The Christmas Trip – Sandy Barker

Another year has passed and it’s Christmas again. This year best friends Chloe, Jules and Lucy are all loved up but living worlds apart.

Chloe is madly in love with her celebrity beau, Archer, but after a whirlwind year in Hollywood’s limelight, she’s desperate to get away and spend some quality time together.

Jules loves her Melbourne life – and gorgeous winemaker Matt – but a crowded flat share has her longing for a place of her own.

Meantime, Lucy is stuck in a long distance relationship, jetting back and forth between Colorado and London to see Will.

When Archer’s plan to whisk Chloe to Paris goes awry, he surprises her by bringing her friends together for a Christmas to remember..

I have so enjoyed the previous books by Sandy Barker, so I was very muck looking forward to reading this festive treat.

Chloe, Jules and Lucy seem to be living their best, albeit separate lives, but circumstances collude to bring them together in Hawaii for Christmas, years after the ‘May Girls’ first met as youngsters.

Will Lucy get over her other half agreeing to this trip without asking her? Can her friends work out what is up with her?

Is Audrey’s unexpected arrival going to cause any kind of issue?

As for Archer’s proposal plan – what an possibly go right wrong?

Does Audrey really have eyes on Will?

Is Madison going to turn up and make a scene?

Could anything come from the flirting between Nate and Sean?

Will the three ‘May Girls’ see the other side of Christmas with their relationships intact?

Will this Christmas trip turn out to be one they will never forget? Read this great story for yourself, to find out.

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The Christmas Castle in Scotland – Julie Caplin

Izzy McBride had never in a million years expected to inherit an actual castle from her great uncle Bill but here she was, in the run up to Christmas, Monarch of her own Glen – a very rundown glen in need of a lot of TLC if her dream of turning it into a boutique bed and breakfast was to come true.

But when Izzy’s eccentric mother rents a room to enigmatic thriller author Ross Adair and the Scottish snow starts to settle like the frosting on a Christmas cake, it’s a race to get the castle ready before they’re all snowed in for the holidays.

I have loved the previous Julie Caplin books that I have read, so, Halloween over, this new book seemed like the perfect opportunity to ease myself into the festive period once more. I must confess to suffering from a little turret envy. I simply cannot walk past that rare entity – a house with a little turret, without a few wistful thoughts. I haven’t ever dreamed of living in/staying in/owning, a whole castle however!

I immediately warmed to Izzy, but her Mother Xanthe did seem a bit of a handful – a character and a half. As for Ross, the enigmatic author renting a room (via Xanthe) at the castle, much to Izzy’s chagrin, what’s not to like! But what is he hiding? John from the farm shop also provided a potential romantic interest – although it seemed there was maybe history between John and Ross? I did however feel for Izzy though, upon hearing about Xanthe’s plan for Christmas!

25k to rent the castle out for a week – but can Izzy and Xanthe pull off making the castle look half way decent in six weeks?

The wild campers in the castle grounds were a bit of a mystery, but Izzy showed her true colours, by being more than kind to them. As for the castle sapphires, was there any truth in the story or was it just folklore?

I loved the way that Izzy seemed to collect waifs and strays at the castle, such was her kind heart, but it seemed that they all wanted to help herewith Christmas, as a kind of payment for her kindness, which was really quite heartwarming.

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Mistletoe and Magic for the Cornish Midwife – Jo Bartlett

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

But for single mum and busy midwife Nadia, it’s quickly turning into her worst Christmas ever.

Her marriage is over, and whilst her husband has moved on, Nadia finds herself back home, squashed into her mum’s spare room with her two small children. They might not be a perfect familyanymore, but Nadia is determined to make this Christmas special for them.

Dr Hamish Spencer totally understands Nadia’s pain. As a fellow single parent, he’s struggling to cope with a rebellious teen daughter and a precocious six-year-old!

Perhaps if he and Nadia join forces, they could make this Christmas slightly more memorable for everyone?

The last thing Nadia wants is a new man in her life, but she’d definitely like lovely Hamish as a friend.

But Christmas has a way of melting the hardest of hearts and maybe a kiss under the mistletoe could change everything?

Oh what a treat, to be given the opportunity to review the next instalment in Jo Bartlett’s Cornish Midwife series.

I was immediately drawn to Nadia, having been a working mum myself, but my working life really didn’t compare to that of a midwife, in that I was always able to stop what I was doing, in order go and pick up my children. Life for a midwife is so different, in that you can’t diarise anything; there’s no hurrying a birth up because of the imminent school run. Each baby will turn up exactly when it’s ready and not a moment before!

I really felt for Nadia, when she was late to pick her child up from nursery school – made worse by the teacher at the nursery fawning over the also-late Dr Spencer, whilst simultaneously chastising Nadia- suggesting that she understood how difficult it was for a GP to get away, but the same understanding didn’t extend to midwives delivering babies. Dr Spencer sounded a delight and I did harbour a hope – that he might be single – as I’m sure he’d make the perfect other half for Nadia! Regardless, Nadia and I had certainly got the wrong end of the stick regarding exactly who Saffron was!

Dr Hamish Spencer was marvellous at dealing with Nadia’s patient Genevieve, but It did seem that he was speaking from personal experience – perhaps explains the demise of his Wife. Nevertheless, he was oozing with compassion; just what Genevieve needed. I had renewed hope for the prospect of Hamish and Nadia getting together, but she would need to win around Hamish’s teenage Daughter Saffron around first – and she was hugely protective of Hamish and her little Sister Daisy.

I did find myself feeling for Nadia’s Mother, Frankie, at the behaviour of her Son. I just hoped that he would see sense before the festive season. Frankie really didn’t deserve the backlash she got from him, especially in a public arena.

I do love babies and it seems that I also love reading about bringing babies into the world, with Jo Bartlett’s unparalleled midwife series. One might worry about the author running out of story lines, but with each book I think it is the best ever, and when the next one comes along, it proves me wrong by being even better, with its fabulous characters and innovative story lines. I also love the way that the new characters seamlessly blend in with the new characters.

If you only intend to read one book from this series, choose this one, for an unbeatable first visit to Port Agnes, with its uplifting stories and characters within. Prepare to be hooked!

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A White Christmas on Winter St. – Sue Moorcroft

‘When Sky Terran returns to the village of Middledip after losing the job she loves, she anticipates a
quiet Christmas getting used to her new life. However, the annual street decoration competition is
coming up and this year, the residents of Winter Street are determined to win.

As she is pulled into the preparations, Sky quickly grows to love the quirky, tight-knit community she
is now part of. Including the extremely handsome Daz, who soon becomes more than just a friendly

But when Daz’s ex turns up determined to win him back and it seems he might not be the man Sky
thought he was, she remembers how much allowing people into her life – and heart – can hurt. As
the snow falls, will she and Daz find a way through – and help win a Christmas victory for Winter Street?’

To say that I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review Sue Moorcroft’s latest seasonal offering, was a bit of an understatement. My only issue is the unseasonal weather! I really can’t complain at how warm it is for the time of year, but I had expected to be reading this wonderful book with at least a chill in the air!

I immediately liked Sky, our heroine and I thought she had a fantastic sense of loyalty towards her former Foster Brother, Freddy – the closest she had to family. I genuinely admired her devotion to him and I vehemently hoped that this feeling would be reciprocated.

My initial thoughts about Minnie, with whom Sky worked, were the exact opposite of my feelings for a Sky. Just because Freddy and Minnie were going out together, there was no need for her to make snarky ( how I love that word – ‘snarky”) comments about Sky and Freddy’s relationship. Whilst Minnie seemed almost jealous of Freddy’s relationship with Sky, one couldn’t doubt the sense of smugness with which Minnie announced her engagement to Freddy. To say that Minnie’s treatment of Sky was unpleasant, would be a huge understatement, and I really felt for Sky. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to work with or for Minnie.

Nan Heather, Sky and Freddy’s Foster Mother, sounded an utter delight and a much needed adult influence in Sky’s life, when she needed it the most. I felt sad that Sky had felt let down by Heather, but it’s important to remember that those thoughts came from the brain of a troubled teenager.

After the way that Freddy and especially Minnie treated Sky over the purchase of the Corner house, especially with regard to budget, I found myself oozing with glee, and perhaps even overcome with a waive of snugness.

Daz was most certainly a welcome addition to the story, and I found myself gripped, waiting for something to develop between him and Sky. Daz appears too be an all-round ‘good egg’, evidenced for example, by his treatment of potentially errant teenager Wilf. However, is he just being nice to get something he wants from Sky, or is all his bonhomie genuine?

I enjoyed this book immensely, but I don’t want to spoil it for you by revealing too much; you will have to read on for yourself, to find our whether or not Daz is tbd ‘Resl Deal’.mi

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One Last Dream for December – Lottie Cardew

The chance to read and review Lottie Cardew’s latest book, one Last Dream for December was one of my highlights of this month, such is the enjoyment I have got from her previous book ‘A Christmas Wish on a Carousel, which was a precursor to this book.

I liked Esme from the very start and I could see why she had a soft spot for her Uncle Samuel. I’m not sure that I would want to move above a toy shop so close to Halloween, though. I loved Uncle’s pronouncement that you don’t have to be under sixteen to have a ‘bestie’.

There is something a little odd about Esme – this turns out to be her late diagnosed autism.

Seth seems most eligible and Esme gets flustered around him, which I think is because she likes him. I held out great hope for the pair.

I so felt for Esme, with regard to the incident in the cafe with Seth – I did hope that she had the wrong end of the stick.

I liked the way that Esme talked about the shop as though it were alive – which seems somehow appropriate for a shop with its own Santa’s workshop on the premises.

I felt that the author dealt with the topic of autism in a really empathetic way, and I hope that anyone with autism would agree with me – it’s easy for me to say….I also, found myself disliking Seth’s in-laws, especially the way they behaved towards Esme – but maybe everyone can redeem themselves, especially at Christmas. I wasn’t at all surprised to read that the author was also diagnosed as autistic, enabling her fantastic insight into the subject. Thank you for sharing!

I admired the way Esme dealt with Piotr, and with people in general; I loved the way that her relationship with Cara and Will blossomed – and it was lovely to catch up with Cara again.

I love the merry go round vibe of this story, and almost the feel of a modern day Christmas Carol.

I guess the main question is whether Seth and Esme can successfully overcome any obstacles, to be together? I will leave it for you to find that out!

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A Winter Warmer at the Little Cornish Kitchen – Jane Linfoot

When Gwen Starkey and her best friend, Ella Simpson, arrive in St Aidan to take on a cottage
renovation, it’s the fresh start they both so desperately need. But when their new adventure begins with them unintentionally breaking into their neighbour, Ollie Lancaster’s cottage – thinking it’s their new home – and Gwen accidentally flashing the gorgeous Ollie before they flee, the life-long friends realise that life in Cornwall is going to be anything but quiet!
They also quickly discover that they’re in over their heads and it’s going to take a village to turn their cottage’s narrow walls into the luxurious hideaway of their dreams. St Aidan is full of colourful characters just waiting to welcome them, if only Gwen and Ella can find the courage to start leaving the past behind them.

I loved the idea of Stargazey Cottage, and particularly the idea of an intricate pottery stargazey pie on the doorstep. I immediately warmed to childhood friends Gwen and Ella.

I do like an interesting address (sad, I know), but if the name ‘Stargazey Cottage’ wasn’t enough, what really captured my interest was the fact that the cottage was situated on ‘Whelk Row’.

It goes without saying, that it was a treat to be back in the land of the Little Cornish Kitchen again, with the opportunity to catch up with some former favourite characters and indeed to meet many new people.

The fact that the cottage was being offered for rent at below market rates, in return for sourcing up the decor and doing some renovations, was itself a bit of a mystery, and I hoped that the secrets behind the offer would be unfurled in due course. As for the mix up – Stargazey House V Stargazey Cottage – surely a mistake any of us could have made, especially based upon sketchy childhood memories!

I loved the fact that the 2 friends remembered the cottage from frequent childhood stays together, and just hoped that the cottage and the village would be as wonderful as they remembered. Oops, as we fast forward to the Stargazey House/Cottage debacle! Their childhood label of ‘The Star Sisters seemed just perfect for them, even if the cottage, when they find the right one, is not quite what they were expecting. The descriptions of the area and of the food were fantastic; indeed my mouth was actually watering at the thought of the Little Cornish Kitchen Cake Box goods (or should that be Gods?)! – and Ollie certainly sounded like a bit of a catch!

The women have both suffered different degrees of tragedy in their lives, and the village of St Aidan could be just the place to start their healing.

The villagers seem terribly sociable and whereas the Star Sisters would prefer to keep to themselves, they find themselves dragged into a slew of activities, even going so far as to turning up to parties in fancy dress and agreeing for a village Facebook vote as to whose decorating and renovation ideas for Stargazey Cottage to follow. I must confess however, to being firmly in Glen’s ‘camp’, as her hastily thought up ideas sounded amazing!

I liked the humour in the book, and confess to a bit of a laugh out loud moment when the honorary Sisters inadvertently made themselves at home in their neighbour’s house.

I liked the idea of work parties, with what seemed like the whole village coming together to help Gwen and Ella. It certainly was good for the soul to read and imagine the scenes.

It turns out that Gwen has a lot more In common with Ollie than she realised, in that he too has lost someone close in a tragic accident.

Baking appears to play a role in Gwen’s recovery from her personal losses, but I’m unsure whether she feels better because she is baking and cooking or whether she feels better, SO she is baking and cooking. The Christmas ideas however were heartbreaking for Gwen – one step too far?

Can Gwen overcome the past, or is it just too much to ask? 

Is Ella really going to get back with her cheating ex?

Who actually owns Stargazey Cottage?

Could some uncharacteristic snow change things for Gwen?

If I didn’t like Ollie already, I found myself totally smitten by the story of Minty. What’s not to Iove! I so wanted him and Gwen to get together!

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Happy Endings at Mermaids Point – Sarah Bennett

It is with mixed feelings that I start to read this latest and last book in the Mermaids Point series by Sarah Bennett. It’s a rotten, wet day, and I really could do with an uplifting read, but this is the last book in the series; perhaps I need to ration myself in terms of chapters per day? Why kid myself. I know for certain, that once I get my nose into this book, there will be no extracting myself, until I have finished. The only saving Grace in my mind, is that Sarah Bennett, Author extraordinaire, will now have time to write a new series, which I am sure will give readers as much pleasure as the Mermaids Point series has given them.

Whilst I have enjoyed this series immensely, I found the list of characters past and present, extremely helpful. Full marks to anyone who can remember everything about each character, but I am not not one of them, so thank you for the list! As a side note, as an animal lover, I adored the fact that peoples’ pets were included in the character list. I have previously confessed to wanting to be an honorary member of the Morgan family, and to yearning to live in Mermaids Point, and this wonderful, uplifting tale did nothing but strengthen those (dream) resolves. I just found myself so completely overwhelmed by the Morgans’ sense of family and their sense of utter loyalty; would surely walk the ends of the earth for each other.

The return of Aurora was like a breathe of fresh air through this novel, although I would of course wish better circumstances upon her. I would however relish the chance for her to get together ‘properly’ with Mermaids Point’s seemingly most eligible bachelor, namely Nick. Nick is an all-round good egg, and it’s astonishing that he is still single. It’s about time he had a bit more fun in his life though! I couldn’t in fact think of a better place for Aurora to get away from her latest ‘issue’, than in the bosom of the Morgan Family. I just hoped that once they enveloped her in their industrial level care and loving, Aurora would never want to be away from them (and Nick) ever again.

Aurora is an utter delight – a mixture of fun but caring and beauty and loyalty. She is the perfect match for both Nick and the wider Morgan Family. It defies belief that her own Family don’t have time for her! I loved Aurora’s first reaction to the inside of Alex and Ivy’s bookshop – akin to a child’s reaction to Santa’s Grotto. Aurora is such an all-round beauty, who also appreciates other beautiful things in life – for example, the amazing clothes that Ivy has created, with which to fill her side of the shop.

Time for another confession – I loved the sound of the bookshop and it’s eclectic contents, and would have loved to have visited it…….

The situation with Aurora’s Parents was awful. I struggled to see how her parents could be anything but proud about her…..They evidently had some kind of mental health problem, making them very set in their ways and the manner in which they behaved towards Aurora made it clear as to why she allowed herself to be swept up into the unconditional love of the Morgans and their close family. I was however relieved that Aurora had the rather fabulous Dennis and Hetty firmly in her life.

The descriptions of the childrens party, particularly the costumes, were a delight and I almost felt as though I was there, such was the quality of the writing. I was particularly thrilled to see Gabriel and Lucifer getting on.

People can be so unkind and thoughtless about other people; with celebrities I get the impression that people think that they know people and what they or may not have done, just through their celebrity. Sarah wrote about how Aurora was treated so empathetically, but I still felt heartbroken that strangers should choose to treat a lovely, beautiful (inside and out) person so terribly. The worst thing for me, was the thought that this was such an accurate representation of real life. Emily summed things up to a tee, asking why people would be mean to Aurora, when she was so nice – and that is the sad fact of the matter – some people, don’t care how nice, or otherwise a person is! They simply do not care.

What I found immensely heartwarming, perhaps even inducing a tiny tear or two, was the village tradition, whereby the women of the village walked to weddings and funerals, with more and more women joining the main group along the way. I could fully understand why people would choose such a walk to the church, over a fancy car – people choosing to stand by one and other during events at opposing ends of the emotional scale.

All the while, Aurora and Nick seemed to be becoming closer than ever. I have become so fond of the characters in this series of books, that I felt myself willing a future together for the pair – but you will need to read this wonderful, heartwarming book for yourself, to see if my wishes were fulfilled.

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