blog tour · book review · Christmas · Christmas treats · short reads · short story

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The No-Hopers’ Christmas Club and other festive stories

The No-Hopers Christmas Club

As warming as a mince pie and a glass of sherry, these eighteen festive-themed shorts are just waiting to be unwrapped.

  • A lonely dog shelter volunteer battles to find new homes for her long-time canine residents while realising her own future is just as uncertain. As the new year approaches, can a fellow animal lover give her the fresh start she so wants for her dogs.
  • A widowed grandmother prepares to reunite with her forbidden first love, only to discover the grand country pile from where he’s sent her a Christmas card isn’t quite what it seems.
  • A single woman finally meets a man to couple up with over the festive season, but will the eccentric mistress of her late father destroy her plans?
  • An ambitious 20-something attends a lavish Christmas party with only one aim – to bag a rich husband. But her plans are derailed when a troubling connection with the aristocrat she’s set her sights on is revealed.

Geraldine Ryan is a prolific short-story writer whose work has appeared in Woman’s Weekly and Take a Break’s Fiction Feast magazines. This yuletide collection follows hot on the heels of her first published anthology Riding Pillion with George Clooney. While Christmas comes but once a year, these moving and humorous tales will stay with you for a lifetime.

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Author Bio

Geraldine Ryan is a proud Northerner who has spent most of her life in Cambridge – the one with the punts. She holds a degree in Scandinavian Studies, but these days only puts it to use when identifying which language is being spoken among the characters of whatever Scandi drama is currently showing on TV. For many years, she worked as a teacher of English and of English as a second or foreign language, in combination with rearing her four children, all of whom are now grown-up, responsible citizens. Her first published story appeared in My Weekly in 1993. Since then, her stories have appeared in Take a Break, Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly, as well as in women’s magazines abroad. She has also written two young adult novels – Model Behaviour (published by Scholastic) and The Lies and Loves of Finn (Channel 4 Books.) She plans for Riding Pillion with George Clooney to be the first of several short story anthologies.

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My Review

Festive stories as varied as your favourite box of chocolates!

What a wonderful collection of short stories this is, and each one with its own clear plot and cast of characters. From the very beginning, I knew I’d enjoy these stories – yeah, the dog story got me. Go Lurch & Hopalong! But, from thereon, the stories tackled so many themes that tugged on my heartstrings and had me wishing for a happy ending.
To name a few favourites (aside from the opening story of The No-hopers Christmas Club), I’d go with:
A Rocking Horse Christmas – which tells the story of a vicar and his wife who are trying for a baby. He’s so excited, he buys a rocking horse for the nursery, but sadly the baby never comes as they suffer one miscarriage after another. Yet, this is a tale of hope and perseverance, and of choosing a different path towards a happy ending. Simply lovely.
Being Gerald’s Wife – is the story of a woman whose husband is controlling and coercive, robbing her of a life until the fuss over an unripe avocado turns into a moment of reflection, a chance to be free and to start over.
Gemma’s Night Out – is a modern take on A Christmas Carol that is both fun and thought-provoking. A story about starting afresh, learning lessons from the past and moving forward, stronger and with confidence.
My Stupid Lies – is about the only single woman at the bottle factory, fed up with hearing how wonderful her co-workers’ families are and what amazing plans they have for Christmas, so fed up that she fabricates a family of her own… until the lies take over. However, all is not lost, as a kindred spirit is ready to save her from herself, and also to encourage her to follow her heart – which is not at the bottle factory!
And, finally, (so many favourites 😉 ) Forbidden Feelings – a story that follows a woman from the kitchens of a wealthy family in South Africa to England where a chance reunion confirms that she was never “just a maidservant” in Patrick’s eyes, and that love knows no bounds.

As you can see, it’s an eclectic collection of stories that covers the amusing side of Christmas with the office Secret Santa to the more poignant and heart-wrenching tales of loss, loneliness and desperation, offset with new starts, friendships and a greater understanding of one’s self and others. Highly recommended, and perfect for a tea-break moment or two.

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blog tour · book review · Christmas · family · France · New start · starting over

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Christmas at the Riviera

Christmas on the Riviera

As a toddler Elodie Jacques was abandoned by her mother and left in the care of her French grandmother, Gabriella in Dartmouth, Devon.

Now 24 years old, Elodie struggles to reconcile the deep anger for the mother she has never since seen.

When Gabriella unexpectedly announces she wants the two of them to spend Christmas and her 70th birthday in her home town of Juan-les-Pins in the South of France Elodie is thrilled.

Gabriella meanwhile has her own ulterior motives for wanting to return after 40 years, a daunting homecoming potentially filled with memories, secrets and recriminations.

With Juan-les-Pins pulsing with lights, decorations and the festive spirit, Christmas promises to be filled with fun. But when Elodie learns there is the possibility that her long absent mother may join them she hides her feelings behind a show of indifference and animosity.

Will there be the reconciliation that Gabriella longs for – or will the spirit of Christmas fail to work its magic?

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Author Bio

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat.

She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

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My Review

It’s back to France I go, this time to Antibes (Juan-les-Pins) with grandmother Gabriella (Gabby) and granddaughter, Elodie Jacques.
Gabby has received a letter and now wants to spend Christmas and her 70th birthday in her hometown of Juan-les-Pins, a place she left (under a cloud) over 40 years ago.
Elodie has been raised by Gabby ever since he mother Harriet left the family some 20 years to remarry and settle in Australia. Elodie has long since given up on a relationship with her mother and sees Gabby as more than fulfilling that role. She is also stuck in a rut professionally, not achieving the goals she expected of herself, and as for romance… well, that’s a non-starter too.
Consequently, spending the holidays in sunny France seems like the perfect solution; besides, she has always been curious about her grandmother’s history, why she left France and never returned.

For Gabby, her hometown has changed a lot but there are glimpses of her former life that evoke plenty of memories for her, not all of them good. She also needs to reveal some news to Elodie, news that might drastically change her life and her future imminently and forever.

The setting, as expected, is glorious; the characters are real and their reactions relatable, but it is the secrets that Gabby has to share with Elodie that delight, allowing the reader to wonder how such news might affect them. The author takes us on a fantastic journey delving into Gabby’s past and her reason for leaving France while also offering us a taste of how their lives might change in the weeks that follow. New friendships and loves leave us hoping for a happy ending, although we know there are obstacles yet to be overcome as a family reunion becomes part of the equation.

This is a relatively quick read but one that transports us to another life, Christmas in the sun, with new friends and hopes to inspire and encourage both Gabby and Elodie to take the next steps.
I’d like to think there will be a sequel featuring more about these characters and not forgetting the mystery of Collette’s bicycle and the antiquities shop 😉

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blog tour · book review · Christmas · Contemporary Romance · Scotland · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Festive Surprise

A Festive Surprise

She can’t abide Christmas. He’s not sure what it’s all about. Together they’re in for a festive surprise.

Ambitious software developer Holly may have a festive name but the connection ends there. She despises the holiday season and decides to flee to the remote island of Mull in a bid to escape from it.

Syrian refugee Farid has made a new home in Scotland but he’s lonely. Understanding Nessie and Irn Bru is one thing, but when glittery reindeer and tinsel hit the shelves, he’s completely bemused. Determined to understand a new culture, he asks his new neighbour to educate him on all things Christmas.

When Holly reluctantly agrees, he realises there’s more to her hatred of mince pies and mulled wine than meets the eye. Farid makes it his mission to inject some joy into Hollys’ life but falling for her is an unexpected gift that was never on his list.

As their attraction sparkles, can Christmas work its magic on Holly and Farid, or will their spark fizzle out with the end of December?

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Margaret is a writer, mummy, wife and chocolate eater (in any order you care to choose). She lives in highland Perthshire in a little house close to the woods where she often sees red squirrels, deer and other such tremendously Scottish wildlife… Though not normally haggises or even men in kilts!

She has published nine books and written many more. Margaret won a short story writing competition in 2012 and her winning entry was performed live to an audience at Pitlochry Festival Theatre as part of their Winter Words Event. This spring boarded Margaret’s journey from writing for fun to novel writing – though she still enjoys every minute of it.

Margaret is also a keen amateur photographer, who enjoys drawing, reading, and talking about books.

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My Review

Christmas means different things to different people, and to some it means absolutely nothing at all. Holly verges on the “let’s get it over and done with” side, while Farid is bemused by the whole thing. So you’d think Christmas would be a non-event when Holly moves into the cabin next door to escape the madness of the festivities. Farid, however, really wants to fit in having made his home in Scotland, and everyone – but everyone else – is preparing to celebrate in style.

His curiosity forces Holly to take part in carol-singing, cake-making, and even present-buying – things she has not expected to do this year. In fact, she plans on working through the holidays …but there is something charismatic and engaging about Farid’s curiosity than even she cannot ignore.

Farid is such a sweet guy, and Holly definitely bears the prickles of the plant after which she’s named at first. Seeing them come together is enchanting, but surely it can only be temporary?

I’ll admit to worrying about Farid falling head over heels in love with Holly, his chats with his family prove exactly how deep he has fallen, all while Holly is working on her next project. The uncertainty of their relationship status kept me reading on, willing a happy ending for Farid and a chance for Holly to reflect and start over with fewer misgivings about love.

A Festive Surprise tells of a heart-warming romance that, at first sight, seems short-lived. Yet the strength of their feelings suggests that this is no “holiday romance”, and the Christmas backdrop provides the necessary magic to enthral and captivate the reader while working its charm on Farid and Holly. The outcome is a surprise that neither expected, and possibly the greatest gift of all.

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blog tour · book review · Christmas · contemporary fiction · Contemporary Romance · Giveaways

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – One Last Dream for December (with giveaway)

One Last Dream for December

Sometimes, the dream we think we don’t deserve is the one that’s trying to come true…

Esme Blythe has led a nomadic existence for the last ten years, never thinking she fits anywhere, and never feeling she’s earned the right to. But when she moves in above Percival’s, the charming old toy shop in Market Square, Pebblestow, it seems the village is about to weave its signature fairy-tale magic.

Surrounded by wooden toy soldiers, rocking horses, and vintage doll’s houses, not to mention the locals who seem determined to be part of her life – from her endearing grumpy uncle, to warm-hearted co-worker Blodwyn, and smouldering single dad Seth – Esme has to face up to everything she’s been missing, or turn her back on an incredible opportunity.

New friends, formidable foes, and the thrill of a budding romance, conspire to make this the most bittersweet December ever. But when she finally learns the truth about the toy shop’s owner, her elusive benefactor, the mysterious Mr Percival, is it already too late for Esme to change her mind… and heal her heart?

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Author Bio

Lottie Cardew writes uplifting, contemporary romcoms set around the picturesque village of Pebblestow, and is an advocate for diversity in fiction.

Regarded as the bossy one at Novelistas Ink, Lottie often subdues the other members if they misbehave (they don’t really) including the popular authors Trisha Ashley and Sophie Claire. She is a longstanding member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, scooping their New Writer’s Award in her twenties under a different pen-name. More recently, Lottie also joined the Society of Authors where as an active participant in the ADCI group (Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses) she interviewed bestselling author Holly Smale in 2021 for the first ever Disability Issue of The Bookseller.

Lottie is diagnosed autistic with suspected ADHD. Her home in North Wales is overrun by husband, not-very-small children, and a ball of fluff masquerading as a Pomeranian, so Lottie frequently takes refuge at her desk.

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Prize includes:

A handy winter-themed reusable shopping bag with pouch; a notebook to organise Christmas gifts and to-do lists; and a Scandi-style Christmas stocking. 

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

My Review

How can a story be so entertaining and yet challenging and powerful? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that with One Last Dream for December, Lottie Cardew has created just that.

Let me explain myself: starting with entertaining (which is why most readers pick up a work of fiction). The village of Pebblestow is charming, its resident warm and welcoming (Blodwyn, I’m talking about you), all of which should put Esme at ease when she finds herself living and working at Percival’s toy shop. Yet it’s not that simple. Why? That, you’ll have to wait and read for yourself.

The shop is quintessentially old-fashioned and traditional, and the workshop below stairs where Mr Percival used to craft his toys is a veritable treasure trove of finished and unfinished toys. With Mr Percival now ill and unable to continue making toys, there’s a sense of trepidation that the end is nigh for the toyshop. With Esme believing her time there is only temporary, that foreboding only gets stronger.

However, there are those (Esme’s uncle & Mr Percival) who see something else in Esme’s future, and an end to her nomadic lifestyle. They know – and they convinced me too – that Esme belongs in Pebblestow. It’s just a matter of persuading Esme now. Cue Seth and his daughter Tamika. Having lived through some traumatic times, Seth is also new to Pebblestow, having moved there to allow his daughter to see her grandparents more often. He is as lost as Esme, and their paths seem inevitably entwined – if only Esme can accept she fits in in Pebblestow. Their friendship is thorny at first, and you start to wonder if there will be a happy ending, but persevere as the delights and magic of Christmas are on hand to make dreams come true.

If seeing how that romance develops is not enough for you, then there are some lovely subplots with Blodwyn and a young man, Piotr, which will warm your heart too.

I’ll admit to finding the start to this story somewhat challenging in that I didn’t take to Esme at first, and I found her to be quite negative about everything. Of course, as I saw her character develop, I understood her better, and that’s what made this such a powerful read for me. The author didn’t instantly label Esme as neurodivergent, she showed how Esme viewed the world and her place in it. It all began to make sense when I saw things from her perspective. As someone who has been pigeon-holed since birth, this approach really made me think and reflect. Sometimes it’s too easy to label an individual; it’s much better all round to try to understand them.

A beautiful story on so many levels, and I’m convinced Mr Percival is related to Santa as well 😉

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blog tour · book review · books · Christmas · Contemporary Romance

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

‘Tis the season for finding love… and the perfect book

With just two weeks until Christmas, everything in Clove Lore should be perfect. But the latest holidaymaker to the Borrow a Bookshop is feeling far from festive…

Icelandic ex-bookseller Magnús Sturluson might be surrounded by love stories in the Bookshop, but he’s nursing a sadness that not even fiction can fix.

When Alexandra Robinson finds herself stranded in Clove Lore, she finds a safe place to hide from heartbreak. After all, all that’s waiting for her at home is a cheater boyfriend and the memories of her parents. As Alex finds herself embraced by the quirky village community, she finds her tough exterior thawing – and as she grows closer to Magnús, she finds an equally soft heart under his gruff shell.

It seems that Clove Lore is working its magic once again – until a great flood on Christmas Eve brings devastation in its wake. It’s up to Magnús and Alex to batten down the hatches and help bring the village back together again, while also introducing the locals to the Icelandic tradition of the jólabókaflóð – Yule book flood – where families and friends gather on Christmas Eve to exchange books and read together.

But can Magnús and Alex truly rescue the ruins of the village, and salvage their Christmas spirit? Or is there another complication lurking even closer than they thought?

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Author Bio

Kiley Dunbar writes heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places, with One Winter’s Night being shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2021.

Kiley’s five novels include: The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday (May 2021), One Winter’s Night (September 2020), Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), Christmas at Frozen Falls (2019) and One Summer’s Night (2019).

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My Review

The premise of this series is simply too wonderful for a booklover to ignore, and I have to admit to dreaming about running a bookshop, which makes this a must read. Book one introduced us to the village of Clove Lore in the summer, with its quirky villagers and the perfect ending for the “borrowers” of that story. Now, it’s winter, close to Christmas, and the “borrower” in question is not as excited as you might expect. Magnús once ran a bookshop in Iceland, but is disillusioned by the business that he was forced to close down. He hasn’t yet come to terms with what went wrong with his dream bookshop and figures he’s only going to fail again – so why bother hanging around?

When a river cruiser gets into trouble during a storm, the skipper Alex hunkers down in secrecy, refusing to give away even the barest details of her life. Fleeing a broken relationship, she’s convinced no one will be worrying about her anyway – so what’s the point of letting people in?

Two people struggling, holding in all their insecurities, fearful of failing at life and love. Well, doesn’t that just make Clove Lore the perfect place for them? Of course, it seems inevitable that they will find each other … but it’s not going to be easy. They will be tested, challenged and scrutinised by the villagers and the weather. Will the allure of Clove Lore and the bookshop work is magic at this most festive time of year?

With Magnús’s “baking”, the New Year’s eve tradition of Jolabokafloo, there’s a nod to Iceland that blends perfectly with a wintry bookshop, but it is the characters who power this story. Quirky villagers return to consolidate the village vibe of supporting each other and a “all hands to the deck” attitude during times of trouble. It’s sweet and idyllic, charming and heart-warming, yet also filled with poignant moments of how these secondary characters also develop and move on with their lives. The subplots strengthen the main plot and combine for a magical read that will make me a repeat visitor to Clove Lore for the duration of this series.

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book blitz · Christmas · Contemporary Romance · Giveaways · holidays · romantic comedy

Book Blitz – Cole For Christmas (with giveaway)

ColeForChristmas copy

Meddling relatives, mistletoe, and holiday romance? It’s the whole package wrapped with a big shiny bow! Read on for more details about Cole for Christmas by Janet Raye Stevens! There’s also a $20 Amazon gift card to win!


Cole for Christmas

Publication Date: October 26th, 2021

Genre: Holiday Romance

They cant say no to the mistletoe!

Easy going event coordinator Katy Wilkins is called in to sub for her perfectionist sister at a Christmas Eve wedding in Portland, Maine. Nice guy chef Cole St. Onge takes over from his temperamental boss for the same event.

The problem? Each thinks the other is their prickly counterpart and anticipate fireworks when they meet. But it’s the sparks that fly between them that’s unexpected—and unwelcome. Katy’s skittish after a bad breakup; left at the altar, Cole’s sworn off women for good. They both vow to do their job and stay out of each other’s way.

That plan goes awry as troubles mount. A sudden nor’easter blows in, forcing guests to stay home. Mix in a stressed-out bride, an accident-prone groom, a power outage, Katy’s deejay ex making trouble, a matchmaking grandma, and lots and lots of mistletoe, and what’s supposed to be a magical holiday affair fast becomes a Christmas disaster.

Forced to team up to put out the many fires, the blaze between Cole and Katy burns brighter as the evening wears on. Can they ignore their growing attraction and keep their relationship strictly professional? Or will they give in to the mistletoe and say I do to a Christmas kiss that promises more to come in the new year?

If you love a sweet and funny Christmas romance with a dash of mistaken identity, then this delicious holiday treat is for you!

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About the Author


Janet Raye Stevens grew up surrounded by, buried under, and tripping over books. Her mother defined the term voracious reader, and Janet eagerly followed in her footsteps, haunting every book store, bookmobile and public library within a 50 mile radius.

At the age of 10, Janet decided she wanted to do what the authors of the books she loved did –write. Her first story was for a class assignment, “The Day My Teacher Wore a Miniskirt to School.” She got a C minus. She also got a lot of laughs, and that was all the encouragement she needed to keep writing.

Janet lives with her family in New England, where she indulges in her hobbies of drinking copious amounts of tea, rearranging the kitchen cabinets so her husband can’t find anything, and creating fictional worlds populated with cool chicks and hot guys.

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blog tour · book review · Christmas · Contemporary Romance

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Amsterdam Affair

The Amsterdam Affair

A new start, a chance encounter, a Christmas to remember. Will Iris’s new year be happy ever after? 

When Iris Greene’s boyfriend surprises her with a romantic dinner at their favourite restaurant, she’s expecting a proposal, not a move to another country. 

But Amsterdam proves to be the change she never knew she needed, and a surprise encounter with a local actor leads Iris to new friends and the rediscovery of a long lost passion. While Iris thrives in a city filled with festivity, her boyfriend struggles, and her heart is torn in two. 

As snow falls and secrets are revealed, Iris must decide her future. Will she be brave enough to start over and take a chance on love? 

Author Bio

Kate Frost is the author of best-selling romantic escape novels (The Baobab Beach Retreat, A Starlit Summer, The Greek Heart, The Love Island Bookshop and The Amsterdam Affair), character-driven women’s fiction (The Butterfly Storm series and Beneath the Apple Blossom), and Time Shifters, a time travel adventure trilogy for children. She has a MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she also taught lifewriting to creative writing undergraduates.

Kate lives in Bristol with her husband, young son, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Frodo. As well as writing novels, she’s also the Director of Storytale Festival, a new city-wide children’s book festival that she co-founded in Bristol in 2019 with the ethos of making books accessible to all and encouraging children and teens to read, write and be creative. Kate feels incredibly lucky to spend her days writing and being immersed in books. Her first book with Boldwood will be published in March 2022.






Giveaway to Win a paperback copy of The Amsterdam Affair along with a bag of mini Stroopwafels (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

My Review

First up, that cover is just so inviting. How could I not want to be transported to Amsterdam? Iris may have been reluctant, but not me. However, this is Iris’s story …

When Will arranges a night out at their favourite restaurant with a cryptic message about something important, it takes mere milliseconds for Iris to presume he’s about to propose. And why wouldn’t he? They’ve been together seven years.

Needless to say, Will’s important news is something entirely different, something that he has chosen to do unilaterally with not a second thought for how Iris might feel. (Can you hear the warning bells?) Even so, it’s the chance of a lifetime for him to accept a job promotion to the Amsterdam branch of his firm. It comes complete with paid accommodation and Iris won’t even have to get a job. (Yeah, Will, cos Iris really does want to spend a year doing nothing in a foreign country, far from her friends and family while you trot off to work everyday as normal!) Still, Iris being Iris goes along with it, she doesn’t like her current job anyway so maybe this will give her time to sort out what she really wants to do with her life.

Their new apartment is wonderful, the scenery is stunning but there’s something missing … Yes, Will. He’s working all hours while Iris has to get to know Amsterdam by herself. Even at the weekends, she plans things that he’ll like because he’s not into all her arty stuff. Still, Will’s happy, isn’t he?

Taking regular walks, Iris starts to bump into the same people, nods hello and begins to feel more settled, even taking to her sketch book once again. But she’s getting a little bored of being on her own, so when the opportunity of a part-time job in her favourite café is advertised, she is quick to apply. And she gets it. This is her lifeline as she meets more people and is inspired to create more. Having giving up on her creative streak years before to get a job that would pay her bills, she’s loving the time and attention she can now devote to her artwork. The idea of making a living from it now seems more likely.

Will, however, is a little taken aback that she didn’t mention her coffee shop job to him (pot – kettle – black!) But, other than that, he’s happy. Isn’t he? Well, it turns out he’s not and he’s decided to leave his Amsterdam job early and return to the UK, once again without a word to Iris. But he wasn’t banking on Iris’s response. This time, she puts her foot down and stays until the flight they’d originally booked for Christmas arrives. Yay! Go Iris!

Can she survive on her own? Yes, she can …in fact she thrives. Which is why, when she does finally return to the UK for the Christmas holidays, she has a big decision to make. And I’m saying nothing more on the subject. Read the book; it’s delightful, Amsterdam is a marvel, and find out if Iris gets to live the life she deserves.

The Amsterdam Affair will draw you in like a mug of hot chocolate on a Winter’s evening, it will captivate you to the extent that you’ll never want to leave. I loved the ending, loved the characters in Amsterdam, loved the Christmassyness of the story.

I’ll slip in my bugbear here – and that was the use of “her” instead of “she” which cropped up so often, jarring my attention. Her and Will did this, her and Kelly did that. Not for me, that bit.

However, everything else made for a magical read. I love stories where people take risks, explore other countries and cultures. Anyway, I declare this a perfect read for the festive season. Enjoy!

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It’s a shame that this kind of story will now be a real fantasy for so many Brits who no longer have the freedom of movement to simply upsticks and move to somewhere like Amsterdam on a whim, without reams of paperwork and extra costs.

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blog tour · book review · Christmas · Contemporary Romance · romantic comedy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Post Box at the North Pole

The Post Box at the North Pole

Dear Santa,

I wish I could believe in magic again.

From, Sasha.

Sasha Hansley hates Christmas. As a child, it was her favourite time of year, but ever since the tragic death of her mother, it has completely lost its magic.

But when she gets an unexpected phone call from her eccentric estranged father, she’s forced to dust off her snow boots.

He has been running a Lapland-style Christmas village in Norway and after suffering a heart attack, he is on strict doctor’s orders to slow down. Eager to reconnect with her dad, Sasha books the next flight out there. Only she has never actually been on a plane before, let alone to the Arctic Circle.

 Met at the runway by drop-dead-gorgeous Taavi Salvesen, they sleigh ride through the snow with the Northern Lights guiding their way.

 When Sasha uncovers sacks of unopened Santa mail – letters that children and adults from all over the world write to Santa every year – she realises that she can send a little bit of magic out into the world by replying to some of them.

 With Taavi on hand to help, will Sasha rediscover her own excitement for Christmas and find love among the letters?

The Post Box at the North Pole is like one big romantic mug of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and a splash of Christmas magic! Fans of Holly Martin, Sarah Morgan and Heidi Swain will love this novel!

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Author Bio

Jaimie is a 36-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots.
She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She is the author of several romantic comedies for HarperCollins – The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, The Little Wedding Island, It’s a Wonderful Night, The Little Vintage Carousel by the Sea, Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm, The Little Bookshop of Love Stories, The Wishing Tree Beside the Shore, The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane, and The Post Box at the North Pole.

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My Review

I’m not known for reading Christmas stories before December – yes, I’m usually that pedantic Grinch, but no more! In her book The Postbox at the North Pole, Jaimie Admans had made a convert of me. Or maybe she’s spoiled me with such a magical, heart-warming story that others will fall flat. Who knows? All I know is…

Thank Santa I woke up and smelled the hot chocolate 😉

As a standalone contemporary romance novel, the story stands up well. Add in the magic of reindeers, The Northern Lights and Santa’s House and it becomes something magical.

Sasha has all but given up on Christmas. Since her mother’s death, her father is never around, and her gran isn’t exactly full of the Christmas spirit. Sasha has just lost her job when she gets a call from her dad asking her to help him out at a reindeer sanctuary in Norway. He’s had a heart attack and can’t manage on his own. Sasha instantly wants him to come back to the UK, but he is just as adamant to stay away. She relents and agrees to fly over on the proviso that she’ll help him get the place ready to sell so that he can return to Britain.

Of course, she’s not expecting to be met at the airport by the strong and silent type, Taavi. Nor does she expect to travel by a husky-drawn sled to the sanctuary. The surprises keep on coming, and since Sasha has never left Britain before, she is wowed by the stunning scenery, the intense cold and then … the awe of the Northern Lights.

There is one more surprise to come. Her father doesn’t run a reindeer sanctuary. He is in fact Santa and owns all of Santaland – from the themed cabins to the igloos, to the elves workshop and the post office. Unfortunately, much of it is in a state of serious disrepair with Taavi being the one-man-band in charge of fixing everything.

Will Sasha even be able to help him get the place ready to sell? There’s a reason why he never came home, why he can’t talk to her about her mum’s death . Getting him to open up to her is a job in itself, and he’s getting on in years. Sasha must make this visit work, she must fill the void in their relationship for both their sakes. But is selling up and taking him away from everything he loves the answer? The village is certainly enchanting and full of innocent charm. Finding sacks of unanswered letters in the Post Office certainly plays a part in showing her how important the place is to her dad and to Tav, as well as to the many children across the world who still believe in Santa.

Cue cheeky reindeers, a sweet love story for the Postlady, and mugs and mugs of hot chocolate.

Tav is the epitome of understated, with his own reason for being so entrenched in his lifestyle and so unwilling to change. Can Sasha really get to the bottom of what’s going on at Santaland and, if she does, will she be able to sell up and walk away? Will she want to?

The author brings the setting to life, with the backdrop of the Northern Lights and Santa’s House how could I not be transported to Santaland? If they’re still open for bookings, then I’m on my way.

Emotional, poignant, mischievous and magical. I loved it and will happily re-read it again and again.

Thanks to Jaimie Admans and Netgalley for my copy of this fabulous story.

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blog tour · book review · Christmas · Christmas novella · Disney · Happy Ever After

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Mistletoe and the Mouse

Mistletoe and the Mouse

Can a magical Christmas melt a frozen heart?

Join Belle and James as they visit Mickey Mouse for a sparkling holiday season at Disneyland Paris.

Belle has been numb since her mother died, and she can’t face Christmas at home without her. Instead she books a surprise holiday to her “happy place” – the Magic Kingdom. But her boyfriend James has problems of his own. He doesn’t “do Disney” and what will his mother think of him missing their family Christmas to go to Disneyland with Belle?

A festive romance with a sprinkling of Pixie Dust.

Purchase Links (Amazon)

Theme Park Press website:


Author Bio

Elsa Simonetti was born in the same year as Walt Disney World, but many miles away in the north of England. Her earliest Disney memory is crying during Bambi at the Saturday morning cinema club! It wasn’t until her own children were small that her husband introduced her to the magic of Disneyland Paris, and since then she has become obsessed, proving Walt Disney’s own belief that “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age and dreams are forever”. That was the seed of this story – that Disneyland is not just for children, but for anyone who is young at heart.

Elsa also writes romantic women’s fiction under the name of Liz Taylorson

Social Media Links

Twitter: @Elsasimonetti



My Review

For me, every Christmas is better with a sprinkle of Disney but this year even more so. I had to squeeze this one in. 

Belle is still mourning the loss of her mother, and her relationship with James accelerated as he stepped in to comfort her. But Belle and James are very different people, and she wonders if their relationship had been allowed to develop at its normal would they still be together. Belle is Disney-obsessed (nothing wrong with that at all 😉 ) while James is into his rugby big-time, both playing and watching. Belle hasn’t even seen him play yet. So, booking a break to Disneyland Paris over the Christmas holidays seems like the perfect way for them to spend more time together as a couple. But, first, they have to tell his mother. 

James does his best to show enthusiasm, but it’s clear a Disney holiday is not his idea of fun, especially at Christmas when his mother likes all the family to gather round. 

But, of course, his mother is gracious in agreeing for James to accompany Belle to Paris. That graciousness becomes ever more evident when we later learn her reason for keeping her family close by over the festive season. 

Belle’s awe and delight is not immediately reflected in her boyfriend’s eyes and she begins to regret asking him along. However, this wouldn’t be Disney without some magic, and James is soon won over by “proper” restaurants and “big” rides, despite Belle’s love for the gentler side of the park with all the lights and fireworks. Can a sprinkle of pixie dust be enough to realign them and their future together?

As a big Disney fan, and a frequent visitor to Disneyland Paris – without kids, because …well, just because 😉  – Belle’s wonderment mirrors my own. “It’s a Small World” is my happy place too. Like Belle, my mum loved it too, and I can empathise with her as she recalls how much her mum would have enjoyed the Christmas theme. That said, I understand there are people like James who don’t “do Disney”, but that’s generally because they haven’t tried it, or they think it’s only for kids. this book did more to disprove that argument than I ever could. 

This was such a heartwarming story, and James’s mum turns out not to be the Evil (Step)Mother thanks to a delightful twist in the tale that sees Belle’s reconsider her impression of the woman.  As with all Disney stories, there’s a message here: don’t judge people until you really know them. Belle’s own grief cut her off from others a little, but with the help of Disney she was able to see through the tears and welcome in a new future for herself … and maybe James too. 

I enjoyed reminiscing over the sights and sounds, the queues (!?), the real food in the restaurants, and the utter magic of  the Parade. Belle and James were the perfect hosts, and they thoroughly deserve a happy ending. 

Thank you to the author and Theme Park Press for my copy of this book which I have voluntarily read and honestly reviewed.

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blog tour · book review · British · Christmas · fun · Giveaways · romantic comedy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Perfect Fit (Love in the Dales #2)

The Perfect Fit

‘A wonderful book with a great story and a sparky, unusual voice. I loved it!’ KATIE FFORDE

Escape to the frost-sparkling Yorkshire Dales for some festive fun under the mistletoe! A saucy comedy-romance with more than a sprinkle of Christmas spice – this will lift your spirits and your excitement level!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for costume shop owner Becky Finn. Leaving London to move back home to the twinkly rural village of Egglethwaite, she plans to build a new life for herself with fiancé, Cole.

Keen to raise funds for the struggling village hall she loved as a child, Becky finds herself at the head of a colourful group aiming to revive the Egglethwaite Christmas pantomime. But when that festive feeling sets in, she discovers there’s more to panto than innuendo and slapped thighs.

Falling in love was not in the script! But as opening night grows closer, she starts to wonder if the panto will ever make it to the stage and, with handsome co-star Marcus on the scene, if she has chosen her right leading man…

The perfect stocking-filler gift!

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Apple Books:

Author Bio

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them. More information can be found about Mary Jayne on her website at

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Oh, yes it is!

Giveaway to Win signed copies of both books in the Love in the Dales series (Open to UK Only)

  • A Bicycle Made for Two and The Perfect Fit

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.



My Review

4/5 stars

Why is a panto called a panto?

Because they arrrrrr!

(Readers of the story will get this, otherwise … read on. I’m not as crazy (or grammatically inept) as it might appear 😉 I’m channelling my inner six-year-old!)

From page one, the panto theme is alive and kicking, and when 6 year old Pip and her Aunty Becky attend the Christmas panto, Pip takes a particular liking to the joke:

Why are pirates called pirates? – Because they arrrrr!

So much does she love this, that she tells everyone, but not without changing it to suit her own purposes. (See now? 😉 as I said, my inner Pip!) The groan effect is huge, and Becky has a lot of explaining to do to the befuddled adults on the receiving end of Pip’s hilarity.

Having returned to her childhood home, Egglethwaite, after a stint in London, Becky Finn immerses herself into village life while waiting for her fiancé, Cole, to join her ‘up North’. As an artist, his life has been in London, but he so wants Becky to be happy that he is prepared to make the move. Unfortunately, it’s taking some time to get the job he wants, and so Becky is encouraged by her family and old friends to get involved in the community.

When it seems that the old hall – The Temperance Hall – is threatened by closure due to a lack of funding, Becky is determined to help raise money to keep it open. She has fond memories of the Hall, and especially of the pantomimes.

Why not rekindle the panto? she asks everyone at a local meeting. They don’t exactly rush to agree with her, but eventually she wins them over and plans are made to recruit others to help out behind the scenes and in the panto itself.

Of course, it doesn’t go swimmingly, but Becky gets stuck in, writing the script with Marcus and organising the costumes. It keeps her mind off missing Cole, and she’s enjoying being back with family and friends. She looks on longingly as her brother and his husband now have young Pip to raise, her best friend Lana and hubby, Stew, are also hoping to expand their family by adopting. Everyone seems to be moving on, and Becky cannot wait to be in their position.

Cole does eventually get the job and makes the move. Everything is falling into place for Becky. Or is it? The panto is taking over her life, and Cole is not at all interested. But, once it’s over, everything will be fine. Won’t it?

The characters, in true panto style, are larger than life yet still seem very realistic. They each get a chance to shine, telling their own stories. It feels like a proper community. Everyone looking out for each other, and at the same time coping with their own issues. There are plenty of laughs, lots of groans (bad panto jokes and innuendo galore) and even some tears.

This is the second book of the “A Love in the Dales’ Story” series but can be read as a standalone. Personally, I haven’t read the first book and didn’t feel there was anything missing or unexplained. It’s a fun read, totally reminiscent of the pantomimes of my own childhood. Behind the scenes, there’s drama, upsets, tantrums, and even costume envy. The author balances the enthusiasm and over-the-top quality of pantomime with believable relationships and interactions. It’s very British in its colloquialisms and pantomime traditions, all of which makes it a great fun read at this time of year.

I received a copy via Rachel’s Random Resources and have given this review voluntarily.

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